Rick Edelstein was born and ill-bred on the streets of the Bronx. His initial writing was stage plays off-Broadway in NYC. When he moved to the golden marshmallow (Hollywood) he cut his teeth writing and directing multi-TV episodes of “Starsky & Hutch,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Chicago,” “Alfred Hitchcock,” et al. He also wrote screenplays, including one with Richard Pryor, “The M’Butu Affair” and a book for a London musical, “Fernando’s Folly.” His latest evolution has been prose with many published short stories and novellas, including, “Bodega,” “Manchester Arms,” “America Speaks,” “Women Go on,” “This is Only Dangerous,” “Aggressive Ignorance,” “Buy the Noise,” and “The Morning After the Night.” He writes every day as he is imbued with the Judeo-Christian ethic, “A man has to earn his day.” Writing atones.
Holidays are weird. It seems every other month is some kind of...I mean how can I get it up just because a date on the calendar says so. No ways is it organic. Ever since I was a kid I went along for the ride because of presents but now they only remind of...I don’t know, I just feel a kind of loneliness, you know? Holidays suck.
Christmas was illegal until 1836 because it was considered a pagan holiday.
You’re full of useless information today, aren’t you?
It’s all programming.
Our beliefs...when I was a kid I was taught that Columbus discovered America. How can you discover a country already inhabited by 90 million what do you call them now? No longer Indians right because Columbus thought he was in India.
How about native Americans?
They didn’t call their country America. That’s
Despite it all I still like Christmas. The windows decorated, some of them even have running trains. I always liked trains.
You can take your Christmas, that’s the biggest hustle, supposedly something to do with the birth of Christ and express their faith by jeopardizing their credit card limits for red ribbon wrapped presents with a subtext saying you better love me.
Yeah, without even knowing real from fantasy we buy into shit, we believe because of what?
Because we want to believe there is a good fairy who will leave money under our pillow when our tooth falls out.
Talk about belief, did you see or hear about the latest machinations of our Congress cockers? Especially that guy I think his name is Paul Ryan with a smarmy smile pasted on his plastic face. Spit in the gutter has more depth than that dude.
But what do you really think about him?
I feel like a hamster stuck on that non-stop turning wheel. I mean an honest politician is an oxymoron and yet we vote for those suckers who are lying through their Vaseline rubbed teeth so their smiles look good on television.
Did you know manatees control their buoyancy though an endless cycle of farting?
Useless information-two, or is it three? But then again you were always into trivia.
What you call trivia is my escape mechanism.
From what are you escaping?
Climate change, floods, fires, congressmen talk their shit and vote according to who contributed most to their campaign funds. It all makes me feel impotent so bust me for trivia. At least it’s real.
Well, whatever gets you off. If trivia makes you happy who am I to challenge the Declaration.
Declaration of Independence guarantees the
unalienable rights known as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
You memorized that by the letter did you?
It was a high school final test. I scribbled it on my arm. Never caught. Got an A-minus.
Teacher’s a malicious moron with delusions of competence.
Ryan’s smarmy and teach is a moron. You’re a full-on of empath today, aren’t you?
Should be the happiness of pursuit.
Instead of guaranteeing the pursuit of happiness, going after something, someone, whatever we don’t have...there’s a kind of meaning to an existence of pursuit, you know what I’m saying? What we don’t have and want, well that’s real.
On the real side, what are your plans?
Yeah, what do you want to do?
I want to finish this sandwich although it could use a little more mustard and get a coffee refill.
That’s not what I’m talking about.
I didn’t think so. Enlighten me.
What do you want to do with your life?
My life? It’s called breathe in, breathe out.
Come on, what’s your aim, your goal?
I’m not oriented that way...as if a man has to have a goal. I wake up, coffee, poop, shower, only four pounds overweight, rent paid, car running without help, monster TV paid off, who needs a goal?
In other words you’re walking through your life ignorant and in the dark.
I got your dark. This sandwich sucks.
A man has to have a reason, a through line, a push/pull weaving in and out of what he does and doesn’t do to support whatever your aim is.
You sound like my philosophy teacher, claimed he was a self-made man who worshipped his creator.
Got to give him that. He was busted for messing with a student in her teens. Philosophize that!
From what I get, you just don’t seem to have a purpose.
A purpose for what?
To live an original life. You are bereft of purpose.
Bereft! Sounds like a Yiddish word my Bubba used to say. Butch, you’re bereft of dein pipick.
Bereft...deprived, lacking...if you don’t have a specific purpose guiding, propelling, searching for, fulfilling said purpose, then your life is meaningless. And then when you die and meet God what are you going to say?
I assume that’s a rhetorical question.
No, a real one.
When I meet God I’ll say...I’ll ask him or maybe it’s a her, I’ll query...
Query? You sound like some English movie.
I hate those pompous pasty-faced posers with their great elocution. What were we talking about anyhow?
Talking to God.
Oh yeah...okay...I’d get in his face with a, okay God, what have you been doing? The world is always into one war or another, kids in Africa and Asia dying of malnutrition, politicians – don’t get me started, the power people make corruption a way of life, so tell me, God, what have you been doing while all this shit’s going down? That’s what I’ll say to your God.
My God, not yours?
How can I worship some made up deity who is supposed to be omnipotent and doesn’t fix diddly? If he is omnipotent than he’s a sadistic maniac. Or maybe he doesn’t have the chops we think he does.
Maybe your God isn’t all that omnipotent. And if that’s so...then he can’t be a god can he?
Did you know that sucking a King’s nipple was a gesture of submission in ancient Ireland.
Am I missing something? Were we talking about...
About God and not making any kind of sense so I dropped a nonsensical goody on you.
Okay. One goody deserves another. Did you know that when a rabbit is happy it jumps in the air and twists its body. That’s called a binky.
Okay, binky away. Come on, you must have a want, a purpose unfulfilled.
Yeah, okay. I would like, I want to have enough money not to worry about having enough money.
Three points! Nailed it.
That’s good opening gambit.
Are we playing chess?
Three dimensional. Called life. Your pawn to queen five...enough money. Your move.
Okay, I’ll play. Invest. Get the money out of the bank...shit, savings accounts in the bank don’t do diddly. Invest in something that pays off.
You know anything about the stock market?
Information’s available on the internet.
Give me a break.
Okay, how about bitcoins. I read in the paper they’re increasing in value even as we speak.
And they can also dive down and lose, too.
How about real estate? My father said you can never lose in real estate.
Until the bubble popped. Hello! Real Estate is no longer secure.
Well there’s another side of real estate that you know better than me.
I’m just a claims adjuster. Your house gets damaged by natural forces I’m there with our licensed contractor to do an evaluation.
Who decides what the house was worth out front?
On what, who?
If you buy a house and want to take out a hefty insurance, me and said contractor check out its value, let’s say a mill five and...
And if a fire or hurricane wipes it out?
After a thorough inspection...wait a minute, I’m losing the thread. What are we talking about?
I got a plan.
Is there an echo in here?
Not funny. What kinda’ plan and what are we talking about anyhow?
I buy a house. You evaluate it as a million five for insurance purposes. The puppy burns to a pulp. You and your contractor check out the ashes and pay me big time for my loss.
You’ve been reading those cheap crime novels again, haven’t you?
It’s a plan.
I got your plan. Million five doesn’t go to you. Most of it is tied up in a mortgage with the bank. You get down-payment money. Bank scores.
That’s depressing. Want to see a movie tonight?
Romeo and Juliet. Has that foxy actress as...
Why? It got good reviews.
I know how it ends. They have one night of great teen age sex and then they die. A total downer.
You ever been to Lanscomb?
Little town thirty minute drive from here. One stop light. One bank with a guard twenty minutes away from retirement. It’s so quiet and almost comforting like an old Frank Capra movie. Virtues abound.
Me I like the vices of a big city thank you.
The bank has two windows. One was closed when I was there. The other had a Mrs. McCleary, probably a sister of the guard with very bad eye-sight from her glasses which looked more like binoculars.
You going somewhere with this movie-like-little town?
I opened an account so I’m legit.
I walk in there with my Lanscomb First Bank checking account...
If you don’t come to a point with your recondite Capraesque...
Free hour at the shooting range. Fourteen minute drive.
Hello! I don’t even have a gun.
They let you lease one for the range and if you choose, you can buy the piece at a great discount.
Why would I buy a gun?
Not just any gun. Beretta 380, top of the line.
I feel like whispering to a deaf man. I do not have nor do I want to have a gun. What’s going on?
Simple. We go in ten minutes before closing in that sleepy little bank...flash the Beretta, walk out with a gang ‘o money that’ll carry us for a year maybe or more.
What have you been smoking?
What do you want that you don’t have?
I want to go to Hawaii. Never been. You?
Whatever, wherever, I am not going to get a piece so back off and make like we never had this conversation.
I’m going to do it. With or without you. As matter of fact since you already know so you are an accomplice.
You’re losing your mind.
If I’m busted I mention you knew about it before I did the deed so since you didn’t inform the authorities, you are an accomplice. Deal with that, sucker!
Yeah, well, I’ll take my chances...sucker! C’mon, you’re not really going to do the deed. You’re no criminal. Never even busted for jay-walking.
You’re right but I feel so bloody frustrated. If I die now what would they put on my tombstone? Here lies a man who did nothing notable in his life.
Cool. I’d rather have nothing notable than here lies a man who was very notable when arrested in a bank robbery. Give it up, you’re fantasizing behind a blindfold, not seeing reality.
Blindfold? Did you know it’s illegal to drive while wearing a blindfold in Alabama.
Okay...that’s better. Ludicrous facts abound. It’s also illegal in Arkansas to honk a car horn close to a sandwich shop after 9pm.
In Alaska it’s illegal to be drunk...in a bar.
Top this: In Florida it’s a felony to sell your children.
It’s pulling at me...I got to do it.
What “it” is pulling you into trying to rob a bank and not getting that you’ll end up in jail for the rest of your...
It’s aggravating. Stasis. My life is in a frozen do-nothing state of stasis.
Redundancy abounds. Live with it man. Get your distractions aligned and...
Hey, life is a complex situation with no real solution. So we have to distract ourselves. Fall in love, fall out of love, watch TV, go to a movie, read a book, watch some porn and get off, get a hobby...distractions from the reality of this is your infamous it. Blues.