A stand-up comedian reviews his painful adolescence and the person who caused it. 3,308 words. Part One. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.
Kansas City – 2016
His name is advertised in white lights on a marquee out front, under the heading, COMEDY COLOSSUS. Mainstream sexy is what they want on this circuit. A lot of it, and he delivers. It’s been a nice run so far, the kind of good crowds and boisterous laughs that promise a return gig. But he knows that won’t happen.
He hasn’t been to Kansas City for two years, not since the funeral. And this is his first gig at Chez Vegas. It’s a booking he sought, inexplicably drawn back to Kansas City like a criminal to the scene of his crime, while hoping this would compel him to take care of unfinished business he’d put off far too long. He hadn’t known the unfinished business would devastate him.
He knows the Chez Vegas terrain by heart, could chart and navigate it blindfolded. The pattern for these smallish clubs and their flashy decors rarely changes, whether the curtain he stands behind is red, green or polka-dot.
The smug superior stiff-upper-lips will drink and laugh the least. But he can count on a spillover of loud boozy conventioneers up front along with screaming Hadassah ladies and their husbands who always hang on his words. The closer they are the better, so he can absorb their energy. He knows a few will push hard to meet him afterwards. They’ll want to buy him drinks and, thinking they’re hip, bore him with their own favorite dumb jokes and bleed out their life stories like hemophiliacs. Yeah, sure, Kansas City hip; last month Toledo hip, and before that Louisville.
Hurling insults from the back of the room will be the hecklers: gutless, talentless and mindless with bull’s eyes on their foreheads. They sicken him, but are easy to top and humiliate when they get out of line. Which is why he always hopes they do. He pictures pulling a trigger and blowing them away, all of them, the entire fucking room, thirty seconds of euphoric release.