Freudian Slips: Cells in America

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

April 01, 2005

Cells in America

Immigrant - a person who leaves one country to settle permanently in another. An organism that appears where it was previously unknown. -Webster's II dictionary
My office is adjacent to a row of business suites where a twice DEA raided pizzeria and a massage parlor are considered the anchor stores. The lack of parking spaces in this Shangri-la force my car to the rear of the building on a grassy knoll next to a monster dumpster and a hedgerow. Never to be confused with mahogany row, I call it deadwood back alley.
In the summer of 2005, I rolled my car up onto the grass for the start of another day of social work. Aware of my surroundings, I noticed two pieces of luggage resting by the overflowing dumpster. I thought nothing of it because this dumpster shamefully attracts the public's discarded trash, furniture, and appliances.
I came and went all day. Eight hours later, I exit the back door of the building at the close of business. I turn the corner only to observe a woman peering inside the window of my car. The noise from the back door swinging shut startled her into turning around. Undaunted, I walked over to my car. She backpedaled. She was in her twenties, an attractive looking small-framed Asian woman. I do not know where she came from or where she was going. No other vehicle was parked in the vicinity. She was just there in my time and space like an organism that appeared where it was previously unknown. I kept my cool.
"Can I help you?" I asked rhetorically.
She did not answer but she knew I was expecting an explanation. She inched forward closer to my car. She pointed to something inside. I took a gander. My Playmate cooler for a lunch box rested on the front seat of my car. I thought food might be the object of her desire.
"Are you hungry?"
She gave me a blank incomprehensible look.
I asked, "Can you speak English?"
She shook her head back and forth to the contrary.
"Are you hungry?" I repeated, this time rubbing my belly in a silly charade.
She pointed back inside my car. Unsure of what she wanted, I did not feel threatened either. I made the decision to open up my car to her. She immediately nudged me to the side, leaned inside the cabin, and pointed to my cell phone recharging by the cigarette lighter. She did not touch anything.
I asked, "My cell phone?" She turned back around to face me while reaching for something inside her purse. I hoped it was not a firearm for a carjacking because as luck would have it I had just enough trunk space for me and a shovel. Not to be alarmed, she pulled out her cell phone and muttered something in her native language. I quickly determined that her cell phone had a dead battery. I handed the cell back. She tossed it into her purse alongside what looked like travel documents. She wasn't a dangerous cell but her circumstances warranted suspicion.
"Do you want to use my cell phone?" I asked as a maestro of stating the obvious.
Once I handed her my phone, it produced her first smile. If she decided to make a run for it, I could think of worse things than tackling this damsel in distress. But she really did need to use the phone. I watched her dial a long distance phone number with a New York area code. The phone rang and rang. While she waited for her contact to answer the call, she trampled the grass with nervous pacing. She gave it a dozen rings and a teardrop before handing me back my cell phone. She bowed her head then bolted towards the dumpster where she reclaimed her luggage. She gave me one last look back, an unforgettable vulnerable glare. Suitcases in tow, she jumped through the hedgerow. I heard her plodding footsteps disappear deeper into the heart of America.
That was six months ago. I thought about her today as I stood in line to renew my driver's license at the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles under the stringent rules of the new Six Point Identification program. I am #538 in line standing behind a parade of nationalities. I am carrying two sets of photo identification, my social security card, proof of residency, a raised seal birth certificate, and my most recent pay stub. These travel documents.
I thought a lot about her and the state of America. I kept wondering if one has something to do with the other.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe, good story! This is typical American history. So many come to our country looking for the American dream. But, it made me sad for the female. Hope all went well for her. ET

4:28 AM  
Blogger PaxRomano said...

I often wonder what drives a person from their land and brings them to another where they might have to live in a dumpster (or other such circumstances)... are third world nations still under the belief that America's streets are paved with gold?

8:44 AM  
Blogger the Contrary Goddess said...

This story really ingrigues me. Thanks for it.

5:19 PM  

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