The headlines were scandalous! Everyone was talking! Clucking like hens in some kind of worldwide press coop, and me too distraught to even add more Sriracha sauce to my cereal.
My breakfast tasted bland.
It was morning and I was in mourning. I felt like those doves, you know the ones. I used to think were called that because they always got up early, turns out they are called that because they’re sad. Join the club mourning doves. I tried to make that noise they make,
A lizard eyed me quizzically from the garden. I tossed my under-spiced cereal at him. He dodged it easily and picked at a wheat flake. He gave me a look like,
“Where’s the flavor?”
I shrugged empathetically. My mid-morning energy shake sat untouched and layered on the counter. I was too depressed to even mix the ingredients together in the glass. The rum floated at the top, the rest at the bottom like detritus from a shipwreck. The sugar won’t dissolve itself goddammit!
I threw the glass off of our balcony, it exploded in the street with a shaky scream. The rain started coming down like rope. All the liquid bled together. I thanked French Guiana for reflecting my mood in weather. It felt vaguely cinematic. I went and fetched a can of beer. Set the drinking to autopilot.
I sat on the terrace and brought out my work. My hands ruffled through all the newspapers; I looked at my computer. White. Nothing. I still hadn’t written a word, but I was the only one. These international press rags were having a field day! Istanbul, Prague, Bangkok, Brasilia: the story was everywhere, they were trading blood for ink, all of them. Spilling out my tragedy to the world. Our tragedy. I shaved my mustache in a grandiose act of mourning. My god! I was in hysterics!
Another paper arrived at our front gate. The delivery boy was soaking wet. The paper was in a plastic tube. It looked futuristic. It had been sent by my man in Blackpool, and read just as vague and tactless as all the others:
Wife Of World Famous Rum Punch Connoisseur and Brazen Socialite Ripped Apart By Chorus Of Sharks During Botched Synchronized Swimming Stunt!
Who were these Hearstians referring to when they said “Brazen Socialite”? Me? Or my late wife? It was unclear from the wording in the extremely long headline. It had better be me, I thought. The idea of my wife being called a socialite HA! The idea was absurd, hell she didn’t even want to go to that “all you can snuff” snuff party on our anniversary! Silly woman…silly wonderful wonderful woman… Oh sweet sweet angel!
Tabitha Suitcase! My bride, the light that illuminated my apartment for the three-month period that I lived there every year before popping off to internationally gallivant! How could it be that you’re gone? You were always there my sweet Tabitha, eating the delicious meals I prepared after work and ruining all of my cocktail mixers by watering them down. You are ruining mixers in heaven now my sweet little tabby cat… What illustrious heavenly light emitted from the nape of your perfect neck! All snuffed out now! All darkness. Oh sweet Tabitha with your skin like Irish Spring Soap and your hair like some other analogy that I could make if only my fingers had the strength to type.
I was in the process of writing Tabitha’s eulogy. It was going poorly. The words weren’t coming. I felt rotten and guilty for several reasons. The largest was that I had eaten some rather bad Chicken Nassi. I had found it in the refrigerator; it did not belong to me. I felt guilty because I was not there when she passed away, truth be told my wife and I hadn’t seen each other in some time. Estranged is a strong word, and the most suitable I suppose.
The beer was finished. The wind made the top of the bottle whistle. The sound was like ghosts. I thought I saw a will-o-wisp out in the rainy gray. I was hallucinating from sadness. I got up and went to the fridge, opened a Gatorade and poured half of it out for Tabitha. Then I filled it back up with water just like she would have liked, and took a long sorrowful gulp.
It tasted terrible.
Tabitha: too sweet for this world. I added a bunch of rum and the French Guianais version of Crystal Light powder, “Chic Zest A Go-Go!” I gave it a good hearty shake.
I looked around the apartment: everything reminded me of Tabitha! I took another gulp of the drink. It tasted artificial,
just like Tabitha’s laughter whenever I practiced my stand-up bit with her.
It was neon and pink,
just like Tabby’s lips after she’d finished her breakfast of Crystal light and sugar-free sour fish gummies. Those little splenda-kisses she would assault me with post meal, all worked up from the chemicals. Sigh after sigh blew through me like air out of a funereal bagpipe. My comparisons were morose and inarticulate. The drink tasted toxic,
just like that song Tabitha used to like called “Toxic.”
I decided to take a break from the eulogy; I was working too hard for a fresh widower like myself. I collapsed into the hammock weary and war torn with a kind of punchy shock in my innards that had nothing to do with the rum. I looked at my super-low cut v-neck t-shirts drying on the railing. All of them freshly dyed black for the coming months.
How could this have happened?
I ran the events of the day before through my head.
Like many Saturday mornings, I am at the port of Cayenne with “The Alliance of Mustaches In Support Of Backing Things.” This is the NGO I started. We are having one of our pre-brunch post-breakfast cocktail hour galas for “International Support of Awareness About Causes.”
Across the world, somewhere off the coast of Mogadishu, Tabitha Suitcase is being lowered into the water with 15 other extreme synchronized swimmers in anticipation for her greatest stunt routine yet: A ten minute intensely precise choreographed act to the music of A-HA filled with spine-cracking lifts and some very intense skulling. The moves are all incorporated together to spell out “No More Piracy.” The routine was in protest of, I am guessing, illegal music downloading in Somalia.
Tabitha was always caring about the small stuff like that, adorable little bore she was.She would act locally and I would act globally! We were a perfect team.
Unfortunately, Tabitha’s routine never made it far enough to spell out “No More Piracy.” If anything, I guess Tabby’s stunt spelled something like “No More Being Alive!” Or better yet “ No More Legs And Innards.” Shortly after the girls entered the water, the trouble began. All of that well-timed succinct egg beat kicking attracted the sharks faster than rudimentary strobelights and mid-90’s techno attracts Europeans.
11:45 A.M. Still at my Portside Gala, I am in the process of giving a toast, in the name of, wait for it, sharks. This was not intentional. In fact, all of my toasts are either made to Tigers, Sharks, or Sovereignty for Tibet. Since we were seaside the toast invariably went to the most aquatic of the three.
My toast in Cayenne being given in honor of the animal which was very likely simultaneously gorging itself on the flesh of my estranged wife is an example of something called cry-rony: a word me and Tabitha made up for when something is sad and ironic at the same time. The Shark toast proved to be fatefully cry-ronic.
Outside of Mogadishu, the only surviving synchronized team member is pulled to safety by the ship’s crew with the help of some neighboring pirates. (Oh the cry-rony!). This survivors name escapes me…It is something that is hard to remember…something Eastern European…Helgospha…Helanosh…Heliospa…Nope not gonna get it.
Anyway, she is carrying the neck and shoulders of my beloved, the only parts of her body that can be salvaged. I have bypassed the idea of a funeral (who cares what her family wants!) and instead have opted to have these remains casted in bronze, to forever commemorate that wonderful nape; her neck being, as I previously mentioned, the best thing about her.
11:50 A.M. Cayenne’s port is in hysterics as we all receive the news:
there are no more mini-sandwiches for the tasting table.
“My god!’ I scream, “What about the olives stuffed with calamari stuffed with creamcheese flavored with bits of olives? We still have plenty of those right?”
The waiter shakes his head gravely,
In Mogadishu, the pirates are using the netted chum and tripe from the synchronized swimming team to fish for sharks. The fishing being just for fun, it is all catch and release.
My wife’s ghost shudders with cry-ronic horror.
4:45 P.M. After my customary post gala nap I brush my teeth and languidly stroll out onto the terrace to check my email. On my internet browser welcome page, which is set to Shark and Tiger Daily, I am notified of Tabitha’s accident.
I promptly vomit mini-sandwich and a mixture one could only refer to as olive-mari all over the table….
The mourning process begins.
Back on my terrace some 16 hours later, the rain is letting up and I have restarted my work on Tabitha’s eulogy. It will be a commemorative picture drawn by me of her giving a thumbs up from heaven while I taste several different dry rums at a classy bar below, back on earth.
Oh the complete and utterly peaceful feeling closure brings. Tabitha, angel in heaven watching over all us mortals…My heart goes out to you Tabby…But I have got to move on.
As I draw, I feel Tabitha’s spirit all around me. It swirls around my Commemorative “Shark Tale” calligraphy pencil set. (Will Smith’s best performance.) I feel like Demi Moore. Where is Whoopi when I need her? I fish out another beer from my eulogy-express ice-box, situated next to the table. The beach is beating up the sand far off in the distance. Tabitha’s presence is here. I feel her. I can hear the tide whipping in and out. The wind knocks my bottle over and as I reach for it, it points to the distance, to two criminally tan girls walking towards the surf. I look at my swim trunks drying on the railing, not yet dyed black.The eulogy drawing can wait,
I start to strip nude on the porch, making my customary beach call in the direction of the women.
The heart wants what it wants and I have a life ahead of me you know? I can’t keep mourning forever can I? It’s not me who was engulfed by sharks. Tabitha would have wanted it this way.