ALAN BERGER - THE BIG WINNER
THE BIG WINNER
He saved a bird once.
Or did the bird save him?
Trapped in his neighbor’s torn window screen this bird was.
His neighbor was old and crying over the little bird’s loud flapping distress in Hell while Biscuit, her cat, only saw the dinner bell.
Mrs. Parker her name was.
Angelo heard the commotion and ran out, saw the deal and took the window screen off with the bird still attached and gently, slowly extracted the little birdy from the now somewhat shredded screen. The little birdy, took a look at Angelo, then took a breath, and flew away.
Angelo the surgeon of the occasion noticed the old lady looking at his hands. They were bleeding.
He told her, “ Don’t worry, from the screen, it will make a great war story”.
She was OK with that.
This woman had been sick. Sick, tried, and pale.
But nothing like the sick, tired, and stark white of the present, that made her old shade of pale look black.
Angelo took care of all that and she was now flush and thriving.
Soon she will be back to her natural pale pallor.
He once upon a time or two thought about getting a pet, but he had seen how fast and terrible they go and could not, would not handle that, or the vet bills.
His pets were on you tube and any neighbor that would let him walk or pet their livestock.
He liked children, as long, as they were not his.
He could not for the life of him figure out how he always felt alone but cool.
He was brought up good, he was decent in school. No beatings. No divorcing parents.
His folks didn’t even have the desire to sexually or verbally abuse him.
Not even a little bit.
A little birdy
Stuck in a screen
Of a world so mean
He could have decided right there to become a doctor. Maybe a surgeon considering the way he worked that screen. Maybe an E.R. guy. Something.
But he did not.
You see, Angelo was not a misanthrope. But kept his distance with his mind but made up for with his heart and hands.
His love life was come and go. Mostly go.
His fantasy was to meet a cute girl with a nice pet that did not need a cigarette.
So far, no candidates.
He had a low opinion of High Tech.
He liked voices instead of text and E. and sounds.
Like animals do.
Angelo’s life would become a number of things.
Maybe something other than, “Take a number please”.
The gratitude Angelo was shown from his neighbor overwhelmed him and from that time on, it never turned off. He showed nothing but love and was the type of man that is here on this earth to lend a hand.
Most responded to that aura of his in a reciprocal manner.
That was nice, and it stayed that way throughout Angelo’s days.
Angelo liked life but as he looked around, he didn’t feel a part of it.
He always knew that if he dropped dead, not a thing would change, and he wouldn’t or couldn’t blame it.
Humble in victory, humble in defeat was the way Angelo tried to play on his streets and under his sheets.
Humble in loneliness from the beginning was always calling and became his calling.
In his story, loneliness was number one on the charts, the villain , and forever hold that ranking.
Angelo, no matter what day it was, was an early riser.
Four or so early.
Didn’t have to be at work till nine.
He would make instant coffee then wait for the coffee shop on the corner to open and have what he would call his real coffee, face to faces with all the different races.
His thing was to put groceries on the table with a bit extra to dish out to whoever or whatever.
Another neighbor in the apartment building he lived in was quiet in a loud style. She was on the slow side but optimistic . Always did her own shopping although it wasn’t easy.
A lot of it from all the stores in walking distance.
She had this way about her . Maybe it’s her vulnerability.
Under any other circumstances Angelo might have bedded her down but one day she asked him what the movie, “Cowboys And Aliens”, was about. That did it, and led to, don’t do it.
That and having to live under the same roof that would become a roof of shame was not in the house of cards his fantasy mind built.
He helped her in an out a lot with her daily haul. He referred to it as a haul ever since she told him she was into stealing some of it.
When she grew up, she said she wanted to be a spy.
She was 45.
All he liked doing, other than his job, was writing little stories and poems. He was happy that when he sent them in to magazines that at least when they rejected them, they sent a letter making it all official like.
He liked that. He was getting close!
So, Angelo was a writer, and he called his little apartment, “A writer lives here’’.
He never gave anything he wrote out to anyone to look at because he did not want to put them on the spot, and he felt it was like giving out homework assignments.
It was enough to keep it to himself and the rejectors.
After high school he got a job in a department store run by a swell family that also happened to run the small town he lived in.
He started in the stockroom and his beautiful spirit of a soul soon put him in the complaint department.
People would feel guilty about complaining after a bit of time with Angelo.
But he made good on everything bad.
One day a women thew up on Angelo’s complaint counter and Angelo lovingly comforted her and wiped her mouth clean with his sleeve.
She even got a new coffee machine.
The store was his half life. The writing was the other half.
He loved his job and his job loved him.
The hours just flew by as he turned the customers complaints into play dates.
He got along with everyone as usual except one guy.
Just didn’t like him like he liked everyone else.
This guy was always putting everything and everyone down.
And you could tell he really liked it.
This guy did not like working. He didn’t like anything except bad news for others.
Well don’t we all .
Not Angelo. He would gladly die for your sins.
He would rather have bad news for himself than hear someone else’s.
All his co-worker wanted was to retire at age 40 and get high and watch T.V.
And Angelo was all for that, but, kept his opinion to himself.
But this card - carrying prick was only 37.
Anyway, we all become the worst minority.
Old and alone.
One day the woman who threw up came in the store and gave Angelo a lottery ticket with a birthday card,
“Fill in your birthday and thank you”, she said.
It was her birthday and she wanted to show Angelo her gratitude for showing her that the human condition was not in that bad condition.
Angelo lost the ticket and did not lose a second regretting it.
Angelo knew that the human condition has never changed, and that the human condition would never change except for the invention of air conditioning.
All you could hope for is a dash, or sprinkle, or ration of happiness once in blue or any other color moon.
Angelo was happy all the time.
Not idiot happy but confident happy.
He missed his job on the weekends.
Time crawled by. Sometimes over the weekends it stopped completely.
If he ever got a tattoo it would read. “Thank God It’s Monday”.
He missed the people he worked with.
Except one of them.
Only at work did his mind play happily.
He began to study thru the,” Internut, as he called it, the machine he wanted to take over form the guy he wanted to run over.
He didn’t have a car but a bus would do in a pinch.
He couldn’t wait to get back to work where he could see and hear the machine he was devouring knowledge on.
He also enjoyed reading rise and fall stories.
The Roman Empire, Persia, Germany, France, Great Britain and on and on.
What goes up, must go down.
He liked to see what the Hell happened.
He never thought of the concept of why.
He knew why.
They were humans.
He also found out how to get an untraceable pistol.
He didn’t have a plan yet, but, thought he would need one when the next civil war broke out.
He didn’t have to know all the answers of why he was lonely as Hell and always would be.
Anyway, it saves money.
But he liked that lend a hand stuff and was pleased, after research, to determine that he wasn’t a sociopath.
His job at the small factory in the big city was his path.
There was one thing blocking to way to Bliss Blvd.
That prick that also worked there. Angelo, every time he was near the guy it reminded him of those stories on T.V. where a guy is in prison for 40 years for losing his temper in a bar or wherever after knocking a skull in.
They always ask the inmate if he is sorry.
They usually say. “No fucking way”.
This particular guy, who Angelo worked with, knew how to operate this particular machine, so that was that for the time being.
He cursed in front of the owners pre-teen children who helped in the store/factory.
Angelo did not like that or the way he looked at them.
In Angelo’s rather tiny social orbit this guy took up a lot of real estate.
Only person he ever met that made him feel this way.
He must be asking for it.
Begging for it.
It would be an understanding jury.
One day into night after Angelo finished his shift. They had a day shift, and a night shift, Angelo once asked the head of the family he so adored if he could work both shifts, the owner asked him sincerely when would he sleep, Angelo had to admit he forgot about that part of his life.
His dreams were nothing to dream about.
They were mostly of his first and only love that did not work out and he was always begging for her to reconsider this, reconsider that in dreamland and she always said no, you’re dreaming honey.
Maybe it was for the best he reasoned in the morning.
She was a family girl.
He was not a family man.
Not his own family anyways.
One Saturday his neighbor was sitting on the porch listening to a book
He asked her what she was listening to, and she said, The Count Of Monte Cristo:’, It’s about revenge.
William Shatner was doing the taking.
She started in as usual proclaiming she felt good about the lottery tonight.
Angelo could not count the times she banged on his door to tell him that she thinks she won the lottery and would he be kind enough to double check for her and there would be certainly something in it for him when she gets her hands on the cash!
He always had to tell her, “Not this time Sweetie”.
Then Angelo would say, said, “Yeah, not this time cupcake, but, you’re due!”.
She went back to her book of revenge and Angelo went back to his
Angelo would look in the mirror with the gun and repeat, “You talking to me?’’, a lot.
That soon morphed into, “Who am I kidding. You?”, “You kidding me ?”.
Angelo filled a certain sex prescription in his name for the foreman on the night shift that did not want his wife to know he was fucking. She thought he went off the sex trail a month after the honeymoon, not that he simply left the reservation of passion.
Like her mother told her it would be.
He let Angelo come in at night just to touch the machine he was studying at home on.
The machine was saying to Angelo, why don’t you shoot the guy who is working me in the head, then you can be at my controls instead?
On Angelo’s walk home he felt a bit of a fever coming on and thought of what Pete Townsend wrote, “Sickness will surely take the mind where minds don’t usually go”.
It made sense.
His way home was blocked thanks to his running up to him lottery neighbor wanting him to verify if she was due liked he promised.
This time was different.
This time, she didn’t even get one fucking one number right.
They walked back together to the place they lived separately under the same roof and saw an ambulance out front and a gurney carrying Mrs. Parker out.
Angelo picked up the pace and walked alongside the gurney telling Mrs. Parker that what ever the fuck it was, it would be alright.
She asked if the bird he saved ever came back to visit with him.
He said, all the time,
She smiled and closed her eyes as she was taken away.
A few weeks later Angelo found a card under his door from a lawyer that wanted to contact him.
When Angelo contacted him, the lawyer asked him to come his office and bring identification.
When he went to the lawyer’s office, he produced his drivers license for the car he didn’t own, and a passport that never went anywhere.
He wanted to ask the lawyer if he wanted a stool sample too on his desk but kept his mouth shut which he always thought was a good idea rather letting one of his witty thoughts out.
He was told before he went there he was left something in Mrs. Parker’s will and figured it would be something like a pillow with some kind of embroidery on it that he would who the Hell know what to do with or where to put.
He only knew he would not throw it away.
She left him a hundred thousand dollars, and the lawyer would pay the taxes.
After a few days he got fifty thousand in cash out of the bank in one hundred-dollar bills and re-deposited it in a suitcase he had that travelled as much as his passport.
He went to work the next morning and offered the suitcase with all of the fifty thousand in it to that machine operator he wanted to shoot in the head to take the money and disappear.
When asked why Angelo simply said he wanted his job and was paying for it.
The guy asked Angelo if he won the lottery.
Angelo said no.
You did .