Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Business at Bartleby's (Dive's Writing Challenge)

Then, suddenly, with great clarity and precision, he saw Bartleby's window and the blank brick wall before him."

“That’s our turf now! That territory has been claimed!”

He slipped out of the community clinic waiting room into the hallway, reaching urgently into his jeans pocket. He quickly grabbed his cellular and pushed #3 on the speed dial. He didn’t have to wait long.


”Yo, Ant, I need to see, immediately.”

“What’s goin on?”

“We in business, man. Can’t talk now... I’ll catch you later...probably in about 45.”


Anthony was a man of few words. Most people didn’t get him. But Aaron knew him better than anybody. They grew up together in this shithole of a neighborhood. He knew Ant was “gifted”. Just not in the academic sense.

As Aaron eased his way back into the waiting room, he checked the service monitor. Number “45” was being served. Momma was holding ticket #46 and giving him a major stink-eye.

“Where the hell did you get off to? You going all the time! You always so damn secretive. My number is almost up and you know I can’t run around looking for you in my condition.”

Aaron shrugged and looked at Momma without making eye contact. He couldn’t stand to look at her now. Ever since she got hooked up to that oxygen tank she needed Aaron for everything.

Momma’s appointment lasted all but 15 minutes. The doc looked at her, all the while shaking his head. He looked down his nose at Aaron.

“Emphysema is totally preventable. If your mother quit smoking twenty years ago, she wouldn’t be sick like this. You kids around here don’t seem to get that. Don’t they teach you anything in these public schools?”

Aaron just smiled and nodded his head. Momma might not look like much but she did a fine job teaching him manners. He tuned out Dr. Jones and his kind a long time ago. Besides he had other, more important things on his mind.

Back home Aaron was quick to get Momma inside. He started the pot and fetched her cup. She was breathing hard. He pulled out the Entenmann’s coffeecake and poured cold milk into the flowered, porcelain creamer. She seemed a little more comfortable sitting at her kitchen table.

“You be alright mom? I gotta run.”

“There you go again. Always running. If I didn’t know better I’d think you was dealing drugs.”

“I love you too, Momma.”

Aaron slinks out the back door. He has to hop two fences to get to Ant’s. Ant answers the door wearing an old white beater.

“You got the piece?”

“What piece you talking about man? I hope it’s not what I’m thinking.”

The Graffiti piece. Remember the mural you planned?

I spoke to Mr. Bartleby and he’s gonna let us paint it on his wall! He’s gonna pay us man!

“He’s gonna pay us?”

The boys ascend smiling into a simultaneous high-five.

“ YES! We ARE in business!”


dive said...

Whew! You built the tension to such a screamingly awful point, Neetzy, and then slapped me hard with a happy ending.


I love the dialogue. Writing in vernacular can be tricky but you've got it down (ah, the mother of teenage kids … hee hee).

Wonderful stuff, especially on second reading where all the love and hope sneaks out and makes us smile.

Scout said...

I really like the devoted son breaking all stereotypes. And the ending is just perfect—very refreshing and hopeful.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Realistic dialog. Nice!

Shazza said...

That was great Anita!!! Loved it!

neetzy said...


Thanks. My teenagers don't talk like this (thankfully), but quite a few of my students do! At least I got to exactly 500 words this time!

Scout, Thanks so much. There are a lot of these kids who are nice "underneath it all".

Thank you. I am surrounded by this talk all the time. It' nice to finally put it to use!

Why thank you.