Carlene

Sunset on Moon Lake Photo by Delta Bohemian

A DELTA SHORT:

By WILLIAM PRENTISS

WARNING: This story, though ultimately shrouded in redemption, does portray some characters in their basest state, including coarse language, non-gratuitous graphic sexuality, and internal dialogue and behaviors, which include obvious incidents of racism, sexism, and behaviors unbecoming those seen in a moral and polite society.

Please read no malicious intent into the author’s purpose for developing these flawed characters other than to present to the reader believable Delta characters–always fodder for a tale told by an idiot, signifying very little, other than just a Delta tale worth telling.

He knows no more about them than does the reader. They reveal themselves line-by-line and serif-by-serif. William is likely more expectant than the reader to find out how his developing characters will behave.

At what point will plot be made manifest? It depends. In describing the characters and an incident or two from their past and present, Mr. Prentiss believes the story line will become clearer as the morning sun burns away the dross like dew on Saint Augustine.

All characters are fictional, but how could a Delta writer not use real-life folks and genuine incidents as the skeletons awaiting the meat and sinew of prose and verse? For a better understanding of this character, read Father Percy and Milky Steve, Grinnel, Genevieve and Eddie.

Carlene

Carlene Tucker was as tired of her husband as she was last summer’s bikini. She wanted neither. Teddy met none of her emotional or sexual needs. He did pay the bills with his Daddy’s dwindling fortune. The same money his father predicted he would squander within five years of the old man’s death. Ted Sr., not three years dead, was about to be proven a prophet. Carlene was about to shred Teddy’s soul.

Greenway Johnson, ageing Delta debutante and matriarch, was again hosting the Ides of March annual fete at her summer home on Sun Lake. The hottest ticket in the North Delta, year after year. The A-list included just north of 200 guests. Still, feelings were always hurt. The A-list did not cover all the locals who considered themselves quite worthy of an invite. Carlene made the cut, but not because she was deemed deserving.

Carlene was not an A-lister; her husband’s family was, just barely. Her roots were shallow. She knew she was considered bourgeois, a word unknown to her modest biological family. Her husband, though steeped in Delta culture, could not trace his heritage back to the Norman Invasion of 1066. Pedigree mattered in God’s country; like the damn Delta was the Promise Land. But, he did come from money, three-fifths of the social currency that mattered; the other two-fifths were genetic.

The Promise Land, where hearing Slow Dixie, “Dixie” played at a tear extracting pace, would make grown men cry like they had just lost a child or a bird dog, both often considered of about equal value.

Carlene had done two-years at a junior college in the hills of Mississippi. She met Teddy at a vendor’s conference in New Orleans during her mid-twenties. Teddy was a wholesaler of what he referred to as a hodge-podge of incidentals. She was a counter rep for a department store, her first job out of college.

Teddy might have been a Southern Blue-Blood by birth, but he sure as hell didn’t know how to pick up a lady. Hell, he could hardly make eye contact. Carlene was his first; he was not her last.

He asked her to marry him on the second night of the conference–the first night she let him inexpertly take her, violate would be a wordsmith’s stretch. Unmemorable, it still provided her escape from the cheap glitter and fragrant over-stimulations of department store oblivion and hill country myopia.

Greenway Johnson relished generational power, indispensable in a status-ridden culture. If Nixon, a liberal Republican detested Isolationism, Greenway fostered it with a passion reminiscent of Miss Scarlett herself.

The only time Greenway felt feeble was when she remembered that a grand culture was slowly disintegrating at the hand of black folks who thought more highly of their station in life than they ought and white folks from the merchant class, who were actually being admitted to the country club based on economic reality and dwindling numbers. Why just last year, a nigra had the unmitigated gall to apply for membership and Carlene’s unsassuming, pathetic excuse for a husband sponsored him.

What next, Mexicans, Bohemians relocating to the birthplace of the blues, Yankess, and more Jews? She made peace with the Catholics decades ago. Should she now be so stretched as to embrace all the others? Acceptance of one new minority per decade is sufficient to make an old lady appear weary with multiculturalism. There was just no late 20th Century substitute for class and breeding.

Greenway was gracious, to a point, though hard, to a fault. While coveting her status as the society-go-to, she really didn’t give a damn what folks thought about her. She rather liked isolating pretenders who should never be invited to a grand party in a grand home hosted by a grand dame. Carlene, the trollop, on the other hand, was different. She served a purpose.

Greenway abhorred the little redneck’s pasty-white, hill-country beginnings and should have been endings, but she secretly cherished Carlene’s ability to “stir.” Greenway might have been considered a snob, a word her mother detested, but she did love a good tale. All Deltans did.

A little incident during the Delta’s most talked about cocktail party could never hurt the host’s reputation; in fact, it could enhance it, leaving no ill residue. Carlene would be invited, yet another year. Let the games begin, she mused, thinking back almost a year ago.

During last year’s Greendale Country Club John Clark Scramble Party, Carlene caused a roar heard from the main dining room at the elite Memphis Country Club all the way to the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans. As Greenway loved to tell the ladies at her Wednesday afternoon mahjong group, “Naked is as naked does, and Carlene does do naked.”

Carlene was sick and tired of being sick and tired of the same old cocktail party chatter–who had bought what, what was a condo going for in Destin, and what did the pompano taste like at Galatoire’s during the last “girls” trip to New Orleans. Who cared?

Teddy had not even pawed at her for over six months, even when she wore his pink namesake, which showed off her fine, tan thighs and healthy chest. She did not particularly enjoy being sweat upon by the oaf—she had others for that pleasure–but she knew that any Southern girl who couldn’t talk her man out of his drawers was not worth the soap it took to wash them.

Plus, Teddy wore those tighty-whities that looked like cotton marble sacks. Why couldn’t he wear boxers like Rusty and Ronnie? Two brothers who appreciated her hill-country appetite and longing for something rougher than a “two-minute missionary.”  Could he really fault her for needing more?

Beautiful, lithe, Delta ladies were poolside, sweetly glistening in their floral-printed sundresses. The mixture of expensive perfumes, clean pheromones, hair spray, lotion, and bourbon was as intoxicating to Carlene as it was to the just-off-the-course golfers who were ready to get coon-ass drunk, then rut like rhinos for two minutes on the Serengeti. Needing her mania curbed through sex or shock, she chose shock. The sex would come, but not with Teddy.

Carlene was appearing to listen to one of the 30-year-old sorority girls. Laughing at all the right places, but her mind was on the high dive, next to the poolside bar, where all the “rutters” were discussing their round of golf, the lack of rain, commodities futures, and pussy–of course. Their conversations never varied by more than a jot or a tittle, sometimes more pussy, sometimes more golf, but always pussy and golf, and sometimes hunting and football.

She knew more than a handful of husbands who had tried to get in her pants, often no more than a foot out of earshot of their oblivious wives. She found most of them no more desirable than her clumsy husband, but she did crave their attention. Now more than ever.

Rusty had the brains of a stick of warm butter, but he was what her uncle called cock-strong. His hard-ass physique made her moist just thinking about it. He was 20 feet from the high dive, with his back to the putting green and his right arm resting on Sylvester’s bar. His confidence intimidated brighter and wealthier men; his shit-eating grin drew more than a handful of female philanderers.

Maybe he would do her behind the big sycamore next to the ladies tee on hole number one. It would not be the first time he carved “CT” into the bark on the back side of the aging trunk. He didn’t know she knew about it, but she did.

She found them by accident. Noticing them one moonlit night when she was fucking his brother Ronnie behind the same Sycamore. CTx8 was the last entry; she hoped tonight would be CTx9.

Carlene didn’t care that GJ was scratched numerous times at least a foot below her initials. Must have been etched during Rusty’s teen years. The GJ was deep and almost closed up from age and weather.

Greenway was not a prude. Carlene wondered if the old bitch had dropped to her knees before he penetrated a trio of orifices. She would not be surprised if the “my-shit-don’t-stink” past Queen of the Cotton Carnival was a freak with an adam’s apple. There were just too many initials for a country girl to count.

Wine was not intimately fashionable at the time; ladies drank bourbon, gin and scotch just like the men. Smoked like them too, though they had a few more “rules” for how and where it should be done. But, the club was their home, so they smoked and drank away. Hydrating themselves furiously with whiskey, which eased out of their pores in torrents, co-mingled with perfume and the promise of sex, the ladies measured themselves, and few were found wanting.

Carlene, bored, and heading towards drunk, started picturing her “friends” naked. The more she pictured, the more tickled she became. The more she got tickled, the more she pictured. She tried to envision which pair of bosoms–she liked calling them titties–would hang the lowest. Which pair was the biggest, smallest, roundest, whitest? Who had the biggest tummy, the most dimples on her ass, or the hairiest snatch?

Maggie was the loosest. It was rumored that she had engaged in fellatio with five SAE’s in one night at a fraternity-sorority swap in college. But, her daddy owned 6,000 acres of good, cotton land and she could do no wrong, except maybe marry a boy who went to Mississippi State or Arkansas.

Bored. Bored. Bored. Carlene thought she would scream. Gulping three fingers of Old Charter, she excused herself from the pack, and began walking towards the diving board, just as Smoky Robinson, Jr.’s “Tracks of My Tears” began emanating from the patio speakers. Passing the kiddy pool, she began to sashay, feeling a tingling where Teddy ventured no more. She had an itch and one of these farm boys would surely scratch it before the first owl hooted.

She craved touch and a quick release—foreplay be damned. She needed to pound or be pounded by a grown-ass man, married or not, until he lay spent like he had run a 100-yard punt back in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

People say I’m the life of the party
Because I tell a joke or two.
Although I might be laughing loud and hearty

Deep inside I’m blue…

The bourbon “got good to her,” she was feeling warm from mid-section to crown. She felt more than saw the men start turning. Her confidence was as high as she was. The attention was like a shot of heroin. She knew it was time. Time to “stir” it up, like that Jamaican fellow, Bob Marley sang about.

So take a good look at my face
You’ll see my smile looks out of place

If you look closer, it’s easy to trace

The tracks of my tears…

Biting her lower lip, she daydreamed of Rusty raising her sundress, just enough. He moved her panties to one side with one fluid movement, all the while grinning at her like he knew something she didn’t. Entering her first with his fingers, he waited until she gasped…

Carlene kept her eyes loosely focused on the ladder, tenderly licking her small finger, effortlessly ambling toward her fifteen minutes of fame. She inclined her head towards the bar; never quite seeing the men, not even needing to. She was the sole possessor of notoriety tonight. Her thin index finger and thumb traced the hollow from neck to cleavage. All men loved a glistening, vibrant bosom, with promises of wet heat to come.

I need you, need you
Outside I’m masquerading
Inside my hope is fading
Just a clown oh yeah…

She would lose all her “friends” tonight, but they never really accepted her “country ass.” She knew what they said behind her back. She knew they even whispered her husband was gay; maybe he was. She didn’t care. Not tonight. Not ever again. Their husbands would never forget this night, nor would hers, but that didn’t matter. What would he do, quit sleeping with her?

So take a good look at my face
You’ll see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer, it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears…

She thought, to hell with my tears. Track this ladies and gentlemen. She unbuttoned one strap then the other, letting her sundress shimmy slowly down her velveteen body. She unstrapped her lacy bra with one hand while prodding her moist, multi-colored swirl of a dress the rest of the way to her ankles.

Her breath quickened as she tenuously kept her pace even. Stepping out of her dress as only a thin girl can, she kept her white, Pappagallo heels effortlessly from entangling with her gingerly dispensed garment.

High-heeled, barelegged, and bare-breasted, Carlene knew her white-cotton panties showcased her tan, flat mid-drift and bronze legs. Grasping the ladder with her left hand, she used her right to step out of her heels.

She was tempted to lose her panties, odiferous with a summer evening’s mixture of perfume and sweat, into the bright-eyed, expectant sausage fest below.

She wasted no time climbing the 10 or so feet up the high-dive ladder. She briefly glanced below at the men with their gaping mouths, finger points and what-the-fuck expressions. Carlene knew that each man, Teddy excluded, was thinking, “Damn, I hope my wife ain’t looking at me looking at her.”

The women, she knew, would already have gasped and pretended to have turned their heads. Carlene saw Callie whispering to Kate, but heard Donna squealing, “Oh my God!” Gail was non-plussed, but intrigued, and Susan, Teddy’s vapid sister, was horizontal, passed smooth out, giving Carlene the hope of her early demise, not to mention a little more inheritance—she was unmarried and without children.

This was her moment, her opus, her time. Whether she shined, shimmered, or faded with the gathering darkness, she did not care. Toes curled beneath her, at board’s edge, she bounced several times, enjoying the gravity-defying flop of her impressive chest against itself. She was free now, from a number of constraints.

Bouncing higher and higher, she felt freer and freer. Carlene would have loved to touch herself, but she was afraid her knees would buckle, already feeling pre-orgasmic. Taking her last bounce, and daring a last, desultory glance at the men, she saw Teddy. Oh Teddy! He had dropped his bourbon and soda, shattering crystal, and was staring—catatonicly–at the water beneath her.

The little pussy was unsure what to do, so he just stared. Then he collapsed, sinking slowly toward the concrete, knees of jelly. Not a single man stooped to lift him. Why would they? His old lady was three-rings-in-one, and according to P.T. Barnum, one was born every minute.

Defying the earth’s temporal pull one last time, she leapt into the air, graceful and magnificent, arms spread wide at first, pulling together just as her head dipped and her hair danced. She loved the air, but coveted the baptism to come, hauntingly lit water beneath a midnight-blue sky.

Rusty thought, Holy shit, how will I get Amy home before Carlene dries off and before Teddy takes her home. Checking for his pen knife, the initial carver hatched a plan.

She stretched through the 12-feet of water, bubbles trailing her lean, inviting body. A body that kept many a unhappily married man awake at night, along with a few happily marrieds. She held her breath as her ears contracted against the pressure. She expelled her last vestige of oxygen, enabling her to sink rapidly.

Grabbing the grate on the bottom, she held on as if her very life depended on it. The last sight she imagined before launching herself to the murkily lit surface was CTx9. She giggled bubbles and thought he should take her from behind. She might even encourage CTx10.

Greenway didn’t know about the Sycamore’s display of most of the letters of the alphabet deliciously carved into its noble trunk, but she did yearn for the close-mouthed, smiling teen, who had first lifted her skirt more than a score of years prior. Strangely, her only son had Rusty’s same wry grin and family-eroding cache of peccadilloes.

Carlene was in, so was Rusty. Sun Lake had Sycamores, and the Ides of March were for stabbing. Greendale and its contiguous environs—hunting camps, lake homes, and farm offices—would never be the same. Damn William Shakespeare. Et tu Greenway?

 

All characters are fictional, but how could a Delta writer not use real-life folks and genuine incidents as the skeletons awaiting the meat and sinew of prose and verse?

WE HIGHLY ENCOURAGE COMMENTS!!

 

 


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Comments

  1. HOLY COW WILLIAM! WHAT WOULD IT COST ME TO GET CARLENE’S PHONE NUMBER? SERIOUSLY, IF HALF OF WHAT YOU WROTE IS TRUE, THEN THE NORTH DELTA IS JUST AS SAD,PATHETIC AND TWISTED AS PEOPLE SAY IT IS. I GREW UP IN “THE MERCHANT CLASS” SO TO SPEAK, AND THIS STORY JUST CONFIRMS WHAT PEOPLE AT THE BARBERSHOPS, HARDWARE STORES, AND BEAUTY SALONS USED TO GOSSIP ABOUT WHEN I WAS A KID.
    YOU GAVE WONDERFULLY DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS AND SHOWED US SOME VERY COLORFUL CHARACTERS. WHAT DOES YOUR SISTER THINK ABOUT IT?

    • Thanks Lazarus! Each character to come is an almalgamation of personalities found in the MS Delta. All characters are flawed, but most all will possess redemptive qualities, and no particular creed, class, race, or vocation will be exempt. The aim is not to villify or disparage any group or person, but to describe believable characters, who in Delta parlance, really are not larger than life. Life is large enough and not needing a whole lot of embellishment around here. PW
      P.S. So, you know my baby sister? 🙂

  2. W.P.H.— I smell a NYT- Best Seller if you finish it. Beware However! Some Sho-Nuff-Shot could squash the whole thing. This is going to go over locally “Like A Turd In The Punchbowl”. You know that? Right? Personally, I love the beginning. Continue my friend.

  3. Penthouse Forum meets Ken Kesey, The Happy Hooker and William Prentiss’ disturbed mind. Dude, what in the world is going on between your two ears?

    I think what’s most unsettling is the fact that you know what Pappagallo heels are.

    • Dude, I am McKee’s alter-ego. I merely channel what his sick mind envisions. Naw, he is Captain America and I am just Dennis Hopper in a side car! And, you know my bride had to help me with the Pappagallo’s; no really, she did! Or, did she? Hmmm!

  4. ld. You know I allways have his back. Right? Let ‘da Boy Roam a little bit. He ain’t hurtin nobody. Yet!!! He do know his heels thou!

    You need to bring yo Jersey Ass back down here and see first hand what J.B. McKee has to go thru with the Great Flood of 2011.

  5. IF YOUR SISTER IS NAMED MARTHA LOUISE, THEN I MET HER SEVERAL YEARS AGO WHEN I LIVED IN ANOTHER TOWN AND DATED A FRIEND OF HERS. IF THAT’S NOT HER NAME, THEN I OBVIOUSLY DON’T KNOW HER.

  6. Alex Lundy says:

    Needs dialog.

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