Monday, March 21, 2005

Loretta: Cherchez la femme 

Only a ride on the bus is as dependable a source for good material as the library. The other day while I was riding toward a branch across town I heard some woman cackling and droning on in a loud voice toward the front. I looked and saw that it that none other than Loretta, the tragic belle of the streets, whose adventures and plight I have chronicled extensively here in this blog. I haven’t seen Loretta since she got her 4th and final residential hotel room in another area of the city far away from the library. When I saw her on the bus she was without her usual retinue of homeless beaux. Her desirability to her suitors peaks at the 1st of the month when she is flush with SSI and trust fund money and then depreciates as the month progresses and her money dwindles. I eavesdropped in rapt, morbid fascination as she regaled some older couple from some polite Midwest state all about how she just loves to ski and tries to get to the slopes at least once a season. Loretta is almost 250 pounds of alcoholic bloat and walks with a cane, an old injury from her friend Archie (a.k.a. Hitler), who stomped on her foot and broke her toe a while back when she wouldn’t hand over her money. She was carrying on and simpering as the couple politely listened to her drunken ramblings until her stop, when she lumbered off the bus. Even under all of the swelling and gin blossoms and exposure blasted skin I can still see the beauty that Loretta must have been, just as you could see Liz Taylor’s beauty underneath all of her fat during that unfortunate period in the seventies when she really let herself go and was all hooked on pain medication from the back injury she incurred during the filming of National Velvet. Loretta strongly resembles Liz Taylor during that phase.

The other day the Feisty Old Broad came in a talkative mood, scandalized but secretly pleased I suspect that her ophthalmologist had told her that morning, “You’re one hot old lady.” I asked her about Loretta and she informed me that Loretta had been on a bender because she witnessed her neighbor down the hall of her residential hotel swan dive out the window. He had been a schizophrenic who refused all medication except for his self prescribed alcohol. He was on a perpetual drunk and his liver was cirrhotic and he suffered from numerous other 'lifestyle' ailments. The week before he had crawled down the halls of the hotel naked and covered in his own shit, screaming about how demons were after him. A group of residents were all carousing in his room when he suddenly got up, walked to his window, swept off the menagerie of beer cans on the ledge and declared, “I AM SUPERMAN!” before jumping out. He fell four stories and then bounced five feet off the pavement. Amazingly, the impact didn’t kill him, but only put him in an exorbitantly costly and lengthy coma at the hospital. A full recovery is expected, however. I don’t understand the irony, how life can be so fragile and tenuous for some who die tripping over a crack in the sidewalk, while others who incessantly abuse their bodies and remain drunk for 50 years straight are more vigorous and harder to kill than Rasputin. Anyway, Loretta was deeply traumatized and has had to anesthetize her pain with rivers of malt liquor.

After Loretta got off the bus a couple replaced her. They were emaciated and smelled sour, and the woman was covered in sores. I’m not sure if the lesions were due to a meth induced skin picking jag, abscesses from infected track marks or something contagious like measles or leprosy. If it were indeed leprosy, then they should have to wear cowls and bells around their neck and keep far away from other people. They were bickering about what stop to get off when the man abruptly lurched off the bus and left her. The woman waited until the bus started off again and then she began wailing and making a scene and beating on the back door until the bus driver stopped and let her off to join her life partner.

Oh, my goodness; as displeasant as Loretta's situation may be, I'm glad to have an update about her. She is a patron of yours about whom I often wonder.
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