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.
How’re you doing?
How’re you doing, he asks. You really want to know?
To be honest it was just, you know, how’re you doing, another way of saying hi, hello, you know.
I hate that. We have all kinds of words and terms and phrases that don’t mean what it says. Like God bless you when someone sneezes but no one really takes a moment, a second even to invoke the energy of the divine.
Whew, you are on some kind of run. What’s up?
That’s another one. What’s up...meaning hello, right?
Not this time. Something got you by the short-hairs and..
Do you believe in God?
Hello! Where’d that one come from?
The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal but that’s a lot of bull shit. Have you listened to our President, the politicians, even some athletes. Come on, some are more equal than others, don’t you think?
You cut short the declaration. Equal in that they are endowed by their Creator...
But even that’s a canard. Have you spoken to Franky Bones who tends bar at the Green Bag?
Yeah, we just had drinks there last week. He’s a good guy albeit a little light in the smarts department.
There you go!
There I went. What are you saying?
Franky Bones was not endowed as equal by the
What are we talking about...I’m losing the thread.
Some people are born smart, some people are born with an overabundance of lack. So maybe we should all stop with that equality rap and just recognize what is. And what ain’t.
Besides all that, what’s up with you? You seem on tilt today.
I woke up mad. Angry. Pissed times ten.
Any specific reason?
Here I am 36 years old and what? I mean look at you. Married, two kids, take ‘em to the park, to the zoo, celebrate birthdays.
We celebrated your birthday last month.
Yeah Green Bag it drinks on you. Different than with kids and wife. Family. That’s where it’s at. But me? What? Still single and accomplished what? No children. No wife.
Hey, it’s not as if you’re destitute like one of those homeless dudes on the street. Better not be whining with your track record. Come on, bro’, you sold your soft-ware invention, plan, whatever you call it and now have enough money not to worry about enough money. That, my ace friend, is a major accomplishment with no deductions.
I don’t know. I still feel as if I’m wasting energy, the only gift from the divine, I feel restless, as if I’m reaching for something that’s not there and if I find it, maybe it’s too late, like getting close to unsuitable past this due date.
Sounds heavy. What due date or are you talking about our mortal coil?
That I’m still alive and yes, thrive, in this corrupt confusion.
What particular corrupt confusion or is this just another one of your usual cataclysmic mind-set of nihilism strikes again?
No, I’m mean it.
What it do you mean? What are you pissed about? And don’t drop corrupt confusion on me.
Politicians corrupt our lives, for one. Climate change manifesting in hurricanes, floods, shores in Louisiana are shrinking as the ocean takes over and other areas drought so bad entire countries threatened with...in South Africa, Capetown...
I’ve been there. Beautiful city. Reminds me of Laguna.
Running out of water. I mean dry. You hear what I’m saying?
Loud and clear. No confusion in that serve.
The confusion is how to live in a world that’s programmed to self-destruct. And you seem to be okay with that?
Hey, since I cannot have a needed effectual change on the darks, I choose whatever makes me feel good. Inside ‘n out.
I feel like a moth peeking out of the cocoon with positive aspirations of butterflying only to be faced with a rebuttal of excretion.
Your imagery is unique today.
Perhaps we have to come to grips with the blatant reality of there is no answer.
What’s the question?
To quote the Dane, to be or not to be...
Wake up, man, you are a human being with choices.
You’re not getting it. We’ve been sentenced.
Life is a sentence and then we die. It’s over.
No maybes about it. Death is death.
Maybe death is just another passage to
something, somewhere else.
You talking incarnation.
Yeah but who wants to incarnate back to this shit?
Well, before we dust off, during our in-
Between period, we can indulge in goodies life offers, doncha think?
Goodies? They’re just distractions.
Semantics. Come on, give it up. Live your life and stop whining.
Life’s a catastrophe.
Nakba. Arabic for catastrophe. That’s what the Arabs call Israel. Nakba. And with good reason because the Mossad and Shin Bet, they’ll do their interceptions on an Arabic hint.
What are you talking about?
I just read a book about them. Enemies threatening Israel, whew...they call them interceptions...they intercept some Arab and that’s a disposal plan in action. Don’t fuck with lohamim.
Lo ha who?
Lohamim. Hebrew for Warrior. No question why the Arabs call Israel Nakba.
Well, that’s the world to me. Nakba.
Turn the switch off. Change the channel.
And changing my focus will change what?
We don’t have to change things out there as long as we don’t let ‘em change you in here.
It’s a tangled web we weave once we decide to deceive.
Shakespeare nailed it.
No, it was some dude Walter Scott.
Look, when you see ads in the paper, TV, what do you do?
Most of the time ignore them.
There you go. Choice, baby, ignore or be inundated by the hustlers and drown in their positive white-on-white crocodile smiling teeth usually by a beautiful woman programming you to buy or bypass with an implied guarantee that you’ll live happily ever with a sub-text of do what I say and you get some of this fine pussy. It’s an unending tyranny of feel-goodness if you buy my product. The product being of course your somnambulant covenant of access to their control.
Easier said than done.
Doesn’t make it any the less a valid choice. Ergo...
Ergo...therefore, as Jung laid down...
Carl Jung, with a J.
If it’s a J than his name is Jung like in junk.
Not in Switzerland. You gonna’ let me lay it on you or you gonna’ continue errantly correcting.
Pulleeze, drop it on this ignoramus.
Okay, Jung, as in Jung said “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
That’s a lotta’ Swiss-cheese holy horse shit. If a man’s foot is on your neck and holding a piece aimed at your sorry ass, that’s what happened. Grim reality. No becoming anything other than I am clearly fucked.
Okay, I get your point but it goes without saying that...
If it goes without saying then why say it?
It’s just another way of positing the obvious.
I deplore those meaningless phrases fouling the horizon with litter of the verbose. Ladies and gentlemen he needs no introduction but...if he needs no introduction then why introduce him?
You went off the radar on that one. Who are we not talking about?
You know who Khalil Gibran was?
Mid-East dude who wrote The Prophet.
But he lived in Boston and died in New York. So much for Mid-East. It’s all a fantasy on which we base our reality.
Your point is getting stubbed again.
It’s just that we’re filled with erroneous garbage and act on false beliefs, don’t you get it?
You just described the political process. Candidate talks his shit and gets elected and is no more effective than damp matches.
I’m thinking of getting a gun.
Where’d that come from?
Have you forgotten to take your meds?
I am not on medication.
Then maybe you should start. The Rabbi. Sure, he said get a gun. Sure he did.
Not exactly but close.
Clarification is impatiently waiting.
Talmud. He quoted the Talmud.
Which said get a gun?
It said and I quote, if someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first, unquote.
And someone’s coming to eliminate your butt from planet earth?
If I’m not ready to rise up and kill first, it’s a sin. A gun is like a religious requirement. Can I use your water?
Go for it. What’s that pill you’re taking?
It’s not a pill it’s a gelcap.
It’s like using a light-weight sand-paper gently smoothing over the harsh edges.
Wait a minute, hold up a sec. Doctor’s prescription or what?
Ahhh, that’s better. It takes about twenty minutes to fully hit but...
What the fuck are you taking?
I’m not sure if it’s fentanyl or oxycodone or yo’ mama but in due time, what time is it now, twenty minutes I’ll be grateful.
And stoned out on...
No, don’t make a thing out of this. I am and will be totally functioning and responsible but without the...the harsh strident fucked human condition.
You taking feel-good opioids? Man, don’t you know how dangerous that shit is?
Oh please, grow up! No hang over. Just a kind of warm hug from the inside that says even in the face of faults everything’s okay.
Everything is most assuredly and without a doubt not like in big letters N O T okay. Come on, since when are you ...
Hey, airline pilots, teachers, firemen, Joe Citizen, everybody’s doing it and no harm no foul so get off my case and just refuckinglax!
Hold up. Take ten. Just tell me straight. What’s up with you? Some medical prognosis that scares you? Blew your money in some stupid investment scam. Talk to me, brother, why are you taking these opioids which we both know is a pandemic in America. Why?
Because...enough is enough.
What enough are you talking about?
Promises never fulfilled.
Who promised what?
From toilet training on...do this, don’t do that, pay attention, obey the laws, fit into the picture of good citizen, it’s like a painting done by a half blind artist with cataracts. It’s all an illusion. Or worse yet, a delusion. Don’t you get it? We’ve been sold a bill of goods that ain’t all that good from the get-go. That’s why.
That why is not good enough.
All these contradictions, concerns, dilemmas, it’s a package deal, part of the human condition on planet earth.
So we do what we can to make things better and...
And the things we can’t make better?
Do our best so that those not-better things don’t infect our lives.
Sounds like a bumper sticker.
What other choices do we have?
Ahhh...it’s beginning to hit. A little pill does major nice. No harm, no foul, I can even look at the fun-house mirror of distortion and not even bother to ask why.