(Newcomers may click here to go back to to Chapter One of Uncle Buddy’s House©. “Buddy Best is a hero for our times, not that this says much for our times.” J.J. Hunsecker in Man’s Life.)
They got an outside table and immediately lit up the cigarettes.
“Y’know, Cordelia, I really don’t want a fucking Diet Coke,” said Liz. “I think I’ll scream if I have another fucking Diet Coke today.”
“Have a glass of wine. I’m gonna have one.”
“I’m not supposed to drink. I have a problem.”
“A drinking problem?”
“Well, my main problem was diet pills, speed, coke if I could get it. Then I went into rehab. Then I met this guy, Craig. The guy who -- anyway, he was an alcy, I met him in a meeting, and he slipped and started drinking, and I was an idiot, so I started drinking. A lot. That’s why I had to move back home with Dad.”
“Oh. Do you mind if I have one?”
“Oh, please do.”
“Maybe you’re not an alcoholic.”
“Maybe it was just because of the guy.”
“Maybe you should go ahead and have a glass of wine, Liz.”
“Oh, but then I’ll have to tell everybody in my AA group all about it.”
“So just don’t tell them. I mean, jeeze, how often does your father get shot and almost bleed to death? I mean, that’s a very stressful thing. To happen.”
“You’ve got a point.”
“We’ll just have one.”
“Okay. But totally don’t let me have more than one, all right?”
“Sure. I never have more than one myself anyway.”
By this point the waiter was standing there, had been standing there, so Cordelia ordered a Merlot and Liz ordered a Chardonnay.
“God this tastes good,” said Liz.
“Yeah, mine too.”
They were quiet for a bit. Sade’s “Smooth Operator” played over the sound system, the one millionth time each of the girls had heard this song.
“So you think he’s going to be okay?” said Cordelia.
“Dad? Yeah, I think so. The doctor said the bullet missed the artery, and it only scraped the bone, it’s just the bullet traveled all the way from the top front of his thigh and then out the lower back part of it and he lost a ton of blood. You wouldn’t believe the blood in our living room when Philip and I got home. It was fucking gross.”
“Did you have to clean it up?”
“Well, believe it or not, Joan came over this morning and cleaned it all up. And then she waxed the floor.”
Liz was staring at the table. Sade went off and like clockwork a Phil Collins song came on, “You Can’t Hurry Love”.
“Who were all those women there, Liz?”
“Ah, the women. Well, besides Joan -- there was my mom, the really thin, granoly one who apparently looks like me?”
“She took the bus down from this Buddhist ashram where she lives, up in the mountains. Then there was my grandmom, that’s Dad’s mom. And my Aunt Ro, his sister, they just flew in from Philadelphia. Then there was Debbie, she was the short tanned one, she’s kind of his business manager. The black woman is Marlene, she’s their office manager. Heather’s the thin girl? She line-produces Dad’s movies, she’s his partner Harvey’s daughter.”
“Who was that cute English lady, with the cellphone?”
“Her name is Marjorie something. She’s Dad’s publicist.”
“Ah,” said Cordelia. “Marjorie. She seemed nice.”
“Yeah,” said Liz.
“Lots of women. Deirdre and her little chum.”
“He’s got a regular harem there.”
“I know,” said Liz. “It reminds me of that scene from 8 1/2
-- you ever see that? Marcello Mastroianni, in a house with all the women in his life?”
“Oh, I love that movie.”
“I feel so fucking guilty.”
“You didn’t shoot him, Liz.”
“No. But my loser ex-boyfriend did.”
“Really? Wait, I thought it was supposed to be like some burglar or something --”
“Right. That’s what my dad told the cops, just so they wouldn’t look for Craig.”
“Craig is the alcoholic ex-boyfriend?”
“He -- Buddy -- your dad -- he told you this?”
“Yeah. I asked him not to lie to me, and so he told me the truth.” She paused. “He told the cops it was some guy with a ski mask on, because that way he wouldn’t have to make up a description.”
“That was clever of him.”
“But he made me promise not to tell anyone.”
“You told me.”
“I know. I suck.”
“Well,” said Cordelia, “he was trying to give Craig a break.”
“I know. He said it was an accident. Craig was trying to commit suicide, my dad tried to knock away the gun, it went off.”
“Do you believe that’s what happened?”
“Oh yeah, Craig was always threatening suicide. Now I hope he does do it.”
“Have you heard from him?”
“No. Not a word. And this is after phone calls nearly every day since I left him, or rather since my dad flew to Milwaukee, kicked his ass, threw him out and brought me home.”
“Wow, Buddy did all that?”
“Yeah. He was great. Unlike Craig who is a pathetic self-pitying alcoholic loser.”
“Well, forget him.”
“I’ll never forget him, but I hate him.”
“Fuck him. Y’know?”
“If he ever shows his face to me again he won’t need to commit suicide.”
Liz got quiet, and Cordelia let her be quiet. Then Liz said:
“You seem really nice, Cordelia.”
“You’re cute, too. I don’t blame my dad for liking you.”
Cordelia nodded, looked away, and gnawed her lower left lip. Then she said:
“Y’know, we never actually slept together. I mean we slept together but we never actually had sex. I mean, full-blown sex.”
“Wow, I thought --”
“I know. Then when I heard he got shot I almost wished we had. Had sex. Full blown.”
“Do you want to get something to eat now?” said Liz.
“Yeah. You know what I want?’”
“Me too,” said Liz.
They ordered cheeseburgers and french fries, well, it was very much more complicated than that, but basically that was what they ordered, along with two more glasses of wine, except this time Liz ordered a Pinot Noir and Cordelia ordered a Shiraz.
After the waiter went away in defeat from taking their order Liz said:
“Hey, if you don’t mind my asking, how come you and my dad never, um, you know, had full-blown -- you know. I mean, weren’t you, or --”
“I don’t know. We came close a couple times, especially once in an alley, but he didn’t have a condom.”
“Oh my God, did you say in an alley?”
“Don’t tell anybody, okay?”
“About the alley?”
“Well, about us never -- yeah, the alley too I guess, but -- oh, never mind --”
“So you like Dad, right? I mean in a way.”
“Yeah. He was different. I mean he is different.”
“Yeah. He’s not dead yet.”
“I hope not,” said Cordelia. “It’s --”
She stopped, or didn’t go on.
“What?” said Liz.
“I don’t know. It’s -- oh, I don’t know.”
“I know,” said Liz.
“So, you really have to fly back tonight?”
“Yeah. The show must go on.”
“I’m sorry you didn’t get to see him.”
“He was just adamant. He didn’t want you to see him all fucked up the way he is. All the tubes and everything.”
“I understand. Does he really look really bad?”
There was a pause, and now it was another one of those songs you could never escape, The Talking Heads’ “Take Me to the River”.
(Don’t worry. Continued here. )
(Kindly look to the right-hand column of this page to find a listing of links to all other published chapters of Uncle Buddy’s House™; soon to be a major mini-series event on the Lifetime Channel, starring Bette Davis and Olivia de Haviland, featuring Wallace Beery as "Buddy"; written, produced and directed by Larry Winchester.)