Synopsis of Hero Apomixis by C.A. Seller
Hero Apomixis is a work of stream of consciousness written over 22 months while the author was incarcerated in Attica Correctional Facility in 2000/01. A story of tortuous experience at the hands of a broken social services system, bad parenting, and the Prison Industrial Complex, Hero begins to lose his mind as evidenced by fantacide and dreamories only interrupted by prison feedings. Hero is either a victim or a sociopath. The book challenges us to ask, “What would you do?”
“If you like Dante, if you like Bosch, if you like Burroughs, you’ll dig the brutally dark brilliance of C.A. Seller’s HERO APOMIXIS. A rare stroke of ever darkening courage. Welcome to hell.” Ron Whitehead
Hero fell asleep pretty quickly and whatever he dreamt,
he didn’t remember any of it, but was sure that he remembered
one thing, the words:
“State Food, Baby!!”
written in pencil on a NYSDOCS Directive Revision Notice
that had the words:
“Destroy This Notice”
printed at the bottom of it in big bold black letters. Yet,
that had been a sleepy thought.
Hero woke up just before the count bell. He rolled over
to get warmer, tucking the bedding in underneath him. A package of groggy solutions told him that he was safe and that he
had nothing to worry about because Born Again Christians
had mass produced a life-size inflatable version of him that children punched in the face.
The bell was long and Hero laid in bed until the very last
minute to delay having to greet the cold. He thought it was
Sunday – it wasn’t. It was Tuesday. He found this out when
his cell was cracked for him to go get his meds at the front
of the gallery. Hunter told him that he had two MHU (Mental
Health Unit) call-outs; something the C.O. found very funny.
“Ha, ha, you must be really fucked up, Hero, they gotch’a
down to see TWO shrinks! Ha, ha!”
On the way back to his cell, Hero made a loud mental note
to make sure he kept his eyes open around Hunter, the man
was unquestionably unbalanced from the 20 years he’d put in with the Teamsters and then the 14 he had in with NYSDOCS. Yeah, something was definitely not right with him at all.
Back in his cell, Hero thought about his last visit with
the good doctor and was sure to be more careful this time.
He certainly wouldn’t tell her about his weird vertigo-body displacement thing lest she lock him up in a strip-down cell
and then pack his ass off to Marcy State Psychiatric Hospital
for a three month visit with the shit eaters and the really
“Better shave,” he ventured, “make a good impression,”
but the end of the last word came out like a cough of poorly
stifled laughter. Hero was looking forward to the meeting;
they’d wanted a lithium level the last time.
He wasn’t to blame. Not that they didn’t try though. The
inmate was always at fault and guilty merely for being accused.
Never mind whether he’d done anything wrong or not, the
attention itself was cause for an indictment.
Breakfast was cold lumpy oatmeal and even colder powdered
eggs, the latter of which he suspected Black, the A.M. porter,
of having stolen some. His portion was ridiculously small.
Hero had caught this delusion before with the cold cereal
and it had taken a bit of effort to fight off his paranoid
suspicions. He distracted himself with a sandwich of cold
“toast” and powdered eggs warmed in between bites with
measured sips of state-coffee so he wouldn’t finish the
coffee before the eggs and have to eat them cold. He shaved,
looking forward to Dr. Menendez’ frustration at the lack
of a recent lithium level and her consternation, or was that
constipation? with him when the true fact that – at least
on the first occasion – he’d been busy giving the police
the urine sample she’d ordered for drug testing; “chronic
user” was the reason she’d given for her “suspicion” of drug use.
“When was the las’ time j’ou use herroin, Meestar Hero?”
Now he guessed that that must not have been good enough
for her. The second time, the phlebotomist had asked Hero
if he’d taken his A.M. dose of lithium, which he had, and said that therefore, there was no way she could get an accurate level –
so she rescheduled him for another day.
The last time he’d seen that witch and her chubby little partner,
Dr. Katzenjammer, the psychologist. He had written tabs
to the both of them to express his disappointment and displeasure
at their having lied to him through their crooked fucking
teeth in regards to the confidentiality of his answer to
the question about his most recent drug use; the answer of
which had resulted in a NYSDOCS urinalysis that had come
back positive for cannabinoids and was the reason for the
30 days of keep lock he was doing. His anger confused him,
or actually, it made – it made him confusing to others; but
today, today he would be smooth, cool as a cucumber and very,
very careful because he’d also written to their bosses, too.
While he was shaving, Hero wondered if Menendez was Argentinian and not Mexican as he’d previously suspected; the granddaughter of some expatriate Nazi who’d escaped to South
America? She was certainly pale enough and even more certainly mean enough.
At their first meeting, Hero had felt like shit, otherwise
he would have remembered his fast-held rule that
the person in authority sat behind the desk. The desk
was a blunt rectangle shielding the person in authority
and conversely threatening Hero. The office was usually a
square or a rectangle in a building that was a combination
of multiple squares and rectangles. Cheap. Hero saw all these
sharp 90 degree angles as being incredibly hostile to the body
and spirit; the architectural result of the most rudimentary
of intersecting lines. They smacked of fascist totalitarianism
and waste. Hero yearned for an R. Buckminster
Fuller psychotherapy. He saw all these sharp edged corners
on 90 degree angles as modern man’s continuing exploitation
of what were truly some very bad ancient rules of architecture.
The first line was the horizon, the second was man himself
standing upright, and the resultant analogy was a 90 degree
angle and, concomitantly, a way of thought, a mind-set unrecognized as being much more recent in our history than we
might have thought – we not only built in 90 degree angles,
recreating impossible mazes within huge invisible black
iron prisons, we also thought in them. The Indians had
lived in round houses set in small circles that were a part
of the larger circle that was their world.
We live, predominantly, in squares and rectangles with myriad
deviations thereof that attempt to hide the ugly we have
all grown accustomed to. The waste of energy, materials,
and space. All these sharp edges – set in rows – one after
another as we try desperately to avoid each other. The implications were manifold with tentacles that reached far and
wide into everything we did. The Big Lie. Hero could follow
this train of thought to the ends of everything that was
wrong with the industrialized world. He examined the consumer’s attitude towards Africa – which had always
been no more than a brief question of real estate and time.
The tenant’s lease would be cancelled .
Then the landlord could repossess that which was not theirs to begin with. European pharmaceutical companies had been caught selling empty capsules of what were supposed to be antibiotics and other lifesaving drugs to several African countries. Meanwhile, 1 in 4 African’s had either HIV or AIDS.
“Why, that’s mighty white a’ yew, neighbor!”
No one knew what Hero was talking about so they just ignored
him. They said he was “bugged-out.” And this, coming from
wannabe gangsta’s late for their own funerals. He saw a
big sign inside his head that read:
“EAT THE BIG LIE – BUY LIE!”
“I can’t talk to you! You’re a dope pusher!”
Hero wasn’t sure whether the man who’d said this was talking
to him or not. Stepping back, he saw the implications, the
dangers of, democracy?
“Oh, it’s all bullshit, “ Hero said.
“No it’s not – it’s Lyndon LaRouche!!!
“ … and the unsung Western Hero he killed an Indian or three hey, hey, hey to make his name in – Hollywood and
set the White man – free now
Jesus, save me …
if Jesus saves well
then He better save himself from
the gory glory seekers
who use His name in Death ..
well I saw him in the cities and
on the mountains of the – moon yeah,
His cross was rather – bloody-
He could hardly roll his – stone now
Jesus, save me … “
Hymn 43, Aqualung Jethro Tull
The right lens of Hero’s state-eyeglasses popped out 1/16th
of an inch. They did that a lot. An inmate had to wait two
years between visits to the optometrist. This pair he’d
received about 14 months ago and he thought that his eyes
had gotten worse since then. His vision was 20/200 without
glasses and he had an astigmatism. All of Hero’s family
wore glasses, even the cat was rumored to have a tiny pince
nez stashed someplace and he’d heard his father’s brother
was considered legally blind at the age of seventy-two. Hero
thought that he might be ready for bifocals as his new trouble
was with reading. He rolled and lit his third cigarette of
the morning. Nervous, he supposed, and took a shit in the
cold. When he leaned over to wipe his ass he experienced
the sensation of the toilet lifting up behind him and tilting
forward over some invisible fulcrum. Washing up, he thought
the whites of his eyes were a little blue underneath.. Bilirubin – unremoved by the liver – caused
jaundice. It was also the origin of bile. He didn’t feel
very sick. Not as sick as he’d felt the previous winter when
he’d had diarrhea four times a day and his face and eyes had
turned piss-yellow for a few months. If anything, he felt
pretty good, as good as he had during his last keep1ock.
Hours upon hours of sedentary rest agreed with him. The usual
sharp pains in his right shoulder were gone but the joint
still popped and thumped, audibly vibrating the upper half
of his trunk whenever he raised his arm above his wing; the
sack of protein based fluid that lubricated the ball and
socket had been steadily depleted by attrition as his diseased
liver struggled to manufacture enough for his body. Ideally,
Hero would have eaten no animal proteins and as much yogurt,
tofu, sushi, and soymilk as he could get his hands on. That
and milk thistle. In Attica, he could get none of these things
and had come to believe that he was only as healthy as he
was as a result of his attitude. Plus, all he
ever did was sit on his ass and listen to the radio.
Hero didn’t look forward to walking all the way to MHU.
Normally, prisoners went everywhere in a formation of two
lines that traveled in complete silence escorted by a C.O.
who kept his nightstick in his hand the entire time. The
forty men would pass each checkpoint where other C.O.s with
their nightsticks out would count them as they passed, calling
their count to the escort officer who walked at the rear.
Cell bock lobbies and a four-way “T” with a set of
sliding electric gates known as “Times Square” because the
security “bubble” there looked just like an IRT token booth
with its “change” slots and thick panes of bulletproof glass.
The gray steel bars and cement floor corridors didn’t hurt
the effect either and if you didn’t know any better you
might think it was a subway station; that is, until you went
to look for a train. There were even fake subway signs
painted in black on the outside of the bubble. One said
and under it there was another that said
“Eighth Ave and 42nd St.”
And Hero thought that these were a mocking torture to those
men who would never see those places ever again.
“That’s why we put’em there!” he stated bluntly in his
most sarcastic and obnoxious cop voice – always affected
with bass – like a ten year old trying to sound like a grown-up.
Hero drank his half a styrofoam cup of apple juice down
and waited in cold damp anticipation for his call-out to MHU.
“This is what you want, this is what you get, this is what
you want, this is what you get, this is what you want, what
you want, what you want, what you want …” Public Image League.
Your choices made for you, Hero.
Little pink triangles danced in time around his head. Jerry
Falwell was standing behind TinkyWinky with his hands over
the Teletubby’s crotch, spooning cheek to cheek,
gently panting and cooing, “It’s alright thar’, lil fella,
it’s jest Unkle Jerry!” with his small, wet, flaccid penis
dripping underneath cream colored polyester pants and
ironed jockey shorts two sizes too tight. TinkyWinky’s wide
eyes, confused at peepee sweet and sickly, now happy, now
nauseous, nervous, now hardly hard at all. Butterflies, no,
pigeons. Hero’s own memory of molestation cramped his belly
and he began to get stiff at the idea of his penis inside
the man’s toothless mouth, so wet and sucking; fat, dirty
and disgusting with the odor of stale urine and b.o .
Under the pretense of fitting Hero with a scuba harness,
the man had cupped him easily and finally sucked the boy,
greedily swallowing all of his young, 13 year old semen.
Soon, he would come to visit the man regularly in his filthy,
garbage strew basement apartment – after his paper route,
and then the man would tongue kiss Hero and blow him. The
man had tried to get the boy to suck him off in the fat man’s
version of a grotesque 69 but Hero thought he was too dirty
and smelly, otherwise he would have, he was so inclined and
now lay on his back with his eyes closed, fantasizing that
his mouth was filled with the man’s cock. Excited and disgusted
all at once, Hero sat bolt upright, swinging his feet
off of the bed to the floor; too early for that, he told
himself. Besides, it’s always so much better when I wait
a day or two, he playfully teased himself, “Always better,”
sweetly licking his mind’s erection.
“What’s ‘at yew said, lil fella?” Falwell asked TinkyWinky,
“that’s what I thought yew said! Now don’t talk dirty fella’, ’cause it ain’t nice. Shame on yew.”
Hero’s cock grew softer, the tension wouldn’t have helped,
but if he tied his blanket to the bars and got started, his
gate would crack at the worst possible moment and he’d have
to wash too quickly and end up feeling all gross and icky
with the combination of sperm, vaseline, state-soap, and
very cold water on his dick and balls. Of course, like
a pot of water you watched to boil he would chill and they’d
probably never call him for lack of an escort officer. (Inmates
on keep lock had to have their own escort.)
“Well,” and he let out a little sigh like a guy who’s just
found out his old lady is on the rag and not putting her mouth around anything except chocolate bonbons tonight.
“ … two fat backs you must cut clean, you take the escalator
to the mezzanine, change and it’s on , super bonbon, super
bonbon, super bonbon . “ rang Hero’s dome piece to that jigsaw
jazz Beck had told him about.
“Cadence clap, you whining sap, you whining sap with the
sap rap trap,” but couldn’t get any further so he didn’t
press the issue. Hero whittled a literary maul-stick in an
attempt to fake it that morning.
Walking around the body in the carpet cooling fast from
the bullet in its head, EI Raton came to the house expecting
a front – a big eight (125 grams) of some of the new shit.
That is, until Hec put him on his knees in the middle of
the carpet – bought special just for the occasion – in an other-
wise empty room but for an old stereo and one giant speaker
cabinet that was aimed right at them. Hector looked around
while EI Raton looked up at him, all giant baby-eyes full
of tears that were streaming down his cheeks and into his
beard. He was had and he knew it. They knew it. He was fucked.
“I’m gonna give you two minutes, Mikey,” and Hec held his
hand up with only two fingers showing, just to make sure
Mikey understood what “two” meant, “two, see? Two minutes
for you to make your peace, ok?”
Mikey nodded, yes, simpering with a wet nose leaking snot
that was hanging down off of his chin – he wiped it on
his shirt-sleeve, figuring he’d never be wearing that sweater
again anyways – and the thought made him bawl.
“Starting . NOW!” Hec shouted – looking at his watch when
he brought his right arm down, as if signaling the beginning
of a contest to see who could hold their breath the longest.
Hero walked in and saw Mikey praying, “a el dios de perico,
probably, miserable piece of shit,” and he moved silently
over to the stereo and gently started turning up the volume.
It was Tito Puente. Hec motioned with his hand, up, up, up,
and when he thought it was loud enough (Mikey was now sobbing uncontrollably with his hands clasped tightly together in
front of his face), Hec shot him holding the pistol not
even an inch away from his forehead. Hero brought the music
down and they both stared at Mikey, “he was still sittin’
up on his knees and blood was comin’ outta the bullet hole,
but it was comin’ out like a fire hose – and it was makin’
the weirdest fucking whistling sound they’d ever heard and no one had seen no shit like that before.”
“Why’d Hec shoot’em early like that?”
“Yeah, what happened to his ‘two minutes?’“
“What are you two, a couple a’ Dick Fuckin’ Tracey’s?”
“Well, you know, you told the story, Hero “
“Alright, alright, this is what happened, see, Hec thought
he might go soft if he had to keep watchin’ Mikey drowning
in his own fuckin’ tears …. hyperventilating like some
8 year old kid with half a fuckin’ lung or something, so,
eh, you know, he, uh, he took’em out a little early, that’s
all .. Why? What’s the big deal? Me personally? I always thought
that Hec did Mikey a favor, ya’ know? He could’a poisoned
Later: “Lemme’ get some more coffee, will’ya, Rita? And,
hey, are those crullers fresh?”
“Wouldn’t be up there if they wasn’t, Hero You want
“Why, yes, Rita, thank you, I believe I do,” and Hero
smiled, the patronizing patron, while he imagined his cock
so deep inside of Rita’s snatch that she’d bite him if he
let his face get too close to her’s. His cock was stiffening
in his jeans and pointing to the left the way it always did.
His stomach was all aquiver with the same sexual excitement
that can hurt a man when he’s trying to move his bowels.
She must’ve been in her early forties, at least.
Either that or just very well preserved. With heavy make-up
around her eyes, those thick slutty eyelashes and gash-red
come-fuck-my-mouth lips, Rita impressed Hero as a little
uncomfortable whenever she passed him even with the counter
between them. She was pouring coffee for some round black
guy in a dirty flannel shirt with fat spilling out over his
belt. It looked just like molasses. Hero saw a greasy
sea lion in blue jeans sitting at the counter with a cup
of coffee and a well-thumbed racing form. He watched
Rita coming back and thought that maybe his eyes had given
him away. They had and that was the source of his latest
discomfort. Now he didn’t feel so good inside. Real deep
in his torso, something like a vertical rod of dry-ice was
being emptied very rapidly from inside a piece of PVC piping
and Hero realized that his feet had become very cold. His
entire body had caught a chill.
He finished his cruller and coffee so he could split.
He noticed that the grill chef had turned up the volume of
the radio. It was Tito Puente, again. That greasy old Rican
had seen the whole thing: him and Rita, sheeit, him alone.
He didn’t want Hero hanging around any longer than he already
had. The chef was no angel. In fact, he was as evil as they
came – and that’s how he knew.
But either she wasn’t sure of exactly what she was or wasn’t letting Hero know. Foolishly, he thought that she liked him. He
was wrong. Hero walked back engulfed in a stream of cold air that ran along the floor inside his head, gave Rita a dollar tip,
turned again, and left without a word.
Black brought him his lunch-time feed-up: baked ziti (that
had never been baked – not even close), a salad and rice
pudding; only not only had the ziti never been baked but
the salad was small and a third of it was brown and the
rice pudding wasn’t pudding at all but a cold ball of cooked
rice with cinnamon sprinkled on it and some sticky white
shit holding it all together that Hero guessed was starch.
He picked through the ziti trying not to eat any of the globs
of ground beef that looked worse than Gaines Burgers.
Next, he moved on to the warm salad inspecting each piece
carefully for any brown before eating it. All that took him
more time than it had taken those guys to murder what’s his-
name, whistler’s brother.
“Spooky,” Hero teased as he replaced the cover on the feed up
tray before sliding it onto the shelf of his gate
slot and then he drank the remainder of his breakfast milk
from its container, the one with a smiling purple cow wearing
a bell under her neck on the side of it. Hero suspected bovine
growth hormones as being solely responsible for 12 year old
tits and bleeding way too early. When he picked
up the baby milk carton he read, “1% milk fat .. oh,
that makes it ok, it’s only 1%,” with a rented contentment
that was his best defense (his only defense) at that moment
to all the rich people who would spend his very life, second
only to an old worn out dollar bill, just to have a few extra
vacation days and while they fed him cancer, Hero sincerely
hoped that they would get Mad Cow Disease and immediately
afterwards, wished he had some Laughing Cow Cheese in the
little triangles of tinfoil with the red string that hung
out to open them – and that laughing cow with an earring in
her ear. The Laughing Cow didn’t have to worry about
Mad Cow Disease because she was already crazy – just look
at the way she’s always laughing. Those pieces of cheese
reminded him of when he was a young boy and he’d eaten them
with light green seedless grapes that glowed in the sunlight;
they squished in Hero’s mouth now and the delicate bite
of the cheese and dry dragging texture of the grape’s skin
on his tongue mixed together with all of the juice so that
his mouth would pucker from the back of his cheeks to the
sides where his top and bottom lips were hinged. And, if
he’d been careful to mix just the right amount of each ingredient
in every mouthful, it was a fine and pleasurable thing,
all of these things in his mouth. His mother would always
say, “Save some grapes for someone else.” As for the cheese,
well, she’d stopped buying it right around the time he’d
grown balls big enough to take whatever he wanted from the refrigerator. She hid the strawberries. Hero always thought it was strange how people with two houses, two mortgages, and two cars wouldn’t buy a color TV until after they’d retired? Then she’d bought a satellite dish so fucking big that it looked like
the bad news end of The Death Star from Star Wars.
“The mountains,” she’d said. The truth was that the woman
was a television casualty, but it sure suited her. In fact,
Hero thought she was related to the Walton’s (she sure did),
the Jewish side of the family, up north – you know, “Uh,
oh yeah, that’s right, twice removed, wasn’t it?”
The summer before Hero made it all the way down to the
bank door, he rode his motorcycle up to visit The Wretched
for the weekend with a take-home bottle of methadone in his
pocket and a strong desire to put some space between himself
and all that shitty coke he’d been shooting. He rented his
favorite movie to show his mother, an Australian film called
“Bliss” about a man who has a Near Death Experience and
afterwards the scales fall from his eyes and he sees The
Big Lie everywhere he looks. In the opening scene, Harry,
the man, is telling one of his father’s stories of how there
had been a terrible drought. (Harry was just an infant at
the time.) And, how his mother had gone to church to pray
for rain. When his father saw his mother next, she was standing
in a boat piled high with things from the church. His
father told him, “When your mother prays for rain, Harry,
it rains,” His father also told him , “In New York City exists all good and evil and the Devil rides down Fifth Avenue in a long black limousine with dark windows
and if you look very hard, you can see him sitting there
in the back.”
“Oh, stop it, John! He believes everything you say!” Harry’s
“But, Patricia! You know it’s true!”
And such was the background of a very primal and
naive man whose wife is fucking his partner; whose son is
dealing cocaine; whose daughter performs fellatio on her
brother for some of the cocaine; and the surreal circumstances of Harry’s life when he saw the truth and decided to be good.
Harry leaves his family and is staying in an expensive
hotel. As the senior founding partner of a very successful
advertisement firm, many of whose clients are the makers
of cancer causing products, Harry feels compelled to “fire”
them one after another, dooming the firm and everyone around
him to ruin. One of his client’s men comes to see him
in a desperate attempt to get Harry to take his company back.
Harry is considered an advertising genius by everyone.
“Har-ry! You’re looking well, Harry, how are you?”
“I haven’t been feeling well, John.”
“Harry, people are talking – and it’s not good. No, no,
Harry, not good at all.”
“I’m sorry, John, I must fire you .. “
“But, Harry! Why?! What have I ever done to you?!”
“It’s not you, John, it’s your company, the products you
make – they have saccharine in them.”
“Oh, that? Har-ry! No one’s ever proven any positive connection
between saccharine and cancer! Here, look at this.”
John opens his briefcase and pulls out a large map.
“This, Harry, is a cancer map. Have you ever seen one of
these? No, of course not, only insurance companies and the
government have them.”
John shows Harry their city and suburbs and the different
types of cancer you got from living in which area.
“No one really knows what causes cancer, Harry, there’s
just too much of it.”
Harry is terror struck with humble horror, he stands in
awe holding the edges of the map gingerly.
“I’m sorry, John, but I must still fire you.”
“Harry, you’re worried about cancer? Well, I’ll tell you
about cancer, Harry! My wife, Harry, (sobs) my wife has cancer!”
“Oh, John, I’m so sorry, you never said anything.“
“Oh, it’s alright, we thought she’d be ok, with all the
radiation and chemotherapy, but when she got down to 6 stone
and 4 (cries) she was afraid to leave the house.
Our real friends stay away so don’t you tell me about cancer,
It was this interaction that Hero found so subtle, so scathingly
accurate, that he felt compelled to watch the video
again and again feeling very much like Harry who, surrounded
by bad people, struggled to be good. Hero thought the ending
was very beautiful, very beautiful indeed. He’d discovered
“Bliss” while working in Harlem, it was just an interesting
title, that was all, and he rented it and never returned it.
The only other movie Hero ever saw with his mother was
“Tommy” by The Who. She’d taken him and one of his friends
to the Zigfield for his 13th birthday. It still made him
laugh. His mother: the iron maiden full of syringes! Uncle
Ernie! “Fiddle about! Fiddle about!” The Pinball Wizard!
Ann Fucking Margaret! She’d probably written him off right
then and there; the Jewish version of Rosemary’s Baby.
When he was 27, Hero asked her if he’d been a mistake.
“Oh, I thought you knew that .. “
It would be the last time he saw her alive. Why couldn’t
she have just leaned over, opened his door, and pushed him
out of the moving car instead? It was a question that puzzled
him for quite a few years to come.
Hero was strung-out and having some bad luck with the check
that NYSDOCS had given him upon his release from Riverview.
A week before leaving, he’d asked the jail for at least $1,500
in cash – if not the whole $6,000+. He was called to the
Hero was itching to tell him, “’Cause it’s my money, you
nosey fucking bastard, that’s what!” But instead, he tried
to explain to the nice policeman that in Manhattan, without
a place to stay, ample funds would be required until he could
get the check cashed. As it stood, Hero didn’t know how he
was going to cash it.
“Don’t you have any family you could stay with?”
It was always like this: you gave them the circumstances
and then they proceeded to ask you the most inane questions.
And you were expected to answer them! It was a primitive
yet effective arrangement, merely a formality because you
weren’t going to get any satisfaction anyway!
Hero sat in front of the sergeant’s desk imagining
he had a sawed-off, double barrel shotty deep inside the
“What about a friend? You don’t have any friends you could
What’s with this guy?! What does he want? My life fuckin’
Eventually, Hero received $300 cash which lasted about a week.
“When I go down to New York to see the Yankees play, I
don’t carry anywheres near that much money.”
Hero bit his tongue so hard it bled, “Well, Sarge, I guess
you’re a cheap date, eh?” or “Well, Sarge, I need the extra
cash so’s I can stop over at The Home Depot and pick up some
fertilizer wink-wink).” Either of which would have been just as effective as anything he actually did say. The entire interview had degenerated into an investigation as to why Hero wanted his
own money in cash.
“Fucking scumbag,” he muttered standing in the choking
heat and exhaust, trapped again in Manhattan for August.
And he had money! That was all it took to get out, like everyone else with a few bucks and a half-a-lick of sense.
Hero’d tried cashing the check by depositing it in a
friend’s bank account only they would not honor a third
party check. He spoke to the assistant manager, asking if
he could open a new account – he’d had one there a few years
before. She told him, “No.” He didn’t have proper I.D. Also,
they were extremely reluctant to open large accounts (?) unless
‘they knew where the money came from because it might be
drug money (?). She directed him to another bank across the
street. They were as equally ambiguous. He tried The Lower
East Side Credit Union, a grass-roots operation on Avenue B
and 3rd Street, but they wouldn’t touch it either because
it had already been endorsed. On the verge of a nervous fucking
breakdown, Hero called NYSDOCS and in one of the rarest
moments in all of his moments of having to deal with them
a very important black woman with a large corner office in
The State of New York NYSDOCS offices in a building
on 125th Street and Seventh Avenue called Riverview while
Hero waited in her office and told them to issue another
check in his mother’s name so she could
deposit it and wire the money to him at the credit union.
This woman had more juice than anyone Hero had ever seen
in all of NYSDOCS. She took the old check and told a tearful
grateful Hero not to worry, that the new check would be
there in a mere matter of days. She also told him to call
if there were any problems. This, he felt wholeheartedly,
was the equivalent of a miracle given the nature of NYSDOCS.
The next day, Hero’s mother drove 3 hours from her house
in Connecticut to bring him some money.
“Western Union is too dangerous, Hero, and I’m not comfortable
sending all that money like that,” she’d said,
“ .. all that money … ,” being two-hundred-and-fifty dollars.
Hero knew that the truth was that his mother, one of the
only Jewish WASP’s in that part of Connecticut, was embarrassed to use Western Union. It wasn’t like anyone there knew her, it was the principle. Hero had a special mental scream
just for such occasions and employed it without reservation.
That morning, he took the subway from the L.E.S. out to
Flushing to meet her so that she could avoid the traffic
in Manhattan. Early by hours, he spent them in The Queens
Botanical Gardens talking with an elderly man from China
who was here visiting his daughter and her family. His English
was not bad at all and Hero got the message, it was always
the same: Live as best you can and try to enjoy life. The
longer the two talked, the antsier Hero was getting for a
fix and while there are as many different perceptions of
time as there are states of awareness a human being can experience the widest most expanded version that can be exhibited by them all was Death. When you
are dope-sick though, hope is a bag of powder that is never
guaranteed until it is in your veins.
The old Chinaman noticed that something was a little off kilter
but he never let on. Hero saw it in his eyes; they
were alive and sparkled in there beneath slit lids. He
carried himself like someone who could break you into pieces
with only a few very graceful movements.
It was a mildly humid sunny morning full of bright light
and the flowers of the gardens appeared sharp in witness
to the day. So goddamn fucking bright it hurt Hero’s eyes.
He was only a few blocks away from the hospital he was born
in. Where he’d received numerous stitches as a child – where
once they had x-rayed him to find a large packing staple
he’d swallowed for some insane reason and where, as a 14
year old, he had seen his mother sitting up in a bed like
something out of The Exorcist. She’d looked as if she had
been hit by a truck. A heart attack had beat her up so badly
that she was black and blue everywhere you could imagine.
After triple coronary bypass surgery she wasn’t quite right
as rain but she did live another 15 years and when she did
die, well, it wasn’t her heart that gave out, that’s for
sure. When she died it was from a lung ailment with a very,
very long name which translated into English was: “your lungs are fucked.”
It wasn’t hard to believe it was finally her lungs because she’d never spoke up when she should have but instead always waited until the damage was done to belatedly chime in with some subtle sarcastic snippet like the fellow who tells you not
to fight back against some obvious injustice because he thinks
it’s easier for him to live on his knees – and besides – your
resistance is going to fuck-up his whole lame-ass program.
And every time you lost a battle, he was always right there
to remind you of it. People like that have a name, well,
actually – they have a few names, but the one that always
came to mind to Hero was: Traitor.
Hero didn’t think he hated his mother anymore, although
he could have easily killed her dead just on GP had he ever
known what she’d intended to do with the money she stole
from his father, that other piece of shit.
“Cranky, I’m cranky,” and Hero thought it best that he
take a nap just in case they called him to go see the psychs.
“Cold, I’m cold,” and Hero saw that the sky was overcast.
Seagulls hung-out on the roof of some nearby prefab office trailers dipping their beaks like scoops into the puddles
on the tarpaper and squawking at what Hero couldn’t tell.
Speckled dirty gray winter slush and inky black, heavy garbage
pickers to Jonathan Livingston Seagull and such a pretty dream that was that Hero wanted to read the book again 25 years later.