I’m afraid this is quite a long report of events, but rather a lot happened today. I’ve divided this into two sections, which you are free to read at your leisure.
What a day of revelations. I’m quite exhausted, back here in Hilton Head. And this is quite a long record of what transpired.
Rosalie and I reached Cottonmouth Creek Correctional Facility with no problems. The driver of the taxicab was a certain Mr Duane Flatt. I wondered briefly if he was related to the sisters Charlene, Darlene, and Marlene, but did not enquire. Like Duncan, I find chatty drivers very tiresome.
Cottonmouth Creek is a minimal security facility. I’d call it a prison, but there again I’m not one to mince my words. But there is no razor wire, no guard towers, no guards with rifles, no slavering attack dogs. It’s really rather agreeable. It looks more like a school or university campus., set in some very pleasant rolling grassland with stands of trees here and there, and a wood or forest at the north-western edge.
After I had surrendered my handgun (a small joke there, of course) a somewhat beefy guard named Trumble led me to a small, functional, but not unpleasant room. And there, sitting at the table, was none other than Mr Lee Roy Fuckwit, the man I had travelled all these miles to see.
He stood, and I took a second to consider him. Tall, rangy, a bit weathered, moustache, and a Stetson with some sort of furry emblem on it. He strongly resembles a younger Richard Petty, just as Duncan had said.
He took his hat off, and offered his hand.
‘Mr Fuckwit. I am glad we have met at last.’
‘Pleasure’s all mine, ma’am. And I’m Lee Roy. Nobody calls me by my surname ‘ceptin my old Sunday school teacher, the cops, and my lawyer. Hey, would you like sumpn to drink? Trumble, get the lady some water.’
‘No thank you, Mr Trumble. I’m fine.’
‘That case I’ll leave you two alone to chew the fat. Gimme a call if you need anything. See you later, Lee Roy. Ma’am.’ Trumble rather charmingly tipped his cap to me.
‘Now know you’ve come a long way anall, an I don’t want to hurry you none,’ said Lee Roy, ‘but I need to say sumpn, an I’m gonna say it straight out.
‘You need to unnerstan sumpn bout why Duncan an me is buddies. He likes me, but gets his dander up with me. An that’s cos I’m him. He calls me his altar boy.’
‘Tha’s the fellah. I’m the bit o’him he tries to hide, t’ignore. I’m the one who’s kinda biased, kinda bigoted, kinda intolerant. Get irritated by small things. And I do things that he don’t. But don’t for one minute reckon he don’t think about ‘em. Raisin’ hell, gettin’ into fights, racin’ cars. Chasin’ wimmin. He told yer about Rosalie, din’t he?’
‘I learned of her, yes. He told you about her?’
‘Dint need to. I was right there in the Dead Goat, right alongside o’ him. I’ve bin around him a lot longer than you think, ma’am. An there I was that night, a-whisperin’in his ear. ‘Go on son. Yer a long ways from home. She’s got her eyes on you, and she’s real purty. It’s all there for yer, son. I ain’t gonna tell anyone. Who’s gonna ever know?”
‘But he’d have known,’ I said quietly. ‘Duncan would have known.’
‘Tha’s zackly what he said to me, ma’am. “I’d know.” Gott’admire ‘im for that.’
‘I think perhaps I would like some water now. Or perhaps some coffee. Both, I think.’
‘Sure thing ma’am.’
He went to the door, opened it, and leaned out.
‘Hey, Trumble, can you get a cup of coffee for the lady? Outta the guardroom, none o’ that crap we get this side o’ the line. And some iced water.’
‘Sure thing Lee Roy.’
Lee Roy returned, sat again.
‘Yer lookin’ kinda shook, ma’am.’
‘Yes. Yes I am. I had no idea.’
‘Take yer time. Have yerself a nice coffee, mebbe we can talk summore.’
The coffee was excellent. Much better than any tea I’ve had here. Americans cannot seem to grasp that a glass cup of lukewarm water with a teabag floating in it does not constitute a cup of tea. The iced water was very welcome too. I had felt slightly faint.
‘Now Missie B. Do you mind if I call yer Missie B? Don’t wanna sound disrespectful or nothin.’
‘No, Lee Roy, Missie B is perfectly acceptable. I rather like it, in fact. Makes me sound a little less formal.’
‘Well ma’am, you do give the impression of havin a broom up yer ass. Sorry ma’am, meant yer.. back…’
I do believe he was embarrassed; how charming that was.
‘Lee Roy, I have access to some of Duncan’s innermost thoughts, and believe me you will find it hard to swear, or ‘cuss’ as you might say, and offend me.’
‘Thank ya ma’am. Now here’s sumpn else. Duncan don’t really want to do what I do, ceptin race cars. Raisin’ hell, gettin’ into fights, bustin some guy’s head in One Eyed Jack’s. Chasin’ wimmin. Having three sisters on diffrent nights in the back of a pickup truck. But he sure as hell wonders what it’da been like. Not so much a ‘What if?’ but a real ‘I wonder,’ kinda thing.
‘Now you say you have access to some of his innermost thoughts. He can’t hide anything from me. Not a goddam thing, ‘cos I’m there nearly all the time, and I’ve been there a long time too. How oldja think I am, Missie B?’
‘I suppose you look about 32 or so.’
‘Bin around in some form or another since 1971.’
‘That’s the year that Duncan…’
‘Yep, the year of that young lady named S he wrote about a while ago. And that got him thinkin’ back then. About his greatest fear. Ya know what that is?’
‘No. No, I don’t. He’s never told me.’
‘I’ll tell ya now, then. Of not bein’ good enough. Of bein’ found out, and not bein’ good enough.’
‘Good enough at what? Being found out? Found out doing what?’
‘Juss generally, Missie B. Juss generally. And when he thinks that’s happened, only one person can help him, an’ that’s little ol’ Lee Roy Fuckwit. The bit of Duncan he tries to hide, I’m the one who gets him back on his feet and sayin’, ‘Fuck you world! Just fuck you!’ Ain’t nobody can do it but me. He needs me around. I’ll give ya an example. When did he have that last goddawful meltdown? The one over there on his wee bloc?’
‘Weblog. About two or three weeks ago. He was very embarrassed.’
‘An’ where was I Missie B? I was here at home, then in County, havin’ just bin arrested. He couldn’t reach me.’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘Fer a smart woman, you sure do miss things. He tells the stories, right? He couldn’t call on me, right? An’ without me around, sometimes even when I am, he swims about like a frog in a bucket till he’s exhausted and damn near drowns. So he tells a story about not callin’ me to let people know he’s about to meltdown. It’s what he calls an a leg sumpn.’
‘Allegory. Could we get some fresh air, please?’
‘Sure. There’s a little courtyard we can use, won’t have to go through security. Hey Trumble. We’s goin’ out for a bit of air. Missie B ain’t feelin’ too hot. Must be yer goddam coffee.’
We sat on a small bench. Lee Roy looked concerned.
‘You OK, Missie B?’
‘I’m not sure. I think so. I’m just wondering why he never told me.’
‘Don’t always admit it even to hisself.’
We talked a little more, then I stood to go at the time Rosalie and I had agreed upon.
‘I need to go now Lee Roy. Thank you for talking to me. And I hope you take care of yourself in here.’
‘Don’t you worry ‘bout me, Missie B. Got myself lawyered up, and he reckons I’ll be out real soon. And it’s been a real pleasure ma’am.’
Rosalie and I travelled back to the hotel in companionable silence, both of us wrapped in our own thoughts.
But when we got there, what a surprise! A telephone call from Lee Roy! Having got himself ‘lawyered up,’ as he put it, he’s had his case dropped, and he’s coming out of jail tomorrow! So he’s asked me to go to Gatorville with him to meet all his family and friends! How flattering!
I’m very excited again, but slightly unsure if I should go. I don’t wish to outstay my welcome.
No. I’m going to stop being so British. I’m going to Gatorville, and that’s that.