Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ten Thousand Sexts

It started very innocently. Jeanine was Mikes account rep. She was single and they would text back and forth about her dates.
The guy last night couldn't even get it up!
That is not my problem.
I'll bet!
Just like that the sexting began. Mike had four kids and a wife of fifteen years in the suburbs. Jeanine was ten years younger and lived in the city.
So you must have been pretty wild before?
I got laid a lot Mike sent back.
I can see that...are you well equipped?
A lot of woman say about you?
I love a good cock.  Size does matter.
The sexting exploded. Mikes phone buzzed constantly and they dared each other with each sext. Jenine sent a picture of herself on a topless beach.
Nice tits
I have a nicer ass.
And do you like it that way?
Mike tried to scrub his phone in case one of the kids or his wife picked it up. But there were so many and Jenine kept up the stream even at night. Mike went out to the garage to continue sexting. Jenine began sending nude shots.
You like?
You are hot...more?
Jenine sent pictures of herself getting off. Then she followed up with video porn clips. Mike sat in the living room in the middle of the night sexting. He sexted in the morning, on the train, in the bathroom. He took pictures of himself and sent them.
Ohhh. You are big. More?
When his wife found his phone in his jacket there were ten thousand sexts. The reason for the divorce in the legal documents was infidelity. Mike protested and said he had never sex with Jenine. His wife stared at him in the lawyers office.
 Really? Ten thousand sexts and you want me to believe you didn't have sex? Please!
After he told Jennine he was getting a divorce the sexting stopped. Not one sext. Mike sent a text asking if she would like to go to dinner. His phone buzzed.
Dating someone new!  LOL.

Rocket Man...funniest serious novel since Russo's Straight Man. Chicago Sun Times

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Online Dating

Claude sat in the Denny's booth and watched people walking in. He felt his heart. Love did this to you. Your heart. The sweaty palms. The funny fluttery feeling in your stomach. Yes. He was in love. He had been married twenty years and had forgotten what love was. Not the old obligatory love but the kind he felt when he was in high school. He found himself humming all the time now.
He looked up to a pimply girl with a nose stud and bright red hair. She was bigger than he was. Claude stared at her with the coffee steaming below.
I'm Julie...are you Claude?
His mouth opened.
She slid into he booth chomping gum and smirked.
Oh you mean because of my pictures. Yeah. I figured you wouldn't respond if I put my real picture on she said clasping Goth nails. But I'm still the same person Claude you have been talking to for the last year.
But... He felt a hollowness sin his soul. You never were that...person? names not Julie either. Its Heather. That was this Julie bitch who is stuck up twatty cheerleaders photo I lifted. Heather raised her eyebrows. But what the fuck. I'm the same little highschooler you've been lusting after with your horny bullshit.
Claude was sweating.
I'm sorry. But I...cant really do this. You were dishonest with me.
Heather frowned.
Oh fuckng come on!You re the one with the family meeting fifteen year old high school girls at Dennys. Whose being dishonest here, Claude.
He felt his heart beating against his chest. Sweat broke out all over his body.
I can't do this...I am sorry. I have to leave.
Heather flashed him. The phone flash stunned Claude and he saw nothing. Then she came around the booth and jammed herself next to him.
No you don't Claude she said putting her toungue against his ear.
What...what the hell are you doing!
She held the camera up. Flash .He was blinded again.
Claude stared at her as she went back to his side of the booth.
Heather took out her gum and tapped her camera.
Lets see...yeah...I think I'll share this to Facebook.
Claude felt himself burning up.
You cant do this--please don't!
Oh and guess who friended me yesterday. Your wife. I thought you might turn into a shithead when you saw me.
Claude felt the blood leave his face.
What do you want...I will do anything....
Heather sat back in the booth and stared at him.
You're an asshole. I really liked you Claude.
I'm sorry. I was just in shock. You are a very attractive young woman...I think we can continue with our relationship. I do...really.
Heather stared at him then slung her backpack up and stood up.
Fuck you Claude.
No...please sit down he pleaded, starting to cry. I'll lose my family!
Heather held up her phone with her finger on the send button.
Maybe next time you wont be such an asshole Claude.
Heather pressed her phone and left the Denny's. She lit a cigarette outside, slushing along in the snow. She shook her head.
Guys are such assholes.
Rocket Man...the American Dream upside down

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tammys Likes

Tammy loved Facebook. She loved posting pictures of her trips and getting likes.  She loved that people liked her photos. When they went to Switzerland she posted a hundred  pictures. She posted pictures of their trip to Hawaii. The likes were amazing. They went to the White House and she cropped a picture of the President so it seemed like she was standing next to him. A hundred people liked that photo.
I just cant believe you are with the President!
Tammy preened and then posted a photo of herself in her swimsuit.
You look so hot!
You look fabulous!
You are a babe!
The likes increased. Then she posted a picture of herself in a bikini from ten years before. The likes and comments poured in.
You are luscious!
How do you keep in shape!
You have the life!
Several men asked her to friend them. She did. Someone posted a link to American Idol and told her she should try out. During all of this she barely thought about her son. He had been having trouble at school. They fought quite a bit. She grounded him. She took away the keys to his car. He would bother her a lot when she was on Facebook. She often snapped at him.
Can you please please leave me alone, Toby! I am doing something important.
Sure mom he said glaring at her. Tammy didn't care. She was posting their pictures from Paris and she looked unbelievable in front of the Eiffel Tower. More likes. The next day she got a text.
She opened her page and saw a picture of herself naked. Just out of the shower. Under it was a caption.
The comments poured in.
What a whale!
What a pig!
Man I wouldn't wish that on any man!
Creature from the deep!
Tammy's  likes hit an all time high.
Rocket Man...the Catcher in the Rye for the Great Recession Generation


Monday, February 25, 2013


Hey that really you?
Hello Nathan.
Wow. Imagine finding you on Facebook after all these years! LOL
Yes. It is amazing.
You look great Jennifer! It's like you haven't changed at all since college.
Well thank you.
I mean I know you are married and I see you have kids!
Oh yes...three.
Wow! Yeah. I'm no longer married...still looking for the right one. LOL.
I imagine that is hard.
Not too bad. I'm glad you friended me...I was  just remembering  all those great times we had!
College was really fun.
Hard to believe really. I mean here you are with kids and a husband and me with no one but I mean we dated...what three years?
I think so.
Right. Ha. I was just thinking about that bar we used to go too...Billy Goats...remember?
LOL. I mean we had some great times.
We  certainly did.
And like remember that  one night. I think we had a few and we ended up walking all the way back to the fraternity.LOL
I think so...
LOL. We never made it. Remember? We ended up in those peoples yard?
I'm not sure I remember this...
Sure. We ended up you know in their front yard...and we...well you know...we had a few. LOL
I really don't remember this Nathan.
 Don't you remember?  I just remember how AWESOME it was...LOL....I mean it was pretty cold out and I remember how cold the grass was and we could see the people in the window! know what I'm talking about...right there in their yard! LOL

Rocket Man...the Catcher in the Rye for the Great Recession Generation


Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Old Painter

John had been waiting to see the old painter. He lived in the far Western burbs and needed an infusion of culture. A shot of real life from his normal nine to five. When his friend Paul invited him to go drinking with the old painter in a dive bar on the edge of Chicago he jumped. The house was in a run down neighborhood. John drank in the street people and the feeling of impending crime.  The old painter showed him various things he was working on.
This is a lady you can pull around he said pulling on a shopping cart with a metal boob.
John stared at the painting.
That's something.
Oh yeah I just make whatever the old painter said hitting him with bad breath.
They went into the basement where an easel and paints were set up.
This is where I paint.
John breathed in gas. A furnace leak he thought. Sulfur. Maybe a bad sewer. The darkness of the basement was depressing. The old painter looked at him. How about a Scotch?
They left for the bar and the old sculptor was hungry.
I want a pizza. he proclaimed staring at a menu.
Can you order me a pizza he asked the young androgeny.
Well you can call the place yourself.
No. I want you to order it for me.
The young androgeny shrugged and took their drink orders and left.
This is a young crowd the old painter said.
John looked around. He didn't think it was so young.
Its good to see a little bit of light when you are in twilight, huh guys?
 John smiled. They talked about the Civil War. The old painter pelted him with halitosis and talked about Grants philosophy. The pizza came and the old painter ate almost all of it. He became boozy.
We are old men. he said to no one.
Someone said to me your lucky you're an artist he shouted above the music.  It's a Goddamn burden the old painter said shaking his fist at the heavens. But what can you do? You suddenly are just old and that's it.
 They drank and then went home and John drove  back to the suburbs with Paul.
What's his wife like?
Paul squinted.
She's quiet and demure. Not at all like him.
 John went into his home and climbed into the bed next to his wife and their daughter. He stared at the ceiling and listened to their breathing. He was very glad he wasn't an artist.
Rocket Man...the American Dream Upside Down

Friday, February 22, 2013

Starbucks Mom

Hey Ms. G Is that you?
Wendy had on the headset and felt her face warm
Yo. Ms G. I thought that was you...hey dude your mom is working at the Starbucks!
Wendy felt herself freeze up but she had to bang out a latte, a mocha, and two fraps.
Alright boys. Pull up to window 2 she said in the microphone, lining up the cups and hitting the steam. She dropped a cup and pulled up another one. She hadn't told Jerry about working at Starbucks. It was a just a job and since Guy lost his sales job and was now working at Best Buy it was just the way it was. She heard the sound of music in the open drive window.
Hey Ms. G...Yo Ms. G! Is that really you?
She went to the window. Ryan driving his Range Rover who lived in the largest home in Brooklane. And she just smiled. Just smiled. They weren't worried about losing their home. They were not on food stamps or Medicaid. His mother was not working at Starbucks for health insurance and groceries.
Hello Ryan. That will be thirteen seventy five she said taking the money.
Yo Ms. G...Jerry is in the back. Hey Jerry man it's your mom dude. She's working at Starbucks!
She squinted into the leather recesses.
Hi mom her son  muttered looking down.
Hi sweetie.
She handed Ryan the change and then his tray of drinks.
Yo...thanks Ms. would have thought I'd see Jerry's mom working at like Starbucks he said smiling toothily.
Wendy smiled quickly and then the Range Rover left the window. She turned to the steam machine and was thankful for the heat. The steam wouldn't look like tears then.

Rocket Man....funniest novel since Richard Russos Straight Man...Chicago Sun Times

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Performance Improvement Plan

The PIP was on his desk when he came in. George grabbed it up and went into Henry's open office.
What the hell is this?
Henry looked up behind his large desk.
What, George?
This! This fucking PIP!
Henry sat back. He looked great for the morning. Shiny shined. Teeth cleaned. Hair watered.
You mean the performance improvement plan he asked calmly.
Yeah. I come in and find this...this...thing on my desk. I got kids and a mortgage,  Henry. I don't need this extra stress.
Henry clasped his hands and smiled gently.
I have kids and a mortgage too, George.
Oh please. You live in a mansion and your kids all go to private schools. It's not the same
Henry laughed lightly.
Its not a mansion. Look, we had a good meeting yesterday George and so I just put it in writing.
Henry held the PIP up and read.
And if these conditions are not met then termination is an option. He looked up. That's putting it in writing?
This is not a witch hunt George. I want you to succeed more than anyone else.
I do. And so does Diane.
She hates me George muttered.
She is your processor. She doesn't hate you George.
Yes she does. She hates my accent. My files. What I eat. She hates me.
Henry clasped his hands like a counselor.
Look. Lets implement the plan we talked about and then the PIP will go away.
The only reason to have a PIP is so I won't sue you when you fire me he said dully.
Henry laughed again.
George. George. That's just not true.
Yeah it is.
Its for your improvement George. Not your termination.
Uh huh.
George left Henry's office and sat at his desk. He stared at the PIP. He signed it and left it on his desk. One week later Henry canned him.
Rocket Man..the novel of fathers and sons

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Short Cop Story

So I was sitting there in my apartment of the Thai food place with the window open and I hear clank clank clank on the fire escape. Two cops walk right by me and continue going up the fire escape toward the roof. I stick my head out the window.
What's going on?
Ah...missing person. Gotta see if we can see the guy through his window this really fat cop says.
So I swing out on the fire escape because I have nothing going on the story front and its a  hot night and I'll do just about anything but face that blank screen.
You see anything the skinny cop calls up to the fat cop.
Nah...I think I got to go up to the roof.
I climb up the fire escape to the next landing and the skinny cop looks at me with this bored expression. The fat cop is already on his way up to the roof. My building is like five feet away from another building. Chicago is all jammed up like that. So the fat cop reaches the roof top and stares across.
Can you see anything the cop yells up.
No. But I think if I lean over I can see into the window the fat cops yells down.
So while the skinny cop and I are watching the fat cop leans between the two buildings like a bridge. He blocks the sky and we are looking up at his big belly.
How about now?
Yeah. I can see into the apartment. There's nobody there.
The cop next to me shrugs.
Then lets go.
The fat cop doesn't move.
Hey. I cant get back! You gotta come up here and pull me back!
The skinny cop shakes his head.
No way. I'm afraid of heights.
I'm stuck the fat cop says.
I'll go up and pull him back I say.
The skinny cop shrugs.
Suit yourself.
So I monkey up the stairs and reach the roof. The fat cop has his hands on the other ledge and is trying to look over his shoulder.
I got you I say grabbing his gun belt.
Don't let go he says.
I wont.
I hold onto his gun belt with both hands  and plant my feet., two, three!
I jerk back and the fat cop comes back with me and staggers a few feet. He turns and shakes his head.
I'm getting too old for this shit.
And then he clanks back down the fire escape with the other cop. I go down and swing into my apartment and sit down at the glowing screen. I busted out my story in a half hour.
Rocket Man...suburban life gone bad.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I can't write. Straight up. Like I got Ds in English all the way though highschool and I didn't even think I was going to college until they said I could play football. So I figured you know if they were going to pay for it and all and the first class I have to take is Comp 105. And I got this dude with glasses and frizzy hair and he's like got all this grammar and shit all over the board and so I figure I tell him right off.

 Listen man I say by his desk whiles he's tapping away on his laptop. I can't motherfuckin write.
He looks at me man like I just told him I was going to shoot him or something.
He says. Of course you can. Now take your seat.
This dude and I are not going to get along. I can see this right away and sure enough he gives us the first assignment and  its what did we do over summer vacation.. Like I thought this was college and they giving me the same shit as high school. But I write it up anyway.

And back comes an F. I go up and talk to him and say I told you I cant write.
He looks at me and adjusts his glasses.
You can write. You just didn't follow the rubric. I don't know what the fuck he is talking about except he gives me this sheet with all this diagramming and shit about how to write an essay. Same as the board man. He talking about all this grammar and shit that I didn't get in high school and I don't get it now. And so he just keeps giving me assignments and I keep getting Fs. He writes across the top of my paper. DID NOT FOLLOW ASSIGNMENT DID NOT FOLLOW RUBRIC.

So I flunk. And that means I got to go to summer school. So I'm thinking now  me and this college aint going to be long for each other you know. But I go down to the English building and wait in this classroom and this dude appears. He's got long hair and wears cowboy boots and he sits down and throws his boots up on the desk.
Write me something he says.
Ah Mr.C. I cant use his real name. I say, listen Mr. C aint no way I can write. You just going to give me an F like everybody else.
He stares at me.
Write anything you want but write  the way you talk. Your own voice.
Straight up?
And then he leaves.

And so I write about my dad and how he always a bad ass and busting me for shit but how he real happy when I go to college. Mr. C comes back in and reads it then looks up at me,
What are you here for?
Yo Mr.C. I got an F in comp 105.
He stares at the paper.
You have your own voice. You know how to tell a story and your funny.
He looks up.
I'm passing you. Get out of here and go enjoy the summer
So I get up to leave you know and right at the door I turn.
Yo Mr.C. I's got to ask you something. You a teacher?
I had to ask him you know because he didn't seem like no teacher I ever had.
He looks at me and says.
No...I'm a writer.
I stare at him.
Yeah I say. Straight up?
Straight up he says.
So I leave you know. But that Mr. C...he the best motherfuckin teacher I ever had.
Rocket dont have to conform to find your way out



Jack felt under his arm. The lump was the size of a golf ball.
What? His wife asked coming into the bathroom.
I've got a lump in my armpit!
Beth stared at his armpit. Sure enough there was a small egg pushing out.
Jack felt his face burn. This was it! Cancer had killed his mother and now it was coming for him.
This is not good...not good he muttered.
He had recently passed the halfway mark and was now forty six. Forty six!
Just go to the doctor. I'm sure it's nothing Beth said but her eyes were dark.
Bullshit! This is not nothng. You don't just get a fucking golf ball under your arm and its nothing.
I'll make you an appointment.

Jack rode the bus down to the doctors office. Pink ribbons adorned cars for breast cancer. Men wore pink ribbons on their lapel. Billboards blared the best programs for cancer. Headlines screamed that bottled water gave you cancer. Cancer survivors testified on the radio. His phone brought up National Prostate Cancer Awareness weak. He slumped down against the side of the bus, feeling his lump under his coat. He was doomed. He was fucked. He should have never smoked cigars. He ate too much meat. Too many burgers. He drank beer. This was it.

He waited in the small white room in the paper gown. The door opened
Mr. Hemmings. My name is Dr. Assiz.
Hello doctor he said feeling his heart jump
What seems to be the problem?
 Jack lifted his arm.
I have a lump under my armpit.
The Indian doctor frowned and began feeling his armpit. Jack broke out in a sweat. Dr. Assiz frowned again and shook his head. Jack knew that look. The doctor had the same look when he told his mother there was nothing they could do anymore. His heart was racing and he felt like he might pass out.

Itt's cancer isnt it?'
Dr. Assiz looked up.
Jack started to cry.
Cancer! Just tell me doctor...TELL ME!
Dr Assiz raised his eyebrows.
Well, what you have is an infection of the sweat glands, Mr. Hemmings.Did you change your deodorant lately?
Jack stared at the doctor, his heart pounding.
My deodorant?
Yes. This is usually brought on by too much deodorant. The glands get clogged and causes this swelling.
Then it's not...cancer?
No. Not the cancer, Mr. Hemmings. Just don't use deodorant for a few days and you will be fine.

Jack walked out of the doctors office and rewarded himself with a burger for lunch. Later that night he drank a beer and smoked a cigar on the balcony of his condo. He knew he would never get cancer.
Rocket Man...the Catcher in the Rye for the Great Recession

Monday, February 18, 2013

Early Success

If these two books fail then you will be done.
Henry looked at Hollins. His new agent. The old Jack London / F. Scott agent who still had a bit of Max Perkins clinging to his tweed. Even though he wore an open collar and some Armani rip off sport coat. 
But for now you are on top.
And he was. Henry looked at Conan O'Brien one table over at the open air French restaurant. The beautiful woman in the Hepburn dress and pearls was his publisher. Unbelievable. All those rejection letters had really led to something. A People magazine spread. An auction. A two book deal with enough of an advance to plunk down cash on a new jeep with plenty left over. Early success had brought him into his thirties.
They ate and talked about his books and the future.
You are with the biggest publisher in the world. Your life will change Sylvia  said.
 Drunk. Flying high. The warm air of New York flowing over him. The food. Conan. Yes this was some sort of brilliant early success. They toasted.

And then Henry walked with his publisher through the East side.
Your next advance will be larger.
Provided you sell his agent said.
Henry felt Hollins was putting a damper on the evening. He was so dry.  So Manhattan. So Princeton.
I'll sell believe me he hawked.
Of course you will Sylvia said.
If you don't you will be done
Hollins you are kind of a downer dude.
Just saying.
And then Hollins caught a cab and he and Sylvia walked the night away. He put her in a cab,
You are so talented she said disappearing into the New York night.
Then Henry walked back to his hotel room.

The next day he bought a rare first edition of Fitzgerald. Nursed a hangover. Jogged down Park Avenue. Walked in Central Park. Met Hollins again for drinks. At the end they parted with a hug.
The books have to sell Henry.
They will.
The remaindered copies came two years later. Hollins quit returning his calls before that. Sylvia left publishing and Henry got his real estate license. He never spoke about  his early success with the other realtors.
Rocket Man....the Catcher in the Rye of the Great Recession


Watching the son

I used to watch my son on Thursdays. The nanny had him the first three days and then my wife picked up on Friday. But Thursdays were mine and we would go for walks or go up to the old school yard and throw dirt clods at each other. Sometimes we would sit in his spaceship bed that was like a small Star Wars tent. Sometimes we just went downtown and got a soda and some chips at the hardware store and sat outside on the bench. This was usually in the spring when it was getting nice out.

And one day this old guy walks by and grins at us. Then he looks at me.
You want to enjoy this he says gesturing to my son. It goes by quick.
And I smiled back thinking yeah whatever. I mean my son was like five or six and you always think it will last forever. And then all of a sudden it doesn't. My son would always ask where the sun went for the night and I would say it went to the other side of the world.
Then it comes back he said chomping on some chips.
Yeah then it comes back.

And then he was eleven years older. Bam. Just like that. And I'm busy all the time and I have two daughters who suck up a lot of time. And he's always hanging with his friends and coming in late and we see each other in passing. And next  year he is a senior and that's it. Off to college. And sometimes, on Thursdays, I think about those days where I watched my son. And the old guy who said it goes by fast. And you know what? He was right. Because eventually...the son doesn't come back.

Rocket Man...the American Dream upside down

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Double Duty

Craig's wife never lost the weight from their second child and they quit having sex. Craig worked out every day and felt Susanne had violated her part of the bargain. Jackie worked for Craig and was very young and pretty. She often stayed late and helped Craig with the tough accounts at the Fastner plant. Craig was the regional and had hoped to move but the Great Recession had froze him in place. He was almost fifty.

One night Jackie stayed late and they ended up on Craig's desk. It was amazing to see this blond woman with her heels up toward the fluorescent light. They had been working on a tough account and Jackie had started massaging his neck and just like that they were on the desk. The sex was amazing. Something from college. They lay on the floor under the desk staring at the wires from the computer and the printer going up through the holes in the desk top. The third time it happened Craig told Jackie he loved her.

But you have a family she reminded him.
It doesn t matter. We haven't had sex for over a year.
Doesn't she care about sex anymore.
Guess not. Anyway. He said turning over. I want you now.

This went on for a months and then a strange thing happened. Suzanne rolled over to his side of the bed and reached for Craig. He was tired out from being with Jackie but he performed. While he was on top the thought came to him. Double Duty.I am doing double duty. Suzanne came alive every night and Craig got tired. He had sex with Jackie and then Suzanne His performance became lackluster with Jackie. Sometimes he couldn't perform at all and she was strangely silent in the office. Suzanne kept him up late and demanded they go multiple times. Craig felt guilty and always obliged.

One day Jackie didn't come into the office. Craig got word from HR she had quit. He tried to contact her but her phone had been disconnected. HR said she had another job and that she was getting married. Craig was shocked. He had been pulling double duty for two months and was always exhausted. Then Suzanne  suddenly went back to her side of the bed. Six months went by. Craig went back to just working and finally asked his wife one night why they never had sex anymore.

Suzanne had a funny smile on her face and raised her eyebrows.
I was worried about you having a heart attack.
Why's that?
She turned away from him, her voice murmuring.
You are almost fifty.
Craig stared at the ceiling. It was almost like she knew.

Rocket Man...the Catcher in the Rye for the Great Recession

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Big Ten

Yeah I was just like you. Figured go to a Big Ten school and come out and get the great job, blah blah blah. You know the whole Koolaid thing you started right before the ACTs and all those practice exams. Anyway I did it. Big Ten all the way baby. Did the Sorority thing. That kind of sucked and came out expecting the great job and the big life in the city and all that. Yeah I got a job at a brokerage house and I lived the life in Chicago for a while. You know did the Lincoln Park thing and partied and wore cool clothes and then boom comes this crash.

Great Recession. And I get laid off and like I'm thinking this is no big deal. But every day my roommate Brittany goes off to work and I sit in this apartment all day and send out resumes and like for the first time things don't come easy to me. I mean like I always have had lots of guys and high school was a snap and college was a blast and now I'm sitting in this apartment for like two years! So I go through the whole depression thing because there are no jobs and Brittany gets engaged and I don't have any money to even go out and I cant handle the rent on my own so I go back home.

My mom. Yeah I'm living with her way out in the burbs and it really blows. And I still dont have a job and so like this goes on for another year and I go to shrinks to find out whats wrong with me and like now I'm getting closer and closer to thirty. No job. No guys. 120 K in debt for the Big Ten School. Whooh. Lotta good that did me. So like I don't even go outside. Major depression dude. All I want to do is eat and like I'm getting really really fat. And people are looking at me funny because its been like four years since I worked.

So finally my uncle gets me a job at  like some Shipping Company at minimum wage. And I go there and everyone is staring at me because its like the Bowling League kind of people. Everybody smokes and like talks all South side and they all think I'm a bitch and stuck up and I have to talk down because they didn't go to a Big Ten college. They didn't to to college at all. And so like its now been three years and I live in this crummy apartment down the street from my mom because I don't make enough to go back to the city and have a life.

And I did turn thirty. And I dated this moron who never went to college and that didn't work out. The guy hasn't had a job for like ever and lives with his mom. And that's pretty much my life. They say the online college is coming and all. That's what I would do if I did it over. Because like that whole Big Ten World is like gone. Except for the debt.
Rocket Man...the story of the upside down Generation
The View From Hemingways Attic

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mandatory Meeting

It was a Mandatory Meeting. Everyone  came in and sat in the conference room waiting for lunch. Lou always promised lunch at the end of the mandatory meetings. There were the usual threats. People were being sloppy. People were costing the company money. We all just sat there and read our phones and Kindle Fires. You could look pretty business like reading your phone or Kindle because it looked like you might be handling an important email or even taking notes if you had one of those leather kindle covers.

Me. I just read my Kindle on my knee. Usually the New York Times or sometimes I just surfed around and listened to Lou's voice drone on. And nothing happened normally. The normal twenty first century threats of termination. The normal American kick the dog mentality of management. We had all heard it a million times but David was new and he hadn't  heard it before. Maybe that's why he spoke up.

I don't think it's right to threaten people with termination he said.
We all looked up from our phones and Kindles and IPads and Iphones. Somebody had violated the rule. Thou shall not prolong the meeting. You don't say anything so the meeting can go as fast as possible. Talking brought on discussion. Questions brought on discussing. Discussion prolonged the meeting and that gave Lou a reason to talk even longer. It prolonged the waiting for the crappy pizza they ordered but was free. But here was David throwing down the gauntlet.

What do you mean? Lou asked.
David was from Argentina and spoke Spanish and could pull in a lot of Mexicans. He faced Lou who looked tired and rumor was he was a heart attack waiting to happen. He still believed in the Super Life. None of us believed in the Super Life after the crash.
I mean David continued. It is not right for you to threaten people with losing their jobs. In fact I think it is barbaric and that is what is wrong with this country. Management still thinks that firing people is the way to profits and productivity. This management style has been shown not to work and one of the reasons we are in our current recession, Lou.

We all stared at David in wonder. Everyone in the room had been dreaming about saying that for years. We had fantasies of telling Lou off but we wanted the check and never did. And here was David who had just started two weeks ago saying exactly that. Lou's face had turned to a deep purplish red. He looked like a hot pepper about to pop.
And what would you do David?
Well he said crossing his legs. I would point out areas people can improve and motivate them by positive reinforcement.
Lou stared at him then nodded very slowly.
Thank you David. I will take that under consideration.

And the meeting ended and we were all amazed. David had not been zapped or shot by Lou. He had not been fired. After the meeting in the pizza room we all told David we agreed with him. He ate a lot of  pizza and said there was no reason to treat people like that. Larry stuck his head in the pizza room.
David. Could I have a word with you?
Sure Lou he said winking at us.
We all exchanged glances. The same way we did when David came out  and picked up a box out of the stockroom and loaded up his desk and walked out the door. The next mandatory meeting was like all the rest. Nobody said shit


Mary quit her job in Manhattan after her second child. She always told herself she would go back once her kids got older. Her husband made good money then. They sold their small house and moved far out to a large house close to the country. This was during the boom when everyone thought things would always get better. They had another baby and forgot all about Mary going back to work. Then the crash came and her husband lost his job.

Mary tried to get freelance work from her old boss but there was none. They hunkered down and went through their savings and the college funds and then they went on Medicaid and food stamps. Tom got a job at Home Depot and made minimum wage. The Great Recession went on and on and her kids got older. She turned fifty and started worrying about retirement. She had to go back to work.

Mary sent out hundreds and  hundreds of resumes. No one responded. No one. She sat in the big house close to the country and stared out at the vacant fields. Her husband worked a lot of overtime at Home Depot even though he had two degrees. A lot of people at Home Depot were highly educated. Some had Phds. In the new economy education didn't seem to matter. Mary met her old college roommate who was a teacher to see if she could substitute. They connected on Facebook.

They met in Starbucks. Diane looked great and didn't have the circles under her eyes.
Its so good to see you Mary.
You too.
So... Diane said tipping her glasses down. You want to substitute.
Mary smiled.
I'll do anything.
Diane settled back and stared at her.
Well too bad you cant take my job.
Mary frowned.
What do you mean? Are you getting laid off?
I'm retiring next year.
Mary stared at her. Stunned.
But you are only fifty two!
Diane shrugged.
I put in my thirty years and I want to take my pension while at my salary high.
Mary couldn't believe it. She had just turned fifty two.
I'll never retire she said wondrously.
Diane smiled again. She had never married and didn't have children. She had put in her time and felt slightly annoyed with people who never thought about retirement. People who thought teachers had it made She had lately become sharp with the children.
When was the last time you worked, Mary?
Twelve years ago. She paused. I think that's why nobody responds to my resumes.
Diane tipped up her glasses and smiled at Mary like a student.
Well she said briskly to her old college roommate. 
In a way, Mary. You are retired.
Rocket Man....the American Dream Upside down


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Team Player

Everyone knew Matthew was going to get canned but Matthew. And since I was Matthew's partner I had to go with him to Tony's office. Matthew had pissed off all the processors and nobody wanted to work with him anymore. I knew this from our last job. It happened. Matthew farted a lot and sometimes left the door open when he defecated. People couldn't believe it but in Germany it was considered very normal.

So in Tony's office I sat next to Matthew and Jim sat to the right and Tony across from us. I tried to read from Tony's eyes if he was going to fire Matthew. People have a look when they are going to terminate someone. Sort of a firing squad look. Jim really really hated Matthew and he really wanted him terminated. Right there. Right now. It was because Jim was always telling Matthew not to leave his Subway wrappers on the floor inside his cube. Matthew just stared at him
Vy. It doesn't hurt anybody.
Its not professional Jim reminded him.
Its my cube. I can leave garbage on the floor.
Jim said Matthew was not a team player. He wasn't coachable. He said you are either coachable or a team player. If you were neither of these things then a change had to be made. Corporate speak for terminate. Jim managed the branch and Tony managed everything else.
Matthew. Your files are terrible. None of the processors want to work with you Tony began
Vy. My files are no worse than anybody else Matthew pointed out.
Tony was big and stressed. Dark circles grew under Tony's eyes every day. He had five kids and a really big house. Like Warren Buffet big and everyone said the house had to be killing him. He loved to talk about terminating people when he got stressed.
Matthew. You have been warned repeatedly and yet you haven't changed. I don't think you are a team player.
I am a team player. I have changed Matthew said picking his large German beard.
No. You haven't. I don't think you care. Again, you are either coachable or a team player. I  don't think you are either. I don't think you care.
I care Matthew said.
I could tell Tony was sharpening the axe. I mean I didn't really care in a way. We were brokers and could just start somewhere else but the whole getting settled into new cubes was kind of a drag. Also they kept your money a lot of times when you leave. So I intervened.
Tony. I will make sure Matthew puts in good files from now on.
I don't think he will do it Jim said.
Jim really really hated Matthew. He was super anal and Matthew was a slob and emitted gas and ate garlic and really stunk. Jim hated people like that.
I'm on it. I'll make sure he changes I persisted.
Jim and Tony stared at me and I put on my best sincere face. We had been down this road before. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.
Tony stood up.
I'm really stressed and I don't need this shit.
I understand.
Matthew grunted.
The meeting ended.

We went to get a cup of coffee at McDonalds.
They are assholes Matthew said in German.
Ya. I said. But they want to fire you.
So. We can get another job.
You have to do better with the files.
The processors hate me it doesn't matter.
That's true. But we have to try.
Matthew shrugged. He was very German. I thought maybe we might stay a little longer after Tony had a heart attack and died, but they made Jim the regional manager. He said Matthew wasn't a team player and fired him. I went the next day.
Matthew and I are team players.
Rocket Man...the upside down American dream


Commuter Love

You really need a heavier coat.
The shivering woman with the Iphone smiled.
I know. I just didn't think it would be this cold.
Dave shrugged.
Chicago winter he said.
He watched her. She had on a stocking cap with long trellising blond hair. She was cute. She was probably twenty years younger. Everyone stood in the frozen vestibule breathing smoke with the tiny bees humming out of ear plugs. What the hell.
Here take my coat.
She smiled, shivering even more.
I couldn't--
Take it. Go on he said draping his trench coat around her shoulders.
Thank you.
The train roared up and shook the ground. He followed her through the snow into the warm dimly lit car. She slipped off his coat and handed it to Dave.
Thank you...I have a two beers in my back pack.
Dave sat down next to her as the train lurched into the winter darkness. She handed him a beer.
Megan she said offering her hand.
They toasted and drank. She was very pretty. He could tell that now with her hat off. Stunning blue eyes.
I ride this train every day. You would think I'd learn.
Dave nodded and said something about how he under dresses all the time. She was a teacher. She was single living alone in Bartlett. Dave already saw the affair. The older man who befriends the young teacher. Of course their torrent love affair would have consequences. He had two kids. A wife. A dog. These things would have to be worked out. Right now they were in their cozy space, barreling through the frozen Illinois countryside.
So are you married?
No. No.
Megan looked at him.
You're not?
No...never felt the urge. I'm not the marrying least until I find the right person.
Dave felt the beer warm his insides. It was Friday. Maybe he would get off at her stop. His new life would begin right now. A young life. Very young. This was the break in the long winter of middle age. A starting over in this crappy recession. He was buzzing now. It was like they were on a date in this car of used up people going through their commute. Megan stood up.
Well...this is my stop. Thank you for letting me use your coat.
Dave stared at her.
Oh...but this isn't Bartlett.
Megan smiled.
I know. This is where my fiance lives. We're getting married next month in Jamaica. Well thanks again.
Dave watched her go out of the car and sat with his empty beer can. Love sick. The train lurched on with the tired people. He watched the frozen farms go by the window. By the time he reached home Dave had almost forgotten her.

Rocket Man..the Catcher in the Rye for the Great Recession

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dumb Dog

Oh he must see a deer.
Their hundred pound Labrador barked at the window with the moon light sheening on his fur.
Dumb dog Cliff muttered getting up and letting Scooter out the back door.
The dog bolted into the night and disappeared. Cliff waited for the dog to come back.
Scooter! Scooter!
A neighbors life flicked on. He was waking up everyone in the neighborhood between his shouting and Scooters barking. Fuck it. The dog could just sleep outside. He hated the dog. He hated him! He took off his slipper and threw it into the night.
Dumb dog! He shouted.
Did you get him his wife asked as he came back in with one slipper.
No! He said punching his pillow. He can stay out all night for all I care.
I hope nothing happens to Scooter.
Dumb dog.
The next morning he was running late and stepped in a pile of Scooters latest offering.
Cliff tried to wipe his shoe off but the smell was overpowering in his car.
At the cape there was an urgent call in the command center.
What's up George?
We have a situation on the Shuttle.
Cliff felt his breakfast go cold in his stomach.
It seems a dog stowed away in the cargo bay.
What! one knows how he got on board last night but somehow he did.
It gets worse. The dog defecated  in cargo bay.
Cliff rubbed his forehead. He didn't need this shit right now. Think. Think.
Alright. Lets use the jettison capsule. Tell the astronauts to put the dog and his shit in the capsule and blast them into space.
George frowned.
Isn't that a little cruel?
No! And George don't aim him toward earth.
Where should I have them point him?
I don't care...Mars!
George left the command center and Cliff stood at the large mission control screen.
Dumb dog he muttered.
A few days later Cliff was called to the Cape in the middle of the night. He had been enjoying full restful nights since Scooter vanished. Good riddance he said more than once.
Yeah. What's up George?
Well...we have something strange with the Rover on Mars...ah...check this out.
Cliff stared at the screen. Something fuzzy was moving.
It's a life form!
Yes. And it is coming closer.
They watched the fuzzy image come closer. Cliff felt his heart. They were on the verge of discovering other life in the universe. He frowned. It looked
It's Scooter! He gasped.
George and Cliff stared at each other as Scooters large brown nose came up to the Rover.
How could it breathe?
How do dogs eat cat shit?
What's it doing...I think its about too...too....
They watched as Scooter lifted his leg on the Rover. Yellow urine rained down, then the screen went black .
He pissed on the Rover and shorted it out George said wondrously.
Billions of dollars in R and D vanished. Cliff shook his head, feeling like he was about to explode. He took off his  shoe that still stunk and threw it at the Mission Control screen. He screamed out in agony.
Rocket Man...funniest novel since Straight Man...Chicago Sun Times

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Diamond in the Rough

I would like to discuss your paper. I think what we have here is a diamond in the rough.
Dennis felt his heart increase.
Yes. Could you come over say this evening and we can discuss your paper?
 Randy hung up the phone and felt a flush of warmth. Dr. Silvers wanted to discuss his paper. His writing. He really felt like he might have broken through to something other than just being another graduate student in the MFA program. He drove over to the Dr. Silvers home on the north side of campus and ran into his wife leaving.
I'm Dr. Silvers home?
The mousy looking woman with coke bottle glasses stared at him. She seemed to pause then breathed out tiredly.
In the basement she said walking quickly down the walk.
Dr.Silvers came to the door then.
Oh hello you found the place.
Yes Dr. Silvers. No problem.
Well he said stroking  his reddish beard. Why don't we go down to my office in the basement.
Randy followed Dr. Silvers down the stairs to a leather paneled room.
Uh sure....why not.
Dr. Silvers handed him a goblet and sat down on the couch next to Randy. The brandy was a strong eye watering bracer.
I wanted to discuss your paper, but I think you should know that my wife is going to be gone for a while. Randy smiled.
Oh yes.
I mean. The door is unlocked upstairs....should I lock it?
Randy shrugged.
You probably should.
Dr. Silvers stood up and squeezed his crotch, then went up the stairs. Randy looked around at the large desk and the black walls and shag carpeting. He drank some more brandy. He was doing it. He was in a professors home to discuss his paper. He was moving out of the realm of writer in training. He had real talent. Dr. Silvers returned in his stocking feet and sat down next to him. He was a small man with bony knees. He smiled through his peppered goatee.
So. I think what we have with your paper is a diamond in the rough.
Thank you.
Dr.Silvers moved closer.
I think you have real talent.
Randy drank some more.
Is that your natural hair or is that a perm?
Randy touched his hair.
It's mine.
I thought about doing that to mine Dr. Silvers said, sparkles of brandy in his mustache.
Randy smiled.
So...I locked the door and my wife wont be back for several hours.
You wanted me to lock the door, right?
Randy shrugged. Sure.
I mean...Dr. Silvers put his hand on his knee. If you are sure.
 Randy felt the hand as something heavy. Something heavy old and damp. Dr. Silvers was sweating micro beads. Small stars on his forehead. Randy turned to him, feeling his heart like a wet old drum.
Maybe you should unlock the door for your wife.
Dr.Silvers eyebrows went up.
You think I should?
Dr. Silvers stood up and squeezed his crotch again. He left and unlocked the door. Randy went to a bar and got smashed that night. He only went to Dr. Silvers Advanced Fiction workshop twice after that. He got an A for the semester. His only one.

Rocket Man...the Catcher in the Rye of the Great Recession


Finding a couple was hard. The man was weird or the woman was flaky. They had given up on  new friends and just went back to see Cindy and Tom in their old neighborhood. There kids could play and they felt the old camaraderie that didn't exist in the land of McMansions. Cindy and Tom had not moved after 9/11. They stuck it out in Chicago and kept their small bungalow. But John and Mary had moved thirty miles west into sprawl.

 The night of book group John and and Tom watched the kids while the girls went down the street. They drank whiskey and played music and the kids fell asleep on the couch. By the time Cindy and Mary returned they were slightly drunk.
 Who wound you up?  Cindy demanded of her husband.
 Tom  shrugged. He was a slight man who took care of the  kids a lot.
 Just had a few he slurred.
 Cindy looked tired. She was a psychotherapist who had to have everything on schedule. They had married later and John often thought she could have easily ended up single. They all sat around the fire and the sleeping kids on the couch.
So when are we getting together next? John asked.
He wanted to make sure they saw each other again. Lately he had become desperate. He worked at home and they lived so far out he became starved for social interaction. In fact he had become a little weird, pestering old friends to get together who did not want too. 
I don't know  Cindy said.
Mary smiled. She didn't want to pressure Cindy.
I'm sure we can work that out later.
John shrugged but felt nervous.
How about next weekend?
I don't know Cindy replied.
Well get your calendar he suggested.
Cindy  looked at John. She had called him out last time when he fell asleep on their couch. You did that before she said as his eyes became heavy. She seemed annoyed. John didn't care much for Cindy but Tom was a good man.
 I don't want to be pressured, she said to him.
Hey its  no big deal he shrugged.
Mary stood up.
We better go.
John frowned.
Why...I'm sure they want to have another drink.
No. We don't.  I'm tired, Cindy said walking upstairs.

Later that night John stared at the ceiling.
Cindy was weird.
She doesn't like to be pressured, Mary murmured on her side of the bed.
I like getting together with Tom though. Maybe we can have them over  next weekend.
The next week John called and left messages. Then he emailed. He texted. He even called Tom at work. Nothing came back. They never saw Cindy and Tom again.
Rocket Man...the American Dream upside down

How old are you really?

How old are you really?
Old enough.
No really...I know you are closer to sixty than fifty.
Mike breathed heavily.
I'm fifty three.
Jim followed Mike into the living room.
I thought you were a lot older than that....I mean you look sixty.
Mike stared at Jim and thought he was kidding but he couldn't be sure. He in fact had always looked younger than his age. A lot younger. And Jim had started looking like an old man. His back was hunched and windburned cracks had appeared in his cheeks. More than all that he had begun to act old. Several times they had gone to Chicago and Jim had murmured, 'look at all these kids.'
 But they had come for Jim's fiftieth birthday and to support  Cindy who just had a double mastectomy.
So hows it been going?
 Jim' shrugged.
She's driving me crazy. I set up a room for her and everything and all she does is bitch.
Mike took the beer. He stared at the room Jim set up.  A lazy boy and a television mounted to the ceiling.
She wanted me to bring the TV down and I said no.
But how is Cindy...I mean, is she recovering?
Oh yeah...we are putting all that behind us.
 Mike was still smarting from the age comment. Lately he had begun to think about age. People getting cancer. People dying. And now he was fifty three. Jim turned from the ceiling mounted TV.
You sure you are only fifty three?
In the car Mike  listened to his wife talk about Cindy. Cindy was always neurotic. The rap was she drove Jim crazy with her Iphone texts. Jim was the beleaguered husband. Cindy was the nut. Mike listened and then they drove in silence
Jim said he thought I looked like I was sixty.
His wife looked at him.
That's ridiculous.
I think he's a real asshole.
Cindy didn't speak, then patted his arm.
 He's just old.
Rocket Man...the book of fathers and sons

Monday, February 11, 2013

Inappropriate Clothing

After Tammy separated from Ralph she started going out. She was blond and well endowed and had looked like a mom for the last twenty years. She wore skinny jeans and tight sweaters. The men at the bars stared at her and she was pretty with her hair done up and her lipstick and her smile. Also she laughed a lot. She had sex with a man in his truck on her second date after Ralph moved into the condo after he caught her sexting with a man on Facebook.
The STD she caught was really painful but she liked going out. She liked drinking in bars until they closed and having men leer at her. She liked kissing them in their cars and giving them head. But then she always felt bad when she had to drive her kids to school the next day. The house was a wreck and her son was failing everything. Her daughter was wearing inappropriate clothes.

You shouldn't wear something that revealing.
Why not?
Because it sends the wrong message.
Her daughter scowled but changed. Tammy went out that night and saw her daughters science teacher in the bar. He was married but he bought her drinks. And then they were in his car and Tammy found her shirt up again. She gave him her STD. That's what he told her later. Then she met a black man and had magnificent sex. Then a Mexican man. She had sex in a theatre and in the back of a really small Hyundai. She had to take a lot antibiotics.

She and Ralph got back together .She saw her daughters science teacher at Back To School Night. They talked and Tammy felt her face turning red.
Your daughter is wearing inappropriate clothes.
Tammy nodded.
I'll talk to her.
Do you want to go out to my car?
I'm back  with my husband she murmured.
He smiled.
Sure you are.
Rocket Man...Catcher in the Rye for The Great Recession Generation



Eric always shopped at night. And he always used the scanners. That way no one knew about the purple card. And sometimes he ran into someone anyway and had to wait until they left the store before he checked out. The scanners worked well. He could go to the far side away from the checkout people. That way no one knew he was on food stamps.

One night he met Christie from across the street in the cereal aisle. She was good looking and always seemed to have a Starbucks in her hand. Bracelets jingled when she drank.
You wouldn't believe some of the people who are on food stamps she crowed.
Eric was eyeing Captain Crunch.
You know the Dobbs...well I heard all their kids were on food stamps!
Christie shook her wedge cut and slugged her Starbucks.
I mean people you would never expect!
Eric felt his face warm. Did she know? Had she figured it out. They all lived in McMansions and news traveled.
Well...anyway... have a nice night.
 Eric waited until he saw her out in the parking lot. Then he scanned like a demon and left.

A week later he saw Christie's husband Bob in the same  cereal aisle. What were the odds? They made some small talk but Bob seemed like he wanted to get out of there too. So they went their separate ways. Eric wanted to get home so he took a risk and hit the scanner in the far corner. If he scanned fast he would beat it out of there before Bob checked out.
You always use these scanners?
Eric froze. He had his card in his hand. He turned slowly. Bob was on top of him.
Bob waited. his eyes going to his hand. They stood. Two middle class men in a grocery store.
You haven't checked out.
Eric turned feeling Bobs eyes all over him. He couldn't use his debit card. He couldn't walk. The scanner was waiting. He pulled up his hand and the purple card tumbled to the tiled floor. The purple sat there as a square of dissolution. Both men looked down at the square.
You dropped your card.
Eric stared at him, sweating.
I know.
Bob reached down and picked it up. His eyes were dull like a man who understands death.
It's amazing. You give a card and you get food.
He handed the card back to Eric
Don't tell, Christie. She doesn't even know I lost my job.
Rocket Man...the Catcher in the Rye for the Upside Down Generation


Adderall Boy

Yeah I am an Adderall boy. My grades really sucked and they gave it to me. The doctor asked me a bunch of questions and then boom, Adderall.  I think they figured a pill would keep me from flunking. Goodbye sleep. Goodbye food. Goodbye good times man. I wanted to jump out of the car and I stared thinking about grabbing the wheel from mom and driving us into an oncoming car. And so I started smoking pot.

I mean I could eat then and I didn't feel like I was going to jump out of my skin. And I could sleep. Do you know what it's like not to sleep for years? That's Adderall man. You don't sleep. You don't eat. You just get skinny and jumpy. So I smoked pot like every day. When I got up and when I went to sleep. And in between. Now I could sit in the back of the classroom and my leg wouldn't jump all the time.

But they busted me for getting high in the bathroom. I don't know how they knew but they scored a bud out of my backpack and boom, off to rehab. So then I'm in this dumpy place with all these Mexicans who are hardcore. They are doing heroin and dealing and I'm like the high school kid. But we played basketball by the dumpster and that was cool. They gave me some heroin. Only ten bucks a bag. And that shit is like wow.

You don't care about anything then. And so I dropped out of school, well they kind of kicked me out after they found the heroin. And now I'm like in some rehab  place where you live and have to have your pee tested three times a day. And they got like a school and everything, Oh, and my grades, they still suck.

Rocket Man...the Catcher in the Rye for the Great Recession Generation

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Upside Down

Erica and George lay in bed and stared at the snow outside their window. They had both fallen asleep during the movie but were wired from the coffee after the dinner.  George stared outside and felt the same tug.
We can't move he said to the ceiling
Of course we cant Erica murmured.
I know. But sometimes it really just hits me.
You just have to accept it.
I promised Joey.
He has to accept it.
But he hates it out here. I hate it out here.
Eric was quiet.
I can't do anything about that.
We could rent.
We can't rent.
Why not...I grew up in rented houses.
And your dad still has to work at eighty.
George turned, seeing his wife's eyes glimmering
We are renting now.
NO we are not.
We don't have any equity. We owe more than the house is worth.
That's not renting.
We will have nothing to show for it at the end
Eric moved and George felt his heart.
We can't rent she said dully.
 I think we should. At least give Joey a chance to start over.
A different school won't change things.
George sat up.
It might. Everyone could start over. We all could get a second chance.
Erich had her eyes closed, her lips murmuring.
We aren't going to rent.
George lay back down and  stared out the window at the snowy field of their Ex Urb. He wanted to go back to the city so bad it hurt. He saw a deer cross their yard. He heard his wife breathing heavy and looked at her. She began to snore. George turned back to the window.
The deer was gone.
Rocket Man...the American Dream Upside Down

Saturday, February 9, 2013


My brother could do anything he wanted. He was the artist in the family. Then he became the Professor. I became mainstream. When we got together at Berghoffs over Christmas we all laughed and drank beer. My dad still had to work because he told his bosses to fuck off all the time. He told his wives the same thing. He was seventy nine and still had to work. We were from the South and we all took pride in never taking anything off of anybody.
I tell you. You start to wonder if anybody cares about what you devoted your life too.
I looked at my dad and could feel it coming. He always did this.
Teddy is the only one who did anything with his life.
 I quit eating and waited.
I mean, here lies a glue salesman. That's what they'll say about me at the end.
I waited.
And here lies a man who sold real estate he said to me .
I waited.
And here is a man who devoted himself to making the world a better place by teaching young people.
I had it.
Dad. I've been a working writer for twenty years.
Oh I know son. I know. But its not what you are do now.
Dad you never recognized my writing.
Well we all have our hobbies son
I let it go.
I've been listening to this shit from you for fifty fucking years dad. Ted could do anything he fucking wanted and it was ok but if I did anything else you just didn't fucking see it. I'M A FUCKING WRITER DAD. A WRITER. DON'T YOU KNOW THAT BY NOW!
I had been yelling and everyone was staring. Dad and I didn't speak then for the rest of the meal. My brother didn't say anything. We all went our separate ways after that. On the train my dad called me and said he was sorry. He asked about my next book. I went home to my family and Ted went home to his third wife. After that he screwed a co-ed and lost his tenure. I went back to selling real estate.
Dad went back to his wife who had to support him with a retail job because he didn't have a pension.
Rocket Man...the upside down American Dream

Rate My Professor Dot Com

We all knew rate my was important to getting another gig adjuncting. I mean I was the new guy and I had five out of five in every area. I figured I was gold for another gig. But the lady who had the classroom before me was tanking. She had  like a one in every area and we always laughed at her blackboard. She left all her stuff about grammar and punctuation on there every day. I mean this was Comp 105. I was teaching students how to be writers.
I asked them every day. You want me to teach your this stuff? And they were like no we did that in high school. I was all about voice. Bringing out their voice because I had a couple novels out and I knew how to write. A lot of these English Professors had nothing published. Nada. And they were supposed to teach kids how to write. So I was feeling pretty good about getting another gig. I mean it was a small liberal arts college near Chicago and I think they liked having a novelist on the faculty.

So the last week before exams I see the teacher walking to class. She's kind of heavy and I think she just got married or something. But she looks like she's been crying.
What's wrong?
Oh nothing, she sniffs. Have you ever heard of rate my
Well...I guess I got the worst rating in the school.
I knew this but I played dumb. I was already the popular professor. The one the kids all dug and she was like the hated one. But I played along.
I'm sure its not that bad.
NO...She sniffs again. It gets worse. Some one put in the school newspaper that I was the worst professor on campus.
Ouch. But still I played the big man. She definitely wouldn't be getting another gig.
Look its easy to be the popular professor...its harder to be someone who makes the kids work.
She looked up.
Sure. I know you are good because I see the work on your board every day.

She looked like she felt better after that and I felt pretty good too. I really needed the adjunct gigs because my novels weren't selling shit. They fired me the next week because of budget cuts. My rating on hit an all time high.
 Especially in the Easiest Category.

How old are you really?

How old are you really?
Old enough.
No really...I know you are closer to sixty than fifty.
Jack breathed heavily.
I'm fifty three.
He followed Jim into the living room.
I thought you were a lot older than that....I mean you look sixty.
Jack stared at Jim and thought he was kidding but he couldn't be sure. He in fact had always looked younger than his age. A lot younger. And Jim had started looking like an old man. His back was hunched and windburned cracks had appeared in his cheeks. More than all that he had begun to act old. Several times they had gone to Chicago and Jim had murmured, 'look at all these kids.'
 But they had come for Jim's fiftieth birthday and to support  Cindy who just had a double mastectomy.
So hows it been going?
 Jim' shrugged.
She's driving me crazy. I set up a room for her and everything and all she does is bitch.
Jack nodded and took the beer. He stared at the room Jim set up.  A lazy boy and a television mounted to the ceiling.
She wanted me to bring the TV down and I said no.
But how is Cindy...I mean, is she recovering?
Oh yeah...we are putting all that behind us.
 Jack nodded still smarting from the age comment. Lately he had begun to think about age. People getting cancer. People dying. And now he was fifty three. Jim turned again from the ceiling mounted TV.
You sure you are only fifty three?
In the car Jack listened to is wife talk about Cindy. Cindy was always neurotic. The rap was she drove Jim crazy with her Iphone texts. Jim was the beleaguered husband. Cindy was the nut. Jack listened and then they drove in silence
Jim said he thought I looked like I was sixty.
His wife looked at him.
That's ridiculous.
Jack nodded.
I think he's a real asshole.
Jacks wife nodded and didn't speak, then patted his arm.
 He's just old.
Rocket Man...the American Dream Upside Down