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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

LOONEY TUNE BABY

In 1984 my friend Todd introduced me to the craziest woman I’ve ever known. Mary Jane was married to a wealthy oil man in Midland and had everything she could have ever wanted, a rich husband, two grown daughters, a beautiful home, furs, jewelry and a brand new yellow Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. Her only problem was that she was a hopeless alcoholic.

The very first time I was introduced to her she gave us a tour of her house, but instead of “Here’s the living room, here’s the dining room, here’s the kitchen.” She took us through the house and showed us her husband’s silver and gold coin collection, which were in their boxes under some cabinets. Then she showed us her gold plated silver ware and her collection of fur coats. She took one and modeled it for us and said, “I’m a size two, the man at Neiman’s told me I should be a model.” I thought to myself, “Model my ass, why didn’t you take some of that money and have something done about those brown teeth of yours?” Then on to her bedroom where she began showing us her jewelry collection one piece at a time. She finally invited us into the living room where she offered us a scotch, then began a tirade about her sorry miserable no good husband who was living in a local hotel because she was divorcing him and how he left her alone to deal with a miscarriage that must’ve happened thirty years earlier.

I told Todd later that was the most uncomfortable introduction I’d ever experienced. “Who in their right mind takes a perfect stranger through their house and shows them where all the valuables are kept?” Don’t ask me.” He said. “She did the same thing to me the first time I met her.” I asked, “Do you think she shows the yard man, and the pool guy?” “Probably.” He said.

He then began telling me the most outrageous stories about her. Once, he and a lady named Alice had accompanied her on a private jet from Midland to the Betty Ford Center. I suddenly remembered picking them up at the airport and Alice was slathered in jewelry, rings on every finger and a whole purse full of stuff. I didn’t say anything at first. I just wondered why the usually elegant Alice had on such a tacky amount of jewelry until she explained that it all belonged to Mary Jane. I didn’t know the woman, but they had me laughing all the way to Alice’s house with tails of her drunken antics and how she drank all the way to Palm Springs and had to be helped off the plane. When they flew back to pick her up they had to use a commercial plane and they said she was snockered by the time they had to change planes in Denver.

We stopped by to visit a couple of times after that and I finally told Todd, “I don’t want to go there again. I’m sick of hearing the same drunken stories over and over and she always insists on showing us her furs, jewelry and such, every time we walk in.” He agreed the novelty of it all had worn off and she’d grown tiresome.

She called me once after that to help her find her Cadillac. She thought it was in the body shop of the Cadillac dealership I worked for, but after a few calls I found it at the Buick dealerships body shop. When I called them about it they told me that it had been finished for weeks, but her husband didn’t want her to have it back because she kept wrecking it while she was drunk. She once burned up an Eldorado of hers by getting it stuck on a median at the drive through at a bank. She kept jamming the accelerator so much that gas flooded out of the carburetor and caught the car on fire. It made the front page of the Midland Reporter Telegram. I called her back and told her where to find her car and considered the matter finished.

Little did I know the shit was just about to hit the fan.
A week or so later I’d decided to visit a friend in Dallas for the weekend when I got a call from Todd that the police had called him. Mary Jane had reported her jewelry stolen and she had told the police that we were the last two people in her house. They wanted Todd and me to come in the next morning at nine for questioning. Talk about ruining my weekend. That was Saturday night and my flight wasn’t scheduled to fly out until Sunday evening. I couldn’t get a flight out of Dallas Saturday night in any shape, form, or fashion. I called my mother and asked her to ask my father, who was Captain on the Big Spring police department, what we should do. First off he wanted to know if we did it and after assuring him that we hadn’t taken anything he said to go ahead and go in for questioning when they asked us too even if I had to rent a car to get there and to never take a lie detector test. He said, “The burden of proof lies with them and if you didn’t do it you have nothing to worry about and don’t take a lie detector test because they aren’t fool proof and they aren’t admissible in court anyway.” I called all the rental car agencies and finally found a “travel car” at DFW. I had my friend take me there and I started the five hour trip home in a Mercury Grand Marquis.

All the way home I was worried sick about what that crazy drunken bitch was accusing us of. We hadn’t done it, but she was the wife of a wealthy local business man and I didn’t know how that would weigh in her favor. I made it to Todd’s apartment at about five in the morning and got in bed with him. We didn’t get a wink of sleep as he briefed me on what had happened and things he’d never told me about Mary Jane. It seems that she’d bragged to him and Alice on the way to the Betty Ford Center that she’d gotten mad at her husband and flushed a pair of seventy thousand dollar diamond and platinum earrings down the toilet. It seemed she’d done something to a necklace in the past, but he couldn’t remember what it was. She’d bragged about collecting the insurance and then buying new pieces to replace the old ones.

We got up and got ready to go talk to detective Jenson with the Midland police department. It seems that she had reported that only a few pieces of her jewelry had been stolen not all it. As the detective read off the list Todd stopped him when he got to a pair of diamond and platinum earrings and related the story she’d told on the trip to Palm Springs. They asked us if we knew anything about jewelry. I told them, “I think I can tell a real diamond from a fake and maybe real from costume, but I wasn’t a jeweler.” They seemed concerned that only the most expensive pieces were missing and wanted to know why we thought someone would go through her jewelry box and only select a few items. Todd and I both told them if we were going to steal her jewelry we’d have taken the whole damn box. The questioning went on just like you see on television, the what if’s, where were you, do you have alibis, will you take a lie detector test? We told them “No.” and they seemed to bristle at that, but I told them who my father was and what he’d told me. They still weren’t satisfied and had us come in a couple of more times alone. They even tried to tell Todd they thought I took it, while telling me they thought he took it. We just kept telling them we didn’t take it and they’d better look in the back yard, or the toilets, or something.

The crazy bitch turned it into her insurance company and they sent an investigator out to talk to us. He turned out to be one of Todd’s dad’s golfing buddies and I sold him a new Oldsmobile Toronado after he made a couple of trips to the dealership. After we told him what we knew about her, he turned in his investigation and her claim was denied, she’d cut off her nose to spite her face.

Once while this was going on one of the salesmen came into my office and said, “Sam that lady in that yellow Eldorado wants to see you.” I looked outside and thought, “God, what is that crazy bitch doing here?” I went out to the car which was parked right in the service drive and she put down the passenger window and tried to spit on me, while screaming something incoherent I couldn’t understand. I yelled, “You get the hell out of here or I’ll call the police and have you arrested for drunk driving!” She quickly left, but then I started getting hang up calls and calls where she threatened me. I called the detective and it was obvious that he thought the two gay boys were guilty because he said, “There isn’t anything I can do about it unless she threatens you and someone else hears it.” My father gave me a police whistle and after I blasted her with it a couple of times when she called me at home, she started calling me at work, so I went out and bought a tape recorder with a suction cup I could attach to the receiver to tape her calls. Sure enough, I picked up the phone once and taped her in her drunken southern drawl saying. “You are being waited on… to be killed!” The break in the middle was an obvious mix up of what her drunken ass wanted to say. I called the detective and played her death threat for him, but he still refused to do anything about it. I actually think he thought it was funny that she was harassing us. In the end he may have regretted it because we heard that even after Mary Jane had left Todd and me alone she kept calling him at all hours because he was the only one who would take her calls and once even insisted that he sent a patrol car to her house one night because there were two clowns in full costume, long shoes and all sitting in her living room and wouldn’t leave when she told them to. Now that’s one Looney Tune Baby!

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