from GAHA:BABES OF THE ABYSS
Life in Santa Monica wasn’t bad. There were stores to shop from and the beach was crowded on weekends with big hats and bare butts. I ate sausage and chili noodle salad at the cart on Sandero Luminoso Boulevard or else got fish tacos at Sa’s truck on 14th Street. I could eat at either place every day and not get tired.
The old lady had deteriorated beyond the state I had first seen her in. At the desk we were warned that she was not very responsive. They wheeled her in from her bedroom and we sat on the balcony overlooking the Pacific. She had a cup of water with ice and a straw which she would periodically grip and bring to her lips, slurping loudly. She was bent over. There were tubes in her nose for oxygen. She craned her face forward like a turtle and tried to stare at us. One eye was drifting and white but the other was intense and glaring, like the brightest star in the sky was trapped inside it. She whispered, “I hate this. Please. My lawyer.” She wheezed and lowered her head to the table. After a long time she lifted her head again and whispered, this time fixing her eye on Elma, “Celestial angel of fire. Stay. Stay. Have a drink dear.” This time she was able to keep her head up for a while. After another rest on the table, her white hair spread in a pool around her, she turned creakily to Irmela and said, “Irmela. Dear. How is your motorcycle?”
“Vroom vroom,” Irmela said. She smiled and bent down to look Agatha in the eye, and the old lady emitted several short dry breaths. “More the kicks than the pricks. I miss you. We are sad we did not visit. The roads are so bad. We are haunted by the ride into LA, and what the Rulers have done.” The old lady exhaled and flattened her face on the table, her eyes shut. She snored.
Weeks later we arrived earlier than usual, as she wanted us there to talk to her lawyer. Elma poured gin and vinho verde into a chrome pitcher and stirred it languidly. She was wearing a lime green dress the old lady had given her. It had a high collar and a gold chain belt with a scarlet snakeskin purse dangling from it by a tiny fist carved out of bone. She poured out a martini. “The onions or the olives or the twist?”
I was about to answer when Agatha hacked, “Capers dear.” Her eyes opened. A hissing breath came out from between her teeth. “Please, don’t make me laugh.”
“The caper,” Elma said and brought it to the table. “How will you drink this?”
“Just throw it in my cup.” Agatha clutched the cup and rattled it, and sucked down half the water.
“Make mine onions,” I said, a little impatiently. I wanted a drink.
“I know what you want,” Elma said.
“I didn’t tell you, and you asked.”
“But I knew then when she had the capers you would get the onions and not the twist.”
“You just reasoned your way there?”
“I do not know what these reasons are that you talk about.”
“I’ll never get it fucking straight, I know, moyotis, agony in my diaper,” I said.
The door knocked. Agatha lifted her finger and said, “Lawyer. Let him in.”
In walked Abby Vonneniu dressed in black pinstripe, and Dr. Oyub, in a maroon double breasted suit with a pink vest and red shoes, their shapes cue and cue ball.
“Mr. Martin,” said Vonneniu. “Pleased to meet you again. You remember Dr. Oyub I presume?”
“Agatha,” Oyub said. “Please tell me you won’t do this.”
She hissed and shook her head. “Not die alone…please.” She was quite sicker than before. Her head went down face forward onto the table, resting on the tube protruding from her nostrils. Her hair was white and lustrous, while the rest of her was parched and wasted. Like the stories they told in school of the Nuwu Sybil and her dog, which sat in Old Woman cave weaving a rug and making soup. Every time she got up to stir the soup the dog-chewed part of the rug, which she would then fix until it was time to stir the soup again. So she never finished weaving the rug, which was just as well since if she ever did stop weaving it a fire would come down out of the north and destroy the earth. She could never die but was cursed to age forever, and so as she sat weaving and stirring, her flesh got drier and drier until it flaked off and blew around like leaves. And still, even as she turned to dust, she stirred the soup and wove the rug. It was she who prophesied the return of Chingishnish.
Oyub was reduced to yelling into Agatha’s ear, and she lifted one finger for yes and two for no. “So these are your final wishes then?” he shouted, his short fat body bent forward. She raised one finger. “Do you understand what I am saying?” She raised one finger. “Is there any reason to suspect that you are insane or stupefied by illness?” She raised two fingers. “Let it be noted that she is of sound mind and body. Able to assent and dissent.” He stood upright and said to Vonneniu, “Very well. Let us proceed.”
Vonneniu said, “In essence, because the de Marcoses predeceased Miss Kennedu, ownership of the property reverts to her and she has the right to leave it to whomever she pleases, not being constrained by the prior will in anyway, and there being in addition no claims by descendants of the de Marcoses. Therefore the de Marcos estate now relinquishes any hold or claims on the property.” Oyub and Vonneniu shook hands and bowed slightly. Agatha raised one finger.
Oyub said into Agatha’s ear, “In consequence of which I move to file the last will and testament of Agatha Moar Kennedu, daughter of the Fifth Lord of Malibu and Hattie Carrol, a maid in the kitchen, her sole inheritance being the house at 145678459018 Topanga Canyon Spur Remote Plot 57, and the contents therein and precious metal and jewels sufficient for her keep; the terms of said will being modified to make Elma von Doderer of 145678459018 Topanga Canyon Spur Remote Plot 57 the sole beneficiary of the estate. The executor shall be Dr. Vovim Oyub.” He looked at her ear and wet his lips. “Are these the terms we are agreed to?”
Agatha lifted her bony finger and hissed. Oyub leaned closer, as she attempted to speak while resting face down on the oxygen plug. “Hehhh” she said, and pushed herself upright. “Yes,” her voice trembled, “Those are the terms.” Down went the face again. She obviously had to have some strength in her. She didn’t flop forward but dropped slowly. The old lady was squeezing Oyub’s balls.
“Now we have another document here, Elma, which must be signed as a condition of the will. Agatha wishes to go home, to the house the three of you now rent from her. She feels she would be more comfortable there. This is a contract between Elma von Doderer, Irmela von Doderer and Agatha Moar Kennedu. Elma von Doderer and Irmela von Doderer agree to serve as Agatha Moar Kennedu’s private nurses. You will be allowed to continue as tenants, the three of you. Is this agreeable as a condition for becoming Miss Kennedu’s sole heir?”
Elma looked at Irmela and they flexed nostrils and blinked and bit their tongues. Elma said, “I can do that. I agree.”
Irmela said, “Yeah alright. I can do this too. I love you Agatha.”
“I think we all love Agatha,” I said.
Oyub said, “Without doubt.” He fixed his tie and gazed at the old lady. She was mouthing the words fuck you. “Is that it then?” Agatha lifted two fingers. “What?”
She raised her head laboriously this time and said in a frail whisper, “Proxy.”
Oyub stifled a growl and said, “Ahem. The Proxy Document. This document appoints Elma von Doderer medical proxy for Agatha Moar Kennedu. Agatha Moar Kennedu intends to die at home. Hospice care is to be provided there. She wants moderate, not extraordinary measures to be taken in her behalf. What constitutes moderate and extraordinary measures is defined in schedule C of the end of life protocols manual. Do you agree to be medical proxy?”
Elma looked at Agatha’s face carefully, her head turned slightly. “Is this what you want?” she asked.
The old lady’s finger shot forward emphatically from the knuckle and remained stiff and still. “Then I will do what must be done.” Elma’s eyes welled up with tears and she dropped to her knees and took the old lady’s frail hand in her own. “I don’t know what I have done to deserve this. You don’t know what a bad person I am.” The tears coursed straight down her cheeks and her hair burned a ferocious gold. She lifted her head and said to all of us, “I will allow nothing to happen to her. In my hands she will be safe and comfortable, this I promise.” I looked at Irmela. Her face was blank. She looked like she was being fucked in a porno film. I thought, that old lady won’t make it a month. In three, four weeks she’ll die and I’ll own that house. And every inch of it legal, written and sworn to here in front of witnesses. Even with Oyub as executor. I didn’t go to law school for nothing. Elma was now my client and no gabacho puta madre lawyer in a motherfucking suit was gonna screw her out of her house and jewels. I was.