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.
Where are you? Hello! Make like we’re together.
Oh, I’m sorry, I was tripping.
What’s going on, he’s afraid to ask?
Sometimes you rave on about some issue...you go non-linear on me and roll out a non-sequitur expecting me to understand making me feel like the proverbial alien without papers.
You want to hear what I was thinking?
Do I have a choice?
You going to leave me hanging?
It doesn’t matter.
What doesn’t matter?
Whether something is true or not.
You’re in the middle of a treatise but I didn’t read the foot-notes. Of course truth matters.
No, what matters is what we do with it.
What matters is me finishing lunch without angst, thangst.
I just saw an incredible doc about the Viet Nam war. 60,000 American kids killed and who knows how many Viet Namese.
Yeah, I read about that war...ugly. But then again, you know any wars that ain’t?
Based on a lie.
How do you figure?
They said, you know the infamous American they...that we were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin evoking our military response.
A total lie. Gulf of Tonkin incident is a figment of the military complex’s imagination. Never happened. Get my point?
It doesn’t matter if something is true or not. What matters is what we do with the information.
I think you should switch from documentaries to some real and true stuff like Chainsaw Massacre.
Why are you discounting what I’m saying?
Hey, baby, lighten up, I’m just trying to enjoy my hamburger ‘n fries and you are creating some kind of philosophical downer about the veracity or rather lack of veracity of...
These fries suck.
Haven’t had my period in six weeks. Tested. Pregnant.
Are you serious? How’d you get pregnant?
The sperm fertilizes the egg and...
I thought you were using birth control. That’s what you said the first time we did it what eight months ago.
A year and six weeks.
I read an article, online researched too, over-usage of birth control has adverse side-effects on a woman’s body in the long run so I stopped. It’s always the woman who has to pay. Why don’t they invent a procedure where men have to take responsibility for birth control?
They did. It’s called condoms, which I hate, it feels like a tire on my dick, or if a man doesn’t want children he can get a vasectomy. You sure you’re pregnant?
Jesus you’d think you could have mentioned it way back when you quit the pill, I mean...Jesus, I am not into...I mean yeah we’ve been going together for okay eight nine months now...
A year and six weeks.
We’re not even engaged.
Engaged? Who indulges in that absurd ritual anymore? We’ve been a you ‘n me for over a year now.
Yeah but...god I hate limp French fries.
Stop eating them and tell me what you want to do, damnit.
Lower your voice unless you want the waitress to know about the life and times of...
Voice lowered, your honor. What, she whispered as she asked redundantly, what do you want to do?
Do? Hey, I am not most definitely not ready to be a father, to be a husband, to settle down and get a mortgage barely able to make the payments, I am not N-O-T ready for all that shit. And by the way not so incidentally I am not the one who eighty-sixed on birth control pills without telling her partner.
Is that what we are, partners?
Just a figure of speech.
What are we, partners, lovers, what?
I am freaking out on this side of the table so we better make plans to...
You’re not getting my point.
I lost it a few fries ago. Focus boys and girls, focus! What the fuck are you, I mean we, I’ll drive you to the clinic or wherever because I am mos def unready for...
It’s not the information, it’s what you do with it.
I’m clinging to the edge by the hair of my teeth as she continues to rap on about...
What, are you grading me?
You’re still not getting my point!
Your point? Your, my, our point is we, you got to get an abortion, no question about it. I’ll drive you, pick you up after the procedure, and don’t worry I’ll pay for it.
An abortion if I was pregnant.
How much does it cost? Let’s check a local hospital, we can scan it online and...
You were always a lousy listener. I said if I was pregnant.
If? What the fuck...you’re messing with me again? Are you pregnant or not?
You see, look what you did with the information which, by the way, was not true. No I am not pregnant and you are proving my point.
You sure know how to fuck up a lunch. Come on, seriously, JesusfuckingChrist, tell me again, and I want the truth not some philosophical mental gymnastics.
I am not pregnant.
Damn, you put me through a ringer thinking that...
Proving my point.
Which is fucking pointless! Give it up, don’t work a theory at my expense. Jesus, baby...
Okay okay, yeah, and what about birth control?
That’s true, I am not taking the pill.
With that information, talking about what I do with it, hey I surrendered at first scent of your delicious pussy, you sure you’re just messing with me, absolutely not pregnant?
Just proving a point.
Dull the sucker next time you want to mess up a lunch. Not using birth control? That sure fucks up a wet dream. I will probably not get an erection in fear of well you know.
Can you expand your view past my pussy and your dick.
Are you finished with your root beer, I’m dying of thirst over here?
Look, honey child, I am being serious now. I want to have a real conversation which means real listening and yes, you can finish my root beer.
Ugh, it’s flat. Don’t make a face, it’s not attractive.
You must be kidding.
Duh...yes I am...you can’t grimace your face to less than beautiful with that great bone structure. She’s making that face again. Okay honey baby child, I is listening.
You is, is you?
Reality time, folks, get down to it. What is your point because I am, am shit, I have lost it on the last sip?
My point is that what we, you, me, elected officials including our president, generals, priests, rabbis, imams, do things based more on lies than truth.
Okay, yeah, but why didn’t you say all that shit out front rather than put me through the I’m-pregnant-my-period’s-late shit? You sure know how to fuck up a man’s lunch.
Okay okay okay...forgive me baby.
Done deal, forgiven, finished with your cole slaw?
Be my guest. So what do you think?
It tastes a little tart. Tart...I never use that word. They used to call hookers tarts, the English did anyhow. I hate those white-on-white stiff collar movies with those uppity accents.
I’m not talking about tarts or cole slaw. God you are so self-involved ignoring what I say which says something about our relationship.
Our relationship? Relationship...I despise that word.
I have been in too many quote relationships that had suffocating rules ‘n regulations condemning all possibilities of enduring past their due-date of expiration.
Do we have to get into this?
No. Yes. Like what kind of rules pushed your buttons?
Like what? Oh you forgot to leave the toilet seat down. Oh I asked you to pick up milk and you brought home a six pack. Oh you want to watch that game, what is it with men fixated on games where they put something in a hole. Oh, I have a better game, how about Game of Thrones. Oh, if I don’t feel like sex you’re going to make me wrong. Lots of ohs, shit like that.
It hasn’t happened with us but if it does, is that closure for us?
Closure? My boss used that word regarding a deal that went bad. We need closure, he said. What are you talking about, closure?
If I don’t feel like sex...hasn’t happened yet which by the way our sex life is great plus.
Mutual. Soda’s getting warm.
But if some night you know, you reach out and I don’t feel like having sex, will you take it personally or just understand that...
Of course I’ll take it personally. A woman saying no to a man whose his dick is hard when he reaches out...hearing a no at that special vulnerable moment for a man is like an ax in his forehead. Of course it’s personal. I mean, if too many no’s come down the pike when I reach out...the man doth reaches out if you get my point.
I can’t believe this. If a woman, if I, this woman just wants to cuddle but not make love...
Make love...prehistoric. For men it isn’t about making love, it’s about sex, it’s about sucking ‘n fucking, make-love is for Hallmark valentine’s day cards not about visceral, primitive, juicy sex.
Love scares you does it? That’s a loud shrug. In all this time you know you never said I love you. You realize that. Not once in over a year. Not even after a great orgasm, never said the word love.
Oh God, love...it’s such an exploited over used word that it’s lost its meaning. I love this movie, I love this game, I love this meal, I love my dog, I love my cat, I love a good bowel movement, I love staying in bed late on Sundays, I love your pussy, I love a great rib-eye steak. Love means what anymore?
Love means love when it comes from the heart but you can’t deal with that, can you?
What is this? What’s going on? First you do me with a false pregnancy number, then about wars and honchos doing stuff based on lies which I’m still trying to digest and now...what are we talking about anyway? I need some blueberry pie with ice cream. You?
I feel like an open wound.
Are you messing with me again? Open wound? Put a Band-Aid on that sucker and let’s finish lunch with some pie and ice cream and maybe catch a movie, one with a lot of action and graphic sex. Okay?
Just because you don’t want to deal with something, your anathema to relationships, does not mean that the issue doesn’t remain to be dealt with, she said ending a sentence with a preposition.
Sometimes when you rap I feel like I’m one of your students who didn’t read the last chapter of our assignment. What the fuck are you talking about now?
I was watching the news, Afghanistan, the city is wiped out, destroyed, and there were three kids, raggedy and dirty, playing with a huge stick and a worn tire, laughing, having fun, rolling a torn tire on a road broken from bombs...kids make toys, laughing, screaming in joy in the middle of man-made mayhem. The kids kept moving that war-torn tire with a splintered stick in the face of mendacity. Kids endure beyond adult insanity.
Way back when I read James Joyce...read it with great difficulty until I got his stream-of-consciousness style and I think you, baby, in real life, today in Manny’s diner you are a free-forming stream-of-consciousness rapper making this literal one plus one man feel like you’re talking Chinese to a cow because, baby, I have no idea what’s going on but...
What do you want to do?
About what he said on the other side of your moon?
You and me. We makes an us.
Me, I want to call the waitress and get a blueberry pie and ice cream and then...
We’ve been what, a couple, a me ‘n you, a what matters for over a year now.
I’m not sure where you’re going with this but if it’s what I think...
You still keep your own apartment even though most nights you sleep over.
My apartment is bigger and nicer than yours. I mean the one time I slept over those garbage trucks grinding gears outside your window made me wake up as if I was in the middle of a war being attacked by the enemy.
Don’t forget the raggedy kids playing with a torn up tire.
Sometimes I think your heart is made out of titanium, you can get so insensitive mean-spirited and I wonder why I am...
Hey, time out. Don’t go to a dangerous place that is not calling. Come on, baby, I sleep at your place half the time. Problem solved.
Why don’t you ever suggest or even think about moving in with me and yes committing to, oh I dare not say that word...a relationship, how about just totally committing to a you and me, period.
We are already you and me’ing...I’m not playing outside and neither are you... and I’m used to my apartment, my bed, my pillow...
You sleep over about fifty percent of the time, so you’re not all that attached. Besides, look at the rent money you’d save...although I’d expect you can split my rent.
Moving in? Together?
Yes, together. That scares you?
I mean why all this now? Are you doing a number on me again?
I’m a good cook, you like my...
I love your pasta, your lentil soup, I even love your crazy careening mind, to a degree that is because today you’re inching too close to the crevice for comfort, and yes I love your body, your willingness to do whatever get in any position, I love most everything about you, just the way things are, just the way we are.
What exactly are you saying?
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
It may not be broken but it’s creaking, a little rusty, needs more attention to be paid.
What, he asked afraid of the answer, is creaking rusty needs attention?
Nothing can stay the same. It’s a matter of grow or go. What are you doing?
Calling the waitress.
In the middle of my, our...
Can I help you sir?
Yeah, you have blue berry pie?
Fresh, made this morning.
Roll it with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Do you want me to warm it up?
No. You want some dessert?
Okay, that’ll do it.
Coming right up.
She can lose some weight, look at her waddle. You can taste some of mine. Blueberry pie and vanilla ice cream is like an answered prayer.
I thought you were an atheist?
Come on, baby, lighten up. You and I are perfect as we are.
Can I use your water, mine’s empty?
Of course. What are those pills for?
They soften the edge.
Whatever that means. All this time I never saw you take any pills. What are they for?
I went to the doctor last week, she said I have high blood pressure and I’m breaking out in tiny hives. She prescribed these, I took one this morning and now...well, they sort of thicken things.
Soften the edge, sicken things, your metaphors are showing, doctor.
Not sicken, thicken...a kind of fog between me and the whatevers that threaten my balance.
Your balance? Dizzy or...
Emotional balance. Like now, today, me wanting us to be closer, committed, living together and who knows maybe even get married, have children, yes I know that frightens you, I know now that you are out to lunch...
We’re having lunch.
Now’s not the time to be a smart ass. I’m too susceptible to...what I was saying is that I am aware you are out to lunch on the whole me-you-us deal so these pills thicken, thank you. Water’s cold.
Here you go, blueberry pie and vanilla ice cream. Two spoons in case you want to share.
Thanks, that’s perfect.
You’re welcome I’m sure.
Here baby, scoop up a taste. I promise you’ll be so grateful for granting you such pleasure, said this atheist, you’ll thank God.
Is there a antonym for amen? It is good. Ahhh...these pills are fast acting or maybe I’m just tripping.
You’ve been tripping from the get-go.
You know America’s becoming like the wild west. Draw! Thirty people were shot last weekend in Chicago.
Talk about a non-sequitur.
I may get a gun.
You most definitely do not need a gun, not with your short circuits, I mean if you had a gun now you just might want to off me just because I’m not ready to move and...
Walmart advertised sewn-in extensions describing the color as nigger-brown.
You’re making that shit up.
No, they apologized profusely, took the ad down but they’re still selling that nigger-brown piece.
Can you stop saying that. I hate, deplore, freak out over that word and you know it.
Like you do with marriage, babies, living together. Words that push your buttons, do they!
The ice cream is melting beyond redemption.
Before we met, long before, after I broke up with Michael, you remember I told you about that son of a bitch bastard he was so short but acted like he was six ten, never a sign of remorse for his behavior, just regret that he was caught. You remember I told you?
Yeah and do we have to go into that now?
I took a spin class and pedaled so fast on a stationary bike as if I was rolling on his pock marked face which I hated that my legs gave out. For two days I couldn’t walk. My piss turned brown.
Just what a man wants to hear while scooping some blueberry pie.
It turned out I had a life threatening condition, rhabdomyolysis.
Caused by extensive exercise. It took me two weeks to recover.
And you’re fine now, right? And don’t worry about me, just me and you, baby, worry-not.
Well, honey, I don’t know if it’s the pill or just time to be woke...but...no, not but...and, the word is and... because it’s a continuum, right?
You’re losing me. Again. She’s tripping, folks.
The situation with North Korea gives us choices between bad, really bad, worse and much worse.
Is that a metaphor in some deranged way about what you think our situation is or...?
Methinks kind sir that what you want and what I need are like two ships in the night going in opposite directions.
Your metaphors are over-flowing but then again I never met a phor I didn’t like. Come on, I’ll get the check and we can see a movie that makes us laugh and...
No more we, no more us...I gave already.
What are you saying, where are you going?
Come on, don’t do this. The pills have had an adverse effect obviously so let’s just...
Let go of my arm or I’ll stab your eye with this fork.
Jesus fucking Christ, you’re losing it.
I have to go now and do not try and stop me, do not call, disappear me from your life as I am done with you. Us no longer exists.
I see the lady is leaving. Do you want the check now?