A journal of narrative writing.


What am I doing on this train?  Maybe if I step out quick I won't have to take this ride. I know, I just got on but so what. I'll just step off and hit the platform running and I wont stop till I get back home. My apartment's only a coupleof blocks away, it'll take about five minutes. I'll forget I even came here.  Alright, I'm getting up from my seat. What the hell is this? Eight Chinese people get on at the same time and one of them swings a dead duck by the neck. Excuse me, I need to get around here but the one with the duck gestures to the others with the duck and nails me in the neck with a duck leg just as the door closes.  Beautiful. Okay, relax. This is the Chinatown stop. Anybody's got a right to come on the subway with ducks or farm animals or whatever they want to bring. I'll just sit down where I was before, maybe read a paper or something. There's a Post down there hanging off the edge of an empty seat. Excuse me, mind if I read this paper? What? I can do whatever the fuck I want?  Thank you. Thank you very much. What a stand up guy.  Imagine if could do whatever I wanted to whomever I wanted at anytime I wanted. You know what? I'd probably roll this paper up and bang it against this guy's head. But no, the subway is place where you definitely gotta practice impulse control. Otherwise, you end up in a coffin before your time.

So, the paper says president Reagan's brain is being wired and controlled by a California astrologer. Shocking. I wonder what my chart has in store. It says, Be careful this month, major operations and serious accidents are likely. Just what I want to hear when I'm flying fifty miles an hour through a concrete tunnel.

"Hey, you wanna read this paper?"


"You're welcome."

Amazing what it does when somebody says thank you. It gives you faith in humankind. Up on the platform I see Trevor, Tom, and Bailey with their shoes filled with newspaper and their bottles filled with fire. The spit stained cement under the broken bench has been their home since I was a boy. We must be coming to a stop at ...


I'm still on the train. Scared as I am I may really have to take this ride.  How many stops are left? Bleecker, Astor, Fourteenth, Twenty third, then Thirty fourth - Penn Station. Penn Station, a place where people say either hello or goodbye. I wonder which one I'll be doing.  He told me to meet him there, at Penn Station. It was on the phone. He called me and declared, "I'm coming up to the city. Meet me at Penn Station," just like that. It felt like I'd been cold cocked and hammered to the floor.I know. I was the one who started it up, I wrote him the letter. I guess I thought the little envelope wouldn't reach him and he would never know and my words would just float in limbo like dust particles in the night.  But no, he called me right away, didn't waste any time. I knew who it was before he even said hello.  That was the amazing thing, a sixth sense in operation. The voice was carefree and tinged with a sardonic edge and the pauses, the laughs so unnervingly...familiar. We talked for ten minutes maybe, not much more and it was as if I'd known him for years. But it wasn't just that, it was as if we were able to read each other. I knew what he was going to say before he said it and he was ahead of me too but I didn't mind. We were like two people who'd been trapped in a small cabin for three months. When one twitched, the other knew why. A slight hesitation, a silent pause carried enough meaning to write a book. It was there.  We both knew it. And all this from someone I'd never spoken a full sentence to. But that can't be possible? It wasn't too long ago that I wanted to kill him. I don't mean that metaphorically either. I could have rammed a knife through his skull after what he did and I am not prone to that kind of violence. I suppose everybody has that special little someone in their life who's capable of crossing their wires and all of a sudden you're out of control, your heart lunges and your brain goes ballistic with sparks of momentary insanity. My body's shaking, look at this. My hands are all over the place and my knees are clattering together like a couple of old saucepans. Forget it man. I'm getting off this crate because it looks like we're about to stop at...


I'm off this train, If I go to Penn Station I pound this guy. Boom! He's down on the ground. That smack was twenty-four years in the making shithead. How's it feel? You want more? I got my left fist too. That's right, stay down there while I grind my heel into your fucking teeth.

"Bleeker Street." What's that?  "Step in."  Oh, the train conductor.  Christ!  What'm I doing on the platform?  "Step all the way in!" he says again. Alright, alright. You don't have to yell. How did I get out of this train? I know why I left but I don't remember putting one foot ahead of the other. I wanted out and my feet obeyed.  "Next stop Astor."  What're you gonna do? Flutter around and whimper on the platform? Get your sorry ass back on the train before the doors close. Hurry up, let me through, excuse me. Step all the way in. You heard the man. There go the doors. Just made it. Alright, I will stay on this train until it reaches Penn Station and I will face the music. Face the music. That's a good phrase. I wonder what the music will sound like, will it be a sweet ballad or will it be a banging headache. By all accounts, he was brilliant. Carnegie Hall, Royal Philharmonic, Broadway. Touring the world, his life must have been carefree and adventurous. I heard he had a stunning woman in each city he went to... London, Stockholm, St. Petersburg. A fine tuned violin is a very sexy instrument he used to say. A tiny female body tucked snug against your chin with quivering strings that sing with delight upon the slightest touch. Uh, huh. What a wordsmith. I'm sure it worked.  I can see it. Like a gypsy he prowls and whispers through Mozart's 40th, a passionate and mysterious piece that is both immediate and untouchable. The women sit in a crescent around him watching closely. Bit by bit he unwraps them until  they shiver and recline slowly revealing their young bodies and he ignores them with stinging perfection until he's ready to put his bow down and accept their reverence. Unbelievable. I guess if you have that kind of talent and allure you will get delicious offers like this everywhere you go. It must get so enticingly decadent that it turns a grown man into a three year old. I don't know...

"What now?" What's this?  "No thank you." C'mon I know you heard me.  You're standing an inch away.  "Huh." Now he's sticking a shiny red pencil in my face.  "I said no thank you." Look, if you were really blind I'd be happy to buy that pencil from you but the fact is I saw you driving a cab down Second Avenue last week. Gimme a break.  Then again, this is New York. I shouldn't be so jaded. A blind taxi driver here?  Absolutely. Think about it. I can see the cab company manager saying to

"Accelerator on the right, brake on the left. After you hear the doors close ask ‘where to'? Got that?" Then he's off. Whooosh. See the crowds scatter like live bowling pins. Speaking of which, who the hell hired this conductor? He's hitting the brakes awfully hard and people are getting thrown on top of each other. Through the screeching brakes I hear... a sax...and a base and some conga drums. It sounds like...


Easily my favorite stop. This used to be my old neighborhood. Artists, musicians, guerilla film-makers, people of all shades and cultures live here crammed into century old tenements. Most everybody here has got one thing in common. They are not rich. Maybe I'll bring him down here for the afternoon and we'll sip solace and cheap whisky down at Sophies or 7B. I got the impression that the man lives to drink heavily. He mentioned hard liquor a half dozen times in a ten minute conversation. Jack Daniels. I never thought of this but he's probably shitting in his pants right now.  Getting the courage up to talk to me will require at least a half bottle of sour mash. He'll have to stupefy himself, hide behind a wall of slosh. I should've thought of this earlier. I got the upper hand here, I'm sitting tight. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes, he's got a lot to answer for. There aren't any excuses. Talk is cut rate, performance is dear. The only thing he pulled off was a disappearing act. There's no looking sideways at it. Either you're there or you're not. He wasn't and that is the goddamn fact. He wasn't there for twenty four years. The questions are pretty easy. The answers I expect will take a lot of effort and I'll lay money he'll either try to avoid it all or weasel himself out of the hole he's in. Yeah, I can see it now.  He'll want to bitch about the Republicans all afternoon. He'll want to scream about doctors and lawyers and bankers and such. He'll tell me how the ruling establishment lines their silk pockets while the working man gets the shaft until he's lowered into a splintering pine box.

"It's all a fucking conspiracy man!" I remember him shouting over the phone. "Don't you realize what you're living in!" I put the receiver on my shoulder for a moment and then said,  

"No, what am I living in?"

"Dean," he answered with stinging condescension, "don't be so fucking provincial."  The man talked to me as if he'd known me for years, like I was his driveling little brother. Part of me like liked that. I never had an older brother.  But I draw the line at the holier than  thou horseshit,  especially from him. I'm glad we're coming to a stop.  The more I think about it, the sicker I get. When the door opens I may just puke.


Damn, look at all these people pile on. I better hold onto this bar for dear life.  Incredible. I love this. Check it out. The rainbow bench. We got a Hasidic sitting next to a Rastafarian sitting next to a blue mohawk sitting next to a Sikh sitting next to a Korean sitting next to a couple Latina girls sitting next to Sonny Corleone sitting next to a Wall Street broker sitting next to... I don't know what the hell that guy is. What a row. If this is what the provinces look like, I'd love to see the city. Look at my hand. Trembles like a leaf in an uncertain wind. My mother says that his hands were beautiful, expressive, and strong, that they held within them a unique talent. She took my hand in hers once and said, "You have his hands. It's an extraordinary gift. Never forget that."  She never spoke ill of him. When she spoke, she recounted events. Though the pain had subsided, the images in her mind were clear. He'd leave the house for days and his friends would take her out because they felt ashamed. And in the restaurant she saw him sitting comfortably with another woman. But it didn't stop there. He brought this other woman to her table and didn't bat an eyelash. He was on a date and my mother was tracing paper. She was barely even noticed while he carried on laughing and drinking. His best friend grasped my mother's hand under the table as if to say, we're with you not him. Or the time he left for a week on a drunken binge and came back home because he needed money. And I, who had just learned how to walk, went up to him and held my arms out, "Daddy...Daddy."  He brushed me aside and walked out the door. A week later he told my mother he had to leave.

"Why?" she asked.

"Because I've outgrown you," he answered and that was that. He was gone. No phone calls, no letters, no birthday presents, not one dime for twenty four years. Into thin air. What he grew into I have no idea. I do know he left a wife and baby in New York City with no money and none coming. And here I am on my way to see my father for the first time since I was  two years old which is to say for the first time in my life.


There's only one more stop. What'm I doing on this train?

You're going to see your father, genius.  

Alright, alright, I know.  I hate when the voice gets abusive.

Look, if it weren't for me, you wouldn't be on this train.

Yeah, I'd probably be in Central Park enjoying myself.

Every son should see his father. Father is the one who gives life.

Very prophetic, Mr. Voice, but I got news for you. Father is not the one who gives life. Dogs give life. Father is the one who gives love.

Maybe he does love you, he just hasn't been able to show it.

The man rejected me outright. That doesn't say love to me.

He was probably scared, just as scared as you are now.

I am not scared.

Right, that's why I heard your knees clanging around earlier. You're shaking so much I can hardly breathe.

Please, you know what? Some day I'd like to cut you out of the loop.

No chance.  Stop changing the subject.

I'm not changing the subject.

You want his love and you want to love him.

The man rejected me.

That's what makes it harder to admit

What if he rejects me again?

You'll have to take that risk.

You really think I want his love?

More than you fear his rejection. That's why you're still on this train.

...You're right.

Go out there and do us proud. This is the biggest day of your life.

Thanks for taking the pressure off.

You'll do fine.

Where you going?

I'm going to sleep.

You can't sleep.

I can do anything I want. Besides, you don't need me cluttering things up anymore.