Monthly Archives: September 2012
Writersdigest.com posts weekly writing prompts. Some of them might spark your interest. I must warn, however, that some of the prompts are too silly to even bother with.
I wrote one for the “mad scientist” prompt. Instead of getting heavily into the magical aspect, I attempted to capture those moments in life when you regret choices that you have made. In a sense, there’s no right or wrong road to take in life, there is only life.
A mad scientist approaches you with an offer: He has a secret potion that will help you get the thing you want most in this world—be it a person, a thing, an ability, etc. What you don’t know (and won’t reveal until the end of your story) is that there is one dire consequence (not death) from drinking the potion.
Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.
Magari! © copyright 2012 by Sara Jacobelli
One wish, to go back and not sign the adoption papers. To hold nine her month old son and say “No way” to the well meaning foster parents who offered to adopt him. Sofia leafed through the one album she had with pictures of her baby. Jesse James Morelli, her little outlaw.
“Don’t you listen?” Sammy stared into the refrigerator, as if he expected something new to materialize. “Who’s goin’ to get milk?” He frowned, looking dumpy in his red terry cloth bathrobe and flip flops, hardly the hip North Beach dealer. “Earth to Sofia?”
“Fine, I’ll go.” She tucked the album into a drawer and grabbed the apartment keys.
What dire circumstances could there be? Her life wasn’t exactly charmed. Sure, selling a little weed to San Francisco yuppies beat working the factory swing shift, but still. . . Sammy was pushy and self- centered. They always ran the risk of getting busted. Barely made the rent each month. Sometimes there was money left over for dinner in Chinatown and a movie, or Jazz at Bajones in the Mission District. One year they backpacked in Europe. Sammy talked about a trip to Machu Picchu if he could get some crops going in Mendo.
If she could have her kid back, how could she suffer? Poverty? She’d been broke most of her life. Spent her teenage years on the streets. She gave Jesse up because she was poor and alone.
Sofia went into Café Italia on Vallejo, ordered espresso macchiato. She liked coming in here, speaking Italian, getting away from Sammy. The men were macho, tough, like her father and uncles. They’d tease her, “Bella. Like Sofia Loren.”
Stay in 1996 San Francisco with Sammy? Selling bags of Mendocino County Indica, putting up with his shit? No kids, Sammy “didn’t want any brats.” Too many people in the world.
Go back to 1978 and keep Jesse? Not let the Christian family change his name and keep him? To see her own face in Jesse’s face, and Tony’s face too. Her Mom’s eyes and her Papi’s smile. Her brother’s voice and her aunt’s laugh, her grandmother’s brown skin.
Sofia left the café, walked the steep hills to Coit Tower, grateful that she quit smoking when she was pregnant with Jesse.
All she had to do was meet some nondescript man and drink a potion. Go back eighteen years, get Jesse, and raise him. “But what’s the dire consequence?”
As the man approached, Sofia realized what it was. She would not remember these years without Jesse, would not know what it meant to lose him. She would never know what she could have lost. She would be in Bridgeport, in the factories, raising a child alone, poor and tired. She would love Jesse, but sometimes he would feel like a burden. Her little outlaw. She would pine for a different life. A San Francisco life, a Jazz life, a free life.
Never knowing how lucky she was. Magari.
Glendening, P.J.T. “Why so many dictionaries don’t say so I can’t imagine, but magari has two clear meanings: perhaps and if only.” Cassell’s Colloquial Italian: A Handbook of Idiomatic Usage, Collier Books: New York, 1980. 82.
The “Mad Scientist” writing prompt is the property of writersdigest.com
“Bela Lugosi in The Devil Bat,” Wikipedia, Public Domain photo.
“Coit Tower-San Francisco,” Wikipedia, Public Domain photo.
Listed under Blogs I Follow
Treme is back on for the third season, Sunday nights at 9 pm on HBO right after the Prohibition era drama, Boardwalk Empire. Keep up with the details by checking out the Back of Town Treme Blog. Don’t forget to add your own comments.
PS: I met David Simon at the ALA Conference, and he said his main concern about Treme was “getting it right for the people of New Orleans. If other people don’t get it, too bad.”
Don’t have HBO? Catch Treme at Buffa’s. 1001 Esplanade. http://www.buffaslounge.com/events.html
You can also catch it at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub, 3701 Banks Street. http://finnmccools.com/
Photo Credit: “Second Line for T,” Sara Jacobelli
© copyright 2012 by Sara Jacobelli
“So I dealt with it.” Earl drained his Heineken, looked at me. We were sitting at Johnny White’s on St. Peter.
“What are you talking about?”
He had a solemn look on his face, Earl who was usually so funny and so full of mischief. Earl the French Quarter Bartender who patiently listened to every drunk’s endless tales of triumphs and woe. Once described in a Gambit bar review of the Bastille as “your host, the devilishly attractive Earl.” Now he had a story to tell.
“Listen. I need you to listen to this.”
I no longer heard the jukebox, or any of the people talking in the bar. My eyes focused on Earl’s eyes. Sometimes you do have to shut up and listen.
“I went to this therapist; she helped me deal with it. This middle-aged black lady, she was incredible. She got it all out of me. Why I have these nightmares, what I’m so angry about, why I would get so fucked up, why I’m so crazy and irresponsible and go through life making a joke of everything.”
I looked at Earl again. I always loved looking at him and picking out what was Irish and what was Cherokee. His features, definitely Irish, but there was a smooth brownness to his skin that the pale sun-starved Irish could never achieve. The getting-crazy-when- you’re-drunk part, both Irish AND Cherokee, no doubt. Still, it was hard to imagine regular guy Earl seeing a counselor, a therapist. That sounded so California New Age. I resisted the urge to tease him. He looked so serious.
“This is the story.” He took a deep breath. “Four of us, we grew up together, in Peoria, Illinois. Played hooky, scavenged for glass bottles to cash in for change, shoplifted, got into too many fights, drank too much, ran away from home, stole clothes off clotheslines. We all ran around together in high school, like a pack of wild dogs. Then we dropped out. We all joined the military. We all got married when we got out, had a bunch of kids. Our wives were friends, our kids played together. Four best friends, like brothers, really.”
“Then one night, we were out, drinking, partying, just being crazy, you know. At this point we were probably 27-28 years old. A semi truck slams into us, dead on. I remember it, the instant it happened. “
Earl had tears in his eyes. He touched my arm. “I have to tell you this. This is really important.”
He leaned closer to me. “They all three died. Instantly. I was the only survivor. I lost my three best friends in the whole world that night. And I’ve always felt guilty about surviving. Why me?”
There were no words to say. None.
“Not long after that, I left my family and came to New Orleans, ended up bartending. Been here ever since. But I’ve dealt with it. That therapist helped me. I’m OK now. I’m alright.”
As far as I know, Earl never spoke of the tragedy again. He died a couple of years after this conversation. As much as I like to talk, I’m glad that I stopped talking and listened. I’ve thought about that night at Johnny White’s often, when Earl decided to confide in me, and of the secret pain he held inside. Most people have scars you cannot see. Everyone has a story.
Note: I hope to include some photos of Earl. If you have any, please let me know.