Saturday, October 18, 2008

Gitty and Esther

“Mommy what does self-righjus mean?” 

Gitty took one last drag off her cigarette before stabbing it out in the styrofoam cup that held the sludge from Esther’s hot chocolate.  “It’s like your father, not letting us see each other more than twice a month, and not letting you live with me because I refuse to wear a wig and skirt, and keep Shabbes”, she wanted to say, but instead: “it’s self-righteous, and it means, you think your way is the only right way to do something.”

She watched as her daughter tried to select a color for Yogi’s picnic basket from the crayon fragments scattered around her on the floor, before settling on purple.  “So what do you think you’ll want for dinner mameleh?  I bet we can have pizza delivered to our room, you want pizza?”

As she passed the bay window on the way to the phone, she surreptitiously parted the vinyl curtains and scanned the motel's parking lot for the familiar white vans. 

While the two waited for their dinner to arrive, Gitty lit another cigarette, and studied the gas-station map,  while Esther continued to color Yogi.  

Thursday, October 16, 2008


“What the hell do I need with advice from a goddamned tea bag” I thought.  I got that fortune cookie on Tuesday night, and it says to me  “Good clothes open many doors. Go shopping.” I figured I needed some new interview clothes, so I did.  I bought a new tie, a new shirt to go with it, and just for the hell of it, a new suit so I could make the best impression.

Now, my rents due, and I’ve got three dollars and seventy eight cents in my bank account until next month, so I go to the bank to see if I can get an overdraft, and while the bank managers in the back office, I see there’s this bowl of candy on his desk for anyone to take from, so I take one, and I take the little red square Dove chocolate, even though it’s the last one, and there on the inside of the red foil wrapper, it says “Success comes to those who have no fear; simply leap and the net will appear”, so before the manager even comes back, I get up and leave.  Just like that.  I go next door with my last three bucks, and I buy a cup of tea, the evening paper, and a lotto ticket.  I open the tea bag, and there, printed on the back of the little tag, it says “Don’t believe everything you read”.  

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Each story begins with a choice, one made either by or for its main character. Consider Yaya. Yaya is a 40 something year old man who works in a garage; though he isn't supposed to accept tips personally, (there's a lucite communal tip box for the benefit of the entire staff,) from one customer to whom he's been exceptionally helpful, he accepts the neatly folded five that's pressed into his hand. Later that night, he'll use it to buy himself one extra drink, which will effectively keep him at the bar an extra 17 minutes; during that extra time, he will meet his next girlfriend, or get in a fight. On the other hand, he may use the extra cash in his pocket to buy himself two lotto tickets, a cup of coffee, and a bag of Doritos.

If he chooses to save the bill, and use it that night at the bar, and he meets his next girlfriend, perhaps she'll become his wife and give him two children, one of whom will attend Princeton one day and earn a doctorate in physics, specializing in magnetics, the other of whom will die of leukemia two days before her 11th birthday, or maybe the woman will give him herpes.

If he gets into a fight, maybe he will accidentally kill the man who started with him, or before the first punch, perhaps the two will reconcile and become fast friends, and discover they are from the same obscure part of Kenya.

Maybe one of the lotto tickets will win 2.00, or 34,000,000.00.

If it wins 2.00, maybe he will count himself lucky, bless God, and buy himself a muffin to eat later for desert, or maybe he will buy himself two scratch-offs, win nothing more, and curse himself for having wasted 2.00 when he could have had a muffin. Or maybe he will win a million dollars a year for life.

Maybe guilt, or honor will get the better of Yaya, and before moving onto his next customer, he'll quietly slip the bill into the lucite box himself.

Each story begins with a choice, and with each choice there are a million stories.