A Pool Hustler's Daughter grows up in subterranean America. She dreams big, hustles daily and loves her Daddy. With empathy, fascination and grace she navigates and inhabits every tier of society; sees beauty and hope and magic in all things; respects and lives by the "mitzvah."
A Pool Hustler's Daughter calculates the trifecta payout at the racetrack, hides money on three parts of her body, has an arsenal of "Uncles," and keeps a baseball bat by the front door. She values friendship, loyalty and experiences over "things." Like her father, she seeks to learn "The secrets of the universe" and believes "Life ain't on the square." She applauds the self-made and those who learn to "overcome" their circumstances. Her door is always open for a sofa to sleep on, a hot meal, or an eager listener for a life story.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Flash Fiction # 2: The Girl Who Cried Woolf

A smart young girl - long brown hair, no makeup - sits at a table, at a café - half reading. The girl wears a thrift store score sweater - sand colored, men's, LL Bean - and dark jeans. It would appear that she is not alone. There is a boy there, slightly older, sitting across from her. He is smiling. The boy is equal parts horny, chatty and over caffeinated - a Barista. Neither has bathed. They are talking about - get this - JD Salinger(her) and Borges(him.) Get this - they go to school together and both want to be writers.

One week ago, on campus, they bonded over the theory that a Thesaurus can "destroy the writer's original intention." Overlooking his bed head hair and bus card, she had thought, "Soul Mate." Noticing the overflow in the cleavage of her tank top, he had thought "Titty Fuck."

After finishing their Ethiopian pour-overs, they decide to make love on her futon back at her apartment. Upon their arrival, the girl's cat, Woolf (yes, after Virginia) watches the two coeds undress(her - American Apparel bra and panties, him - Target flannel boxers.) The girl feels nothing once the boy's naked body is presented to her; she is not even conscious of her own body being naked. Where did her blush go? The girl longs to be shocked by a boy - clothes off - or even better - clothes on; maybe even just from the sound of his voice.

Desperate for attention, Woolf feigns drowning herself - multiple times - in her water bowl - even purring loudly - but is ignored. Mid-thrust, the girl warns the boy be careful not to burn yourself on the space heater! The boy does graze it as his long legs extend over the foot of the bed. The girl does not know the boy has kept his socks on. Woolf - always suicidal and melodramatic - meows angrily - while sitting on the window sill intermittently judging and licking her Persian white fur. Ignoring both the cat and the girl's sounds, the boy's inner voice yells - Her tits are so big...her tits are so! Oh, fuck, I'm going to cum now, aren't I? An imminent explosion(for him, not her) makes the boy kiss the girl roughly - she'll tell her girlfriend later it was - passionately.

The boy is awfully quick(emphasis on the awful) but the girl is too young to know any better and she makes loud noises thinking that's what she's supposed to do. The girl has never had an orgasm. She has only been told by her eye rolling girlfriends - Trust'll...know it when it happens...there' mistaking it. The boy does tell the girl she is pretty at least(he thinks she is pretty - yes.) Later, he will be too scared to ask her out again because she is too nice and too smart and too generous for him and, well...he's known at school as a "Broke."

Before the indie pop song "Young Folks" finishes - they're all done. In fact, there are still a few bars left to whistle along to. They both just smile and stare up at the ceiling, catching their breath with rosy cheeks and wonder how they will capture this moment on their Mac laptops as soon as they have the chance. The girl will ponder how maybe you can express yourself artistically in one way...but...not... in another? How maybe connecting is...overrated??? She will ask herself - you know...when a moment has both of you? the same time? When do you hear the description...beautiful...about you - the girl - and not about a book or a passage or a beat or a lyric or in a frame or in a David Lean long shot with a steady cam from before you were born? When is the girl -(me) - the only girl?

How ashamed the girl is since saying you've slept with less than a handful of men can be taken away from you in an instant when you get excited by a bearded boy from school who quotes Borges and has read and analyzed the same JD Salinger short story as you. And now when you are asked how many boys you've slept with? you can't say less than a handful anymore, and how that makes you feel guilty and kind of mad and uncomfortable and regretful and sad for getting older even though you are still only 22 and a college student and a writer with an apartment and a cool cat and a space heater and...pretty American Apparel underwear.

Although you(the girl) are not on any meds(though your parents kind of wish you were,) you want someone to know how you suffer silently while questioning the authenticity of people - just like the fictional character Franny from JD Salinger's Franny and Zooey. You want someone to know that you might never trust anyone like ever - like, seriously, LISTEN TO ME - never. This angry, repetitive thought, scares the girl. It's her least fictional thought of the day.

The girl refers to this time when speaking to her ADD parents as her "Blue Period." She wishes she could finally meet a boy at a coffeehouse while writing the Great American Novel who GOT HER. But today isn't that day. I'm Franny, I'm Franny! the girl's inner voice screams - still lying on her futon, watching paint peel from the ceiling; hearing both her front door slam and her cool cat destroy the kitty litter box in the closet.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Flash Fiction #1 Girl in A Coffeehouse/Yeats Boy

Watching a girl with long blonde hair, little makeup, child bearing thighs, hiding her face in a corner of my coffeehouse drinking tea, scribbling fast and furiously into her unlined paper journal which kind of makes me want to French kiss her in a Katy Perry sort of way. The girl's purse holds pictures taken from a distance across the school Quad of a really cool dude who recited Yeats's "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" aloud in poetry class last semester and then told her she's "got rhymes like Dorothy Parker." She remembers every word he ever said to her. She catalogs his smiles. After admiring him for so long, from afar, the stars align and she lets him sleep over after a Tuesday night show at the Empty Bottle after he walks her home in the cold(even putting his Pea coat clad, wool arms around her for the first time in an effort to keep her warm after the two of them each mention the weather five times in the first fifty feet out the door of the bar.) The morning after is rather quiet and awkward and her roommate bitches that Yeats Boy is spending way too much time in the bathroom and she needs to get in the shower to get to class. "Is this guy jerking off in there, or what?" her roommate complains, "If it stinks to high heaven once I get in there, you can forget about borrowing my fisherman sweater today." After the boy leaves, the girl inhales her bed sheets and then takes her time to fantasize and pleasure herself even though they only made out. He's such a gentleman! she tells herself, giddy. Then she remembers: But I haven't gotten laid in a year - maybe...I should have jumped him? Self-satisfied, she smiles and dances around the apartment by herself. She listens to Radiohead and excavates the last bits of weed from her bitchy roommate's one hitter. She doesn't have to go to work til four. Yeats Boy surprises the girl at lunch time with a - get this - A PHONE CALL - Can this really be happening? She wonders and digs her bitten nails into her forearm skin every time she nervously sighs into the phone remembering the scratches on her face from his five o'clock shadow whiskers and how she can't remember the exact color of his eyes now - it was so dark last night. He asks her for a coffee date after his music theory class- he wants to write for Rolling Stone and/or be a DJ/and/or teach English in a foreign country and/or be the next Scorsese. He'll have to decide on a major soon. See you at one, he tells her. It's two-forty-five and he hasn't shown up yet. She mans up and calls him on the phone only two or twelve times but same thing - voice mail! No! She writes desperately into her journal in a corner of the coffeehouse where they were supposed to have their first real date and...change her life forever. Instead of seeing her obviously menstruating roommate at home tonight after her shift at the restaurant - she would see him and he would make himself comfortable on her bed and make fun of the Tortured Woman/Jane Eyre collection on her bookshelf while she put on mood music and lit candles. He would wetly whisper "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" poem while kissing the nape of her neck and lifting her roommate's too tight fisherman sweater over her head while listening to the original "Crimson and Clover," and blowing out her "Lucky" Bingo Candle from the Dollar Store. The sound of her nervously unbuckling his belt for the first time in the near quiet darkness of her tiny Wicker Park bedroom, would seem so loud to her...almost deafening...but he hasn't shown up yet...and her tea is cold...and her nails are now bitten down to their stubs...and she just keeps replaying "Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee..." and writing to someone, anyone, in her journal, that might listen, that might care...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Seasons Greetings from Bridgeport, U.S.A.

Seasons Greetings from Bridgeport, U.S.A.

Rushing south in the early morning hours on Lakeshore Drive, past downtown Chicago, I

arrive at the “Compound," a three flat Graystone, affectionately filled with four floors of

family, for the one day God tortures me.

After footing most of the bill for our Feast of the Seven Fishes Dinner, I have to clean my

father’s house. My request to have him cohabitate with a nice Polish girl that cleans has not

been fulfilled yet. A mail order Russian bride would be just fine, too.

As I gather the cleaning supplies from beneath the sink, Pops enlists the help of

the Homeless Black Man, who lives in the unheated garage out back, to assist me.

“Dad” I tell him, “You can’t have him live in your garage, sleeping on boxes of my

college transcripts and old love letters.”

“Are you kidding me?” Pops responds, “This guy thinks he’s hit the jackpot. Three

squares a day and a roof over his head. I’m providing a public service.”

I am now in desperate need of some Dago Red wine. After my father completes his

first nap of the day, he proceeds to fry the stinky Baccala in his grey flannel pajamas.

Pops then tries to get me to eat the asparagus and eggs the local Mob Boss brought over.

I take a pass. Either Fox News or the History Channel play on every TV in the house – I

count at least six. I have no idea which remote to use to turn off or change the channel.

After the Baccala is done, Homeless Black Man fries a chicken for

himself. My mother enters the kitchen and enthusiastically yells “I'm from the south

and I LOVE fried chicken.” Homeless Black Man laughs. I stare at both my mother and

Homeless Black Man and decide to exit this extremely strange, left-leaning love fest

and head for the basement.

A miracle occurs, as behind the Oak downstairs bar, I manage to dig out New

Order’s “Power, Corruption and Lies” album from over 100 dust covered CDs. I play the

song “Age of Consent” and am transported to a runway, in the early Fall of 1985, a tall,

gawky, emaciated, ninth grader, thirteen, too much makeup, too high of h&eels, stripping

naked with strangers in the same room Andy Warhol signed Interview magazines just a

few days before. No adult chaperone, of course.

A model belts out Klymaxx’s “The men all pause when I walk into a room. The

men all pause” before she climbs up the flimsy stairs to make her walk. I can’t fill a

bra, have no body hair, yet I am drinking a vodka tonic, taking

extra care not to ruin my mascara.

“Your Silent Face” begins to play and the synthesized strings remind me of the ebb

and flow of young love.

“Leave Me Alone” plays and, left alone, I try to replicate the coveted Ian Curtis/Alison

Moyet swinging arm dance and my signature hair flip. WOOSH.

You get these words wrong
You get these words wrong
Every time

I tackle the bar in full on gas mask, smock and gloves as too many questionable

characters frequent the “Compound” and you can never be too careful. I dust my

father’s framed porn star autographs with the same feathered brush I use on photos

of my children.

It is common knowledge that most Italian-Americans, like Orthodox Jewish families, have a 2nd kitchen

in their basement. Not only do we have a kitchen, but a whirlpool tub, sauna, bar and pool table.

It's the Carlito's Way suite at Caesar's Palace circa 1980.

To access the stairs to the basement, you must first walk through my father’s bathroom, and open

a "secret" door: "The bathroom might throw off the Feds, but be sure to knock in case someone's on the

toilet," my father cautions.

The large basement is covered in thousands of photos, pool and White Sox baseball

memorabilia. We have converted the pool table into a serving table for the fried shrimp,

boiled shrimp, shrimp dip, crab dip, cod, etc. There is also a coffee stained Italian flag.

I set up the holiday ornaments and candles provided by Homeless Black Man on all of

the tables. I do not ask where they came from.

Pops takes a second nap during a John Wayne movie; "You seen this?" he asks me, then dozes off again

while I clear clutter. There must be twenty-three remotes. I light

candles and re-vacuum in an attempt to mask the old man, cat and dog scents. I pour myself a

second cocktail, cut flowers and drape table cloths.

A picture of my recently departed, godfather Joe, eating spaghetti, is blown up,

framed and sits atop the end of a long bingo table. He will be joining our

Christmas Eve dinner tonight. He never left, or got off the phone, one time, my whole

life, without telling me he loved me first. Not one time.

I change the stereo to Christmas music and start to greet our family guests. My

father has neither showered, nor awoke from his second nap, yet the house fills with

relatives and small children, including many godchildren.

My great-grandmother was from the "old country" and used to fit two hundred people in

two rooms on Christmas Eve. The body heat helped. Forget a kids "table," we were relegated to eating in the cold

hallway, siting on the splintered stairwell, where one could see their breath. Older cousins would show off cigarettes that

they stole from their mother's purse and that they couldn't wait to light up in the alley. To even suggest that one of us kids

needed to use the restroom inside my great-grandmother's tight quarters on this special night, the most special night of the year

for my family, may have resulted in a murder. "All they had to do was give you a look," my father told

me. There were no "explanations" or "reasoning."

I am happy that this year, the annual holiday “Beefs” have been avoided, which means everyone is on

speaking terms, and there are no conflicts that I know of yet.

I keep a rag in one hand and a Windex bottle near as I pour drinks and start to

carry the four pounds of pasta downstairs. “You look like Grandma” my cousin shouts.

I catch myself in the mirror – grateful to have avoided her Mediterranean Raccoon eyes -

apron on, rag in hand, a steaming mountain of pasta opening the pores on my face – and

do admit I look a little like her tonight. Needing to serve more pasta, I climb the

steep green carpeted stairs leading not onto a Catwalk, but to a bathroom. Better knock.

Goosebump Goddess

"Tell me, the dream , again..." "Well, it's night, and New York is particularly quiet. It's not necessarily late at...