The Summer Of Crazy Eddie Appleton

Of all of the summers I have seen, the summer of 1969 remains entrenched in my memory, and I remember it with a fondness that, at times, seems a bit overwhelming. For me it was not the summer of Woodstock, or the summer of  the ‘giant leap for mankind’. It was the summer of Crazy Eddie Appleton.

That summer my family went to the cottage at Jackson’s Point. I spent my days with my summer friends Danny, Rosie, and Misha. From the moment I first met her, I was attracted to Misha. She was an insanely pretty girl, with a tight t shirt, and a pack of Du Maurier stuffed into the back pocket of her cut off denim shorts, with an attitude as contrary and sarcastic as my own. We spent our time at the beach, the arcade, and hanging out behind the old marina where I learnt how to smoke.

Across the road from Rosie’s cottage lived the Appleton’s. We knew nothing about them, but none of us were permitted to go near the place. According to everyone’s mother, Eddie Appleton was a crazy and possibly dangerous man. Other people in the Point seemed to share the same concerns, walking on the other side of the road as they passed by, looking at it as if to catch a glimpse of the crazy and possibly dangerous man in the front window. Crazy Eddie Appleton had become the Boo Radley of Jackson’s Point.

He would usually come out at night, roaming the small, summer town talking to himself, dirty and unkempt, shouting at no one in particular, dressed in an overcoat, hat and gloves despite the sweltering summer heat and an orange florescent vest that could be seen from miles away as if to warn everyone that he was on the loose. One evening, as we sat behind the marina smoking, we saw Crazy Eddie on the beach burying something in the sand. “Probably body parts of some kid he killed.”, Danny reported.

“Maybe its his mother.”, Rosie speculated.

“Why don’t we just call him over and ask him what he’s doing.”, Misha suggested.

“Oh my God. No, don’t!”, Rosie pleaded.

“Well then, why don’t we just wait until he leaves and then go dig up whatever he buried.”, Misha proposed.

“Good plan, Einstein.”, I told her. “I knew I was hanging around you for a reason.” Misha smiled at me,  lit another cigarette and gently placed it in my mouth.  “But we’ll have to come back tomorrow morning.”, I continued. “We’ll meet back here at seven.” On the way home I kept thinking about the way Misha put that cigarette in my mouth, and I was almost certain that her hand brushed my lips. I laid awake all night, wondering, wishing and hoping that she liked me too.

We all met behind the marina as planned. Danny and Rosie brought shovels, and Misha arrived carrying a large thermos which was filled with coffee that she had taken from home. None of us had ever had coffee before, but this seemed like as good a time as any to start. We sat down behind the Marina and smoked a cigarette as we took turns drinking coffee from the little cup that so conveniently came with the thermos. There were a few fisherman milling around, and an old man was roaming the beach with a metal detector. “We need to go now.”, Misha said. “Before it gets too busy.”

Once on the beach we tried to remember exactly where Crazy Eddie had buried the body parts. We dug and dug, but came up with nothing.  The old  man with the metal detector shouted “Hot damn. I found something.” We all ran over, and there in his hand, was a gold ring. “What is it?”, I asked.

“A lady’s wedding ring, I would think.”, the old man said.

“I told you he buried his mother.”, Rosie reminded us. Misha grabbed Rosie’s shovel and she began digging like a dog trying to retrieve the bone it had buried. We took turns with the shovels and dug and dug, but we found nothing except some sand crabs, fish skeletons, and some small turtles. The pier at the beach began filling up with boaters and fishermen getting ready to start another day on the water.

“We should go.”, Misha said. “We’ll have to figure something else out.” Dejected, we headed back to the marina, where we shared a cigarette. We sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity, and I suppose each one of us was trying to come up with some way we could find out what Crazy Eddie had buried on the beach that night. “Come with me.”, Misha said as she took my hand and led me to the other side the marina, behind an old Maple tree. The touch of her hand sent shivers through my body, and I knew that I probably would have followed her anywhere, just to stay near her. “You’re the smartest one of us.”, she told me. “What do you think we should do?”

“Well”, I answered. “Digging up the beach isn’t going to do anything. I think we should follow Crazy Eddie. Maybe we can catch him red handed.”

“That makes sense.”, Misha said, as she leaned in and gave me a kiss on my lips. That brief kiss made me feel indestructible and I kissed her again. We must have been there for about five minutes with our lips pressed together behind that Maple tree. When we started to walk back to our friends, we held hands. “I guess I’m your girlfriend now.”, Misha stated with some certainty as she squeezed my hand.

“I suppose so.”, I answered.  I had never really had a girlfriend before, so I couldn’t be sure.  But either way, I liked it.

Danny and Rosie were too scared to join us in our mission that night, so Misha and I decided that we would do it alone. Just the two of us. Like Jonathan Steed and Emma Peel from The Avengers. We left the marina to plan our mission, but found ourselves making out in the lane way behind the Red and White Grocery Store. It was at that moment that I realized that I really didn’t give a rat’s ass about Crazy Eddie or what he buried at the beach. All I wanted was to keep doing whatever the hell I was doing with Misha. I hoped that she was feeling the same, but I was too damned scared to ask.

That night, we waited in the bushes across the road from Crazy Eddie’s place. I told my parents that I was staying at Danny’s overnight, while Misha told her family that she would be spending the night at Rosie’s. We had a plan, and now we just had to wait for the villain to take the bait.  Eddie Appleton finally came out of his cottage, and headed off towards town. He was carrying a small black bag, and a small shovel, the kind you would use in a flower garden. Visions of Lars Thorwald began playing in my head. Maybe, just maybe Rosie was right. Maybe Crazy Eddie was burying his mother in various places around Jackson’s Point. Misha and I followed him as he rummaged through every garbage can and dumpster he could find. Every now and then he would open the small, black bag and place something in it, or take something out. We couldn’t be sure. We followed him through his journey and to the beach. We watched him dig a small hole, and bury something in the sand. He dug five holes that night, and we memorized the location of each one. When he left, Misha and I went behind the marina and smoked a cigarette. “Well stay here until it gets light. Then we can dig up the holes and see what Crazy Eddie’s been up to.”, I said.

“Okay.”, Misha replied, as she put her head on my shoulder and closed her eyes.

I woke her as soon as it was light, and we walked onto the beach and started digging exactly where Eddie Appleton had dug the night before. We dug up all five of the holes and each one contained the same thing. Fish bones. Numerous, assorted bones from numerous assorted fish. “This is crazy.”, Misha said.

“They don’t call him Crazy Eddie for the hell of it.”, I told her.

“I just don’t get it.”, she continued.

“Maybe you have to be crazy to get it.”, I replied. It was crazy, and I didn’t get it either. It made no sense. The early morning boaters and fishermen started arriving so Misha and I went back behind the marina. “Well”, I said, “the mystery is solved.”

“What a let down.”, Misha replied. “I thought we were onto something big.” I did too, and I was just as disappointed as she was.

That afternoon I saw Crazy Eddie and his mother on my way to Rosie’s. She said hello, and I crossed the road to talk with them. I said hi to Eddie and he merely shrugged. Mrs. Appleton apologized for him, informing me that Eddie had been out very late burying fish skeletons at the beach. I asked her why. She told me that Eddie was trying to give the fish a proper burial and he felt they should be laid to rest near the water. After all, that is where their friends and family were.

I continued to hang out with Misha that summer, hiding behind the marina smoking cigarettes and making out. When it ended we parted ways, writing the customary letters for a while and then, we just lost touch with each other. I haven’t seen Rosie since that summer, and Danny and I connected a couple of times when we were attending the same University. We had grown apart, blazing different trails for our lives. I spent some time with Eddie that summer and I learned that he was not dangerous. He was certainly fucked up,but he was completely harmless, a good soul who I suppose was totally misunderstood. He taught me how to look at the world with hope and patience and I was always amazed at his innocence and kindness. Eddie died many years ago. He was hit by a drunk driver while wandering the streets of a much busier Jackson’s Point wearing his orange fluorescent vest.  Truth be told, I enjoyed every minute we spent together.

 

 

 

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Feeding The Baby

 

 

My wife was always an exceptional mother. I would watch in amazement as she exercised her maternal prowess. With 5 kids, there was always changings, and feedings, and trips to doctors, and a host of car pool events for the older ones.I helped as much as she would allow, relegated me to the chores and tasks she felt didn’t require a mother’s touch. I changed diapers, and gave kids bottles when they were done nursing. The responsibility for the nursing of the children was entirely hers. Except for that one evening in 1996.

The baby was crying, my wife was exhausted, and it was 2 in the morning. “I’ll go get her and bring her in here.”, I said.

I picked the baby up from her crib, and cradling her in my arms began the walk back to my wife. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain, and looked down to see the baby firmly attached to my nipple. Now I don’t know what the protocols are in a situation like this, but I began tugging, and pulling, and tugging some more, but she just wouldn’t let go. I screamed. Really, I screamed. My wife came running to find me sitting on the floor, trying to pry this monster off my nipple. “You have to break the seal.”, she said, laughingly.

“Get this thing off of me.”, I shouted, as the baby began sucking harder and harder. My wife inserted one of her fingers into the side of the baby’s mouth and I don’t know what happened, but the baby fell off. I was free. I passed the baby to my wife, and went into the bathroom to examine the damage. It was sore, and red, and I think I saw my life flash before me. “I think its swollen.”, I told my wife. “Do you think I should see the doctor?”

“You’ll be fine.”, she said.

“What the hell is wrong with that kid?”, I asked, still massaging my swollen, painful nipple.

“There’s nothing wrong with her.”, I was informed. “She was just hungry.”

It took a few days, but things got back to normal, as the swelling went down, and the pain subsided. Following that fateful night, I have never picked up a baby without wearing a shirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had always gone out of my wife to help my wife take care of the kids when they were younger. I clothed them, fed them, changed them, took them for walks, took them to the park, took them everywhere really, and just always tried to be involved. So when my youngest was a baby, and in her crib crying, I decided that I would go get her and bring her down to my wife. I lifted her out of her crib, and cuddled her against my chest, and began the treacherous walk down two flights of stairs to where my wife was waiting.

 

 

sima latching o to y nipple…

Bubbie Has A Boyfriend

 

There was quite a furor in my house. The kids were upset, my wife was uncharacteristically quiet, and once again I found myself in the role of therapist for this band of brooding, yet quite lovable barbarians. As innocent as it appeared to me, there was much anxiety over the news that my 80 year old mother-in-law had a boyfriend.

“Who is this man?”, one of my daughters asked.

“What does Bubbie need a boyfriend for?”, another one shouted out.

“We need to check this guy out.”, a son chimed in. “What if he’s after her money or something?” I sat listening to this diatribe, wondering what he hell had happened to what I thought was a reasonably sensible family.

“I don’t know who he is.”, my wife said. “Except that he’s younger than her, and he’s French.”

“He’s a gigolo.”, another son entered the fray.

“Are they, like dating?”, a daughter asked.

“It appears that way.”, my wife responded. “He just moved into her building.”

“Oh my God!”, a daughter quipped. “Are they living together?”

“No.”, my wife said. “He has his own apartment. A few floors above hers.”

“Well, that’s convenient.”, I said. Its probably not even furnished..”

“What is that supposed to mean?”, my wife asked, with arms folded.

“It means they are probably living together.”, a son replied. “He just rented his own apartment to make it look good.”

“They are not living together.”, my wife stated. “And please”, she added as she looked directly at me, “If you’re not going to help, then just say nothing.”

“I just don’t think there’s anything to get so upset about.”, I said. “The woman has been a widow for almost 40 years. She spent all of that time alone. I think its good for her to meet someone and try to be happy.”

“Well, it’s not your mother, is it?”, my wife reminded me. And true enough, it wasn’t.

“We need to meet this guy.”, a son said. “We need to check him out and make sure he’s okay for Bubbie.”

“We should just put him in the trunk of his car and leave him in the parking lot at the Airport.”, someone said.

“This isn’t a Mafia hit.”, I interjected.

“What if they’re having sex?”, a daughter asked.

“They’re not having sex.”, my wife answered.

“How do you know?”, I asked.

“Because they’re not.”, she said. “You’re still not helping.”, she said to me.

“Well”, I offered.”Why don’t we ask your mother and her friend to join us for lunch. We’ll all go. We can meet him, and see what’s going on. Maybe then you can all stop talking about it.” There are times when I have wonderfully brilliant solutions to all of my families troubles, but not one of them will ever let me know. This was one of those times.

“Okay.”, my wife said. “I call my mother and make arrangements for this weekend.”

“I’m going to grill him.”, a daughter said. “No one messes with my Bubbie.”

“We could take him outside and threaten him.”, a son said. “You know, scare the crap out of him.”

“Who are you?”, I asked him. “We’re not the Sopranos!”

“We will all behave.”, my wife said. “It will be a nice getting to know you, and welcome to the family lunch.”

“He’s not in my family.”, a daughter said.

“Does he even speak English?”, a daughter asked.

“He speaks English.”, I assured her. “But like a Frenchman. Just mumble, close your eyes and move your head around a bit when you speak to him. He’ll understand perfectly.”

As the day of the luncheon rolled around, everyone was working on their own agendas. There were those who had plans to batter the man with incessant questioning, while others were planning on intimidating and threatening. My wife wasn’t sure how she would react. She hoped that she would like him, for her mother’s sake, but she already had issue with him. Me, well, it made no difference to me whatsoever. I was pretty far removed from the emotional turbulence that had overwhelmed my family. If he was alright, then I was alright. All of the kids and their significant others met at the restaurant about 20 minutes before we arranged for them to come. We were an intimidating site for a newcomer, all 10 of us, seated at the table, some with a scornful demeanor, and visible uneasiness. “Please make sure your children behave.”, my wife whispered to me.

“Why are they suddenly mine?”, I asked.

“Because you taught them to be rude and disrespectful.”, she said.

“Okay.”, I said to my kids. “You really need to tone it down, and behave yourselves. Be nice. Be polite. We’re hear for your grandmother. Let’s try to make her happy.”

When they arrived, we all sat there talking, introducing ourselves, and trying to get to know the Frenchman. I’m sure he knew the scrutiny he was under. I’m sure my mother-in-law warned him about our family. But he was alright. He held his own. One of my daughters kept giving him the ‘stink eye’, and I had to glare at her to get her to stop. It turned out that the Frenchman had a crap load of money, owned several properties across Canada, including a beach house in Nova Scotia, and a Condo in Vancouver. I could see my daughter’s eyes light up,  with dollar signs floating around her face. My mother-in-law seemed happy, the happiest I had seen her in many, many years. My wife, struggling a little to let go of the ghost of her father, also saw her mother’s happiness. We finished lunch, and said our goodbyes, as they had a long drive back to Windsor. As the rest of us walked towards our cars, there was much chatter about the Frenchman.

“He seems okay.”, a son said.

“I still don’t like him.”, a daughter said.

“Do you think I could get him to pay off my student loan?”, another daughter asked.

“I hate the French.”, someone stated.

In the car, heading home, my wife asked me what I thought of him. “I don’t know.”, I told her. “He seems nice enough, and your mother is very happy.”

“I don’t want her to get hurt.”, she said.

“Ah, honey.”, I said. “They’re 80 years old. He can’t get her money because we have signing authority. What’s left for him to take? Her virtue? That ship sailed a long, long time ago. Let her have fun. We will take care of her, but she needs to live.”

“I know.”, she said. “I just worry that he’ll leave or something, and then she’ll have nothing.”

“She’ll have us.”, I reminded her.

“Thank you for looking out for my mother.”, she told me.

“And besides”, I stated. “If he hurts her, we can always have him stuffed into the trunk of a car parked at the airport. Your gangster son would gladly do the job.”

“Oh, so now he’s my son.”, she exclaimed.

“Yes.”, I explained. “The crazy shit they get from you. The kids and I refer to it as ‘getting Moroccan’.”

“Well”, she said, “We have some time without any kids. Interested in some crazy Moroccan sex?”

“It so happens that’s my favorite kind.”, I told her. Man, I love this woman..

 

 

 

 

Canadian As A 2nd Language, eh?

My new daughter-in-law, has started taking conversational English classes. As she is Japanese, she thought it would be a good idea for her to learn how to speak English like a real Canadian. Prior to her 1st class, she asked me, over dinner, what does it mean when Canadians say ‘eh’. I informed her that the word itself had no meaning, but was more of an idiom of speech, to imply right?, or okay?, often used in sentences like, ‘Its really snowing out there, eh?’, or, ‘ That moose looks like he’s gonna try and steal our beer, eh?’. I told her that it was an essential part of speaking like a Canadian, and she should employ it in her conversations whenever possible. My wife, and daughter, who were with us at the time, we equally encouraging, and we sent the lovely, young woman off to be with her husband, my son.

The next day, my wife received a call from my son. “Did dad lose his mind.?”, he asked.

“You’d better talk to him.”, my wife said, and handed me the phone.

“What did you do to my wife?”, he asked me. All day and night, anything she says, is followed by eh. Can you pass the milk, eh. Its cold, eh. Give me a kiss, eh.” I tried to hold my laughter inside, but it was swelling up like lava in a dormant volcano.

“So, what’s the problem, eh?”, I replied. “She wants to be a real Canadian, and I offered to turn her into one.”

“She’s driving me crazy.”, he continued. “All day and night, that’s all I hear. Eh this, or eh that. Sometimes, its just, Tony, eh? I don’t know what she wants half the time. Its driving me crazy. And I cant get her to stop because she says dad told her to practice using it all of the time.”

I love my daughter-in-law. She’s smart, and funny, and full of life. She’s also cute as all get out. My son found himself a great girl. Its just too bad he has no idea how to relax.

“You need to relax.”, I told him. “Take a pill, or something. If this is stressing you out so much, what the hell are you going to do when I teach her how to make moose calls?”

“Please.”, he begged. “Can you just leave my wife alone?”

“You need to get a sense of humor.”, I advised him. “You should probably go to Bulk Barn, and get a good, Canadian one. And as for leaving your wife alone, well, just grow a pair, eh?”

He didn’t want to speak with me any longer, and asked to talk to his mother. “Why do you have to get him going like that? Why must you agitate the kids?”, she asked as I passed her the phone.

“Its what I do.”, I replied, but she was no longer listening. She was on the phone, promising my son that I would no longer teach his wife to do things that irritated him, and that she would keep an eye on the crazy, old man.

“He’s pretty upset.”, my wife said after hanging up the phone.

“Who?”, I asked.

“Who do you think?”, she replied.

“The boy?” , I asked as I started laughing. “He’s an idiot. What the hell is wrong with your son, eh?”

“My son?”, she asked. “Now he’s my son? And don’t start that ‘eh’ thing with me.”

“Indeed.”, I said. “From now on, not a word. I will behave myself, and sit silently. Be sure that I will no longer willingly upset those who have come to grace our table, but forgot to bring their balls along.”

“Good.”, my wife said. “Its about time.”  I was feeling angst ridden, at the prospect of having to stop my mind from going for its customary walks down whatever road it happened to find itself on.

“Do you want me to start now?”, I asked. “There are a couple of things I would like to address before I put my sense of humor away-eh.”

“What is it?”, she asked, although I was almost certain that she didn’t really want to hear it.

“Well, firstly, I already promised Saori that I would teach her how to cuss like a Canadian. I would really like to honor my promise to her.”

“No.”, my wife said.

“Its okay, You can take your time and think about it.”, I told her.

“No. And second?”, she asked.

“Well, your boob has fallen out of your top. If its intentional, I just want to thank you. And if its an accident, just forget I mentioned it.”

My wife didn’t move. Accident or not, she left her boob right where it was.

“Wanna fool around?”, I asked.

“Will it shut you up?”, she queried.

“Probably not”,  I said, “Its likely that I’m going to cuss like a Canadian. But I’m willing to give it a whirl.”

“By the way, how do Canadian’s cuss?”, she asked as I moved up next to her.

“You’re about to find out.”, I answered. “Let me know if you like it, eh.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s A Mouse In My House

They told me there was a mouse. They told me this was not an ordinary mouse. It was a mouse of which nightmares are made. They told me there was a mouse in my house.  And this mouse in my house held my wife and daughters hostage for the better part of a day.

slowpokeThere was panic in her voice when she called to inform me about the mouse. Apparently, she saw it, out of the corner of her eye, run across the room. It was hiding somewhere and , from her vantage point, high atop the bed, she had lost track of it. There was a free range mouse in my house. She said it was a big mouse. A big, brown mouse. “What am I supposed to do?”, she asked.

“You have to find it and catch it.”, I said.

” I don’t want to find it.”, she replied.

“Well, I’m not sure if it will come to you, but you can wait and see.”, I advise.

“You should have stayed home from work today.”

“Well, I didn’t. Go next door and ask the neighbor’s sons to come over and catch the mouse.”, I told her.

When the phone rang 30 minutes later, she was hysterical. ” The boys weren’t home, so the father came. He started banging on the furniture, and the mouse ran out from under the bookcase, and now we can’t find it. It’s in here somewhere, and we don’t know where it went.”

“Where are you now?”, I asked.

“On the bed.”

“Where are the girls?”

“On the bed.”

“And the neighbor?”

“He went home. He said he can’t catch a mouse that he can’t find.”

“Ok.”, I told her. ” I will be home as soon as I can.”

It took about 15 minutes for her to call back. She had seen a second mouse, a small, grey mouse, perched on a ledge behind the sofa. She went next door and got Mr. Tarkanian again, He found it, and he whacked it. Ding dong the mouse is dead. Which old mouse? The small, grey mouse.

“Well, that’s good.”, I said. “The problem is solved.”

“There is still the big, brown one. It’s hiding in here. It knows we are trying to find it. This is one smart mouse.”

“Have you looked for it?”

“Are you kidding?”, She shreiked, “I’m not getting off this bed until it’s out of here.”

“You know, it’s more afraid of you, than you are of it.”, I said.

“I doubt it.”, she stated.

When I got home, my daughters had gone out, and one of them was not sure she was ever coming back. “Well, that was easy.”, I told my wife. “We should have got a mouse in here a long time ago.”

“She’s been traumatised”, I was informed. “Mr. Tarkanian caught the little one, and beat it’s head in with a metal rod. There was blood all over the floor. Right in front of her!”

“Ya, if only it was possible to capture and rehabilitate them.  Any idea where this mouse could be? Where did you last see it?”

I followed her lead, and wandered around poking at things, looking under beds, furniture, and behind appliances. We checked closets, and the laundry hampers. No mouse. “It’s in here.”, my wife explained. ‘Its in here, hiding, watching us, just waiting for me to get up and start movingimages-3 around, just so it can freak me out again.”

“Uh huh.”, I said, trying  hard not to sound sarcastic. ” That’s one mighty mouse. Maybe he’s just here to save the day.”

“You’re an asshole”, she said. Clearly my attempts at not being sarcastic had failed.

“Well”, I advised, “we can either call an exterminator, or go the hardware store and take care of this ourselves.”

“I want it gone now.”, she replied.

So, off we went to the local Hardware Store. Apparently there is no humane way to get rid of mice. You have sticky traps,clap traps, and mousetrapgame2poison. I had asked my wife about her possibly doing to the mouse what she had done to the Beta fish. “Can’t you just beat the thing to death?” She declined.

We purchased the poison, and following the clerk’s instructions, strategically placed cubes of poison all around the house. It seems, the rodent(s) will eat it, and within hours, they will die. The downside is, we are likely to find dead mice around the place, which have to be picked up, and disposed of.

“I’m not doing that!”, my wife asserted.

I never thought, not even for a moment that she would. It will be my job to locate and dispose of any and all mice we find. I have undertaker_1476945become the rodent search and recovery professional.

In the meantime, my wife remains frantic. Only a corpse will relieve her anguish. She says there is still a mouse. She has never seen it leave. She says this is not an ordinary mouse. It is a mouse that lies in wait, stalking, waiting and then frightening her. She says there is still a mouse in my house. And I now search the closets, the furniture, and  behind the appliances, looking for the dead mouse that is terrorizing my family.