Freudian Slips: Lunch Brake

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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 29, 2009

Lunch Brake

A corner liquor store receiving a truck delivery of alcohol to fuel bloodstreams ensnares traffic. The oversized truck plugs the narrow One Way Street and prohibits passage. I am the last car in the gridlock. After a few minutes into the waiting game, the car in front of me suddenly starts to reverse but there is no place to go except through me. I beep my horn but the impatient driver keeps coming. I shift my car in reverse mode to avoid collision. An SUV rounding the corner unexpectedly turns onto the same street. I tap my brake but swipe the SUV behind me at about two miles per hour.

Three males get out of the SUV leaving a young child inside and unattended. The situation goes from bad to worse. For some unknown reason, residents start throwing things at the idling first car from their stoops. A football is hurled hard through a passenger side window of a car parked two ahead of me. After the glass shatters, the occupants exit their affected car. Feeling like a sardine in tin, I look around at the grit of my dire surroundings. This is the same bad section of town that entrenched gang members killed one of their own for missing chapter meetings.

With all that is going on around me, the paws of three males try to gain entry at my doors. The driver is as big as a refrigerator. He shouts, “Man, open up. You hit my car.”

I shake my head in agreement but do not open my car doors. Instead, I push a button that closes my moon-roof because I am afraid they might try to eject me from my seat. Emotions but not myself shoot through the roof.

A second male comments, “Oh, no, he didn’t.”

“Eugene, he’s dissing you.”

Eugene looks upset. “Don’t do me like this! Man up.”

I crack my driver’s side window like a minimalist. I explain, “If you haven’t noticed all hell is breaking loose. This ain’t no hit and run. I’m sorry for hitting your car. I’m not going anywhere but I’m not exiting my car either. It’s not exactly safe at the moment.”

The men who had vacated their parked car begin fighting the residents in the street. Women and children run and scream. Everyone male from teenage years and up is either a hooting and hollering sightseer or a combatant. Rocks hurl. I am worried that guns will be drawn. The men surrounding my car pay little attention to the danger.

Eugene orders, “Watch him. Don’t let him leave.” His complete attention now turns to the melee. He shouts at the fight spilling down the street. I incredulously watch him head towards the fisticuffs. I hear Eugene offer a street fighter a vote of confidence.

“That’s how you hit him, Akel!”

My cell phone is inside a jacket pocket that I left in the trunk. My car is being guarded by men who I do not trust. After about the fourth time Eugene's loyalists remind me that I am not going anywhere, Eugene returns to the scene of the accident. He apprises his friends of a recent development.

“Dang. They just crashed my sister’s car on the next street.”
"Damn G, what are you gonna do?"

Fear twitches my face at unsavory angles. My voice crackles. “This is a riot.”

Eugene talks through my cracked window while the two others send out text messages. “Dawg, they listen to me on this block. Don’t be scared. I run this block.”

As Eugene offers me reassurance about his positive influence in the neighborhood, my focus shifts from his imposing presence to the action spilling behind him where a vexed man swings an ax at a rabid man hell-bent on taunting him. In between his ax missing and sparking the street, he is hit by roundhouse punches. Sweat cascades down my forehead. With all of this unlawfulness, I do not know what is taking the police so long to arrive and restore order. For some strange reason, I think about Tracy Chapman's song Across the Lines. I start calculating probability odds of Eugene owning a valid driver’s license, carrying car insurance and vehicle registration without any arrest warrants or drugs in his possession. The possibilities prompt me to feel him out on his commmittment to reporting this accident to authorities.

I reason, “G, let’s call the police. Use your cell phone.”

Eugene wants to parley my transgression into a shakedown. “Nah, money talks.”

I argue, “I don’t have any money on me to settle this.” My streetwise talk is like a survival instinct taking over me. “Ugh, I just hocked a gold chain for lunch money.”

He barks instruction. “Leroy, go into Millie’s house and fetch some gasoline.”

The thoughts that race through my mind in my parked car could have gotten me a speeding ticket. Leroy hustles from Millie’s house with a red container of gasoline about the same time I check for my running shoes. The direct sunlight reveals gas swishing around the container like it is itching for something combustible. Eugene pulls a white tee shirt from the back of his vehicle. He bunches it up then soaks it in gasoline. I convince myself that he is going to torch my car with a homemade molitov cocktail. Everything seems to be going up in flames and I will be burned alive unless I can outrun three men twenty years my junior across ground of their own choosing.

Eugene stands between the two vehicles now with the gas-soaked rag. As I plot my next move, he does the unthinkable. In a circular motion, he buffs the paint marks off his SUV. He then walks over to my car. I shed actual embarrassment as he literally cleans my car. He asks me to step out of the car to admire his work. I hesitate but muster enough courage to finally venture out of the vehicle not knowing if it is the right move but hoping meeting him halfway will offer closure to the incident. His car is no worse for wear and my car carries none of his paint now but shows a small dent.

A middle-aged woman comes over and talks to Eugene as if I were not there, a proposition to my liking.

She asks, “What’s his story?”

“He’s shitting bricks because he hit my car.”

“G, what’s he doing around here?”

“He made a wrong turn.”

“I’ll say.”

Eugene clarifies, “He said he was going to Donkey’s bar for a cheese steak.”

I add, “Two cheese steaks.”

“Whatever." replies Eugene. "Stop trifling. I told you I wouldn’t hurt you.”

“You were right about that. I was wrong about that. G, are we cool now?”

“Yeah, we cool.”

“I’m driving off if you're cool with that?”

“That’s cool.”

I hand wave. “Thanks for accepting my apology.”

I get back into my car and quickly lock the doors as all of my G's turn to willikers. I start my car then put on my right turn signal. As I slowly drive around two bleeding adversaries combating in the street, I realize my psyche is withstanding a greater dent than my car.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, joe did this really happen...sounds like a scene from one of your blockbusters....make sure you keep the phone in your pants pocket next time and not the coat pocket

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe, words of advice, "Next time your in the Hood; cell phone and spare underwear. Must have been a long ride home!

1:06 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

this was not fiction. Check my right quarter panel on my car.

Ah, the things we could do differently in life.

11:23 PM  
Blogger mommanator said...

Yes sounds like fiction, BUT...
so did you have brown stains in yer tighty whities?

10:52 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

leather seats clean up nicely and underwear is replaceable. lol

7:43 PM  
Blogger Zelda Parker said...

Great writing, bad experience. Thank God you weren't hurt!

9:14 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

thanks for stopping by.
Yeah, it has been a year of ups and downs for me.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Marcus said...

It's amazing what comes from a birthday card with little baby's rapping. Maybe that street talk DID get you in the clear.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful writing..

11:57 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...


4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just another day in da hood bro
glad you made it outta there ok
good thing your cell was in the trunk the cops would have gotten everybody killed

9:37 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

I would have welcomed the po-po.

11:19 PM  

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