I was penalized into the demise of same old poop in a buzz humming loop. Same guy here, still human, conscience clear. Girls just want to have fun or just have sons? I don’t know how this goes, but it’s not as if I’m moved very easily as a light gust blows. It’s possible the possibilities aren’t always worth calculating, but I do know I won’t be left here salivating. I have to try and without remorse, never mind if it looks forced. Doesn’t even matter if it’s practiced, doesn’t take away from the intention so use your tactics with full comprehension. The info is fresh like steam scented new pavement, naturally sticking to my brain I can’t shake it. I learn, I write, I’m tempted, but I strive to train and fortify with the might of all that is alive within me. I will perfect my craft, I will have the last laugh, I will cascade my development to radiate whatever the hell I meant.
I was in my North Bergen basement apartment hazily awake with miscellaneous memories that led to no conclusion – I couldn’t sleep well. I stood up and couldn’t decide if it was too early to eat. It was Tuesday and it was about six in the morning. Strangely, a phone call came in and my mind began to wonder if it was a prank or a wrong number, but then I saw my brothers name on my screen. He didn’t sound good. His voice came to me as a whisper in his throat and he seemed as if he could barely muster out his words.
“Tim…” he began.
“Hey, what’s happening?” I replied.
“I think I ate some bad Chinese last night…; will you bring me to the hospital? I have food poisoning.” he said, then he groaned with pain.
The drive to his home would be at least 10 minutes, and I felt like this was something for a professional to handle. So I resolved, “You should call the ambulance. Should I call them for you?”
“They’ll charge me.” he whimpered and then bellowed, “Please!”
In that instant, I knew that the responsibility had set upon me and that the liberty to discuss any further options had drawn to an end.
“Please!” He said with more strength.
I JUST WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT HE WAS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT. With a head full of anger and determination, my eyes set firmly in my head and I knew that I wouldn’t stop until he was safe. I fit into some sweats and sneakers and sprinted to my car. Less than 5 minutes later, I was in front of his apartment in Fairview, NJ. I had called just a minute before pulling up.
He said that he was coming down and when I asked if he needed help, he said, “No.” He didn’t sound so bad anymore. Maybe it was because of the relief of my arrival. Then I saw him. Slowly and uneasily, he shifted himself down the stairs and into my car. I took off and said that we were going to the Englewood Hospital. In hindsight, I probably should’ve went to Edgewater, but then again, there’s often so much traffic around down there.
My Blue Honda CRV was already down to the street when he started to put on his seat belt. We hugged the corner as I began asking him questions. He was sitting in the back seat with his hips forward and one arm holding his stomach as the other one clinched the front of his seat. He told me that the cause of this was some bad Chinese food that he had the night before. Strangely, he said that he had eaten there before, but it had been awhile since then. It didn’t mean much to me, but I knew that this neighborhood had a few questionable places to eat. I didn’t take my eyes off the roads, and I made sure that not one obstacle would be in our way. I must’ve been driving with a speed near 60 MPH through back roads on this cool spring morning and he warned me to slow down, but there were no cars on the road because it was about six fifteen in the morning; the sun had barely come out. Just to avoid a collision, I also slowed down near the intersections.
I found my way to route 9W and I was approaching the intersection on Palisades Ave to turn onto to descend down into Englewood. That section is a little busy and I avoided a car and then turned left from the second lane after the inside lane and cleared the space with no problem, and then we quickly descended down Palisades Ave.
I made it to the hospital and stayed with him for the next hour as a tense brick of a man. It was like I was swollen into a sculpture and on my face was a mask of a piercing stare that found clarity only through the leaking crevices. I requested service, then I demanded it. He was turning over in agony.
After a test, the doctor told my brother that his gall bladder had to be removed if they had waited 3 hours then he would’ve died. The staff there was pretty good to keep us calm, but they seemed to be a little too nonchalant for me. However, they completed the procedure and he was fine.
Several months later, a traffic ticket was sent to my home from the Englewood Cliffs Police Department. The cameras at the corner of Palisades Ave and 9W recorded me as I had sped too fast and turned without my signal on to go down Palisades Ave from the wrong lane. I was even shown the video by the sergeant and it was bizarre. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember why I had done that. It was like someone had used my car and I would have to pay for it. I was with my new girlfriend and I was embarrassed. I didn’t want her to think that I was reckless. I just couldn’t remember what had compelled me to do that because it was really rare of me. So, I was given a date to appear in court.
I had thought about it for awhile and the next day I realized that this was the day that I sped with my sick brother who desperately needed my help. To prepare, I got some of the discharge paperwork from the Englewood Hospital to prove that I brought him there because of an emergency. I joined the ranks of violators who trudged through the process of waiting on the line with shame and a smoldering thought of redemption within the prosecutors room. As I entered, they were finishing their explanation to one guy who seemed to be a foreigner. He was sent into the court room. The prosecutor was a Caucasian guy who looked like an ex football player. He was seated behind a mahogany desk next to an uncomfortable portly Caucasian man in a suit. The prosecutor asked me what had happened and I explained that I had to rush to the hospital because my brother had tremendous pain in his stomach and he didn’t want to call the ambulance. I offered the document as proof, and it stated that my brother was there, but it offered no explanation about why. The uncomfortable sweaty man next to the prosecutor closely searched the paperwork for dates. I thought that this might not suffice, and the portly guy rattled out that I’ll need to go get some better paperwork. The prosecutor offered the hope that I can take my chances with the judge to see if it’s enough for my amnesty. The emotion that wanted to show of all I had gone through to save my brother was like a multicolored orb in my mind that I had to suppress. So, I exited the prosecutors room and went into the court room.
Although there were people that saw the prosecutor after me, I sat there on those church-like benches as everyone was processed first and then I was called to approach the judge as the final case. It seemed like the judge had already understood what had happened prior to seeing me. My girlfriend waited by my side as I was asked to put my hand on the bible and sware to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God. I swore, “Yes, your honor.”
Then, I was asked to explain what had happened that evening and I began with the phone call that came in so early in the morning, but by the time I got to the part of the story when my brother was groaning in the back seat of my car, I started to cry as I explained that he was making a sound that seemed unhuman. I continued to try to speak through this catharsis as I said that I had never heard him make such an unearthly noise, so I knew that I had to bring him to the hospital.
Just then, the judge intervened to offer me some solace, “The case is dismissed.”
Still sobbing a little and eased by his pardon, I exited with my wife and we passed the police officers who seemed unmoved by the entire scenario. The judge had understood that I was a good Samaritan; this was no crime at all, but an honor.
There is thankful recluse behind heavy doors. Their safety could have sung lullaby songs, but they were quite silent. Should they slam, startling the sensitive ears of oppressors, offenders, or someone aloof? Would someone ever see to it that people sleeping in an adjacent room, could dream of a place where others could disagree with one another and not be insulted or cast away from society? What a strange thought, hiding because we don’t want to be banished socially. Don’t we banish ourselves this way? We ensure that we’re shunned, but from a ghastly form of disagreement. So, in this space we whisper and explore, no we can shriek and giggle, no neither nor…we just talk. People think that we talk justly, and others come to speak about what we think must be the truth. It’s both ugly and sudden. It’s full of stoic facts that never gave a damn about what our sensitivities might make of ourselves. We create our reality by unfolding our perceptions while mixing and matching and then judging if this is like last time. However, here it’s new, it’s safe and it’s never a waste. It’s fortified with SURVIVE! It’s branded without haste! We could be in this privately pillowed prairie to be ourselves again. Still, my door doesn’t slam shut, it doesn’t even have a lock. My door doesn’t have a peep-hole, sometimes I like the surprise. Be it a cloaked aggressor or a kind eyed-elder, each are welcome to tell, to admit, to whimper, to bawl, to scoff, to boast, to be ahead of what they left behind on the outside, yet we’re behind closed doors. Well, perhaps my minds wonder mustn’t be so sensitive, like a multicolored sand sculpture in a windstorm…, and a guy I know named Frank Ness foolishly found out what happens when faces turn red and hot causing shoulders to quickly raise high and turn cold. So, with regards to guarding we listen, but can’t always glisten or shine. We can’t make the mouths water the way we want by washing away the pain with consolation and passing through a thought without bravery. Better yet, fancy we shall the shan’t to further good nurture then be reduced, denied, and silenced to a murmur. This space is endless and within it, we’re never friendless.
The Art of Zero
Unsung, Zero is really a hero to thee because in knowing of Zero I remember what was given unto me:
Virtually, I can’t put it in your hand
but I can tell you so you understand
Then, you’ve got something too.
It more than nothing and I’ll ensure that it’s true.
So, If you tell me that I’m a Zero, I might disagree, but I know Zero well he was a hero to me.
He tells me what I once had, and he breathes wisdom
when others point and say, “Who is dumb?”
He’s fun too, he reminds me of you –
Insightful while effective like a microscope on a roof.
Do you know what he did when he wasn’t aware?
He didn’t just learn, he taught the teacher to be fair.
I jogged the line, the New York skyline, fascinated by the glamorous gleam of photon configuration while huffing at a mediocre pace and reminding myself of my own organizational essentials. I live most of my life out in the open, but in the dark, gazing at depth and strange structures, I transcended between trot, frolic, and trudge. Wishing I could provide, I contemplated what humanity wants like an inchworm pushing a statue that wouldn’t budge. Yet, I’m accelerating – mind slippery and skating wishing away the sensitivity of pounding beats of my heart and the stomp of descent from a curb which is meant to protect. I’m dodging drifts of odor and the intoxication of status… all while feeling stagnant with humanity. A scapegoat; and I’m goaded once again back away from the squalor toward the punching of keys to deafen and scrape my screen of the marks of abnormality, trickery and triumph.
Merriam Webster is like my next door neighbor that I borrow sugar from ever once in a while. I knock at her door (typing) and we stand at the entrance of the foyer. I ask her how her day is going (checking the linguistic trends). She tells me about her family and what they’ve been developing in their lives. Then, I ask her for the favor of lending me some sugar (a word or two). She “looks me up” and down and says that she doesn’t do this for just anyone. She wants to know a few things about me, like how to call me later in case she wants something in return. I ask for her forgiveness. I explain that I am a baker and that I must use the sugar for croissants, strudel, and birnbrot for a banquet hall that I work for tirelessly each day. She replies, “It sounds like you’re going to need a lot of sugar!” I tell her that I have just about all of the other ingredients, and that on this particular occasion I’ll just need two cups of the sweet stuff. She suggests a substitute, because too much sugar will rot my teeth. (I decide to use the thesaurus with an attempt to ameliorate while keeping the meaning.) Next, it seems that she is also skeptical of my lack of need. She knows that I’ll be back soon, so I think of a reminder not to be a mooch, yet I don’t reveal any further reassurance. A phone call suddenly slaps my ear (unwanted ads), and she hurries me out of the foyer with closing pleasantries as she finishes wrapping the sugar jar with bags and cushions so I don’t accidentally crack the glass (a faux pas of poor manner, body language and tone).
Then, I face the weather-worn street which wears splits and cavities and before I depart I take a moment to look down at my shoes and contemplate. Not long afterward, I decide to fill the gaps in the street with the cushioning that my kind neighbor provided. I suck in a slow deep breath and venture away.
PAY TO PAY by Timothy De Vita
If there was one thing that I could ELIMINATE from all commercial enterprise, it would be the business of charging people to pay for things. Could you be any greedier? That’s like charging me fifteen dollars for a haircut, and then asking for extra to brush it off my face. They want you to pay…JUST SO YOU CAN PAAAAYYY!!! That’s like opening your lungs by making an incision in your back…so you can breathe. Do we need to water our hands so we can prepare them to water the lawn?! How exactly does this creation of such sneakiness happen? “Hey, I’d like to pay my phone bill.” “Name?” “Tim De Vita. I owe you for one month of service.”
Then the cashier interrupts, “Waaaiiit a second…you can’t just come in here and pay for things that you used! We provided you with something!”
“I know,” I reply. “That’s what I want to pay for.”
Alarmed, the cashier jumps in, “That’s just it! You want to pay for service, but you don’t understand all of the work that went into this! Did you know that I brushed my teeth with two hundred and forty strokes this morning? Did you?! Two hundred and forty!”
Confused and perturbed, I reply, “That’s moot and unrela…”
“…and I even put on deodorant!” he interrupts.
I reply, “Yes, bu…”
“You can’t get service like this just anywhere! He reminds as he yells. That’s extra.”
I begin, “Well, we all put on deod…”
“Pay up!” he yells.
“Now just a minute!” I loudly interject.
“Your bodily scent has nothing related with the phone bill!” I yelled back feeling slightly relieved to get a sentence out.
Then he continued, “Do you know how long we’ve been having this conversation!”
Now he had me at wits end. I needed to take a moment to strategize and then I began to defend my opinion again. “To receive a service, we should pay. You collect the money. Why have owners decided to be more descriptive just so they can itemize new services that were already necessary, just so we can avoid debt, embarrassment, and annoyance of creditors coming to get more money that we never agreed to pay, but must. OUR MONEY AND CREDIT IS BEING HELD HOSTAGE!!!” I’ll tell you what, next time I’ll pay you in cash, but I begin to pay you less for every time that your service doesn’t provide a clear signal…oh wait…that’s every time, because I was misled into paying to pay without knowing that I had to. It was unclear that I had to do this because it was unmentioned. Deal? …Doesn’t matter! You can judge and tag on new fees, so I can judge and tag on new discounts! That’s fair…and your deodorant smells like a discount.”