Friday, February 19, 2010

Danny's Story

Note: Let me apologize right from the start. My regular readers will no doubt see the title of this blog and be reminded of one I did recently with a similar title: Eddy's Story. For those who read that account, you'll know that I told that story - the story of Prince Albert Edward - with a narrative voice in the style of Kurt Vonnegut. I did that for two reasons. The first is because I had just finished reading a Vonnegut book and wanted to test my literary chops by mimicking him. The second is because Eddy's story just screamed to be told with Vonnegut's unique narrative style.

I think I did a fairly good job with it. Those familiar with Vonnegut's work seemed to think I did well.

Because of that, I had wanted to try it again. I finally decided I had my chance when I came across the story of Daniel Sickles. Like Prince Albert Edward, this story just screamed to be told with Vonnegut's style, because it was so outrageous and sensational and tabloid-like.

I think I probably should have quit while I was ahead. If I pulled a 7.5 out of 10 on my first attempt at Vonnegut's voice, I think this one is probably solid 4.  It doesn't have the same flair, I don't think, as Eddy's story.

But in any case, I post it here for your enjoyment, because whether I did a good job with the narrative voice or not, the story is still an interesting one.


Born in the famous year of 1819, the Year Nothing Happened, Daniel Sickles went on to live a life way more interesting than yours or mine. He was a pedophile and a politician, a murderer and Congressional Medal of Honor winner, an ambassador and a ladies’ man who once had sex with the Queen of Spain.

Look: he first became a lawyer, like Dear Old Dad. He studied at New York University and apprenticed himself to Benjamin Butler, who was a big time lawyer and had served as Attorney General under President Andrew Jackson – the president who had famously fought the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.

After passing the bar, Danny became a politician, because that’s what lawyers do, and his first seat was in the New York state assembly.

In 1852, when he was 33, he married a 15-year-old. New York pedophiles have been really jealous of him ever since.

After he knocked up his teenage wife by having sexual intercourse with her, he traveled to England on a political visit. But he didn’t take his teenage wife, because she was busy finishing high school. Instead, he took a prostitute whose first name was, of course, Fanny, and stood with her on his arm as he met Queen Victoria.

After several years of having sex with a minor and cheating on her with prostitutes, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1857. Which totally makes sense.

In 1859, he found out that his wife, who was by now an actual grown adult, was having sex with a lawyer named Philip Key. Key just happened to be the son of the guy who wrote the Star Spangled Banner, which is America’s National Anthem.

Look: Danny was really mad, so he took a pistol that had bullets in it and made one of the bullets go into Philip Key’s body. Philip Key died.

Danny was charged with murder. Because he had a lot of friends in Washington, he was able to get really good lawyers. One of them was Edward Stanton, who would later become Secretary of War (wars need good secretaries) under Abe Lincoln. The night that John Wilkes Booth made a bullet go into Abe Lincoln’s head, one of Booth’s co-conspirators broke into Stanton’s house and made a knife go into Stanton’s body several times. Stanton lived, but the guy who stabbed him was later killed by the U.S. government after falling through a trap door with a noose around his neck.

Anyway, back to Danny.

He pled temporary insanity. Temporary insanity is characterized by being so upset by something that you temporarily become a lunatic, just long enough to kill someone you don’t like, and then full sanity returns to you.

That’s what happened to Danny.

Everyone in Washington thought that sounded completely reasonable. Unbiased media outlets noted that Danny had done a good thing by saving all the chaste women of Washington from this sex-starved son-of-a-national-anthem-writer.

The jury agreed, and Danny became the first person in American history to be acquitted of murder by claiming to have become a lunatic for only a short period of time. Now a free man, Danny publicly forgave and reconciled with his wife, then took some time off from politics to repair things at home.

The public was outraged. The man was clearly still insane if he was willing to reconcile his marriage to a harlot and adulteress whose lover had justifiably eaten a bullet. Temporary insanity my ass, they cried.

In any case, Danny didn’t resign his spot in Congress (why should he? His only crime was reconciling with his whore-of-a-wife) and retained his seat until the early 1860’s.

When the Civil War broke out, Danny decided to become a soldier. But because he was a famous politician, he didn’t have to be a private. Instead, he got to raise troops and be a brigadier general.

Look: Danny’s brigade got to kill a few Johnny Rebs at some minor battles, but always seemed to miss out on the fun of the real slaughters at places like Bull Run and Antietam. But Danny was gonna be goddamned if he couldn’t get into the thick of things.

Lucky for him, he was really good friends with Joe Hooker, which makes sense because Danny really liked hookers. But in any case, Joe Hooker was the commander of the Army of the Potomac, which is a fancy old-timey name for the U.S. Army. Danny and Joe both liked to drink liquid that makes you drunk, and they both shared a passion for having sex with a lot of women. Because of this, General Hooker made Danny a Major General and gave him command of the Third Army Corps, which was a really big group of soldiers with guns. Danny, who had already become the first person to ever be acquitted of murder because he temporarily lost his mind, thus became the only Union commander of an army corps without a West Point education.

As General Major Daniel Sickles can attest, it certainly pays to be an alcoholic and whoremonger.

In any case, Danny finally got to see some real action. In July of 1863, he brought his army to Gettysburg, which is famous because a major Civil War battle took place there. The leader of the Union army in Gettysburg was a fellow by the name of Meade. Which Danny must really have thought funny, because he loved prostitutes and alcohol, and now he had served under both Hooker and Meade.

But anyway.

Meade told Danny to take his troops to Cemetery Ridge, so-called because there were corpses buried in the ground there. Danny really didn’t think his army should be in Cemetery Ridge. So he took them up about a mile ahead of Cemetery Ridge to the Peach Orchard, which he thought would be a much better place to slaughter Confederates from.

Look: Meade was not happy. He rode up to Danny and asked him what the fuck he was doing. But by then it was too late because slave-loving Johnny Reb was already advancing. A battle took place where soldiers from both sides fired bullets at one another in an effort to kill each other. Johnny Reb was a lot more successful because he had a lot of experience shooting guns at runaway black people. Danny’s Third Army Corps produced a whole heap of corpses to join the others already buried in Cemetery Ridge.

Danny didn’t die, but he did have a very large, round, steel ball run smack dab into his leg. It had been shot out of a really big gun called a cannon. Cannons were really popular because they were a heck of lot more efficient at slaughtering humans than rifles. They were also fantastic for destroying buildings and houses and ships, which is something you want to do when you’re at war.

Look: Danny had to get his leg cut off. Since he knew that his leg would be a really neat thing for schoolchildren on field trips to look at, he gave it to the Army Medical Museum in Washington.

Since Danny was really wealthy and famous, and because he had been honorably wounded in battle, he didn’t get court-martialed for disobeying Meade’s orders and nearly costing the Union the victory at Gettysburg. All those soldiers under his command who got slaughtered by Johnny Reb because of Danny’s insubordination were not important. What’s a few thousand extra corpses between drinking buddies?

Instead, Danny got the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Danny stayed in the military for several years after the war, then he was appointed as the Ambassador to Spain, with the title of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. I have no idea what that means, but it probably has something to do with sex and alcohol.

Since his wife had thankfully died in 1867, Danny was able to get a lot of ass while in Spain. Rumor has it that he gave the hot meat injection to none other than Spain’s Queen Isabella II, who by that time had been deposed because she was fat and ugly. After a few years of tasting all that Spain’s women had to offer, he finally got married again 1871.

Danny eventually came back to New York, where he served in various political capacities, including another term in the U.S. congress in the 1890’s. Though he remained married throughout this time, he was estranged from his wife for the last thirty years of his life and she lived separately from him with their two children. Thus, he had the Perfect Marriage Arrangement, and he was able to scare up as much ass as he wanted.

He lived a long time. He died in 1914 at the age of 91, although he was broke by then because crippled, doddering old perverts are not very popular.

They dug a hole in a place called Arlington National Cemetery and put his bones down inside it, all except his leg, which is still on display for schoolchildren at the National Museum of Health and Medicine.


Anonymous said...

"Pursuing the South/Over the hills/Fearless and brave/Minus a shave/And crocked to the GILLS!"

"It helps to lubricate things/Like for example, Civil War!/You can have the dry life/Brother, this is my life/Open wide the saloon doooooor!!!"

I loved this post, and it had some GREAT turns of phrase. "Son of a national-anthem-writer"! Ha! Classic. And when Mead rode over to Danny and asked him "what the fuck" he was doing, I burst out laughing.

If you think this falls down from the other post, my impression without going back and reading that post is that the Eddy piece was more stacato. Do you know what I mean? The meter of the sentences came in shorter bursts it seems to me, whereas here you use some longer phrases. I still thought it was EXCELLENT though. I'd like to see you write more pieces in this style.

Scott said...

The sooooober life's....a haaaaaard life...

Thanks for the encouragement. Yes, I can see what you mean about the sentence length. Eddy's story did indeed have shorter, punchier sentences. That may be one of the biggest differences.

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