E-v-i-l Woman…

The sun shining brightly warms my soul. The cool breeze across my cheeks feels really nice today. I feel this air of confidence & the happy-ness showing in my stroll down Salem Avenue. The trees in the park rustling almost in tune with my stride.

Everything seems so clear & brightly beautiful for some reason.

Nothing is going to bother me today!

I reach my street & turn the corner when Rosie comes running up to me with her group of little seven year old friends. Nope, these pain-in-the-butt teenies are not going to annoy me today!

“Pablo has a
g-i-r-l-f-r-i-e-n-d!” shouts Rosie in a sing-song tone.

“Buzz off, Rosie” I reply, trying to get rid of her, because she is – annoying! She is a short girl with a fast stride, bouncing long blond hair that is always pulled up into single ponytail. She is usually leading a group of little girls that do whatever she wants them to do. When they are not around, you can see her yanking her little brother – Peter – around by the arm.

She’s OK though, always happy and cheery. Hopping and skipping and just being a little girl.

“Pablo has a g-i-r-l-f-r-i-e-n-d!” again she shouts.

This time her friends chime in & they all do their sing-song thing in unison.

“Pablo has a g-i-r-l-f-r-i-e-n-d!”

“Pablo has a g-i-r-l-f-r-i-e-n-d!”

Intent on having nothing annoy me today, I chase them all away. But Rosie keeps coming back.

As I walk towards the house, Rosie follows me.

“What do you want Rosie?” I ask her, getting annoyed.

“Are you gonna kiss her?” She replies with a dumb giggle & instantly coyly cover her mouth as if she said something she knows she shouldn’t have.

“I don’t know who you are talking about.”
“you really don’t know?” she asks surprised.
“No I don’t, Rosie & stop being such a spaz. Just tell me!”

She laughs & start her sing-song again. “Pablo doesn’t kno-o-o-o-o-w! Pablo doesn’t kno-o-o-o-o-o-w!”
“You are starting to piss me off Rosie, Just tell me already!”

“Well, Kim said that Diana heard Marie say that she overheard Karen & her best friend talking…”
“R-o-o-o-o-o-o-s-i-e! get to the point!”

“She said that she wishes Pablo would ask her out.” Rosie yells!

“What? Karen who? when?” Now she’s got my attention! I’ve never had a girl interested in me – well besides Lourdes on the bus – but she was really aggravating!

“Karen, the Karen? The one that lives on this street? That Karen?”
“Yeah, that Karen! She is so pretty…”

At that point I didn’t hear another word that Rosie was saying. I have never had a girlfriend, let alone kissed a girl! I walk into the house, run right upstairs to my room & slam the door shut in excitement.

“Me and Karen?” wow that would be groovy, man. Karen has got to be the most hip girl I know. She is tall, long slender legs & always wearing those nice-fittin’ flares. She is so fine! with that Brick House figure. Her hair is dark brown worn long and straight. She keeps her bangs clearly off her eyebrows so you can see her blue eyes. She always sits outside, leaning on her dad’s car painting or file-ling her nails.

There are no other girls her age in our group so she usually sits there on her dad’s car or hangs out with the guys. I usually see her waiting in her skin tight softball outfit waiting for her dad to take her to the school grounds. She is younger than me, but she is more developed than any girl in school and she carries herself like a high-school girl! She is so far-out!

All the guys just stops & stare at her. Their eyes are fixated on Karen as she strolls down the street or in the halls at school.

I can just hear it now…

“Hi boys, what’s the matter cat’s got your tongue?” She has that kind of flirtatious way that gets all the boys tongue-tied when she is around.

“Wow, Karen & me – together! I can just see the guys in school high-fiving me.”

The rest of the day goes by with my head in the clouds. I can’t hold it back, who can I share this with?

Danny? no, he will only make fun of me & beat me up for hesitating for so long. So I can’t tell him.

My sisters? Well they are silly girls & will get all gushy & giggly. They will just have a million questions & I just don’t know how to answer.

“Pablo! Girls! Come down & set the table…” Mom’s calling for us breaks my train of thought. My sisters head down immediately, but I come down a few minutes behind.

“Pablo, set the spoons & forks… Nancy has the plates on the table already.”

“Patty get the napkins…”

Mom continues with instructions, but her voice fades away in the background. It starts to sound like “Blah, Blah, Blah!” as my head starts wandering off again and back onto the idea of dating Karen.

Could this be real? Karen is too pretty… This can’t be true! How will I know for sure? I can’t ask her out & take the chance that she may says no! How will I know for sure?

“I know! I’ll tell Leo!” I shouted — out loud apparently.
“Tell Leo what?” Nancy replies.
“Nothing! never mind!”

I put the spoons & forks down quickly & run out the front door. Leo is usually out after all of us go home for dinner, so he has to be here!

I run to the corner and sure enough, Leo is riding his bike in the park across the street.

“Leo! Leo!” I shout out to him “Come here I need to talk with you!”

I share with Leo what Rosie told me & it puts a smile on his face.
“Karen? The Karen? She is so hot!”

I can see him starting to daydream – maybe wishing it was him, so I cut him off. “Leo, you gotta find out for me. You’re friends with her best friend – go ask her.”

He rides off, standing up off the seat & trying to pop wheelies in that crazy way that Leo likes to do. Never really getting the front wheel more than a few inches off the ground, but nonetheless never stopping….

After dinner we all head outside again. Leo is riding his bike in a circle and all the other kids are playing kickball.

“Leo, what did you find out?” I ask him
“It’s true. She is waiting for you to ask her out!”
“What!?!? She’s gotta be wrong! Did she say those words?”
“Well, she was not home but her older sister confirmed it.”
“It’s true! Her older sister is in my class – she wouldn’t lie to me”

So it is true! At that moment the world seemed to come to a stop. The kids playing kickball drop the ball & it just rolls down the street – in what felt like slow motion – towards Karen’s house. My eyes follow the ball and then to my surprise… Karen comes outside.

Her eyes start scanning everyone outside, as if she is looking for someone specifically. My eyes caught hers & she waves to me.

“Go ask her out” Leo elbows me & urges me on.

But a chill runs down my spine. She is so beautiful! This moment can’t be happening. what if…

“This is your only chance! go ask her out!” This time Leo insisted.

I walk across the street with the pretense of getting the ball for the kids, but really with the ulterior motive of getting closer to Karen. I didn’t notice anything or anyone else on the street except Karen. I’m staring at her lean onto her father’s car & she looks at me like asking “what are you doing over there with that ball?”

I toss the ball over my shoulder, hoping it goes in the direction of the kids. I walk up to her & lean on the other car opposite to her.

“Hey Karen. You look nice today.”
“You think so?” she asks – knowing she does, but egging an acknowledgement.
So I take the hint & reply, “Of course you do! You’re the prettiest girl on the block!”

She giggles and smiles coyly. She puts her head down, as she blushes a little and shifts her body along the door of the car.

Again the hint is received & I feel comfortable to continue. We continue talking & I reach out to hold her hands. The moment is magical!

We chatted for what felt like an eternity. Me standing in front of her holding her warm hands. The only interruption came from the kids who kicked the ball in our direction several times. Then they start with a sing-song rhyme:

“Pablo & Karen sitting in a tree, K-i-s-s-i-n-g”

I blush & Karen drops her gaze shyly. “Karen, I like you & I know you want me to ask you out. Would you like to go out with me?”

Holy shit!

I can’t believe I really asked her! “What if she says no – how can I walk away?” My mind just keeps rattling out all these questions of doubt & I put my head down as I already knew what her answer was going to be.

I even let go of her hands & stand up straight. My mind keeps talking “Alright just give it to me! Let me have it in front of all my friends! Come on – you evil woman – just do it!! Turn me down!”

“Sure, I’ll go out with you.” Karen replies softly!
“You will?” I question in shock!
“Sure! I like you too.”

Woo-hoo!! The fireworks are blasting in space! And the marching band is so loud in my head.

“Good, so we’re boyfriend & girlfriend?” I ask – just to confirm it.
“Sure you silly..” she answers as she shyly puts down her head & runs back into her house. “Goodnight! see you tomorrow….”

Boo-yah! I have my first girlfriend! I turn to look at Leo & he signals as if to ask what happened. I run over there and tell him “She said yes!”

Again the marching band is playing loudly in my head! Drums, symbols, trumpets blaring a triumphal march… I catch the fact that I floated away in a daydream & notice Leo riding circles around me in excitement. He is doing his crazy wheel-popping routine. Yanking the handlebars up in excitement & plopping back down. One of these days he will get it – but for now lets just enjoy the moment…

The rest of the night we played while the sky glistened with an amazingly bright moon. Karen sat in her parent’s bedroom window pretending to be reading a book – but looking out at us playing. She would wave & I would wave back to my Rapunzel in her perch.

Our shadow dance only interrupted when I see her put a phone on her ear. “Ahh. she must be sharing this news with her friends” I pretend.

Leo & I continue playing in between my glances up at her window. Finally I glance over & this time she is dancing of joy! The lights go out so I guess its time for bed.

“Goodnight my princess..” I whisper in her direction to where she would wave at me.

That night I slept & dreamt of my princess on the balcony. I, her prince will come and ask her to marry me as I ride in from the mist on a white horse. It was a beautiful & dreamy night.

Next day I woke up filled with joy. Can’t wait to see Karen & hear what she told her friends about us. I go downstairs after doing my chores & after lunch, I head out. Only Leo is out there – riding his bike in continuous long loops as if he is waiting for something. He sees me & goes into his crazy wheel-popping circles.

“Tell me! How do you feel now that you have a girlfriend?”
I thought about it and didn’t really know what to answer. We talk for a long while though.

A guy I’ve never seen steps up towards us.

“Hey, what It Is, man!” He nods his head at Leo in a form of greeting. Leo nods back. This dude does a visual scan of the area as if he’s looking for something.
“What’s up?” Leo asks this guy. Noticing that he is distracted.
Leo asks him “What are you doing in this neighborhood?”
“Nothing. Just came to see my aunt who lives around the corner.”
“4-sho!” Leo replied & thought nothing of it.

This interchange felt weird to me. Something seemed off about this chump. He seems much older than Leo to be in the same grade. I bet you he must have failed the 9th grade several times. He is very tall with a well-built frame. Almost 6 feet tall with a big black bushy, curly hair. He seems to be dressed too nicely. I even smell cologne and he even has a mustache! What’s up with that?

He hangs around for a bit, not saying much just looking here & there.

Leo tries to engage him in a conversation, but the guy seems lost in his scan of the area. At that moment I see Karen come outside.

He notices her too….

“Catch you later, Leo…” The chump says goodbye without answering Leo’s question. Something is weird here.

He then walks away towards the park and sits on a park bench. I walk over to meet up with Karen & try to forget this chump.

Karen & I both lean onto the same cars as last night. She reaches out, holds my hand & gives me a kiss on the cheek. Her hands are soft but cold as if she was holding ice. Her eyes glistening steely blue in the sunlight & looking back at me – but with a glance I’ve never seen on anyone’s eyes before. She smell so nice & her hair looks shinier & brighter than usual – as if she was going out somewhere. We talk for a bit but something feels off in the conversation. She pauses & then she, like in a scene from a B-movie, drops a line from a cheesy script:

“I think we need to see other people…” she said.

Damn! what a downer. This came out of nowhere.

If she said anything else, I couldn’t hear it. I immediately retracted my hands & my eyes glazed over. I didn’t see the same beauty in her eyes anymore. I looked down & walked away. I can hear her call my name, but I do not turn back.

I head over to my safe place. Leo doesn’t say a word. He just sat on his bike with one foot resting on the peddle & the other on the ground – as if he is trying to get a footing. No excitement & no crazy wheel-popping circles. No words. Just sitting there as if he knew something was whacked.

Karen finally gets up off the car & walks towards the park, not looking in our direction at all. She heads right towards the table where Leo’s friend is sitting. Odd she walks right up to him as if she knew him.

All I could do was stare at them. They seem to talk for a bit. Then he reaches for her hand. She reaches out & they hold hands as they continue to speak face-to-face. The soft light from the sun moves & now they are sitting in the shade of the Maple tree. Their bodies, as distant shadow figures, move closer together. She sits next to him on the table. He puts his arm around her & they both tilt their heads in a kiss.

All in plain-sight of what was, just recently my happiest hours.

Leo & I just stand there dumbstruck. Not knowing what to say. Not knowing how to react.

“Leo, what did you say your friend’s name was?” I ask unwittingly but knowing what the answer might be…

Leo thought for a moment & then realized a connection : “Oh shit! His name is Pablo, too.”

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Today I had a Dream…

Playground_ :: The BumToday I went down to the playground. Not St Mary’s park, it’s a battlefield between rival gangs and a drug haven, just the school playground. You know, the one around the corner where even the weeds have a hard time staying alive. As I walk there, I recalled the dream (MOV – Video Link) I had last night. I dreamt that the park was surrounded by low-cut grass – as far as the eye can fathom. I dreamt that the swing set would actually work & that the basketball court would not be covered in shards of glass & bullet shells. I also dreamt that one day this would be real.

When I get there I feel the humid and stale smelling air that surrounds the playground. The bum laying next to the gate stopped me from entering, not physically, but just from his presence. What’s the point anyway – I convince myself – no one to play with.

So I decided to head over to the Prospect Ave train station. I walked several long, dark blocks just wondering around. Walking under the shadow of the Westchester Ave EL staring to the top of the buildings, to see which one actually had it’s top up in the light. The dark, chaotic street with the blaring banners, that provided the only lights; and the blaring horns, that provide the life of the street; had a few scattered buildings that survive the chaos. These blocks,with the broken-brick facades, broke up the long blocks where tumbled-down building and empty lots loomed.

The dark streets do not get a ray of sun cutting thru. The only ray of sunshine is my destination. The tiny, red-bricked hole-in-the-wall novelty shop with the screaming yellow sign. This shop, where even just two persons standing makes the place look packed, was craving for attention. They changed the merchandise to see who will respond, who will keep them alive.

Lucky for me, they started carrying those new miniature, hot wheel toy cars with the bright red paint job, crazy header pipes and the big, exaggerated rear wheels.

I spent the afternoon hiding out there, living a new found dream.

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Bittersweet Fourth of July

I finally got my birthday present!

My birthday was back in May, but my parents could not afford to get me what I wanted – that is until today. I got a great surprise! Coolest Chopper in Town

A Chopper bike! It was nice! The sissy bar; the ape-hanger handlebars; the shifter; the tiny wheel upfront; the lean-and-mean slope it had; even the Kermit-the-frog green to match the family car. This bike was moving – even standing still!

The first thing my brother and I did was modify it. We leaned those ape-hangers as far forward as I could possibly reach. I barely had my butt on the edge of the seat, but I was hanging – out at the outskirts of my dreams!

It really was cool! My parents planned the whole day. We went to the park for a picnic by Indian Pond. The sky was a beautiful shade of azure with those little puffy clouds that slide into place every once in a while just to give us a burst of shade. I had all the hot dogs I could eat and spent the whole day riding. Everything was incredible and this was the best day of my life.

I even learned to ride a bike today. My brother, running out of patience in teaching me, wanted to ride it more often and would not let me have a turn riding my bike. “They got it for US!” was his reply, but I know it was mine – right? They didn’t get me anything for my birthday so this must be a way to make up for it – isn’t it?

At about 5pm, my brother and I got into a fight. He would not give up the bike and I ended pushing him off. My parents have had enough and loaded us back into the family wagon “the green machine” for the trip back home.

When we got home everybody was tired and all my brother and I did was argue – like brothers are supposed to do. We pull into the perfect parking space right in front of our brownstone – right in front of our basement gate.Home_ :: New York Brownstone

We unload the car but my brother and I argue over who will put the bike away. In the morning we woke up all excited about how wonderful our 4th-of-July had been. I run down to the basement just to feel the bike – after all, it could have been only a dream. I get there and no bike. Was it really a dream?

At the moment my brother comes up behind me and says – where’s the bike!? Didn’t you bring it in, fool? We look at each other with that little-kid-in-trouble look of – ooh-ooohh!

Running outside in our pajamas, we are struck by the glaring heat of a July morning in New York. Our eyes, adjusting to the brightness, start to focus on the green machine. Only to realize that the side-rear window, of the wagon, was shattered – like my dreams – into small bits, all splattered out on to the sidewalk.

I should have just put the bike away, but I guess it does not matter, at some point someone would have stolen it anyway.

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