Found half-buried in the abandoned lot that once was home to the Chicago Chronicle, I present to you what remains of the diary of Lydia Markham aka Edwina Twinkacetti.
November 15, 1987
Vinnie finally stopped dragging his feet, and I finally got in at the newspaper! It only took me, what, three months?? He kept complaining about how much money and effort it takes to lean on people for fake job references, how careful they have to be when they’re burning down newspaper buildings (just throw some water on it when it’s done, Vinnie!), how he’s giving up his two best girls for this
if those are his best… I shudder to think…
The setup here is good for monitoring. You can only get to the parking garage through the basement, which is where they work. I can see the recognition in their eyes… but it fades a little every day. I am beginning to believe Superman got away with just glasses. I make sure to throw them off a little… insulting the sad-looking one (Larry), making up stories about my past for the dumb one (Balky).
Turns out my biggest worry was for nothing: nobody here knows anything about psychology! From the top down there is not a single person here who thinks like a human being! I write whatever advice I want, and they eat it up! I have even started playing a little game with myself, acting like I have different mental problems. God help me, they buy it.
I’ll have to keep my eye on the Afro-American, Harriet. She’s sharp.
November 21, 1987
Met a suicide-in-waiting who does the crime beat. Told him he had to face his fears… and that the occasional drink never hurt anybody. I’m so respected here! I want to laugh, but also to cry.
November 22, 1987
god I want to cry
November 30, 1987
Sent $200 to mom and the kids this morning. There is a letter from her sitting on the nightstand next to the photo of Donald (the one from the contest). I haven’t opened it.
December 2, 1987
Balki has developed an addiction!!!! All it took was a few conversations about the “fancy” programs I watch. He started talking a bunch of nonsense. Father gave me my first car… and old 1962 Galaxie… it pissed oil. According to Father, that’s how you could be sure it was working.
December 10, 1987
Frank was here this morning! And happy! I was livid. I stalked around my office screaming for a good 15 minutes. Susan (my assistant) came in… asked if I was okay… told her I was just relapsing into an “acute paranoid hypomanic episode”. “Oh,” she said.
Found out from Harriette that the cousins “saved” Frank by telling him how good he had it. I wondered briefly if they knew… why were they there that night anyway?? But then I had lunch (chicken salad and water) and felt a lot better. Most likely they get off doing their inversion thing on the mail table.
December 12 13, 1987
December 15, 1987
god the screams
December 19, 1987
Was prescribed this hot new “miracle drug” called fluoxetine… doc says it’s just short term… just to help me sleep… just to take the edge off…
Office Christmas party. Pretended to get drunk and have daddy issues. Kissed Harry under the mistletoe and he bolted. I am surprised to find that I do not feel insulted by this. Feels more like a challenge, really!
December 31, 1987
Snet some $$$ to that BITCH even thoug she’s a BTCH tells me Im not a good momther sends me me a damn picture of whats their names
shit whats their nanmes???????? denny and the girl one okay marcie
January 1, 1988
woke up and he was screaming SCREAMING not even muffled by the glass screaming directly into my head from the nightstand
January 2, 1988
January 5, 1988
Note to self: let’s not get so drunk we forget to take our pills for a week!
January 9, 1988
Note to self: never sleep with a film director… even one who does commercials… they’re always telling you what to do…
January 28, 1988
Vinnie… okay, fine he’s “Vince” now… thought it would be fun to try to scare the cousins. I told him I was happy with the results, but to consult with ME first in the future. I could never trust him. Donald should have known Vince would get caught the way he did. I mean… the guy only parked his big black limousine one block from the discount store!
January 31, 1988
Sent $150 to mom and the kids this morning.
(2 pages torn out)
March 28, 1988
Harry was loaded! Emphasis on “was”! Emphasis on “loaded”!!! The poor bastard… keeping all his keys together… I actually find it kind of sweet that he changed his office safe combination to my measurements. Vinnie didn’t know about that safe.
March 31, 1988
Sent $400 to mom and the kids.
April 17, 1988
Found the most gorgeous apartment in downtown! Thanks, Harry!!
April 30, 1988
Balki had a stupid little “graduation ceremony” yesterday. The idiot can barely speak correctly! I ended up having to stand next to one of Vinnie’s girls… the tall one… there’s barely a brain between the two of them, and it’s all in the other’s head (Mary?). I would have pegged the tall one as a match for Balki. But who understands attraction, really?
Sent $150 to mom and the kids.
May 6, 1988
Balki’s grandmother is dead! Thanks, Vinnie!
May 7, 1988
She’s still dead! HAHAHAHA!
May 9, 1988
The doctor did say the pills were just for a few months, and I certainly
(7, perhaps 8, pages ripped out here)
lovely… but said he could never leave his wife. YECCCH
October 15, 1988
I put the picture of Donald away and replaced it with one of the kids. No idea why the bottom right corner is cut off.
Larry had the gall this morning to call me an idiot! ME! The guy who can’t go 15 minutes without crying. I guess that means my plan is working. Balki is as dumb as ever. I think he may have gotten worse?
Also, whoopty doo, I won a measly $100 playing the lottery.
October 28, 1988
THAT BITCH KNOWS
October 29, 1988
screams from the closet… took two pills to make up for yesterday…
October 31, 1988
Sent $170 to mom and the kids.
November 5, 1988
Yesterday night was beautiful. I gave the cousins a piano to bring to a party at my apartment. I picked one that was slightly too big for the elevator, put some extra weight inside it (bags of sand left over from Ritz), oiled the wheels a little too well. They even managed to let the piano fall out of a window! I came downstairs briefly to see them and they were so demoralized!!!
Also, that’s the end of Chuck “Micropenis” Panama.
HER HUSBAND IS A COP
(3 pages missing)
November 27, 1988
Just got back from an office camping trip. I forgot to bring my meds with me on this trip, but you know what? I feel okay! And I’ve got these cousins figured out, and I barely have to put forth any effort. A little backhanded compliment here, a little threat to his manhood there, and Larry decides to take his cousin and those bimbos away from the group.
I’d hoped they’d die but NO for some goddam reason everything THEY do works out GREAT
who would choose blonde as a hair color for fuck’s sake
November 28, 1988
I woke up to screams and looked at the nightstand… the children were the same but they weren’t mine, they never were… I turned over and there was the picture of Donald on the other pillow. I must have been drunk last night and gotten it out of the closet…
I must have thrown the bottle in the garbage can outside…
December 9, 1988
Spent the evening at the cousin’s apartment. Couldn’t believe the smell. Saw some psychology books on their shelves. Is this as bad as I think it is?
December 31, 1989
Sent $250 to mom and the kids.
January 31, 1989
Sent $160 to mom and the kids.
February 15, 1989
Spent the night with Bink. He barely makes 30K! Butt like boiled potatoes. YECCCH!
February 18, 1989
Showed Balki a mop and he asked me “what this?” Think I might buy myself some
for a loop that all I could do was make a bedwetting remark. As soon as he said “used car” it hit me… I never got rid of Donald’s car… they must have seen it at Tony’s Mambo Room…
…the psychology books…
…Balki likes to hang out with Harriette’s husband…
…we have an investigative team now…
No. Don’t let it overtake you, Lydia.
February 24, 1989
You know… you spend so much time coming up with new neuroses to show off… and everyone just focuses on how much sex you’re having. I swear, Western views on sexuality are the real neurosis…
March 31, 1989
I had the newspaper’s basement–and, thanks to Vinnie, the apartment–bugged a long time ago. But I’ve really given up on it by now. Balki has three or four phrases that he says everyday… he HAS to say them… “well of course not” he thinks he’s being so damn CUTE.
Other times he just talks nonsense, worse than he did in the store for certain now… far worse… TOO far worse… is he speaking in code? is he taunting me? Doth Balki protest too much?
But then things pick up later when Balki tells me about a guy he “found” for me.
That suit, that hair… I tell you, I’m a sucker for receding hairlines… and *sigh!* he actually reads my column… his name is Jack Colby… he’s taking me to JAMAICA!!!
Oh this dumb stranger is perfect!!!
Note to self: send $$ to mom when you get back.
April 2, 1989
Can you believe it? Jack’s been running the same scam as me! He’s so obviously trying to find out my net worth. “Ah, this is certainly a Lanvin” He knew it was a Gucci! Who doesn’t know a Gucci shoe??? Of course I’d done research on him before we came here (something I DO unlike those Marshall and Walpole greasestains) so I knew he’d been married a few times. But here’s the thing–and I love this–he keeps his formers alive around! He’s got it so they pay him alimony. HOW???
I called him out on it over dinner (we had escoveitch… it’s like escabeche but SO much tastier… I need to get back down there soon!). He wasn’t even phased! But what’s more, he didn’t try to run. He’s not smart (he kept embarrassing me in front of the waiter by saying “tamarack” instead of “tamarind”, like, really, guy?) but he can see opportunity… I appreciate that. We schemed over the weekend. I’ve been a short-term investment, short-term payout kind of gal myself… but then I think you have to do that at first… luxury apartments don’t pay for themselves. Jack’s style is long-term investment, but with long-term returns. I think I may keep him around awhile.
What’s that Gaddis quote? When someone tells you to make your money work for you, that’s wrong. You make somebody else’s money work for you.
Also… he’s HUGE…
April 3, 1989
Came back to work today. I woke up pleasantly sore this morning (let them laugh) and had my usual espresso. During cup #6 I glanced over at the medication bottles (? jars? capsules?) and I realized: I don’t need those anymore. It’s been almost two years since my time with “The Donald” was over… I swear that sobriquet was a third of why he had to go…
(written out to the side on this page in another color: “VIALS!!”)
I was so happy this morning that those two idiots in the basement didn’t even sour my mood. I came in singing Day-O! I didn’t care about Balki’s malapropisms, or how he called me Miss Lydia… that kind of linguistic mangling is for daycares and Southern churches… either you’re formal or informal with someone I mean, God, PICK ONE!!! Actually, seeing them improved my mood. I completely unnerved them with my marriage announcement. Sure, Larry looks that scared on any day that ends in “y”, but telling them about my marriage even threw Balki off! Things are looking up!
On the other hand, Larry was mumbling under his breath… I swear I heard the words “reason #30”…
What does that mean?
What could he know?
April 4, 1989
Jack and I had our engagement party last night.
Donald was on my nightstand this morning.
I invited everyone from work back to my apartment, even that letch Wainwright (the women at the Chronicle don’t call him “Roving Touch” for nothing). Thank God I hired a butler to announce everyone’s names because heaven knows I won’t remember the names of the black ones when I introduce them to Jack. At least I did that… nothing else went right.
Friends close, enemies closer, right?
It helps if you know which they think they are.
Larry was wearing a dress and a wig! What the hell were they trying? And who picked out that dress for him? His “girlfriend” certainly doesn’t have that kind of fashion sense
WHAT DO THEY KNOW?
I learned years ago–from Donald,
of all people… he was in his prime then… not to give away anything more than I have to unless I’m getting something good in return. I smiled and nodded when Larry was introduced as “Desiree”… he starts talking about how his “late husband” was some kind of multimillionaire businessman…
Well har dee har I’ll be snookered
Alarm bells were going off in my head! Certainly this was some kind of charade meant to shake me up. It took wearing a dress for that Midwestern runt to show some balls! Mocking ME, mocking MY cover story. I tried to keep myself calm, remind myself that Larry and Balki were off in their own little world of two most of the time. Worst case scenario they’d knock over my potted plants, throw food around, grab each others’ asses, cry, and then loudly proclaim that they’d “learned their lesson”. Like some Saturday-morning cartoon version of the Kipper Kids. Most everyone ignores it at this point. Right?
Balki’s still talking like the Family Circus brats… but he’s started throwing in actual puns… not good puns… but his English wasn’t this good on Friday…
HAR DEE HAR where DOES he come up with them???
Jack and I were having a good time… joking about which of the women at the party he’d pick for his next wife. Of course, I’d never let him marry any of that gutter trash. I’ve always known not to shit where I eat, even before I met Donald… he certainly never realized that one… I think we’ll find Jack some nice Jewish Princess in Skokie next.
At one point I saw Harriette and Larry talking. It was only for a few seconds, but that BITCH has to GO. Maybe some food poisoning will keep her off her feet for a day or two… long enough for that idiot Wainwright to realize he can press buttons too…
HARRIETTE HARRIETTE HARRIETTE
(these are almost entirely crossed out and a pen has torn through the paper in places)
I’m being rational about it now, but I was on the verge of a major freak-out.
I saw Larry and Jack talking and decided it was time for me to go… like, Splitsville, population Lydia…
I disappeared into my bedroom to make sure my bug-out bag was in order… the water was there the bus tokens were there the sunglasses and the housewife clothes were there but where were the WIGS what good are the DRIVERS LICENSES without the damn WIGS???? and I looked up and I saw Donald and I threw him in the closet
Francine, my maid, came in at one point to tell me that she walked in on Jack making the moves on a blonde woman in the coat room and I yelled at her WHERE ARE THE WIGS can you believe it? I yelled at my maid of two years WHERE ARE THE WIGS I cried and then I really did cry and Francine and I cried together… Francine told me she wanted to follow no matter where I went… and I realized how much I’d be giving up here… I’m no spring chicken… but I don’t want to start all this over again in a new city…
Francine gave me the strength I needed… I knew I could regain control… all I needed to do was walk out there and announce the marriage proposal right away… before anyone else could say anything… I had planned to rip off Larry’s wig and claim that it was a joke we were playing on Jack… but I realized in that moment that Larry’s wig was MY wig it was my country music singer wig it was MY WIG that I BOUGHT from SEARS OF COURSE IT WAS LYDIA DON’T BE RIDICULOUS
(“GET OUT OF THE CITY” and “FUCK YOU JACK” fill the left and right margins of this page)
it threw me off just long enough that I hesitated, and then Jack, that pituitary gland in a Perry Ellis, dumped ME he fucking dumped ME
and Balki… he pulls MY WIG off of Larry and I see it now… I thought I had them right where I wanted them… Larry was just genetic detritus Balki couldn’t even remember what mail bags were half the time but WHY DOES EVERYTHING WORK OUT FOR THEM WHY
I see it now… Balki pretending to be a hypnotized Elvis… Balki pretending to grab a bowling ball while touching my face, a coded message that even a blind man would know who I am how long had they planned this?… how long had it taken them to rub my face in the fact that my disguise consisted of different hair… and whose plan was it??? What are they going to do?? this was supposed to be MY MY WIG (violently crossed out) MY YOU DO I DO YOU DO I DO YOU DO I DO Y (scribbles for the rest of the page)
this was supposed to announce MY WEDDING and its a horror version of Dirty rotten Scoundrels because JACK IS IN ON IT I KNOW
I KNOW HE KNOWS
in front of EVERYBODY jack says he wants to boff Lary… I could barely hear anything… blame it on whatever the hell Blaki Bkli Bbla GOD DAMMIT
(page is crumpled and torn, but still complete)
Balki was yelling god only knows what… but I could only hear my own blood HIS BLOOD rushing in my ears and I grab whatever the black guy was holding (i was hoping it was a GUN do you udnerstand it was) MINE THE SUCCESS WAS MINE
THESE FUCKUPS SHOULD BE THANKING ME FOR THEIR JOBS AND THEIR WOMEN
it wasnt a gun it was a PASTRY but it was MINE it was AMERiCAN okay it was FRANCINES but FRANCINES MINE OKAY
and I make jack EAT IT and I wish I could say the rest was a blur but MY WIG I know i was cry again and the dirty inbredscoundrels were closing in on me and Balki leans in close and sayd right in my face: “your move, ex-lax”
like i said kind a blur but I hit my redial button this mornign and it was for ennifer
(the “J” in “Jennifer” was written, then erased)
i hope that tramp saw her demasculated boyfriend waering that dress and just destroyed his emotional state emotionally
April 30, 1989
Sent $200 to mom and the kids.
June 5, 1989
Met Marshall at Pierre’s… a new French café down the street from my apartment… and what a romantic… can you believe he
(the remainder of the book appears to have been burned)