“It is too fucking hot for there to be this many panhandlers in Center City. Saw a pregnant Israelite (not Isreali) bitch with a nutcracker asking random people for a dollar while walking with her meathead boyfriend. And on-the-very-next-block some, rico suave, Frankie ‘coffeecake’ looking motherfucker, gave me a sob story about he's "a veteran", only had 30$ for his daughter but spent half of it on booze and really needs $$ to buy a weekly for the SEPTA; get the Fuck out of here; how’d you get out the desert?
Now there's this jackass in Chinatown on his cellphone talking about how great the black church is and how the devil is real. How he saw a man on the street crying so, he gave him some change. Now he's patting himself on the back. Oh wow, loose change. God forbid he give cash; overdressed piece of shit.”
End Scene -
It’s the start of a new day. You wake up in your hotel room. You watch television. You put your slippers on; take the elevator down to your complimentary breakfast and the spread is actually good this time: omelets, turkey bacon, waffles, taters, with an assortment of sort of/ kind of like fruit juices, bagels, and oatmeal. If only they had grits.
I quit smoking cigarettes, which is a very good thing... I lit up a camel on 13th Street while walking to Old City. The streets weren’t as cluttered as it was yesterday but, too hot for a drink. I scan the bottled water section before I purchase a Big Gulp of Coca-Cola.
It feels good to be back in Philly, even if for only a few nights. Walking around immediately brings me back to the times I first came here just to hit whatever open mic was low key and late. Long nights of lugging a bag full of stuff and sleepwalking through the snow globe of Philadelphia winters. Sleeping on the steps of vacant jawns; sleeping in theaters; daydreaming a heat stroke at the Gallery. I never expected anything in return, just a few minutes to recite some parables and eventually some yarns. I did all that and I say, “Because, the only way to feel the American Dream is to not sleep at all”.
This is like a second home. It’s like the first breath of fresh air before you venture into the real America. I like it here, always have. I like its contradictions and small town feel with big city aesthetics - The greasy food and the vegetable garnishes, the freedom to smoke in bars and the hot nicotine broads with fitted caps. The bathroom taste of Yuengling at the bar and the cocaine smells in the bathroom. Everything seen is admired with the intangible things. It feels good to be back and reading just for the locals, free of charge with an open door for any of them to jump into the fire.
But, it doesn’t feel as good a hotel room. Hotel living. Clean rooms with a good bed, clean sheets, free cable, unlimited air conditioning, white towels and maid service… but it would’ve been nice if there were grits for my eggs.
That’s not it. I forgot my stash at the crib –
Sobriety can be water torture when you’re on two hours sleep. It’s time to unplug from these internuts and take part in this dysfunctional hashtag that has become our modern life. Plenty of leeway to maneuver now that everyone is upset about the recent incident of Meek Mills being eaten by that lion that was shot by a dentist wearing a Drake shirt while the invisible local who profited from the exchange returned to his village under the cover of being poor. Good thing it wasn’t a group of jihadi terrorists that killed a lion that devoured Meek & Drake while on line for $12 McDonalds murder burgers, from a high school dropout making six hundred a week before taxes and after two kids that didn’t make the cut for the rumored Planned Parenthood meat market - Then we’d all have a mouth of war.
Evil Eye Café was open and the space reserved for me was ready. Delerium Tremens was the name I gave to the evenings readings. I rarely ever throw my own events anymore. It’s been even longer since I’ve read aloud; a first time for my short prose. I write what could be called hard boiled crime or Noir fiction.
Basically, I write stories about jaded, ill-tempered, anti-social individuals doing bad things for regular reasons. I write them my way, in their own voice if need be. Regardless, the nerves were evident in my guts. The pulled pork w. Mac & Cheese and Greens from the Khyber were settling inside me like the occupants of an Asian commuter train. Four bottles of water went down before the first people walked up to the reading space.
Bryan Babalon was my guest of honor, who read a true life story that would shell shock any square into disbelief; those are the stories that keep me going. The stories that remind me that the world isn’t as cookie cutter perfect as most people try to explain in my comment box. It was short, it was graphic and I enjoyed its moxie.
Robert Corry from Phobos Magazine attended as well with another featured writer from a recent PHOBOS issue. Phobos Magazine is Philadelphia’s premier semiannual weird fiction (horror/sf/fantasy/pulp) magazine featuring short stories, poetry, and flash fiction; so they were at the right place with rumored hints of gin.
Every other person that attended was everything I could hope for in an audience. All were interested and enthusiastic about what they heard; they picked up on the bits of levity in the yarns and accepted the white knuckle tension of the stories. There were no trigger warnings.
Some copies of my (2011) spoken word album were sold and there were a lot of kind words and conversation to be had when the readings stopped. It went so well that I am considering another Delirium Tremens in the future.
The laughter stops –
The sun goes down and the humidity thins on South Street. The night kicks into high gear but my body is shot. A single stiff drink downed and immediately I begin to fall asleep at the wheel of my decommissioned bumper car in Tattooed Moms, crashing. Eyes drooped and lip hanging. My best friend signals us to leave. We return to the hotel room where I am immediately aggravated at all the resin stench lingering in the air. Enough stink to blend into the THC aura of the entire 3rd floor visiting The Hardcore Fest happening that weekend. The neighbor with the Bad Brains shirt, bong water cologne and red eyes said, “Hey, how you doing”. Fuck you.
The pillows were heaven. The room was cold. My friend rolled her J and went to smoke somewhere around the corner in Chinatown. I passed out. I fell asleep. I submitted. Lights out.
Next Morning and we still had no grits. The room didn’t smell much like a cat’s cunt. I can’t say the same for the other rooms; as the maids frantically napalmed everything with frebreze. It was a beautiful day. Great day for yae. But, it was check out day.
So we headed on down to Reading Terminal. Unfortunately, Reading was packed like a big girl party in February. Screw it; I needed to get something down before I head back to Gotham. I ate an alligator gumbo over rice from the Cajun stand in the terminal. My friend didn’t eat because, she didn’t smoke yet.
After lunch, I took some joy in scaring my friend with thoughts of drug sniffing dogs at the 30th Street station.
“They’ll smell you from a block away. They will smell that purple you have stashed”
“No – I put the baggie in a Pepsi bottle with some coffee” she said.
“You’re gonna catch a pinch” I kept chanting.
That day there were no dogs, none at all. “You got lucky”, I told her.
Megabus was on time while we waited under the freight train overpass. It was a lovely day. It was almost Rockwellian watching the train overheard as it stretched for a mile at least. That is until a nail from the track fell inches away from my homegirl’s feet; she might’ve had a bad day if it fell on her head. Everyone around us panicked and spread out. People were on alert and weary of the possible danger. But, no one asked if my friend was alright – there’s your humanity for you.
I picked up the nail and whatever pieces of track fell and stuffed them in my bag. Shit, at least I could sell these. Nope, can’t sell them. Junkyards won’t touch’em. What a world.
Double-decker, chubby checker, on the megabus we go. Back to the shits. Back to where it all began, sort of. I’m already feeling congested and closed in. My skin feels like kennedy friend chicken. People are calling each other “Son”. Everyone’s just as entitled as a fat man in skinny jeans. I think I’m about to puke. I’m back in New York City.
Where’s my lifeline.
P.S. To all you Sons of Anarchy fanboys wearing your samcro merch outside of your mancaves; getting together with your cronies to binge watch episodes; same jerkoffs, who all of a sudden dress like bikers to look like Jax & Tigg when a few years ago you were rocking shitty ass Ralph Lauren Polo gear, b-ball jerseys, v-neck white T’s, faded nerd shirts and chin strap goatees...Fuck off.