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.
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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.”
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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.
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