The Family — Hurley Burley Curley

Ken Jones

Staff member
Hurley Burley Curley

Hurley Burley Curley was nuts, certifiably crazy as a loon. He also was a lot of fun. The word on the street was that he was a former psychiatrist who had made the mistake of believing he himself should try every drug that he prescribed for his patients. No one knew for sure if that was true but the opening of that Pandora’s box would explain how he had managed to fry his brain (just say no Hurley).

Unfortunate but it happens; life goes on. Life for Hurley Burley was of course never the same; a factitious reality guided his thoughts and actions; he could see sounds and hear colors. But he wasn’t dangerous, at least to anyone else. He could never be a member of the Family but when he showed up his natural brio always enlivened the group. In response, they took the time to watch out for him and protect him from those who would try to put him down. Trouble was Hurley was a clay pigeon of sorts, vulnerable and easily taken advantage of. But let anyone make fun of Curley when the family was around and there would be a response. Jasper Robb and Tim could be scary; Cassidy and Martha would simply make you feel like a fool.

Trouble was the rutilant-faced, side-tufted Hurly Burley Curley did look just a tad bit strange—someone once saying he looked like a cross between a walleyed alien and Bozo the Clown. He also showed up most days with a farraginous assortment of gimmicky gadgets and garish gewgaws sure to attract the attention of passer bys. One day he showed up with an old broom handle and declared he was ready to fish for sharks. Another day he had an umbrella and claimed it could be used as a landing net. The topper was a regal looking “diamond” broach that he said was a gift from Marilyn. You never knew what he would have or the story he would tell because the pixilated, garrulous Hurley Burley would regale the group with a new story each visit.

One time he discussed his life as a bodyguard for Jimmy Hoffa. Another time it was how he had introduced Bob Dylan to the Beatles and how he and Bob had supplied them their first Mary Jane. Then it was a somewhat abstruse story of how he had been a doctor for Marilyn Monroe at the time of her death. Each story typically involved real peoples and carried the far-fetched possibility of some linkage to real events but generally the stories were seen as the jejune fantasies of a mind no longer able to distinguish fact from fiction. Rarely was there really any consideration that his stories and his involvement in them might be true—until one day.

The exception occurred when a well endowed matron, still somewhat of a beauty but under-dressed for her age, decided to make a walk out to the end of the pier. The guys in the family, as usual, did not say a word but they certainly gave her their attention. “Rich bitch” was all that Martha said. Cassidy simply rolled her eyes. Ellen said, “I know her from somewhere.”

That day Hurley Burley was visiting the group and he said, “Yea, she killed her husband!” That statement slowed the group’s chatter until Hurley Burley added on “she killed her husband and I know all about it.”

At that point Ellen interjected “yes, I knew that I recognized her face. She was accused of killing her husband!”

Hurley Burley added, “I told you so.”

“Never convicted as far as I know,” said Ellen, “but that doesn’t mean she didn’t do it. I don’t think they ever found his body.”

“No body to be found,” said an ingenuous Hurley Burley. “Fed him to the sharks out in the canyon.”

Cassidy rolled her eyes—again, but Ellen added on an intriguing bit of information to the story. “I knew her from the yacht club. Jimmy was her husband’s name, an up and coming executive at one of the studios, and his pride and joy was the 56-foot Davenport that he would sail over to Catalina nearly every weekend. Only problem was that he had the temerity to take some of the younger gals from the club with him while leaving his wife at home. Heard there was some merry rockin’ and rollin’ going on in Avalon Harbor on that boat.”

Ellen continued, “The wife’s name was Betty and there was a time when she was a promising starlet at the studios, a real beau idéal at the start but one whose only attribute was her gift of pulchritude. She was a favorite of the various directors even though she couldn’t act; let’s just say she was good in other areas; quite the harlot. By the time Jimmy and she joined the yacht club her services were no longer needed at the studios (there’s always younger and more beautiful girls to please the men) but by that time she had latched on to Jimmy. Trouble was that he too preferred the younger girls and even though Betty had every surgery that good money could buy, her skin looked old. You can run but you can’t hide from Mother Nature. She would sometimes sun herself with the rest of us old broads but you could tell she wasn’t happy being there.”

“Tied him up and stuffed his pants with mackerel, that’s what she did” interjected Hurley Burley. “Hit him over the head, tied him up, and dumped him right where the canyon reaches 500 feet deep. She said the sharks would smell those macs and come like a cat to catnip. Guess maybe she was right.”

“Why would she tell you that Hurley Burley?” asked Martha, “did you know her?” “

“I used to give her some pills and help her out,” said Hurley.

“Where did you get the pills?” said Tim.

“Don’t remember exactly” said Hurley, “but I did. Lots and lots of pills and we were buddies. And anyway, I didn’t say she told me that. I saw it.”

“You what?” said Ellen.

“One night she pulled up to me in her big car as I was walking on the street and she said Hurley, I need your help. I was on my way to the Shelter and didn’t want to go but she said she would give me ten dollars so I went. We went down to the harbor where her boat was tied up. She just said she needed a little help with the boat so I undid the lines while she started the engine. When we got outside the harbor she said we were going on a garbage run out to the Canyon—but I didn’t know what the garbage was.” “When we got out by the canyon, out there where the water gets real, real deep, we stopped and she gave me a drink. I hadn’t had a good drink in a long time but she said we were friends and that maybe I should have even a few more of those drinks. After a few I was a little bit dizzy but she told me to bring that big sleeping bag over to the edge of the boat. I did but it was heavy and then she took a knife, slit the bag, and out slithered her husband.”

“I was a little confused at first, and a little scared, but she said he was a very bad man and fit only for the sharks. She told me a few stories, and he did seem real bad, so I figured it wasn’t my place to interfere. She started stuffing him with mackerel; said a slime-ball like him deserved slimy fish. She put one in each pocket, several down his shirt, and a bunch down his pants; she said his zipper got him in trouble so the pants deserved the most fish. She was even going to put one in his mouth but I told her that wasn’t nice so she stopped.”

“When he was about as stuffed as a Thanksgiving Turkey we each grabbed one end and slid him overboard. We saw some big blues come up for a sniff before he started to sink but there are even bigger sharks down deep. She gave me another drink and we cleaned the mackerel slime and scales off the boat. She always liked a clean boat.”

“Finally we came back to the harbor and tied the boat up. We talked for a while about the old days and then she gave me an extra ten dollars so I had twenty. I still felt kind of funny about the whole thing but figured if he was that bad then he deserved the sharks.”

The group was silent but finally Martha asked, “Why didn’t you tell the police?”

No answer at first but finally Hurley Burley said, “Why should I tell them anything? They make fun of me and sometimes throw me in jail for doing nothing. They ain’t my friends. And anyway, people don’t listen to Hurley Burley anymore, they just think I’m crazy.”

For one of the few times at the pier the family didn’t know what to say—or to think! Hurley Burley Curley simply shuffled off and said he would see them another day.

Jasper thought of Hurley once while reviewing his Latin and two sayings stood out.​

Primum non nocere—The first thing is to do no harm (Hippocratic oath)​

Raptus regaliter —Royally screwed​

Hurley had harmed himself and was now indeed, royally screwed.​

Ken Jones

Staff member
Yes, I have too. I had a particular person in mind when I wrote the story although the lady killing her husband and filling his clothes with mackerel came out of the blue.