25 Ways You Know You’re From Boston When You….

# 1.) ….name your son ‘Fenway’.

2.) ….you move to another city, but support the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots, even after Tom Brady married a Victoria Secrets’ model.

3.) …recognize that fried clams are only fried clams, if they have bellies and I mean big bellies like they serve at Tony’s on Wollaston Beach, Woodman’s in Essex, and Jake’s in Wolverham.

Unless you’re getting fried clams strips from Hojos on Rte. 3 before the 128 split-off.

4.) …are asked what is your favorite New England beer and you answer without a pause, “Naragansetts.”

Made with Honor.

The rest are wannabes.

5.) …cry hearing Teddy Kennedy quote his brother RFK during the eulogy.

“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

6.) …leap out of your chair and dance with Carlton Fisk, while watching a rerun of 1975 Game Six against the Cincinnati Reds.

7.) …wish the State of Massachusetts had given $500,000 to 40,000 Bostonians to stay at home rather than build the Big Dig.

8.) …vote for ROADRUNNER by the Modern Lovers as the State Song.

Anyone suggesting DREAM ON should move back to New Hampshire.

9.) …wished you went to Beaver Country Day School, since they scored more snow days than any other school in Boston.

10.) …recognize that Boston is a racist city. I taught at South Boston High School during the riots. It was a time of shame setting poor against poor.

And the way the sportwriters treated Bill Russell and Jim Rice.

11.) …never put a foot on Harvard Yard or parked your car there.

12.) …would rather have a burger at Brighams than Mickey Ds.

13.) … have heard the 1812 OVERTURE at the Hatch Shell.

14.) have drank 50% of the beers at Jacob Wirth’s, although not at one sitting.

15.) …recognized that James Brown saved Boston from burning on the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination.

16.) …consider Boston City Hall the most aesthetically beautiful building in the city.

Bullfinch’s State House is elegant, but nothing usual.

17.) …actually are scared walking across Copps Hill Cemetery in broad daylight.

Read HP Lovercraft’s PICKMAN’S MODEL.

18.) …appreciate the lost wickedness of the Combat Zone.

See the photos of Roswell Angier, Jerry Berndt and John Goodman.

19.) …understand your accent is something special.

One night in Bangkok circa 1990 I overheard someone with a Southie accent. We shook hands and drank to Bobby Orr.

“We must be the only two guy from Boston in Thailand.”

“Nope, those two guys over there are from Dorchester.”

We joined forces and spoke in the only tongue known to our kind.

Wicked Bostonian.

20.) …headed to the Quincy Quarries for a swim.

Sorry, they are a thing of the past, but they were the best.

21.) …know that family is almost everything, because after the Red Sox family is everything.

22.) …appreciate the true beauty of the Mattapan – Ashmont trolley line.

It’s free and the view of the Neponset River marshes are sublime no matter what the season.

23.) …are proud that Marky Mark is one of us.

Even if he shouldn’t have been wed by an ex-Jets player in the movie TED.

FUCK THE JETS AND THE RANGERS TOO.

24.) …accept the reality of the Giselle Bundchen Curse on the Patriots.

25.) …realize that you love Boston no matter what.

STUTTERING SIAM by Peter Nolan Smith

In the 1950s stuttering was considered a possible sign of mental retardation.

At age 2 I spoke like a stuck record. My parents thought this disability would pass and I fooled them by mot speaking other than in single syllables. My family became accustomed to my aberrant speech habits, however upon entering Underwood Primary School in Falmouth Foresides, Maine my kindergarten teacher suggested that my parents take me to Maine Medical Hospital in Portland to see a specialist.

“Your son has a stutter.”

“He does?”

“Do you have a stutter?” asked my mother.

“N-not-ttt all the t-t-time.” This was the most I had spoken in years.

My father shook his head and my mother thanked the teacher.

As we got into the family station wagon, she said, “No one in my family ever stuttered.”

“It’s not a sin.” My father had converted to Catholicism to marry the Boston beauty.

“The nuns taught that stutters are naturally left-handed and left-handed people belong to the Devil.”

“You don’t believe that, do you?”

My mother didn’t answer the question and the next day we drove across the two bridges spanning the Presumpscot River and the Back Cove into Portland. My grandmother Edith was taking care of my brothers and sisters. My father parked on Bramhall Street and entered the hospital. I didn’t like the smell.

The hospital subjected me to a series of tests; mostly to divine whether I was mentally impaired. My test scores indicating an intelligence higher than average was a relief to my parents. The head doctor then explained that stuttering resulted from a series of blocks, which prolong syllables.

“Stuttering in itself isn’t a problem. Demosthenes, the Greek orator, spoke with pebbles in his mouth to cure his stuttering.”

“Pebbles.” I wanted out of this office. No one was putting pebbles in my mouth.

“Not proven to be effective, but what we have to be concerned about in your son’s case is the appearance of secondary stuttering behaviors such as tics and twitches could develop as escapes to stop stuttering.”

“Twitches?” My mother was alarmed by this prognosis.

“Tics as well.”

“What can we do?” my father asked with a worried look in my directions. I had been no trouble to them up to this point and now I was becoming a monster simply because words wouldn’t exit from my mouth.

“Well, ancients suggested drinking water from a snail’s shell or hitting the stutterer on a cloudy day. We’re a little more advanced nowadays. Let’s have our oral specialists take a look.”

I was brought into another room. The young doctor wore thick glasses. He examined the structure of my mouth and whispered his opinion to the head doctor, who announced to my parents, “The reason your son stutters is that he thinks too fast for his tongue, which is too big for his head.”

“Is there anything we can do?” My mother was scared that I would be ridiculed by bullies for stuttering, even though no one in Underwood had ever made fun of me.

“As parents, no, however we can scrap the boy’s palate with a needle to induce his tongue to work fast.”

“I don’t mind stuttering,” I told the doctors, but no one listens to a 6 year-old boy in 1958.

I was strapped to a chair in a small operating room. The needle was about two-inches long. The young doctor asked me to open my mouth. I shook my head. Doctors didn’t waste time on young boys’ objections to perfectly good operational procedures and he nodded to the two nurses. Their hands pulled my mouth open like correction officers force-feeding a prisoner on a hunger strike.

“This won’t hurt,” the doctor told me with the needle aimed at the top of my open mouth.

He was a liar.

Worse I had to go to Maine Medical once a week for a month, until my father forbade any further treatment.

“Quacks. That’s all those doctors are. Quacks.” His father had been a GP in Westbrook, Maine, so my father recognized a fake doctor when he saw one.

My stutter survived grammar school and high school. High school wasn’t so bad, since my Latin teacher also had a stutter.

“A-mo-mo-mo-, Amas-mas-mas, Amat-mat-mat.”

Brother Bede also taught Algebra.

The other students thought my good grades came from his favoring another stutterer. I was just good with numbers, plus my stuttering wasn’t so pronounced as before as I honed my stalled sentences to sound like thoughtful pauses. After a while I forgot I had a stutter. After all I really never listened to how I spoke and none of my friends ever mentioned it, but upon graduation from college I went on job interviews and the personnel director of a bank asked, “How long have you had that stutter?”

“O-o-only when I’m n-n-nervous.”

“Thanks for coming.”

The bank never called for a follow-up interview or the hotel chain or insurance company. Corporations had no use for stutterers and I taught English at South Boston High School. The kids noticed my stutter and the principal said, “I can’t have an English teacher who stutters.”

I was transferred to gym and lasted another year before moving to New York.

People of that city were more concerned with my Boston accent than my disorder, although any time the police would stop me for bad driving, the stutter would emerge with a vengeance. Most of the cops would get so annoyed by my repeating a single syllable that they would wave me away without writing the ticket and I exaggerated the stammering in foreign countries to avoid traffic violations, proving all cops hate stutterers.

None of them could tell me why.

It even worked in Thailand with two cops wanting a bribe.

When we were up in Ban Nok visiting family, my wife told everyone about the stuttering or dit-arnh episode with the highway police. They laughed, although her mother said, “You can cure dit-arnh easy.”

“Cure how.” I was willing to listen to what she had to say, since she was an expert with herbs and country healing.

“You have to eat the hee-moo.”

“Hee-moo?” Basically slang for pig vagina.

“Yes, hee-moo.” The entire gathering repeated with heavy nods.

“From a virgin pig,” my brother-in-law solemnly added.

“I’m fine with dit-arnh, really.”

I started for the door, but everyone was worked up about curing my stuttering and 30 minutes later my wife’s mother entered the house with a steaming plate of what appeared to be fried gristle. Obviously pig pussy was sturdier than that of a human female.

“Chim.” The mother speared a morsel with a fork and held the quivering innards to my mouth.

Everyone else chanted ‘chim’.

My wife said, “Taste it. You not have to eat much, then you not dit arnh ek.”

Never stutter again?

I had my stutter for over 46 years.

It was like an old friend and they were suggesting I get rid of it in a second. This was magic and I couldn’t figure out white or black. Maybe if I didn’t stutter, I could get a real job. Maybe things would be different. Maybe I would be rich.

I opened my mouth and chomped on the hee-moo, only to have everyone laugh in unison.

“Not hee-moo. Hoo-moo.”

“Pig ear?”

“Chai, hoo-moo.”

My brother-in-law’s face was boiling over with amusement. The rest of the family joined his laughter. I was slower to see the humor, but finally smiled and said, “H-h-hee m-m-moo not stop d-d-dit arnh.”

The Thais like a good sense of humor and my brother-in-law broke out a special bottle of lao khao dang or red rice moonshine. Within two hours all the males in the house were only capable of slurring their speech and the only cure for that was sleep.

As for stuttering I still have my old friend and will until I die, because some things are just too much you to not be you.

TRASH FIORUCCI by Peter Nolan Smith

In the late-70s the windows of Fiorucci on East 60th Street featured the latest flash fashion from Italy. These trendy threads guaranteed almost immediate entrance into Studio 54 or any exclusive disco in Manhattan.

The manager was a swishy part-time singer on the downtown scene. Joey ran the store with an iron glove. One afternoon I came to him with a simple question.

“How much for the suit?” A gold lame Elvis suit adorned the front window. I wanted it bad.

“You can’t afford it.” Joey sneered at my question. His store catered to the rich. This was the Upper East Side.

“I know that.” The price tag read $300, which was about twice my wages at Serendipity 3 where I worked as a busboy. “What about 50% off?”

“And why would I do that?” The haughty manager earned a healthy commission on every sale.

“Maybe I could get you a gig at CBGB’s.” I hung out at the Bowery bar every night.

“You’re not the booker.” Joey wasn’t falling for my spiel and walked off to get an espresso.

“I might be able to help you.” Joey’s assistant manager caressed my shoulder and eyed the changing rooms. “I like boys from Boston. You’re so so so tough.”

“No thanks, I’m no hustler on the corner of 53rd and 3rd.”

“No?” I was testing my nerve.

“I have a girlfriend.” Clara was a beautiful actress from Georgia.

“She wouldn’t have to know and I could get the suit for an employee price.”

“I don’t play that game.” She wasn’t really a girlfriend, but we slept together more than once a week.

“That’s what all you boys say, but my side know different.” Matt smiled, for that Serendipity 3’s waiter staff was pronouncedly gay.

“Forget it.” I resigned myself to torn jeans and a black t-shirt, then left the store and cut through Bloomingdales to 60th Street. The July afternoon was sullenly hot and the sun was melting the pavement to a sticky goo.

The owners of the precious ice cream parlor offered me ice tea. It was a quenching treat and I had the day off. Liza Minnelli was sitting underneath a Tiffany Lamp. She laughed with her friends.

“Good luck with your acting class.” The mustached owner knew everyone’s business.

“I’ll sprain an ankle.” Clara and I studied acting improvising at Hunter College.

I climbed the stairs to the apartment of my friends living above Serendipity 3. The two southerners laughed upon hearing about Joey’s refusal to discount the Elvis suit.

“That queen is so mean.” Andy danced with the ballet. His older boyfriend liked him in nice clothing. Fiorucci was the handsome Virginian’s Chanel.

“He’s just doing his job.” I wasn’t saying what I felt, because Andy and his roommate were loose-lipped with gossip.

“And why would you want to be Elvis anyway?” Tim was stumped by this desire. “He’s so declasse.”

“It’s not that I want to be Elvis, but I just like the way it looks.” Elvis was the King.

“Straight men. I can’t figure you out.” Tim returned to pinning together the dress.

“You should have stolen it.” Tim quipped from the corner. The graduate of North Carolina School of Fashion was cutting a dress for his autumn collection.

“And go to jail.” I passed a lit joint to the elegant designer.

“Jail.” Tim shivered at the thought. He liked sleeping in his own bed. “Heavens forbid.”

“Not to worry. I’m a law-abiding citizen.”

“Except for a little weed.” Andy took the joint. “And other things like adultery.”

“My affair with Carla isn’t adultery. I’m not married.”

“But she is.” Tim sniped at my sin. “But no one is going to throw you in jail for breaking that Commandment.”

“Not this far north of the Mason-Dixon Line.”

I hung around listening to the boys talked about their love lives.

At 6:30pm I left the apartment to head up to Hunter College at which I was taking acting classes.

The early evening sky was thick with moist clouds. Lighting and thunder were scheduled for tonight, but it was too hot for any relief from rain. I reached Hunter on time and climbing the stairs to the fourth-floor classroom.

Sweat dripped from my every pore.

The windows were open for an errant breeze and fans stirred the humid air. Eric, the overweight experimental drama teacher, wiped his face with a towel. Carla was sitting at a table with her estranged husband Chuck. The other students were across the room, almost as if they were an audience for the couple’s reunion.

“Glad everyone could make it.” Eric put down the towel and resumed his instructions for A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Thunder rippled over the Hudson like tin sheets falling down stairs.

“Carla, you’ll be Stella, Chuck will be Stanley, and you’ll be Mitch, except we’re going to detour from the usual course of the play and have it so both Stanley and Mitch are after Stella.”

“Wasn’t that implied by Tennessee Williams?” Carla asked from her seat. The attractive brunette displayed no signs of discomfort from the heat or the proximity of her husband, the heir to a Wisconsin butter fortune.

“This will be overt.” The teacher handed out copies of the new scene to the class. “Forget everything. Read this, act this, be this.”

Eric was renowned for his distortion of plays. He was gambling on the inner tension between Carla, Chuck, and me to dredge a new meaning to the classic theater piece. She and I had spend the previous night together at her studio flat on East 23rd Street.

Flashes of sheet lightening stripped the dusky sky, as we reciting the lines word for word. Sunset passed with our struggle to find the new direction. Night fell on our failure to connect the characters. I was planning on taking Clara to the Plaza Hotel for drinks. The bartender at the Oak Room was a friend.

“No, no, no, I want fire. Read the words, but speak your own. There’s no copyright on creativity.”

I became a punk rock Mitch, Chuck revived Stanley as a man of the people, and Carla sold Stella as a woman whose madness was in the wrong time.

“That’s it, people.” Eric clapped his hand together and out went the lights, as if the Tennessee Williams’ future ghost had cancelled our mutation of his famous work.

The room went pitch black. The windows of the school were dark and the evening sky was devoid of city’s glow.

“Is everyone okay?” Eric asked, lighting a match.

“Yes, what happened?” One of our fellow student lit his lighter.

“We might have had a blackout.” Chuck suggested, as if he didn’t want it to be the truth.

“I think you might be right.” It was the first time he and I had ever agreed on anything.

“Then we had better leave the building. You with the lighter. Lead the way.” Eric was good at giving orders. He wanted to be a director.

Escaping the darkened building took the better part of a half-hour. The chaos of Lexington Avenue revealed the extent of the outage. Cars were stalled at the traffic lights. Several people were directing traffic.

“You think the lights will go on soon?” the student with the lighter lived in Brooklyn.

“No one knows.” I was glad to be living in a SRO hotel on East 11th Street. No electricity meant no trains and I asked Carla, “You want to come home with me?”

“No.” She wasn’t walking to Park Slope and looked over to her good-looking husband. “Chuck’s place is closer.”

They linked arms and strolled toward Central Park. He had a penthouse on West End Avenue. She had told me about the view from the terrace many times. They were a couple again.

“Win some, lose some,” Eric commented on the sidewalk.

“Mitch knows all about losing some.” I shook his hand and walked back toward Serendipity 3.

I found my friends upstairs at their apartment. They had run out of ice for their vodka tonics.

“There’s no ice anywhere,” Tim complained bitterly with crossed arms. He was already drunk. “I want ice.”

“Stop bitching, bitch.” Andy had been keeping pace with his tipsy roommate, Frank.

“Maybe the Plaza has some.” I suggested since the hotel was the epitome of elegance. It had to have an emergency generator. Ice was less than five blocks away.

“Let’s go.” Andy, Frank, a young boy from North Carolina, Kurt, and I hurried through the darkened streets.

Passers-by spoke about looting in Harlem. They looked to the North. A radio reported that Flatbush was under siege. There were no police in sight. City dwellers were marching home. Some said they had been in the subway for hours. The light canyon of Park Avenue was without illumination and Andy pointed to the sky.

“I can see stars.”

“Orion.” I spotted the constellation most nights.

“Also the Big Dipper and the Bear.” Andy drew the lines between the points of Ursa Major.

“Looks more like a pig to me.”

“It’s a bear.” Frank had gone to art school.

We stopped arguing soon as we turned the corner at 59th and 5th.

The three of us stopped in shock.

“It’s the end of the world.” Andy stared at Plaza Hotel without lights.

“Or we’re back in the Stone Age.” Frank was excited by the chaos.

“When ice only came in season.” Andy shook his fists at the Plaza, angered by its failure to preserve civilization.

For some reason this new truth angered me and I said to Andy, “Let’s go to Fiorucci.”

“They won’t have ice.”

“No, but they do have a gold Elvis suit.”

That

“No one will be working there now.” It was past 11.

“Exactly.” Kurt picked up a cinder block from a work site. “I’m shopping the old-fashioned way.”

“That’s looting.” Andy was wild, but never violent.

“Just like the Huns. Go for it.” I had Pictish blood in me. We were an old tribe well before the 10th Commandments were etched in stone by a bearded god.

We strode up to Fiorucci.

The gold lame suit shone even in the blackness of the surrounding anarchy. Studio 54 was at my fingertips. I would win back Clara. I wouldn’t be Mitch in the next acting class. I’d be a star.

“Stand back.” Kurt warned Andy and Frank and then heaved the cinder block at the window. The missile struck the plate glass and bounced right back, narrowly missing Frank’s and my skull.

Several guards pointed at us. I hadn’t seen them in the murk. We ran fast. Kurt not so fast. Frank, Andy and I hid in a doorway. We watched Kurt hobble past us. Andy lifted his finger to his lips.

Ssssh.”

The guards and Kurt faced into the murk. Andy, Frank, and I stepped out of the alcove chased us past Bloomingdales.

“Where should we go?”

“In here.” Andy dragged us into the Subway Inn.

The dive was packed with stranded workers. The bar didn’t have any ice, but there were cold beers. Andy, Frank, and I blended into the sweaty crowd

“God bless Mickey Mantle.” Andy raised his glass and nudged me in the side. “Join the toast.”

“Fucking Yankees.”

Several beers later we arrived to the apartment above Serendipity 3. The radio was telling tales of the black-out. It was city-wide and Andy recounted a breathless telling of our attempted theft at Fiorucci.

“You could have gone to jail.”

“Not a chance,” said Andy. “Kurt was slow as shit and I won the gold medal.”

“I took the silver,” crowed Frank.

“And Kurt?” I asked wondering why he wasn’t here, knowing fully well why.

A gold lame Elvis suit.

“Anyone can run faster than Kurt.”

“But I didn’t get the suit.” I was slightly shamed by my exploit, especially for not having helped Kurt.

“Yes, but we did get away and not going to jail is a good thing.” Frank liked the comfort of his own bed.

“Especially tonight.” The Tombs in Lower Manhattan would be packed with looters according to the radio.

“But you tried to answer the call of the wild and that deserves a shot of lukewarm vodka.”

Tim handed me a shot glass filled to the brim.

“To outlaws.” I downed the shot. It was one of many. I fell asleep on the floor and woke up in the monring with Kurt.

“are you okay?”

“The police caught me, but I cried.”

“Tears work when lies fail.”

“Sorry about the suit.”

“No worries> You did a good job.” I kissed him on the forehead and we went to sleep.

Later that afternoon I tried to enter Fiorucci, but Joey blocked me entry at the door.

“We don’t need thieves as customers.” The sometimes singer snapped his fingers three times. The guards stepped closer to me.

“At these prices I don’t know who’s the real thief.” It was the best riposte I could come up with hung-over.

I didn’t have to be told to leave by them and strode out of Fiorucci, knowing that the boys above Serendipity 3 had snitched out my failed trashing of Fiorucci’s window. They did have big mouths. Clara went back to her husband. The teacher suggested that I study acting at a different school.

“I think I’ll try something else.”

“Hopefully not more burning and looting.”

“No, not anymore of that.” That night have given me a reputation. It lasted a long time.
Fiorucci closed several years later.

I bought the dusty Elvis suit through Matt. I tried it on at home.

“That really doesn’t fit you.” My girlfriend at the time was a tall model from Baltimore.

“No, maybe it never did.” It was a size L.

“What are you talking about?” Laura was about my height without the extra weight.

“It’s a long story. If it fits, it’s yours.”

Laura tried on the suit, which clung her lanky body like a dream.

The gold lame suit got her into everywhere. I was not so lucky, but I only went places where I knew the door. That was everywhere too, but I really wished I could have been wearing the Elvis suit, but some things just aren’t meant to be, especially Elvis Suits for men who are not Elvis.

THE RULE OF MR. KLAUS by Peter Nolan Smith / Anthony Scibelli

New York City was a ghost town in 1978.

The Twin Towers rose over Manhattan, but the city was bankrupt.

Seven million people were living in anarchy.

The landfill along the Hudson was a long stretch of desolation.

Sand blew in all directions.
The wind obeyed no rules around the Twin Towers

The rich knew nothing of the poor.

The Concorde flew them direct from JFK to Paris.

Every morning in the East Village Sean Coll heard its take-off.

The Rolls-Royce engines were loud.

Sean was living with a blonde model in the East Village.

At night Lisa dated a tennis player.

“It’s good for my career.”

She came home at dawn.

Sean never asked any questions and wrote poems about the waiting.

Lisa never read his journals.

No one did.

Poetry paid nothing.
Sean worked at night.

When people wanted things, they called him.

212-529-0674.

Sometimes it was a girl.

There were plenty of girls in New York.

Most of them were good fun.

Lisa liked playing hard to get and she knew her role well.

They never mixed business with pleasure.

Sometimes his work was a breeze.

People did what they said they were going to do.

Other times people were cute.


Cute got them hurt.

Sean came from Jamaica Plains and kids grew up tough in the shadow of Mission Hill.

In the end people ended up being nice.

It was part of human nature.

But New York was New York.

This city had different rules from Boston. Sean understood some of the city’s game, but no one understood everything, although a Mr. Klaus thought he was smart enough to know all the answers.

Tony introduced Mr. Klaus at a party.

Sean was not in best form.

Lisa had not come home for two days.

“I might have some work for you.” Klaus had a German accent. “But I have one rule. You do what I say.”

“I don’t have a problem with that. You know my price?” I spoke pure Boston.

“Yes.”

“Then call me.”


A day later he asked Sean to meet a woman named Clover at the New Lost Bar in Times Square.

Tony came over with the cash.

Sean gave the photographer his finder’s fee.

“You trust this Klaus?”

“I trust no one.”

“Me neither.” It was the first rule he had learned in New York.

Sean showed up on time.

Clover arrived ten minutes late.

The blonde teenager was no woman, but she was no girl either.

“I was a mistress to a Texas oil baron at 13. Does that make me bad?”

“No, but it doesn’t make you good. Let’s have a drink.”

Sean ordered a gin-tonic. Clover had a martini.

The bartenders at the New Lost Bar never checked any girls for ID.


“Do some of this.” She handed him a vial. “Mr. Klaus wants you to.”

“You always do what he says?”

She smiled with a laugh.

“When it comes to Mr. Klaus, yes.”


Clover danced at a bar.

Or at least Sean thought it was Clover.

In truth it didn’t matter, because Lisa was erased from his mind.


By the time they left the New Lost Sean was feeling no pain.

Times Square looked like a pinball machine.

Clover was the flippers and Sean was the ball.


Somehow they ended up in the subway.

Clover was taking him to see Mr. Klaus.


Sean asked the subway conductor for help.

“You don’t need any help, if you got her.”

Everyone in New York was an expert at minding their own business.

The next stop was at Mr. Klaus’ penthouse.

“Willkommen, time for some business.”

Sean was in no condition to refuse him anything.

“Do you feel different?”
“No.” It was a lie.

“Gut, I have a job for you. It might require violence.”

“I wouldn’t be here, if it didn’t.”

“An ex-associate has something of mine.”

“What?”

“A ball on a box in a refrigerator.”

“But you only want the ball?”

“Ja.”

“What does the ball do?”

“Does it really matter?”

“No.”

“Clover really likes you.”


Mr. Klaus had the young blond show Sean how much.

Mr. Klaus drove him to a townhouse on the Upper East Side.

The street was quiet. The rich could afford order.

“That’s Cookie’s house. I’ll take care of her.”

“Why do you need me?”


“There’s a man with a gun.”

“Does he know who to use it.”

“No.”

“Then he is just a man.”

“Why should I do this? Because of your rule.”


“Maybe, but more because things will go bad for Clover.” He showed a photo. It was Tony’s style.

And then another.

Mr. Klaus was worse than Clover’s Texas oil baron.

“Bring back the ball.”

Sean couldn’t say no.

Not yet.


The man with the gun was a young boy.

Sean strangled him till unconsciousness.

He was too young to die and too pretty too.


The steel ball seemed like a steel ball.


Until Sean held it in his hand.

He could see things.

He could break Mr. Klaus’ rule.


Mr. Klaus had Cookie.

She looked tough.

Sean could see the word Baltimore on her face.

Like Boston it was a tough town.

Cookie yanked on the rope.

Mr. Klaus rolled down the stairs.


He didn’t stop until the bottom.

Sean left with the ball.

He was his own man again.


He found Clover in a bag.

He wrote on her thigh before freeing her.

“I thought you’d never come back.”

“You were wrong.”

“What did you write?”

“A poem. You can read it later.”


Sean took her to his place.

Lisa was gone.

She had taken everything, but the TV and a set of weights.

“Nice place.”

Clover picked up a dumbbell.

I want to be strong like you.”

It was a good idea.

New York was a tough town on the weak.

Sean turned on the TV.

Clover lifted the weights and read the words on her thigh.

“I like your poem.”

“I wrote it for you.”

Her smile told him that she would be a good roommate.

He had the ball and he had Clover.

And both were good things in 1978, because the windblown sand had no rules.

Not in New York.

Not anywhere.

Fotos by Anthony Scibelli and Peter Nolan Smith

Pursuit of Higher Education UK

My sister-in-law regards me as a ne’er-do-well. She’s not far off the mark, I’ve led a prodigal’s life, while she’s worked for the CIA under George Bush and led a an exemplary suburban life as a working mother and wife. My brother and she have raised two good kids. Smarter than me and this Spring her son applied to the top Ivy Colleges.

With great grades, outstanding SATs, and a well-rounded extra-curricular career, my nephew seemed a lock except Harvard, Yale, and the lesser universities sent rejection notices. This blanking didn’t make sense and I asked his mother, “Why didn’t you call George Bush to get him into Yale?” Read More »