Monthly Archives: March 2014
This story tied for 2nd place in the Finn McCool’s 2012 Short Story Contest. The story is included in the print collection, edited by Stephen Rea, “Finn McCool’s Short Story Entries 2010-2012.” It is available for purchase for $15 at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub, 3701 Banks Street, NOLA. (All proceeds benefit St. Baldrick’s Charity to fight childhood cancer).
We had to use the following ten words in our stories:
Published with permission of Finn McCool’s Irish Pub, New Orleans.
Along for the Ride © Copyright 2012 by Sara Jacobelli (First printing rights Finn Mcool’s Irish Pub New Orleans)
I ended up driving away from Round Valley heading into the mountains with Dixon, wild-eyed speed-freak sitting by the open window blasting Zeppelin on the tape-deck smoking Camels and tweaking-tweaking-tweaking, and Winter Hawk, seventeen year old Wailacki Indian kid quiet in the backseat. Dixon’s plan was to shoot Winter Hawk for stealing ten grand worth of our plants. I was supposed to be the driver, not the shooter, still, Dixon wasn’t talking tomfoolery, he was planning murder. I had no way out.
Dixon’s idea was to convince Winter Hawk to look at a site for guerilla growing, next season he can be partners with us. We’d provide the indica starts. The kid never knew we solved the mystery, we’re on to him and the rag-tag bunch of Indian and white teenage rip-off punks calling themselves the Mountain Posse.
It wasn’t hard to convince Winter Hawk to come with us. He was just hanging around the Hudda, watching TV, bored. He’s got that fatalistic attitude a lot of the guys on the res have. They ain’t scared of shit. Unlike me. I was scared.
Dixon stared out the window with a vacant expression on his face and bobbed his head in this annoying way to Zeppelin. I was lucky he wasn’t playing air guitar. It wouldn’t have been so scary if I hadn’t known about the hot Smith and Wesson in the pocket of his baggy army coat. His skinny body and pop eyes and stupid fatigues made him look like an escaped POW.
“I’m sick of bullshit rock.” They both groaned, but I stuck Miles Davis in the deck, Kind of Blue. Dixon passed a joint, some of the shit that we grew last season, that strong, sweet, sticky herb that put Mendocino County on the map. “Make sure there’s no roaches in the ash-tray, Kelly hates that.”
Miles. We saw him in Oakland, what year was it? Had to be at least five years ago, 90 or 91. Coming back on the Bay Bridge I was so banjaxed on Ecstasy and Jack Daniels I lost control of our 69 Chevy and almost ran into the concrete blocks that hold up the bridge. Me and Kelly had the same thought at the same time: I’m gonna die right now but at least I saw Miles.
“Can’t you drive any faster Jake?”
Never mind Miles, I had to deal with Dixon. I knew there was a chance he’d change his mind, with his famously short attention span. We drove along the road drinking Budweisers and Winter Hawk spotted a bear.
“Why isn’t that bear hibernating?” I asked.
Winter Hawk bummed a Camel off Dixon. “The bears don’t hibernate here. The snow only lasts a week or two. Been hunting up here with my uncles and cousins since I was a little kid.”
“Too bad Kelly didn’t see it.”
“Kelly likes bears?”
“Shit. Any animals. Saw a bald eagle up here, the day after her mother died. Kelly went nuts, saying it was her mother’s spirit soaring to heaven.”
“A bald eagle. Kelly’s cool.” I never heard Winter Hawk talk much. “My grandma brought me to her house a coupla times, me an my brother. You know, my little brother that got shot in the leg? She tutored us in reading. My grandma likes her. She doesn’t like much Wasichu either.”
“What’s Wasichu?” Dixon interrupted the kid’s reverie.
“White people, it’s what jines call white people.”
Winter Hawk finished his beer. “It’s what Indians call each other. What do white folks call each other?”
“White trash. Except for Dixon. We call him Rich White Surfer Boy.”
“Will you idiots shut up?” Dixon pulled out Miles and shoved in the Stones. He turned up the volume, tapping his fingers in an unruly rhythm against the side of the car as his right hand hung out the window. He fingered the gun in his pocket with his left hand.
“We’ll be in Mad River if I drive much farther.”
Dixon ignored me and turned around to glare at Winter Hawk. “Your grandmother ever teach you it was wrong to steal?”
Dixon, careless and garrulous, when he’s wasted words are effluent.
The kid opened another Bud for me and one for himself. “Hey, gypsies can steal, why not Indians? Anyhow, I was telling about Kelly.”
I turned down the volume so I could hear him.
“That was four years ago. We was just kids. My grandma said we should do something for her, because of the free tutoring and books and videos she gave us. I figured I could chop wood for her or something. She said she wanted me to take her to the Eel River when no one else was there.”
I stopped the car. All three of us got out to piss on a poison oak bush while Winter Hawk told the story.
“She told me she grew up near New York City, in the projects, and never learned how to swim. I guess she felt shamed. I taught her how to float on her front and on her back. She was so proud to learn that, she was like a little kid. I never knew you could teach a grown person something. You got a good old lady there.”
We got back in the car. I could tell we were almost there because Dixon was bouncing in his seat like a dog recognizing the road home. I shifted into park and turned around to look at Winter Hawk. He was an arrogant little jerk, maybe he deserved it. But I couldn’t go through with killing this kid, somebody’s son, somebody’s grandson. I thought about Kelly. She had guts, guts and integrity.
“Yeah, I do have a good old lady.”
“Why’d you stop the car?” Dixon said, turning up the Stones.
“I can’t drive with burnt out rockers singing along to thirty year old songs! How many times have you played that tape?”
Dixon got out of the car, slammed the door. “You can’t drive anyway. You don’t even know where this place is.”
I got out and walked around to the passenger’s side, trying to think of some way I could signal Winter Hawk. Dixon slid into the driver’s seat.
“Come on, let’s GO!” He tap-danced his fingers on the steering wheel, bored, his danger volume on high. His face was so red he looked like a flabbergasted flamingo. “A retard could drive this road.”
“You’re proving that.” I lit a cigarette. “There’s snow on the ground, be careful.”
“You’re a little old lady, this jalopy’s a grandma car.”
It started snowing harder. I thought about growing up in Connecticut. Staying in bed listening to the radio, waiting to hear school was closed for a snow day. Too bad the three of us couldn’t settle our differences with a good snowball fight.
“Here we are.” Dixon pulled over to the side of the road and spoke in a conspiratorial whisper as we got out of the car. “We use bicycles, hide them in the bushes when we come up to check on the plants.”
“But people can see our tracks heading down to the patch.”
“Taken care of, Kemosabe.” He smiled his evil grin. “They got a store in San Francisco, sells these Ninja boots, makes your footprints look like a cow, or a deer, or a pig. Nobody will suspect nothing.”
“Let the cops wear the pig boots.” Winter Hawk said.
“Let’s go.” Dixon scurried ahead.
We followed, first Winter Hawk, then me. I thought of grabbing Winter Hawk and running to the car and getting out of there. But Dixon had the keys in his pocket.
I had no way out. If I tried to change Dixon’s mind he’d kill me too. He couldn’t wait to use that gun. I thought about Winter Hawk’s grandmother, raising all these kids, helpless to keep them out of trouble. Her grandson shot, dead in the snow, eaten by hungry bears.
We didn’t hear Dixon for awhile. The brush got thicker, these prickly things kept getting me. The path grew steeper. Winter Hawk moved swiftly, he knew these woods like he knew the Eel. I wondered why he wasn’t quite keeping up with Dixon. He’d stop every so often to wait for me.
“Down here, perfect, there’s even a spring. Jake, don’t fall on your ass.”
I started to say something and Winter Hawk put his finger to his lips. He held up his hand for me to stop and pulled a small gun from his boot. I attempted to steady my breath. Winter Hawk eased gently through the scrub, down the hill toward Dixon. I stood there drinking in the scent of the pines and the scrub oaks, watching a squirrel scramble up a tree. Kelly would say it was an omen.
Two shots. That was it. I’m glad I didn’t see the blood. I hate blood. I hate bullshit rock.
Story judges are Stephen Rea and Ian McNulty.
Photo Credit: cdfgnews.wordpress.com Wildlife Conservation Board Funds. Copyright Free Google Images.
I Need 27 Whole Dollars!
© copyright 2014 by Sara Jacobelli
Sunday, May 9, 1982
You’re probably wondering where in the world am I going to get the money to get Papa’s duffle bag back from the Greyhound Bus Station. Believe me, Nonna, my head has been spinning with ideas. I stay up late at night, laying in bed thinking about it. And when I’m supposed to be fixing the Little Kids a snack or helping them with their homework, all I’m doing is thinking about that money. Mama keeps saying I’m getting Spacey because I’m turning into a Teenager. Plus I’m so worried that Mr. Sandy’ll keep the bag if I don’t get back there soon. He seems to like me, but still. . .
After school Monday I walked all the way over to Banks Street in Mid-City to where Tootsie and Dakota are staying with Hacksaw. I had already given Gino strict instructions to walk home from school with Antonietta, and not to let Mama know where I was. I figured Maybe Dakota had some of that money left that we found in the coffee can. I banged and banged on their door. The building is pretty run down, and every time I banged, dogs barked and babies cried. It’s noisier than our place, and we live upstairs from a 24 hour bar!
Dakota answered the door. She’d been sleeping in her clothes, on the couch. The TV was turned onto some dumb soap opera. The place was a mess, like someone’s been fighting and throwing things. Empty beer bottles, overflowing ash trays, candy wrappers and empty cigarette packs strewn everywhere. Broken glass. Tipped over furniture. Piles of crusty smelly laundry. Half full coffee cups with coffee turning green and moldy. Dirty dishes stacked high in the sink being stalked by a silent army of determined Roaches.
“What’s up girl? Where’ve you been? Skippin school without me?”
Dakota lit a cigarette. She’s been smoking lately and looks like she’s been crying. I look at her and envy her long eyelashes, the shiny blackness of her hair, the smooth dark good looks emerging, almost like a preview of the beautiful woman she will soon be.
“Life’s fucked up,” she mumbles, sinking back into the couch, wrapping blankets around herself. “Just fucked up.” I noticed a Purple Stuffed Bear sitting next to her, forlornly, a sad piece of childhood, not quite forgotten. I almost teased her about the Bear. Almost. Something stopped me.
“Dakota, I don’t know what’s up with you, brah, but I need some a that money. I need twenty seven bucks. I was gonna bring you with me to the bus station, but you never came to school last week.” I plopped onto the couch next to her.
“I don’t have it, Kid. Don’t have it.”
“Why you callin me a Kid? I’m only one year younger than you. Bitch. ” I punched her on the arm.
“Ouch.” She pushed me. “Sorry, Dani. I’m sorry. Uh, it’s just fucked up. And all that money’s gone. My Mom got into it.”
“I can’t stand soap operas, they’re so slow and boring.” I changed the channel to the Three O’clock Money Movie. They were playing Angels with Dirty Faces, one of me and Mama’s favorites. Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney.
“She spent the money getting high.”
“You mean she’s doing Coke again?”
“Nah, I wish. I could handle that. She’s back into the smack.”
“Heroin, girlfriend. Tootsie’s been clean for two years, at least from that shit. So, she got into my money, my share of the coffee can money, and she got all fucked up. Hacksaw’s screamin pissed. They had a Big Fight, look at this place.”
“You got anything to eat?” I opened the fridge, figuring to rummage inside. There was nothing. Well, one beer, and I was sure that was Hacksaw’s. But not one ounce of anything else. I knew Mama would hate to see that. She always says there’s nothing Sadder and Lonelier than the sight of an empty fridge.
“So where’s your Mom now?”
“Ole Tootsie ain’t been home in days. Who the fuck knows? And who the fuck cares? Hacksaw said he hates Needles, he don’t want no damned Junkie Woman, so he’s kickin us out. Our asses be out on the street soon, Girlfriend.
“You shouldn’t be callin her “Tootise”—and you shouldn’t say you Don’t Care. She’s your Mama.”
“She sure as shit ain’t acting like one.” Dakota looked older. Older, serious and angry.
“Hey, wasn’t yesterday your Birthday? I’m sorry, I forgot. I guess we all forgot.”
“That’s OK. Tootsie forgot too.”
“I can’t believe you’re fourteen. Wow. Whyncha come stay with us for a few days? Me and Mama can make you a birthday cake, we just need to getta box of mix, some eggs and milk. Some candles.”
“OK.” She stuffed some clothes and a toothbrush into a little pink travel bag decorated with dainty looking ballerinas. She grabbed her cigarettes, lighter, and keys, picked up the Purple Stuffed Bear. “Can I bring Henry the Bear?”
“Sure. Why not? I bet he doesn’t eat much.”
“Nah. ” She laughed and locked the door. “Not too much. Maybe some chips and dip.”
“I bet he likes Hubig’s Pies.”
“Sure he does.”
We walked down the stairs and out onto the crumbling sidewalk.
“So, why d’ya need money so bad?”
“It’s kind of a Long Story, but the Main Thing is, I need twenty seven dollars. And I need it right away. It’s important. VERY important.”
Dakota stopped and looked directly into my eyes. “I’ll help you. We’ll get that Money.”
We walked all the way back to the Quarter, Dakota carrying her little pink bag and me carrying the silly Purple Bear. We held the Bear up and made funny voices for him, stuck our tongues out at anyone who looked at us. We made fun of all the people we walked by, and giggled so much when we saw cute guys that they practically ran away.
When we got to the Bastille, I forgot about keeping my mouth shut and just dragged Dakota in the door.
“Mama, can she stay with us? It’s messed up at her house.”
“Dakota!” Mama came out from behind the bar and gave her a big hug. “Lookit you, Bella. Carina.” She smooched Dakota on the cheek and Dakota turned beet read.
“You Never Even Call Me by My Name” by David Allen Coe came on the jukebox, and everyone in the bar stood up, as if on cue, and started singing it. “Well, I was drunk, the day my Mama, got out of Prison. . .” We all put our arms around each other while we sang, and when we got to the last line, everyone screamed, “You never even call me by my FUCKING name!!!”
I whispered to Mama, “It was her birthday yesterday,” but it was so noisy she couldn’t hear me. Everyone in the bar was yelling, “Jagermeister!”
“Lookit that there hot JailBait.” Danger nodded in our direction. He looked like Fred Flintstone covered in Jailhouse Tattoos.
“Now, upstairs you two, before I get arrested for having minors in the bar,”
Dakota shook her head.”Don’t worry. Won’t happen. Mr. Carlo has Connections.”
“And no more Skipping School, Young Lady!” Mama yelled at me as we headed up the stairs. I ignored her.
“What da’ ya mean, Connections?”
“I don’t know, I heard people say it, is all.”
We got up to the apartment. The Little Kids were lying on the floor eating chocolate chip cookies and watching cartoons. I walked out to the balcony and looked out over Bourbon and Toulouse. I loved these moments in the Quarter, when it just turns dark, and the neon lights come alive. When it’s springtime, and the air feels good. When you know summer thunderstorms with their electricity charging through you will come soon. I felt a little bit sad that Dakota and I weren’t Kids anymore. That part of Life was Over. But we were still Young, there was still so much more to come. And Mama was beautiful. And Tootsie was a mess, and Papa was still in Jail. But Mama was beautiful and hugged us and yelled at us and made the best Red Gravy ever and the Little Kids were cute, with their shiny dark curly hair, even though they were brats.
Dakota joined me on the balcony. We waved to the clueless out-of-towners on the hotel balcony across the street. We watched the dumb tourists hit Bourbon Street, and the Hustlers watch their every move. We knew most every pimp, hooker, tranny, hustler, biker, gangster, street kid, tap dancer/shoe shiner, barker, dancer, bartender, cocktail waitress, drug dealer, crazy person and Quarter Character. Ruthie the Duck Lady. The Lucky Bead Lady. Chicken Man. Tinkerbell. Tiny. Bourbon Street Red. Bourbon Street Bob. Little Joe. Gonzo. Crazy Dave. Loose Dave. Hot Dog Dave. Mormon Dave. Danger. A guy called Slut. Long haired Mike. Joe Howard. Little Al Demarco. Larry Fontaine. Curly the Lucky Dog Vendor. Speed the Pimp. Goodwill George. Mr. Carlo. Rocky. John the Pollack. Blue, who tried to convince college girls that he was Willie Nelson. Nick the Greek. Nick the Wop. Joe Nunzio. Raymond the Mouse, his brothers Crazy Peter and Little Paulie and Jimmy the Accountant. Beachball Benny. Jesse the Hombre. Buffalo. Heineken Earl. Rockmore the Artist. George the Artist. Tuba Fats. Pops the Tap Dancer, and his woman Big Mama who collected and counted his earnings every evening and called him her Mule. David, who claimed to be related to some famous artist named Day-gah, and barely had time to wait tables because he rode his old red bicycle from party to party. The Lady with the Cross. The Two Homeless Ladies who slept in doorways and were always together.The Cascio Brothers. The Riccio Cousins. We pointed at people we knew, yelled their names. Some of them looked up, laughed and made faces and waved back.
“Hey, Dakota, What’s that song?”
“The one my Mama and your Mom like so much? About summer? Summer is Easy? You’re good lookin? Somethin like that?”
“Oh, I think I know. Summer-time, and the living is ea-sy. You’re Daddy’s rich, and your Mama’s good lookin. . ” Dakota has a clear sweet high pretty voice, when she was a little girl she sang all the time. “That’s all the words I know.”
“That’s OK.” I can’t carry a tune at all, but I joined in. Summer was coming. . and that meant barbecues, drive-in nights, the rides at Lake Pontchartrain. If only we knew someone who would take us Camping. . .
Dakota and I leaned out over the balcony, looked at the sky, the stars, which you could hardly make out with all the city lights, but we knew they were there. We felt the spring air on our bare arms. I shivered. This was a moment that I would long remember. I wanted to hold onto it, but you can’t do that. You just can’t. All you can do is take a deep breath, look around you, and live it. I wanted to scream, “It’s almost Summer and I’m almost Thirteen and I’m Here I’m Here I’m Here.
“Summer-time. Summer-time. Summer-time. . . and the living is easy. . . ”
Photo Credit: “Dollar Sign in Space-Illustration,” by DonkeyHotey. CC License Attribution Only. Flickr.
The winner is Berrian Eno Van Fleet for the offbeat and humorous “how we met” story titled, “How it Happened.” You can read the story on Finn McCool’s website:
I didn’t win First Prize, but I did win something! (Don’t know what yet, I had to work on St. Patrick’s Day!) My story is titled,“The Extra Part,” and is a bit of a satire on the film industry in New Orleans—-since so many of my friends are working in the less-than-glamorous film jobs.
Update: My short stroy, “The Extra Part” received an honorable mention. I won a Finn McCool’s cap & T-shirt!
Look for the story to be included in the 2014 Finn McCool’s Short Story Collection.
I may also post my stories here on Capitare a Fagiolo.
2012: Along the for Ride
2013: The Private Eye and the Diner Waitress
2014: The Extra Part
You can stop by the pub and purchase the Finn McCool’s Short Story Collection 2013, which includes my story, “The Private Eye and the Diner Waitress.” (All book sales go to St. Baldrick’s Charity to fight childhood cancer).
3701 Banks St. New Orleans, LA 70119
ph. (504) 486-9080
. . . and thanks to Finn McCool’s for keeping the time-honored tradition of Irish story telling going in these modern days.
Photo Credit: “First Prize Center-Albany, NY,” by sebastien.barre. License CC NonCommercial ShareAlike. Flickr.