Sweat You Ass Off, Mi’jo

Joe came over today. He has a really bad cold – coughing like crazy – and his voice hoarse and scratchy. I think it’s at the verge of being a pneumonia, but he disagrees.

After being in the house for only 5 minutes, mom yells at Joe. “What are you doing out in the cold with that pneumonia? Oh my God! your voice is ready to go!!”

“It’s not a pneumonia! It’s only a cold. Don’t worry” Joe replies.

But he does not know my mom. She left the room and we went back to hanging out. We’re watching TV and just talking but we are having a good time hanging out with Joe.

I don’t know why all the neighbors don’t like Joe. He is a good guy with a bad reputation – no matter that it’s unearned. My dad does not like him, but my mom does. She says that she sees the kindness in his heart.

“Knock, Knock” my mother says as she opens the door of my room. “Take your shirt off!” She demands of Joe, in her broken English.

“What?” Joe replies with a puzzled look.

“Don’t even try to stop her Joe. When she has her mind set, nothing will stop her.” Danny tells Joe. “Just surrender, It’ll be easier!”
Menthol ChinoMY mom showed up with a container of ‘Mentol Chino‘ & a stack of newspapers. She rubs the mentol chino on his chest and on his back. She lays it on thick so that the newspaper will be able to stick to it.

The room has a strong Menthol smell and Joe is complaining of the smell and that the fumes are stinging his eyes.

“Dile que no joda!” My mom yells out.

“What did she say?” Joe asks.

“Stop complaining and let her continue…” Danny replies, leaving out the curse word.

Now my mother grabs the newspaper. She plasters it on his chest like if she was hanging wallpaper. She rubs it in – almost as if she was trying to rub the newsprint off onto his chest.

She continues with more of the same on his back.

“Now put your shit back on!” She instructs Joe.

Sure enough, Joe is now doing whatever my mother instructs.

She now leaves the room & Joe is just standing there like an overstuffed scarecrow. He has newspaper spilling out the neck & arms of the T-shirt.

Wool BlanketMy mother walks back in, this time with a thick wool blanket that we brought over from Ecuador. This blanket is made of Llama wool and is made by the local Indians. I have many memories of how it kept me warm during those cold winter nights in the Bronx. We used to have nights when the heat would not work & this blanket was the only thing that kept us from freezing our ass of. The whole family would sit under this blanket to stay warm & watch TV.

My mother wraps the blanket tightly around Joe. The only thing hanging out the side is his hands and off the top is his head. Joe is now stiff as a scarecrow.

“Now leave!” My mother instructs Joe! “Mi’jo, Go home & sleep wrapped in the blanket. Don’t take the blanket off no matter how hot you get.”

My mother treated Joe just like she would her sons. She was truly concerned for him. Joe does not question nor says anything but gives Danny a look, as if to ask “What should I do now!?”

My Brother replies “GO & sweat your ass off!

The next morning Joe returns the wool blanket & thanks my mother for taking care of him. He does not have a mother & mom has made him feel as if she was his mother.

“Thank you” is all he says – his voice no longer hoarse or broken. “I feel much better.”

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this post!
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Guilty By Association

Crumb-esque souped up beetle Daniel and I are working on his VW Super Beetle. This car is Souped up and really fast looking.

The rear wheels are wide 60’s racing slicks covered with fender flares that makes the back of the car look super cool! The car has a drastic lean towards the front because of the size of the rear wheels.

Definitely not your usual ’72 Super Beetle. The front wheels are low profile 70’s and they also stand out beyond the edge of the fenders.

Today we are replacing his stereo. It isn’t working well and we are going to replace it with a more powerful system. We take apart the housing to get to the radio. It snaps out but the radio is secured with Flathead screws and we don’t have a screwdriver for it.

The only tools we have are the few that Tio Amable has given Daniel over the years and a few that he has gotten on his own. He is proud of his toolbox, so much so that he won’t let me go near them.

But today is different. “Pass me the screwdriver!” he asks. “there isn’t one in here.” I reply. “Well go inside and get a butter knife we can use that as a Flathead screwdriver.” Sure enough this works! we replace the stereo and put in some nice speakers on the doors.

Super Beetle He was so proud of his Super Beetle and how great the stereo sounded.

So of course we had to show it off! We immediately cleaned up, put the tools away and threw out the trash. I was so excited to go for my first ride in his Bug that I did not want to miss not even a second of it. I tossed the knife on to the rear floorboard and put the floormats back in place – away we went.

Not even 10 minutes into our ride do we attract attention. But not the kind we wanted. This one is the pain-in-the-ass Sargent that has always had something against us. The red lights from his cruiser’s strobe spins around. This one is not like a beacon in the middle of the darkness here to protect us, but as a disruptive flash breaking up the beauty of the sun setting.

“Driver’s License and registration please.” The office asked. My brother complies without saying a word. “Where is your friend tonite?” the officer questions.

“Who are you referring to officer?”

“You know who! That troublemaker you hang out with.” Now the questioning turns into an interrogation. “What kind of trouble are you hoodlums up to tonite?”

“Nothing officer, just cruising around…”

“Don’t give me that shit! You’re sure you were not involved in something?” His tone getting really nasty and stern now. “Step out of the car – NOW!” He yells!

“What’s going on officer?” My brother asks. “What are you guys doing with a knife in the car?”

“We don’t have a knife!” My brother replies, not knowing that I had tossed it back into the car behind his seat. Oh shit! he is going to be pissed! I had no idea that butter knife could get us in trouble…

“Then what is that weapon doing there on the floor?” The officer insisted. My brother turns around and looks. “Oh! we were striping wires to redo the speakers, officer. That’s only a butter knife! We forgot to put it away after working on the car. It can’t hurt anyone – not even slice a tomato!” He replied nervously.

“Don’t get nasty with me!” The officer yelled as he grabbed my brother.

He spun him around and yelled “Spread ’em on the car!” Holy shit this is getting way too crazy. We have not done anything wrong. Since he associates us with Joe, then we are also suspects in his eyes.

“Officer! What are you doing…” I yelled.

“Shut up kid! Keep your butt on that seat! I don’t want to see you move one inch!” And with that the officer slammed the driver’s side door shut!

I can hear the officer yelling and the walki-talki squealing! “Dispatch, dispatch! Have there been any robberies tonite?” They go back and forth with code-this and code-that. Frustrated the officer calls out “Anything involving a knife?” “Negative!” replies the dispatcher on the walki-talki.

“You are lucky punk! You get off free tonite. Don’t let me catch you with that punk, Joe!”

Boy! That really scared the shit out of me. He was looking for any reason to drag us to jail. I’ve never been that close to being arrested.

As we drove off, Daniel watched every step he made. He drove under the speed limit, used his turn signal at every turn. Just from an association to a neighbor, we are now considered, and looked at, as hoodlums.

From that point forward, I looked over my shoulder – not even the cops are our friends.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this post!
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Footprints in the Snow

Footprints in the SnowThis morning we woke up to a beautiful white winter’s morning. The sky is glowing white with no distinction between the clouds and the sky. The blackness of the paved street is now covered by the purity of the snow. The trees glisten from the icicles dangling like ornaments on the Christmas tree.

This morning is turning out to be great! My mother is in a good mood and my brother is already outside shoveling the snow. All of Warren Street seems to be unified under a pure, clean blanket of snow.

The beauty of the white winter’s morning is disrupted only by the red glow of the police car lights. It seems that our next door neighbors were robbed last night. All their Christmas presents are gone – nothing left for tonight’s celebrations.

The police officer & my neighbors comes out of the house and are now following the footprints in the snow. They lead from the rear of the house, where the sliding door was pried opened, across the yard; to the parking lot and seem to be cutoff at the edge of the street. The cars driving by have obliterated the ‘evidence.’ Across the street, a similar set of footsteps seems to start up again. Oddly enough they seem to lead to Joe Pigney’s house. The police (under the urging of the neighbors) put two & two together and go knock on Joe’s door. Joe’s father answers the door not with a look of surprise, but with an expression of disgust. They are very familiar with the police officer’s distinctive knock.

The neighbors immediately start accusing Joe & demand that Joe come out. See a few months back their prized 1965 blue Thunderbird Convertible was keyed. Joe was nearby when they discovered it & started accusing him of causing the damage. They still believe that Joe was responsible. '65 T-birdSo now Joe shows up to the door in his boxers & immediately says “Hey, I didn’t do anything!” This is Joe’s instant reaction when seeing a police officer at his door. The image that Joe & his brother’s have is that they are criminals and we are friends with those “criminals.” The neighbors have always questioned my mother “why do you let your kids be friends with criminals?” My mother always replies “I don’t have any evidence that they are bad people.”

Joe does have one brother that has done time & in a small suburban town, once a criminal always a criminal. Needless to say, the police walk out of Joe’s house with his older brother in cuffs. They put him in the police car & drive off creating a trail of slush that uncaringly splashes over the driveway that my brother had just finished shovelling clean.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this post!
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)