Monthly Archives: May 2013
© Copyright 2013 by Sara Jacobelli
We Have Been Evicted
Sunday, October 18, 1981
I am writing in my Notebook so thought that I would write you a letter. I don’t know when I will get the money for stamps to mail this all the way to Italy. I am sorry that I don’t know enough Italian to write this letter all in Italian. But I hope that someone there can read this to you and translate it. But just in case you sent any letters to us at our apartment I wanted to let you know we don’t live there any more. We had to move from our apartment on 719 Spain Street. We got Evicted and now we are living in a Motel. The Name is the Sands Motel which Mama says is really funny, “because there are no sandy beaches here.” The sign has a picture of a Palm Tree on a Sandy Beach. Then there is another sign that says, “Sweet Home Motel.” Mama said, “This dump ain’t Sweet and it ain’t Home.” (By the Way, I Hate the Motel. We all hate it. It is Ugly, Noisy and Dirty. And there is no Pool! Every Motel on TV has a Pool but not this one. Mama said, “That’s because this Motel is not a Vacation in Disneyland. It’s more like a Vacation in Hell.”)
Mama says that this is just Temporary. She keeps saying that. I’m not sure how long Temporary is, but it must be at least two weeks because that is how long we have been here. I mark down how long we have been here in my Notebooks. (I don’t want the kids at school to know we live in a Motel. Plus I am always late for school because I take the Little Kids on the City Bus to their school, then I go to my middle school).
Papa got fired because he lost his Temper and got in a fight at the restaurant. (He was waiting tables and he said someone snapped his finger at him so Papa punched him.) Mama is working as a cashier at the Circle K. I worry because they get robbed a lot at night and wouldn’t you know Mama works the Night Shift for Minimum Wage.
Well, the Good News is we still have our car. She still runs but not very fast. Papa tries to make her go fast and she makes funny noises and pieces fall off. We call her Dinah, short for Dinah-Soar. My little brother named her that. The Little Kids are doing OK. Do you remember them? My brother Gino is nine and my sister Antonietta is six. They are Good Kids and I help them with their homework.
I taught them the alphabet in Italian and the numbers in Italian too.
Well, Nonna, that is enough writing for tonight. I have to go to sleep but I will write more tomorrow. I need to find some place to hide my Notebooks because I don’t want Mama reading them. Papa can’t read English very well so I don’t worry about him.
Oh, one more thing before I go to bed. They sent home some papers from school and I gave them to Mama. It was the form to fill out for getting Lunch Cards for school. (That means Free Lunch if you are Poor). Can you believe this? Papa grabbed the paper from Mama and started yelling, “We don’t need their Food Stamps!” He was so mad. I tried to tell him that almost everyone gets Lunch Cards at school and they’re not the same as Food Stamps. On top of that, Mama told me after he Stormed Out that we do qualify for Food Stamps, and we really need them. But she can’t apply because Papa would get really mad. This makes me mad because we are Hungry a lot and I hate being Hungry. Plus the Little Kids cry when all they get is Cheerios for dinner. When Papa gets paid sometimes we get McDonald’s but now that he got Fired that’s over. (Mama says Papa won’t even let her use coupons from the newspaper because he thinks they are Food Stamps).
Oh, and get this: My teacher sent me to the School Counselor, Mrs. Popovich, who asked me a bunch of Dumb Questions. I think she was trying to find out if we were living in our Car or a Motel or Under a Bridge. Papa always says, ”Don’t tell those people at school nothing!” And I didn’t tell her anything. She kind of made me laugh, though, when she read off this list of questions. One question was, ”Are you living in a Doubled-Up or Tripled-Up Household?” I sat there feeling Dumb then asked her what that meant. She said, “Well, you are still considered Homeless if you are staying with Friends or Relatives.” That’s the Dumbest Thing I ever heard. I would be thrilled if we had any Friends or Relatives to stay with. I just told her we are Doing Fine. And I made a Mental Note to go and check the mail box at our old apartment once or twice a week. You never know if that school will send papers home.
One sad thing is, we are not doing anything for Halloween this year. I don’t know if you have Halloween in Italy, but believe me, it is usually a lot of fun here. I wanted to take the Little Kids Trick or Treating, then go to a Party after that a girl from school is having. Looks like I will be staying home babysitting while Mama works. We can’t even give candy out because NO ONE comes to a Motel to Trick or Treat.
The funny thing is, the New People have not moved into our apartment yet. So it is just sitting there, looking lonely. The windows look like eyes and the door looks like a mouth. The shutters are the eyelashes. Every time I go there to get the mail I stand there and silently tell our apartment that we miss it so much. It looks back at me, sad, and I think it misses us too.
OK, good night for real, Nonna! Buono notte! Ti amo, ti baci! XXX OOO
(X means Kisses and O means Hugs)
PS: I am still looking for an Italian-English Dictionary.
PSS: Gino and Antonietta love you too! (Even though they don’t really remember you).
PSSS: I will send you school pictures of us if we get them this year. (Mama doesn’t know if we will). But if we don’t get school pictures then I will draw a picture of all of us and the Little Kids can draw pictures too. Mama brings home scratch paper for us to draw on from the Circle K.
PSSSS: The Worst Thing of All about the Ugly Depressing Motel is that we had to leave Old Mr. Kitty behind. I look for him each time I go back to check the mail but I haven’t seen him yet. I am sure he is very mad at us.
Photo Credit: “Airline Highway, Metairie Louisiana” by Wikipedia. GNU Free Documentation License.
Fiction © copyright 2013 by Sara Jacobelli
The Evil Mary Fran Series
“Shop lifting is fun!” declared the Evil Mary Fran. We stood in front of Shopper’s Fair Department Store on Boston Avenue.
“Well. . .what are we gonna steal?” I was excited, but nervous. I didn’t want my Aunt Ruthie to find out. However, like any true criminal, the thrill of the potential reward far exceeded the fear of punishment.
“I know. Come here!” She grabbed my arm and pulled me around to the back of the parking lot. Several turned-over crates used as seats, strewn cigarette butts and empty beer bottles revealed the spot to be a teenage hangout. I felt like I was in a pirate’s den. “We’ll take off our shoes, and go in barefoot.” Mary Fran’s eyes glinted with delight at the brilliance of her scheme. “Then we’ll get some Converse high tops, neat ones, in real cool colors, put em on, see, and then run out the store.”
This was tempting. And I wanted a pair so bad. My mom wouldn’t buy me the Converses, she said they cost too much. I knew I deserved them. “But whadda we tell our parents when we come home with extra shoes? New shoes?” I’d seen enough TV cop shows to know criminals usually got caught for not thinking things through.
“We tell em, we tell em. . .” Mary Fran puffed on a cigarette. I had to admit, for a fifth grader, she was a pretty good smoker.
“I know, we tell em we gotta Rich Friend who gave em to us.” The Evil Mary Fran smiled, triumphantly.
That sounded OK, so we headed into the store. Mary Fran used her lit cigarette to burn the price tags off our contraband shoes. We then headed out the front door, Mary Fran with bright red Converse high tops and me with bright blue ones. Mary Fran got away scot-free, but I got stuck in the automatic door.
A cute guy about sixteen who worked there had to rescue me from the stuck door. I heard the blare of sirens and knew the police were coming for me. I thought for sure I would get arrested for the stolen shoes, but nothing happened.
I didn’t mention the shoes to my parents, and they didn’t ask where they came from. Only my aunt was suspicious. “Where’djou get those sneakers?,” she asked, a sewing needle in her mouth as she sat on the couch drinking tea and mending clothes. “They look new.”
“Oh. Well. My Rich Friend, Sheila, from New York City. She gave them to me. They live in a very fancy penthouse right next to the Empire State Building.” I sipped my tea and pretended to be interested in an article about gall bladder diseases in Reader’s Digest. “She goes to Private School, and uh, she has a Poodle and a Limousine.”
“You don’t know them. Sheila uh, Sheila uh. ” I needed a last name. I thought of Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek. “Sheila Kirk. Sheila T. Kirk.”
“Lemme see.” I stuck out my bright blue feet so my aunt could inspect my shoes.
“Well, they’re nice. But you can’t wear them to school. It’s against the dress code.”
I breathed a sigh of relief, as only a true criminal can. “I know, I’m just wearing them to parties and stuff.”
“What parties?” Aunt Ruthie lit a cigarette. She smoked even better than Mary Fran.
“Birthday parties and stuff.”
“Are you going to invite this Rich Friend, Sheila, to your birthday party?”
“Oh no. It’s just gonna be us, an apizza and a cake. I’m not having a real party.”
“But you should invite her to thank her.” My aunt looked disappointed. “Don’t ever be embarrassed by your home and your family, no matter how humble.” Aunt Ruthie turned on the TV to watch her Stories while she sewed. “Take the hamburg out the fridge to thaw.”
“Aunt Ruthie, it’s HAM-BUR-GER, not hamburg. And RE-FRIG-ER-A-TOR, not fridge.
“So, you’re learning fancy talk from this Sheila girl. I should wash your mouth with soap for that fresh talk!” Aunt Ruthie stubbed out her cigarette. “Get me a beer from the fridge!,” she yelled. “By the way, how did you meet this Sheila if she lives in New York?”
I had a feeling that my Imaginary Rich Friend Sheila was going to be as much trouble as the Very Real, But Evil, Mary Fran. Still, I was a little giddy about getting away with my crime. It was easier to fool Aunt Ruthie than I thought.
“Well. They had this Rich Kid Day, where the Rich Kids came to our school to tell us about their lives. ” I used the bottle opener to pop open Aunt Ruthie’s beer and handed it to her, after my customary sip. “. . . and they brought snacks. Expensive snacks. Cav-ee-ar and stuff.”
“Cav-ee-ar? Hmmm.” She frowned. “Rich Kid Day at Beardsley School? Never heard of it.”
“Oh, it’s new. Like, uh, New Math.”
She thought for a moment. “Get my box off the dresser and get out some paper and pencil, young lady.”
“You’re gonna write a letter to your cousin Patrick in the State Prison. He’s doing fifteen years for armed robbery of the liquor store cross da street. I’m sure he would love to hear from you.” Aunt Ruthie grabbed one of her rosaries and made the sign of the cross.
Photo Credit: “Gangster’s Law,” by Wikipedia. CC License Non-Free. Could Qualify as Fair Use.
Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia, will be the final judge.
You must submit your story by midnight, May 12, Eastern Standard Time. The web page lists the guidelines. Every week stories will be posted until the finalists are selected.
For Round 10 I entered a story titled, “Jail Babies.” I didn’t win anything, but you can read it on this web site.
Photo Credit: “Finders Keepers Crew” by txmx 2. CC License NonCommercial NoDerivs. Flickr.