Voices Carry, Bernadette

Bog witch Bern bathes in the bog

Manteno port-a-potty proprietor, singer and communal narcadoodle Bernadette “Bern” Cacca spends her vacation swimming in the bog. She gets bored devouring the living and speeds home to her shack to visit her husband Peppi.

Bern opens her mailbox to find a letter sent from Peppi.

“DEAR BERN. I GOT OUTTA REHAB AND AM LIVING IN A HALFWAY HOUSE. BRING BEER.”

Bern fears the loss of narcissistic supply since her husband is away. 

Bourbonnais cinema clerk, communal narcissist, and proud neckbeard Damien Ulysses Hurlbutt is visiting his brother; Wally Green’s clerk, Elvis impersonator and covert narcissist Robert Roy Gary Hurlbutt at his apartment, with whom he used to share with drifter Andy Skandees.

The Narcissist Brothers: Robbie and Damien Hurlbutt

“What are ya gonna do on ya day off?”

“After lunch, smunch, gonna zogg on over home and write me an article!”

“Don’t you wanna spend it with your only brother? I am in a dark mood.”

“Naw, you see, I am going to write a paper.”

Awkward silence passes the two, like a fart in the wind.

“Since people think we are narcissists, I am gonna prove them wrong! Bwahahahaha.”

A sinister grin fills Damien’s face, morphing his orange, straggly beard into something even creepier.

“After I write an article all about narcissism, I am going to send it to my former therapist down in Champaign for a once-over, and prove forever we are not narcissistic at all. Then I people will know I am the victim and all her friends will say goodbye! Bwa ha ha ha ha!”

“She’s the counselor also who saw the convicted murderer who lived in your old apartment complex, right?”

“I know, I know, I know…”

“Did you help him move the body?”

“Anyways…I need to go back to Bourbonnais and write this important article.”

Damien taps away at his 10-year-old desktop machine atop his TV tray, sitting on a folding metal chair, the only furniture he has since the rest of his apartment is cluttered with boxes containing useless crap; shredded tissues strewn across the carpet, empty pop cans littering the apartment he uses as a dumpster.

Bern runs all over Manteno looking for gullible men, to no avail.

Remembering that fellow communal narcadoodle Damien Hurlbutt hit on her at Cinema-13, she heads over to pay him a visit. Damien is not there, so the clerk hands Damien’s card to Bern.

“Damien Hurlbutt, old soul and tender-heart looking for M’ladies.

Call me now. I am the last of my species. 1-815-555-FART”

Happy she does not have to look anymore for someone she can idealize, devalue and then discard like used burger wrappers, Bernadette calls Damien and heads over his neckbeard nest in Bourbonnais. 

Damien opens the door and immediately hugs Bern, handing her a bouquet of long stem roses.

“Hello, M’Lady. I tip my hat to you, so little and dainty. I have another surprise inside.”

“Oooh, let’s go!”

Damien holds the door for Bern, and brags about it as if he needs a medal.

Atop one of his many boxes of crap is a bunch of balloons attached to a massive teddy bear. 

“I gotta go for real.”

“So soon?”

“No, I mean I need to use the washroom.”

“Ahh.”

Bern wades through the lake on his washroom floor, farts a bunch of times, and takes a massive crap.

Bern opens the door to a wide-eyed Damien.

“Are these for me?” Bern asks Damien, mouth wide open, almost inhaling one of the flies buzzing around Damien’s dumpy excuse of an apartment.

“Yes, honey puddin’.”

“Oh you are the best, Damien!”

“Anything for you, M’lady, Madame.” Damien tips his black fedora.

“By the way, I’m impressed!”

“You think so? Oh, you are nicest guy on earth. I love to sing for charity, I am the best giver you know! And the best listener.”

“No, I’m the best giver. And I mean your farting. Man, those are some hot toots!”

“Yeah, I light them to burn poopies in my fireplace.”

“Dang, wanna stay the night?”

“Yeah, baby!”

“Hoooo!”

“I don’t know. Who? I hope me, handsome dahhhhling.”

The two spend the night together on Damien’s bare floor, cuddled together under Damien’s ratty blanket, sharing his lone pillow.

Bern awakes many times in the night by a loud, dissonant noise.

Damien wakes up, farts three times, and heads to the washroom, peeing loudly. Then he rips a few more air biscuits, bragging, “Pheeeew!”

Bern checks her phone for donations to the Manteno Optimal Club, for which she plays accordion, covering pop tunes to raise money. Secretly, she does not really care about the charity nor the community as a whole. She just wants to look good on the outside.

Damien walks back into his room.

“Dude, why do you snore so loudly?”

“Oh, I have sleep apnea.”

“Why don’t you wear your mask?”

“It fills up with water in the night.”

“You do know they make automatic cleaners for those things. My mom has one.”

“I know, I know, I know…”

“And no bed? My back is killing me from sleeping on your hard floor.”

“How about we go to your place, M’lady?”

“I don’t want my husband to find out.”

“Husband?”

“Yeah, Peppi is in rehab for his drinking again.”

“Oh, I won’t tell him. I was married once before I married Grimace and I never told her.”

“Grimace? Who?”

“Oh my ex-wife. She got more hostile every day when I was getting ready to leave her down in Champaign. It was all about her, her her,” Damien smears the woman he emotionally abused.

“Why do you call her Grimace?”

“She is so fat and so dumb. One year I bought her a vacuum and she could not even put the thing together.”

“Sounds like me.”

“Naw, honey puddin’. You are a lot prettier than her.”

Damien takes his usual hour-long shower, runs out the bathroom to grab a towel and spills water all over the floor. After drying off his manhood with a hair-dryer, he gets dressed, and meets Bernadette in her car.

The two walk into Bern’s Manteno shack, which she shares with husband Peppi.

“Can I use your computer?

“Go ahead!”

Damien checks his email.

“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!” Damien exclaims with glee.

From: “Florence” [ProgressiveTherapyLLC@dmail.calm]

To:  “Damien U. Hurlbutt” [connivingpimp@hautemail.con]

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Subject: Re: I have a great idea which I think you will like

Damien, you have sent me four emails now. You are not my client any more, and I will not sign off on your idea. Here is a list of therapists in Kankakee County.

Attached file: “TherapistsInKankakee.pdf”

Damien fires back an angry email:

From: “Damien U. Hurlbutt” [connivingpimp@hautemail.con]

To: “Florence” [ProgressiveTherapyLLC@dmail.calm]

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Subject: Re: re: I have a great idea which I think you will like

No, I do not need help. There is nothing wrong with me. You are psycho like my ex-wife!

Bern walks in and Damien quickly locks the computer screen so she cannot see what shenanigans he has been barfing up.

“I gotta head upstairs. I will be awhile.”

Damien grabs Bern’s hands and looks her dead in the eye.

“I was about to close off my heart and never love again, M’lady. When I was born, my mother saw my head full of red hair and named me after the kid from The Omen. We redheaded males get discriminated against—“

“Damien, you are really handsome and your farts smell amazing. I really need to go poop for awhile.”

“Okay, honey puddin’. I will be here.”

As Damien hits send on his email to his former therapist, someone rings Mrs. Cacca’s doorbell.

“Oh, horse-hockey,” Damien complains.

“Come innnnn!” Bern’s voice emanates from the upstairs restroom.

“Bernadette, somebody is here.”

“Let them in.”

Damien opens the door. A 5’10” average looking male asks for Bernadette.

“Who are you?”

“I am JB, her boyfriend. Who are you?”

“Uhhh-I’ll go get her.”

JB sits down on the Caccas’ couch while Bernadette continues to pinch loaves.

“Bern, I am gonna go on home. I have a stitch in my side, and my heel spurs are hurting.”

“PPPHHHPPPTTTTTT” says Bern’s butt. Damien’s derriere returns the sentiment and he heads home.

Bern comes down the stairs to greet her other boyfriend.

“Hey sugar, you the most handsome man alive. How are ya?”

“Do you have any turds? My turd-machine is out of ammo again and I have no luck stealing poopies.”

Little does Bern know, she has an audience.

“Is this the dawning of the age of morons?” the next-door neighbors Gothic Diana Ross and The Midnight Supremes ask each other, giggling. They have been standing on their porch, listening in on Bern’s conversations with her boyfriends. 

“Bern Cacca has her nose so far up her enablers’ butts she can see out their mouths,” Gothic Flo quips and the gothic girl group busts out laughing, happy to have a laugh at the Caccas’ expense.

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.

Peppi’s Poopy Problems

Manteno morons and portable toilet entrepreneurs Peppi and Bernadette Cacca cook the chicken burritos from Hell, so stinky they can be smelled all the way down in Kankakee. “What is this stench? It smells like chicken and dead bodies!” Kankakee denizen Sybil Kibble cries as she takes out the trash at her Kankakee McMansion. 

“That’s it, I had enough!” the Caccas’ next door neighbor Trisha Cobb screams as she blasts her Gothic Diana Ross impersonation music. The Gothic Boss Miss Ross starts belting her impressions of “Where Did Our Love Go” and “You Keep Me Hangin On.”

Peppi and Bernadette Cacca’s orange tabby cat Danielle runs out the door as she has dealt enough with Bernadette’s accordion playing and Peppi’s yelling “git” every time she walks into the bathroom, interrupting his daily puking up last night’s booze. As Danielle makes her way over toward Gothic Diana Ross’ house and into her arms, Peppi decides he needs to plot revenge on his neighbor.

The inebriated Peppi turns on the television and falls asleep in his white tank top and black shorts, only to be awoken by Bernadette’s falsetto singing emanating from her bedroom. Peppi starts watching the infomercial featuring Kankakee pharmacy chain owner and inventor Wally Green featuring some type of Rube Goldberg machine.

“With separate compartments for high fructose corn syrup, formaldehyde and turds, the Turd Machine Deluxe will change your life!” the short, bald, heavyset, older gentleman exclaims.

“Now with a crosshairs and scope, you can aim as you please!” Wally continues to babble on.

Wally and Bernadette are sold. They call to order a gross but only 20 were left since they did not call in time, so the Caccas buy them out.

The 20 packages arrive at the Caccas’ Manteno residence. Suspicious, Gothic Diana Ross hatches a plan. The 5’10”, slender, black-haired, medium-skinned beauty in a black dress huddles with her fellow girl-group singers and their new cat Danielle. 

One of the Midnight Supremes takes out her body jewelry, dons a brown wig to cover her blood-red extensions and puts on a pantsuit. She drives over to Peppi’s Port-o-Potties to make an inquiry.

“What do you do with the poop after people are done using your port-o-dumps?” the pretend customer asks.

“We burn it”, Peppi replies nonchalantly. “My wife Bernadette lights her farts to start the process.” Bernadette opens up a huge grin, and lets in a fly, loving the attention suddenly drawn to her. Gulp. 

The disguised Midnight Supreme exits the business and gags, nearly tossing her cookies.

The next day, it is cloudy and overcast. Bernadette goes into the storage shed to mount one of the modified salad-shooters-which-now-fires-excrement onto the side of her and Peppi’s house.

“Twelve turd machines left. Someone stole eight of them!”  Bernadette growls angrily and proceeds to mount not one but four turd machines, including one she aims out her kitchen window directly at Gothic Diana Ross’ slate Victorian house.

The next day, Gothic Diana Ross briefly steps outdoors to check her mail.

“Bang bang, you’re dead, fifty bullets in the head” Bernadette sings as she cranks the turd machine, firing at Diana and missing every shot. Diana makes it inside, unscathed but angry.

Bernadette turns her back and begins cheering, and then heads into her bedroom to record her next corona-concert for charity on her computer. 

When Bernadette finishes her voice, piano and accordion recital for attention — as she does not care about the charity —- she cranks up the volume to make sure she hears the cheering reverberate through her bedroom, loud enough to annoy Miss Ross. “Thank you for another performance from the extraordinary Miss Cacca!” the Manteno Optimal Club spokesperson exclaims. “Bernadette is a national treasure. How can you say anything bad about her!” Bernadette’s already swollen head gets even bigger and she switches off her computer.

“Bernadette B-Flat!” an angered Gothic Diana Ross screams out her window.

“You are needed at a job!” Peppi yells into the room and the pair head over to the worksite, drop off their port-o-dumps and leave.

Peppy and Bernadette head back to the construction site to gather their property.

They haul the portable toilets to their house to clean and disinfect. Peppy empties all the crap into a bonfire in their backyard.

Bernadette goes to light a fart to kindle the port-o-potty-poopy-burners. “Wait, hon, I need to inspect first. All these regulations from Springfield you know!”

Bernadette lights her fart and oh my gosh, it was a big one! Her butt aflame, she lights not only the poopies, but Peppi too!

“Stop, drop and roll.”

“What? Peppi exclaims as he tries to put his clothes out.

Before long, the billowing smoke can be seen as far away as Schaumburg.

“I guess you should not have eaten those burritos, Bern,” Peppi mansplains to his wife. 

Moronic Racing is a Drag

“Would you like to hear the good news about our religion?” asks the elderly gentleman, sporting a “JC is the Man” tee shirt.

“No, would you like to hear the good news about the Flying Spaghetti Monster?” quips Diana.

“If you don’t join our religion, you will not go to paradise when you die.”

“I’ve died and come back three times and I am in the Rush University Journal of Medicine. When people talk about tunnels and light, I know they’re lying.”

Diana slams the door and gets ready to rehearse with Gothic Mary and Gothic Flo.

A knock is heard at the door.

“Go jump into Manteno Lake” yells Diana.

The knocking persists until the person holds down the doorbell.

Furious, Miss Ross heads out to chase her unwanted visitor.

Miss Ross opens the door.

“Oh hi Deeanna.”

“Di.”

“Is that a threat? Because I can call police–“

“No, you dimwit, that’s my name. Bernadette, you have been calling me by the wrong name since we were in third grade together.” Diana tells her next-door neighbor, communal narcissist and portapotty proprietor Bernadette Moran Cacca.

“Oh. I just wanted to tell you I have been doing these gigs to support the Manteno Optimal Club. I sing showtunes and play accordion. I am collecting donations if you want to chip in, since I know you love music, and it’s going to great cause because I love the community so much…” Bernadette rambles, not realizing Gothic Diana Ross and The Midnight Supremes are slow clapping to insult Bernadette’s lame attempt at asking for money.

“Oh I am so glad you want to help! How much are you going to give?”

“A blow to the head if you don’t exit.”

Diana closes the door.

Bernadette Cacca walks home and tests the crank on her window-mounted Turd Machine. “Pep, did you forget to oil the turd machine hanging in the living-room window?”

“No, Bern, it’s out of turds.”

“Oh. Where did they go?”

“Little lady, you burned them last night in the fireplace. Don’t you remember?”

“No, I had too much moonshine.”

Diana outside the Cacca homestead

Gothic Diana Ross looks out the arched windows of her home to see if the coast is clear, hoping to dodge any Caccas, and heads outside to board the bus.

Since her turd machine collections are out of turds, Bern devises another way to annoy Diana.

As Diana is just standing there waiting for a bus, Bern starts spamming her with unsolicited, incorrect information.

“Deeanna. This bus is not coming for an hour.”

Diana ignores Bern, enjoying her New Beat mix through her headset.

“Deeanna, it’s raining out. Where’s your umbrella?”

“Do you need to borrow one?” Diana sarcastically replies.

“See, Dee — I can drive you to where you’re going. I love to drive because I am a good person who helps the community.”

Diana continues to enjoy her music.

As Diana sees the bus approach, she takes off her headset so she can communicate with the driver, waving so they can see her.

“You know, Diana, you don’t have to flag the bus down. It will show up anyway,” Bern advertises her unsolicited advice.

Diana boards the bus, pays the fare and sits down in the back. Bern sits a few seats away, since the one next to Diana is already occupied by another passenger.

Diana exits the bus in front of a building near the garage where she dropped off her black 1988 Chrysler Conquest to get repaired, stopping to pause and gather her thoughts.

“That business is closed. Can’t you read the sign?” Bern nags Diana.

Bern Cacca’s turd-eating grin

“Don’t you have a pool to crap in?” the 5’10” Diana says, turns away and makes big strides using her long, slender legs toward the repair shop.

The rotund, 5’4″ Bern gives up as she has run out of ideas, for now.

“What can I do ya fer?” asks the mechanic behind the counter.

“I am her to pick up my ’88 Chrysler Conquest.”

“She’s not done yet. Give ‘er a couple more hours.”

Diana falls asleep in the chair while listening to music on her phone, the playlist changed to heavy metal and experimental noise.

She restfully dreams, drifting off to outer space, not a soul around to ask nosey questions. The beautiful goth queen and the boss of herself snores every so slightly, lightly. As Gothic Diana enjoys her peaceful rest away from her batty neighbors, she is starkly awakened.

“Diana? Diana?”

“Yeah…” a sleepy Miss Ross replies.

“Your car is good as new. She’s all fixed up. You owe us $1991.”

Diana reluctantly swipes her card, and drives onto the highway. It is getting dark on this cold Illinois night.

“Glad to have her back,” Gothic Diana thinks out loud.

Bernadette Cacca pulls up beside Diana in the lane to the left.

“But not her…” Diana also thinks out loud.

“Come on Diana, I’ll race you.”

“Get lost!” Diana exclaims, wishing the pest that is Bernadette Cacca would leave her be.

“Chicken! Bok-bok-bok-bok” the narcissistic Bern eggs on the unwavering Diana.

“Beep! Beep!”

The angered motorist behind Diana driving the white 1980s Toyota is in a hurry. Diana moves ahead.

“Yeahhhh!” an excited Bernadette exclaims as she burns rubber.

Diana and Bern race up and down the highway. Diana drifts as she tries to make her way very far from the trailing Bernadette. All she wants to do is go home.

The two arrive at their Manteno block, Diana first, Bern second.

Parked in Bern Cacca’s driveway is the white 1980s Toyota AE86.

A young man exits the Toyota and asks the approaching drivers.

“Did someone order tofu?”

Bernadette grabs her food and runs upstairs to eat because she cannot wait to poop again. She loves to poop.

An exhausted Diana enters her Gothic Victorian home and hits the silky black pillow atop her wrought-iron bed, falling asleep as soon as she lays down.

Wally Green and the Turd Machine

Wacky Kankakee inventor and pharmacy chain owner Wally Green is busy hosting his live infomercial advertising his newest invention, the Turd Machine: “Just turn the crank, and shoot the stank! But wait there’s more!”

Bernadette Cacca, part-owner of Peppi’s Portopotties, interrupts his broadcast to deliver an important message.