Blackhumouristpress's Blog

January 3, 2012

Love’s Reward

Filed under: Ethnicity,humor,Short Story,walmart — blackhumouristpress @ 9:51 pm
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            “Yo dude…  I got the call to help you cause you was checkin out.  My job is to put suitcases on this cart and talk to you bout stuff like the weather or whether the Jets or the Giants gone do something…  Y’see?  I engage people in small talk so that when it comes time to give me a few dollars, they do ahead and do it.  I could be the angry black man who hates the world cause y’all white folk got so much money that you cain ford to stay all up in a hotel that overlook Times Square…  I cain tell you that you busted up a window that up near a grand to replace and I don’t know if you an acrobat but I cain’t even stand near the dang window much less stand on no tiny ass ledge…  Watchu thinking bout doing?”

            Trenton had never been to New Jersey but was named Trenton because his father once lived in that city after Vietnam.  Trenton had just gotten back from Iraq and at the age of twenty four, he had seen a lot of bad things in just under six years of service.  The reality of home life appeared more dismal to him than he anticipated too.

            “I called for you because I want someone to hear what I got to say before I go.  I could have written what I wanted to say down and what good would that have done?  Who would have seen it?  The Spanish speaking women who clean rooms?  They would crumple that up and throw it out and I’d have died as nameless and faceless as thousands of other people who died fighting terrorism for this country.  My dad fought communists and I fought terrorists and meanwhile nobody gave a shit over here.  I go away and come back to find that my mom is engaged to one of my friends from high school, my dad is scuba diving off of some island in the Philippines where he is being waited on by underage, poor girls and my fiancé has run off with some other guy to another state.  I’m going and I hope Dick Clark and Lady Gaga get a good look at me when I’m splattered all over the sidewalk.  I hope all the networks get a good look at me and wonder why it all happened.  Hopefully some producer hears about my plight and decides to do a Sunday night movie of my life.  Hopefully I don’t die nameless and in vain…”

            “Baby…  You know I go by the name of LR.  Everyone one call me LR.  I grew up thinking my parents didn’t have enough sense to give me a damn name.  They jus give me damn initials and then I come to find out that my name is really Love’s Reward.  Can you dig some crazy ass 1960’s stuff like that?  People was landing on the moon and others was burning up they cities and two young people had them a baby and gave him a crazy name like Love’s Reward.  They loved each other and me so much that they was ready to give my ass to the state cause neither one them was fit to watch a damn dog.  Luckily I had grandparents on my father’s side who was normal church going people who took me in and treated me like I was theirs.  My mom married four other men and had god know how many other babies and my dad became a skid row bum.  Every now and then he’d bring his ass to my grandparents home talking bout how he was gone ride the wagon and then he’d be cool foh awhile and then you’d see him in the park again, glassy eyed, mumbling stuff to himself, drinking out a bag.  Don’t you think that made me an angry young man?  I never once thought about killing myself foh things other people did or did not do right by me.”

            Trenton stood paralyzed with fear on a crumbling limestone ledge that was easily eighty years old.  He stood fifteen stories above the street.  People on the street could see a figure in the shadows but couldn’t make out if it was a human being or not.  Trenton was disappointed that women weren’t shrieking and begging someone to keep the sad human being from killing himself.  Nobody paid much attention.  Most thought someone had stuck a mannequin out on the ledge or possibly a Santa Claus as a joke.

            “Sad enough story but you didn’t sign up to help your country just to find out that your country wasn’t really helping you.  For oil or for strategic interests we were in Iraq.  There are terrorists in the United States.  Who did we really flush out?  Did we really do those people any favors by getting rid of Saddam?  The only thing they all seem to understand is a heavy hand and we got rid of the one man who could keep them all in line so that they could now have a civil war.  I come home and nobody cares that I served.  There’s no tickertape parade or recognition from anyone in my town.  People want to know if my head is all fucked up more than anything else.  They want to know if I’m going to show up at the Wal-mart and just start wasting people because I have been conditioned to kill and keep myself alive…  Well, just for the record, I never have been to a Wal-mart and maybe that is the safe thing for people like me…”

            LR walked close to the window and leaned against the wall close to where Trenton was standing.  He was hoping to reach through the jagged window and grab Trenton and somehow pull him through the window.  Trenton kept a close eye on where LR was standing.

            “I always wondered why it was that white people always killing they selves.  Here I am a 46 year old man with two adult children and I may have to work the rest of my life because I ain’t got enough money saved up to retire.  There’s a thought and a half foh yo ass…  Work til you die so you ain’t got to worry about starving or living in the park when you old.  You served and you cain go to school on the GI Bill and do something with y’self.  So yo momma crazy and want to sleep with young dudes and yo daddy doing something even worse.  Yo girlfriend up and left you…  So what.  She done saved you the trouble later cause her ass was destined to do that to you at some point.  You served in the military and nobody cares?  Shit…  Ain’t nobody care bout nothing but theyselves anyway.  I carry people’s bags and place them in cabs and limos and people talk to me and never make eye contact.  I ain’t spit on the sidewalk to them.  I carry they stuff and they give me a few dollars cause they would be too embarrassed to get in the car and walk away without giving me something foh a small job of convenience.  I make people’s lives easier in some damn small way and ain’t nobody give a shit or a fuck and still they ain’t no reason foh me to jump out no damn window.”

            Trenton had always been afraid of heights and afraid of drowning.  His two worst repeat nightmares were of falling from great heights or drowning.  The more LR spoke to him, the less Trenton was resolved about ending his life and the more fearful he became of just falling.

            “I’ve gone this far now and if I turn around, I’ll just look like a coward.  There I’ll be on the news, a guy who comes back from Iraq who is whacked out but not enough to really kill himself…  I just don’t see any other way now.  I think I’ve gone past the point of no return…”

            “Look man…  Ain’t nobody but you and I know you standing out there.  We been here some half hour and ain’t nobody come running in.  They ain’t no shrinks, cops, or priests all up in this room begging yo ass to come the fuck back in this room.  It just me and I ain’t gone say shit.  You come in and we gone come up with a reason why that window broke.  They got insurance.  You won’t have to pay you a damn dime…  Come on now and quit being crazy.  Gimme yo hand and Imma help you back in…”

            Trenton began to cry and felt weak for considering giving up and in.  He thought that it would have been a sad but heroic way to end it all.  Trenton didn’t want to end up an old man at a veteran’s hospital one day, being taken care of by people young enough to be his grand child, a survivor of a forgotten and meaningless war to those of the following generations.  He also didn’t want to die young despite the fact that he planned a suicide.

            Trenton went back to Ohio where he was from.  A fire investigation was done after the initial claim of an electrical fire in the wall, necessitated the hotel guest to break the window.  A stern looking white man with a bushy salt and pepper moustache told LR what he discovered to be the cause of the fire.  The fire investigator suspected a cover-up.  LR rubbed his chin and smiled before speaking.  He then leaned forward and looked hard into the fireman’s eyes.

            “Sometimes when we young, younger than you and I, we make decisions that could ruin or end our lives. Part of being young is making hasty choices that ain’t been thought out clearly. You cain only hope that occasionally an old wise goat like you and me cain be there to help save them from theyselves…  Hope you cain understand what I’m trying to tell you, sir.”

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