: Sleeping peacefully under the coffee table, the little male Pekinese catastrophe named Miss Sara Joy dreams on while his master Bruce Halloran pours over the story of Philip Tupperman. Scattered around the room are the many notes from Gary Pitts, rearranged into various piles, with some pages torn in pieces and separated across piles. While it was true that Gary Pitts had left extensive notes on each of his victims, it was equally true that these notes were made while Pitts was extensively drunk and high, so the narrative is nothing like linear. Still, Bruce had practically made a career out of deciphering Pitts’ loaded ramblings, so eventually he was able to glean the major details of Gary Pitts’ first rotten act.
Tupperman came to New Orleans sometime in the mid 80s. The driver’s license in the plastic bag expired in 1998, so maybe 84 or 85? In one passage Pitts describes him as “a plain little queerboy from Kansas City, MO. He’s cute because he isn’t.” He started popping up at The Latrine, Friendly Bar, all the parties. Sara Joy took notice and set her sights on him. There was another guy who also liked him, but Sara Joy never names him. All he can tell is that when he became a point of interest, Pitts’ job became chasing Other Guy away. Here it gets even murkier. Two events happened. One at a restaurant called China Imperial, if the matchbook in the bag can be believed. And at a rally at Charlene’s for the Lesbian Avengers (“We recruit!”). That was the flyer folded up in the bag. He had recognized it once he got it open. During the late 80s and early 90s these fliers were up in every bar and telephone pole in the Marigny. At one of these events, it happened. Sara Joy said or did something to drive away Other Guy. After that, Pitts’ recollections are vividly clear.
Turns out Tupperman was madly in love with Other Guy. As planned, Tupperman turned to Gary Pitts for comfort. A few months in Pitts grew tired with Tupperman and his bouts of depression which “interfered with my busy bar schedule.” He had already made up his mind to ditch Tupperman when he got back to his apartment that night.
Pitts was living in the Quarter back then, and had a nice apartment about a block up from The Corner Pocket. That was where he was returning from the night he found Philip on the floor in the living room, unconscious. Next to him was a high-priced floor lamp that had apparently gone down with Philip, breaking one of the glass panels in the shade. That infuriated Pitts. Turning him over, he saw some foam coming out of Philip’s mouth and looked up to see an empty bottle of vodka and an empty bottle of Windex on the coffee table.
“Without coasters!” Pitts had scrawled, underlining the phrase three times. “Realizing he’d pulled a Heathers and certainly not wanting the NOPD traipsing through my stash, I did the only thing I could do. I pulled him onto my shoulder, carried him downstairs, hailed a cab, and paid the driver $100 to take him to Charity Hospital and forget my face.”
If you wanted to know anything in the service industry in the late 1980s, you hung out in the gay bars. That’s how Pitts kept up with Tupperman, by trawling the nurses from Charity. He had two guys and a lesbian keeping tabs on Philip for him. They were able to pump his stomach, but there was some damage. When they learned he not only attempted suicide but was also gay, he was sent to the fourth floor. The mental ward. While he recovered the doctors began “treating” him for his homosexuality with aversion therapy. Eventually, either his mother or his aunt arrives from Kansas City, gets made legal guardian, and checks him out to live with him in his house. That was 1992. The last notes in the stack, (aside from a rambling dissertation on how the final season of Dynasty was both the most revealing and the most disappointing way to close out a television series. Three pages alone on shoulder pads...) are more sincere than Bruce had expected.
He must have been coming down.
“It wasn’t until I saw him by chance on the street today that I realized what I had done. If it wasn’t for that same cheesy moustache I wouldn’t have recognized him. He was gaunt, somewhat pear shaped. But his eyes were dead. No life inside them anymore. For me, he was a game, a sport. An easy lay for a few weeks or more. I didn’t see the love in his eyes. And I think I drove away someone who loved him back. I certainly didn’t give him any comfort that didn’t benefit me first. And it destroyed him. I wish I hadn’t done it.”
A sudden sneezing fit awakens Miss Sara Joy, sending her snuffling and chuffing out from beneath the coffee table. Shaking herself into full puff, she trots over to Halloran’s feet and sits, looking up at his master with big brown eyes. Bruce turns to the dog and catches his stare. Without thinking Bruce rises automatically and walks into the kitchen to put down fresh food. Dropping some kibble into his metal bowl, it almost sounds like ice being dropped in a cocktail glass. A tall glass. Like the ones Pitts preferred. Inspired, Halloran walks over to the kitchen bar and pours himself two fingers of bourbon before walking outside onto the deck.
Closing the sliding glass door behind him, he walks over to the railing that looks out over St. Claude and Elysian Fields. The heat comes up off the cement in waves, convection roasting Bruce’s bare legs. He takes a deep breath and a deeper swig and swallows it down whole. From now until the middle of March, his entire life is going to be spent reliving all of Pitts’ sins and somehow making it all better. He was always like this, making messes and expecting others to clean up after him. Now he’s getting away with it after he’s dead. Irreconcilable.
He knocks back the last of his drink and takes one more look at the street below, growing darker with a couple of new clouds forming overhead.
“Damn you, Sara Joy,” he mutters bitterly.
Turning to go back inside, the winds pick up and stir a few leaves into torrents of flight along the deck. A faint hint of confederate jasmine dances by as a low rumble sounds above the city. A little heat storm is ready to break, raining down just enough to heighten the heat and the humidity for the early evening...This Is My New Orleans.