Monthly Archives: February 2014
The Motel Family: Part Fourteen
© Copyright 2014 by Sara Jacobelli
Greyhound Station Locker Number 27
Sunday, May 2, 1982
Well, you know how I planned to go to the Greyhound Station to get Papa’s money? This is what ended up happening:
Monday morning I walked Gino and Antonietta to school at the Little Red Schoolhouse in the Quarter. Then I took the bus to my Middle School. I wasn’t able to get out of the house the night before, to make an excuse to use the pay phone at the Bastille to call Dakota. I figured I’d find her in school and we would skip school. But Dakota never showed up in school! So I had to sneak out by myself at Lunch Time, and walk all the way to the Greyhound Station downtown.
The bus station is real seedy looking and all of these strange guys were hanging around. I had to laugh, because I knew that Mama would call them “Unsavory Characters.” I was pretty nervous about finding the lockers. I did find them, but just my luck, number 27 had a big old ugly padlock on it! And here I thought I was going to find all this money and be some kind of big hero to Mama and the Little Kids. As bad as it sounds, I wasn’t planning on giving Mama the money to pay Papa’s lawyer. I thought maybe we could use the money to buy a car and maybe even buy a house. And bikes for all us kids too, and new haircuts and clothes and shoes for all of us. It would be like Winning the Lottery.
So I’m standing there daydreaming, just staring at this stupid locker and this young black guy mopping the floor stops mopping and looks at me.
“That your locker?” he asked.
I nodded yes and held up the key.
“Uh huh. Uh huh. They gots the padlock on it, cuz someone dint pay the bill. Yes, indeed. Yes. Uh huh.” He shook his head solemnly.
“But—but—it’s my Papa’s locker. Um, he’s sick. He’s in the hospital.” I figured Hospital sure sounded better than Jail.
He went back to mopping. “You got to see Mr. Sandy.”
The janitor used the handle of the mop as a pointer, “Mr. Sandy. He the Man. That his Office.”
I headed in the direction of what looked almost like a cage. A tiny cluttered room walled in by wire mesh. There was an office chair and a desk, but both were covered with ancient Reader’s Digests and Popular Mechanics, piles of ashtrays overflowing with non-filtered Pall Malls and half filled coffee mugs, not to mention a thick layer of fuzzy dust. All kinds of hand lettered cardboard signs were tied to the wire mesh cage with knotted strings. “30 Days Late and Yore Lokker is Pad-lokked. Come see MR. Sandy” said one. “You Must Pay 2 Doller eech day you Late” said another. The Biggest sign proudly proclaimed, “The Lord Givveth and the Lord Takketh Away.” I stood there reading the Mysterious Signs and mentally correcting the Spelling. I’ve always been a good Speller.
“Can I help you Young Lady?” an older black man asked. He was holding a ceramic coffee mug that said “The Boss” on it. He was heavy and kind of stern looking. He wore a wrinkled faded light blue uniform that had a patch with the Greyhound symbol and the name “Sandy” printed in script above the cigarette pocket. His deep voice was kind of intimidating, but his eyes did have a friendly twinkle.
“Uh, well. My father’s sick, in Charity Hospital, he might not make it, you know.” I held out the key with the “27” on it.
“Um hmm. And his locker’s Pad-locked and you can’t get into it. Um hmm.” Mr. Sandy shuffled through a stack of file folders on his desk. They were perched so high I thought the whole pile might tip over.
He found something and frowned. “Seems this Mr. Carter character ain’t paid his Locker Rent in months. Seb-ral months. It’s gonna cost you, it’s gonna cost you—” Mr. Sandy shoved the magazines off of his chair and sat down. He took a pencil out of a desk drawer, found a tablet, and carefully wrote and crossed out numbers on the yellow lined paper.
“This here Mister Carter your Daddy?”
I nodded. Papa was so Italian “Mr. Carter” sounded funny. I held back a giggle.
“It’ll cost you, Young Lady, Twenny seben dollar. Just like the Locker Number, 27. Um Hmmm.”
“I don’t have the money now. I have to get it. Can I see what was in the Locker?”
Mr. Sandy nodded in the direction of an unruly pile of suitcases and duffle bags. They all had tags on them with Locker Numbers. I found Number 27, a plain black army duffle bag. It looked just like the one Earl the Bartender’s son packed to go off to Basic Training when he joined the Army. I tugged at the bag. It was heavy and locked with a miniature padlock.
Mr. Sandy poured himself another cup of coffee. “You bring me the Money tomorra, you ken bring the bag home.”
“Um, can I have it now? And then bring the Money tomorrow?”
“No.” He pointed to a sign that said, “MR. Sandy Makes the Rulles.”
He wasn’t budging. I didn’t know where I was going to get the Money, or even how I was going to drag that heavy bag home. I shoved the key back in my pocket.
“See ya tomorrow, Mr. Sandy!” I headed towards the exit.
“OK. But Young Lady. . .”
I turned around. “What?”
“Ain’t you sposedta be in school? My grandbabies’ all in school today.”
“Well, it’sa long story. On Accounta my father being in, being in Charity Hospital and all.”
“Where’s your Mama?”
“She’s there with him.”
“And what’s wrong with him? Heart attack? Diabetes? What he have? Them stones in the Kidney? Gall bladda? The Curse of Cancer?”
“I don’t know, Mr. Sandy. He’s just sick, real sick.” I hung my head and tried to look Sad. The truth was, Papa wasn’t Sick, but he was in a Mess all right. A Mess he made himself.
“Uh huh. Uh huh. Well it be’s in the Lord’s hands now. See ya tomorra with that Twenny Seben dollar. Cash. Or whenebber ya get here.” He pointed to a sign that said, “Cash Only No Chekks Alloyed. The Rulles. MR. Sandy.” He smiled a little bit, and I caught the eye twinkle. Mr. Sandy knew I was lying. My face turned beet red. As I walked home through the dingy downtown streets, all I could think of was “Liar Liar pants on fire.”
Photo Credit: “Padlock.” CC Public Domain Image. 1195 x 1600. Flickr.
Page & Spine bills itself as a “weekly literary magazine showcasing emerging writers.”
Ready for a challenge? Got the urge to write a flash fiction gem? Then whydontcha’ enter their flash fiction contest? The Topic is “Breakfast Challenge”:
(I take this to mean to write anything concerning breakfast!)
As for the prize, I believe it is publication in Page & Spine and a very small monetary award.
Word limit: 500 words or less
Deadline: midnight EST, February 28, 2014
Send your entries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject line: Breakfast Challenge
Check out Page & Spine:
Update: I wrote and submitted my story! Looks like there is only one prize. If I win, I’ll post the link to the story here. If not. . . then I will submit my story to other venues, or post it here on Capitare a Fagiolo.
I just found out that my application has been accepted to participate in World Book Night! What is World Book Night? Well, you know how they have all of those give-away events for kids, where the kiddies get to take home a free book? This is essentially the same thing, but for adults.
Each year, between 30 and 35 titles are selected. Now, the authors must agree to waive royalties on these copies of their books. Various participants around the globe give the books away. The idea is to try to reach a target audience who CAN read—but doesn’t read much. You select your title from that year’s list, choose an audience, suggest where you will give the books away. If your application is accepted, you will be given 20 copies of your chosen book to complete your mission.
I selected “Tales of the City” by Armistead Maupin. My target audience will be in the gay bars in New Orleans! I’m thinking of going fairly early in the evening, before the heavy partying scenes really start, and talking about the book, even reading excerpts from it if anyone will listen. “Tales of the City” is a fun, lively, crazy romp through San Francisco’s gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community in the late 70s and early 80s. It is broken up into short chapters, because the stories were originally serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle. The short chapters are perfect for a morning or evening commute on public transportation; so even someone really busy who ‘doesn’t have time to read’ can read this book!
Maupin also put together two more collections with the same characters, “More Tales of the City” and “Further Tales of the City”, and the BBC produced a TV series of the “Tales” gang in the 1990s. It was filmed in San Francisco and considered very controversial at the time.
If your application is accepted, then you arrange to pick up your books at a location in your area. Book Giveaway Night is April 23.
Another way to participate is to agree to give away two books of your own to anyone you encounter, whether on the bus or streetcar, in the laundromat, the park, etc. Remember, you do want to match up the book with the person, as best you can!
For more information, here’s the World Book Night website:
(If you click on any of the 2014 books, a description of the book will pop up, along with an author bio).
Photo Credit: image: Dries Van den Brande. Stedelijke Musea Mechelen. CC ShareAlike.