It was a cold, rainy Tuesday. The early stages of winter were creeping over the city like a dense fog but outside it felt more like the rumblings of fall. I was bored, which coincidentally, was nothing new. I had not earned a fucking penny in more than two weeks and I could feel that now too.
This was to be the day that I got my ass up out of bed and caught the A train in to the city for the purpose of finding a job.
I awoke to heavy rain and steadily dropping temperatures. I turned on the idiot box and then the computer. I can’t imagine now, how I ever lived without my computer. It was less than a year ago that I could not tell the difference between a PC, a Mac and a small, college-dorm-type refrigerator. But now, on rainy days where the temperature steadily dropped and my bones felt the chill of not only the day, but of the feeling of being broke at thirty two years of age, I could turn on the computer and play poker, look at fetish photos, peruse art galleries and scan the police mug shots for friends and neighborhood heroes.
It was one of those kinds of days.
I needed a drink.
I went to my closet and pulled out a coffee can. Inside were the remnants of what was once my pocket change - now my coffee can change. I sifted through it and came up with six dollars and forty six cents; all in silver coins. I threw on my only pair of denim slacks, the ones that I got over two years ago. They were ripped and stained at the thighs. They felt great and looked good- people were actually paying up to two hundred dollars for brand new slacks that looked like these. I paid twenty dollars, two years ago. I started to walk to the liquor store across the street. “Brothers Liquor” sat on the corner of Woodhaven Boulevard and Pitkin Avenue.
Along the way, I began to almost pray that there was an old man working and not some cute young girl. I had no problem owning one pair of jeans that were two years old but I was embarrassed to pay for my booze in change.
I walked into the liquor store and looked toward the till kiosk that sat in the middle of Hemingway’s heaven. She was, of course, beautiful. It was raining out, it was cold and damp and I was feeling the pain of being broke at thirty two years of age. I needed whiskey but all I wanted at that second was to bring her home with me, light some candles and snuggle her beneath the covers.
There was an older version of me on line before me.
He told a story that I didn’t listen to and then he was gone.
I asked her for her cheapest bottle of whiskey or scotch.
Before she had the chance to talk, I was apologizing for paying in change. She gave me a look that only half jokingly said “you naughty boy, drinking alone in your house on a rainy day when you are broke at the age of thirty two”. I quickly came up with a story (I was good at that) and told her that I was a writer, had a deadline, was stressed out, and needed a bottle of whiskey to chill out and finish my article. That wasn’t enough. I said “you know, it’s a rainy day and I have to write an article. Even if I had cash, I would still pay in change cuz’ it’s the only way…..it just seems appropriate.” I was trying to appeal to the “Bukowski-esque” side of her. She was, of course, a “Guido-girl”, born and raised in Howard Beach, Queens, New York and (presumptuous of me admittedly) had no idea about the merits and nobility of Bukowski or dying a drunk, broke, lonely old poet. She bagged my booze, which came out to six dollars and fifty cents (I owe them seven cents), then said “thanks sweetie”, and I left Hemingway’s heaven.
I got to my apartment and opened the first door with the red key. Then I walked into the hallway, where I opened the inside door with the blue and green keys. I proceeded up the stairs. The wall to my left was stained with tobacco and a thrown plate of ziti; the result of a mom and son dispute that took place almost a year prior to that day. The wall to the right was dark and unlit, then non-existent after the halfway mark. The stairwell opened up to the floor of my one and only hallway. Stopping for a moment, I took in the bugs-eye view of my crib….All piss and vinegar, a direct reflection of who I am and what it is like to be broke at thirty two years of age. Way up on high sat two, dollar-store-framed photographs. In one, I was squatting beside my friend and brother Meatball on a Boston street. A few feet or so down the wall, to the right, hung an image of myself, my friend Roach and the hip-hop legend “Guru”. To be in his presence is an experience that I highly recommend.
After a moment, I walked the rest of the way up the stairs. I went to the fridge and put three ice cubes in a glass. I started to put four cubes in the glass but recalling my past obsessive compulsion regarding the number 4, I harkened myself at three cubes. I took the glass filled with three ice cubes and the pint of hooch to my room.
My computer and TV were still on. I turned off the TV, sat at the computer and poured myself a glass of cheap scotch on the rocks. I started to load up my favorite card-gaming site, and then abruptly stopped its progress. I felt bad about lying to the beautiful Italian girl at the liquor store.
God-damnit! I would write an article! If for no other reason then to ammend my lie.
What would I write about? Surely not a single instance of interest has occurred in my life for more than a year! I mean for Christ’s sake, I was a bum! I was broke at thirty two years of age and I was feeling the ramifications of being who I was. I took a sip of cheap scotch and lit a cigarette. I queued up my media player, put it on shuffle and waited. Within a few seconds, Morrissey was begging the question; “why is the last mile the hardest mile?” Indeed, why is it? I may never know.
I began typing and forgot every single thing that happened after that.
What do you think about when you walk to the store?