IT WAS SEPTEMBER 22, 1951, and Jimmy, age 17, was asleep on his bed with his clothes on. The kid was your average Caucasian teenager, medium built, with blue eyes and wavy blonde hair.
As early morning sunlight filtered into the bedroom through the fluttering wind-blown curtains, light descended gently upon his angelic face.
On the walls were Santa Monica High School football banners, along with a few movie posters from the 1950s featuring film stars like Grace Kelly, Marlin Brando, and Rock Hudson. On the floor next to him lay a half-eaten pizza, six crushed beer cans, and jazz records which littered the mauve carpet. On the walls, several Aurora plastic model airplanes adorned the shelves.
While Jimmy slept deeply, the television was blaring next to him with “Uncle Bob” on T.V. from the popular Howdy-Doodie Show. As Uncle Bob signed off, a Kools cigarette commercial came on the screen, and it was at that same moment an alarm clock sitting on the night table next to the bed went off – Ringgggg-ring!
It was eight-thirty in the morning when the bell awakened him, and with trembling hand, he reached out and slammed the stop button down. Jimmy lay in bed for a minute staring up at the ceiling with a terrible headache and blood-shot eyes, smacking his dry boozy lips.
On television a commercial came on with “Speedy Alka-Seltzer,” in his white trademark pill-hat, singing the Alka-Seltzer theme song: “Plop, plop, fiz, fiz... Oh, what a relief it is!”
Jimmy moaned, sat up in bed as an empty whiskey bottle; fell out from under the sheets. He picked it up from the floor and took a last swig then stashed the empty bottle under his pillow, and fell back asleep.
That was, of course, until a loud voice called upstairs to him. It was Aunt Ethel standing impatiently in the downstairs hallway.
‘James – James, are you up?’ she bellowed. ‘Time to go to class, you can’t be late again.’
‘Yeah, yeah, Aunt Ethel, I’m up,’ he grumbled.
Jimmy dragged himself out of bed holding his aching head, switched off the TV, and moved to a mirror where he stared dotingly at himself, squinting then put on a pair of silver wire-rimmed eyeglasses then tugged on his right ear lobe fancifully.
‘To be, or not to be: That is the question...’ he said reciting Shakespeare.
His Auntie called again from downstairs.
‘James, who are you talking to? Do you have a girl up there?’
‘Oh, yeah, I got Grace Kelly sitting on my face, okay?!’ he shouted. ‘For cryin’ out loud, will you leave me alone!’
‘Is that any way to talk to me?’ she protested. ‘Wait until your father gets home.’
Jimmy paid her no mind and did impressions of her whining making faces in the mirror. ‘I'm gonna tell. I’m gonna tell,’ he joked. ‘Geez, get a new act will ya?’
But Aunt Ethel wasn’t finished, ‘If your mother were alive, we wouldn’t have to put up with this kind of behaviour! – Okay, I’ve got to go... Somebody’s got to pay the bills around here... and don’t forget to take out the trash!’
Jimmy was half listening, still staring in the mirror, combing his hair in different ways.
‘Oh…to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them,’ he said. ‘To die, to sleep no more, and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.’
Jimmy combed his hair into a pompadour, smiled to himself self-assured, and put his clothes on.