THAT WOULD DEPEND
James looked up from his phone and reached for his wallet to get his monthly pass ready. The 7:53 to Penn Station was standing room only as usual. He was thankful for the seat and the fact that it was his wife’s small rear in the seat adjacent. They had raised fares as much as the denizens of this beleaguered state could afford, then started cutting the number of trains and crew drastically. Nothing worked, and finding one seat, let alone two together, made commuting akin to being a roller derby Bay Bomber in the sixties. Not quite a cattle car yet, but give them time.
Andy Powell thought things might have to change after the big argument at the library. He had misplaced the DVD of Richard Linklater’s 1991 classic Slacker for over a year – how fitting he swore he heard the library clerk with the lisp mutter – and he expressed shock, outrage and disappointment, in that order and all to no avail, at the woman’s insistence in keeping the forty-dollar lost fee on his account. Misplaced for more than one year is deemed lost not late, she told him, in his view with all the icy certitude of a serial killer passing judgment on his hundredth victim.
first published in U.S.1 Newspaper
Louis Ginsberg stared at the eye chart beyond the motor vehicle counter and tried to recall the numerous ways he had been fucked over in his life. After a few seconds, he gave up as usual. Eighty-nine years worth of screws were a lot for anyone to recall, and a bit of dementia spiced with the eight red and blue pills he took every morning made detailed bitterness impossible. He smiled and read the E F P T O Z top three lines to himself. Some things, the good things, didn’t change, didn’t need to. The asshole ingrate of a son could drop names on Thanksgiving like Facebook, Internet, EBay, tell him they’d be getting rid of the Motor Vehicle altogether someday, but Lou knew they would keep the eye chart forever. That was a comforting thought.
first published in the Monarch Review
The executive’s name was Tim Riley and he had been at Fox Sports from the beginning, rising through the ranks, crushing subordinates and superiors alike, until he was making a lot more dough than the idiots hitting baseballs 500 feet and knocking down 25-footers with regularity. And that was the problem, they were idiots, fixed costs, crushing expenses that ate into league profits grilled from ten-dollar hot dogs and indirectly the advertising profits of his own beloved network.
first published in the Monarch Review
The front yard of a suburban home somewhere you don’t live. Harold emerges through the front door in gray sweatpants and maroon long-sleeved t-shirt. He is barefoot. He eyes the New York Times at the edge of the street, wondering why they can’t throw it as far as he did forty years ago, whether or not he should finally stop delivery so he can get his news on his smartphone in the company bathroom and whether bad news would seem just a little bit better on a 4-inch screen. He is puzzled why that perfectly fine Italian restaurant on Greene Street has closed so suddenly and asks himself whether his son will ever get a job. Most of all, he is thinking about business ideas never pursued—his chain of branded mohels performing ritual circumcision under the brand name BrisTine.
first published in the The Monarch Review
The last time Hank remembered this much religious fervor in the neighborhood was the day Robin Green came home from Camp Pakatawa in the Catskills, declaring that she had talked to God at the bottom of the lake that separated boy hands from girl underwear. They were all 15 back then and God was delivering daily excuses for doubt in black bags with return addresses in Southeast Asia. There seemed no reason though to doubt Robin, one of the best students Red Oak Middle School had ever seen. She excelled at Math and Social Studies and had even made a metal dustpan with the best of them in Mr. Gotti’s shop class.