Bill Murray, comedian, movie star, and man about town, breaks open his childhood piggy bank, the one he purchased under the name of Charlie Rivers at a Five-and-Dime while on vacation in one of the Carolinas. That he has a piggy bank large enough to contain the money needed to purchase a northern Illinois miniature golf course, an open-air racetrack for kids, and, on the cheap, the peak of Disneyland’s Matterhorn Mountain now planted on a 90-foot sand dune along the shore of Lake Michigan, remains a mystery.
I’m interested in these acquisitions because Bill Murray is in love with my mother Madelyn—even Icall her Madelyn—so he takes the both of us and my Uncle Wilshire in a private jet to Chicago Midway airport where we are picked up by an apple-red limo. Bill sits in the far back with Madelyn and they make out—I mean REALLY make-out, wet-as-a-drown-duck kisses, hands groping body parts, cloudy steam beading up the glass partition between Uncle Wilshire, my dead dad’s brother, and me. What we are left with are squeals, sighs, gurgles, and moans. Neither one of us dares to look at the other.
Uncle Wilshire, fearing for my innocence, and I suspect, somewhat embarrassed himself to have his brother’s widow—and the woman he’s carried a lifelong torch for—crawling all over a famous movie star’s private parts and the self-same movie star crawling all over hers, turns on the TV/computer console.
We watch a TED Talk featuring Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian discussing how to “Stay Crazy in Love After Marriage.” Uncle pays strict attention to everything Queen Bee says. This surprises me because he hasn’t dated since he threw his back out dancing the “Hustle” during the Disco Era, but I’m glad for the distraction and am learning something too.
Beyoncé says, “I’m a human being and I fall in love and sometimes I don’t have control of every situation.”
She says, “Forgiveness is me giving up the right to hurt him for hurting me.”
Kim Kardashian interrupts to add, “I hate when women wear the wrong foundation color, it might be the worst thing on the planet when they wear their makeup too light.”
The ruckus behind the foggy glass divider subsides. The window slides down and Bill Murray asks me if I’m excited to see the tip of an alp on the Michigan Shore. I tell him, yes, because after all, he’s Bill Murray and Madelyn fell in love with him in 1984 when she saw Ghostbusters at the age of twelve.
I tell Bill Murray, “She fell in love with you while watching the scene in the bedroom when you spoke so sweetly to Sigourney Weaver aka Dana while she levitated above her bed. Four feet above her bed. Of course, the mood was broken when she roared, “There is no Dana, only Zuul.” Still, that was the moment he totally bewitched her.
Bill Murray leans over the seat and whispers, “I fell in love with your mother because she sent me a fan letter every day for almost four decades. She sent me bags of marshmallows for 38 years, all different brands— Campfire, Dandies, Fluffy Balls, Kraft’s own Jet-Puffed—until 26 years later when someone started making Sta-Puft Marshmallows, and they come fully caffeinated! Look it up!”
I shrug, then ask him if we could play miniature golf first since I love all those little mazes, windmills, and waterfalls.
He says, “Why not?”
That’s when Uncle Wilshire folds his chubby arms and harrumphs. I ask him what’s wrong, and Bill Murray’s face clouds up, much like the window did when he and Madelyn were going at it.
Bill Murray asks, “What’s the haps, Uncle Hulka?”
Uncle says, “I can’t compete with you, Bill,” and starts crying.
Bill Murray says, “Hey, guy, I can get you a gig if you want. You wanna be a card-carrying member of SAG-AFTRA or the US ARMY? I can arrange that.”
Uncle blubbers, “Nooooooo,” and rattles the door handle. Pounds the window.
I say, “Uncle, Uncle. What is wrong with you?” and pat his pudgy shoulder.
This is the moment Madelyn sits up and hangs over the seat. Her bum bumps playfully against Bill Murray’s and says, “Willie, stop with this foolishness right now. I don’t love you and never will.”
Uncle Wilshire screams, “Lemme out. Lemme out.”
Bill Murray snatches the car phone, talks to the limo driver, “Unlock the car, Ned. Now!” Uncle Willie’s door flies open and he tumbles out, his hands catching the window frame, his body, amazingly, given his huge lumpy composition, whips like a flag.
Bill Murray’s leg comes over the seat, shoving me away from the door, and reaches out into the night, grabs Uncle Wilshire by the scruff of his foldy-fat neck, and just when I think Uncle Wilshire is saved by the glorious and heroic Bill Murray, the great comedic movie star and bon vivant says, “In the immortal words of Jean-Paul Sartre: ‘Au revoir, gopher!’” and Willie is gone.
Bill Murray slams the door shut, leans back against the seat, smiles, pats my hand, says, “Kitten, I think what I’m saying is that sometimes, shit happens, someone has to deal with it, and who ya gonna call?”
Gay Degani has received nominations and honors for her work including Pushcart consideration and Best Small Fictions. She has a chapbook, “Pomegranate,” a full-length collection, “Rattle of Want,” and a suspense novel, “What Came Before.” Many of her stories can be found online.