Jerry Wick and Jenny Mae part six


Year: 2001

I am living in Gainesville Florida where my wife has taken a position teaching at the University of Florida; it is a dream job for her.  In Gainesville, I find myself drowning in sorrow intermingled with a smidgen of hope wondering how I managed to slip on my future while being paralyzed by my past.  Jenny is living in Miami with her then husband David and working as a bartender in an exclusive rich-mans dive bar, situated amongst the docks of Coconut Grove.  My short marriage has fallen apart and I am going insane.  I call Jenny and she suggests I drive down and visit her for a long weekend, since I don’t have a job I decide it’s a good idea.  The drive is only about four hours long and I make it without having to stop and get a drink, I smoke and listen to music.  My attention is solely focused on the doom that is my life.

I call ahead and Jenny tells me to park next to the Dade County Courthouse which is nestled between the piers and the city of Coconut Grove.  I get out of my car wondering what I am doing in Miami.  It is January and the wind is brisk, I think to myself that I should have brought a coat.  Within a few minutes I spy Jenny and David walking towards me along the side of the road that borders land and ocean.  Jenny gives me a hug and asks me how bad it is, I am near tears and reply “bad”. I shake David’s hand and he says we’ll go get a drink. First we need to drop my bag off.  I look around for their car but I am reminded that they don’t live in a house any longer. We walk to one of the endless piers and climb down into a small dingy.  We climb in what must be a dingy version of a Pinto, it is amazing the few pieces of board even floats.

Jenny and David moved out of their house about and year and a half ago.  They decided that they could live in house boat and not pay any more rent.  They have two dogs, and a pet bird.  They somehow came to the conclusion that two dogs and a bird would also enjoy living on a boat.  We climb into the dingy, three people and two Labrador retrievers, named Maggie and Chicken respectively.  The boat they bought for nearly two thousand dollars is nearly forty years old and at one time it must have been gorgeous.  It has a finished wood interior, a small kitchen, and a living area complete with a stove and refrigerator.  Jenny tells me the bathroom doesn’t work and shows me a bucket if I have to take a shit.  I raise my eyebrows and she tells me “oh, don’t worry about it we do it all the time.  Either that or you can try to lean over and take a shit off the side of the boat or wait till we get on land.”  She says this matter-of-factly as if this is just a normal thing for a person to do.

We drop my bag off, I am shown the bed where I spent New Years Eve the previous year. It is made up of two water proof pillows laid out near the rear of the boat; I am not exposed to the elements with a small alcove made of a large overhanging window and a small door just above my head and bent knees.  We go back ashore and Jenny says we are going to first go to the Tattletale; a dive bar in the truest sense of the word.  I spent the previous New Years at the Tigertail and it struck me then as bordering the precipice of utter madness and absurdity.  I don’t feel like going to the Tigertail I suggest to  Jenny maybe we could go somewhere else.  She shakes her head and says she wants me to talk to her friend Albert, who is a non-drinking millionaire that spends most of his days in the Tigertail fending off an unpleasant marriage by watching people slowly destroy themselves.  I have no desire to speak to neither Albert nor anyone else, I want to dive into a deep sleep and wake up to have my life miraculously changed and I know the Tigertail cannot help with this.  As my New Years Eve memory came flooding back, all I can think of is that the Tigertail is a spooky place where people drink cans of beer and snort lines of coke off the bar. Nobody smiles and everybody is jumpy and suspicious. Not a real big pick-me-up of a place.

The Tigertail is owned by a former light heavyweight contender named Bobby Dykes who once fought Sugar Ray Robinson and who also lost a title fight with Kid Galivan in the early 1950’s.  When we enter Jenny says hello to him and he says hello back, he is medium built with white hair.  Jenny introduces us and he looks past me as he shakes my hand with a handshake that is as soft as tissue paper.  We sit at the bar and the bartender is a woman named “Noelle” but when she turns her back Jenny mouths “Snowelle” and holds her index finger up to her nose and sniffs.  Sensing my discomfort Jenny tells me that we won’t stay long and I lean over and tell her that I do not want a repeat of my previous visit to Miami.  She assures me that this won’t happen but I feel that I can’t trust her.  Sure enough, we meet her hook up in the Tiger Tail while Bobby Dykes who appears to be more punch drunk or just plain wasted hovers in the background.  I spend the rest of the evening driving around Miami while Jenny and Dave try in vain to hide a cocaine addiction that has so far only cost them their house and van.  Everywhere we stop to get a drink one of them runs into the rest room, we end up back at the Tiger Tail Lounge on three separate occasions during the evening.  I am wasted and even more disgusted.

The next day I realize that there is nothing Jenny and Dave can do to help my cause; they could not provide the salve for my emotional wound. In fact, I am thoroughly annoyed that I had thought they could help. I climb back in my car and Jenny asks me where I am going, I tell her I think I need to drive back to Gainesville. She asks me to drive her downtown to which I reluctantly agree to do. As I stop at a gas station, we argue, she insists that I am too serious and that was always my problem and divorce is looming in my future. Years of frustration boil over onto the baked parking lot of the Esso station, “fuck this” I stammer.  I get in the car and drive off, leaving her alone and cursing my rear view mirror. We don’t talk for months. As I drive back to Gainesville, with pent up frustration with her, my wife, and most especially myself I feel utterly hopeless. At one point I get stuck in an insane traffic jam and piss my pants because I am in front of a police car, I think it really can’t get any more pathetic than this.

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One Response to “Jerry Wick and Jenny Mae part six”

  1. Katy Says:

    I’m hooked. This is good stuff.

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