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Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

Tricks

The senior citizens of Three Springs opened a thrift shop in 1982 in what was once a little town grocery store. The wooden building with faded white paint was absent of large refrigerators that often broke down but was cool to cousins Stephen and Chuck. They decided to make their own Halloween costumes that year and went shopping to support the old ladies of town.

It was Stephen’s idea to dress like girls when he learned the thrift shop had its first ‘big brown bag’ sale. For only a dollar the kissing cousins were permitted to fill their sacks to the top with used clothing.

Nobody stopped them or told them it was wrong. Their parents saw it coming years ago. The two held hands as children and never could get over that habit as they approached their teens. Eventually, Stephen’s father ordered the boys to stop holding hands and grow up.

Preparing for Halloween together that year was like holding hands again. Even the old ladies with strict moral values egged them on.

“Here honey. Go ahead and put some of these clip- on earrings in the bag. The sign at the front does say ‘Brown Bag Sale’.

The wigs lining the wall at the back of the store sat atop Styrofoam manikin heads and called to the boys like their mothers rounding them up for supper.

They did it. They walked from door to door in that small town and collected their candy and got to be ladies for the night.

They both were blondes.

Stephen’s grandfather knew who was hiding under the costumes right away.

“I know Horton eyes anywhere. You are a Horton. Is that you under there Stephen? Yes it is. But who is that with you?”

Chuck batted his eyelashes at him, winked and giggled.

“I know who that is. Here have a Snickers!”

The real fun in town didn’t start until much later, when all the little kids were inside counting up their candy.

It was a tradition in Three Springs to corn cars on Halloween. Teenagers hid under the bridge at the top of town and waited for cars heading towards Huntingdon to pass. Stephen and Chuck wouldn’t miss all that fun for the world. The hard corn, shucked from cobs that grew in abundance in nearby fields assured plenty of ammunition and all the teenagers in town spent weeks in mid-October preparing for the big Halloween attack on cars. It was much more exciting than the costumes or candy.

What made corning cars so fun was that some of the drivers would stop their car and get out and chase the kids. If caught, a good ass-whipping was in order.

Chuck didn’t think about those high heels he was wearing and how the pointy stilettos would sink deep into the mud when trying to run. Stephen wore cheerleader boots and could still run fast.

When Brad Boyer jumped out of his pick-up truck with his shot gun, everyone but Chuck ran deep into the forest. The blonde had no choice but to remain very still under that bridge.

Chuck quickly removed one of his clip- on earrings and tossed it towards the far side of the bridge to try and fool the angry driver.

The driver had a flashlight and shined the bright light into Chuck’s face. Only one ear sparkled in the night.

It was Brad Boyer– the quarterback from the football team. He smiled at Chuck and put his gun down.

“Nice costume,” he said while smiling widely.

“Thanks! Want some candy?”

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A few friends from high school marching band squeezed into my green Ford Pinto. We drove to State College to see the movie “A Chorus Line”. The song “Tits and Ass” rang through my head as we drove over Nittany Mountain in the dark. I prayed that my car would not break down.

Dana Scott, a non-Baptist Christian and baritone player in marching band, claimed to have spoken in tongues on several occasions. She sat in the front seat next to me with her hands on her lap and seemed to sense what little spark the Pinto had. To avoid the embarassment of the noise my clunker was making, I asked Dana to explain the process of “falling into the spirit and speaking in tongues,” to the rest of the band.

“They say you cannot speak in tongues around non-believers,” she explained as I shifted into fourth gear as we topped Nittany Mountain. The car began to shimmy. From the window, mountain shrubbery filled with poison red berries passed my periferial vision. It seemed that if one day we were all welcomed into the Kingdom Jesus once spoke of, the berries would be edible and one would actually take the time to get out of the car and walk around to admire the view overlooking a valley filled with lush pastures below, but I kept it moving while Dana spoke with a slight sharpness to her tone: “It would be impossible for me to do speak in tongues here in this car. Besides, I don’t like doing it. It scares me,” she explained.

“There is always a translator, sent by the Spirt, to translate what is spoken in tongues, otherwise, what is spoken is not authentic,” my friend Mark, a tuba player piped-in from the back seat. Like a true Baptists who sits first-chair in the clarinet section during non-marching band season, I was skeptical of all the brass in my vehicle.

I recalled, while looking at the poison berries passing by the car through the corner of my eye, the day in marching band practice when Mark, while taking down a tuba mounted upon his shoulder, covered the front of an orange t-shirt with what seemed a gallon of spit.

It was obvious he had not used the spit valve on the tuba in some time. The entire woodwind section roared in laughter. Mark, like one caught up in the spirit Dana had referred to earlier, had no idea what had happened.

“I am glad to be a Baptist,” I confessed, “we believe that once one is saved they are always saved and we don’t have to do silly magic tricks to win others over to the Lord.”

Dana refused to speak to me for the remainder of the ride. The tension in the car was stronger than the brakes on the Pinto.

A rabbit ran from under a poison berry bush near the road The Pinto squashed it. The shocks in that car were so bad that it felt we had just run over a deer. I shrugged my shoulders and was glad that it was not a deer. Dana did not mumble a word in English or in Latin.

Two miles further down the mountain road, another rabbit ran from the forest. We hit it as well. I laughed and screamed, “Got it!”

Dana nearly spoke in tongues.

A third rabbit nearly ran in front of the vehicle but suddenly stopped turned and ran the other way. I screamed, “Watch this!” and pretended I was going to do a doughnut while grabbing the steering wheel with a hug.

Suddenly the rabbit decided to cross the road anyway and the Pinto squashed it too.

“Please stop doing that! I am really upset,” Dana cried.

“I usually don’t do that trick in front on non-believers,” I responded and drove off into the night like a clarinet player with a solo played during concert band.

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Clairvoyance is accepted as a gift by society. Fortune tellers are all over the city. Clairaudience, or the ability to “hear” voices that others cannot, is enough to have one deemed insane. There are others who have the ability to alter the course of fate, simply by placing a thought in the mind of another. I try to keep to myself most of the time, fearful that something I may say to a stranger may ultimately change the future of not only the universe, but the alternate ones as well.

The doorman at 300 Park has the prettiest pink lips along my paycheck route. After delivering paychecks there for several years, and rarely speaking a word to the young man, I decided to start a conversation just to see his lips move.

“People walking and texting on cell phones are really nuts,” I said. “I predict that in the future no one will be using social media. It will be looked down upon like the hula-hoop and the Rubik’s Cube. It’s just a passing fad.” I suggested, staring at the doorman, waiting for his lips to part.

“I really like the Rubik’s Cube,” the doorman said, although he obviously was not born at the height of the game’s popularity. “I agree, though. People in this town are out of control when walking around while texting.” He went on to discuss his phone, pulling it out, flashing it at me like a ten inch cock a stranger whipped out at me on a subway platform back in the 90’s when cameras were not in every dusty corner of the city.
I saw the sexy doorman again on Wednesday. “Do you remember our last conversation?” He asked.

“Of course I remember it like I remember how to solve a Rubik’s Cube.”

“You will never believe what happened that day. I was waiting for the subway at 14th Street. A woman exited the car while texting and bumped me with her elbow. She knocked my phone out of my hand. Pla-dunk, pla-dunk, pla-dunk…I watched it fall. And guess what? It went into the space between the platform and the door.”

“Dear God! Please don’t tell me you jumped down on the tracks to get it.” I replied, not asking him why he had his phone out and what it was he was googling at the time.

“Of course not,” he explained, holding his phone up at me again. “I went to the token booth and reported it. It was rush hour so they couldn’t do anything right away, but twenty minutes later, I had my phone.”

“Crazy.” I said, trying to calm the doorman who seemed convinced that I am some sort of fortune teller and that I was responsible for the incident that happened at the Union Square subway station. He stared at me like a freak with hula hoops around my waist, neck and both arms. I pulled out my scanner and typed in the name “Nieves”, the receptionist at the modeling agency on the second floor who had just signed for the company’s paycheck. I walked away typing with my thumb and not looking up, because unlike others who text, I have this gift to sense what’s around me.

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All Up in My Grill

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.

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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.

Cheers!

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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 requested discharge from the Army because I am gay. The look on my commander’s face was that of sloppy shock. His hairlip opened slightly and he chose his words carefully: “I have no problems with your homosexuality, Taylor. There is no reason why you cannot finish out your enlistment. Why must you go about bringing all of this out into the open?”

“It is not your decision to make, Sir,” I replied with a smirk on my face. I had just been topped by a black soldier stationed down in southern Germany. He drove three hours just to see me. We met at the gay disco ‘Construction 5’ in downtown Frankfurt. I was feeling pretty as hell and had the utmost courage when I handed my commander my typed statement that proclaimed my gay innocence and request to be discharged. My lover Gilly Wells had just been reassinged stateside and I knew I’d never get topped like that again, especially after permitting that queen from South Germany to get all up in my like that. I felt so dirty and alone. I wanted out. Why give my young life to my country when as a bottom there are but a few good years for one to find the top of one’s life.

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