Thursday, May 03, 2007

Summer Days - Catch

May 5, 2005

I played catch with dad today. I didn’t really want to do it, but it felt really good to play, the way we used to when I was a kid. This time, it was just the two of us, tossing the ball back and forth...

It was Sunday, which meant that my dad couldn’t hide out from us by going to work, or sending us to school. As he did most weekends, he encouraged me and Allie to find friends to play with, or something to do. Allie decided to sleep at her friend Sharon’s house on Saturday night, and then spend the day with Sharon’s family. My dad even found afternoon playdates for the little kids.

I planned on going fishing with Jimmy and his dad. We had talked about it for a few days, and I was really excited about driving to the lake with them, and fishing all day. I had never gone fishing before, but Jimmy made it sound so exciting. We were going to start on a row boat in the morning. After fishing in the middle of the lake, Jimmy said his dad would bring us to the pier, where we could fish, and sometimes, he said, his dad would even let him finish off his beer.

We would fish and horse around in the afternoon. Jimmy said his dad always brought a big radio, and we would be able to listen to the Tiger’s game while we fished. Around supper time, we would take out the fish we caught, gut them, and put them on the grill. They normally caught enough to eat and bring some home, but just in case, his dad always brought a package of Ballpark Franks. I was a little nervous about eating the fish, and was relieved when I heard about the dogs. Nothing like a hotdog on a Sunday afternoon while listening to the ballgame.

My dad looked really glad on Saturday night when I told him the plan. He had already found something for the younger kids. I didn’t know what he was planning, but he looked really glad to be kid free for the whole game. “Fuck you,” I thought to myself. “This is your family.” But I kept my thoughts to myself, and went up to my room.

I picked out some shorts and a shirt for the next day, watched TV, and went to sleep.

Unfortunately, I forgot to set my alarm, and when I woke up at 8:30, I had missed Jimmy and his dad by over an hour.

I went downstairs, grabbed some breakfast, and told my dad I was off to fish. He smiled, nodded, and away I went. I didn’t have anyplace to go, so I hopped on my bike and just started riding around the neighborhood. There wasn’t much traffic, and there wasn’t anything to do at 9 am on a Sunday morning. I rode around aimlessly throughout the subdivisions. I had been riding for almost an hour when I decided I needed to see a newspaper. I passed house after house with newspapers sitting in the box outside the house, trying to build up my courage and resolve.

Finally, I picked a house. The shades were drawn, and the street was empty. It didn’t look like anyone was home. I rode past the house three times, trying not to look suspicious. My heart started to pound, and for a second, I doubted whether I had the stones to lift the paper. Finally, I made my move. I rode over to the newspaper box at the edge of the street, reached in, and pulled the newspaper out of the box.

Some of the circulars fell to the ground as I rode off as fast as I could. I could swear someone was chasing me, but when I looked back, the street was empty. The only sound was my thumping of my heart.

“I did it,” I yelled, pumping one hand into the air.

It was the first thing I ever stole, and I didn’t know if I should be excited about getting away with it or sick about stealing. It’s only a lousy buck and a half, I told myself. If they want a newspaper that bad they can just go buy another one.

I rode for a while, clutching the newspaper in my arm, tucked into my chest, before I found a school yard. The sun was out, and I wanted to read the sports section, so I got off my bike, laid the paper on the merry-go-round, and read for a while.

I knew that I had all the time in the world. My dad thought I was fishing. No one knew where I was, and no one, at all, would be looking for me.

I read through the paper slowly, looking at the stats, the box scores and the week’s upcoming games. The Tigers season was just about over and it was only May. I crumpled the paper up, and left the stolen goods in the school yard. I was feeling hungry, so I climbed on my bike, and rode home. I made sure to avoid the street where I stole the paper from. I didn’t think anyone would know it was me, but I wasn’t going to take any chances.

I was starving when I finally got home. From the looks of it, no one was there. I walked in, and finding myself completely alone, I heated up some pizza in the microwave, and went out back to eat it. I was sitting in the back yard, eating my pizza, when my dad came home. I don’t know where he was coming from, but he was alone. And he was smiling.

A minute later he was out of the house. “Andy,” I heard him call out my name. I didn’t answer him at first, but then, when he called me again, I answered “Back here, Dad.”

My dad walked around the house, and came into the back yard.

“I thought you went fishing,” he asked.

“I woke up too late,” I said.

“Where were you all day?”

“I rode my bike around the neighborhood. Then I hung out in the park for a little while.” I wondered what he would say if I told him I lifted the newspaper from someone’s house, but decided to keep that information to myself for a while.

“Why didn’t you say anything this morning?”

“I didn’t think you wanted me around. So I just left.” I felt my body shake, and was surprised when I had to hold back tears. I caught myself, jumped up, and calmed down.

“Wanna throw a ball around?

His question caught me off guard. We hadn’t played catch since forever, it seemed.

“I guess,” I said, “I’ll go grab our mitts and a ball.”

A minute later I was outside. We stood where we had always stood in the backyard.

For a few minutes, as the ball flew in monastic silence between my dad and me, time stood still. We were back in the place where we both felt comfortable. It was the one place where we were transported back to a time when everything seemed normal.

I don’t know how long we played catch together. I can only remember the monastery-like silence that enveloped up, cocooning us a safety blanket where nothing bad could happen. I hope we play again soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Summer Days - Intro

My family is completely, dysfunctionally fucked up.

In every family, there are stories that are told and retold and told again. They become part of our collective memory, so that you don’t realize whether you are actually remembering the event that happened, or the story that you heard throughout your childhood.

In my family, those stories revolve around baseball. Little League games won and lost, Tiger heroes and goats. Even family birthday parties, like when my grandmother played with us at her 90th birthday party weekend. I was only five years old, but I remember she hit the ball, and I ran for her all the way to first base with my parents and uncles cheering me on, while my dad’s cousins tried to field the ball and get me out.

I got my first glove when I was six years old. Not one of those junky plastic ones; a real leather mitt. It was tan, just like the gloves of the major leaguers I would watch on TV on Sunday afternoon, and had Cal Ripken Jr.’s signature inside. My dad and I would go out into the back yard, or take a stroll to the park. He would toss it underhanded to me. Sometimes I caught it, and he made a big deal about it, but most of the time it bounced away from me, and I had to chase after the ball. Then I would throw it back as hard as I could, usually missing him by a mile and laughing as he had to go chase the ball.

As I got older, and learned how to catch and throw, those games took on something of a religious ritual. Usually, there was no talking while we were playing catch. It was a sacred time between us; a time when words would only stand to get in the way and interfere with the connection between me and my dad. The whizzing of the ball through the air and the thwap of the ball hitting our gloves were the only sounds.

As my sister Allie got older, she joined us in our games of catch, breaking our silence by begging dad to throw her the ball. He carried a tennis ball when we went outside, and would toss it to her whenever she shrieked loud enough. Sometimes he would toss it right to her, but usually he would toss the ball over her head, and have Allie chase it down while he and I continued to throw back and forth. As Allie got older, and learned how to throw and catch, she would usually join us after dinner, when dad got home, and throw with us.

Allie was three years younger than me. Justin was three years younger than Allie, and Caitlyn was a year younger than Justin. My mom used to say she wanted a big family, and so that’s what she set out to do.

My dad loved to BBQ. All summer long, he would have his friends over, the guys he grew up playing baseball with. The guys he spent countless summers with, living and dying a little with each Tiger win and loss. I grew up sitting next to my dad as he drank beer and downed hamburgers with his buddies, talking to his friends about the glory days. After a while, all the kids would all run out front, and play running bases or Five Hundred, or just toss a ball around.

My mom used to make a big deal out of Opening day. She would take all four of us out of school. Well, three of us. Caitlyn’s too young to school. An hour before lunch, she would come to the school, and then there would be a loud announcement over the PA system telling us to come to the lobby. She would take me, Allie and Justin out of school, and tell the school it was for a dentist appointment. Then we would go to the car, put on our Tiger caps, and head on over to the ballpark. When I was in second grade my dad came too, but now that he has a big fucking important job, he says he’s too busy and can’t take the afternoon off.

You’re surprised I dropped the “F” bomb? Don’t be. I use it all the time. Fuck Fuck Fuck Double fucking fuck fuck.

My therapist told my dad that kids who walk in on their dad screwing their best friend’s mom on the couch when they come home early from opening day because it was rained out frequently lash out in anger. It’s why I get a pass from my Dad when I swear like a sailor. And its why may sister walks out of the house looking like she is going to work on a street corner when she goes to school. Dad gives her a pass on that too.

Mom kicked dad out of the house that day. She gave him an hour to get his stuff and get out. I didn’t really understand what was going on; I knew about the birds and the bees, but I guess it never really hit me before that sometimes adults did it for fun.

I cried as I watched him carry his bag to the front door. He stopped, hugged the four of us, and said he would see us soon. Then he took his baseball glove and a jacket from the front hall closet, and walked out the door.

Mom and dad spent the next year in court. When it was all over, mom got the house and us. My dad got us on occasional weekends.

We lived like that for a year. It was a really angry time in my house. Mom didn’t trust anyone, and yelled at us all the time. She started to work, and I would come home from school to an empty house. We would see dad, but it was never the same. Sometimes we would play catch, but most of the time, we would just sit around, go out for some fast food, and then get dropped off back at home.

I didn’t play too much ball that year. Every time I picked up a glove it made me feel sad. So I stopped playing with my friends, and dropped out of Little League. Dad tried to convince me to play, but he didn’t understand; playing baseball hurt too much.

Around then, I guess, was when mom first found a lump on her breast. Dad started spending more and more time with us at our house, as mom was spending more and more time in the hospital. I had never known anyone who died before I lost my mom. By the time she had taken her last breath, she had made peace with dad, who was living in our house, in a small bedroom in the basement.

After she died, he took his time before moving her stuff, but after a while he was in the master bedroom. It was a confusing time for the five of us. I was 11, Allie was 8, Justin was 5 and Caitlyn was 4. We had spent the last year watching our dad move out, our mom die, and our dad move back in.

Even though everything had changed, we now had to go back to living as a family.

Before he left, my dad was the greatest. We never knew that the reason he was such a good dad was because of all the effort my mom put in behind the scenes. With her gone, my dad seemed overwhelmed with the task of raising four kids. He couldn’t sit down and joke with us at dinner time the way he used to, because now he was getting dinner ready. Evening games of catch became infrequent, as he needed all the time he find after dinner to get Caitlyn and Justin into bed. But he trudged onward, giving us everything he had.

That summer that I turned 12 was the summer I rediscovered who I was. I fell in love, again, with baseball.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Gambler

Every story has a beginning. Mine is no exception.

But unlike most stories, I don't know where mine begins. Was it today, in a courtroom, or was today the ending. The final, sad chapter in a life spent running and chasing dreams. Only time will tell whether today was footnote, or an ending. Or, I fear, could it be the beginning?

I turned to God today. I turned to him for the first time since I was fourteen. Since our baseball team played in the Yeshiva High School championship series. I had never prayed as hard in my life as I did that day. Not at my Bar Mitzvah, a year earlier, or when my Grandmother was dying in the hospital a few years before. What I wanted was simple. I wanted to win.

And as I watched the winning run score from my position in Left Field, on a fluke double to right by the worst hitter on the team, I could swear I heard God laughing and walking away. Two runs in their final at bat. Winning the game and breaking our team's collective heart, and my spirit. We lost 2-1, and for me, that mocking laughter I heard in the back of my mind was undoubtedly God, the same one that I prayed to three times a day, and spent my mornings studying his books, laughing and walking away.

That was the last time, until today, that I prayed. I put on an act for a few years. Went to Minyan and wore T'fillen, but never again did I bother talking to God. What was the point anyway. If he couldn't grant me the one thing I needed more than anything else, if he was going to let me go down, I was going down without him.

The day after the game, I missed Minyan for the first time since I had turned 13. I was in the hospital late into the evening, and the rabbi's chalked up my absence to my mysteriously smashed right hand. They new it was broken, supposedly from punching a wall so hard in the JCC locker room that I broke my fingers and shattered half the bones in my hand.

Was that the beginning of what happened today?

I learned two things the day of the game. Three things, really. The first, was never count on God when you were up against the wall. The second, was never get into debt with a bookie, even if that bookie was your roommate and you couldn't imagine him hurting a fly, no matter how sure thing the bet was. And third, never bet on baseball.

I wish I could tell you that my hand healed, and with time, so did my relationship with God, but you know, already, that our relationship never healed. And neither did my hand.

As for my roommate, Mordy, at once my best friend as well as my bookie, well, we'll get into that later.

I learned another thing that day. It was much better to be the bookie than to be the better. At least, it is until you get caught.

Was there gambling in my yeshiva? Absolutely. Seventeen years later I still cannot close my hand without feeling pain, and even then, my grip is weak, like that of an old woman. And the stakes were high. Too high for a fourteen year old who didn't even understand what it meant to have $1,500, let alone lose that amount of money.

But this story goes in circles. Its how I remember it. The circles that swing around and slay you later.

When we got word today that the jury had reached their verdict, I prayed once again. Dear God, I said, I know that I have walked away from you. I know that we haven't been good in a long time, I whispered, but please, let them find me innocent. Let them tell me I am a free man.

I was sure that I heard laughing this time. Only now, I wasn't sure if it was God laughing as he walked away, are the memory of my own maniacal laugh as I bludgeoned Mordy with a sledgehammer. It wasn't revenge for his act of treason. I understood my smashed hand. That was business, and so was this.

I rose from my seat when the judge instructed me to stand. I listened to the foreman when the judge asked if they had a reached a verdict, and stood stonefaced as the foreman read the verdict the jury had reached.

On the count of murder in the first degree, they found me guilty.

I looked back at my wife in the galley. There were tears in her eyes, and something else. Total disbelief that this had happened to her.

Then the bailiff came over, held my hands close as he snapped handcuffs on my wrists, and walked me out of the courtroom.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Fall - Part 1

It had been eight days since Moshe had last shaved. He spent Pesach at Mount Airie Lodge resort, and did not bring his shaver with him. He, along with his wife and daughter, had spent the week in the Poconos, and then, stayed on for the weekend, not coming home until Sunday. Moshe’s beard, which would start hinting at a five o’clock shadow by two thirty on a normal day, had come in full and thick, and with his beard trimmer broken after falling into the toilet a year earlier, all he had was the trimmer that was built into his Norelco triple head 3200.

And the trimmer wasn’t making a dent. His face hurt, and it felt as if each hair was being pulled out by the roots. Again and again he tried to clear the space on his face, so he could show up to work the next day without looking like a homeless drunk, but the hair continued to rebuff him. Moshe peered into the shower. Sara’s razor hung on a hook on the wall. He had wondered about using it for his face in the past, but never did. Shaving with a razor was one of those halachos that he didn’t understand, but had never violated.

Shaving with a razor looked so simple. He had seen it done at least a thousand times while watching football games. Three blades, four blades, today, during the basketball game he caught while waiting at thew airport, he saw an ad for some Gilette 5-blade razor.

Moshe was curious about the razor that hung on the shower wall. He put down his electric shaver, and gingerly took the razor off the hook it was hanging on. Moshe glanced at the bathroom door, took a step in front of the door, and locked the handle. Now, confident that Sara wouldn’t walk in on him, he sat down on the toilet, and examined it closely. Three little blades, close together, held by an off-white handle. There was a teal grip on the handle, and the razor fit comfortably in his hand.

Moshe wondered how much easier his life would be if he tried shaving with a razor blade. Sara would never find out, and if God was going to strike him down, it probably wouldn’t be illegal shaving.

Shaving with a razor was safe, private, and his next step toward freedom from the religion that had held him hostage.

Moshe unbuttoned his shirt and took it off. He had watched Sara shave her legs a few times when they first got married, always in the shower, and it seemed like a safe place to try out her razor. He unbuttoned his pants, and stepped out of his boxers.

"Sara, I'm jumping into the shower," he called out through the closed door.

He heard her yell something back, but her voice was muffled by the door.

Moshe turned on the water, tested the temperature, and stepped into the shower. He washed his face with his wife's facial soap, washed his hair with Pert Plus, and cleaned his body. Was he procrastinating, pushing off the great razor experiment? He had already showered that morning, and didn't really need a good cleaning.

He decided to test out the razor on his leg, just to make sure it worked. He bent down, determined to shave an unnoticeable small bit of hair off his leg, just above his ankle. The test run for the great razor experiment went perfectly. The skin was smooth, and there were no cuts on leg, like he had seen on TV commercials.

"Sara must use a good quality razor," he thought to himself.

He brought the razor up to his neck, and started to clear off the forest that was growing there. Moments later, his neck felt soft and smooth. "Still not in violation," he thought to himself, until now. He placed the razor on his cheek, and in one upward motion, felt the cool metal razor against his skin. The warm water brushed over him, creating a hot and cold sensation that he found pleasurable.

Moshe continued.

There was no mirror in the shower, and Moshe had to go in and out of the shower three times to check his progress before he was finished shaving. The floor in the bathroom was soaked.

Moshe felt his skin. It was soft and smooth, and the warm water running over his face was stopping him from feeling any burning sensation. He rinsed the hair off the razor, and hung it back on the hook in the shower.

Moshe let the hot water down his face for another minute, then turned off the shower, and stepped onto the soaking wet rug next to the shower. He took his towel off the rack, wrapped it around his waist, and scooped his clothes off the bathroom floor before walking into his bedroom to get dressed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Cheese Man - Part 4

Steve Brown, Esq., had never defended a murder suspect. He had only been out of law school a year, a public defender for three months, and had successfully defended plea-bargained 6 cases. But this case was different. This was the kind of case that the media loved to dig their teeth into. This was the kind of case that could build a career.

He drafted a press release, read it, crumpled it up, and rewrote the release. A trial isn’t about the law, he remembered hearing Tom Cruise say in A Few Good Men. It’s about convincing twelve people that your client isn’t the right guy they want. And this was a case that needed some positive public opinion.

He finished off his second draft, read through it twice, made a few changes, and sent it off to all the major media outlets. Within an hour, he started getting calls from major news agencies from across the US. CNN and FOX news both wanted to talk to him, and Court TV was planning on having some coverage of the trial.

But it was the call that came in at 4:00 pm that got Brown excited. People Magazine wanted to know if he had a picture of her, and was hoping for some more information. If this was as good a story as his press release indicated and if Lisa was attractive enough, this story could end up on the cover of People magazine.

He emailed a picture of his client to People, and that night, People Reporter Ann Widder was in Detroit, scheduled for an interview the next morning with Lisa Berger.


Ann sat across from Lisa in the visitors room at Jackson Prison. Cameras were banned from the prison, although a requests had been put into the warden asking permission to photograph Lisa Berger.

They talked three times that week, Lisa talking about her relationship, her innocence, and her hopes for the future. Permission was granted for a photographer to come into the prison, and Lisa was shot in her orange prison jumpsuit, her blond hair looking glamorous, as she stood against a prison fence. She looked attractive, with a faraway look that conveyed both a deep sadness and hope for the future.

Steve was there for all their conversations, and was pleased with the tone the article seemed to be taking. He wished they had a picture of her in regular clothes, to make her look like less of a prisoner, but overall, this fit in with his plan.

Ann interviewed him extensively, and he hoped this article would be the start of things to come for him. There were plenty of school loans to pay off, and that Lexus he had his eyes on since he was a little kid, a some free pub could propel him to the next level.

Two weeks later, Steve Brown grinned when he saw Lisa Berger’s face smiling up at him from his mailbox.

Steve didn’t even notice the headline, which said Coldblooded Q-Tip Killer in blood-red letters.


“Have you seen this,” Lisa’s mother asked her on her weekly visit, tossing the magazine on the table that separated her from her daughter. “Have you seen this,” she yelled.

Lisa hadn’t seen the magazine yet, and was surprised to see herself looking up from people magazine.

“Look at that cover. It’s bad enough that you killed your husband, a chaval on our whole family, but how is your sister ever going to find a good shidduch.” Lisa’s mom was almost in tears. “Look at you. Wearing pants, hair uncovered, in jail. Oy, why couldn’t you just be in jail without telling the whole world who you are?”

“Ma,” Lisa interrupted, “This is part of my attorney’s strategy to get me out of here. A little good PR never hurt anyone.”

“Good PR. Oy, My baby is sitting in jail, like a murdered criminal, with all the shkatzim in the world here, and telling the whole world about it, and her attorney thinks she is getting good PR.”

“Tell me, Lisa, what am I supposed to do at Shul? Estelle suggested I go off the sisterhood board, and Shiffy won’t sit near me during shul or Kiddush. And your sister. Your sister. She is never going to get married now. The phone has stopped ringing. Before, after the killing it was slow, but now,” she paused and lifted the magazine up slightly off the table, “now it’s stopped. And she is going to be alone and not get a good shidduch.

Lisa waited for her mom to stop. “Sorry, mom, but I didn’t think about that. I”

Her mother interrupted. “Of course you didn’t think. Not when you married that bum, not when you killed him.”

“Lisa was near tears. “Stop it mom. Don’t you care about me getting out of here. I didn’t kill him, and this is going to help me get off.

“Oy, better you should stay here then bring this shame on your father and me. What did we do that was so bad.”

Lisa’s mom turned around, and walked out of the visitor’s room.


After her mom left, Lisa brought the magazine back to her cell. The guards took out the staples so she wouldn’t use them as a weapon, so she had to hold the pages together so they didn’t fly away.

She flipped through the pages, and read every word.

“That Ann,” she said out loud. Ann had turned everything she said around. The story was a disaster, making it look like she hated cheese, and hated everyone who liked cheese. All she had said was that she thought her late husband ate too much cheese.

She hadn’t seen Steve Brown in a while, he claimed he was preparing her defense and didn’t have time, but she thought he was probably trying to get himself some more face time on TV some more.


Carol walked over to Yitzi. “Yitzi, come to bed,” she called into the other room. Come see my new outfit.

Yitzi walked into the room and stared. Carol stood with her leg against the bed, wearing nothing but a short skirt and bra top made up completely out of Q-Tips.

“Come and get it, bad boy,” she said, grinning.

Yitzi walked over, and planted his lips on Carols.


The trial was scheduled to start in two weeks, and Jack Kay was working overtime. Ever since he started working with Jose, the two of them discovered they shared a passion for ears. They were determined to put Lisa in jail for the rest of her life, and worked sixty hour weeks putting their case together.

The People Magazine article just helped their case.

Anyone who has ears and has eaten cheese will feel safer when she is off the street, they would say. Should make picking a jury a breeze.

The preceding story is Fiction. You can find the beginning of this story earlier on this blog.

Previous Section

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Flight

The lights receded through the open window, getting smaller and smaller until they could no longer be seen out the window.

The plane shook slightly, and Donna settled back in her seat. She sat in silence, closing her eyes , listening guiltily to the conversations that swirled around her.

Ahead, a stranger on his way to New York for the first time regaled his fellow passengers with his entire career history. He had worked in the restaurant business, Hooters, actually, before moving into the booming ReFi market. Tomorrow, in New York, he would interview for his dream job, he breathlessly jabbered, as his seatmates hung on every word.

Behind her, a man talked about tires. Whether he bought tires, sold tires or manufactured tires was not entirely clear. Regardless, he talked incessantly about tread and wear and steel=belted radials.

The weather was rough, an the plane bounced around, reminding Donna of the little boat her daughter would play with in the bath.

Caitlin would splash, and make waves. And tip the boat over.

"What about the people in the boat," Donna asked her daughter one day. "Are they OK?"

"Oh mama," Caitlin answered, "Jesus is watching over them."

Donna tried not to cry, and fought back the tears. It seemed that everything reminded her about Caitlin nowadays.

Caitlin, so sweet when she was younger, so beautiful and innocent. It almost killed Donna to remember the last time she saw her daughter. She was smiling as she went into the delivery room.

Donna chose to wait in the waiting room. Going into the room would bring back too many memories of cancer and her own mother.

Caitlin was smiling and excited. For the first time in months, she looked like a happy fifteen year old when they wheeled her out.

Three hours later, a doctor sat Donna down and gave her the awful news. Caitlin was dead, and the baby might not make it through the night.

The next morning, there were two bodies to bury.

This trip was supposed to help Donna get away from her grief, give her some distance. Donna didn't think anything could help her.

The turbulence was awful, and getting worse. Donna thought about trying to sleep, like the old lady across the aisle, but the idea of waking up to a crashing plane was too frightening to imagine. She would stay up, try not to vomit and if the plane was to crash, she would take solace from the fact that she would meet her daughter in heaven.

Was she going to heaven, though, Donna wondered, and even if she did go to heaven, would Caitlin be there. Donna was sure the baby went to heaven, so pure and innocent, but her daughter might be a different story. She did get pregnant outside of marriage, and died without confession.

Donna had thought about her daughter';s eternal resting place every day since Caitlin died, and she couldn't decide. Was Caitlin in heaven or Hell? She thought about talking to the priest at church, but the pastor who had been in the church for all those years was in jail for fifteen to twenty, part of that whole priests screwing little boys thing.,

He, Donna was quite sure, was going to Hell.

The new priest was a young man, probably in his late twenties, and she wasn't about to go looking for religious guidance from someone who was born in the 80s, twenty years her junior.

So Donna just wondered. Sometimes with a drink in her hand, and sometimes with the whole bottle in her hand. Sometimes it was just so hard.

Just so hard.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cheese Man - Part 3

I did not look pretty when I stood in front of Judge Rostenberg for my arraignment. It had been ten days since my last shower, and everyone in the courtroom could sense my presence.

Case #264399, the State of Michigan against Lisa Berger. “Ms. Berger, you have been charged with first degree murder in the death of your husband. How do you plead?”

“Not guilty, your honor.”

“Mr. Prosecutor,” the judge asked, do you have any bail recommendation?

“We request that the state hold Ms. Berger without bail. Her crime was both heinous and deadly. She killed her husband with a Q-Tip because she didn’t like cheese. We have no idea how dangerous this woman could become if she was set free, and ran into someone who served her decaf when she ordered regular.”

“OK then. Ms. Berger, you are hereby sentenced to remain in the custody of the state until the trial. Your heinous and deadly crime with an ordinary household object will not go unpunished in my courtroom.”

“Bailiff, warn the prison staff that she is coming today. I understand they are serving grilled cheese in the prison cafeteria.”


“Ummmm, ohh, Jack, don’t stop. Oh yes. Yes. Oh Jack, oh my god, ummmm, oh Ja – OUCH. YOU BIT ME”

Jack opened his mouth, and stepped away from Sandy’s ear. The small TV in the office was reporting live from the Oakland County Court House that Lisa Berger had been held without bail, for killing her husband with a Q-Tip.

“Did you see that,” Jack asked his secretary. “She killed him with a Q-tip.”

“You almost bit my ear off,” Sandy screamed back.

But Jack continued, not even hearing her. “She went after him in the most vulnerable of places, his ear.”

“It’s bleeding. Are you happy, you broke through the skin.”

“What kind of animal can do that to someone,” Jack asked to no one in particular.

“Are you listening to me, Jack Kay. There are going to be teeth marks on my ear. What am I supposed to tell my boyfriend when he sees that?”

“Call the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office. Tell them Jack Kay wants to come in and put the Ear Whacker in jail for the rest of her life.”

Jack looked over at Sandy. “Did you know your ear was bleeding? You might want to take care of that.


Sandy had easily gotten through to the prosecutor’s office. So far, there had been offers to help in the prosecution from three cheese advocates and one men’s right groups, but Jack was the first ear aficionado to call.

“It’s all so vulnerable. Just tissue and interesting structure, and this woman, this monster, just tore through all that and killed him. I want to be part of the team, Jose. When I went into law, it was to put these monsters away.”

Jack finished his pitch, and waited for the head Oakland County prosecutor, Jose Gomez, to answer.

Jose cleared his throat, and laughed. “I’m sure we can have a place for you on our team, Jack. Welcome aboard.”

An hour later Jose broke out in hysterical laughter.

“Sharon, you gotta see what Jack just sent over.”

Sitting on his desk was a mountain of cheese, with a package of pigs ears on top.


I sat with my court-appointed attorney, Steve Brown. Steve was the only attorney from the pool willing to defend me, and I could tell right away that he had some reservations.

“Are you sure you don’t want to plead guilty, and spare the nation this trial,” he asked.

“I am not guilty. I am being singled out for my dislike of cheese. You have to help me beat this. I can’t spend the rest of my life in prison.”

Steve thought about it, but he had no choice. He was my attorney. Come hell or high water, he was going to stand next to me at trial.

“OK,” he finally said. “Let’s work on our strategery. We are going to need to win over public opinion.” Steve had a big grin on his face.

"Now go take a shower."


With the apartment next door empty, Carol and Yitzi resumed their evening activities.

The preceding story is fiction. Any similarity between characters mentioned, their names, their attributes, or anything about them is merely coincidental.

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