Tag: short story

My Baby Takes The Morning Train, When Uber Pool Is Too Expensive (aka I’d Quit Tomorrow If Sheena Asked Me To Stay)

It was early morning, around six thirty AM I think. That un-Godly hour when men in construction work boots march soul-less towards the MTA, and a handful of office workers with long commutes start their day before the sun will. When transit is slow and sluggish, quiet besides the scuffle of winter coats and urban foliage stirring awake. Early birds and no worms.

I slouched off of the 39 Bus hungover as the moon on the horizon, dragging my feet towards Nine To Five with my body in tow. Hungry, because I’d ate too late last night. Angry at another schedule I couldn’t skip, because rent’s a bitch and cheesesteaks don’t grow on trees. Calling out was out of the question, and I didn’t have any sick days left anyway. Between the bus fares, nephews, and bottles of rum lining my recycling bin, I needed the money. But not desperately. Enough to get me out of bed when I’d rather be somewhere else.

Not a unique feeling, I noticed, as I watched a couple stop on the corner. He was about my height, not much more handsome with a handful of grays around his cobble-colored hair. She was all legs, nick-knacks dangling from her wrists, ears, neck, jacket, boots, lips; everywhere. Hands just barely held, calm and comfortable as they lazily rushed towards their obligations as the rest of us. They hit the corner and slowed, spoke some four to five words or syllables I tried my hardest to listen in on (all I could make out was ‘Don’t—this weekend—‘) and kissed each other on the cheek goodbye.

She clicked on toward the subway, he stood and stared at her go for a while. I stood there watching while he was wrestling with something. An idea maybe, words or feelings he should have shown or let shed. Or maybe he was throwing in the towel on the rat race, would have rather run down the block and take her by the hand back down where they came from. Board up the windows and lock the door at home, let the rent and bills pile up, spend all day listening to quiet comfort of her soft breathing on his chest, and the nick-knacks dangling off the dressers and coffee tables.

Then a car honked, he looked at his cell, and marched towards the 9 bus to work instead. He needed the money too, I guess, or couldn’t manage to break the habit. I looked at the 9 bus, marched towards the liquor store I knew would be open in an hour, and called The Boss on my cell.

Because I couldn’t either.

Nature Is Nice, But 3AM Cheesesteaks Don’t Grow On Trees (aka Urban Disassociation)

A city is a machine that makes escape necessary, for calm that has the kind of quiet you’re afraid to disturb. Tall grass and stubby elms stretched close as the eyes could see, and far as New York pavement can afford. I walk briskly into leaves, dirt and fauna. Escape from sounds and bodies unnatural to the world. Hear sneakers smack against gravel that reminds me of playgrounds- black tar, swings, and innocence on the joyful verge of discovering the obscene. Autumn cold creeping up the side of my jeans felt tingly, and the grey calm of the sky gave the world a soft stillness like someone had just finished crying.

Nature makes a man feel at peace. No matter the trials that are ahead or behind him. We are made of earth, and water, and mud, so a return to the elements is a return to the self. A blade of grass stuck stubbornly out of the concrete, bike tires trampling the poor little thing. And then it stood up, shorter, but, I understood. In my heart I felt a swelling and gentle hemorrhaging demanding more life, more breath, less thoughts. Less thoughts. A sigh building in my throat, twenty stories high; some funny, some not. All bad, all bad. Air releasing from my lips the dark and heavy waste of the past inside of me like an exhaust pipe.

I clip my cigarette and feel a quiet in me I’m afraid to disturb.
Walk briskly into traffic, metal, honking, steel.
Arrive at the world of man, full of mud, dirt, and more of myself.

Penguins Fly Coach

Rum on the floor and when we dance it’s sticky. with each step. But who cares, because the dark makes sense of what we can’t say out loud and is more aware of our hips and heart than we knew had feeling. Mistaken identities happen naturally when alcohol is involved, but we make the most of it. Pretend to be we are something other than what we pretend to be at 9AM. And if I should grab her waist and scream DESPACITO.

Words I wouldn’t consider were worlds apart but coming from his mouth is all I’m left feeling with. Dick moves in purposefully absent movements, I see through it and laugh at, but being the butt end of a joke still feels inclusive when you’re the punch line.

Should I touch the part between your elbow and shoulder that shines like a silver. Am I an animal to want you close to my body and suffocate in your perfume. So warm it reminds me of Summer, so dark when it’s early and I’m howling.

 

Hey Big Guy, Sun’s Gettin’ Real Low (aka I’d Take A Bullet For You. Like, The Sex Toy)

Success makes me uncomfortable. I’m more likely to go on a bender bragging about mistakes I’ve done than stand tall on the soapbox of Facebook, letting the people who barely care know just where I spent my weekend pretending to have a good time or volunteering.

“This weekend? Got back from teaching English in Honduras,” He said, casually. “So sad, what’s going on out there.”

“This weekend I took a shower and put on pants when I went outside,” I said, proudly. “Twice.

There’s humility in defeat, a shared lesson or dick joke we could all learn a thing or two from. But success is suffocating, smothers conversation no matter how much it’s ignored, and stifles words in your throat like hot air in a stuffy room. An uncontrollable instinct to brag upward or retreat into yourself is inevitable because winning doesn’t have a gag or wisecrack. Only a line, and a dare.

“Next is Cuba,” Robby said, and some woman awww’d from the corner of the circle. “Maybe India if I get the raise I’m waiting on.”

“I don’t think I’ve left the country since Bush was President.” I replied, half-assed.

“You should come,” He said. And his eyes made an emphasis on certain words.

I hadn’t seen Robby since what he stole from me last Summer – roughly seventy two dollars in cab fare and whatever was left of my belief in human decency. He has a habit of dragging me into problems I should know better and avoid, gets too drunk too function and sticks me with the tab and social bill. I never want to go, but it’s hard to deny him. He’s got a way with words that makes words feel uncomfortable, in a fun way. Un-clever and gorgeous enough to barely pass for charming. Confident without compliments, because beauty doesn’t need validation.

“Oh yeah? When are you going?” I asked.
“June maybe. Definitely next Summer.”

Last time Robby made plans we were four hours away from New York in his bosses housewarming party, inebriated out of our minds on Jefferson’s and a bunch of whiskey way out of my pay grade. Close to midnight our ride up disappeared into the night with a brunette stacked like textbooks in a college bookstore. And when I asked him what the hell we were supposed to do he gave me a look that said Tough-Shit-Buddy and God-Be-With-You all at once.

“Pilot might meet a brown haired girl he likes. I don’t know.”

“Are you still on that?” Robby said, laughing. “I told you it was an accident.”

Fifth of July was a wild morning of trying to convince taxi drivers to let us in while Robby kept throwing up on the curbside. And when we finally managed to hit the long black road home, and I complained about his friend ditching us, Robby admitted, between barfs, in a pure drunken state where all the fucks are lost and never to be given- that he knew we’d be ride-less back home the whole time.

“He said he’d give us a ride back home then Nate met that girl. What did you want me to do?”

And a rage built inside of me I never felt before. Being deceived in some way is a given with humanity, but what a rodeo, staring at a liar shrugging at you with his red hands. Like ‘Yeah-I’ve-Done-It. And?’ I couldn’t believe a friend would do such a thing willingly. I thought misunderstandings happened because we miss the chance at assuming best intentions. Not like that, not so much mean on purpose. Then to be made out as crazy for fact checking is about as hair pulling as fake news.

“More, I guess.” I said.

“I’m sorry I always let you down.”

But it isn’t all his fault, I think. In those three hours I battled the very real and un-exaggerated urge to smother Robby with my fist or a pillow, I learned something. About him, and myself. Liquor might make a man low, but never more capable. Whatever violence boiled in my blood against him was just as real sober, only more buried. And all the times Robby bragged about his life and job when he dragged me out with him were only misplaced moments of inadequacy. He was trying to overlap me in a race he was the only one having, winning in a game I had no idea we were playing.

“So are you coming? To Cuba?” He asked. And I laughed.

“I wouldn’t be caught dead in public with you.”

But we went.

Diss Me Like You Mean It (aka Brutal Affection Is The Truest)

Love at first sight is nonsense, or so goes the cynic; an illusion and silly little phrase we parade around to make sex and marriage seem more magical than they really are. It boils down to what the stupid body wants and we mentally justify afterward, finding any excuse to validate the unnecessary and coming off like a douche either way. Like when someone tries explaining the use of a camera inside of their refrigerator, or why they decided to have children.

But the fact of the matter remains- when I met May I was mesmerized. Her hair, was it maybe? So red and brutal on a stranger. Bleeding down her back and looking full of Fall. The confidence of knowing what a decadent disaster a house party is, but taking the time to curl and color her eyelashes anyway. It’s indescribable really, her character and what it did to me. But since I am trying to make you love her as I did, I suppose I should try.

She carried herself like a woman twice her age and half as condescending. Pleasant and friendly in a half-sincere sort of way. But blatant, the way normal people should be. If she said she loved your outfit it was always off the cuff and out of tangent, like when you proved her wrong about who won best picture in 2017 (she thought it was La-La Land.) And when corrected her pitch shifted extremely from high and low on vowels, stressing consonants along the way.

“See, look, Moonlight,” I said, showing her my phone.

“Ohhhh my Goddddd, I love your shoessssss where’d you get themmmmmm.”  She said, turning down the hall before I could answer.

She was mean but didn’t mean it, I think, and I could tell by how her eyes darted for a reaction to what she said. The way you tell a two year old not to touch that, and they reach…just for a second. Hand inching to that electric socket. Eyes 5+ feet high staring down. All that ceiling, all that ceiling. And they reach, but not because they will. They reach to see how far they can push, they reach to get an idea or a glimpse of what you might do if they did. But they don’t.

That was the way she had.

“Do you have a light?” I asked her in the hallway.

“Brighter than you know,” She said.

“Gross.”

“Yeah,” She said. A strand of blood dangling from her smirk. “I kind of like you too.”