Fiction: copyright © 2021 by Sara Jacobelli
Beatrice took little things. Paper clips and staples. Pens and sharpies and tiny bottles of Wite’ Out. Bright pink and green and blue and yellow highlighters. Crisp new manila envelopes and file folders. Took little things for months. No one noticed. Busy Bee Beatrice never stopped working, never took a day off, unless the office was closed.
Threw it all into several large plastic totes by the doorway in her cluttered studio apartment. There was something liberating about leaving the office with her ill-gotten goodies in her frumpy bag. It gave her a little thrill. Busy-Bee Beatrice who never stopped working, felt like doing the bunny-hop whenever she made a score, like her toy choodle Frederick when given a tasty treat.
She planned to take bigger stuff for her birthday week.
Monday, she took the tin of Petty Cash, ($49.53).
Tuesday, she took several small trash cans. Stole the mirror in the Lady’s Room, which involved bringing a screwdriver and then stuffing the unwieldy heavy thing into a huge backpack. She took her boss’s comfy wheelie chair, making an excuse to stay late to pull that one off. It barely fit in the back of her dented Honda CRV. Her boss, the stout Mrs. Appleby, was supposed to be vacationing at a health spa for the next two weeks.
Wednesday, Busy Beatrice came in early and emptied the break-room. She efficiently packed the mini-fridge, microwave, toaster, and coffee-pot into U-Haul boxes, dragged them out to her car.
‘Where you taking the coffee-pot?’ Glum Tom looked disoriented.
‘Headquarters is sending brand-new stuff. Tomorrow. Yup. All shiny and brand spanking new.’
‘YOLO! Guess I’m going to Starbucks!’ Mandy bounced out the door. Tom followed, frowning, pulling out crinkly dollar bills.
Beatrice stayed late again. She took the break-room radio. She took the laptop computers. She wheeled out the cart with the TV and the DVD player, pushed it down the handicapped ramp.
The last thing she did was punch in the code to unlock the closet door in her boss’s office, swipe the dead and silent Mrs. Appleby’s wedding ring and watch. She didn’t take her new iPhone or Fitbit. Too traceable.
Photo: “Desk Writing Utensils.” Pixabay Copyright-free images.
by Sara Jacobelli
Copyright © 2020
When my father visited the strange candy store with no customers and argued with big stomping men in a smoke-filled back room, I sat in the back seat of his prehistoric Cadillac reading library books and sucking on Lifesavers. They weren’t the books the Library Lady wanted me to check out.
She would point to displays filled with stuff like Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, The Bobbsey Twins, Little Women and Black Beauty. I ignored them and checked out juicy adult novels and autobiographies. The first time I tried this she shook her head, waggled her finger and announced, “No.” A younger Library Man behind the desk said, “Why not? Let her read what she wants.” So starting around fourth grade, I checked out and read whatever sparked my interest in the Adult Fiction and Nonfiction stacks. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes. Hunger by Knut Hansun. Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Rosemary’s Baby and This Perfect Day by Ira Levin. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Fifth Business by Robertson Davies. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and My Life in Burlesque by Georgia Sothern. Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas. Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown.
My favorite was The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinksi, which an angry seventh grade teacher plucked from my hands and threw in the trash can. I rescued it. I never gave it back to the library. I kept the Nameless Boy wandering alone through the horrors of the Holocaust in my socks and undies drawer, pulling it out to reread whenever I had a bad day dealing with the gangs and fights at school, or my parents fighting over money and bills and booze. If this black-haired black-eyed kid could survive being brutally tortured throughout the War, surely I could survive East Side Middle School.
One grey day I finished all of my books and clambered out of the Caddy, squeaked open the heavy door to the shadowy candy store. I had no money for candy, but was hungry for more words. I spotted the Bridgeport Post on a newsrack and read the articles. On the bottom of the front page I read out loud: Bartender Shot on East Side. “33 year old Jim McCrory was shot Thursday night in Eddie Mac’s Bar on East Main Street in an apparent robbery. McCrory, an ex-offender with a long record, died on the way to Bridgeport Hospital. No suspects have been identified.”
His son Jimmy was in my home room. I had a crush on him. I, who so loved words, couldn’t imagine what to say when I saw him at school.
Poppy came out of the back room, smelling like Pall Malls and Seagram’s Seven. He had a wad of tens and twenties in his hands. “Get in the car.”
In a rare good mood, he sang, “Cherry Berry Bee, I Hear a Rhapsody!” while he drove down Boston Avenue and turned on East Main Street. “Can you make her go faster?” He gunned the Caddy, the car Mom hated but us kids loved. She spit sputtered groaned grunted like an arthritic dinosaur. The speedometer flew from 50 to 60 to 70. Faster faster faster. Top down, I held onto the seat so I wouldn’t fly away. “Make her go a hundred, a hundred miles an hour!” She gurgled and groaned her way to 80 down the silent night streets, while I held my breath hoping she’d make it to 100, past the Five and Dime and Ho-Jo’s, past the bars and pizza parlors, past the gas stations and cab stands, bakeries and butcher shops and fish and chips joints and newsstands, past the Dairy Queen and Triangle’s store and the Tropical Spa Deli and White’s Diner, past the factories and the bus stops and Sereno’s pharmacy, past my sleeping friends’ apartments, past the building where Jimmy McCrory lived with his Mom and brothers and sisters. Jimmy, the cute-skinny-boy with clothes-too-big and dirty-blond-hair whose life would never be the same.
Photo Credit: Pixabay Copyright free images. Cadillac Convertible. https://pixabay.com/photos/sixties-cadillac-cadi-convertible-3572993/
I just got accepted to be listed in the Poets & Writers directory. I have enough published Fiction credits, in approved publications, to be listed as a Fiction writer. (I also have tons of Nonfiction pieces published, but most of those do not fit their criteria.)
The AHA Moment!
Writing Haiku in English
Taught by local author/artist Phyllis Parun
When? Saturday, January 11th, 2:00-3:45 pm
Where? Alvar Library. 913 Alvar Street. NOLA. 70117. 504.596.2667.
What? Whether you have ever tried writing Haiku or not, this workshop is sure to strengthen your writing skills for any type of writing!
Join us as we learn how to write a simple, short poetic form that will leave your reader gasping for breath. Forget syllable counting! This short form is about succinctly writing a moment of heightened awareness in any length.
In this workshop you will be guided through a simple process for discovering your own Haiku writing talent.
The writing of Haiku has grown out of Ms. Parun’s love for gaining personal insight through the use of the concise economy of words. Grant recipient from the Puffin Foundation and Poets & Writers. Author of two books of poetry: New Orleans Born and New Orleans: between Poetry and the Blues.
In December, we had a wonderful workshop on using “emotional autobiography” to write poetry and fiction, taught by local author Deb Jannerson.
We will not have a workshop in February or March. We will have one again in April, on using the Natalie Goldberg style of writing practice. And in May, we will have our final session of the 2019-2020 season, which will be a reading by our participants and facilitators.
Below is a brief commentary for your entry in the 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award. Our judges are asked to write a short commentary of each entry they read, and that commentary is provided to all entrants as part of their participation in the competition. Some judges use their commentary as an opportunity to critique, others to review; some combine the two. A judges’ response is unique to their individual perspective.
Entry Title: Nine Dead Dope Dealers and Other Stories
Author: Sara Jacobelli
Judge Number: 55
Entry Category: Mainstream/Literary Fiction
Judge, 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards, 2019
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 4
Plot and Story Appeal: 4
Character Appeal and Development: 4
Voice and Writing Style: 5
Nine Dead Dope Dealers and Other Stories is full of colorful characters who are vividly written. The story of the San Francisco drug scene in the 1980s reels the reader in, and the character Sofia is a likable spitfire with street savvy of her own. The organization of the stories—by geographic location—creates an illustrated road map of the characters and their individual journeys. The author also does a great job of writing about settings, from the dive bars of California to working-class neighborhoods of Connecticut and shows a knack for writing in a distinct voice that gives the stories more polish, such as in “The Replacement” and “Ice Cold.”
At times, though, the flash pieces seem more like story sketches, with no clear or intimated resolution, and leave the reader wanting more. In some places it makes sense, but in others, it doesn’t. Examples include pieces like “The Melonheads” and “When I Make Myself Imagine” and “Controlling Miss Lovekey.”
The themes found in the stories can also become repetitive, particularly in the Bridgeport, CT section—poor Italian families struggling to make ends meet, domestic violence, reform school, cheating spouses, petty crimes, children bullying one another, etc. The one-act plays scattered throughout the book provide a different change of pace. “Leaps Tall Buildings” is especially delightful.
Here’s my description of the book on Amazon:
These stories are about people on the edge, struggling to survive: a hit man confessing to his son, a hijacker confronting a salmon fisherman and his teen-aged daughter in the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco weed dealers in the midst of the 1980s AIDS epidemic, pot growers on an Indian reservation confronting a patch pirate, small time crooks and con artists, ex-cons, juvenile hall denizens, two little girls breaking into the church Poor Box, kickball-playing bullies, a desperate young woman attempting to steal her kids back from their adoptive parents, a young man escaping an abusive past, teenage welfare-moms being hassled by the cops, a young girl protecting her brothers from a violent father, a broke widow befriending a young bartender in a laundromat, a single mom with a jailed boyfriend who steals from rich club-hopping party girls, a mysterious older woman picking up a young drifter at the New Orleans Greyhound Bus Station and a young boy searching for mythical large-headed creatures on Halloween night.
It’s available for purchase as a paperback or as an ebook on Amazon. If you read it, please share a review on Amazons, Goodreads, or Google Books. Thanks!
Northwestern University Press
Encuentro: Latinx Performance for the New American Theater
with Full One-Man Play Script of
ALIENS, IMMIGRANTS & OTHER EVILDOERS
by José Torres-Tama
Reading & Signing: Alvar Library Thursday, November 14th
913 Alvar St. 6–7:30 pm Free & Open to the Public
Edited by Trevor Boffone, Teresa Marrero, and Chantal Rodriguez
Extraterrestres, Inmigrantes y Otros Malhechores
José Torres-Tama, poeta, dramaturgo, y actor premiado de performance
Northwestern University Press ha publicado el guión completo de una obra satírica de teatro llamada Extraterrestres en un libro titulado, “Encuentro: Latinx Performance for the American Theatre.” Recientemente publicado, la liberia Alvar presenta al escritor y actor.
Biblioteca Alvar. 913 Alvar St. 5 Jueves Septiembre 6 pm.
This anthology has its origins in the Encuentro theater festival, which was produced by the Latino Theater Company in association with the Latinx Theatre Commons in Los Angeles in 2014. Encuentro means “an encounter,” and meetings form a core theme in these six groundbreaking plays, each prefaced by a critical introduction from a leading Latinx theater scholar.
Playwrights Ruben C. Gonzalez, José Torres-Tama, Rickerby Hinds, Mariana Carreño King, Javier Antonio González, and Evelina Fernández exhibit a wide range of aesthetic approaches, dramatic structures, and themes, ranging from marriage, gentrification, racial and gendered violence, migration, and the ever-present politics of the U.S.–Mexico border.
There is power in the communal experience of creating, witnessing, and participating in theater festivals. This anthology is a testament to that power and seeks to document the historic festival as well as to make these works available to a wider audience.
Encuentro: Latinx Performance for the New American Theater addresses interests of general audiences committed to the performing arts; scholars and students of Latinx, gender, and ethnic studies; university, college, and high school theater programs; and regional theaters looking to diversify their programming.
Northwestern University Press Link:
The intro to José Torres-Tama’s ALIENS, IMMIGRANTS, & OTHER EVILDOERS one-man play script is done by renowned Chicana Scholar Dr. Tiffany Lopez.
In ALIENS, José Torres-Tama performs the stories of Latin American immigrant reconstruction workers, and their struggles with wage theft, challenging working conditions, and brutal deportations in a city that they have helped to rebuild.
As the 14th anniversary the storm nears in 2019, immigrants have been forgotten, and they are being disappeared through deportations. The published ALIENS performance script and the show itself honors the contributions of our immigrants workers, who have given their sweat, labor, and love to our rebirth. It’s the job of the artist to remember the people’s truth, and there is no greater neglected truth than that of immigrants who have rebuilt New Orleans, states Torres-Tama.
The ALVAR Library will host a signing and a performance reading of this Ecunetro Anthology with José Torres-Tama on Thiursday, September 5 form 6-7:30pm
Alvar Library is located at 913 Alvar Street in the Bywater.
This event is sponsored by a grant from Poets & Writers Magazine.
About the playwrights and poet:
Ecuadorian-born José Torres-Tama is recipient of a prestigious MAP Fund Award for his radical theater on wheels called the Taco Truck Theater / Teatro Sin Fronteras project. Also, he is an NEA award-wining performance activist, and published poet and playwright.
His performance work challenges the anti-immigrant hysteria head on, and exposes the hypocrisies of the United States of Amnesia, which seduces it’s citizenry to embrace forgetting that it politically dehumanizes the same people whose labor it readily exploits.
Diálogos Books New Orleans has published Immigrant Dreams & Alien Nightmares, a debut collection of twenty-five years of poems from 1989 to 2014.
ALIENS, IMMIGRANTS & OTHER EVILDOERS, a sci-fi Latino noir solo performance, satirizes the absurd status of immigrants as “extraterrestrials.” Torres-Tama deftly shape-shifts into a variety of complex “alien’ characters, and they challenge a “freedom-loving” nation that has migrated deep into the “Dark Side.”
It includes a Honduran reconstruction worker whose hand is crushed while rebuilding New Orleans; a New Orleans Mexican Methodist Minister who implores us to see the Christ figure in the persecuted immigrant; a Nicaraguan woman who retells her dramatic border-crossing story to escape a Civil War when she was just eight years old; and a hilarious Chicano-accented Pachuco character who warns against politicians looking to “take America back!” Pachuco asks, how far back because 1950 was not a good time to be even a white woman back then?
Inspired by filmed interviews with immigrants who have shared their epic border-crossing stories with the artist, the one-man play script offers the literary and poetic texts of a performance that is selling out theater houses across the country because it takes the Immigration issue head on.
ALIENS has been critically acclaimed for putting a human face and heart of an immigrant people escaping persecution in search of a dream in the beacon of democracy, states the artist.
The performance is timely, intelligent, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking, and quite funny. In Aliens, audiences are able to see a performance artist at the top of his game. Aliens is a necessary theatre that sparks conversations about the hardships faced by the undocumented community and asks audiences to consider what we might do to address these inadequacies. —The Theatre Times
Full Theatre Times Review Link:
ALIENS, IMMIGRANTS & OTHER EVILDOERS is a National Performance Network Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by MECA (Houston) in partnership with GALA Hispanic Theatre (D.C.), and the Ashé Cultural Arts Center (New Orleans) and the NPN. For more information: www.npnweb.org.
This Taco Truck Kills Fascists is the documentary on his theater on wheels performance project and won Best Louisiana Feature at the 2018 New Orleans Film Festival.s
Rodrigo Dorfman, the award-winning Chilean filmmaker, directed it, and it’s been making the national film circuit with a screening at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival in February, where it received strong critical support.
REMEZCLA San Francisco Online Preview Jan 2019:
BeyondChron Review Jan 29, 2019:
IndyGrits Film Fest Press Link:
Among other awards, Torres-Tama is a Louisiana Theater Fellow, in 2019 he received his 3rd National Performance Network Creation Fund commissioning award for his latest project titled United Sates of Amnesia: from Fugitive Slave Act to Zero Tolerance.
As a journalist and writer, he contributed commentaries to NPR’s Latino USA news journal from 2006 to 2011. He explored the many challenges of life in post-Katrina New Orleans, and the myriad human rights violations experienced by Latin American immigrants who reconstructed the city from it’s flooded deathbed.
As a writer/poet, performance and visual artist, he explores the effects of media on race relations, the underbelly of the “North American Dream” mythology, and the anti-immigrant hysteria currently gripping the USA since 9/11.
Since 1995, he has toured his genre-bending solos nationally and internationally. Across the Atlantic, he has performed at Roehampton University and Live Art Development in London; the Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool; the Centre for Performance Research in Aberystwyth, Wales; the Castle of the Imagination Performance Festival in Poland; and Performance Festivals in Maribor, Slovenia and Mexico City.
In the academy, Duke, Vanderbilt, Cornell, LSU, OSU, and many others have presented his performances and lectures on art as a tool for social change. Theaters like Performance Space 122 and Theater for the New City in New York, GALA Hispanic Theatre in DC, and the Los Angeles Theater Center have also presented his shows.
In 2013, he received a 2nd National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Award to develop the Taco Truck Theater / Teatro Sin Fronteras, and has since transformed a donated vehicle into a mobile theater that is touring across the country.
What? This month’s workshop will be taught by New Orleans author Phyllis Parun. Ms. Parun will share the Natalie Goldberg style of writing practice with us, based on the best-selling book, “Writing Down the Bones.”
When? Saturday, November 9th. 2:00-4:00 pm.
Where? Alvar Library. 913 Alvar Street. NOLA. 70117. 504-596-2667.
Who? Phyllis Parun, teaching the Natalie Goldberg style of writing practice.
The reasons people write are many. Regardless of your reasons, you will benefit from this uninhibited, brave approach. Phyllis Parun shares the Natalie Goldberg approach to writing with us. Ms. Parun is a native New Orleanian, a visual artist and philosophical poet. She is the author of New Orleans Born and New Orleans: Between Poetry and the Blues (available at Kindle and Ingram) Writers of all levels are welcome to attend.
We had a wonderful book talk last night, with Deb Jannerson. Her book, “The Women of Dauphine combines the triple genres of YA/Paranormal/LGBTQ. Published by NineStar Press and available at Blue Cypress Books in New Orleans.
Thursday: November 7th, 6-7:30 pm. “The Women of Dauphine”
Book Reading and Book Signing
Alvar Library. 913 Alvar St. NOLA. 70117. 504-596-2667
If you missed it, you can come to the December writers’ workshop, where Deb will share both poetry and prose writing tips. Saturday, December 14th, 2:00-4:00 pm, also at Alvar Library.
Join us for a Poetry-Writing Workshop with New Orleans author Kay Murphy. Ms. Murphy is the author of two books, The Autopsy (Spoon River Poetry Press) and Belief Blues (Portals Press). Her poetry has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Spoon River Poetry Quarterly, College English, New Orleans Review, and has been anthologized in From a Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets.
What? A poetry-writing workshop, taught by poet Kay Murphy
When? Saturday, October 12th, 2:00-3:45 pm
Where? Alvar Library. 913 Alvar St. New Orleans, LA 70117. 504.596.2667
This event is free and open to the public. Writers of all levels are welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served.
“Buckjumping!” takes the pulse of present day New Orleans by turning to its dancers, the men and women who embody the rhythm of the city and prove it on the streets every chance they get. (70 minutes)
What? “Buckjumping!”documentary by New Orleans independent filmmaker Lily Keber. http://www.lilykeber.com/
Where? Alvar Library. 913 Alvar Street. NOLA. 70117.
When? Thursday, September 26th. 6:00 pm.
Who? The documentary was made by New Orleans independent filmmaker Lily Kober.
This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. All ages may attend the film screening.