Just Like Suicide pt. 17

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Battle of Gettysburgdetail 102
Mery Lynn McCorkle, detail of Battle of Gettysburg, 2015.

For your summer reading pleasure, BURNAWAY brings you Just Like Suicide, a novel by artist Mery Lynn McCorkle, set in the Los Angeles art world. She writes from experience, having lived for years in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, when it still was the art frontier, and then LA; she now resides in Rome, Georgia. She describes the book as “a compendium of interlocking tales cataloguing self demolition and success in the Los Angeles art scene, from the point of view of artists, dealers and family members.”
We’ll post sequential chapters from McCorkle’s book every Wednesday and Friday over the summer (and on Monday’s beginning in August!). Or click here to buy the book now.


Thirty Three
 Jack called and Maggie answered the house phone. She and Odessa were having breakfast in the yellow kitchen nook, reading all the Sunday papers heaped across the table, drinking too much coffee, picking at the pastries a friend had brought by the night before.
“Maggie, is it true you call my daughter Tibby?” Maggie was taken aback. Jack was almost never abrupt or snippy.
“Well, yes, I do. I thought it was a good nickname. It’s short for The Blue Baby.”
“I need for you to stop.”
“Why?”
“Tiffani doesn’t want Azure to grow up with a nickname. Our baby has a real name so please call her by it.”
“So do you want me to start calling you Jackson? That’s your real first name. And am I going to have to be called Magdalena?”
“That’s different.”
“How?”
“It offends my wife.”
“An affectionate nickname offends your wife? Really? All families have nicknames; some are far more embarrassing. Oh, wait. Tiffani doesn’t have any siblings or cousins, does she? She doesn’t know how families actually work.”
“I’m asking you to stop.”
“What was it Tiffani told me five minutes after we met? You should always affirm, don’t control or demand.”
“Maggie, it upsets her. Please stop.”
“Ok fine. I’ll do that favor for you to maintain world peace.”
“Stop being so snide, will you? She’s my wife. You need to stop picking on her.”
“Jack, have you seen the texts she’s sent Odessa and me? Your wife is one bossy lady. She loves telling us how to live our lives in no uncertain terms. But, contrary to what you may think, I’m not taking this personally. She’s a first-time mom caring for a small child in a foreign land where she doesn’t know the language and is having a rough time. I know it can’t be easy for her. But, you know, the three of us recently lost someone we dearly love and we’re having a rough time too. Are you asking her to cut us some slack? No, I didn’t think so. Tell me, Jack: why does consideration always have to start with me?”
“Because you are one strong woman. Please be nice to my wife.”
“Flattery is always a good strategy. Let me pass you on to your momma.”
Maggie sipped coffee as Odessa, ignoring what she’d overheard, asked Jack the usual questions about his day. She listened as Odessa rotated between “How wonderful, Jack” and “That’s too bad. Can I do anything to help?” The kindness of it all was what struck her. Odessa listened and when she did speak, the tone of her voice was so loving. Jack was raised with this his whole life and Maggie couldn’t help but be a bit envious, reminding herself to be thankful that she was a part of it now. Maybe Tiffani was envious too.
She could tell when the name problem came up in their conversation. “Of course we’ll call her Azure, darling, if that’s what you want. I grew up being called ‘Sassy’ and didn’t like it one bit.” Odessa listened for a while and then said very quietly,“Jack, I know you and Tiffani think yoga would be good for me. Darling, I am getting quite a lot of exercise with my long walks every morning. Yes, I can appreciate your concern. And yes, I will give it serious consideration. But I make no promises.” Odessa was rolling her eyes. Poor Jack was now being pressured to convert Odessa to the magical healing powers of yoga. New converts to every religion try to drag everyone else along. Namaste, indeed.