MRS MORGENSTERN’S MORNING
Norma Jean Morgenstern always awoke early in her Bauhaus flat on Tel Aviv’s shimmering seafront. Partly because she was 86 (so much to do, so little time!), partly because the year-long Israeli sunshine fought its shameless way through the thickest drapes, and partly because she went to bed early. But mostly she woke then so she could watch her husband Daniel sleeping.
“I wanna be loved by you, just you, and nobody else but you,” she whispered in his ear, and he smiled in his sleep. Mrs Morgenstern slipped out of bed, pulling her towelling robe over her white cotton nightgown. It had been a long time since she had slept in nothing but a few drops of Chanel Number 5.
Jeez, but she’d lucked out with Dan! What a selection the husbands before him had been. The cop who thought it was sensible to marry a 16-year-old sex bomb then go away to war; the jock who married the world’s ruling sex goddess then spat out his dummy when the wind blew her skirt up that time; the egghead with a stick up his ass who repeatedly told the world that HE NEVER ONCE SAW HER READ A BOOK. (She could shrug off all the abuse, bullying and blow jobs she’d had to tolerate from men all her life before Dan, but THAT was UNFORGIVABLE.)
She’d always had a thing about Jewish men – even after that four-flushing fink Miller had written that darn play about her
And then Liberace! They’d both been down on their luck at the time, drunk and lonely in Vegas. But no girl needs to be married to a man who takes longer getting made up than she does.
But Dan was another kettle of gefilte fish altogether. She’d always had a thing about Jewish men – even after that four-flushing fink Miller had written that darn play about her, making her out to be some two-bit bird-brain. As if playing that dumb-ass bimbo Roslyn in The Misfits hadn’t been insult enough! She would have EXPLAINED to Clark Gable just WHY it was wrong to kill the wild ponies for pet food, OBVIOUSLY. Not had the mad mother of all hissy fits.
Though when Dan, then a paramedic, had brought her back to life that day – August 5 1962 – she hadn’t exactly felt like she’d hit the jackpot. The Kennedys were the most sadistic SOBs ever known to broad or beast, all of which they’d fuck five ways given half a chance. (That one with the face like someone had left a baseball too long by an open fire and then drawn features on it had been hitting on her till the day he died, the freak.)
They all burned in hell
But what do you know, she’d seen them all off! Her, the sexual spittoon of the powerful, still alive and kicking in the Mediterranean sunshine while they all burned in hell like the good Catholic fornicators they were, bless ’em.
But they’d done her over so badly between them. Along with Friend Frankie, that preening pimp; it still made her smile to remember all the cash he’d spent on having a helipad installed at his new place in order to suck up to the Brothers Grimm, only for them to drop him like a hot zucchini once his Mafia connections came out.
By the summer of ’62, she felt she’d been run over by an ambulance, and wasn’t one bit pleased to wake up in one. Talking of jackpots, that was why she’d just run away to Vegas, got totally wasted on Woo Hoos and woken up married to Liberace.
“Kafeh o te, habibi?” she called from the kitchen. Dan didn’t answer. She wasn’t surprised. He’d worked hard all his life, and liked to sleep in. She put coffee on for them both anyway.
It had taken Dr Greenson’s help to make her aware that she should love the man who had saved her one and only life, rather than hate him. It was a bit like Ruth and Boaz after that. (She’d always liked Ruth best from Bible class.) A full-on Jewish wedding, then Dan graduated from med school and decided he could be saving more lives in Israel than in Los Angeles. Before you could say ‘aliyah’, they’d upped sticks and moved to the Promised Land.
She hadn’t thought twice about it. All Los Angeles meant to her was a mad mother, bad marriages and being handed round from man to man like some sort of pneumatic pass-the-parcel. When Dan became the Big Kahuna in state-of-the-heart Israeli paediatrics, the transformation was complete. She was just Mrs Morgenstern, the Great Man’s plump, pretty, ageing wife who had once been big in Hollywood and now had the occasional role in The Golden Girls. And then there had been a fun decade as the shiksa, white Winfrey of daytime TV.
What a crock…
As for the rest of her so-called career – forget it. What a crock it had all been. Big tits, big ass, big deal; she’d been the walking, talking, wiggling, giggling punchline to a hundred dirty jokes. And when she’d tried to be taken seriously, that had REALLY made them laugh.
Well, screw the Three Sisters and the troika they rode in on! And as for the Strasbergs and their ‘studio’ – they’d milked her like a prize heifer, albeit one with the most expensive udders in showbusiness. No, the Method had brought her only more madness. Dan, at last, was her sanity.
She carried the coffee into the bedroom and knew at once that he was dead. Without thinking twice, or even once, Mrs Morgenstern set down the cups on her husband’s night table and reached into its top drawer. She took out the bottle of Nembutal, emptied the contents into her hand and swallowed them all, washed down with the coffee.
She climbed on to the bed and looked again at Dan’s peaceful, happy face. It made her smile. She took him in her arms and closed her eyes, already yawning despite the coffee. Today, at last, was a good day to die…
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