Donny, Connie, and the General

DELTA SHORT: A local character of Sun Lake

Somewhere in the woods of the Mississippi Delta

Somewhere in the woods of the Mississippi Delta

By WILLIAM PRENTISS
WARNING: See end of post!

Donny, his real name, was a debutante and gay as the day was long. He didn’t come from money, but he sure as hell knew how to marry it. The Deb, as he was known behind his back, didn’t want to just acquire money and Southern social standing; he wanted money only cotton land could buy. He got both; he married Connie “Cotillion” Johnson.

Connie came from old money. Well, as old as you could get in Mississippi. Her daddy, Lombard Johnson, owned 7,000 acres of good cotton land, but farmed an additional 3,000 acres. He carried a big stick for a little fellow. Lombard was known as the General; he liked the moniker.

Donny and Connie caused a stir, always. It was difficult for those beneath them–about 99% of the population by their estimation–to decide who was the most pathetic. Donny was always dressed to the nines, had less hairs out of place than Roger Moore’s James Bond, and he almost always had a man-servant/chauffeur dress him and drive him wherever his pretty little self decided to go. Connie, a tragic figure right out of Helen Reddy’s “Delta Dawn,” needed the General like a catfish needs water.

The Deb came from a modest middle-class family from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He fell in love with the Delta boys at Ole Miss first, then figured the best way to get what he wanted–money, status, and land–was to marry a well-heeled Delta girl. He didn’t even like admitting to himself that he was gay, but he and everyone else in their circle knew it; except Connie, who was starting to wake up a bit.

The General thought The Deb was gay, but his daughter was a bit homely and the prospects of her catching a “winner” were slim, even given the General’s money, which was ample. He held no hope of his son-in-law taking over the family farm, they still called it a plantation, so he desperately needed a male or strong female grandchild to one day take the reins. The general knew his daughter and her effete husband could not manage his holdings, so he purposed to stay alive until a suitable grandchild was of age to rule the roost with the necessary iron hand. He was not a patient man, but he had little choice.

He hoped his money would keep The Deb from disrespecting his daughter by fooling around with local men; he didn’t give a damn what he did on visits to the likes of Dallas, New York, and San Francisco, all places where Donny had “consulting” business.

The General, a former Rhodes scholar, still couldn’t figure out what or whom Donny consulted with, but he rather enjoyed when the son-in-law was away. He could spend quality time with his only child. Time spent subtly reminding her how much he loved her and how much she had to be thankful for just being his daughter.

The Deb and Miss Connie had few real friends, but a host of sycophants and acquaintances. They hosted parties on a frequent basis. The self-aggrandizing couple spent an inordinate amount of time planning their ostentatious soirées.

Donny was learning French, unbeknownst to his wife and the General. He figured if he mastered the language, he could in time pass himself off as being from Norman stock. An Anglo-Saxon heritage just wouldn’t cut it for the poser-of-epic proportions.

The Deb had been a joke at college; his frat brothers figured he was a homosexual and they tired of his always acting like his non-existent rich family was yet again embroiled in financial acquisitions in far-off lands. The General knew better; he had investigated his son-in-law prior to the marriage.

The father of the bride knew he held the trump card, and if his silly little son-in-law ever crossed any imaginary lines, then he would ensure the boy spent the rest of his life getting some loving inside the walls of Parchman Penitentiary. He had told The Deb as much, without revealing the degree to which he knew he was a fraud.

Married for three years now, the couple was still childless. This disturbed the General and his entirely too co-dependent daughter. Connie’s mother had died in childbirth, so she had been raised by her father and a host of servants. She had never lacked for anything, but a mother’s love.

Connie and the General had never talked about sex; a discussion rarely held in the blueblood circles they ran in. She wanted to tell her daddy about her husband’s strange bedroom predilections, especially since the General daily intimated he was past ready to have a grandchild.

The Deb wanted to engage in sexual behavior not designed to bear children. This bothered Connie greatly, but she didn’t want to disappoint either her husband or her father. What was she to do? Donny had been her first and only lover. She had never even been kissed properly by a man prior to marriage, and she felt like she might still not have been properly kissed.

She couldn’t understand why a man wouldn’t want to look her in the face when making love. In fact, his idea of foreplay was to guzzle two bottles of wine by himself, listen to his favorite song, “The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy, and then take her from behind in an aggressive manner, before stumbling to his own bedroom, where he would sleep until noon the next day.

As time passed and his third winter season in the Delta was drawing to a close, The Deb was finding it increasingly difficult to make love to his wife. He found her repulsive, though he loved her dearly, or so he told himself and others. It was not that she was dog ugly, but he was finding himself only being physically aroused by smoothed-faced, preppy boys barely out of college.

Three of his closest acquaintances, all from the Greendale area, were unhappily married and likely for the same reasons. He found two of them immensely attractive. He was always conjuring up ways to get one of them alone at a cocktail party, where he could use his skills of persuasion to woo them into a sex-only relationship.

The Deb figured if it was sex only, then it didn’t make him inherently gay. Surely there was a historical precedent blessing a physical-only union among men of the same ilk, particularly if they didn’t openly shame their wives and their families.

Donny had been “layin’ low” lately. In a drunken stupor the month before, he had picked up a mixed-race bartender after a party at the home of a church member. Meeting him on a turn-row several miles from his monolithic home, Lombard Hall, he proceeded to almost rape the boy in the backseat of his Crown Vic.

The Deb finished the physical transaction with the bartender, told him to get the hell out of his car, threw $500 at him, and told him to keep his damn mouth shut or he would have his mother gang-raped by a pickup truck full of angry meth heads.

Donny knew he was spiraling, but he was not sure what to do about it. If he came out of the closet, he would lose everything he had labored for. Losing his social status and his gravy train was not an option. He just had to figure out how to keep his libido in check.

Connie had purchased a beautiful apartment on the bluff in Memphis overlooking the Mississippi River. Donny had told her it would give them access to the “right” people in Memphis, and would pave the way for their admittance to the Memphis Country Club. The General could have belonged at any time, but he chose not to. He didn’t give a damn what happened in Memphis. But Connie and Donny wanted to belong to the “Snoyles”–a group of Memphians known for their exclusivity, inbreeding and socially clannish ways.

If The Deb could only be chosen as the King of the Cotton Carnival, then his fait accompli should inoculate him from ever losing his status as a Delta blueblood. He knew with the carnival tiara, a well-fitted top hat, and a “bun in the oven” that he could foray far and wide for that which made him tingle. He just had to drink a lot more and make sure he tried more diligently to make love to his wife in a manner conducive to her producing an heir.

With a pregnant wife, no other inheritors, and the General’s soon-to-be suspicious demise, The Deb would have it all. He would be the Belle of the Ball, a thought that made him a little randy.

He was determined to knock up his wife before the Ides of March annual fete at Sun Lake. The announcement would be made during the party. He was sure he could pull it off; he just had to get busy in the bedroom. He only had a few weeks and his position would be secured.

The General was Greenway Johnson’s cousin. Both relations ruled their worlds by fiat, loving only land and money above self, then family. Greenway’s husband, she never took his last name, was made of jelly, thought the General. Greenway and the General hosted the Ides of March gala every year on Sun Lake. Folks no longer thought it strange that the two cousins hosted the party, sans Greenway’s husband.

Only the General and Greenway knew what had happened years ago in the boathouse on Sun Lake. They never discussed it. That night had cemented their love/hate relationship, creating a bond binding them to one another for better or for worse. They both just prayed, something they did not do lightly, that their long ago dalliance with the Devil would remain buried, hidden deep beneath an impenetrable core of obscurity. They hoped for the best, but feared the worst, both sensing the post-winter air presaging revelations to come. Just not ours they thought. Just not ours!

WE HIGHLY ENCOURAGE COMMENTS!!

This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to people or places, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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.

William Prentiss, with the assistance of his able and noble bride of mythical proportions, a fine meta-muse named Madge Marley Howell, has begun thinking about the “Great Southern Novel.” He will be describing characters rooted deeply in the Delta psyche.

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 Carlene, Father Percy and Milky Steve, Grinnel, Genevieve, Eddie, and Blue – all under DELTA SHORTS.


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Comments

  1. WILLIAM, I FIND ABSOLUTELY NO REDEEMING QUALITIES IN DONNY THE DEBUTANTE. THEREFORE, HE SHOULD MAKE FOR THE PERFECT VILLAN FOR THE NOVEL! HE IS A PARASITE TO THE CORE, AND THAT PERSONALITY TYPE SEEMS TO MAKE FOR THE BEST BAD GUYS. AT THIS POINT I’M SEEING SEVERAL BOOKS YOU COULD WRITE ABOUT. YOU HAVE A GIFT FOR TELLING STORIES THAT IS RARE IN THIS DAY AND AGE. THANK YOU.

    • Lazarus, as always, your words are encouraging! Thank you! There is very little redemption in Donny, very little! I do want to write some characters who are sterling examples of humanity, but they will will shine all the brighter if juxtaposed next to these sorry ones I am working on now! 🙂

  2. ‘The Deb” meets “The Grinnel” in Rena Lara!

  3. You are most welcome William. I came by the office last week to introduce myself, but “Sweet Thang” said you were out of town for the day. I’ll try again some other time.

  4. Alex Lundy says:

    This is an interesting narrative. Provocative. I enjoyed reading it.

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