For this installment of Your Favorite Band, Jessica McFarland from Heavy Cream hangs out with Mama Cass and gets her cards read.
My first and only real job was driving the Loven Fresh Bread truck on a bi-county route between Orange and LA. I got the job from a classified ad about a month after graduating from high school. It was June 1974. I mostly delivered to small grocers, but considering the region, I would sometimes be requested to private homes of the wealthy and too-famous-to-shop. There are 16 loaves of bread on a flat. I could carry 90 flats in my box truck. That's 1,440 loaves of bread. We offered white, wheat, and my favorite, raisin swirl.
On one particularly hot day I was dispatched to a private residence who ordered 2 flats of white. My immediate thought is that they must be preparing for some kind of party. I chewed a piece of flavorless gum as I approached the front door carrying the loaves. This was my last delivery of the day. I looked up to see that the awning dawned two hanging bread sacks filled halfway with water with a sunken penny at the bottom of each one. "Keeps bugs away." said a voice as the front door swung open. I looked down to see a very large woman filling the door frame. "My name's Cass" she said. "Let me show you where to put those down."
I followed her into the house. The plastic runner covering the green carpet crinkled under my feet and tripped me a little. We went into the kitchen where I began unloading the bread onto the island. I noticed her pick up one of the bread bags and spin it around to loosen the twist tie. She did this very naturally and without blinking. After I put down the last loaf she offered me a glass of lemonade. I accepted and sat on a stool across from her at the island. At this point I noticed half the bread was gone from the loaf she had opened only minutes before. Next to her was a growing pile of crust. We chatted for a while and I found myself hypnotized by her routine. She would peel the crust away from the edges, roll the center into a firm ball and devour it in two bites, sometimes stopping to dryly cough. Specks of white goo would fly from her mouth onto her floral, sack-like dress when she did this.
"Have you ever had your cards read?" She asked. I replied, "No but i would very much like to." From a drawer she pulled out a deck of Tarot cards wrapped in a silk handkerchief. Excitement filled me as she explained what each of the 3 cards she had drawn meant for my future. "Six of cups: rose tinted glasses and foolish young love. The Hermit: a silent wanderer. Lastly, The Chariot, You will have much change and travel in your life." she assured me.
"Can I draw for you?" I asked the lady who I was now beginning to recognize from re-runs of Hollywood Squares. "Sure" She said, sliding the deck towards me. I pulled the first card and laid it flat. "Death" I muttered under my breath. Cass seemed unaffected and began untwisting another bag of bread. I pulled the second card. "Death" I said again. I asked her if she wanted me to stop but she said we might as well finish what we had started. I pulled the third card and once again the black cloaked figure of Death stared up at us. I said I better be going and took the last drink of sugary lemonade. Mama Cass showed me to the door and tipped me three dollars for the delivery. She said she would request me next time she ordered bread, but it wouldn't be for a while because she was going to do a run of solo shows in London. I had a sinking feeling when I got back to the truck.
A month later on my delivery route the radio DJ announced that Mama Cass had been found dead in her London hotel room. I closed my eyes and saw her there, in a white gown, sitting on a cloud, milky white skin. She winked as she bit into a sandwich.
Previously: Your Favorite Band - Amanda Palmer