Behind the Moroniverse: Peppi and Bernadette

Manteno’s own Peppi and Bernadette Cacca might seem like empty characters at first, however there is a much darker side to them. Like all my characters, the Caccas are inspired by a combination of real people.

Bernadette fires her window-mounted Turd Machine at Gothic Diana Ross

I have known Bernadette’s main inspiration my entire life. She had lived next to my grandmother. As kids, she was the entitled brat who wanted things her way or the highway. I used to try and dodge her, running the other way because she annoyed me so much, but then she would not leave me alone.

I clearly remember her insisting on calling me my deadname, despite my pleas for her to stop. Bernadette hasn’t any concept of boundaries and neither does her main inspiration. She just pretends to care.

In high school, she had found a way to manipulate people into thinking she was a wonderful person. I had to ask her an urgent question for a design I was creating for a play in which she starred, right before I had to catch the bus to trade school to design it. Instead of turning around and answering me, the “stage manager extraordinaire” sitting atop a desk kept talking faster and louder to the other student, drowning me out.

To add insult to injury, the real-life communal narcissist tricked the teacher into making ME apologize to HER. I will never forgive her for that abuse.

The real-life communal narc had been working on an app-only HBO show of some sort and playing piano for an LGBTQIA+ charity. You read that right; the same person who deadnamed me repeatedly is raising money for an LGBTQIA+ cause. Hmmm…

Now she is gaslighting people into thinking she cares about the Russian invasion into Ukraine, singing at charity events to raise money, and course to get that almighty photo opportunity. My best friend and her husband have family in Ukraine; this is personal for me. I do not care about a moronic photo op when my friends and their family are fighting for their lives, running from a DIC-tator who wants to bring about the Apocalypse.

I read she yelled at a late-night television host for getting too close to her piano. This behavior does not surprise me, having come from a person who has a history displaying her sense of entitlement to those closest to her.

I created my character to help cope with a lifetime of abuse from a narcissist who tricks virtually everyone into seeing her mask, which I suspect has been crumbling. I hope it falls off for good and she slithers away into a life of obscurity, working by herself, abusing nobody. Or maybe she will live out her life in the bog, devouring the living like the character whom she had inspired, Bernadette Moran Cacca.

Have you known a person like this?

Peppi Cacca’s name came from a rabid doorman in Italy who sexually assaulted me. Character Peppi Cacca’s main inspiration is a toxic, former neighbor who had stunk up my apartment with skunky weed and sadly abused his cat. I had gotten the idea from Pepe LePew and used to call him Pepe LePuke as I heard him through the ceiling vomiting every morning while he was upstairs visiting his boyfriend with whom he was having an affair. I am so glad to be out of that apartment complex, and in a much quieter, cleaner place – waking up to birds in the trees, not skunk-weed stench.

Awhile back, I had overheard him on the bus bragging to the driver about his drinking, making the excuse “can you blame me?”

I blame him for his own behavior.

Bern Cacca Gets Yeeted

“Here I sit all broken-hearted, tried to crap but only farted,” a forlorn Bernadette “Bern” Cacca sings on her porcelain throne, practicing kazoo and accordion. She lights a fart, burns her doodoo in the fireplace, then makes a call to a Northwestern Illinois bar on her smell phone.

“Poopy’s.”

“Hi, my name is Bernadette Cacca. I’m a famous singer near Chicago.”

The bartender giggles.

“I have a wonderful offer to make your bar.”

“May…I take your order?”

“I would like to open a Poopy’s here in Manteno.”

“I thought you were from Chicago!”

The bartender continues to giggle as he hangs up on Bern.

To increase her bottom line of attention, money and bootlickers, communal narcissist Bernadette offers to sing and play her accordion cover songs at a charity event to raise money for the victims of the Russian war against Ukraine. She dreams about all the photo opportunities she can gain from her virtue signaling. She does not care about the efforts of living beings trying to stay alive, fighting or fleeing a psychopath trying to take over their beautiful country. She just loves to pretend.

Bern heads home from a long day working her and her husbands’ business Peppi’s Portapotties, excited to burn the porta-poopies in her fireplace, only to be interrupted by a phone call.

“Hi, Bernadette…ummm…Cake-Uh?”

“Cacca.”

“Yeah, I am calling about your gig at the Gaslight Bar tomorrow night.”

“Oh hiiii! I am THRILLED about playing this extraordinary gig at 7:00 tomorrow night.”

“Good. We are calling to tell you about a slight time change. Due to staffing shortages, we need to move your gig back an hour.”

“I am a pillar of the community and a national treasure! Your tone is not appropriate for someone doing business. I would get used to people like me.”

“So are you coming or not? We have other guests who want to play and help—“

“Okay, okay, see you tomorrow. Don’t forget it!”

Bern teams up with local cybercrook Pat Splatt to develop her pretend money Craptocoin. The bum-waste-bin overlord thinks it is cute to sell Craptocoin at the charity event and decides she will solicit tips using her funny money.

“Hello Manteno! Thank you all for coming! Let’s raise some money! Gimme your requests! CraptoCoin only, my handle is @BMCacca! Maybe you already doing it, and that’s awesome!

ALSO, a shout-out to my extraordinary hairdresser @lilacroule from Croule, Young and Lovely who keep me lookin’ good! AND, my makeup by fabulous @marigoldyoung! So much love to their salon. Practices are things done more than one time regularly, and I have been practicing hard for tonight’s fundraiser! That’s why I call them practices!”

“And…without further ado, give it up for the Manteno Wonder herself, Mrs. Bernadette Cacca!”

A slow clap is heard, mixed in with hoots and hollers from Bern’s obsessed fanboys.

After finishing her last accordion cover tune for the first half of her set, “My Fart Goes Boom”, Bern runs to the washroom, humming “Let’s all go to the restroom” as she poops and farts.

Mrs. Cacca emerges, approached by a Chicago television reporter. 

“Hi Bern. I would like to interview you. We got a press release—“

“Not now, after.”

“I have other stories to cover. Let’s do this now.” 

“The show must go on.”

“I am from Ukraine and have family there.”

“Fair enough, let’s do this interview up on stage. We will both look awesome up there!” Bernadette gushes.

The Chicago TV reporter enters stage right, Bernadette stage left. Reporter Elena Emm stops to remember her questions so she can begin her interview. 

An impatient Bernadette sighs loudly, whistles and hums.

“Why are you staring off into space? Are you in a fantasy world?” Bern snarks, snickers, thinking only Elena can hear her.

“I am blind,” the reporter advises the oblivious Bernadette, unaware a camera operator is filming the entire interview.

“Here let me touch your face,” the ableist and ignorant Bern belittles the Chicago TV news reporter, reaching for her face.

Elena knocks Bernadette unconscious with a single blow to her piehole, then proceeds to yeet her into the crowd of bootlickers.

“This show is getting entertaining” Gothic Diana Ross says to her bandmates, The Midnight Supremes, who are waiting in the wings.

“I may be visually impaired, but I’m not stupid” Elena Emm says to the crowd who had poured in to find out where their entertainer Bernadette had gone, only to have that communal narcadoodle chucked right into a pile of them, knocking the fanboys over like a set of bowling pins. Strike!

Happy she got a scoop on the poop-mistress extraordinaire, Elena and the news team head back to Chicago to produce their segment for the next morning’s newscast.

“Next up, give a hand for these lovely ladies, Gothic Diana Ross and the Midnight Supremes!” announces the emcee, who had called the Manteno girl group last minute to replace their annoying neighbor Bern Cacca on the bill.

“You look so good on the outside”

— Cold Cave

Pat Splatt Poops the Question

Bourbonnais multiplex clerk, neckbeard and communal narcissist, Damien Hurlbutt, has caught word that his estranged former wife Lori is coming into Kankakee County for a doctor’s appointment. He is deathly afraid of running into her because he is scared she might confront him about his history of verbal abuse toward her, tarnishing his squeaky-clean image. He heads over to his brother Robbie’s apartment to ask him and fellow con man Pat Splatt to come up with a sneaky way into avoiding her.

“I’m back!” Damien tells his younger brother and fellow narcissist, Robbie.

“I’m front!” Robbie snickers back.

“I am leaving town for a week or longer. I am telling my boss at the cinema and then hitting the gas. My ex-wife is coming back into town and I am scared.”

“Scared?” Robbie replies in his typical faux-Elvis voice.

“Yeah. Sssh, don’t tell anyone. I really look good online after I smear campaigned her to all my friends, even to that famous couple until they had told me to stop messaging them, sending them presents and mailing them weekly postcards. I had sent them a drawing I made all by myself after our friend passed away since I had talked them into letting me send them art instead. I swear, they are really impressed! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!” Damien exclaims with glee as he rubs his palms together.

“Just man up and deal with it!” Robbie Hurlbutt tells his older brother Damien.

“Come now. That is not how you talk to a fellow Men’s Rights Activist! You know that!” Damien says on the defense to Robbie.

“I hope you get the time off approved.”

“Okay, okay, okay, okay…” Damien repeats ad nauseum, not knowing his little brother Robbie is already out of earshot.

“Ding-dong.” 

“You’re wrong!” Damien snickers beneath his breath to the person at Robbie’s door.

A half-grinning Pat Splatt opens the door and struts inside.

“I popped the question!”

“What question?” Damien asks.

“Heyyyy…where did you meet her?” Robbie replies and looks away.

“Hey Pat, my ex is coming into town and I am feeling lukecold about this. I was wondering if you could help come up with a scheme—“

“Damien, I just got engaged!”

“I know, I know. My ex is due in sometime this week. I would like to gingerly bow out of town but I have to work. What do you suggest I do?”

“Hey, can I sing at your wedding, Pat?” Kankakee’s number one Elvis impersonator, the one and only Robbie Hurlbutt asks.

“Do you know anything besides Elvis?”

“I can sing lots of oldies.” Robbie replies.

“Do you play any metal?”

“No, but you can book me really cheap. I will throw in my groovy dance moves for free.”

“I’ll consider it.” Pat says to Robbie.

“So where did you meet her?” Robbie asks.

“The dating app OKStupid. Hey, I’ll show you guys a picture.” Pat gets out his phone and opens up said dating app.

“Who’s Daniel Sprague?” Damien asks.

“Oh, that’s my profile,” a half-embarrassed Pat replies as his gawky, straggly self shows the Hurlbutt brothers the obviously-stolen photos of the handsome, athletic man in the photos with the gorgeous hair and eyes. 

The Hurlbutts smile and ask to see his new girl.

“Her name is Alix. She’s from South Africa.”

“When did you meet her?” Damien asks.

“Oh, a month ago.”

“She came to Kankakee?” Robbie asks?

“No.”

“Hey Damien, let’s work on avoiding your ex,” Pat says to change the topic and the three work on scheming.

The next day arrives and so does Damien. Unlike Pat, Damien rings the bell and waits. While he waits, he taps his foot and jiggles the doorknob a dozen times. Make it a baker’s dozen.

“Well doesn’t that put poop in your soup?” Damien asks Robbie.

“Say what?” 

“My time off did not get approved. I have to work. That means if my ex-wife comes into town, and visits the theater, she could say something bad about me if I am mean to her! What do I do?”

“Weren’t you saying you had heel spurs, just like the former president?”

“You know, the Moon landing may not be real but darn it, my bone spurs are!” Damien sternly replies.

“You deserve a long, hard week off.”

“You know, that’s right. I’ll just call in.” 

“What do you do at that theater anyway?”

“Oh, make copies of tickets and give them away. And make color copies of things I print out…all on the company’s dime. Why not? They’re paying for it.”

The brothers share a giggle and Damien drives home to his neckbeard nest to sleep on the floor.

Damien dials his supervisor, Cinema-13 owner Konrad Teirant, on his ten year old flip phone to call in “sick.” 

“You will need to be examined by a doctor and have a written excuse for each day you are out. Company policy.” Konrad says to Damien.

Upset and surprised by this rule, Damien makes an appointment to be seen. The office cannot tells him he cannot in until next week.

“Phew!” Damien says aloud after he hangs up his ancient flip phone and writes down his doctor appointment.

Damien drives over to Robbie’s apartment, where Robbie, his roommate Andy Skandees and Pat Splatt are all watching TV.

A bulbous Damien sits down on the basket chair and nearly falls out, while Pat stares angrily at his phone on the couch next to Andy, who is relaxing in his white tank top and cargo pants.

“She says she wants to come meet me. In person. I keep telling her I am busy. She says she is on her way to Kankakee in a week-and-a-half for a business meeting via way of Chicago!” an unhappy Pat exclaims.

“Why don’t you want to meet your girl? Andy asks.

“Reasons,” Pat replies.

“Did I tell you my story about the poop elves?” Damien asks with a large grin on his face.

“Way too many times…” the rest of the room answers in unison.

“Oh, I forgot.” Damien lies.

The Kankakee storm rages on, and then changes to sun five minutes later.

Damien spends the next week off work, feeling glad he does not run into his former wife out and about, especially at work. It is review week coming up and he is deathly afraid of this time of year, as he is every year. Damien lives to impress, and will not even let his peers throw him a birthday party because he is not the one doing the impressing. If anyone would care enough to surprise him —  not that they would — he would take over the check, (in a not-so-polite-way) and insist on paying on it himself thinking that would somehow impress them. Damien only does this for image, as he only cares about himself. He just wants to look good to cover up his lack of empathy.

Damien goes to the doctor’s office the following Monday before returning to work at the movie theater that night. After all, he had just spent a week off for his heel spurs!

While waiting for about an hour for his fifteen minute exam, in walks a familiar-looking woman, along with a much older lady. Damien looks up.

“Oh gawd.” Lori says to her friend after briefly looking over at Damien and then back at her friend.

Damien is now shaking with fear. He immediately dials up Robbie. It goes straight to voicemail. He calls Andy. Same thing. He calls Pat.

“Hey, man. It’s an emergency.”

“Be right over. I am charging you double-time.”

“Fine.”

Damien flips over his bronze-age phone and waits, tapping his fingers, whistling audibly.

Thirty minutes pass and Damien has not been called back to see the doctor, neither has Lori.

Pat Splatt walks in, cowboy boots a-clomping.

“Hi Damien. What’s going—“

“Look, Pat.”

Damien points across from him, to his former wife and her friend.

“What do you want from me?” Pat asks.

“That’s my ex wife! I thought her appointment was last week! You gave me the info.”

“So what. Things change. It happens.”

“Hey, you sound familiar!” says one of the ladies across from him.

“Hey-hhmm-hhuhhh—hmmm—what?” a melodramatic Damien replies.

“No not you, that guy next to you.” the elderly lady replies in her Cape Town accent, appearing to be about 72.

“You mean Pat?” Damien snarkily replies.

“Pat? I thought your name was Daniel!”

“Alllll-iiiiixxxx?” a stunned Pat Splatt replies.

“Yes, sonny. It’s me. I had told you I was coming into town. But you hadn’t wanted to meet me. I wonder why not? You do not look anything like your picture. The engagement is off.”

“Well neither do you!” Pat exclaims.

“Calm down everyone!” a staff member shouts from behind a window.

The group of people waiting wonder how any of them would get any calmer by a comment like that.

Damien is eventually thrown out of the office and Lori is called in next.

Needless to say, Damien does not pass his yearly review at Teirant Cinema-13. Poor Damien. If only he had just tried to be nice. But then again, he would not be Damien. 

Sucks to be Damien

Knock-knock.

Bourbonnais communal narcissist Damien Hurlbutt ignores the letter carrier. “Must be my Weekly Weewee Wonders; the mailman can tuck those away in the box,” Damien tells himself, as he trims his glowing orange neckbeard.

Damien dons his newest fedora, carefully selected from his newest box of identical hats ordered from an online retailer.

Damien logs onto M’Ladies by Mail Online one last time to check for replies to his daily messages to Ha, his long lost mail-order bride from Vietnam. He sings the empty-inbox blues.

Damien looks for his flip phone and cannot locate it. “Check your pocket, Farley!” Damien says out loud, Lord only knows why.

“Who the heck is Farley?” his downstairs neighbor asks as Damien locks up, jiggling the doorknob for a full five minutes.

“Nothing!” Damien exclaims to his neighbor, as if she cared.

Damien locates his phone and calls his covert narcissist brother Robbie.

“Hey, hey, hey!” Robbie’s voice is heard.

“Elvis, I mean Robbie has left the building. Leave a message. BOOORT!”

“Heyy, man. This is your brother. I am leaving to go try and patch things up with Grimace, I mean Lori. Wish me luck, okay!” Damien flips his phone closed.

Damien hops onto 57 North to Chicago, where Lori lives. He had gotten her address from an illegal data broker site. He has an idea she will be home tonight, because he has been tracking her plans through a sock puppet account on Fakebook.

Damien parks in a nearby garage and walks up to Lori’s apartment, roses and balloons in hand. He knocks on her door.

Lori answers, as she has been expecting a pizza delivery. It is 5:30 PM.

“I want to start things all over with you from the beginning.” Damien tells a shocked, angry Lori.

“Damien? Get the freak outta here now, or I will call the police!” Lori screams sternly.

“I could doink you every day if you would let me!” Damien says with an evil grin and his usual blank eyes.

“Eeeew, you moron! Get out of here!”

Damien spots his mail-order bride Ha in Lori’s apartment. Ha introduces herself, “Damien is that you?” “Why you love her not me?”

“Come now?” Damien says, startled.

Damien collapses emotionally. He is found out. Damien leaves hoping to dodge the police, failing to accept responsibility since he thinks he can do no wrong..

“I am so glad I showed you his crazy letter,” Lori tells Ha.

“I am so glad we met in that support group online.” Ha confides in Lori.

Screaming is heard eminating from down the street. It cannot be made out. Moments later, sirens begin to wail.

“You dodged a bullet” Ha says.

“We both did.”

“What a moron” they both say, in unison.

“Jinx!”

“Oh he’s jinxed alright!” Lori says and they both giggle as they greet the pizza guy.