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Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Have you ever seen someone and thought? “Wow! I wish my life were just like that.” Well that’s how I felt when I first met Marty and Don in 1975. My friend Rusty was a stylist in their little beauty shop off Big Spring Street, in Midland. He introduced them to me one day when I stopped by to visit. They were gracious, charming, and impeccably dressed. They were in their mid thirties which seemed old to me at the time, but they had great hair and brilliant tooth paste commercial smiles. Rusty told me later that they’d been together for thirteen years and lived in a beautiful two bedroom in the exclusive “Riviera Apartments” just a couple of blocks from the salon. They owned a gorgeous gold boat tailed 1973 Buick Riviera because they went everywhere together one car was all they needed. Despite their small shop their client list included most of Midland’s elite females. That allowed them to take exotic vacations to Italy, Greece, and France. They had furs, and jewels, the latest designer clothes and the best in what cosmetic surgery and cosmetic dentistry had to offer. I told Rusty, “I can’t believe guys their age would already be having plastic surgery.” He said, “I think that it’s nice that they’re so in love that they want to stay attractive for each other.” Oh well, who was I to judge? All I knew is that I wanted to find a partner and be just like them, happy and successful. Boy did I have them pegged wrong.

It was December 1975 before I saw the first crack in their picture perfect façade. It was the day before I was to leave Midland and fly to San Antonio to start Air Force basic training. Rusty informed me that Marty and Don had expressed an interest in having a three way with me and wanted to know if I was interested. At first I was a little concerned because I certainly thought they were way out of my league and they might be disappointed. I also couldn’t imagine a couple that were supposedly so happy in their relationship wanting to bring someone else in for sex. Rusty said, “After thirteen years everyone gets bored, they only do it as a couple it brings more spice into their relationship.” Then he assured me they would be delighted with me and offered to drive me over there. I think he was more concerned with scoring points with his bosses than my real feelings in the matter because he simply wouldn’t take no for an answer. I was nervous as hell when I got there, but they were very friendly and made me feel welcome. After making me a rum and Coke they showed me around their apartment. I was quite impressed with all their crystal, marble, and silver. They had off white shag carpet with mirrored walls and beautiful furniture. I’d never seen anyone decorate an apartment like that before. I asked them, “Won’t management be upset when they see all the mirrors on the walls and the colors you’ve painted the place?” Don said, “Oh, we’ve lived here for over ten years, they’re thrilled that we’ve made so many improvements. We plan on buying a house soon and they know they won’t have any trouble renting the place after we’re gone.” When our little threesome moved to the bedroom I found out a few more things about them. For one, Marty was a top and Don was a bottom and that thoroughly shocked me because Marty was the more flamboyant and effeminate of the two, second, they had separate bedrooms and we were doing our partying in Don’s room, third, Marty already had stainless steel implants in his penis to make it stay erect. It wasn’t large in fact it was rather small, but it was in a perpetual state of erection. After things got going Marty excused himself and Don and I finished what we were doing. I called Rusty to come get me even though they offered to let me spend the night. I reminded them I had a flight to catch in the morning and Rusty was taking me to the airport. On the ride back to Rusty’s house I said, “I’m really disappointed, their life isn’t at all what I thought it would be like.” Rusty said, “You don’t know the half of it, I remember one night they were on their way back from the bar in Odessa and they stopped that Riviera under one of the over passes by the airport and started slugging it out right there on the side of the road.” Little did I realize I’d only seen the tip of the ice berg.

My little stint in the Air Force didn’t last long, I didn’t even finish basic training. I don't know what recruiters tell young people these days, but mine told me not to mention my heart problem unless it showed up on an EKG.
Needless to say about two weeks into basic training I was in a shot line sweating like a pig and white as a sheet and it was mid December. A doctor called me over and took my pulse he told me to go have a seat and that pretty much was the end of my military career. Luckily one of the doctors told me never to tell anyone I'd lied about my heart problem, or I would've gotten in a lot of trouble.
They wanted to put me through a battery of test and I couldn’t understand why they just couldn’t get my medical records from Brooks Army Medical Center right there in San Antonio from when I was thirteen. They said it might be several weeks before I got out. Christmas was coming up and I didn’t want to spend it there, so I told them I was gay. One physiatrist they sent me to wanted to know just why I thought I was gay and how I knew. He kept going on about it so much and repeating himself I started to say, “You’re pretty cute, why don’t you drop your pants right here and I’ll demonstrate for you?”, but I thought that might be crossing the line just a tad. I had to sit down with pencil and lined notebook paper to write about my homosexual experiences. The lady who gave it to me said, “Now don’t you worry, I’ve heard everything, you just write about what you’ve done with men.” I figured they’d get a kick out of it and snicker if I wrote down words like blow job, so I used all the correct terms such as anal sex, oral sex and told of my experiences at fifteen with George and even about the night before I left Midland with Marty and Don.

I received an Honorable discharge and was so relieved to be released on December 23rd, just in time to get home from San Antonio to Lampasas for Christmas. At the bus station I felt sorry for all the kids who had such a long way to go before they could get home, but all the Air Force would do was pay our way home on the bus. My mother pulled up to the bus station in my bayberry green 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood, honked the horn, yelled my name, popped the trunk and I threw my duffel bag in slid behind the wheel and drove off. There were a lot of shocked looks on that bus, but I was glad to be getting the hell out of there. The first thing we did was drive to a huge mall and my mother bought me a wig for Christmas. That was 1975 and having a three week old military "Buzz Cut" was not fashionable. Mother could be a hoot at times, we bought Bacardi Rum and Coke and drank it on the way home. There was this elegant looking white haired lady in a new white Lincoln Town Car that passed my Cadillac. There was a giant wrapped Christmas present in it that took up the entire back seat. My mother said, "I want to see what's in that package." I said, “Me too.” She and I had a great time laughing about how the lady would tell the police that this young guy in a wig and this lady in a Cadillac had run her off the road, thrown open her back door, ripped open the package, ran away laughing and sped off.

Later when I was selling Cadillac’s Marty and Don wanted to trade in the 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass they’d bought for a new light blue metallic 1978 Coupe De Ville. At first was afraid to have those two show up at the dealership, but it turned out that they’d both worked in my boss’s wife’s beauty shop in the sixties and he knew all about them. Don later told me, “Bennie’s wife Mary, invented PMS. She’d go around swallowing B.C. Powder, smoking cigarettes and drinking Cokes all day, while being mean as a snake.”
One day Marty popped into my office unexpectedly and I gasped in horror, “What happened?” His face was all swollen and bruised and he had bandages wrapped around his head. My first thought was that he’d been in a terrible car wreck, and needed a new car. “Oh no I’m fine” he said. “I just got back from having a face lift in Dallas and I wanted to see if I could bring the Cadillac in for an oil change next week.” They weren’t even forty yet and they were having extensive surgeries that most people didn’t have until they’d reached their sixties. Don was the worse of the two his face was stretched so tight it was shinny and even though I don’t think they had collagen injections back then his lips pouched out like a fish and made his speech sound impaired. They ended up looking like someone in their sixties who’d had a lot of work done rather than someone who wasn’t even forty yet. They wore tons of pancake makeup, over sized gold jewelry, rings, chains, watches, bracelets, you name it. My friend Todd once pulled up beside their Cadillac at a light and thought to himself, “Those are two well dressed little old ladies.” only to realize it was Marty and Don. I saw a woman once who looked just like Don and I started to ask her if she were his sister when I realized she’d just had a lot of plastic surgery and the similarity in their appearances was just the result of bad surgery. I can’t imagine how much money they must’ve spent over the years, but it had to be a hundred thousand dollars or more. They traded their car the next year for a green 1979 Coupe De Ville. I didn’t see much of them after I moved to the Buick dealership down the street, but when I went back to Cadillac in 1984 I started seeing more of them again.

By that time they’d begun to change they’d built a big new salon in a brand new strip mall and advertised on radio and television. With the oil boom that was taking place in Midland at the time their business was thriving. You had to book an appointment three weeks in advance just to have them do your hair unless you wanted one of their new staff members working on you and the old guard of Midland wouldn’t hear of it. Don had always acted stuck up and aloof, while Marty, who was friendlier, often showed up rip roaring drunk at the dealership. They always turned down any invitation Todd and I ever extended to them, so we assumed they just thought they were above us. After a while we just stopped inviting them. Once, they did invite Todd and me over to their new house on Whitney Street, for Sunday brunch. When we arrived, Don was no where to be seen. By this time Marty was quite drunk and over the years he’d affected a way of moving and talking that was a combination of Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard”, and Bette Davis. We even invented a name for it, we called it “Swansoning”. We’d say, “Marty was Swansoning around the room drunk talking like Bette Davis”. His diction became so exaggerated that it sounded like he was finishing the last word of each sentence with a “ta”. “Where’s Don?” we asked. “He burnt his dick!” “What?” we asked. “That bastard, motherfucking, son of a bitch, burnt his dick and he’s at the hospital where I hope he dies. I hope they have to cut it off and his balls too!” We were alarmed, “Marty what happened? Do we need to go to the hospital to check on him? Is he up there alone? Did you drive him?” “No, the motherfucker drove himself there and I hope he dies.” he said. “He was pouring hot tea into a glass picture and it shattered and burnt his dick.” We insisted on calling the hospital emergency room to check on Don, but they told us he was in seeing the doctor and would be fine. We stayed for brunch, but Marty was so drunk and out of it we didn’t have much fun.

One Monday Marty called me from home and we made a deal over the phone to trade in their 1981 Cadillac Fleetwood Coupe on a new 1985 lavender metallic Fleetwood sedan. I could tell Marty was shitfaced and I kept asking him if Don knew what he was doing and was in agreement and he assured me he was. I had to go to all the trouble of getting a joint credit application over the phone, call and get the payoff to their current car and have all the papers drawn up and the new car detailed to deliver it to their house. Marty told me to drive it up to their garage door in the alley, so he could transfer some things from the old car to the new car. When I got there the door was up and I pulled up behind the older car, so I could do a proper delivery of the new car with the doors open. Marty came out first, then Don came out, I assumed to admire the new car. Instead he told me, “Sam I don’t mean to be rude but you’d better move that car unless you want it damaged, because I’m leaving, and if it’s in my way I’m going to knock it through the Goddamn fence.” I looked at Marty like, “What the hell?” and hurriedly moved it because Don was already in their car with the backup lights on. He practically burned rubber getting out of there. It turned out just as I’d suspected, Marty had gotten drunk and decided he was going to trade cars when Don wanted nothing to do with it. A few months later they did buy a new 1986 Sedan De Ville from me in the same lavender color slathered in gold. We didn’t know it yet, but there was a reason Marty had started acting so strangely, part of it was due to the fact that his alcoholism was spiraling out of control, but most of it was due to the fact that they’d discovered Don had AIDS. They both had a membership at a local gym and were sitting in the hot tub one evening with all their jewelry on when an employee walked over and dumped a large container of bleach into the water. Soon afterwards their membership was cancelled and they were told not to come back. Marty told me once that many of their trips were to New York City, or San Francisco, where Don insisted on spending a great deal of their time at the gay bath houses, he once found Don lying on his back with a pool of cum under his ass. He was quite against the open relationship thing and bitterly resented Don for it.

By 1986 the boom was over in Midland and we were in the mist of a deep recession, so virtually all of my friends had moved to Dallas and Todd and his partner had moved to Palm Springs. I was still getting by, so I stayed and tried to make due with long distance phone calls to ease my loneliness. Marty and Don began to ask me over more often and we would go out for lunch occasionally on Sundays. When Don was around Marty would pretty much behave him self. There were times he’d say inappropriate things too loud, and once he told Don, “I wish you’d just hurry up and die, you’re fucking up my life!” Don had tears in his eyes as he explained to me that Marty had always been the center of attention and he just couldn’t stand the fact that now that he was sick he was getting more attention than Marty. After Don started getting worse and his hair fell out from radiation to treat lesions on his brain, he would tell Marty and me just to go out without him and have a nice lunch. Marty’s behavior just got worse. He was always too drunk to drive and I didn’t want him having that much control over me, so we’d take my company Cadillac. The minute he’d get in my car his clothes would fly off like a “Chippendale” dancer and he’d be sitting there in nothing but a G string and sweat socks. Actually there were three socks because he would strategically place one in his G string with a rubber band around the end of it to make it appear like the head of his dick. Then he’d put his feet up on the sun visor, so people could see his bare ass with me screaming at him the whole time to put his clothes back on. This was all in broad daylight. Once we were having lunch at a very nice Chinese restaurant and he said quietly, “Do you know what I’d like to do to you?” I said, “No what?” “I WANT TO SUCK YOUR DICK!” He screamed. You could hear silverware dropping all over the restaurant. I told him, “If you ever embarrass me like that again, I’ll never go anywhere with you.” He apparently had been showing up at certain restaurants drunk and alone because you could see the look on the management’s faces when we walked in. It got so bad that we’d be seated in an empty room, or near the kitchen where it was the noisiest, so people couldn’t hear him.

The last straw for me came in early January 1988. I’d just had three open heart surgeries, back to back in late 1987 to try and correct a condition I was born with Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome and I was tired of being cooped up in my apartment. Marty called on a Sunday and since he’d missed my birthday on the fifth he wanted to take me to the Petroleum Club for dinner. I could tell he was in his usual state of inebriation and I said, “Marty the Petroleum Club is closed on Sunday. I’m not even a member and I know that.” He insisted that they were and he would call to make sure then he called back and said I was right and offered to take me to “Jorge’s” Mexican restaurant instead. He said, “Let’s wear our furs.” He had a huge red fox coat and a long beaver coat and I had a mink bomber jacket. I told him, “Marty it was fifty five degrees today and I’m not going out in Midland wearing a fur.” He argued with me a while longer and then said he was coming over to get me. There was a knock on the door and sure enough there he stood drunk as a skunk in his fur coat with full makeup and smelling like he was wearing an entire bottle of cologne, it made me gag. That’s when the battle began. I first made him take off his coat and told him we were going in my Oldsmobile demo because I was going to drive. He insisted he couldn’t be seen an anything but a Cadillac, so after much arguing and him spilling scotch and water on my carpet, I finally said,”Alright we’ll go in your car, but I’m driving and I’m keeping the keys because the very first time you act up or embarrass me I’m leaving and if you don’t want to walk you’d better be right behind me.” On the way over he kept pawing me and leering while laughing in a low voice like he knew something funny that no one else was privy to. As we pulled up in front of “Jorge’s”, I said, “Marty I mean it, if you act up just once, I’m gone.” When we got inside there was a line of people waiting to be seated. He kept on making that low laughing sound as I spotted a customer of mine with his family. The wife looked at me and smiled, I smiled back and nodded my head to her. At that very moment while our eyes were still locked on each other Marty reached down with the speed of lightening and grabbed my crotch so hard I swear I almost blacked out. Not so much from the pain in my balls but from the force. I doubled over in pain from my freshly cut sternum and when I straightened up the lady was looking at me with a look of disgust. “That’s it!” I said through clenched teeth and turned around and walked out. I opened Marty’s car, got behind the wheel and started the engine. He stood there at the driver’s door in a stupor asking me, “Are you just going to go off and leave me?” I said, “If you don’t get in this fucking car right now I will, now get your drunken ass in here or I’m leaving. You’ve embarrassed me for the last time!” All the way to my apartment he whined like a little boy while I hurled obscenities and insults at him. When I pulled into the parking lot and put the car in park. He said, “What am I supposed to do for dinner?” “I said you can eat shit for all I care just get behind the wheel and get your ass home before I call the police and report you for drunk driving.” I got out, slammed the door and walked into my apartment. I watched him out the front window and he sat there in the passenger seat for five minutes before he popped the trunk, got out, put on his fur and then drove off. I was through with his sorry ass and swore I’d never go anywhere with him again.

Three months after that I moved to Dallas and didn’t have a phone in my name for four months and I certainly didn’t bother calling him and sharing it with him. He started calling Todd in Palm Springs in the middle of the night. That’s how I found out Don passed away in November. He’d told Marty just to scatter his ashes around the tree in the back yard, but Marty by his own admission, buried them in the box they gave him at the funeral home and went out back and pissed on them every chance he got. In some ways I’d like to think it was just his misguided way of dealing with loosing his partner of twenty six years, but Marty related some of the things he screamed into Don’s ear at his moment of death. I picture scenes from “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” going on in that house and I imagine Don was more than ready to die by then. You just don’t deal with grief in the nasty, hateful, cruel way Marty did. Don had told me before he died that Marty would be financially set for life because he has over three hundred seventy five thousand dollars in life insurance and it would be given to Marty in monthly installments for the rest of his life. With their successful business Marty would be able to make it even though the house and car weren’t paid for as long as Marty had the right friends. He looked at me when he said it like I would be moving in the minute they carried his body out the door. There wasn’t enough money in the entire world to make me ever want to move in with Marty by then and things just got worse through the years. In one of his 2:00 AM long distance calls to Todd, Julio Iglesias was blaring in the background and Marty told him he was dancing around the room naked wearing his full length mink with a bottle of champagne in his ass because he’d heard you would get high faster that way. Todd said the call lasted over an hour and he would just sit the phone on the pillow between him and his partner listening to Julio, while he supposed Marty was dancing around the room and every now and then he would come to the phone and say something. I don’t know why Todd didn’t just hang up, I guess he knew Marty would just call back.

I moved back to Midland briefly in 1991 and we found out that one of Marty’s clients had told him how he could go down and borrow money against Don’s life insurance policy and get a lump sum of cash even if it wasn’t the entire amount. I really wish she hadn’t told him that because he did it and the money was gone in less than two years. Marty who was in his early fifties by then found a new twenty year old boyfriend and lavished him with jewelry, clothes, trips, and a brand new red Mazda Miata. After the kid left him Marty drove his new Cadillac trough the chain link fence on the outskirts of Midland Community College and when he couldn’t find an exit he drove it through the fence again to get out. By that time I was back in Dallas and Todd was back in Midland. Todd said when he drove Marty over to get the car out of the police impound lot he said you could see the waffle pattern of that chain link fence in the hood of the Cadillac. Marty got a DWI then and there may have been others we didn’t know about that didn’t involve accidents. Marty was fond of going to physics and they took him for every dollar they could. One told him he was going to meet the next love of his life named Pierre, in Switzerland, so Marty took a six week trip there and left the salon to run itself. I told Todd, “I feel sorry for the first son of a bitch he runs into over there named Pierre.”

In one of his pitiful bids for attention he called Todd to his house one day threatening suicide. Todd was so concerned about him he called Marty’s doctor. After the doctor arrived he called the local mental hospital and had Marty committed, they took him by ambulance in a straight jacket, strapped to a gurney. Todd went there while he was being examined and said he was in a locked room screaming and growling like a tiger while he crawled around the room on all fours. This was one of their many attempts to dry him out and get him sober, but nothing worked for more than a few days. In May of 1995 I was visiting Todd. I’d driven down from Dallas because my Aunt Agnes wasn’t expected to live. We were sitting around having cocktails when Marty called. Todd really didn’t want him in the house anymore since catching him in the bathroom drinking cologne when there was perfectly good liquor available. After a few drinks and a couple of calls from Marty Todd’s partner James and I decided we didn’t think it was very nice that Marty was still pissing on Don’s ashes in the backyard, so we decided to fuck with him. James had a great idea he asked Todd, “Did Don have a pet name for Marty?” Todd thought for a minute and said, “Yes, monkey, because he’s so hairy.” That was news to me in all the years I’d known them and even I didn’t know that. James dialed Marty’s number, and in a deep low exorcist sounding voice said, “Monkey stop pissing on me!” and hung up. Marty called Todd, and said, “Oh my God! Don just called me from the bowels of hell.” Todd pretended to be ignorant of the prank, and assured Marty it couldn’t possibly be Don. “But he called me monkey, and no one else ever called me that. I know it was him.” We continued making calls while James was in the bathroom applying white and dark eye makeup, to make his face look like a corpse. Once we had Marty good and worked up, we told Todd to keep him on the phone while I drove James over there. I put the windows down and parked in front of the house, while James hopped the fence and ran around back to the kitchen door. He stood there a while looking in the window, but Marty had his back to him, so he tried the door knob and when he found it open he threw open the door and screamed. Marty screamed, jumped out of his clogs and dropped the phone. Todd said he could hear it all on the other end of the line. James and I drove home laughing so hard we were crying. Right after that Marty stopped drinking and he stayed sober for almost two years. His mother bailed him out financially by saving his home from foreclosure and buying him a new Cadillac after she made him drive her old beige 1978 Buick Electra for those two years to make sure he wasn’t drinking. James and I said we should start charging for our services, by scaring the shit out of him we did what Betty Ford couldn’t.

After two years he went off the wagon, began drinking again and was back to his old ways. The extravagant spending had stopped because all his money was gone. He soon got another DWI when he plowed his new Cadillac into a car full of people in Odessa one night coming home from the bar. No one was killed thank God, but he was arrested again and the people sued him. He lost everything, the house, the business, and the car. He had to move in with his mother who lived in a tiny town in central Texas. Todd and James had their phone blocked where he couldn’t wake them in the middle of the night with his drunken calls anymore. I looked him up on a website recently and saw where he’d gotten a couple more DWIs, I honestly don’t know how he’s still alive. He had so much going for him and he threw it all away.

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