James quit cold-turkey. He walked off the job three Fridays ago with two delivery jobs dispatched to him. He caught management off-guard. Customers paying upwards of $12 for same day delivery started calling the company, using their New York City attitude to spread hell over expensive cell phones upon the ears of unsuspecting dispatchers who had assumed James was still on the job and one of their slaves.

“Fuck-it. I’m not doing it,” he must have said, I imagine out on my own route, already missing my morning conversations with a man who was once a first-line draft choice for the NBA. According to James, as he explained one morning as I sorted paychecks, his career in the sport ended with a terrible leg injury, yet James still managed to walk for miles every day as a messenger. Amazing, I thought. What a man. He was probably good in the sack back in his thirties, but now there he was, 56, with a trick- knee of some sorts, one that made him a cripple to the pro’s who were responsible for drafting such men as James. His little, haphazardly cut fro and spacious teeth stained from a constant soaking in booze and marijuana smoke were not enough to make James homely looking. He has a tight body and pecks that still stand out. His sinister laugh would not stop me from going down on him although I’m just under a decade younger and rarely do men who are not as tall as I am.

He lives with a female roommate, introduced to him by the Division of Homeless services. James finally got a blow-job from her, in the shower, after taking ‘her’ out for bowling on her birthday. I didn’t have the heart to tell my co-worker he may have been blown by a transgender but didn’t want to be a square in the love triangle he found himself in. According to James, his roommate and girlfriend of a decade got along great and liked each other. James was plotting a way to get the two in bed, but the roommate was in a relationship with a girl who sometimes spent the night there. James often heard them making love and asked me how he could invite himself in. “Just crack open the door and put your dick through the crack. If they wave for you to come in, then they want you, otherwise, the lesbo will yell at you.” James laughed hard.

Management at the messenger company had a certain love for James too. Perhaps the love was due to the six years the former, almost made it to the pro’s basketball player, put in as a New York City messenger for the same company. Let’s not count the number of times he left early on Friday to go home and get drunk. There were many times on Friday I was ordered by Steve to so some on-demand jobs or get fired. I was always exhausted after finishing my conglomeration of four differnt routes on the East Side, running from 43rd all the way down to the Lower East Side where groups like Blondie got their start. James and many other “on-demand’ workers left early to hit the bottle, and there I was, a messenger for the same company, and everyone in NYC waits to the last damned minute on a Friday to send shit out.

James Clemonts finally had the balls to tell all the dispatchers and supervisors at work that he was not in the mood for another lecture and threat of termination. He simply quit without the desire to fight for unemployment insurance benefits. There was no cursing as one may expect from a senior member at NYC’s largest messenger company, who has run from every tip of the city, back and forth several times a day– all for minimum wage– for more than a half decade, even in all those snow storms.

The fact was, James was only taking home a buck seventy-five, or so, every week, ever since he was banished from delivering paychecks and forced to do what the company calls “on demand”– taking packages from one business to another on the subway or on foot, and at times when traveling west to east, upon the very slow NYC bus system. Some of these on demand jobs pay just $2.50 per delivery, while a messenger makes $1.50 a paycheck and often delivers upwards of 10 per building.

James was holding down another part-time delivery job to make up for his loss in paychecks. He delivers Nespresso boxes, some sort of gourmet coffee to residences and door men all across town. Mike Day, one of our co-workers and an ex Heroin addict (if there is such a thing) once advised James, “You can’t make any real money with them. They run you all across town.” But James didn’t listen, he took on that job and developed a certain attitude towards the company that took away his paycheck route simply because James misplaced a few packages while hung over one day.

Mike Day, another 7 year veteran of the company who delivers to the Wall Street area, pretended to be angry with his best-friend James. The two were under some sort of payday agreement, where upon receiving his paycheck on Friday mornings, James promised to head straight to the bank and hand over $40 to Day. I witnessed the bargaining every week. Mike Day often reminded James and I, and anyone else listening in, that his former best friend at the job, upon termination, left not only the messenger company, but Mike Day standing empty-handed, nearly $300 in the hole.

There were mornings when I’d chime into their negotiations like a white Al Sharpton without an evening show on MSNBC. I felt somewhat sorry for Day, who truly has recovered, but taken on a certain aura during his negotiations over coin that I can only compare to that of one of the saints, althought I must admit, I probably never met one prior to bumping into Day at the job. I could not hold my silence any longer. For more than four years I have been the white, quiet one standing next to the two– a set of ears, that cared, I suppose, to serve as the Jude Judy judicial system, presiding over their situation that never changed

“It is good that you have a friend like Mike Day. I think he is a saint, James. He never has anything bad to say to anyone, unless it’s to their face, and Mike lent me $20 last Thursday, just so I could get a few beers the day before payday. And to think he is clean and sober. Mike Day is a saint, James. He has no bad habits and always has money that he is not afraid to lend out.”

“But people take advantage of me all the time, Charles,” Mike day blasted in a deep, Southern tone. He is softspoken, but his words carry right through one.

“What do you do with all your money, anyway?” I asked Day. “You probably have it stuffed in a mattress. What happens if you die tonight and here James and I are, flat-out broke?”

“I cannot believe you said that right in front of me,” Mike Day rebuffed. I went back to sorting paychecks, feeling almost sorry, but I choose my words carefully while in the presence of those closest to what some call “A God”.

James is gone now, though, and there stands 72 year old Mike Day without his best friend in the mornings. It’s just me, an old queen, pretending to care. I told everyone this morning that I really missed James and that it was a shame that he had to quit the job after so many years working there. “You all were too hard on him,” I cried. The Black men just stared at me and waited for my next words. There were none. They all knew why he was gone.

A pair of nesting homosexuals moved here about six months ago. The one who appears to be the top is spotted often. He brushed by me several times on the first floor, next to the aluminum mailboxes; pressing his stripper body close against a scuffed wall as he glides by my ass, strategically turned so that he can see it as I check for the new cable bill.

I was sitting on the front step with my man on Friday evening. We were watching children play in a water park across the street. Large streams of heavily chlorinated water spewed from colorful metal fountains shaped in all sizes upon little people who screamed in delighted as their little brown feet pattered atop a soft, artificial turf, running from one waterfall to the next. The nurse who could never stick me with anything that hurt was dressed in a blue hospital uniform. He smiled as we stood up. My lover used his electronic key to grant him access.

“I think he has a white lover,” my black friend said just a few weeks ago. We were both under the impression there was another nesting pair of inter-racial homosexuals living in this heavily populated immigrant building, until this morning. But who was the white queen my lover spotted?

I was heading in the door at 7:30 sharply this morning, I was on my way home from the supermarket where, after clipping several coupons that came in the mail, I managed to turn a $45 total into a mere $26.43. The butch one who cannot be more than 25 or so, was trailed by, what in my view, was the youngest full-blown queen I have ever seen in this 47 years of gay life.

He cannot be more than 19 I thought, watching carefully as the stud strutted by me in a tight, white wife-beater. I waited for him to speak to me again, as the younger came down the stairs. He looked at me like he never saw me before. One could almost still smell hot sex on them even though both were freshly showered and obviously on their way to a beach out here in Jersey.

I held the door for his barely-legal sissy lover despite holding four heavy bags filled with cat food and four pounds of London broil that went on sale this morning. The young queen thanked me at least three times as he swished by– giving that ‘oh I know what you are and you better stay away from my man’ glance that I mastered long before the age of 19.

An old man clawed his way onto an elevator at 369 Lexington Avenue early this morning. His wrinkled hand reached through a narrow space in the elevator as the doors attempted to close. I was reviewing my delivery manifest and turning to the page where a customer on the 19th floor needed to sign. The man ruined the peaceful bliss of that cool elevator. My red t-shirt was already drenched in sweat.

“God damn it! This is bull shit,” he yelled as his wrinkled split-hoof pushed numerous buttons on the car. I was hoping he was not angry at me and yelling at me because I am, after all, certified “schizophrenic”, diagnosed as such in 2002 and not on medications.

A favorite customer of mine, Terri Tafeen, who works at a real estate company near Baruch College had given me a small tomato this morning. I convinced Terri to plant the tomatoes back in June at her home in that Hamptons. She has been offering me updates on the growth process all summer long. She brought one for me to work today. It was in the company refrigerator and cold as the bastard on the elevator. I ate the fifty-cent piece size fruit on my way uptown. The taste was mesmerizing. It reminded me of my grandmother. I was in such a good mood until I had no choice but to say something to the pig from the 3rd Floor–

“Did you ever consider seeing a shrink? Fucking lunatic?”

The old man had nothing to say, so I continued, “I didn’t see you coming on.”

He failed to say he was sorry, so as he exited the elevator on the third floor, I started sing the Patsy Cline song, “Crazy” as he entered his plush office.

He turned and looked at me with a puzzled glance, as if I were the crazy one.

A plumb tree on Summit Avenue in Union City, NJ was packed with plumbs this year. I have observed the tree for four summers. I finally picked one and ate it, as did many others who walked directly under branches that offer sweet shade along the sidewalk. All the plumbs were gone this morning.

On a walk on my first summer in Union City I called my grandmother while walking under that tree and shared with her that I cannot remember the last time I saw a plumb tree. She spoke of the pear tree in her yard she had cut down in the Seventies because “it was a pain in the ass picking up all those pears in the Fall and besides, we needed the firewood that year.”

My grandmother died shortly after that conversation. Every morning when I pass that tree on my way to work I say hello to her. This morning it was hot so I did not cross to that side of the street and I said to myself, “If Mal Mal can hear me under that tree she can hear me anywhere.”

My mind slipped into worry about having enough money for beer this evening moments before I got to the spot across the street from the plumb tree. “Good morning, Mal, Mal,” I whispered.

I spotted a $20 dollar bill at my foot, folded up neatly.

I know it was from her.

The beer is almost as good as those plumbs on Summit.


One day, I’m going to bring my ice pick to work and stab you in the back. You will hardly feel it. I’ll walk away and you’ll say, ‘Oh fuck, I’m feeling dizzy’,” James threatened. “I’m too old to fight you. You are lucky I’m still on probation.”

Tyrone, a former crack dealer who still brags about his gig in the Eighties smiles at James. The tooth that came out of his mouth several weeks ago does not cause a lisp as he remarks, “You better keep your little bitch in check.” He is addressing Mike Day, James’ best friend at work. Mike is a former crack addict, who, thanks a nun who rescued he and his dog from the street, is now totally sober and one of the most respected messengers in the Wall Street area. Mike often loans money to James who often has trouble repaying it on time, yet, because of the nun perhaps, or maybe because he no longer has anything to spend money on, forgives James and often loans him more. “Does she suck a mean dick?” Tyrone asks Mike.

James laughs and glances at me sorting the huge piles of paychecks and asks, “Charles, are you going to let him talk to me like that?”

“Do you want me to fuck him up for you?” I ask, knowing that no one sucks a dick as meanly as I do and understanding that what was said was by no means an insult to my sexuality which somehow is way out in the open at work mainly because I will not go with the three of them to “The Golden Lady” in the Bronx, and throw money a big tits.

They all laugh loudly as if my remark was the funniest thing they heard since leaving Riker’s Island.

“Not yet. I wish I had my ice pick though.”

I was assigned the Donald Trump account several years ago. Manager Grace Gonzalez ordered me like a slave– “We stole this one from Urban. They couldn’t get it there by 7:30. I don’t want to lose this account and I know if I give it to you, it will get there on time.” Trump’s tower is on 5th Avenue and 57th Street, the warehouse and Grace and her full of crap management style are on 29th and Seventh. Even in snowstorms when it was still dark outside, I made that walk every Tuesday. I enjoy the stroll past St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the loveliest of all buildings in New York City, in my opinion. They were refurnishing pews this week. I walked by as the long, mahogany pews were taken from a truck with some business that specialized specifically in pew restoration, for the side of the long truck advertised this. I have other rush paychecks on Tuesday that all must be delivered by 9 am, including East Hampton’s own, The Douglas Elliman Real Estate Firm down on 43rd and 3rd. They are largest real estate agency in all of America I imagine while carrying their heavy-ass boxes of paychecks in a backpack. Neither Trump nor Elliman tipped me at Christmas, a point worth noting in a time when one is running for President and the other is just days away from another major market crash, in my view.

Trump had a delivery the same day he announced he was running for president. I arrived at least 15 minutes early, anticipating the press. The doorman permitted me to enter, just as he has done over the past several years at 7:20 or so. A man who was coordinating the reception area for the soon to be presidential announcement approached me like I was a terrorist or something–

“Who are you?” He asked, as if addressing one of the paid Trump supporters who had shown up early.

“I’m here to deliver a paycheck,” I explained.

“Who are they for?”

“Trump,” I answered. The Italian queen grabbed the three checks from my hands as though they were sunburned and brown, and Mexican. He walked away to speak to one of his aides about the soon to begin ceremony on the escalator above. The lobby of that building is adorned with Trump materials– his books are on display as if his writing was as keen as mine, and he sells coffee cups to foolish tourists who wander into the marble lined trap after shopping at Tiffany’s just down the street.

I stood there with my pen and manifest and waited for who may one day be the Secretary of the Interior to return to me and sign for the delivery. He did, of course, it was obivious I was not leaving without the autograph.

“What’s your name?” I demanded as if I were competing on the Apprentice.

I forgot his name the moment I typed it into my scanner.

The ‘One Mile House’ on Delancy Street opens like a Venus Flytrap at precisely 2:30 pm, although service from pretty bar maid Megan happens much later in the day, closer to Midnight, I suppose. The menu boasts of the best of food one can get in this artsy-fartsy part of the Big Apple– burgers decorated with clams and such– the perfect follow after experiencing a good buzz one may catch while bar hopping in this Jewish and Chinese infested part of Donald Trump America.

Megan, a girl from Florida with purple hair, is notoriously punctual when opening the One Mile House. “I live right around the corner,” she shared one winter day. She arrives at exactly 2:30 pm and expects to see me on the steps of the One Mile House with her paycheck. Being a messenger is like being a battered husband, I imagine.

It was extremely hot in New York earlier this week. I typically do not sit down while on my route; my legs often cramp like and old male pussy and it’s hard to get back up after walking for miles on the hot cement streets that seem to melt one’s sneakers. Since Megan was my last stop for the day, I deemed it safe to sit for 15 minutes and wait for her.

While watching a black cat sit on a window ledge five flights up at 195 Chrystie, I noticed from the corner of my green eye, three individuals crossing Chrystie Street in what seemed, in my cat-eye view, like too many clothes for a hot day in the city. Two nuns and a man, perhaps a priest, God only knows, but a man in any regard, approached me as I sat on the bench with my legs crossed like a queen. One of the nuns asked, “Would you like something to eat?”

I laughed like Lucifer in Hell’s kitchen and replied through dry lips, “I’d love some.”

The man of God was carrying a plastic container filled with what was obviously iced tea. Ice cubes had not yet melted. My tongue was on fire and despite all my sins, I pretended to be one of the homeless that mill about during the day in this area. I must have looked homeless, I pile a heavy coat of Banana Boat sunscreen on my face every morning and by later in the afternoon, I’m melting, and looking like a tramp delivering upwards of 60 paychecks a day, to Jews in this part of town. I really wasn’t hungry but desperately wanted some of what was not the symbolic blood of our Lord, but rather what I saw as a true blessing from the Catholic God, if there is such a thing.

The priest pulled out a small Dixie Cup and poured me some. I wanted to ask for more but decided to take what was offered and leave it there. For God’s sake, I thought, there is a warm water fountain just up the street. I drink from there almost every day. Who can afford $1 water when I get paid $1.50 to take Megan her check at 2:30?

Chrystie Street is no place for one to start confessing one’s sins, especially while thirstier than a Jew out of Egypt. One of the nuns handed me a sandwich– ham and mustard on white bread– almost enough to turns one stomach and faith on a hot day. There was enough plastic covering it to stretch from 43rd and 3rd, all the way to Chrystie, ten miles away I imagine with sore feet as I carry these paychecks like I’m on my way to be cruicified or something– and some God awful banana bread that I ate simply because the nun said, “God bless you,” as they walked away.


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