By O. Lucio d’Arc


Chapter 4

SOMEHOW DIZ IS waiting for Scott Free and Carole at the airport when they get off the plane.

Diz gives her a big bear hug. She looks good. She always does. She always reminds Carole of a white Shug Avery who ate more regularly, and she likes purple, too – purple underwear, mostly. She was a busty, brassy blonde, big-eyed and bubbling, beaten-up a little, yeah, but not beaten down.

She gives Scott Free a limp-wrist handshake and winks at Carole.

“Heard on the street that your old man died. Figured you’d be heading back. Not that many flights from San Francisco. So I staked out the airport, met a couple of planes. Yours is the third. I love the Penn Tavern here at the ‘port, best margaritas around. Gave a couple of baggage-handlers a ride. A real trip. Ca’mon, you’ll stay with me …”

Carole smiles. Diz is like a professional wrestler: no holes barred. It’s good that some things don’t change, she thinks. Kind of anchors you.

They flew with carry-ons. Carole has a backpack, Scott Free has a leather shoulder bag. Diz has a dark ‘n stormy in a can. On the way to Ground Transportation Diz makes one crazy remark after the other, as always.

A tall brunette flight attendant with a tight skirt, a perfect tie and Sophia Loren tits walks by. “Wow, she’s hung like a doughnut,” says Diz out of the side of her mouth.

Then she asks: “Do dentists dream of teeth?”

And: “Ya think Pinocchio is good in bed?”

On the Uber drive to the place where Diz lives – yes, it is cramped – they catch up and talk about their favorite action figures: men.

Diz defines them as the humans who can’t have adequate blood flow to their brain and their dicks at the same time.

“And they have no fucking imagination, either,” says Diz. “They even call their prick Dick. How dull. Why not something more schnazzy, like, hey bitch, get over here and do my Humperdink.”

The turbaned Uber driver visibly winces. Maybe he does understand English after all.

They both laugh, hard, and even Scott Free joins in. Carole and Diz are both born in the Year of the Rooster, so the male organ in on their minds a lot.

Diz says she had been out on a date with an old guy who was so ripped he had trouble getting his pants off. He reminded her of The Mighty Atom at the Bethlehem County Fair, a septuagenarian when she and Carole were kids, a guy who could bend horseshoes and pull a tractor with a rope clamped between his teeth.

After sex, such as it was, he fell asleep like one big muscle, Diz says, “like Rip Van Diesel.”

“God bless Libras,” says Diz out of the blue. She and Carole are Libras.

“Did you know Libra is the only sign in the Zodiac that is inanimate?” Diz asks.

Carole didn’t. Diz knows all that stuff. Carole is home.

DIZ LIVES IN what would be called a commune if this was the ‘60s.

It is an abandoned old place, a mansion, really, in dire need of painting and carpentry and a Magnolia World touch, with a lot of rooms and a lot of different people coming and going, lots of drugs, occasionally food, and even a live chicken or two in the attic even though the house is just a couple of blocks off the main drag.

The fresh eggs are good, when you can find them.

There is a shaggy-dog front porch and behind the house a pond, polluted and weedy, odiferous and spooky. You can fish for shopping carts and old sneakers there, no problem.

The housemates call it Lake Eerie.

No one knew who owns the house. It’s condemned, the sign on the door says. So folks living there are squatters. Everybody pools their spare dough, when they have any, in a cracked pasta bowl painted with blue flowers in the middle of the kitchen table. For essentials.

The house even has a name: The Doldrums.

AT DIZ’S CRASH the usual suspects are Bugs, a pudgy hypochondriac who finds germs everywhere but in what he smokes and pops. He has the mediocre air of someone who has never yelled, “Bingo!”

Next is Kat – short for Kathy – Ciao, a whacko who always moves in with a couple of her young kids. Kat Ciao is a loud-mouthed shrew who believes she deserves to be taken care of. By everybody.

And there is Silver Boy, a tall ex-Lehigh U. student with a shock of blonde hair waiting out a probation for multiple shoplifting offenses, and with a reputation for never backing down. He blew a small inheritance from an uncle on fireworks and bourbon and has been stealing ever since, amusing himself in between with a solitaire game of his own devisement.

And Cher and Adele are next – nobody knew what their real names are – who spend their days rehearsing and their nights singing karaoke for cash and drinks at pick-up bars. They aren’t bad looking, but it’s hard to tell them apart. They have an Alexa from Amazon in their shared room, but they whisper or go out into the hall when they want to talk about her.

Then there is Thom Fole. Prim dresser. Respectable job at Target. Weird roomer for Diz’s flop. Mustache. Sideburns. Eyes too big for his face. Of course, every amateur etymologist knows that his name, real or not, is the origin of the word tomfoolery. He is reportedly rewriting the Bible to make it “more interesting and more believable,” he tells everyone.

Last but not least is Magnum, a midget with a long beard who used to work the rodeo circuit Out West – Western Pennsylvania – before, he says, he was too old to dodge horns and hooves, especially after two other clowns at his rodeo died. Now he is a street poet. He smiles a lot, but doesn’t talk much, and when he does it is almost always in verse, the blank kind.

When Diz and Carole get there it is still early, not yet dark. When introduced, Carole says her hellos, they have a few smokes and settle down with rue-flavored grappa to play strip Jeopardy with Generalisimo Trebek.

In the wee hours, Carole is directed to an empty room with a pretty clean mattress and clean sheets, and she crashes. Must have been those welcome-home hits.


Oreste P. D’Arconte, who writes fiction under the name O. Lucio d’Arc, is a retired newspaper publisher and a weekly newspaper columnist. His short stories have appeared in the Murder Inc. trilogy of anthologies and he has had his poetry published in several literary magazines. A resident of Attleboro, Mass., he also wrote a hardback history of the Attleboro YMCA in 2017.