Episode 23 – The Taconic Inn

Inside, the inn’s a dump with a cavernous lobby and adjoining dining room…all held up by peeling white columns. The rugs are frayed and the furniture is disgusting…ancient chairs and sofas, undoubtedly crawling with bugs and shit…and the whole place is nearly deserted…just a few gray heads here and there.

“Is this a welfare hotel?” Carl asks, scowling at the surroundings.

I ignore him. Approach the hostess who’s filing her nails in the restaurant archway. Ask for Artie.

She looks me over. “How old are you?”

“Fifty-five,” I tell her with a laugh.

She doesn’t crack a smile. “You know him?”

“We know his friend Kayvon.”

She scribbles a note and disappears.

“This place isn’t exactly cheery,” Azalea says, “or is it just me?”

“It’s you,” I tell her with a grin, but gotta admit she’s right. The place is nasty. I picture rats and roaches scurrying in the shadows.

Suddenly, the hostess reappears leading a stocky guy in white shirt, black pants and an apron. He looks up and Neal nearly shits. “Holy fuck!”

There’s a scar across his eye and the eyeball’s totally white…incredibly gross.

“How can I help you guys?” He asks with a freaky grin. Half his teeth are gone on one side.

He’s not old…no white hair or wrinkles….thin, bony face…good eye’s intense blue.

“Artie?” I ask like a numb nuts. What do I think? It’s Barack Obama?

He nods.

“Kayvon sent us,” I explain. “My dad works at The Cherry Pit. We, uh, haven’t eaten and we’re pretty thirsty.”

“Oh, okay,” he says. “Follow me.”

Azalea nudges me. “I’ve got a good feeling about this guy.”

He leads us through a doorway. The bar looks like it hasn’t been painted in a million years…cracked walls, smoke-stained ceiling. A bunch of guys in overalls are clutching their drinks. Throw suspicious glances.

Artie places menus in front of us. “How old are you guys?”

“In our twenties,” Azalea replies.

I wince. Wait for Artie to throw us out, but he just nods. “What are you doing here?”

“We came to see my dad’s act,” I explain, “but they wouldn’t let us in…”

Azalea jams me in the ribs. “Oh yeah…uh…it was sold out, so we decided to just wait for him to finish, then head back home.”

Artie looks me in the eyes. “Is he a cross-dresser?”

“A transvestite? Oh yes, of course.”

“What’s his stage name?”

“Maude.”

Artie’s face brightens. “Maude, you’re kidding? So, you’re Cornell?’

I’m stunned. “You know about me?”

“Sure! Your dad lives nearby. He brags about you all the time.”

I feel like I’m in some sci-fi flick. How could dad live here, and with me at the same time? Maybe we’re talking different guys????

“Are you sure you’re talking about Quincy Dodson?” I ask.

“Yes, your dad. Let’s relax and get acquainted,” Artie says. “What do you guys drink?”

We all look at each other. Order beers. Artie doesn’t seem to give a shit. Kayvon definitely sent us to the right guy.

Azalea takes a huge gulp…has a foam mustache. “Is this awesome or what?”

Neal reaches behind and taps me on the shoulder. “Gus, what the fuck?” He whispers. “How can your dad live here?”

“Something’s screwy,” Carl says.

I’m totally confused. First it was the transvestite revelation, and now a secret home, or life, or whatever??? How can my family be so totally fucked up? I’m determined to find out the truth. Hopefully, it’s a big mix-up, but after all that’s happened, I’m so fucking skeptical. Why would Dad need a another place? Because he’s here so much…but why wouldn’t he just tell me? It’s like I’m not part of his fucking life!

To be continued…Read next episode!