Rons Rants

A Blog Is A Self-Inflicted Invasion Of Privacy

Location: Newland, North Carolina, United States

I'm a fifty two year old happily married man who doesn't really like many people which is why I live on the top of a mountain.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Last Christmas Of Mike McCarthy...Part IV

Sorry it's taken so long to get back to this story but, to be's been tough to write.

In addition to that fact, I broke a few ribs last Friday and have been existing on Vodka and Vicodin ever since.

No REALLY.....I've been one hurtin' old dude this week HOWEVER....I'm starting to heal just in time to join the family at Christmas and contract some sort of flu like disease from all those germ ridden children so.....LIFE IS GOOD!

I'm thinking of changing my name to 'Job' in honor of all the maladies which have befallen me lately!!

Okay......Back To The Story.

Mike laughed even though it was pretty obvious that George was damned unhappy.

“Thanks George…we’ll be right with you.” He said.
George looked at him and scowled.

“Ya’ll gonna do some drugs in my damned office?” He asked.

I looked at Mike, Mike looked at me and we both grinned at George.

“You don’t wanna know about it George.” I laughed.

He just scowled and shook his head.

As long as I had known George, he had HATED drugs and anyone having anything to do with them. He used to rag on me about smoking pot but, we had come to an understanding.

It was simple:

George wouldn’t hold my pot smoking against me and I wouldn’t tell anyone about all the crazy shit I’d seen him do while drinking Jim Beam!

“George…have you ever heard of the ‘Make A Wish Foundation’?” Mike asked seriously.

George cocked his head to the side and nodded.

“Yeah.” He said.

“Well, my wish is that you lock the door behind you.” Mike laughed. “Don’t worry; we’ll be right with you.”

George was dumbstruck.

I laughed because Mike was handling George like a chess piece and George was not easily ‘handled’.

I was enjoying it immensely.

George did as Mike requested and left the office after twisting the lock and calling us a couple of assholes.

After he’d closed the door, Mike giggled like a little kid.

“That’s one cool little dude…..I like him.”

“Yeah….he’s a good one.” I answered. “I gotta tell you though…he might be little but I wouldn’t push him if I were you.”

He looked at me and laughed.

“I gotta tell you Ronster….there ain’t a living soul on this planet that I’m scared of now.” He roared. “What are they gonna do? Kill me?”

“Yeah, you’ve got a point there I suppose.” I replied.

Mike laid out a couple of long lines of coke on George’s desk and produced a straw.

He offered it to me.

“Mikey, I haven’t done any of that shit in a long time. I don’t know if my old heart can take it!” I told him.

He just grinned for a second and then leaned down with the straw. Within seconds, he made one line disappear. He rose up and looked at me.

“No guts…no glory!” He beamed. “Come on you big wuss.”

I’d love to claim that I possessed enough character to decline his offer but…in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I didn’t.

Thank God, it must have been really crappy Coke because after a few minutes, I didn’t feel the old ‘ten foot tall and bullet proof’ rush nor did I feel the urge to fold paper bags in my spare time.

I was pretty much unaffected by it.

Mike looked at me.

“Okay!” He announced. “Let’s go raise a little hell!”

We returned to the back room just in time to witness John C. doing his famous ‘Gator Disco’.

As pathetic as it sounds looking back on it, John’s ‘Gator Disco’ was freaking FUNNY back in the day!

I’ve actually seen him do this dance in a thousand dollar tuxedo but every time, I damn near died! Watching his drunk ass flop around the dance floor like a retarded alligator was damned funny! SAD but never the less damned funny.

He was a HOOT!

John was at the point in his routine where the crowd was going wild and he began to roll sideways at a rapid rate as though escaping a net or something. His pudgy body rolled viciously, his mouth snapped at imaginary restraints, his eyes were absolutely wild and he flapped his arms which were bent at the elbows in a way that you were certain he was actually an alligator in a suit!

Mike looked at me after watching John for a minute.

“Somebody needs to shoot that sonofabitch and put him out of his misery.” Mike growled. “He’s weird as hell.

I laughed and started to say something when suddenly, Mike fell to the floor.

It wasn’t a ‘movie’ style fall.

His body simply collapsed and he fell in a heap with his head leading the way. His head hit the floor and, even over the noise of the music and crowd, it sounded like someone had slammed a grapefruit into the floor.

I knelt down quickly and put my hand on his back. I didn’t know what the hell to do!

Mike wasn’t even fazed!

He rolled over onto his back and began laughing.

“I did it again!” He chuckled. “I swear……that shit SUCKS!”

People rushed over to him and were milling about. Mike wanted no part of it and shot me a withering look.

“Ronster……get me the fuck out of here.” He snapped.

It was not a request.

He fully expected me to obey his order and…..of course, I did.

Sick or not….he looked PISSED off and I wasn’t going to argue with him.

After a few uncomfortable minutes, George and I got Mike on his feet. We made it to the back door and Mike reached out to clap George on the shoulder.

“It was great meeting you little dude.” He grinned. “Sorry to spoil the party but I only allow myself one humiliating experience per night."

He was a bit unsteady and swayed against the wall.

George patted him on the chest and looked at me.

“Ya’ll gonna be okay?” He asked.

“Hell yeah…he’s just a bit tired.” I said. “We’ll see you tomorrow night.”

With that, I opened the back door and was greeted by an arctic blast of wind and snow.

As I stepped out of the doorway, I found that it was snowing to beat the friggin’ band! Man it was coming down!

Somehow, Mike came around as though nothing had happened!

“Damn dude!” He shouted. “Let’s go play in the snow!!”

I looked at him and laughed.

“Yeah..we’ll play in the snow but we’re goin’ home to do it!” I said. “It’s late and I’m tired.”

“Naw man, come on…” He started.

“Get in the friggin’ car Mike…I ain’t gonna argue about it.” I demanded. “It’s not far from here and I’ve got a big yard for you to roll around in and rediscover your abominable snowman roots! Let’s go.”

He reluctantly climbed into the passenger side as I started the car. I let it idle for a bit and looked over at him.

He had reclined the seat and was apparently already asleep!

I left the engine running while I got out of the car and scraped the snow off of the windows and lights. He stirred a bit when I got back in the car but remained silent.

“You okay?” I asked quietly.

There was no answer so I turned on the radio, put the car in gear and drove off. As I neared my house, the snow was pouring. My wipers and defrosters were fighting a losing battle against Mother Nature and visibility was such that I could only dare driving at thirty five mph.

Around twenty minutes later, we pulled up in front of my house.
Mike was still out like a light.

Side Note:

At the time, I lived in an extremely cool house. It had been built over one hundred and twenty years ago and it featured a guest cottage. Now…before anyone gets the idea that this was a mansion, let me explain.

The main house consisted of twenty four by eight Living Room/Dining Room, an eight by twelve master bedroom, a seven by ten ‘guest room’ which served as my office, a tiny bathroom and a kitchen/laundry room which would have appeared spacious only if had it been located in a motor home!

It had a great ‘English Garden’ (which I came to understand meant that the weeds and roses grew wild) and a big front porch and deck. The ‘guest house’ was originally built to serve as a quilting room for the original owner, a spinster lady who taught at the community school before the turn of the century. The guest house was simply a native stonework cottage with a large room which featured a stone fireplace, a miniscule kitchen and a small bathroom on the ground floor. A staircase lead to an A-framed loft bedroom which featured the only ‘crawl in’ closets I’ve ever seen. You had to be an extra in the Wizard of Oz to get inside the damned things.

It was no mansion but, it was a cool little place which was nestled beside a beautiful trout stream.

My dog Barney and I loved it.

Back To The Tale….

Being careful not to wake Mike, I slipped out of the car and proceeded to haul all his stuff into the guest house. As I made several trips back and forth, my 125 lb Rottweiller/Lab mix dog Barney had appeared from his basement dwelling and was doing his best to gain my undivided attention. I snapped at him and told him go sit on the porch, which he did.

Finally, I went back to the car, shut off the engine and woke Mike.

“Hey Mikey….we’re home.” I said quietly.

He didn’t stir.

I reached over and touched his left thigh.

“Mikey.” I said a bit louder.

He popped straight up in his seat and grinned at me.

“Hah!” He laughed. “Have you got all my shit moved in already?”

He had obviously been playing possum the entire time.

“You know….you’re an asshole.” I growled.

I got out of the car and walked around to the stone path leading to the house. I could hear him laughing even though his door hadn’t opened yet. Finally, the door opened and he struggled to get out.

I just stood there and watched him.

“I’ll be damned if I’m fallin’ for that shit again!” I said. “Come on dude…let’s get inside.”

He looked up at me and grinned a bit sheepishly.

“Actually, I could use a hand here big boy.” He said seriously..

“Really?” I asked suspiciously.

“Yeah…I hate it worse than you but….yeah.” He said dejectedly.

I grabbed his right upper arm and helped him stand up.

Once out of the car, he simply stood there and looked around.

The snow was falling heavily and there was a dead quiet quality about the moment.

After a moment, Mike turned to me and smiled.

Man, this is beautiful.” He said softly. “Too damned beautiful.”

“Wait till you see it tomorrow morning.” I said. “It’ll be even better.”

“Man…I don’t see how it could be any better but…I’ll take your word for it.”

“Still wanna play in the snow?” I asked.

He laughed.

“Maybe tomorrow dude.” He chuckled. “It’s as cold as a bitch out here!”

I grabbed his arm and steadied him as we walked up the short walkway. Before we reached the steps leading to the front steps, Barney ran up and damn near knocked us over.

“Holy shit!” Mike shouted.

“Barney! Get back on the porch!” I ordered.

“What the fuck is a ‘Barney’?” Mike asked.

I laughed.

“He’s a big ole goofy assed dog but…he’s harmless.” I explained.

We made it up the snow and ice covered stone steps and reached the front door. Barney was all over Mike trying to introduce himself and Mike was doing his best to simply stand up. I quickly opened the door and told Barney to go inside and lay down.

We walked inside and Mike went directly over to the sofa and plopped down hard. He took off his coat and tossed it to me.

“Handle that for me my good man.” He said. “I’m one tired son of a bitch.”

I cranked up the heat a bit and headed for the liquor cabinet where I fixed us a couple of drinks.

As I re-entered the living room, Barney was ON the sofa with his head in Mike’s lap!

Barney was a very well trained dog and NEVER got on the furniture but…there he was, snuggling up with a total stranger on my friggin' sofa.

“Dude, you’ve gotta give me this dog!” He said with a laugh. “I LOVE this big guy!”

You can have his ass. He’s cost me damned near a thousand bucks this year in vet bills!” I told him. “He almost got his ear ripped off by a pack of wild dogs and after they fixed it, he got an infection. It was an expensive experience.”

“Man, I’ll give you a thousand for him right friggin' NOW!” He said earnestly. “Really!”

“You’ll have to talk to him Sasquatch.....nobody owns that silly sumbitch! Hell, I can’t keep keep his ass at home most of the time.” I laughed. “The manager of the Lowe’s grocery store calls me every week or so and tells me to come get him out of the store. He’s like a friggin’ WalMart greeter….he stands INSIDE at the doors and welcomes everybody! They love him but the health department doesn’t.”

We laughed and Barney just lay there eating up the attention.

Mike and I talked for an hour or so about nothing in particular until I couldn’t stand it any longer.

“How much longer do you really have Mikey?” I asked nervously. “Do they really know?”

He grinned uncomfortably.

“Ronster, I ain’t gonna lie to you. They don’t really know but, at the rate this thing in my head has been growing, it’s gonna shut my ass down within the month but...probably a lot sooner.” He said. "Like the old joke says....I don't even buy green bananas."

“What’s that like?” I asked. “What’s it like KNOWING you’re gonna die soon?”

He didn’t even hesitate.

“You know something?” He began to talk but then leaned over, picked up his drink and downed it. He then motioned for me to fetch him another one. “Go get me a drink…I’ll talk loud.”

I headed to the kitchen as he continued.

“The strange thing about it is that for the first time in my life…I ain’t afraid of ANYTHING.” He barked. “All our lives, every one of us is scared of something whether or not they admit it.”

I thought about what he had said but didn't reply.

“Are you listening to this brilliant shit?” He asked.

“Yeah dude….I’m writin’ it down.” I joked.

“Fuck you.” He chuckled.

“What I’m talkin’ about here is being afraid of shit.” He explained. “Fear is the biggest poison known to mankind my friend.”

I’ll never forget how he looked at that moment.

There was a peace about him that I’d never seen in him.

Mike had always been an out of control, devil may care, unfullfilled guy.

He was truly a wild man.

I once witnessed him dive off the third floor of a motel in Myrtle Beach into a twelve foot deep swimming pool fully clothed because he said that he was bored.

As long as I had known him, Mike was a ball of kinetic energy and cynicism. He never seemed to give a damn about anything other than what was going to happen next and whether or not he would enjoy it.

He looked at me and grinned.

“If you make me another drink and smoke a joint with me, I’ll tell you something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.” He said quietly. “Trust me on this one.”

I laughed and picked up his glass.

“This better be good asshole.” I snapped. “I’m getting’ tired of serving your big ugly ass.”

I made the drinks and walked back into the living room a bit unsteadily. It was very early in the morning and I had drank WAY too much. As I plopped down in the recliner and handed him his drink, he passed me a joint which he had already fired up.

I took a huge hit and looked at him as if to say, ‘Okay asshole….let’s hear it.’

He took a huge gulp of his scotch and water then stroked Barney.

“Ron….I’m gonna tell you something that I hope you always remember because it’s the total, absolute truth. Are you ready?” He asked.

“Sure man….lay it on me. I’m good to go.” I chuckled.

He gave me serious glare.

“I’m not kiddin’ around here big boy.” He growled. “Listen up.

I got a little defensive and snapped back at him.

“Come on oh wise one…let’s hear it.” I said.

He laughed.

“Fuck you.” He grinned. “You’re probably not ready for this but, I’m gonna tell you anyway.”

He hesitated a moment and chugged the remainder of his drink.

“Okay…..maybe one more drink.” He said while holding his empty glass towards me.

“Damn Mikey…how long are you gonna milk this thing?” I snarled. “Jeez…even Hemmingway got to the friggin’ point eventually!”

He laughed.

"Hemingway?" He chuckled. "Where the hell did that come from?"

"He was one long winded son of bitch....much like you." I snarled.
Reluctantly, I went and poured him another Scotch and water....mostly sans water. When I returned, I slammed the glass down on the coffee table and waited for him to continue.

He took a huge gulp and shot me a look which acknowledged the fact that I had made him an industrial strength beverage.

"Did you fuckin' run out of water?" He laughed.

"Just tryin' to knock your ass out so I can get some sleep" I said as I laid back in the recliner and closed my eyes.

“Okay….I get the point dickhead.” He chuckled. “Here’s the deal. Are you ready?”

“Yeah….I’m ready….what’s the deal?” I asked impatiently.

“The deal is THIS my friend……” He began. “When I first found out that there was something REALLY wrong with me, I was scared as hell. Then they told me that I was gonna die soon. The really strange thing that happened is that once they told me that I was going to croak....I completely chilled out."

He looked at me a took another gulp of his scotch.


It was the only response I could muster.

"Seriously man...I realized that, unlike most people, I had the chance to do some good shit, talk to God and basically get my shit together before I left this world." He said. "How screwed up would it be to get hit with a friggin' heart attack and lie on the floor of a damned honky tonk wishing that you had a few days left to staighten some shit out but realizing that you weren't gonna get that chance? Man....THAT would REALLY suck."

I said nothing.

He looked at me and laughed.

"Don't get all quiet on me dude. I'm in a talkin' mood." He said.

"I don't know what the hell to say Michael." I admitted.

"Well THAT'S a friggin' first!" He snapped. "I was countin' on you for some stimulatin' conversation!"

"Well, kiss my ass Mikey....I'm friggin' tired and about two thirds of the way to DRUNK so.....sue me!" I said.

He reached over and popped me on the left leg.

"I guess what I'm sayin' is that I'm ready for it dude. I'm really lucky 'cause I know it's coming soon, I've had a pretty good life, I ain't gonna hang on and suffer for a long time and I know where I'm goin'." He said seriously. "It's really not all that bad."

I looked at him and said nothing.

He gave me a curious look.

"Why'd you come get me?" He asked.

I was caught off guard by the question.

"What?" I asked while stalling for time.

"Let's be honest here Ron....we've always been good friends but not BEST friends.....why'd you do this for me?"

I honestly didn't know why and told him so.

He laughed and began to pat Barney.

"I'll tell you why you did it." He began. "You did it because we're friends and you're a good man but, most know what it's like to be alone. Hell, you've lived like a freakin' hermit up here for awhile and you know what it's like to be alone."

I thought about what he'd said for a minute.

"You've thought about living alone....and you've thought about dyin' alone knew what I was goin' through." He said quietly. "Tell me I'm wrong."

I chuckled.

"I'ts funny you should say that because actually, I think you're right an of itself is a friggin' miracle might be right." I admitted.

I looked at him and he was still petting Barney.

"I think you knew that I was alone and I think you were putting yourself in my shoes so......whatever the reason....I appreciate it big boy." He said. "I was gettin' REAL tired of being ignored by my so-called friends. Damn what a bunch of self absorbed assholes!"

As he finished speaking, I couldn't help but be struck by the hypocrisy of what he'd just said!

I began to laugh.

"Let me get this and I are gonna sit here and call OTHER people self absorbed assholes?" I howled. "I can't think of two more self absorbed assholes on the planet than me and you!"

He simply stared at me for a minute and then began laughing too.

"Okay....I'll grant you that." He laughed. "Forget I said that but, you've gotta agree.....everything else I've said tonight has been friggin' BRILLIANT!"

"Yeah're friggin' brilliant." I couldn't stop laughing.

He looked at me and grinned.

"It's official my man....I'm drunk and TIRED!" H said. "Where do me and Barney crash?" He asked.

I spent the next half hour getting him situated in the guest house after which, I fell into my bed and literally passed out.

For the first time in his life, Barney didn't sleep at the foot of my bed. He was IN THE BED with Mike in the guest house.

I finally woke up at nearly ten a.m. the next day.

It was the last day of Mike McCarthy's life

It was also Christmas Day.

To Be Continued AND finished by Christmas Day.

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