Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Several Diff'ent Dudes on Monroe

                            SEVERAL DIFF'ENT DUDES ON MONROE.

Wid Mark other day 'nd he's, like,


'Cuss there's this cheapass shit in the windah at Rite Aid.

"Gawdahavit," he says.

'N'I'm, like,


'Cuss it's totally cheapass.



"Cuss he's gawdbe shittin' me.

Bud, he's,


'N'I'm laffin',


'Cuss I know he's shittin' me.

Bud he's,

"I'm so buyin' it, dude!"

Bud, then, dude....What?  We don' go in?

'N'I'm, like,


Bud, he's, like...pointin' ...in the doorway? 'N'he tells me,

"Dude in 'ere put me out for swearin' other night."


"No-o-o-o!... Dude! Tha's bullshit!"

"Swear," he tells me.

So, jist aft'd that, we're at Ghost Dog 'n' I'm,


'Cuss 'ere'sa bitch of a bong 'ere in the windah.

Toh-dally not cheapass!



Whud're you bin doin'?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012



They were in a rush to be where they were going.
     They didn't so much turn the corner into his street as cut it.
     Together, almost immediately, they were back down again off the curb and crossing Boardman Street diagonally.

They had gone to Enright's, further down Monroe, when they could have gone to Oxfords, across the street from where they had agreed to meet and had that conversation.
     His first suggestion was Oxfords. But, then, immediately said...they might, instead, go to Enright's.
     One time or another, she had been in both bars, of course, with friends and the thought occurred to her that the smaller Enright's might, in fact, be the better choice. She didn't say so. His expressed thought, too, was that, a Wednesday night, Enright's might not be as crowded.
     And she agreed that that would be fine.
     He had noticed how she was casually dressed in new jeans and a plain black jacket with sharply tapering lapels; how her dark hair came down to her shoulders, straight but not stringy or without some real body.
     He thought how, in that outfit, she looked petite and unaffectedly attractive.
     For her part, she had already noted his lack of visible tattoos; how his brown hair, waved over to the one side of his brow, wasn't unruly. She liked it that he was dressed to go out with her in much the same manner he dressed for campus; that he wasn't dressed as he might be just kicking with his guys or going out tot he bars with his roommate.

They had some beers and conversation and got to know one another. They were two kids from similar suburbs of cities not so far from Rochester who shared the same High School years. Though they had quite different majors and career goals, both were enjoying University life in much the same manner. They had similar friends, both at school and at home, and were quietly, dryly amused in much the same way about most of them.
     They said little about it and only in stray remarks. But they were both, it seemed, similarly inexperienced.
     In a context of stories about his senior year, he mentioned an old girl friend. But it was a story of graduation week frustrations with partying and pals getting in the way of any real intimacy. All his more recent socializing seemed to do with his roommate, Adam, or something....
     She had a quiet way about her that wore well with the way she looked and the way she dressed. Her smile was shy and casual and she asked him few questions, offered the conversation little direction. For the most part, she was only responsive to his own suggestions and inquiries when it came to herself. But she seemed quick and suddenly witty in those moments and conversation with her was easy and painless.

They angled over Boardman at a moment with out traffic so that they came in the same straight diagonal line they had cut the corner with to the very door-step of his building only a little ways up the street.
     Having met ont he corner, she couldn't have know where they were going, what building was his. But he noticed how she followed him like a dancer taking a partner's lead. The whole way across and up Monroe, of course, his longer stride had put him a step ahead. Still, she kept pace with a more hurried step. And he sensed, without looking back, in the effort she carried more tension in her shoulders than he was carrying.
     It made her seem even more eager than he was to be going.
     And that made the smile over his face go all the further up into his cheeks. His eyes must, he knew be bright with it.
     His face had brimmed with an entire comedy of otherwise unexpressed laughter and joy the whole of the way from the bar. He was glad to be ahead of her; hoped his glee wouldn't show and perhaps offend her even now.
     He told himself he should quit laughing; not to jinx the thing.
     But he couldn't keep from grinning.
     It had become such an amazing night fresh, cold and clear.
     This was, he was certain, the most marvelous night of his life.

They had only been out together something less than an hour.
     When they came out of Enright's he couldn't recall how the night had seemed when they had walked there. It couldn't have been any less silken black or the lights of the street any less bold and bright than they now seemed.
     It was still before midnight. But the hour was one, he noticed coming back out into it, when the crowds between bars and the traffic on the avenue seemed most alive. The voices of the passing crowds had a well-temper ring and vehicles, too, rushed along and even gathered to wait at the light with an equivalent excitation.
     Everything was so fresh, crisp and clear to him.
     That was when he began to smile, really smile.
     He had looked at her with that smile just the one time, standing in front of the bar, and she had smiled, too. He didn't look at her again all the way to his front door step, not wanting to risk it.
     Inside the bar, just before leaving, a smile had grown on his face, too, briefly, off course, when he understood what she meant.
     "You know, maybe we should go to your place," she suggested, "and see what happens."
     She had said that intimately and without any preamble and had looked down when she had half said it and, then, looked up, again, whe she had finished saying it.
     A moment later that made him smile when he understood.
     And he agreed that that would be fine.
     He had thought her perfectly innocent and bold looking as she waited to see what he would say to her suggestion. There had seemed no pressure in it when she suggested it that way in a voice that seemed shy of too much meaning and yet unreserved and allowing.

They were so early still in coming back to his place.
     He was certain Aaron wouldn't be home yet. Not on a Wednesday night; on an Oxfords Wednesday night Aaron surely wouldn't be home as early as eleven-forty-five.
     And, he noticed, crossing Boardman, how their second floor front wndow was dark.
     The most marvelous night of his life, it couldn't be otherwise than it was turning out to be.
     She was still the same single step behind him coming down the well-lighted hallway to the foot of his stairs.
     "Y' know..." he heard her begin to say.
     But he had already begun to speak himself.
     Only as he turned smiling, as he heard his voice speak, did it occur to him they hadn't spoken a word since coming out into that bright black, sparkling and amazing night.
     "I wasn't," he allowed himself to laugh, "...expecting to be back so early."
     That she only smiled back up at him and that there was a gleam in her eye that couldn't have been only a trick of thelight in the hallway, reassured him and he took the next, the first step up the stairs.
     It wasn't like any other step he'd ever taken. Something went up inside him, a feeling of elevation he had never felt before going up to his room on those stairs or at any other time he could recall in all his years.

He, of course, felt wonderful and different after.
     He felt the same different he had felt going up the stairs with her only with another feeling of elation. He was certain that everything, now, was changed in his life and that his life had begun again and better.

They - Jared, Marlon, Chris - were all different, she thought.
     They were different from one another and they differed, too, from this latest boy.
     Now that it was after, she thought how it was the ways in which this latest boy was different form the others that was the more important thing.
     When she was sixteen it was twisted fun to always call Jared "Mr. Sparks." Flirting with this guy who wasn't out of college, an apprentice-teacher sitting in the back of Mr. Millay's Math classes and taking notes. It had been mostly a dare she made herself to begin with. It set her apart from the other watching and giggling girls, to go boldly over and call him that and ask if he minded if she sat with him at Barb and Jon's, the diner that backed on to the school athletic field they all went to all the time.
     They only sat together than one time. And she had only ever told one of her friends just how far things went after that.
     But, then, after she had, Marce McDonough smirking, saying,
     "Guess we'll see him on Predator 2015," sort of put her off the whole thing.
     Though, by then, his assignment and the school year was just about over, anyway.
     So, older guy, sort of....
    And Marlon...black.
     Not even community college black, at that. Just a friend of a Freshman year friend. And, it turned out, that friend's supplier of weed and pills. Just the second time they saw one another, he was hitting on her.
     "Nevuh fa'git such a fine..." he said.
     What happened there, she told herself, had been all about being high at the time and curious. Another challenge to herself, another betcha won't. It had only been a few times that time as well. There had been, too, a phone conversation with her mom wher she'd dropped hints while it was happening.
     Yes, she was seeing some one...
     She had been certain she heard a wonderful, delightful uneasy in Mom's voice after that.
     Then, they were pulled over on Monroe Avenue and he tried to pass her something to hold for him, something she refused to touch. Whatever it had been, nothing came of it.
     But no more dates. Her choice.
     So, older guy...black guy...
     Chris, another older man; one closer to her father's age. A summer employer with a fast food franchise, kids and a wife. Her big summer romance. Being sleazy in the old home town. And all very old school with a motel room and after noon delights at his family lake house....
     Just a summer fling.
     Older guy...black guy...family man....
     The boy was different.
     At first she had had a gay vibe from him. His approach had been so innocuous, so merely companionable. He had seemed so clean-cut and unexceptional. Bi, perhaps, or gay and just trying to see  if he might be Bi. And it had been that thought of her being his closet hope,she had first taken interest from. She would add hag to her resume; Messing around added to her roles as Lolita, Kardashian and Joan Crawford....
     Until an hour ago that had been the assumption she 'd been going with.
     Even in the bar, with all his talk of his roommate, Adam, was it? He was big, he was gay guy who just didn't know it. But, then, the stories he was telling about himself, even though they weren't stories about his experience with other girls, began to reveal him as just a guy like any other she'd grown up going to school with. She knew him.
     They were so much alike, he and she. One, at last, at least, who was presentable. One to bring a laughable release of beaming laughter to the concerned faces of Mom and Dad.
     It made her smile to think of them letter out their long held breathe in relieved laughter.
     That ws when, devilishly, she thought, well, why not? And went into what she called her act.
     But, it was also when she thought, well, isn't it time, too.

He asked her, the first who ever had.
     She laughed.
     "You're something to text home about..."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"In A Charitable Mood."

So, last Thanksgiving week I'm back in Rah-cha-cha.

And, things about to turn drowsy as some dimwit stuffed with Turkey, I'm down for OXFORDS on Monroe Ave the Tuesday night before the big holiday.

Y' gotta pick your nights.

Let's face it, 'Chester's a dull boy and the Avenue ain't what it was.

Y' land there, you'd better know when 'n' where the gittin's good or there is no fun in the burg at all.

All you going to get right close up t' one of these 'family' holidays is stool-sitters. Not bad if you're into sad stories. Maybe a decent bitch comes in with some guy and gives it the old try, shaking it to "All Right Now,' or some other oldie good for getting loose to a little.

Since I'm looking for a little life 'fore all these clowns go off motor-boatin' in the bosoms of their loved ones - it's Tuesday I go out lookin', the night before the night before the big day is what I'm figuring.

And, when I'm right, I'm right.

Hauling up to the Pub, something like 'leven, it's like I said. Whole length of the place, foot of the bar to dart board, is deep in young stuff. The place is rockin' out. The window front I'm coming up on is a panorama of decadence - in motion. A dark-filter, wide-screen, neon highlighted shadow play of t'day's best imitation debauchery.

I could almost be proud of those half-assed kids.

So, 'min the bar. And what do you gots?

Y' gotcha couples; y' gotcha crowds; y' gotcha regulars.

You can't say anything about yer regulars and couples hasn't been said already. Any bar the regulars are in there every night, no matter. And y' always got y' couples. Not the same ones. But couples are all the same Tolstoy's good families. They're all about the one thing, couples, and that's each other. They're not looking for anything but what each other has got.

Now, your crowds are another matter.

Crowds are a whole can of worms and snakes. A bunch of people, more or less friends of not necessarily long standing, decideto get together and go our partying in a bar. Right there that's a potent breweven 'fore you add the alcohol and stir.

Mostly, this night, y' got yet kids about to go be boring. Mom and Dad's no longer little ladies and laddies off on their own in the big, bad burg and about to be home-bound for the holiday. They're under pressure to let loose. They're feeling like they gotta go out and be wild wid their own kind this one more night.

It's like they got to put enough booze down their gullets to keep buzzed the whole coming sad ritual.

Y' know: 'over d' river end through the woods...'

Some of them, it's like, somehow, they're thinking this is thelast time they ever get to be how they think they want to be. It's like they're sure just going home will turn 'em back into what they've always been destined to be - the graying folks, shoulder-to-shoulder over the roast bird on a platter, imitation hearth behind them in a two-story Cape Cod on Accountant Lane.

It's never the gals in the fandango skinny slacks or the glitzy dresses that barely cover their asses. The few of them ain't already agents of quiet desperation know they're not skating forever from their born destiny And they're the ones really cutting it loose.

They're none of them worrying about it.

No, but - eery one of these crowds has some gloomy guy who's in that other party mood, the one where all the enforcedfun is over his head. The go-along guy not saying much and smiling less. He's even dressed for the part; like he didn't even bother to dress down for getting down. 'Cuss he knew ahead he couldn't. He's just not in the mood.

He's the guy knows things aren't working out the way he thought they would. He's the guy who's going 'over d' river end through the woods...' thinking that he's not coming back the same as he went out.

So, I'm in the bar and it's like:

"'Ey, long time no see..." to one's I've seen before.

And I'm looking at nothing special here as I've just been explaining....

'Til I see this one crowd. It's not even a crowd exactly. It's a combination. One I seen before.

Brothers. Brothers on the Town.

Oh, yeah! That's always fun.

Y' got the Older Brother, the Younger Brother and the Brother-in-law. The father, son and HOLY GHOST! of the American Family. Hell, for all I know, this happens in bars in Leipzig, Liege and Limerick, too. Probably does - with accents, a' course.

Anyhow, older brother is, and always has been, better looking, better built and is 'he who must be impressed.' Probably home from out-of-town, first time in a couple of years. He's Butch. In a charitable mood I should feel something, a kinship with the guy. Only this is an arogant son-of-a-bitch and he's on some kind of throne.

Well, so am I - 'n' mine's higher!

So - still tryin' to be charitable - maybe he's put there. It's the Younger Brother, the Kid, who's paying and playing up, and showing off the old home-town's latest best to Butch, the Lone Wolf. Or, at least, he's trying awfully hard to, not that Gary can show Butch anything he hasn't seen before and better.

And the Brother-in-law? Stan or Steve or Sean? He doesn't belong. He shouldn't even be there. He can talk. But nobody's really listening. Whose ever shoulder he stands next to or ass he runs into, he's outside the circle.

Most of the time, when I'm near enough to catch their act, they're standing at the one place on the bar puttin away bottles fast enough to grow a crop of empties every little while. It's Gary does most of the talking. And, ever' now and again, Stan chimes in - that it matters.

And that's how it goes - 'til it's about half-past one.

Ole Butch is back to the bar with elbows behind him. Gary is talking still and standing sideways to his big bro with the back of his broad white shirt to Stan who's foot ont he rail and elbows beneath him on the bar no longer even chiming.

I can't see, at that moment, younger brother, Gary's face, but I can imagine.

Gary's looking up at Btuch and he's talking worried. His big brother, the Handsome Devil with the lean and hungry look, has a bit of smile cutting back into his jaws and he's not looking back and he's not listening, either. Gary's talking, butits about nuthin' Butch has in mind.

Ole Garr's not even looking in the right direction Butch is.

And, what's he looking at.

There is this crowd just there off the bar, just opposite where Ole Butch is lounging like he owns the place and is about to claim his birth-right.

And one of the glitzy-dressed babes is feeling 'Alright, Now,' full body. So much so, she's flashing the occasional sliver of tightie-whitey nylon where the flashy hem of her dress stretches more than it should while she swings it this way and that with her hair and boobs whipping that way and this.

The couple of other gals in the crowd she's with are all smiles and feeling a bit of 'Alright, Now,' themselves. They're moving with it a little but mostly just admiring Veronica and her action. And there is a couple of three of the well-dressed down boys got their arms up and shoulders swaying along with her.

To the far side, their gloomy guy just watches and mopes.

I don't know.

Maybe Butch figures Ronnie's action would be improved if she had a bit more freedom to swing it out there his way and the other way. Anyhow, with his conceited leer, he goes off the bar. And, leaning over, he extends the old middle finger to assist the next time she throws it in his direction.

Call it the 'Hemlift Maneuver.'



That whole crowd is suddenly seriously upset.

None more so than the gloomy guy who shoves Butch's shoulder before he can straighten back up laughing.

All in one motion, Butch swings that shoulder round this way and his fist round the other clocking the gloomy guy in the upper lip and nose. Gus goes down a bloody stain on his face.

Y' gotta admire those bouncers they got at Oxfords. Two of them move right in. And three and four others follow right after. The whole lot of them move the American Family out the front door of the place in another all-in-one motion.

Now, I know what's coming and I'm near enough to the door, myself, so I'm outside just ahead of the rush - always a pretty thing to see.

No fuss; no fight. Just out the door with the two brothers. The one that's just grinning it off, shining it on and the one tha's saying that it's all a big misunderstanding, his big brother didn't mean any harm. Long Stan, now, not even included in the family ouster, comes along behind.

I've gotten off to the side of thelot of themn on the sidewalk. Okay, maybe just a little slow in going and having to step back a little awkward to keep my toes from being trampled on.

Butch is, at first, left just standing there in his leather jacket, grinning and with his back to the doorway. Ole Garr' is the worried looking one who wants it understood:

"We weren't looking for any trouble. Guy shove my brother and - "

A-n-n-d -

"Y're out...."

There is only the one bouncer still. The others have gone back to the kid with the bloody nose and lip and to the crowd he's with to be sure everything's calmed on that end. But he is one big bouncer. Big as a door and he's making a face as closed as a door would be shutting those guys out.

After grinning a bit at Monroe, at the Avenue he's back out on, Ole Butch turns it around and, standing off about the middle of the side walk, grins, too, watching a bit longer while Brother Gary explains things.

Like it matters, Stand comes up on Butch's shoulder half pleading,

"Come on. We can still get in another bar. There's time. We can still get in another bar, guys."

Then, for a time, Butch, himself, steps up to the Closed Door, saying, all grinning and calm like,

"I got a beer on the bar."

"No y' don't."

"Yeah, I got a beer on the bar - and a guy I gotta see."

"No y' don't."

"Yeah, I got a guy I gotta settle with."

"No y' don't."

And Gary touches his brother's shoulder, saying,

"It's no big deal. It's almost closin'. There's no point -"

Butch knows what he's about.

"Guys gotta come out," he says - not to Garr' even now. "And I got something to settle with him."

The Closed Door doesn't even bother to say, no, he doesn't. He's just a closed door and doesn't even look down. And, then, another big face looks out, around the Closed Door. Tater, with his big moon face, grins a look that wonders, is there a problem here?

And Gary says,

"Come on, it's almost closin'. We'd be going, any way."

And Stan says,

"We got time. We can get a beer. We can get a carton of beer. There's still time..."

Like it matters.

"This guy I got something to settle is coming out," Butch tells the Door and Tater.

And so it goes a while longer.

If no body else is, I'm looking around. It is getting down to closing and, sure enough, the cops are pulled up across the street at the Gulf, one of the places they like to pull in and sit at waiting on the turn-out at two.

So, when Btuch tells them,

"I got something to settle- and I'm going to be right here."

I'm the one walks by him saying,

"No you're not."

Tossing my head the Gulf of Monroe ways with a grin of my own right back at him, saying,

"'Cross the street."

He might, in his way, just grin back my way. But Brother Gary doesn't. And he actually takes a look.

Anxious, now, he says,

"Come on, come on, we'll just get busted, man!"

And Stan chimes, pleading,

"We'll be going any way."

I walk myself right on out of it. I walk on down to the corner of Wilmer, almost across from the two cops in cars and turn to stand there and watch.

Ole Butch is still grinning. And for a while its myway he's lookin. It's that same stoned out wolfish grin he's had all along. But he isnot saying anything, now. It's the other two who are saying. They're up around him on both sides and Gary has his hands on Butch's shoulder and back and, I suppose, he's cajoling his big brother.

Like that, they eventually move Butch off to the side, move him up the avenue. They msut have parked further up toward Oxford Street, or around in the back, down the alley at Poster Art. Because that is the way they move him off to. They get him to go up a couple of doorways though he won't go any further. He's probably saying how he still expects that guy he's got something to settle with has got to come out. Like that guy hasn't already been either hustled out the pub's back door or invited to stay t' the party that always goes on past closing inside once the front door is locked.

Myself, I could go back inside, too. A familiar face, all I'd have to do is go up and knock.

But I hang around. I'm curious how long Butch can keep grinning and waiting for what isn't going to happen.

Closing comes and goes and Oxfords empties out everybody who isn't staying after hours. The Bros 're still there 'side the second doorway above the bar. So i go and stand up in the doorway between.

Some crowds come out of the bar and stand about in front of the doorway ahving those conversations about going on to here and there. Where we going? Going to Gitsis'? Smoking cigarettes and making cell calls. Looking for cabs to flag down - and, then, having those conversations about where they're going and who's going and who's got cab fare.

None of those groups of people have that guy who's probably already out the back door in them, by the way. And, probably, even the Lone Wolf doesn't any longer expect him to be. But he's still there, in that door way up from me. He has still got what's left of a hard grin on his chops. But the other two have relaxed. They know there's ntohing going to happen, now.

Everything quiets way down. Even the sound of the music of the party in the bar is quiet now that the front door is locked and isn't opening to let out fresh crowds.

One of the last of those is standing around having those conversations, smoking those last cigarettes together, when this old lady panhandler comes around. She might be an old guy with her gray hair cropped the way it is and her Salvation Army clothes hanging on her the way they do. And she isn't exactly a panhandler, either. I've seen her around. She's picking up butts people leave on the street. She'll, maybe, ask for a light if she gets a good one. And she'll, maybe, ask for change if he gets the light.

She walks on by he latest crowd that's out front smoking and deciding where to go next. Wandering on, searching the gorund, she fins a good enough one to ask a light of the Brothers.

It's a no go. So, she wanders back to where the last crowd is just moving off.


Butch has his grin back in full and he calls after her.

This old lady has one of those red, weathered faces with a look on it you can tell she's not all there. She looks back at the three of them with the same wonder that is always on her face because so much that happens doesn't ge through to her.

"'Ey, y' wanted to make five dollars?"

It's a joke Butch is making. Only she doesn't know that. She doesn't know what it is yet. But she looks and wonders. She doesn't expect it is anything good. But she wonders, maybe, it is.

"'Y wanted to make dollars?" Butch asks her.

And he tells her how, too.

It's a joke; a real funny joke. Not that she gets it at first. And even when he repeats the joke, she only knows it's a joke because he's grinning at her.

"Five dollars; the three of us," he tells her.

Her faces makes her own shy smile and she tells him,

"Naw, I don't do that," a little uncertain yet.

"Come on, it's five dollars. Three more 'n it's worth!"

"Naw, I don't do that."

She has still got the good one. She wonders of me,

"Got a light?"

I got smokes; I can spare one.

"Rather have a fresh one?"

And I got a light, too.

I guess, maybe, having made his joke, Butch is satisfied. At any rate, laughing, he's letting his brothers move him on again, further up the Avenue.

Like I say, 'Chester's a dull boy and Monroe ain't the avenue it used to be.

I don't know why I go there.

If I had any place else to go, maybe I wouldn't.

They got an expression on the Avenue. Everybody says, after they or anybody else has said bad of anyone who's on the street, 'but he's an alright guy.' No matter how goofy or good for nothing a guy may be on this street, he's an alright guy.

And I'm in a charitable mood.