Archive | Stories RSS feed for this section

The Accident, Part 2

29 Mar

Read part one here. He took my hand. It went dark, and suddenly, I could see my father as a kid, 7 or 8 years old. I recognized his face from a picture my grandmother kept. He was playing with a small toy in his room, when a man, my grandfather, walked in drunk. My father flinched. So did I.

Instantly, we evaporated and reappeared in the blackness of space, blue Earth and yellow sun nowhere in sight.

“Where-?” I started to say.

“Look there.” God said.

He pointed to the star dominating our view. As I looked closer, it actually seemed like there were two stars, when Bam! my entire filed of vision was filled with a brighter light than I’d ever thought possible. As I watched, a star came shooting out if the explosion, with a mass of bright white gas filling everywhere.

“That’s the start of life.” God said. “Everything living in this solar system will die. But the materials for real life have just been made. Do you understand?”

“No.”

“And that’s fine. The world will go on without you according to plan. My plan. You led the life I made you live. Anything you think you should have or could have done, you obviously couldn’t. You are a piece in the puzzle. Don’t get too upset for not being able to see the whole board.”

I breathed and relaxed.

“There we are. Just let everything go. There we are.”

And then, something popped into my mind. Clear, pushing everything else out.

“Wait!” I shouted. “Wait! I can’t go! My daughter! Who will take care of my daughter? I still have something I need to do!”

God frowned slightly and said, “You can’t go back now. Everything will work out somehow. We’re going to a place where all this will make sense. Just relax.”

“NO!” I screamed. “I can’t relax. Take me back! I can’t enjoy anything while I abandon her.”

“But didn’t you just abandon her before?”  God said. And He looked, well, puzzled. There was no way else to describe it.

“I didn’t believe then. I do now.”

And God suddenly changed form into a giant dark angel, raised an eyebrow and then vanished.

“God?” I said. “God? Where are you?”

“I’m here”, a voice boomed out from everywhere. “You may go back to Earth.”

“What?” I said, stunned. “What happened-? This was all a game? Was that even you?”

“I think you know who that was.”

“But why?”

“Well, people seem to like him better.”

“Why did you play this game with me?” I tried to come up with something. “Was this a contest between you two for my soul?”

“Don’t be an idiot.” I felt stupid. He continued, “This wasn’t a game. This was the point of your life. Everything you were put through, and everything you did, led up to this moment. Satan wasn’t lying when he told you this- you have personally never made a choice in your life. You think you have. But everything was really worked out by outside forces. To get you to this point. To get you here, so that when, for the first time, there was nothing making you choose one way to go, you would be faced with a choice of putting someone else’s happiness over your own. And you chose theirs. Let’s go.”

We appeared on Earth, at my house.

“Touch the ground”, God said.

I touched it. I could fell myself being poured into the ground through my fingers. I felt myself starting to become a part of it. But something was wrong. Something was horribly wrong. I pulled my fingers back. I felt like I’d been punched in the chest. My Self jumped back immediately.

“No.” I said. “No. God, what are you doing?”

The voice boomed, “You are becoming the Earth. You will become trees and flowers and plants and worms and small animals. You cannot go back as a person. Knowing would make you a useless human being. Ignorance is essential.”

“But I don’t want this. How will I help my daughter?”

“You are a few seconds away from death in your current form. There is no changing reality. You have made the correct choice. You will remain here and be a part of my perfect creation.”

“But…” I sputtered. “But what about heaven?” A tear fell on my cheek. “How will I see my daughter if I don’t go to heaven.”

God didn’t answer me. But I heard the small man whispering into my ear. “Heaven? Baby, don’t you know the song? Heaven is a place on Earth.”

o0Ux0A4OHSo

Note: Ok, sorry for fucking you over like that. 😉 I just couldn’t think of a nice ending that would be as good.

Advertisements

The Accident, Part 1.

27 Mar

“Ah-Hahahaha!” The laughter just shot out of nowhere, and with it, all other sensation stopped. Time stopped. One second, I was driving my car, the next, everything around me froze. Not me, for some reason. I moved around in my seat, turned the steering wheel, slammed on the pedals again and again. Nothing. Nothing and laughter.

“Who- what’s going on? Who is that? C-come out here!”

“Ah-ha..” The laughter broke off. A still chuckling voice said, “Why don’t you come out here?”

Then, a hand melted in through the roof and pulled me out of the car by my collar. The ceiling fabric moved apart like dryer lint, the metal roof melted like wax. I stood on what remained of the roof and turned to face a short man in a double-breasted suit.

“A leprechaun?” I said without thinking.

“Yeah, basically”, the man said. “I thought you’d take me better that way. God, by the way.”

“I’m sorry?”

“I’m God. Hashem. You used to call me that. I liked that.”

“I’m sorry. I just- things didn’t work ou-“

“I know, no need to apologize. That’s how it goes. I’m just saying it felt nice, not trying to give you guilt. It’d just be awkward for both of us if you kept calling me that now.”

“Yeah. Um….Wow. I-I can’t believe it’s actually you. I don’t know what to say.

“I’m sure you’ll think of something, Shimmy. It’s ok if I call you that, right?”

“Yeah, God. Listen, I- hey, um…” I stopped and reached over to grab the small man in a suit into a hug. “It’s really good to see you.”

“Ah”, he said, hugging back. “Great to see you too.” He paused and then said softly, “We need to go now.”

I pulled back a little. “But I thought-…what’s all this for then? I asked you to save me and you did.”

“No…you killed yourself.

“No! I know exactly what I said.” I said, “If you’re really there, then here’s your chance to prove it.” I don’t mean to contradict you, but that’s exactly what I said. I thought it over and over in the car and then said it right before…”

“…before you drove into the guardrail.”

“Yes. I know what I did.”

“I’m not being mean. I’m just pointing out that that’s not belief. That’s giving up. If you really believed, you wouldn’t need proof.”

“So? So what?”

“Well, that’s not the way it works. There are rules to this world. I know you don’t understand that, but you will where we’re going.”

“But I- I spoke to you. I didn’t just ask anyone. I asked you. Tell me why it it doesn’t work that way.”

God looked around at the frozen scene around him, the frozen speeding car, the frozen trees blown by the frozen wind, the frozen gravel flying off the frozen spinning tires. “Well, it looks like we have some time”, he said, grinning. “Come on.”

Good Old Yeshiva Days

26 Feb

(Some ‘historical fiction’ writing. I might make this into a series if you guys like it.)

Shaye walked in first, of course. He had more balls than the rest of us combined. We’d done it 3 times tonight already, but I still got scared each time. “Uh, Shaye, maybe we should go find another shul, it looks private here. There’s maybe 20 people.”

“20 people’s not private. If you want to stay out here and wait, fine. But I’m not walking all over again to find another shalom zachor.”

I hesitated. He walked in.

Moishe turned to me. “Shloime, he’s right. It’s getting late, this is probably our last one.”

“Yeah.” We filed into the brick shteeble and pretended to belong.

It wasn’t really necessary. Everyone was joking or eating or schmoozing. Nobody cared that we just walked in, except a red-faced, laughing, big guy  closest to the door who greeted us with, “Mazel Tov! Mazel Tov!” and turned back to his drinking buddy.

A quick glance to the head table found Shaye shaking the Baal Habos’s hand and making loud, smiling conversation. Shaye was a pro at this. He’d play the politician, answer a few questions about which yeshiva we were from, who his father was, etc, make a joke, and back out. The whole thing took 2 minutes, after which we were as welcome as any adult friend would have been. I wanted to make sure the father knew I was one of the merry yeshiva men, so I moved in to get in on the closer. Shaye was making his shalom zachor pun when I got there, a stupid one he said so confidently everyone laughed anyhow, and shook the guy’s hand.

“Sit down. There’s plenty of chairs. There’s still cholent. And beer! You want a beer before you start singing, right?”

“Sure”, I said, putting on my suave/charmer face. A waste. He’d already turned away to schmooze with his friends. So much for being cool. Well, I’d settle for being drunk. I went back to the table where Moishe and Moti were already pouring a bottle of Chivas into plastic cups of coke. Shaye was sipping on a shot of it straight while leaning his chair back to shmooze with the guy two seats away from him. I thought of trying to be that cool, but didn’t want to waste a my only chance of sustaining my buzz for something I probably couldn’t pull off. The guy would probably get bored and annoyed with my act, look at my booze, and kick us out. I mixed it with the coke like the other guys.

We drank, ate some chickpeas and cholent to look normal, drank more, performed the right songs at the right times, drank some more, and all the while I went over my problem. It wasn’t the opening act of my show. I could usually start the friendly macher bit well (except tonight, but the guy just probably had enough of strange high school guys by the time I got there). My problem was continuing it. I couldn’t keep it up. It just…got awkward. Just wrong. I didn’t know how to adjust to Normal Person without losing people’s interest. So I just kept going with Awesome Guy until I was over the edge and started running out of awesomeness. Somehow, I had to modulate it.

Right now, though, I had to pee and get the heck out of there before the alcohol kicked in and I did something stupid and outed us. I turned to Shaye.

“Let’s go. I need to get out of here.”

“Ok. I need to pish.”

“Me too.”

‘What do they call watermelon in Mississippi?’ or, scenes from a nursing home.

21 Feb

Unless the girl is a part of an old-age-home prostitution service, this is fake. It's probably part of a "how many things can you find wrong with this picture" old people activity kit. (I count 9.)

The company I work for has some nursing homes they are contracted with. For the most part, these places are soul-squashingly sad antechambers of death, so when you find people who still have some positive energy left, it kind of blows you away. It’s probably why they hire so many people from the Islands (Jamaica, Barbados, etc.) to work there. Most Americans would be walking husks within 6 months, but these people come in with so much positivity and happiness, they can go 5-6 years before their life-force is drained away.

One day, I’m working there late, like 7-8 o’clock, and this Islands nurse comes down to ask the Island front desk guy to help her with something. The guy is busy fixing the security camera monitors and doesn’t stop at all, just says in a rushed voice, “I cannot help you now. I am very busy. Time is money. We are in America now.” Then he breaks into a big smile and stops doing everything. “Just keeding Mama, show me what you got dere.” It was one of the coolest, sweetest things I’ve ever seen. (Yes, I said sweet. Sorry, but I don’t know any other more masculine word for it.)

Then there was this old black guy with some kind of disease sitting up in bed schmoozing with the floor supervisor who brought him the bbq wings he had ordered from a Chinese takeout place. I go in to fix something in the room, and the supervisor is saying something like, “The whole place smells like bbq chicken now. Everyone’s gonna want some from you.” The guy says, “I know. Then I give them some and now we friends. Maybe some ladies want some chicken too, know what I mean?” He’s smiling ear to ear, so I say, “A wing for a woman? Not a bad deal, if you ask me.” He laughs and goes on a bit. Then he says, “You Jewish, right?” I say, “Yeah, the yarmulka give it away?” He laughs. “What’s your name?” I tell him my name, which, being Hebrew, he can’t pronounce worth crap. He tries a few variations, then sees it’s getting awkward and gives up. I try to de-awkward the conversation: “It wasn’t my choice. You don’t get to choose what they call you.” He laughs, “Yeah, where I’m from, they used to call me nigger. I didn’t choose that one neither.”

Another time, this old Korean lady, who I’d never seen say a word to anyone, is singing a solo to some Korean karaoke song playing off the speaker system in front of a whole group of patients and staff. Just seeing her actually still alive, enjoying something, actually doing it well, was surreal.

Here’s a few one-liners from another old black man who spends his time wheeling himself around the nursing home and telling jokes to everyone. To the office of black Island nursing administrators: What do they call watermelon in Mississippi? Nigger steak. (“What was dat, Nene?” ‘He say wahtamelon eez called niggah steak.’ “Niggah steak? Ah don’t get eet.” ‘Haha. He’s a funny mon.’) To another patient lying in bed: What do you call an HIV infected patient in a wheelchair? Rollaids.

I guess the nursing home isn’t too bad a place to visit, as long as you focus on the positive. And if you have the door code to leave when the night-time cries of the damned become too much to take.

[And, please ,before you get your knickers in a twist for me saying “nigger”: I don’t normally use the word. This stuff actually happened.]

A Knight Alone

16 Jan

The knight ride on through the harsh desert night, past the lights of the village far off to his left. He was tired, hot, aching, with a terrible thirst, but he knew he could not enter the village. He uncorked his old wineskin and poured the last few drops of water onto his parched tongue. God would provide him with more. God always provided.

Even at night, his armor was heavy and stifling. He hadn’t rode under the sun in many days, ever since he had passed out on his horse from the heat and woke up in one of the enemy villages. He tried to make sense of that day’s memories, but couldn’t piece the entire story together. He remembered fighting to stay conscious, praying, singing old marching songs. All while a hellish sun cooked him in his armor hotter and hotter, and the sunlight reflected off his enameled breastplate gave him a blinding headache that seemed to reach down his back, even to his toes. He needed to take it off and find some water, but he knew he couldn’t. A knight must never relinquish his sword and armor. God would see him through this heat, but taking off his armor was unforgivable. A knight is his armor. A knight is his sword. He remembered seeing palm trees in the distance to his left. An oasis! God came through again, he had thought. Then nothing, until he had woken up in a bed under a beige tent drinking water from a small cup a woman was pouring into his mouth. A lovely woman, truth be told. Was he dead? Was this paradise? Then the woman had said something to him. That accent. He was in the enemy village! Where was his armor? He reached up and his head was bare, his breastplate gone. His sword. Where was his sword? There, on a small cushion next to him, with his armor piled next to it. He tried to grip the hilt and grab it. It moved slightly towards him and clattered to the floor. He was weak, weaker than he had ever imagined possible. Had they poisoned him? He tried to speak to the woman, but his words came out garbled, mixed with spittle.

Shhh”, the woman said. “Shhh, just lie back. Everything is all right. You will be fine. Please try to lie still. You are in my house, in the village of Tre Feneh.”

He drank some water and manged to croak, “Mm horse.”

Your horse is stabled outside. You can get him when you are better. You should be happy he walked into our town or you’d certainly have died.”

Mm name”

The girl smiled. “I’m Lily.”

He drifted off again. Hours passed- or was it days?- and other people came in. People with angry looks on their faces, who looked him over and them went on their way, never speaking to him. He was wary and grew frightened of them. He had horrible, violent dreams. He remembered one where he was being hunted down by the angry village folk. When they reached him, he wheeled his horse around to face them, but found himself naked and unarmed. Even his horse- he looked down, and found himself saddled to a dead carcass that looked like it had been partially butchered.

Savages!”, he cried. Suddenly, a troop of knights rode by and the villagers froze in their spots, hiding their weapons. A surge of relief went through him so deep he laughed. These were his brothers! The men he had trained with in the academy for 15 years. There was Shmuli, who had been knighted with him at the same ceremony. “Shmuli!”, he called. But he could feel something was wrong. “Shmuli! Shmuli! It’s me. It’s Meir!” They didn’t even notice him. “Yossi! Avrumi! Please, somebody, help me!” But they just rode on, talking to each other, laughing, in their polished armor, on their impossibly tall horses. He knew that Shmuli had recognized him. Why didn’t he help him? He cried and tried to grab onto his leg. But the villagers pulled out their weapons, and pulled him back, laughing. “Haha! You’re dead now, boy. You’re ours.”

But suddenly, there was Lily, tossing him his sword, strapping on his helm and plate.

Lily!”, he cried. “Thank God! Thank you, Lily.”

He woke up with a start. Lily was standing over him, looking worried. “Are you ok?”, she asked.

I must leave at once”, he told her.

PS- I wrote this before I wrote the other piece last week. I wasn’t going to put it up , because I thought it would just sound melodramatic now, but you know what? It’s my blog, so I’ll write what I damn well want.

My First Car Wreck

23 Nov

I got the idea for this post from my friend Brainrants’ (who runs a super-funny blog over here) first run-in with a tree. -Btw, two links to the same blog in one sentence means check it out. You’ll like it.

Back to the story though: I was in 1st year Bais Medrash in an “out-of-town” Yeshiva, and, as was is often the case, out of my box in need of a, how you say…”Beat-off”? Yes, anyhow, my uncle lived in that town, and I contrived some story as to why I needed to borrow his car. Being that it was 12 AM though, the convenience store that sold pornos near Yeshiva was closed, and I had to drive around desperately searching for a store that was open. I imagine this is what parents of sick children must feel like when they run out of medicine at 1 in the morning. 

Well, it’s 45 minutes later, and I’m driving in some dark tree-filled forest-ish place over winding roads that I have never seen before, and by now basically given up all hope of finding El Pornado, just speeding over a million unfamiliar roads trying to retrace my steps. In case you’re wondering, that last part is actually not a good idea. You see, I flew over one hill thinking it went straight at the bottom, but actually, it curved sharply, and there were train tracks running straight through the part where it turned. I took the curve a little too widely and my front right tire stuck out off the road, clipped the track and ripped my entire front axle off the car. The car spun around a few times until grinding to a stop in the middle of the road. You know- the pitch black curvy one right under the hill you couldn’t see over.

Well, I was in Yeshiva, and didn’t have a cell phone, because I was frum and cell phones could download naked pictures, so I just stood on the side of the road waiting for my car to kill the next person to come over the hill. A few cars drove by me from the other side without stopping, until, thank God, or whoever’s job it is to watch over horny clueless yeshiva bochurim, a big white Lincoln pulled up and stopped. A big dreadlocked black guy steps out, and to be honest, I got a little scared. I didn’t know what kind of neighborhood I was near and I didn’t expect anyone to stop to help me. Turns out, he didn’t stop to mug me. He lent me his cellphone to call a towing company, and went on his way. He even apologized for not staying with me until someone showed up, but it turns out he was “really high” and didn’t want to be around if the cops showed up.

I thought my uncle would go ballistic on me about his car, but he actually laughed because he had just bought a new car that same day- talk about hashgacha (and I think we can all agree that it seals the book on if God cares about me getting porn). I also eventually fessed up to my uncle why I was out so far away, the insurance covered the 6 grand of damage, and less importantly, I wasn’t hurt in the accident unfortunate event, so the only thing that suffered any lasting damage was my perception of black people. And potheads.

Wall Street Journal Reports On Manischewitz, Matzo Balls and Moroccans

16 Oct


Read more here:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203476804576613141530897616.html