Posts Tagged ‘short story’
The red and white stripes…what do they signify?
Some people say he looks like Hugh Grant, horn rimmed glasses and striped apparel. A solemn yet wise gaze. Who is this man?
He walks through crowds of men. Some of these men have extremely feeble torsos and jacked legs. The other half of the men have toothpick legs and phenomenally jacked torsos. This is the world he lives in. The world he explores.
Someone is looking for him. He knows it. He is somewhat aware that a book has been published using his likeness. Someone is always looking for him.
He is also looking for someone. Someone important. Someone who he has always believed in.
Waldo is his name. He does not know his last name, since he has never had one. He was born with a single name: the name Waldo.
There was a strange recurring pattern throughout Waldo’s journeys. From time to time, he observed many red and white striped objects that bore a remarkable resemblance to himself. He had a time discerning the precise meaning or nature of this anomaly. His journey never seemed to cease.
He was on the beach at Puna Mana and he looked in the water and saw a fish that looked like him, all striped, white and red
Side-gimmick – Candy Cane Condoms
She’s the lady who lives at the bus stop. She has a stack of trash bags packed with pillows beside her, and a radio plays on the bench as she sits there rolling cigarettes or knitting gloves. She’s always there, no matter what, and a conversation is hers to claim from anyone who waits at her stop. Minutes roll by as she goes on tangents.
“My letter of recognition came back from the statehouse today.”
“Oh yeah, what for?”
“My undercover work for the police.”
And she wraps you up in a fanciful tale of national importance, full of conspiracy theories and such. A car stops in front of the bus stop to drop a friend off, and she breaks her train of thought to take a picture of the car’s license plate. She snitches on cars that stop in the bus stop lane long enough for her to waddle behind them, heckle them, and remind them it’s against the law.
She’ll make calls on a burner to unlisted numbers if the buses are not on time, and heckle the drivers when they arrive, or give them traffic updates. Everyone anxiously tries to board and get out of her conversational satellite of control.
“I received a commendation from the governor for helping in a drug bust.” In other words, she snitched on a bad dealer who sold her bad drugs. She was missing one of her incisors, but the rest of her teeth were surprisingly well kept.
“The White House knows about me.”
“Well, I keep their secret services in the loop out here.”
I look around and four people roll their eyes. The bus arrives, and Carolin retires to her knitting and cigarettes for another few minutes before the next group of commuters arrive to wait.
It begins like a story, seat 19C and I’m too close to the stewardess’ ass which is uncomfortably moving thru the aisle, half-offering beverages to thirsty patrons at a premium. Nothing has happened yet, except the dull din of engines and circulated air. My headphones are still out of earshot at level eight. I close my eyes between the students, businessmen and hard bodies watching me as they pass on the way to the bathroom.
DC is where the American Nursing Society’s 37th Annual Members Induction Ceremony would happen. My mother was being inducted, and I had the opportunity to fly down. I will remember her accomplishment for all my life. I came for the ceremony, but I stayed for the reunions with college friends over a brief, two-day/two-night visit.
Night one, Friday, 7PM. My flight lands at Reagan, and there’s an exhibition by Slideluck Potshow in Georgetown. If we can make it there by 11PM closing, I hope to have a moment with the proprietor. My eyes should be closed; preserve the energy, slow down the blood, and deny these demons inside the privilege of idle boredom.
If I had one sentence to sum up the whole of my experiences in DC, it would be this: “I don’t know why I never considered living there before.” My social experience was a mash-up of events, and I was caught off guard. It was good: the Metro system with its well-funded substations, the automatic revolving doors, the blue glass art sculptures and jade garden walkways, the smell of clean city.
I hit the ground running that first night, like a quiet frenzy of positive energy. I met Hammer at Cure, the lounge bar at the Grand Hyatt where I was staying, and we talked for an hour over brews about life, since we last met, before meeting Levy and friend. We talked about jobs and job searches, music, women, money, and relationships. We talked about how badly we wanted to relive our Killington Weekend, and then Levy showed up with his friend Robbie who made me laugh.
We drank enough at Cure, the four of us, and decided it was best to move on before the older folks gave us any dirtier looks. Down 11th street we walked towards Chinatown, an urban golf shot from the opening gates.
Mambo sauce. I heard about it more than once during my trip, but never got around to have it. Hammer told me he’d take me to the best spot for Mambo sauce in all of DC the next time I visited.
We didn’t quite cross the threshold into Chinatown. We ended up at RFD’s, and sat in the center table, pulling back more drinks. They had a great beer selection. Levy toasted our reunion with shots of Jack, and that’s when the night began to tip. Levy told me about his return home from California, where he had spent the last couple years living with his now ex-girlfriend, making music and making a name for himself in LA. She was hot, but things went sour, and he left LA and came back home to save money and work on his music.
We got nostalgic about Boston as the booze took its course. They told me stories from their life in DC, stories that entertained me to no end. Listening and learning about their subculture happenings felt anthropological. I wanted to see more of this.
It wouldn’t happen that night, however. I drank up all the culture I could handle and ended up staying at Hammer’s place in Columbia Heights, sick with rot-gut and blacked-out memories. I had to put the pieces together quickly the next day: my folks called, concerned about where I was, and wanted me to come back to the hotel. Hammer reminded me about the two frumpy girls who met up with us as we left the bar, right around the time our friend Robbie was getting kicked out of RFD’s. He fell back in his chair and knocked our table over, all the drinks going down, and a laughing fit ensues that got the whole bar laughing and clapping and drinking. It was the Jack that did it.
22nd Street, between 4th and 5th
The last time I visited Brooklyn was in April, my brother lived on Classon Avenue, and we got together with the folks for a nice weekend, but that’s a different story. A shady trend was growing in his area (sky-boxes and stained brownstone buildings), and he took the move as a blessing.
Now, on the corner of 22nd street, between 4th and 5th, my brother adjusts to a life with his girlfriend. She’s a great girl, and they go well together. They love all the same things, and they even apply to the same jobs. There was nothing out-of-place in this scene, nothing except for maybe the scene itself.
“The house used to be all red, like these stairs,” my brother pointed out as we walked towards it. I was surprised not to walk up the stairs, but instead beside them to the garden-level entrance left of the house. A cozy barbecue patio looked at us as we stepped down into the apartment. It was a unique world underneath a gay couple’s paradise. The bathroom looked to be carved out of a cave, and the radiator (after an interesting story of breaking down and leaking) had a burly towel covering it.
There should be no expectations of greatness, I thought, other than the greatness you make for yourself.
My bed was the floor where the coffee table rests. There was no rug, but they prepared for me a sleeping bag and several warm blankets. I slept like a baby that first night, but not before checking out an art gallery (Under Minerva) we passed by earlier on a walk around the block. There was a painting in the front of a DJ in layers of orange and blue, playing records and mixing it up at a club of diverse colors in the background. The basic colors of the DJ washed over the pretty lights, and it truly stood out from afar.
Over ATM slips and Grizzly Bear, I was enjoying the taste of sugar on my tongue, making a list of songs I had recommended to my brother. It was appreciated over drinks and jazz in south Brooklyn on Saturday, with him and his girlfriend and two of her friends from Pratt. For moments during the show, I saw a notebook passed between the two of them, collaborating in silence while the rest of us watched and listened.
I sat behind the piano player, and on occasion he would look back at me with an odd smile. I didn’t know what to think, and continued drinking my double of Scotch, next to the Cosmopolitan and Brooklyn Lager, Mai Tai and Gin & Tonic.
The show was good. The quartet of drums, piano, bass and trumpet were like four young wolves on the street. For an amateur show, the buzz of the evening revolved around the trumpet player, an awkward sixteen year old with short black curls and bifocals.
There was a saxophonist; his instrument rested casually to my right for a long time. His wine glass was on the table we took when we first arrived, before he came over and took it away himself. He did not play with the group until much later in the set, and his cameo appearance upped the quality dramatically. The trumpet and saxophone ran together, picking up on each other’s vibe as if they knew what the score was.
And then there was that pianist. I don’t know what I did to provoke him, but he was enthusiastic, keeping the melody and giving it his all. There were times when he stood up to bang down on the piano, as if he really needed to let it out that way. Perhaps he just didn’t give a damn.
When the show was over we walked up 5th Avenue and landed at a bar called Commonwealth. It had a nice outdoor patio, with bench-tables and umbrellas. I remember red tables; a tall boy of Anchor Steam beer; the bottle so cold it had icy condensation on it. We were talking about the music and the people at the show. Art-speak and journeys and briefs on photography and music and television were shared over nightcaps, and quip upon quip upon quip… I told them about Boston, and they told me about New York.
My brother mentioned taking shots in the subway tunnels. The empty tunnels of Brooklyn are vast and incredibly dangerous to explore on your own. There is something alluring about the darkness within, and it has my brother’s lens fixed. He tried to explain it to me, but I was too concerned about his safety to go on with it.
It’s just like a butterfly and its fleeting moment in the sky.
We walked up 5th Avenue, passing the famous pizza shop Adam Sandler ate at in “Big Daddy”. I stopped at the all-night bakery ran by some lovely Hispanic ladies who enjoyed my company at 3am, in such a state, ordering cannolis and donuts and cookies and such. We laughed and smiled together for those five minutes before taking it all back home.
I slept on the floor that night, on top of a sleeping bag underneath four warm blankets.
Sunday felt like waking up without a care in the world. In a good way, I felt free to do anything. I had but the clothes on my back. One of them was my Plaid Weekender jacket, and it kept me warm during the walk down to Bagel World, a bagel shop my brother swears by. I went by myself this time to enjoy south Brooklyn’s sights and smells. I bought one of my all-famous egg and pastrami bagel sandwiches in addition to garlic bagels and cream cheese. There was a produce stand across the street, so I waited in line to buy two Macoun apples and a pint of fresh apple cider.
We spoke about music when I got back. The third roommate, PK, was making egg-shaped plaster molds on the kitchen table that looked surprisingly like mini-cities. “Don’t burn me out of your picture,” he said as I got ready for my train home. I think he made his point.
Once a way back, a forgetful man cut his toenails and left the remains in a cup for cleanliness. The toenails stayed in that cup for a whole day, overnight, and in through the morning. The cup itself was a plastic summer juice cup with blue stripes. There were 21 shards of toenail in the cup.
On the first night, the toenails became aware. They discussed and they laughed with the bacteria that grew on them. They lived there overnight in a thousand little years, and life grew on them like moss on a tree. A forest of undiscovered life was growing – a neighborhood of life and progress in the making.
On the second day, the man came back for them, for the cup – to wash it (and them) out. It was a horrible scene. When the man tried get the toenails out, they were stuck in place. The life on the toenails had bonded to the cup. And yet, the man’s fury created a torrent as powerful as a thousand tsunamis. All the toenails were washed down the sick disgusting drainpipe… all except one.
One toenail stayed so fixed, the water could not move it. The man, in spite, tried to pick it out and it cut him deeply in the process. He was surprised, but remained persistent until it too fell from the cup. It eventually was flushed down with the rest of its kind, and the man suffered a terrible infection on the tip of his finger for about three months. The last toenail was satisfied in the final moments before darkness; satisfied it shed the blood of its maker, and of its destroyer.
I’m in my coworker’s car with his girlfriend and 2-year old son sitting next to me, and we’re heading from work to Dorchester and Blue Hills Avenue. The conversation was between him and me, sitting right behind him, about work and the people we work with. His girlfriend sat shotgun and their kid sat next to me. F-bombs and judgments enveloped the air, for good and for worse, and I composed myself as best I could while the kid listened blindly looking out the back window.
A Jamaican super-mix was playing track forty-two, and a brief interlude of melodic vocals helped me escape the fact that people live differently out here. “You’re in the hood now,” he said, laughing like he was joking, “Deep in it.”
Why wasn’t I concerned? Why didn’t I care about the kid or the girl, or the three loiterers inside the gas station while I bought a bag of Fritos through bulletproof glass? The company I had, and the randomness of it all… it was too odd for the neighbors.
My coworker is changing his fate with the help of this job.
We sat in his apartment and shared a Dutch over business talk. It reminded me of nights in Rolling Green when I was younger, drinking and philosophizing about all things. Except back then, I didn’t worry about my safety.
By 7pm, I was wishing I was home, and I felt like he felt the same way. He drove, so he had to drive me back. He quickly changed into something more comfortable while I packed my things. From Perry Ellis Portfolio he changes to light blue Levi’s and a flat white sweatshirt. He threw on his winter jacket and completed a fashionable picture. Maybe he knew; he didn’t really notice, or care.
He was thinking about going to Foxwoods. He could have been using that as a cover for more sinister shit, but I’ll never know. I said my goodbyes and waited for him in the hallway as he said bye to his family. It was a sincere picture; in a “last time” sort of way. It had a genuine impression on my memory. He lifted his head to her through the door, said “I’ll be back,” and closed the door behind him as we rolled out of Dorchester.
The following story was dictated, not read.
Before there was a show, before there was any talk of a show, there was this kid named Downey…
He paints a brief picture of a college friend with Aspergers Syndrome.
…starting a Facebook group called “Bring Ghostface to MCLA,” and he sent me a request to join the group. Now, I’m a big Ghostface Killah fan, but I was like “no way is Ghostface gonna’ come to MCLA.” I just found it too funny a person like Downey would not only listen to Ghostface Killah, but like him enough to start a group to get him to MCLA. He’s like, a random artist for someone like Downey. I thought it was a joke, so I ignored it.
Well, three months later or something like that, I’m driving home from work and on my way home, my buddy, who was still going to MCLA, calls me and says, “Ghostface Killah is gonna’ be at MCLA tonight.” I’m like, “are you serious?” Downey did it. He got Ghostface to MCLA. How random is that shit? This socially-awkward kid who no one really thought much of was able to nail that down.
He started the buzz, and when the MCLA Student Activities Center saw how much people were interested in getting him there, they took steps to make it happen. And when I heard that, I just continued driving on to MCLA. I’m like, “I’m going to this show.” I’m making this.
Being a freshly-graduated alumnus, I got into the show for free, so now I’m at a Ghostface Killah show for free. There’s a big crowd already there so I’m not as close to the stage as I want to be. The show had not started, in fact; the show was late. Word is, the DJ got lost or something trying to find the place, which makes sense because this place is in the middle of the damn mountains.
So an hour goes by and people start leaving. I make my way right up to the front of the stage. An hour and a half goes by, and finally Ghostface Killah comes out on the stage, and is like, “Yo, our fucking, piece of shit fat-ass DJ is late. We’ve been here, you’ve been waiting. When he walks out on stage, boo his ass. Just boo him hard!”
And so this big, fat, white DJ dressed head to toe in fuckin’ Lakers gear walks up on stage, and everyone just goes “BOO! BOO! You fucking piece of shit, BOO!” and he looks all sad and goofy-lookin’. He saw Ghostface and knew he was in the right place.
So they start the show, an hour and a half late (at least), and now I’m right up front, and he starts rocking out, just rolling through a bunch of different pieces, putting his own words on tracks, going through some different solo work and just giving a real solid mix of shit. He brought a bunch of bitches up on stage, and all these chicks I knew from school were grinding up on stage. Shit was cool.
And then I see this little kid, my old weed dealer, get up on stage and he’s like ‘la la-la la la!’ Well, security grabs him up mad-quick, manhandles his ass and just drags him off stage so violently and unnecessarily. Just drags him away. And I heard, after the show, that they handcuffed this dude and brought him outside.
Now where we are on campus, we go outside and there’s a roof of a building, and there are flights of steps that go up around the building’s side. You’re up there. It’s kind of cool architecture. So they take him out there, and he just starts running, up the stairs, in the handcuffs, and he fucking trips and takes the ill tumble, down the steps, just fucking himself up real good on those concrete steps.
I didn’t see that, but I heard about that afterwards. Meanwhile, I’m in the show, just enjoying myself. Ghostface only does like a 45-minute set, and word is he got like 20-Gs to play. Imagine that, you get out on stage to spit some rhymes for 45-minutes and get twenty-thousand dollars. I imagine it had something to do with the DJ being late, but dude’s getting old, his time is valuable.
Show ends, I meet up with my boys and chill out. It was a solid show, not the best concert I ever been to, you know, but I’ve been listening to this stuff forever. Always like Ghostface, but I love it when the gang gets together. In any case, we decide to go to the bar later on that night. My friend and I end up going to the Pitcher’s Mound; I used to bounce there, and it’s right by the school.
We’re walking there, and I see, sitting in the parking lot, this dark green Escalade, and I think to myself, ‘what if Ghostface is in there.’ I was just joking myself. We get there and it’s fucking crowded! Like, crowded for a Thursday (and it is never crowded on a Thursday). I make my way through the crowd, my friend and I are both pretty big guys, you know, kind of pushing our way through. We got right up to the bar, and I sit down. I’m ordering a drink, and I turn to my left, and swear to god, right there, sitting to my left, was Ghostface Killah. Just chillin’, sipping on a drink.
He was drinking some kind of mixed drink and it was red. I don’t know what it was. When I saw that he was next to me, I ordered two shots of tequila and offered him one, and he took a shot with me. Then he asked me what I wanted, and I was like, “you know, I’m fine with beer.” He was like, “get these guys a pitcher of beer.”
We were just drinking and shooting the shit; lots of people were coming up to him and thanking him. There was this one dude who came up to him on some real dick-riding shit. He was like “I’m your biggest fan, I have all your albums, I’m a producer, you should let me get your manager’s number and this and that…” and you could tell Ghost just wanted to be left alone.
We finish our drinks, and before I get up to go I turn to him and say, “Hey dude, if you ain’t trying to go home just yet, I’m about to go to my boy’s apartment. We’re gonna’ pick up some more booze, and we’re gonna’ roll up a blunt, you know.” And so I give him the address on Blackington Street. “If you want!” And he was like “Aight, thanks.” Now in my head I’m thinking, ‘there is no way he’s gonna’ show up.’ He’s not gonna’ fucking show up, but why not?
From there, I go with my friend and pick up a thirty-rack from his house, and then we pick up a blunt, and some pot, and we start walking towards Blackington. As we approach, we look over and see a big green Escalade rolling towards us down the street, parking right on the side of the road, and out pops Ghostface and his posse.
And he had a bunch of older white chicks with him, like in their mid-thirties; you know, like fucking, like it was weird. There were his height men (who were on stage with him) and then his manager, a couple of other dudes and then a few of these older white chicks. All of them there in that Escalade, except the manager who had a Cadillac Deville.
And that kid, the one who was dick-riding Ghostface Killah at the bar, followed them over to where we were and walks up to us and says, “Yo, you guys have to let me smoke with Ghostface Killah. I’m his biggest fan, you have to let me in, like yadda-yah,” and my friend who’s got a mouth on him is just like “Yo, fuck you; you’re a dick-riding bitch. Get your bitch-ass out of here or we fuck you up.”
I wasn’t gonna’ curse the kid out. I was just looking at him like ‘come on, are you serious, dude?’ Like, ‘why are you dick-riding?’ But instead my boy just goes off on this kid, and then the dude runs over to Ghostface Killah and tells him that my friend was calling him a bitch. So Ghostface Killah walks up to my boy, right in his face, and immediately his boys surround my boy and Ghostface is like “what you say about me? What you say?”
It got serious mad quick. It was getting real, so I had to step up and separate my boy and Ghostface Killah, and straight-up get in the middle of that. I’m not gonna’ let my boy get his ass beat. So now I’m breaking up what could be a big ass fight with Ghostface and his crew.
It was just me. I step in, and just pull out the bag of weed, unravel it and say “Listen, no one’s calling anyone a bitch; we’re talking to this stupid mothafucka right here, not you. We came here to smoke this. I got the weed, I got the blunt, just come inside and drop this shit, or you know, just fuckin’ leave. And Ghostface is like “alright, you make a good point. I know this kid, you know; when he was talking with me in the bar, like yadda-yah… let’s go inside.”
So we’re walking up, and that kid tries to follow us in, and Ghost’s boys just put the hand on him and are like “get the fuck out of here,” and sent him on his little bitch-ass way. The rest of us walk up and knock on my friend’s door. Now he looks a little tired. I tell him “I hope you don’t mind if I brought some people over.”
“Are you serious, who’d you bring over?” And Ghostface walks in with his boys. “Oh, Oh! Welcome! This is my place, welcome!” So we walk in and make ourselves comfortable, and I crack the Dutch. I break up some bud and start twistin’ this up. Well, word immediately spreads out (being a small college town in the mountains) that Ghostface Killah is on Blackington. All of a sudden a hundred people show up, and as people are coming in, some are giving me their pot to roll the blunt in.
“Oh shit, is that the blunt you’re gonna’ smoke with Ghostface? Here, take some of mine!” And so this turns into a fucking cannon, and there’s a lot of pressure because there’s only one blunt, and you know I’m twisting this up for Ghost. The pressure was on, but I twist up this massive blunt, and it was perfect. Light it up, pass it around, and we kind of move into the “beer pong” room. Ghostface kinda’ just picks up one of the ping pong balls, and we start playing beer pong.
Smoking blunts and playing beer pong with Ghostface fucking Killah. Everyone is partying and having a good time. Mad people were there, and that motherfucker was not even trying to go anywhere. He fuckin’ straight-up chilled out with us until five in the morning, at least. 5AM. We were hanging out outside, dude didn’t have to be anywhere, he just made 20-Gs. Just taking it easy. The fraternity on campus came over to the party and made Ghostface an honorary brother of the fraternity. Brother Ghost.
The one thing I look back on and regret was not getting a picture. I know throughout the whole night people were coming up to him and getting his picture, trying to dick-ride him and shit, and he really seemed to be bothered by it. I could have talked about my work as well, could have pushed my shit on him too. We talked for a long time about shit, just general shit like girls, joking about this and that, and I was talking about certain albums by him I really liked, certain songs. His music.
I think he was impressed because I was quoting some of his lines and shit. Anyone has to be into real fans, the genuine fans that know his shit and know what material is actually good and bad, because everyone puts out bad songs. Very few don’t put out bad songs. Usually, popular songs are not liked by the artists themselves, you know, and the opposite goes for the ones not usually talked about. It’s good to say “I really like that song,” and have it really mean something to the artist.
So that was quite possibly one of the best concert experiences of my life. I’ve talked about it with other people who’ve been there, and when I do, it’s like reliving the experience all over again. A friend of mine from MCLA who now lives in California came into town and knocked on my door, and it was a whole different story. We both went to MCLA, and bumped into a few people, and the story just came up.
“You remember playing beer pong and smokin’ with Ghostface Killah?”
Yeah, in 2008, if not 2009. I got an autograph and the bag of weed I rolled the blunt out of. Got it in a jewelry box somewhere. His autograph looks like gibberish, but I can’t make that up. I couldn’t make it out the first time; it looked like a scribble, but over time I found the right angle and was like “oh, there it is.”
That was story time, with Toby T. See you next time.