Been juggling words since I was a little boy. Been a pro for over a decade, but most of what's on this page isn't about money -- unless, of course, you're willing to pay.

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FOUR DREAMS
May 15, 2004

I went back in time to a party I had attended in the early 80s, at which Mike D. of the Beastie Boys, then a hardcore band casting about for a new gimmick, was also in attendance. In this incarnation I was much more aggressive and sober than previously, and managed to convince him that I was the man to smooth the Boys' transition from hardcore to hip-hop. I enlisted several crack musicians in this cause. The sessions went like a dream, foreshadowing the ambitious mixes of Paul's Boutique ("It's like we share the same brain!" the Boys often commented to me) and many was the festive evening I spent hanging with Adrock, discussing his father's plays.

Unfortunately the majors passed on the Beastie Boys' demos, finding them fussy and confusing. CBS threw its weight behind the indie faves Mission of Burma, who broke through with their multi-platinum album, "Blow Me."

Upon return to my present-day life, I found Mike D. working for an advertising agency and living in my Williamsburg neighborhood. We exchange only curt nods on the street now, and on these occasions I can read in his expression a deep sense of Thanks a lot, asshole.

+++

Every day on the way to work I passed a pleasant, bedraggled old American Indian. He wore cowboy boots, faded blue jeans, a plaid shirt, a beige vest, and an old paisley tie wrapped around his forehead. He sat on a plastic milk crate, and held a plastic cup and a sign that said PLEASE HELP THIS NAVAHO GO BACK TO OKLAHOMA.

I came into some money and bought him a ticket on Jet Blue, which he accepted with mild but obvious pleasure and gratitude.

A few days later I saw a picture of him in the paper. He was being escorted out of LaGuardia with his hands behind his back. NAVAHO/AL QAEDA CONNECTION, the headline read. He had apparently tried to smuggle two pistols onto the plane.

G-men turned my place upside down while I sat quietly on my couch. One of them found an old toy I had kept from childhood, a rattle in the shape of a tomahawk with a single feather tied to it. "What the hell is this?" one angry G-man asked, shaking the rattle in my face.

+++

All of my old girlfriends were at this lesbian bar. I had come there to support that night's DJ, also an old girlfriend. At various intervals the DJ ex-girlfriend made out with a cute blonde.

None of my other old girlfriends were making out with anyone, thank God. It was loud in there and I couldn't make out most of their conversations. They talked animatedly and cheerfully with one another. Occasionally one of them would look at me and whisper to another of my old girlfriends, who would also look at me. Then they would fuss with their hair and drink their drinks.

I hadn't brought anyone with me to the lesbian bar, and didn't rate my mingling chances very high, so I devoted most of my attention to drinking. I moved around a lot, from stool to booth to table, but otherwise I was very unobtrusive. Finally one of my old girlfriends, a vivacious redhead, came over and, in as friendly a tone as you could imagine, said, "Listen, we've all been talking about it and we think that maybe you should leave."

"But I haven't done anything wrong," I said.

She gave me a look which I knew from experience meant, That's what you always say.

+++

I was at Coney Island. The day was grey and windy, but it was so extraordinarily crowded that on the streets, on the boardwalk, and all around the rides and amusements, people were forced to walk at a very slow pace, as if they were following a funeral procession. The only uncrowded place was the beach. People stood there on the dark and damp-looking sand in small groups, shoulders hunched against the wind, which violently fluttered their clothes and hair.

None of the usual music was playing. I could hear the swinging metal cars of the Wonder Wheel clanging, and the rattling of the Cyclone. A thousand conversations filled the air, but they didn't sound happy, they sounded serious, even anxious. A large man in a clown suit and garish makeup lumbered back and forth across the boardwalk, running his hands nervously through his flaming red hair.

The wind came up. Thunder started distantly, and over time grew louder. Some of the girls screamed. A little girl in a yellow dress, holding a yellow balloon, was standing alone to one side of the boardwalk, crying loudly.

"It's only thunder," I said to her. "Shh, shh, it's only thunder." Her father's large, hairy arms swept her up and put her on his shoulders. She stopped crying, and looked back at me with curiosity as her father bore her away.

Finally I saw some people who seemed to be having a good time. The two men were wearing Hawaiian shirts and beer hats and sneakers; the two women wore halter tops and shorts and open-toed sandals. They stumbled in place, hollering catch-phrases which only they understood, laughing uproariously and drinking from large, golden goblets encrusted with rubies. One of the women had a boombox, and flicked it on. The boombox played a familiar reggae version of an old song: En-joooy yourself/It's later than you think...

© 2004 Roy Edroso

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