TIME

 “It’s just apartment house rents; it’s just apartment house sense. One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor” Paul Simon

 I write days now. Prior it was after midnight that the words flowed but I was keeping the neighbors awake. My method of handling these small everyday annoyances is to think how much worse things could be and that’s what gets me by. I know a couple of folks being dealt their last hand and that’s the ultimate tough break but at least they’ll get to pass to the other side on clean white sheets and a morphine drip. Archie, the homeless cardboard sign guy outside the Whole Foods in Berkeley, who I endow with four shiny quarters most days, hands me his fellow homeless guys’ newspaper which informs me that ninety-one (91) of his ilk in San Francisco alone were served up to the morgue after being scraped off the small slice of sidewalk where they gave up the ghost just last year; that’s one every four days. See what I mean; I grade on a curve.  

My long ago buddy Jimmy got himself a job as a roofer back in the day when nail guns first debuted. Before them they worked Flintstone style; with hammers. The nail gun allowed those guys to nail down shingles on the roofs of track homes that boomed during that period in the Midwest lightning fast and since they got paid for “piece work”, while I earned $135.00 a week working in a warehouse, Jimmy would pull down $100.00 a day or more. I still remember seeing that fist full of hundreds he’d sport on payday and to this day I always carry a few in homage.

We used to meet after work at my place where we’d throw back a few and like clockwork Jimmy would dance in covered in dirt and sweat and suave his favorite refrain “fucked em’ for another day Nicky” which was only made funnier by the fact that he’d worked his ass off. Any construction job is defined as “laborer”. Jimmy would tell me to join him but I never liked getting any farther off the ground than I could jump; which is to say about six inches.

So as I watch my friends slowing succumb to the ravages of their respective diseases I think about this; it occurs to me that we’re all in the same boat; we live maybe six or seven and a half decades if lucky and every day is a good day until that one day that’s a bad day and then there are no more good days and every day after that is a bad day. So I’m suiting up and heading for the gym. Afterwards I’ll stop at Whole Foods for some of the good stuff they are holding for me and slide those four quarters into Archie’s grimy hand. Then it’s back to my spaceship with its cable TV, Patti Smith’s “Just Kids” and Keith Richard’s autobiography and my beloved typer. I’ll grin a smile for Jimmy; knowing I’ve squeezed in another good day; something they can never take away from me. I’ll toast to Jimmy with a shot of Crown Royal and a Beck’s and the unworried stolen day while conjuring him in my mind’s eye, all sinew and muscle and Jack Nicholson grin in place, while I whisper his most cherished refrain; “fucked em’ for another day Jimmy”. 

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About circusinpurgatory
Nick Masesso Jr’s fictionalized short stories, poetry and prose have been published in the Starry Night Review, Elegant Thorn Review, Language and Culture.net and Vagabond Press; the Battered Suitcase. His latest book “Armor of Innocence” and first book “Walking the Midway in Purgatory, a Journal” are available on-line and through bookstores.

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