Bad Marge

Mary was sick of her name so she started calling herself Margaret because it was the only name she could think of that was worse than Mary. So when people yelled out on the street for Mary she would just spit on a nearby wall, even if it were a window that was there. One time she spat right in some people’s faces that were trying to enjoy their pasta. The woman had a noodle hanging from her mouth as she stared at the long drip of saliva proceeding down the glass.

Margaret wanted to be bad because good was so boring. It’s not even like she had a good cause like a molestation or a broken home, just boredom pushing her to do the delinquency that gave her the name that followed her everywhere: Bad Marge.

When she got Bad Marge tattooed on her shoulder her mom had a minor heart attack. Nobody would know until years later that the blockage began back then. Well, this could never be proven, but Mary knew…

***

Jean liked to paint her lips bright red and go to the Red Tavern on Saturdays and tell people her name was Roxy.

Roxy also wore safety pins through her leather jacket.

Jean gave it all up when she met Pete.

Pete wasn’t a guy she felt like playing with.

***

I would have written earlier but I didn’t where to send the letter…

***

Stephanie was from Tunisia. Her skin was the color of cream. She had a laugh full of teeth and we drank wine until the record skipped. She only went by Stephanie, that I know of. We saw each for two seasons and almost through Halloween before she got sick of Denver and decided to move closer to the ocean.

We were supposed to hang out in Tahoe but you know how that goes.

***

I started calling myself Jacob in my religious phase, when I hung out on Venice Beach too much. I had started a cult, two friends, and my girlfriend’s dog. She wasn’t really my girlfriend, just a girl that hung around a lot that I loved in a sunny 17 year-old way. I was too dumb to know what having a woman meant.

Jacob had a telescope he looked out before going to bed. Every night he had the same thought, there must be some kid on one of those points of light looking back at me. I lost Jacob around the time I started on the methadone.

***

Lauren told me she thought love was a cheap word people with no imagination threw around. Last I heard, she was married with twins. I wondered if she told them she loved them.

Lauren left one night after tearing down a concert poster. It was college so you know the type of poster.

We were both young and full of too much passion. To this day I don’t remember which band it was, but I remembered I liked the poster more than her.

***

There is a stretch of highway they named after Patricia. In non-drought years there is a drainage ditch that has frogs in it. If you drive slow with the windows down you can hear them croaking. People say Patricia had that kind of voice. Later on I learned there never was a Patricia.

***

I got the nickname Captain Telegram because of the way I set up my stories. I had a real obvious way about me, I suppose, a predictability stout enough to earn a nickname. Well, people only called me that when I was drinking. When the spirit is a-hold of me I have a tendency to pontificate and get on with myself. Captain Telegram is always right, even when he’s wrong. He can make something out of nothing.

Women, Captain Telegram might say with a finger pointing to the ceiling, are the embodiment of perfection — except when they’re not. Captain Telegram would act like it was something serious to contemplate. I don’t know where he comes from.

***

Like I said, I would have written but I didn’t know where to write.

***

Last I had heard you were a waitress in Portland.

And you went by Mary again.

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