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Archive for November, 2011

Lucy and Juan are friendly again. For the past several days, the elderly Puerto Rican couple who live next door have not knocked. Juan wanted me to drive him to the NJ Department of Motor Vehicles last week, but I politely declined. They must have cursed me in their native Spanish tongue that sunny morning last week when I simply explained that I didn’t have the time because I was “job hunting”.

“Job hunting? What is this?” Juan asked his wife as if he did not understand my perfect English. “You can take me,” Juan insisted; the weight of his thin body resting upon his right arm; his bony, white fingers grasping the wooden handle of a cane as if it were my neck.

“I’m sorry, Juan. I am not taking you to motor vehicles. I hate waiting in line, and besides, I don’t even have a car; the main reason being is because I cannot stand government offices.”
“Please take him,” Lucy begged, “I cannot go. I have to wait for an important phone call from the Mayor.”

“The Mayor? Brian P. Stack?” I asked. “Do you know him? I have never lived anywhere where people put up photographs of the Mayor in the windows of their homes. It is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. What’s that all about? Why do people here in Union City seem to worship that mayor, when all I’ve ever heard are bad things about him on the news? His police commissioner was fired last week. They say he was clocking overtime pay while working out at the gym. Why would he be calling you, Lucy? Are you and Juan in the mob?” I asked, laughing.

“You are so full of it,” Juan snipped as he turned away and headed back inside their apartment.”

The past week was the most peaceful the apartment has ever been. No longer were afternoon naps interrupted by Lucy who is known for pounding four hard times, followed by a shout through the crack at the side of my door—“I think I love you,” she often sang until I removed the chain on my door to permit her to reach inside and hug and kiss me again. I was so sick of her rice and beans, anyway.

Lucy knocked again yesterday. Juan stood silently behind his wife until I said something—

“Good morning, Juan and Lucy. How are you?” I asked.

“Fine, fine,” they said in perfect English, smiling at me like their son again.

“Wasn’t that a nice thing for a mayor to do?” I asked.

“Oh, you got a turkey too?” Lucy asked, as if I too had some secret connection with Mayor Brian P. Stack.

“Yes. Four more years! Four more years!” I shouted.

“See, I told you we all love Brian P. Stack here in Union City.”

“Well, the next time you want a ride to Motor Vehicles, call him.”

Juan laughed loudly and Lucy spoke—

“You need me to season your turkey? I know how to season a turkey.”

“No thanks, Mommie,” I replied. “My roommate always does our turkey. He never lets me touch it. Black people are funny like that with their food.”

“I know,’ Lucy said, “but come here, I want you to see mine.”

I walked, barefoot, into Lucy and Juan’s apartment, leaving the smooth clean wooden surface of my own newly renovated kitchen to step upon, cold, well-worn linoleum in their place.

Lucy and Juan’s turkey appeared to have been ravaged by some wild animal. Cuts covered the goose-bump skin of the large, round breast of the bird from Brian P. Stack. Slices of lime were embedded under the bird’s skin and it looked like it was covered in boils in need of lancing. Lucy asked me to smell a bowl of dried oregano that had been smashed along with some cilantro in a bowl of cheap vegetable oil.

“If you want, I give you some for your turkey.”

“Oh, no thanks, Lucy. I told you, Black people like to cook their own poultry. What is that sticking out of the belly?” I asked.

“That’s the neck. It’s still stuck. I have to wait for it to thaw out before I season inside. Oh, you just wait until Thursday. I bring you some.”

“Thank you, Lucy. I’ll look forward to that. You are so nice to me, yet I always seem to be so mean to the two of you” I said, closing my door, realizing that one cannot be too political in the state of New Jersey where enemies are often butchered like turkeys in these parts.

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31 Charlie

Army regulations prohibited the use of hotplates, hair dryers, and curling irons inside of radio-teletype trucks, or what were called “RATT Rigs”—the precursor to modern day text-messaging. These vehicles were defined on Defense Department budget lines as “31 Charlie, Single-Channel Radio/ Teletype Operator Stations”.

As a 31 Charlie, I trained 13 weeks at Fort Gordon, GA immediately after basic training and learned that these mobile, highly complex vehicles with tons of communications equipment inside were worth more than a million dollars. It took many kilowatts of power to keep the trucks operational; loud diesel generators provided the charge. It was difficult to resist the temptation of plugging in modern electrical devices when in the field for more than a month at a time.

The generators would have easily supported the pull of sixteen hairdryers—we all knew that, yet due to Army regulations, we were forced to suffer in the dark Black Forrest with little comforts found in the modern world..

My unit, 141 Signal Battalion, as part of the massive and historically honored 1st Armored Division, conducted training exercises that lasted for weeks during the cold Bavarian winters of the 1980’s.

Soldiers were fed just one hot meal a day, usually breakfast, but were given an unlimited quantity of Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s). These bundles of nourishment had a century-long shelf life and would have withstood a nuclear winter; although tasty, they offered little warmth to bodies that trained all day and night, outside in snow that often  reached our tits. Going so long without cooked food was barbaric.

There was not enough Army work to do while waiting in the woods. Never once were we asked to transmit real text messages across FM radio waves. It was apparent to all 31 Charlie’s that our military occupational specialty was outdated, or more reasonably put, of little use for commanders who had access to what was the equivalent of cell phones that were secure. These cell phone centers were called PCS vans. My Black Army girlfriend and mother of my son, Christopher operated such a van. She was constantly under pressure while in the woods and got little sleep; Lisa was outside in the elements for hours on end, readjusting an antenna that reached nearly fifty feet, re-directing a satellite dish towards where she thought was the source of a signal. She had such difficulty with her compass.

We ate our dehydrated pork patties like they were slabs of jerky. Our stomachs took weeks to digest what was served to us inside of heavy, brown, plastic, air-tight sacks. There were portable latrines brought by German contractors to our location in the woods. Rarely, that is if the dehydrated food managed to make it through my digestive system in less than 30 days, did my white ass sit on one of those cold, plastic out-houses. The blue water seemed chemically designed not to freeze, yet the liquid turned a pinkish-blue Jello, just  north of Nuremberg.

Despite the risk of discharge, I kept an electrical contraband inside my metal texting truck—a yellow percolator coffee pot that survived the 70’s in my mother’s kitchen back home. She never used it, but my mother rarely throws things away. It’s funny how I remembered that thing only when outside with no hot water. I wrote to her during one of my training exercises and asked that she mail the pot to me at my APO address. In Germany, electrical outlets are 220, not 110. Inside the RATT rigs, the outlets were 110.

The electrical urn served as the official hot water heater for all of Division Rear Platoon. D-Rear was a platoon made up of almost all females. Being the eyes and ears of headquarters of the 1st Armored Division or “Old Ironsides”, meant that if war broke out with Russia, our platoon would not have to fight on the front lines. Women were not permitted in combat at the time, so my platoon always stayed “in the rear”. Why we had to go out to the woods was anyone’s guess. On these month long trainings, the women clung to me. They ran to me and my yellow pot when their vaginas were in need of a good scrubbing, often asking me to turn my head as they undressed before me inside that tiny little truck. I spun around in my chair and faced a steel keyboard and pretended to be typing a message meant for the President while they did their thing.

The coffee pot was excellent for heating the brown plastic bags that MRE chicken a la king came in. We boiled it hot like Minute Rice. My truck was more of a soup kitchen than a place from which scrambled secret messages were sent right under spying Russian ears.

Every twenty-four hours I had to confirm with other Division RATT rigs that our equipment was functioning. Exactly at mid-night we sent a text message and hoped words typed on huge reams of yellow paper came out legibly, not garbled. I chased all the women out of my rig just before midnight, shut the heavy steel door of my “camper”, and re-wired a 42 piece gadget, following top secret codes published in a waterproof manual. For each tiny, pronged wire there was a corresponding letter on the gadget, and like an old telephone operator, we wove the matrix of wires and hoped that all were in order for the day.

31 Charlie’s had to fine tune modems; slowly adjusting frequency modulators, causing a green strobe of overlapping ovals to appear inside a tiny round widow on these expensive military modems. By turning the dial, a soldier manipulated these visual laser ovals until the image formed a perfect replica of two crossed footballs.

My eyes were always too tired for reading. Instead, after all the girls had gone and the slight scent of vinegar had left the air of my rig; just after the final knock at my metal door had come—a beggar for a pack of cigarettes—I shut off the fluorescent lights of my little beauty shop, closed my eyes and typed in the pitch black truck like Stevie Wonder at a keyboard.

I was writing stolen words of a confused yet genius mind and had no one to send them to.

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Zuccotti and Meatsauce

Zuccotti Park was my back-up plan. I planned to go there if my lover put me out in the cold. I hear they are giving flu shots for free. Unlike the Mexicans, I have no insurance. The hot meals that were being served down there looked appetizing on CNN. It has been decades since I last had sex in a tent. My lover is not the only one with a connection to the marijuana man. I don’t have to put up with him if I don’t want to—I hear they may permit tents in Zuccotti Park again.

Where will we go now that Billionaire Bloomberg is chasing everyone who is not Jewish and rich out of town? There are only so many swastikas one can spray paint before we run out of park benches.

The unemployed who are no longer being counted as “unemployed” simply because we ran out of unemployment benefit extensions are entitled to welfare, that is Mayor Bloomberg’s answer. I cannot imagine facing the black bitches at the welfare office again. They all seem so knowledgeable of the ‘system’ and when they see a white face, they cop an attitude. No, I’d rather camp outside and piss on a tall, pretty building. It seems so romantic—imagine Christmas Eve in the cold of Wall Street.

The New York movement needs a real leader, someone like MLK but white with prowess who is not afraid to put his life on the line for a good cause. “Try to arrest me and I’ll fucking kill your fucking family” is my motto.

The kid protestors are merely camping downtown. They are so cute in those little tents, but their leaders were trained at Columbia in the science of political movement. They know nothing about cause and effect. Occupy Wall Street needs a leader who is not afraid to go to jail—imagine all the cock an old queen can get in an upstate prison—more than is found in Chelsea or on Christopher Street in this sad, new world where even Hitler seems worthy of praise.

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Secondhand Bagels

The city has finally banned smoking on Metro North train platforms (Connecticut bound rails) and those of the slow, often out-of-service, Long Island Railroad system.

I was surprised to learn that smoking on train platforms was still permitted on the Long Island Railroad– I would have gone to Fire Island more often these past few years had I known.

My lover B. had me laughing until I coughed this morning, making fun of non-smokers who push clean air rules:-

“Tell me this,” B insisted, “Why is it that non-smokers wear heavy perfume that makes one gag, and their breath, more often than not, smells like hell?”

“That’s terrible to say, B,” I said.

“The next time someone gets in my face and fusses about smelling smoke, I’m going to wave my hand at them and remind them that they smell like a fucking bagel with everything on it. I will ask, ‘Why’s your fucking ‘bref’ smell like shit?”

I always laugh when Black guys from Brooklyn say the word “breath”, and twist it into a rank form of its original English standard pronunciation. It’s true, non-smokers have the worst bref of anyone.

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Gay Veterans Day

It was during an Army training exercise in the woods of Bavaria when I had my first taste of sex.

I was only eighteen.

“Private Taylor, do you want to get out of here and visit the home of my German girlfriend?” My married, black section sergeant asked, “I can make it happen.”

“Of course, Sgt. Smith. We’ve been stuck in these woods for three weeks now. I have never been this long without taking a shower. I must really stink. I feel like dirt. So, that is how you manage to look and smell so clean out here in the woods? You have a German girlfriend?” I asked.

“I take pride in myself as a soldier, that’s all,” Sgt. Smith objected.

“I’d love to get out of here and under some hot water. Sterek spilled diesel fuel on me last night while we were filling up the generators. I can’t wait to get this smell off me. My skin has been burning since last night. A shower sure sounds good.”

“We are simulating war with Russia,” Sgt. Smith explained, “In wartime, we may have to make friends with enemy women just to survive. That is why during peacetime, I am like a soldier during war,” Sgt. Smith’s noted as his large white teeth flashed at me.

“Civilization and running water sure sounds good. I haven’t heard any music in three weeks. Do you think she listens to Duran Duran? Nothing but the Army radios and encoded messages out here in the woods. All that beeping has made me mad. These powerful radios are enough to drive anyone to do things they know are not right. Yes, please take me with you.”

 

We slept in tents inside Army sleeping bags. Snow blanketed our communications equipment and the camouflage netting over our heads blended the very appearance of our existence into the rolling hillsides of Bavaria. The thought of soap and water upon my fair white skin gave me goose pimples.

I was so tired of the woods and the dirt. Bavaria in the winter is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Once our antennas were in the air, transmitting encoded messages to far distances and the rest of the brigade was busy playing war games throughout southern Germany, those stationed with 141 Signal Battalion had nothing to do but to keep the lines of communications open and stay warm inside of tents and commo trucks.

We had no running water, yet still I shaved in a canteen cup every morning while using the mirror on the door of my como van. Army regulations required that soldiers like me could not have facial hair while in uniform. We had to shave without running water. Black soldiers like Sgt. Smith were given special rights by Army doctors to avoid shaving. They often developed what blacks called “bumps” on their face from shaving.

Even I had bumps while in the woods. There was no hot water. Dirty face. Stinky butt. All I wanted was a shower. Sgt. Smith always had a surprise up his sleeve which often involved breaking some sort of military regulation, but his intentions were always good, as he strived to be a ‘good leader and take-charge, non-commissioned officer’.

“I’m married. You understand that, right, Taylor?” Sgt. Smith asked as we prepared to sneak away.

“Yes. Sgt. Smith. You live off base with your wife and kids, otherwise you would live in the barracks with Sterek and me. I’ve even met your wife. Why would you ask me that?” I questioned while reaching into the cargo pocket of my BDU pants to pull out a fresh, dry pair of black leather gloves lined with green wool. I leared that by changing clothing often, my sense of filth was eased.

 

“I’m taking you to meet the German woman who I have been banging for the last three weeks. Don’t ask how I met her—it’s a long story, but she’s fine as hell. Just put it this way: while you were sleeping in the tent with the rest of the platoon, I’ve been digging fox holes and sleeping warm, next to a white, German woman. No offense Taylor, but I never thought of white people like this before. I’m sorry I’ve been so hard on you and Sterek.”

“You haven’t been hard on us, in my opinion. You are a good section leader, no matter what the color of your skin is. Sterek and I both think you’re cool.”

“What did you just say, Taylor?”

“You’re a good chief. I like working in your squad, sir.”

“Don’t call me sir. How many times must I tell you that? I’m not a commissioned officer. I was talking about what you said about the color of my skin. Just look at it, Taylor. Did you ever see skin like this? So smooth and dark like chocolate, wouldn’t you say? Frau Hercher told me that she never felt skin as soft is mine!”

“How did you meet Frau Hercher?” I asked, despite the order not to.

“I was rolling commo wire with Sgt. Walker about two miles from here and she drove by in a Audi and we waved at her.”

“She stopped, just like that?”

 

“You don’t know how we Black man have it here in Germany, Taylor. I sure wish I could share the wealth with you, but the women of Europe love us Black men. Just look at my skin; beautiful, ain’t it?”

I just smiled and reassured Sgt. Smith by telling him that he had good skin, unleashing a fib of sorts, because I noticed nothing particularly suave about the skin he was in– just a pepper- black exterior flesh.

His huge white eyes revealed a hatred for being stuck outside in the cold without pussy. Sgt. Smith loved the military, but hated playing soldier. He found ways of finding alternate shelters when our unit was on training exercises in the woods– through the gift of his ‘rich dark’ skin that German women ‘couldn’t get enough of’.

“Look, I appreciate you sneaking me out of here, but if we get caught, you must promise to say that you ordered me to come with you. This is a violation of the Commander’s policy. We could both get into big trouble, so if we get caught, please say you made me.”

“Taylor. You know me better than that. I always take good care of my soldiers. I’m a good section chief, no?”

“Yes. Very good as a matter of fact. Alright, Sgt. Smith, as long as you say so,” I responded. I was happy to have the chance of feeling water on my chilled, almost frost-bitten body. I was prepared to face an Article 15 just for a warm bath.

 

“You must promise not to say a word of this to anyone. I’m married. Remember? If you tell, this could ruin my life. You can get a shower and a good meal. We will be done there in no time. We only got three hours though. I’ll meet you at Sgt. Walker’s truck as soon as it gets dark. We’re taking his truck. I gave him a twenty and told him to hide out in the RATT rig until we return. They’ll assume Walker ran back to Barton Barracks for supplies.”

“I promise. I will not say a word. I owe you one. You are such a good leader, Sgt. Smith.”

The German woman who Sgt. Smith had been sneaking off to see was middle-aged, appearing to be at least in her forties. She spoke good English, though, and made me coffee and offered me her shower.

“Ain’t she pretty?” Sgt. Smith asked.

“Yes, very pretty,” I replied as steam rolled from under the bathroom door as I headed that way.

“We’ll be in the other room,” Sgt. Smith noted.

“Alright,” I said from behind a closed door while peeling smelly clothing that had seemed freeze-dried to my white, freckled skin.

After I got out of the shower, I sat and drank three cups of bitter German coffee before Sgt. Smith returned to the kitchen to offer new orders–

“Come join us. Did you ever do a train?” He asked.

 

How peculiar the black are with their dialects, I thought before responding– “No thanks,” I replied. I was simply happy to be so red and clean again.

The naked, wrinkled German woman clung to Sgt. Smith’s married black arm as he stood in her kitchen, inviting me into their massive ball of black and white flesh. My skin was now pink from the hot shower. I felt exotic and perhaps the pasty-white German frau had just as much fever for me as she did Sgt. Smith. Who knew?

She was old enough to have been my mother, I guessed. My stomach churned. I longed for the coldness of the woods again. I missed my mom. It seemed at any moment they would both come after me as I sat motionless, wrapped only in a towel, water still dripping down my tender face and over my pink lips that were even larger than Sgt. Smiths.

“I only wanted a shower. Can I watch you fuck?” I asked. “Believe it or not, I’m still a virgin,” I said.

“Are you sure,” Sgt. Smith asked. He was much fatter naked than I had originally thought.

Frau Herscher’s eyes suddenly became seductive as she looked at me. I sensed that she was attempting to seduce me, but being gay, she had no power over me like she wielded over my section leader.

“Thanks, but no thanks! I’m saving it for marriage,” I explained, “but I don’t see no harm in watching the two of you.”

Sgt. Smith looked at me, shook his head, and asked again, “Are you sure?”

I sat on the carpeted floor of the German woman’s bedroom for at least a half hour before slowing inching toward the lovers.

Frau Herscher seemed to moan louder as I neared the area of their love making with my curious head. Slowly I began lapping the two of them with my tongue, moving slowing from the area where their organs met, and encompassing Sgt. Smith’s black sack in my mouth, realizing just then that he hadn’t bathed in over a month either.

 

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