Well, someone or somthing is trying to tell me something. On the TV all I can find is stupid movies that I have seen a million times. The Matrix, Troy, X-Men, and all the stupid God-Forsaken Steven Seagal Movies. Although Bry has sent me dozens of video games, I cannot seem to get any of them to play. I have felt this urge to write beyond this blog, perhaps a novel. I don't consider myself special, and I don't think that I am a talented writer, it is a whim that my life could in fact benefit from by killing time over here. What happened though, was that once I started writing, I really f-ing enjoyed it. So....here is the first chapter of my story. I don't care if you like it or hate it. This story is to keep my mind sane before I come home. I hope in fact that you do like it. Send me some comments if you do. Keep in mind I am a Virgin writer, one who is taking the first steps into being creative.
Chapter 1: “The Last Beautiful Day”
It was in fact the last Beautiful Day. Had I known what I do know now, I definitely would have spent it differently. But, what can I say? I was a different person on that day. A person, content with the dismal and simplistic disarray of what life brings to a twenty-five year old man (really just a boy). I remember it so vividly. So fresh. So surreal. Like I knew what was going to happen in my sub-conscious. Knew that this day was so special. After all, it was so beautiful.
I had just spent my last day the day before working half-heartedly and sweating profusely at the Atlantic Clam, a mildly classy seafood restaurant on the Great South Bay of Long Island, New York. I hated it. I had been working there from time to time while going to college in Upstate New York. The State University of Ithaks College. Four years of killing brain cells and trying to retain what I learned when I actually got my ass out of bed and went to class. Well, that’s not absolutely true. I was a pretty good student. I had a good G.P.A, I was interested in my studies, and at that time I actually could get up and be productive with a hangover. Times have changed, let me tell you. I did, through the course of various girls, many drunken parties, and broken dreams about reality finally obtain my degree in Teaching English. A High School English teacher I should tell you. Although I’d like to tell you the several books that I wrote were published and I was rolling in the dough, I’m more of a self-proclaimed novelist. Basically, that means I like my own shit. And nobody else gives a damn except my family and friends who “oooh” and “aaaah” my writing for the same reason unlucky husbands have to visit their in-laws; because they have to.
But I wasn’t seeing the future that day. God knows, I was NOT seeing the future that day. Even though I’ve thought about it a million fucking times from that day forward. I was in what stupid cocky news analysts would call “The September 10th Mentality.” Maybe they were right. My eyes were closed. As my brother Adam would say, “We got caught with our pants down.” As an English teacher I’ve never been so full of rage at such stupid and precise metaphors. But I wasn’t seeing the future that day. That beautiful and serene day that I wished never ended.
When people around the world think about New York, they subsequently think of this massive city where people carry guns and everyone is crazy and violent. They think of the “Art” scene and the “Village.” They think of super rich people riding in limousines while crack-addicted mothers sell their babies for food stamps. They think that everyone in New York can see the Statue of Liberty from their homes. They think the Whole Goddamn state is a huge city. No trees (except for the all-knowing Central Park), and sure as hell no beaches. Well, what they don’t always know is that there is a pretty big island floating off the eastern bank of New England. And, when you travel about forty minutes into this “island” there indeed is SPACE. The clutter is gone. The smog you cannot smell. The sky opens up, and the sun is poised to shine upon the wanderer. God knows it did that day on me. God knows. I swear it.
God knows that beautiful, gorgeous September sun shone on me as though it was straight from heaven. Straight from God. As a sign, maybe:
Enjoy it while you can Jade. Enjoy it while you can.
And enjoy I did. With a little help from my friend of course. I met my bartending friend Bob for some evening drinks at Irish Days, a bar we frequented too often, and never walked out of properly straight. I was, as I was getting to, currently unemployed, and it was Bob’s day off. My unemployment was due to my hopes of finding a real job teaching. I had worked five days a week the whole Summer, and each day consisted of putting on a little black apron, and waiting tables for twelve hours a day in the sweltering Long Island heat. Putting up with asshole cooks who you probably couldn’t blame for being such assholes. If I thought I had it bad running around outside in the hot sun bending backwards for snob-nosed, demanding douche bags, the cooks were in a claustrophobic culinary NIGHTMARE, where for the price of their soul, little white slips would cackle out of a machine demanding dozens of plates of food. Every ten minutes. No sunshine, no fresh air, no having the occasional laugh with a co-worker about how the yuppie in the white shirt is drunk. Just heat, heat, and more heat. And stress. I remember some of the cooks throwing up in the back of the restaurant due to the heat, and the stress.
But that was all over now. And that was why I was enjoying the day. NO MORE of that. I was free. Free to use the degree in teaching that I had just obtained to go and search for my dream. No fries with that dream, let me tell you. No fucking French fries with that dream. This dream was going to be served a la carte. With only me in it’s interest. No aprons, no sweating, no rude customers, bosses, chefs. No going completely out of my mind as I have to run into the kitchen and bring out a cold shrimp stir-fry to an old lady who will complain about it as sure as I am sweating my balls off. No more. Plus, I didn’t want to even think about giving up what I’ve worked for for four years and take the first path I rode on to Waiting Table Eternity. You know, the 40-year old something woman who has two kids and one missing tooth and waits tables to make ends meet 6 nights a week. The one that all the customers ask for because they know she’s a pro, and loves, loves, loves to kiss ass. Wasn’t going to happen to me. Not that my loving family would ever let that happen, but sometimes people stay where they're comfortable. Sometimes people definitely stay where they're comfortable. Not me. Not that day. I had dreams of getting a job that didn’t require the smell of frying oil. A dream where I could use my mind; a mind that I still think is a well-oiled machine of my soul. There was need for people to wait tables and pump gasoline in this world. I knew that. But not me. My parents raised me better than that. Gave me all I needed to realize that the Michaels Clan weren’t just ordinary folk that can clean dishes and haul lumber.
After all, I had a lot to live up to. That’s for sure. My oldest brother Adam was a big lawyer. A big fish in the big pond of New York. Swimming and gulping his way to success with each and every case he’d won. And God knows there were many. He’d single handedly broke the Chaufette case. The one where Mrs. Chaufette had hired a hit man to kill Mr. Chaufette over Irish coffee at his favorite and daily visited McQueen’s Irish Pub. If only the poor bastard realized how close to the brink of death he really was that fateful morning. And the way the Moroccan hit man chose to walk back to the street vendor for hot dogs, instead of using a rusty 38. Special revolver to permanently tell Mr. C. that his days of two-timing were over. Adam had secured the videotape of America’s favorite Moroccan assassin looking in the window of the Irish pub, and then going for a nearby “New York Dog“. As sly as he was, the video evidence could even produce the handle of the 38. Special protruding from his gym pants, outreaching into his dirty “wife-beater” tank top. Oh, the selection of professionals. Once the identification was made, “Mr. Moracco” as the New York Post liked to call him was telling police about how he couldn’t feed his three children. He also told them how Mrs. C. was going to take care of his “financial” problems once her cheating husband was “with them no more.” An easy case, a lucky break………maybe. But my brother Adam had worked his whole Goddamn life trying to be the best lawyer he could be.
I still remember his best work. It was that time when I was six and he was twelve. He had been so hungry for a BB gun. It was all he could think of. You know those days when you’re a kid. The teacher tries teaching you about arithmetic and speech, mathematics and science, and all you can think about is that one thing. A toy. Christmas. You’re birthday. The guilty selfish want we all have, but is magnified by childhood. Ten fold. Well, Adam wanted a BB gun. And from the start, like a lawyer child, he had known that his words would be the only fare for such and obsession.
He sat my parents down. He sat my parents down on their plush cushion sofa. The fact that two grown people actually “let” their twelve year old son “sit them down to talk” still boggles my mind. But he did. He talked to them about his “awareness” of the dangers of a bb gun. He talked to them about the “responsibility” he would take as a proud owner of a brand new Pumpmaster 760 rifle. Although it wasn’t said, my parents and Adam himself could not get the words “you’ll shoot you’re eye out” from the ever famous A Christmas Story movie out of their heads. And as his first “lawyer” tryouts were successful, Adam would never hear about how “Pops” Michaels knew about the small holes in the broken down shed in the backyard. Adam would never know that Pops knew that the population of crows that used to shit on the pool had been decimated. Adam, from that point on, only knew that he had a way with words. A way that could get him what he wanted, when he wanted it. It was truly his best effort to do such a thing. A catalyst, if you will. Adam would not have ever convicted Mrs. Chaufette if he had not received the confidence in himself that day far away that he “sat” my parents down and “explained” why he needed a bb gun. That was his biggest success. Everything from there was strictly child’s play (pun intended.) I love Adam. Even though he’s been so cold to me since what happened. I will always love my brother. I love you Adam. I look up to you. Just like I look up to all my brothers. A lot to be compared to at that time, but I always loved my brothers.
So, on that beautiful, God-blessed evening, I let my younger brother Shawn, or “Shawnie” as my Mom called him, borrow my car. It was a 97’ white Ford Taurus. The ones that work for three years and the transmission breaks down as fast as a mother who loses her baby. He told me he was taking his “new” girlfriend to Port Jefferson, up on the north side of the island. A “happening” place for young kids who were in love. I told him to just make sure he parks it on the street when he gets back. I planned on sleeping late the next day and did NOT want anyone waking me to move my car in the morning. Mom and Dad still ruled the roost at that time. I was fresh out of college and Shawn and I were living in the house with my both of them. I was making my transition from college student to Summer workhorse to “Independent Jade.” The one where I find a job and sail into the beautiful September sun that I had seen days and days before. Although, I kind of knew it that it may take until October to find a real job. That was okay for me. I had saved up a nice sum sweating and running around at the Atlantic Clam all Summer in order for this minute unemployment. Shawn, although unwillingly, was working at the local Pizza Plaza a couple of days a week, and complained only of his clothes smelling like grease. I’d drop him off at work every once in a while if he needed me to. He’d ask me for small favors here and there, and I would always say yes. What could I do? He was, after all, the only little brother I had. What could I do? I know he preferred John over me, but I understood. I understood that Shawn and John were like two peas in a pod. They were both good looking. They were both athletic. They both would make the girls scream out of their cheerleading outfits. Me, I was not into sports. I liked to write, I liked to listen to good music, I liked to pick up my old, dirty, broken guitar and “try” to play some chords. It never really happened though. One day a few years earlier Shawn had “stepped” on my guitar. It never sounded the same again, and although I can play a few chords, I pretty much suck at playing guitar. Shawn has always told me that I can’t play because he “foot raped” my guitar. I never minded really. Shawn was my baby brother. I held him at the beach on Fire Island when we were kids. I taught him how to tie his shoes. I gave him presents that I stole from the mall when I was in my phase of “stealing” as a kid. I did it all out of love. I love my baby brother forever. I love you Shawn. Forever.
As Shawn and I were kids, my brother John was dreaming about being rich. He’d always tell Shawn and I about how he was going to be rich, and buy Mom and Dad a castle near the ocean. The funny thing is, we believed him. He would always steal our change from our change drawers. He would always sell more than enough iced tea at his iced tea stand in the Summer. The hot, grueling Long Island Summer. The ones where you can’t leave your house without sweating profusely. Yes, the Michael’s Clan were plain out and out sweaters. Not like the ones you wear around your cold body, but the ones that would sweat after a shower, after a walk into an office for the first time since Friday. The Monday, The Heat, The Realization of something different would cause us all to sweat from our faces. My brother John, however, was what they would call “cool as a cucumber.” If and any stress was upon him, one would never know it. Absolutely. He was the Child King who was going to get his millions any way he could. But he believed in me. He told me that I could someday do whatever I wanted to, just like he would do. He told me that everyone in this world has a talent, a trade, a significance. He knew what his was since the day he earned his first dollar bill from our neighbor, for mowing his lawn. He knew that action creates money. And that only a fool keeps his mouth shut when there is “wagering” to do. So, naturally he became a broker. A stock broker. In the Big City which the world knows as New York City. Five years to the day, I think. Almost five years to this beautiful day that I am recalling. The sun shining on this beautiful day.
You know, it reminds me of what a glorious Summer it had been. Those days out at the beach with the kids. Where time recalls itself to the best parts of your mind. Where work never trods. Where the pursuit of happiness is all that you’ll find. Those great days. The Summer seagulls making their “caws,” where you find yourself at last in the peaceful resolution that THIS is SUMMER, and you should enjoy it before it fades and you’re back to the grind. The work ethic. Enjoy it before the night slowly starts getting longer, the days colder, the changing of the seasons. The Cycle. The days you hope are worth remembering; the ones you work at so hard to make memorable. We realize that the warm sunshine is like our lives. Just a cycle. It comes, it goes, it comes back again. It goes. And one day, it will never come back.
What I’m thinking about is Barrett’s Bay. The time that Summer I’m recalling. The Michael’s Family had made a pledge. A pledge they all kept. One very seriously, although it was like making a pledge to eat ice cream on a very hot day. Not hard. One to take a week off of work and just spend time together in a beach house and swim and eat and live. To ENJOY LIFE. Shawn and I would come with My parents on their boat. John and Adam would meet us there after John got off of work on Thursday. A long, very long weekend for him. They would take Adam’s boat the Islander and meet us on the Barrett’s Bay dock. They did. I still remember the sweat glistening on John’s ridiculous figure. He had always been the healthy one. The one who worked out, the one who made me look like a puddle of water compared to his ultra-physique. I was never jealous though. My mom taught me that. To each his own talents. Just like John had always taught me. “Everyone has his own talents, Jade.” And on that magnificent August evening when I watched my brother lift a hundred pound cooler by himself, thrusting his oversized muscles and “putting” his beer cooler on the dock effortlessly, I realized that I was so happy to see him. I missed our days of playing Nintendo, and his effort to help me hit a longer ball at baseball. He was always superior to whatever I hoped to do physically, but he always tried not to seem that way. He was my brother. And all I could think about was having one of those iced cold beers he was slinging in the cooler he so easily put down.
We did. All of us. We all enjoyed each other’s company for that time. It was great. It was surreal. All of us together. Beautifully. In the morning, Ma (Johanna Michaels) would make us the best eggs and toast any man in this world could ask for. Pops (Pat Michaels) would soulfully be on “bacon detail” and make sure that his boys didn’t get any burnt produce. Pops looked upon his “boys” with pride. How could he not? Yeah, they were in different directions going anywhere. But they all were going somewhere, even his little shawnie.
The days consisted of breakfast, of course, as any New Englander would know. Then, the boys dreamt of riding the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Making a spot on the sand and laying down their towels, clothes, and inhibitions. The boys would jump into the ocean laughing, and call each other hideous names, taunt each other like brothers do, get tired, and come back to the sand and rest. They would then live the life of middle class America. They weren’t rich, that’s definitely for sure, but they were not poor at all. Their richness consisted of their relationships with each other. They say that “brotherhood” is way damn more than an institution. And that Summer, all of us brothers looked upon each other with pride, hope, sincerity, and brotherhood. Each happy with themselves, and each content and warm with the love only brothers could hold amongst themselves under the warm, hot sun. It was a great time, one we all (I hope) will never forget.
But now I am back in my memory. Back in that day. The Summer fading, and cool breezes blowing upon my wide-eyed gaze. The sun, triumphant as ever, for He gave us light that day, beautiful glorified light that day. But not heat. Just enough for comfort. Just enough to realize that this was in fact the perfect day. As I met Bob from “The Clam,” he got out of his car and gave me a ridiculous smile.
“So, I guess we don’t work together anymore, but that doesn’t mean we can’t drink anymore..huh?”
“What do you think Bob? I wouldn’t meet your ass here if I didn’t like you, no?
“Jade, I am going to miss you at the “Clam.” “You always played that guys guitar so well on your breaks, and the customers took a real shine to you.”
“Yeah Bob, thanks. But in all reality I will not miss the customers.” I said laughing, as I was shaking Bob’s hand and almost hugging him. Bob was one of those people that you love to have a drink with. You know, the one who always drinks as much as you do and makes drinking on a Monday night seem absolutely forgivable and acceptable.
“Let’s go listen to some tunes and grab a buzz” I said, with all the yearnings and expectations a young man might have at my particular age, and with my specific observations about life.
After at least four beers, Bob was asking about my family. After all, my family had taken in Bob like a step-child. Don’t get me wrong, Bob had his own family. Sisters. Parents. But he always loved to come by my house on the Holidays. My family would treat him as a son. And although he didn’t have any brothers (but wanted them more than anything), my parents and brothers would hug him as if family, make him drinks, and talk to him as if he was part of the Michael’s Crew. He loved it, I am sure of that. And I loved it too. After all, he was as I had said “my brother from another mother.” I miss him now.
So, we had way too many beers that night. We both floated on the endless possibilities our lives could take on in the next few adventurous years that followed. I was done working for “The Clam,” and was searching for a real career that I had gone to school for so long for. Bob was searching for something that he couldn’t even put into words. I guess it turned out to be the same thing he was doing all along. Just different places, and different spaces. He would be a “beer Jockey” all his life. Me, I had dreams, I had hopes, I had love, I had my family. At least that’s what I thought about over those cool refreshing beers that tingled on my tongue throughout the last of that cool breezed, sunshine filled day. The kind that make you wonder about how life is too good.
After a long and grueling Summer, the release of heat, and the soft Autumn breeze that blew on my face gave way. I didn’t have a care in the world as my thoughts mended with the bluest skies I’ve ever seen. In the distance, light gave away to shadow. A shadow of the cycle I’ve been used to. The one where all is well in the morning, and all is well at night. The cycle that was for science. The Earth circles the Sun. The Sun circles the Moon and all is well. Like my knowledge of science, things were not as I knew them. With the morning, my world would change. Oh, how it would change.
In my mental state now, I dream that if there were a day that I could stay in permanently, it would be September 10th, 2001. Oh you fucking smug anchor people and your “September 10th mentality.” All I can realize in my infinite wisdom and grief and madness is that you are right. You are so right. Things would never be the same.
Jade Micheals went to sleep under the wooing breeze of a big fan, and a few beers. When he woke, things would never be the same.