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Ten years ago today — at about three in the morning, actually — my mother died. Way, way out in the woods in the middle of an hellacious thunderboomer. Pancreatic cancer, quick and ugly. She never saw seventy. She was madder than hell about that. I’ll post about my mother some time, but right now I want to talk about that day.

It was stupid, with a hundred surreal and inappropriately funny moments. You’d think when your mom dies it would be like you’re the Birthday Girl and everybody has to be nice to you, but somebody apparently forgot to make a law about that.

There was the Ritual Flushing of the Leftover Narcotics at Dawn. And the moment the hospice nurse turned to me and said, “you’re being so great about all this — will you help me move the body?”

I drove into town behind Mom and the undertaker. It was raining like a bastard. Do you know the old Carter family song Will That Circle Be Unbroken?

I told that undertaker,
“Undertaker, please drive slow.
That’s my mother you are hauling,
And I hate to see her go.”

My dad loves that song. My mother always thought it was hilarious. Hauling. Like Mama was a pickup-load of corn likker or something. Stupid hillbillies. I promised myself I’d come home and have a really good howl when I’d finished the paperwork, but I never got it. The undertaker forgot he’d left me in his kitchen, so I sat back there drinking burnt coffee with nondairy creamer and flipping a pencil into the sink for over two hours.

When I got back to the house, I called the office, and the secretary — normally a very nice person — roughed me up good. So how was I going to turn some work in? Turns out she misheard me. She thought I said my modem had died. She almost dislocated a joint apologizing later.

Then I had this handwritten list of numbers Mother wanted me to call. All her BFF’s from back in the day. Fifty years ago. None of them had seen her in years and they all wanted to talk about their latest gall bladder operation or pneumonia or whatever. I don’t think a one of those self-absorbed old coots even said, “I’m sorry.”

I was rushing to get everything done because it was a Friday and nothing would be open over the weekend. I wanted the hell out of there. Last stop of a long day was the bank and her safe deposit box. The bank manager said we had to sit together in her office and do a manual inventory of the contents.

Now there’s a sad job. Have you ever picked through anyone’s last effects? Deeds and divorce papers and bits of worthless jewelry. Letters and souvenirs that mean everything to one person, and nothing to anyone else. No meaning, no value. Useless flotsam. Do posterity a favor and get rid of this stuff your own damn self before you go.

Last thing in the box, shoved way in the back, was a small, plain gray plastic cylinder. I’ve still got it. I’d post a picture, but I’ve packed it for the move. “What’s this?” Weasel says, and twists off the lid.


It was one of those springy things with the squeaker in. You know, like the gag snakes they put in the fake can of peanuts? Only, this one was industrial-grade. Where they hell does somebody get an industrial squeaky snake spring thing? SHIT!

Did I say that out loud? I don’t know. I turned to see the whole staff of the bank had quietly snuck up behind me. They were in on it. I guess. Nobody would tell me anything about it, not then and not ever.

I’m kind of jumpy, y’all. Wrapped a little too tight. “Goosey” Mother called it. She loved it when I got hiccups. Lots of people love sneaking up on me. I guess some time in the six months between her diagnosis and her death, Mother went to the bank and dropped that evil fucker in the back of the box. I’d like to think it helped her get through the bad nights, thinking about that one last posthumous screaming kick in the ass she was going to give her baby girl.

G’bye, Mother. Almost joined you ten years ago today.

I’m guessing that was the plan.

April 3, 2008 — 7:01 pm
Comments: 26

Bad hair, good story


This is a heartwarming story of high-tech vigilante justice; kind of a flash mob in reverse. The dude with the really unfortunate haircut (and tattoo) is Jesse McPherson. He was robbed. On March 12, thieves broke into his apartment and stole his TV, his Powerbook and his X-Box.

Police dusted for fingerprints and then totally lost interest.

So McPherson used Google maps to find all the pawn shops in his area and, sure enough, the first hit had been offered a computer that sounded like his (wrong charger; lid wouldn’t stay open properly). So he snapped a pretty good photo of the perp from a surveillance camera image. Police still not interested.

Meanwhile, cow-orkers got together and bought him a new X-Box. When he logged in to his X-Box Live account, there was a message waiting, purportedly from the thief, offering to sell him back his own X-Box.

The username of the message leaver was not a brand new account created especially for this taunting. Oh stupid, stupid taunting message leaver.

The police: still not interested. But the innernets: always up for a lynching. McPherson submitted a post to Digg, and off it went. Worldwide. Accounts for Taunting Message Leaver turned up on Photobucket (with pictures of his winky!), YouTube (including a rap performance), MySpace, AIM. Real name, address and phone number followed soon after. The kid was harassed out of every available orifice: gaming, chat, email, IM, txt, phone.

It was a kid, too. Turns out, the idiot taunting kid with the X-Box was (probably) not the thief. My favorite bit:

One avenger, from England, even posted a recording on YouTube of a phone call he had with the kid’s furious mom, who was adamant her son wasn’t a thief but had bought the Xbox from a neighborhood crack-head.

Ohhhhh…well, that’s okay then, Mom.

Mom and co. left the X-Box on McPherson’s stoop, along with a beg for mercy.

And the thief? Once the story got international press (in actual, like, newspapers and stuff) the police developed an interest at last. The fingerprints matched two; arrest warrants have been issued. The Powerbook mysteriously appeared on McPherson’s doorstep. His TV, however, is probably gone for good.

It’s like my old mother used to say. “Stoaty,” she’d say, “don’t be a dick.”

— 9:02 am
Comments: 28