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Archive for January, 2013

No Place To Pee

Arctic winds that felt fresh off a glacier blew across the avenues and streets of New York last week. Customers along my delivery route seemed concerned about my red hands. 

“Oh, they don’t hurt,” I assured. 

“Do you have gloves?” a woman at a small real estate firm asked on Thursday as I stood inside the small office cluttered with papers and receipts galore. 

“Yes, but they slow me down.” I have to take them off to text in names after a delivery is made.” 

“Be sure to put on lotion,” the woman remarked like a mother. 

Many of the businesses to which I deliver to are bars and restaurants. I have made friends with a pretty brunette who signs her name “Shannon” upon my manifest when in run into the dive-bar that she attends to on 2nd Avenue and 22nd Street. I have concluded that male messengers in New York City are treated as sex slaves to the women who greet them for signature. Shannon has not made any passes, which is why I like her, and wonder if she and I are the only two people left in NYC where it seems everyone is having casual sex with anyone who stops by. 

The gay men terrify me. One gentleman at a place that gives authentic-looking hair-pieces offered to show me his cock one morning. (I swear.)

Young Mexican men are often the only ones working in the swanking restaurants along 27th Street when I stop by promptly at at 9:30 am with their precious pay checks in hand. 

I feel like Donald Trump in a board room sometimes. These Mexican men seemed dazed by the radiant red skin that was that shade last week in the cold blast that came through town. One black -haired gentleman offered me coffee on Friday. 

“No thanks,” I replied, “I’ll only have to pee and there is no where to pee for free in New York City.”

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Benjamin quit his job as a foot messenger today. I admire his ability to walk away from a $7.25 per hour job. He is eighteen, has a mischievous spark in his coal-black eyes. He is short and has a complex about it. He walks around like a tough guy but is as cute as a button. He pulls up his coat sleeves just to show off his tattoos. 

After being assigned to the pay check department of my job, I encountered Benjamin every morning, along with a host of nearly a dozen other men who work as foot messengers. Being one of only a handful of Caucasian men at the job, I found it best to remain quiet while awaiting delivery assignment. Benjamin is black and was quiet too. One rarely heard a peep out of him in the warehouse.

I noticed, while walking down Seventh Avenue one cold morning last week, Benjamin was limping like a little football player to the bench. It horrified me to watch him go about his work, secretly spying on him from a corner. I was waiting for a traffic signal to change and would have gone down another block, but I just watched in horror, realizing how bad my old ass must look on the streets of New York. 

Benjamin was struggling with a heavy backpack on his little back. He carried a big armload of paychecks in both hands. His bundles were inside plastic bags that our employer provides. The bags do not have handles. They are designed to keep envelopes dry. 

I offered Benjamin one of my paper-boy canvas bags that my father sent from Huntingdon, PA. Dad went into the “Daily News” and asked for two of the canvas bags that I used as a newspaper boy. He mailed them to me with a $100 check. Dad worries that I, like Benjamin, work for minimum wage. 

Benjamin said that he wished he had use of the bag for the entire six months he had worked as a messenger. It was then that he told me he was leaving because his foot was bothering him. He said the bag was perfect for the paychecks, but he felt it looked like a purse when he first put it on. 

“It may have saved your leg,” I said, organizing the paychecks in the warehouse, next to Benjamin. “I cannot believe you are leaving here without another job.” 

“I’m not worried,” Benjamin said with a spark in his eyes. He explained that he does not believe in God or a heaven after this life. “There is a power we can use to change things. I can’t explain it, but I know that if I will myself to get a new job, I’ll get one.” 

“What kind of religion is that? Buddhism?” I asked.

Benjamin smiled. His white teeth glared at me while is pink lips curled like envelopes shoved in a tiny backpack. His coal black skin appeared to be coated in baby oil and his tattoos seemed to speak for themselves. 

“No, it’s not Buddhism,” Benjamin explained, “Put it this way… One day I was playing dice with these guys and I lost almost all of my money. I suddenly used this power to will things and suddenly I won everything back. I won a lot of money in the end.” 

I asked Benjamin to autograph the canvas paperboy bag he returned to me. I handed him the black marker I use for the Barnes and Noble boxes I sometimes deliver. 

“Are you serious? Why” He asked. 

“You just may be famous one day.” I said. 

He quickly grabbed the pen and wrote BENJAMIN in a style of writing one may find in a tattoo.

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Flu Slut

There are those who are immune to HIV and others who run around in society who seem to have a natural resistance to the flu without ever receiving a government administered vaccine. 

After having unprotected sex with men who had AIDS and lived to write about it, I was was led to believe that I have a natural immunity to HIV and a gift for writing. 

I spent the last three months as a messenger, delivering pay checks to various offices in Manhattan. Many of my deliveries are to doctors offices where the flu bug, in addition to any other deadly germ on the open market, has ample opportunity to go to war with my seemingly unbeatable white blood cell army. 

Customers on my route must sign for the paychecks I deliver. I carry my own pen and hand it to the individual signing for the delivery. I had a terrible habit of putting the pen in my mouth while using the company phone to text in the name of the person who signed my manifest. 

I was convinced that if the flu was going around, I’d certainly catch it. I remain quite healthy after three months on the job, have lost nearly fifteen pounds, and look as sexy as I did back when I had unprotected sex with men for free. 

My new job is a joy. I seem built for it. I only wish I got paid a little more for doing such justice for those in unions and others still making millions despite the recession. 

I hope my pen is not the cause of all those flu cases out there.

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Shooting guns is like playing football to many gay boys. Growing up in Pennsylvania was the most challenging of environments for one to grow up gay. It seemed more important to kill one’s first buck at the age of sixteen than it was to learn the art of masturbation.

 

Unlike my brothers, who treated hunting as a form of art, I spent my time in the cold December air of the mountains of Huntingdon County scribbling poems in fallen brown pine needles surrounding the trees under which I “hunted”.

 

I seemed to be cursed at hunting. Perhaps the movement of my heel in the ground was what kept the helpless deer at bay. Only on several occasions did I have the chance to prove that I was a man by shooting a deer. The deer that crossed my path seemed protected by some force of nature, whereas my nervousness holding upright such a powerful force of human ingenuity was what spared the poor creatures lives. I did not miss because I fired with some queer-like hidden ambition. I was not good at hunting. It was as simple as that. I did not have the interest in the sport like my brothers.

 

 

It was only after joining that Army that I learned I was what the Department of the Amy referred to as a “hawk-eye”. I wore a prestigious silver medal on my dress-green uniform, a symbol of perfection when it came to shooting the M16 rifle during a qualification in basic training where forty pop-up targets appeared in the sands of South Carolina– some more than 200 yards away– and I managed to hit them all.

 

While stationed in West Germany and during training exercises in the woods of Bavaria in December, I sat inside my telecommunications rig and wondered if I would miss shooting at a Russian, like I had the deer in Pennsylvania, if ever the cold war suddenly turned hot.

 

I decided it would be best to play dead if ever I found myself on the battlefield. I don’t think it was in me to shoot another soul.

 

I was so hard on myself for missing my chance at killing a buck and proving to others I was not a sissy. The truth was, I was a real sissy, a gay one, and I tried my best at killing a buck, but I could not do it. Fate seemed to have something else in store for me, yet I felt cheated by nature for not being in the right place in the woods at the right time.

 

 

If fathers and boys in Pennsylvania lose their right to own guns, I fear the desire to send young men away to war may become an art of the past, even though one may now serve “openly”.

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Lucy was sobbing louder than a chainsaw yesterday. I could hear her cries through her closed apartment door as I took out the trash. The smell of fresh bubblegum filled the hallways of our apartment complex. I had just finished my weekly duties as the building porter.

The black tiles on the hallway floor still reflected areas that had not fully dried. I had moped the floors with a sweet, tangy smelling cleaner that building management had given me for the task. There is something about a good-smelling clean that can make anyone cry, and Lucy already was quite vulnerable to tears.

There is a certain calm that overtakes a home shortly after it is thoroughly dusted, and perhaps the thorough cleaning was what caused Lucy to cry so much for her husband Juan who died last week.

My lover and I went to the viewing of Juan’s body which was held at a funeral home in North Bergen, NJ on Wednesday. There were just a few people there—a rather heavy Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx and her five children: three heavy-set boys and two skinny girls with long brown hair. The kids were all drinking coffee in a downstairs respite area of the funeral home. The mother noted that she would have to give her children Benedril to get them to go to sleep that night.

Lucy seemed delighted that Brian and I decided to show for the ceremony. Brian is still quite angry with Lucy for having Juan arrested by the Union City Police back in August. We both believe that if Lucy had not called the police on the poor, old man, he’d still be alive.

The truth was, Juan was dead as a cockroach that had just walked across a white pile of Borax, and there was nothing any of us could do to bring our elder back to life. Why be mean to an old widow? I asked myself as I turned to hug Lucy just steps away from Juan who looked quite good for a dead man who had been betrayed by a wife of nearly 30 years.

Upon hearing Lucy’s loud sobs, I decided to make her a cup of Starbucks Coffee – Verona flavor, from a bag of beans that Brian brought home on Wednesday. I frothed the milk for almost three minutes and put three tablespoons of sugar in the cup because I already know how Lucy likes her coffee. When Brian and I first moved here, I made Lucy and Juan coffee almost everyday. Lucy, I had noticed, became very animated after drinking the Starbucks coffee.

When Brian and I first moved to Union City, next door to Juan and Lucy, I made them coffee almost everyday. We became acquainted with the couple because Lucy knocked on our door to complain about not only the coffee smell, but that of what Lucy called “pot”.

Lucy, I had noticed, became very animated after drinking the Starbucks coffee, but the truth was, it kept her quiet and from calling the cops on us. She spent summer afternoons, chain-smoking and running from her door to ours; knocking for the silliest things—always wanting to come in and chat. We had to cut her off. Not only is Starbucks too expensive, but we grew tired of the old woman constantly knocking on our door and we were afraid the strong coffee might cause her to beat her little husband.

The cup of coffee I took to Lucy yesterday was the first cup of Starbucks she had since arresting her cute, little husband, Juan. Her tears quickly dried when she saw me standing there with a cup of coffee that she loves so much. She immediately grabbed the mug and ran over to her kitchen sink where she added tap water.

“Lucy! Don’t put any tap water in that!” I ordered. “I used Poland Springs water to make that cup and you’ll taint the exquisite taste.”

Lucy said she could not help it. It was just a habit she had. She said she was falling apart. “Just look at this mess!” The old Puerto Rican woman yelled as she wiped up what appeared to be spilled gravy covering the cabinets below the kitchen sink. “I just colored my hair and look at it! It’s red!” She shouted. “Juan got so fat before he died,” She went on to say. “I don’t know what that hospital did to him! They are going to put my husband in the cold ground far away in Elizabeth. I want him here in North Bergen, but Medicaid won’t pay for it. He still ain’t in the ground, you know. I would not let them take him. I called the Mayor’s office to see if they could help, but they just called. There is nothing they can do. They are going to put him in the ground in Elizabeth tomorrow and I will not be able to go visit him.”

“Just get him in the ground Lucy. It’s not so good to keep a dead body around for so long. Juan’s not going to be in Elizabeth. He’s here with us. Believe me, I heard his ghost walking up and down the hallways last night. Why do you think I had to clean it this morning? It really freaked me out,” I said, not telling a lie, because the truth was, late that night, around three, I heard the familiar footsteps in the hallway just outside my bed—-those slow steps of old Juan who often paced back and forth out there—angry at his wife Lucy for something, and up from all that coffee. He just paced back and forth as those with Alzheimer’s sometimes do. The sound of those little feet did not keep us up at night.

Lucy seemed to acknowledge my reference to Juan’s ghost as if she had heard it too. She noted, “That was a really good cup of coffee.” She ran to her sink and washed my Puerto Rican Starbucks coffee mug with her bare hands and ripped off three paper towels from the wall, and dried my cup before returning it to me.

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While working in an adolescent psychiatric setting, I learned from my boss, Joan Adams, LCSW, that individuals with Schizo- Affective Disorder are able to somehow affect the mood and mind of others. This week, while working on my new job, I learned that Ms. Adams was right and am convinced that my thought process somehow entered the mind of the doorman at 304 Park Avenue South in Manhattan.

I was somewhat skeptical of Ms. Adam’s take on the mind of the mentally ill. She is a little nuts herself, and the last person on earth who should be treating someone else who is deemed crazy by the wild psychiatric profession and the bible they use to take away the gun rights of others– the DSMV-IV.

Why Joan Adams’ words stick in my mind after all these years baffles me; it was as if I knew what she was saying was right, but I needed a first-hand experience to prove it.

The doorman at 304 Park Avenue asks for identification from all visitors who enter into that building. He sees me every day, and after three months of delivering paychecks to the high-and-mighty who work there, he no longer requires that I present a driver’s license. He has my name memorized. He has written it more than I have over the past several years,

While on my way across 23rd Street, I was remembering the paper route I had while still a boy. I was thinking of one particular old lady who lived along my route– Grace Hershey. Grace always made me smile. She said she no longer read her paper and subscribed to it only to see my face.

Grace, in her old age, started to lose her mind. When she wrote out checks every month to  pay for her newspaper subscription, she often made the error of forgetting my name. On several occasions, she wrote the name Charles Daily instead of Charles Taylor.

I don’t know why I was thinking of Grace while on my way to 304 Park Avenue, but when I entered the building, the doorman said, “Go on up. I’ll write you on my log, Charles Daily.”

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