After Sargent Le Fevre left, DeSantis went back to his bed and sat down. He went into himself and thought back to before the terrorist attacks, the divisions, the blame from all sides to all other sides. Continue reading
Category Archives: Fiction
“Hell is other people.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre
Robert DeSantis woke up the next morning in a room that reminded him of his first apartment after dropping out of college. It had white plaster walls with cracks, some faint- some not so faint, here and there. An window air conditioning unit buzzed as it worked to keep the slightly weathered white chamber cool and dry. He had spent the night in a pillow top bed, watching old cable TV shows on DVD before finally giving in to the overtures of sleep. Continue reading
Robert woke up feeling drops of water hitting his forehead. They were dripping down his face and had begun to dampen the front of his shirt. At first Robert had no idea where he was. He could see the drops were leaking from the ceiling of the room he was in, which might actually be described as part of a dungeon. He knew that he was in some sort of cell, that was all. He heard measured footsteps as a presumed guard of this presumed prison walked down the hallway outside. Mister DeSantis? He heard his name being formally called in a surprisingly polite tone by his apparent jailer. A knock, almost too gentle for the heavy steel door echoed slightly off the damp stone and brick walls of his 8 x 10 box of a room.
Come in, Robert answered. His voice hoarsely registered just loud enough to be heard by the man at the door. The door opened and there stood a short, dark man dressed in green military fatigues. Continue reading
Jerry walked quickly past the homeless man facing the building doorway on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. As he passed, he couldn’t help looking at the puddle of piss growing into a small pond in the vestibule’s depressed elevation. Jerry never gave to bums. Hmm… he thought, “I haven’t used that word in years. Probably haven’t heard it since Dad moved down to Florida.”
Jerry had enough of the city too. He couldn’t stand the crowds, the filth, that God awful stench of urine everywhere. If he didn’t have to worry about debts and child support payments he’d be selling used cars in some small town in the middle of the desert. Jerry, like any salesman, enjoyed a good rube and according to Pops, the United States between the Mississippi and Colorado rivers was a ripe hunting ground for the quick buck. Jerry actually had no idea if this was true or not but it made sense. That’s why his stockbroker buddies targeted Midwestern professionals. A fool and his money are soon parted.
Jerry went into the Starbucks on the corner. He quickly left, it was too hot and crowded. Jerry then stopped into one of those independently owned, generic breakfast & lunch places. You know, the kind with seating but no table service; kind of like an upscale Korean grocery. It was empty. He thought about the long line at Starbucks.
He tried to talk to the owners of these places all the time. The staff barely spoke English and the manager never seemed to be around. Jerry felt that if he had the money to open up a place like that, or was at least given one to run, he would be able to get those Starbucks lines. To his mind it was simple; stop skimping on the coffee and pastries, raise the prices a little, not much but enough, and watch the business grow.
Ha! Jerry laughed at himself in the Starbucks bathroom mirror. It was twenty years later. Actually it was today. His beard could use a trim, his clothes smelled like an open sewer and he couldn’t remember if it had been one month or two since his last hot shower. After leaving the Starbucks bathroom he looked at the clock: 5PM. Time to start on the evening commuters. His stockbroker buddies. Jerry laughed; it was 5PM and he had nothing to lose.
It was the year 2011 and women were still overworked and underpaid in the workplace. To this end, Jason’s company enthusiastically practiced affirmative action when it came to hiring members of the female sex.
Toby, who considered himself a leftist, liked his ambiguously liberal neighborhood newspaper; which is published by a multinational media conglomerate owned by a right wing billionaire.
Maria, who is disabled from the waste down, had been calling 311 about the pot holes on her street for what was going on three years. She never asked for a bike lane.
Laura, who couldn’t afford the company health care plan, worked less hours in order for her family to qualify for Medicaid.
Sherman’s family emigrated from China for a better life. After grad school and seven years of dedicated service at GE, Sherman was picked to travel to India on the company’s behalf; to train his $5,000/year replacement.
On a residential street down a certain avenue, on the second floor of a four family house, there lived a man who was committed to doing good.
The peculiar thing about this man, Bene ‘Ben’ Di Rossi, is how self-critical he was. When I say he was self-critical I don’t mean as some kind of perfectionist, constantly assessing the purity, volume and frequency of his mitzvahs. No, what I mean is he would look at the world through the eyes of a cynic. A pessimist, he always pointed out to friends, family, even strangers, the folly of his high moral standards. Had he lived long ago, people would say, he could have coined the phrase no good deed goes unpunished.
He would be honest with his employer, a man by the name of Morris Simple; sincere to the point of being seen by some as foolish. All the while he would say, what a fool I am. After a particular situation involving workplace or family politics would play itself out, he would say, see, see; that’s why it pays to be underhanded, all the while doing just the opposite that his commentary would imply.
Bene heard the rain and couldn’t control, couldn’t stop the feelings the rain conjured up. Ben was a good man. Among his neighbors he was known as a stand up guy, a nice guy. Yeah, he thought, and nice guys finish last. Continue reading
The night ended with Zeke and I taking the train back to his house in Canarsie. We were on the elevated platform at Broadway Junction. The symptoms of the alcohol poisoning I had subjected myself to were still gripping my guts like a clenched fist around a chicken’s neck. As we waited for the L train I began to vomit. An elderly black woman came up to me; probably to see if I was dying. “Honey, you okay?” the church lady asked. I began to feel ashamed as if I was drunk in front of my own grandmother. It was 1993, I was 13 years old and I tried my best to be a man. I looked at her and with all my will power, attempted to pull myself together . Our eyes met and and with a crooked smile I gave my answer.
We all had a good laugh on that train platform.
My stomach was feeling better by the time we walked down East 98th street and onto Zeke’s parents’ front porch. I slept into the early afternoon of the next day. Zeke’s mother cooked us steak and eggs. Her mysterious accent sounded like it could be a mixture of French, Norweigian and Moldavian. I never did find out what country she was from; maybe all of them? She was kind and made me a strong cup of European-style coffee for my bus journey back to Marine Park. I decide to go on foot for a while instead of getting right on the bus. It was a warm, dry and sunny April day. I enjoyed looking at the front porches as I began the walk to Ralph Avenue.