Friday, April 29, 2005

Short Story Break 1

I wrote this story some time ago. It was rejected from some mystery magazines. I did do a minor polish on one or two scenes. Its short, tell me what you think. Thanks.


By Douglas Vance Castagna

Blood stained the sidewalk on West 57th street in front of the Brigadoon comedy club. It was one in the morning when the coroner arrived and pronounced the victim dead. The victim was carted away in the meat wagon fifteen minutes later. The police questioned the throng of people who had gathered to watch the scene unfold since the shooting. None of them had seen anything. When the news van came, and the reporter stepped out, combing his thick shiny black mane of hair and checking for remnants of food between his teeth by looking in the van's mirror, several eyewitnesses appeared out of the faceless crowd to be on television. The reporter stepped over the blood stains on the sidewalk to interview a short fat woman walking her little black poodle Fifi.

"I saw the whole thing," she said smiling for the camera. All she had to say however was something about how the Mayor was screwing up the city. The reporter moved on to the next person and asked him what happened, he to had nothing valid to say either, but he was much more photogenic.

Across the street in Krandall's deli sat the shooter eating a corned beef on rye with mustard and a slice of new pickle. Andrew looked up from his sandwich, there was a bit of mustard in the corner of his mouth and he wiped it away with his napkin.

He bit into a new pickle and remembered what he had done.

After the show he left the club, crossed the street and got into his car. He made a broken K turn on the corner, he was aware of the illegality of U turns. He pulled up in front of the club and let the engine idle. He reached into his glove compartment and pulled out the small .22 and checked to see if it was loaded. A few minutes went by as Andrew watched the club empty out.

Then he noticed the comedian who had been making fun of him all night. He remebered the teasing , the taunting in school by his classmates. He remembered they way his mother had always treated him. Like a child. She always treated him like that up until the very last breath she expelled while he choked the life from her. No one had ever made fun of him again. Not ever, and on the rare occasion that it did happen, it happened only once. He made sure of that.

All of these feelings It had been humiliating. I didn't even heckle him, he thought. Why did he have to be so mean to me? He choked back a tear and hardened his heart as he had known to do at such a young age.

Andrew slid over to the passenger seat and rolled down the window.

The comedian passed by a few fans and exchanged a couple of words. Then he moved on. The comedian was only a few inches from the car when Andrew stuck his head out of the car and yelled, "Hey funny man!"

The comedian looked up and smiled.

Andrew returned the smile and stuck the gun out of the window and began squeezing the trigger.

The first two bullet entered his chest above the heart, the next one ripped through his throat and the fourth one slammed into his face. The comedian crumpled to the ground without a sound.

Andrew jumped into the driver's seat and floored it.....

He was finished with his sandwich, and looking out the window of Krandall's he noticed that the news van had left. All but a few on lookers remained.

Andrew tipped the waitress and walked out into the street. He looked up at the sky as it had begun to rain. Andrew lifted the collar of his London Fog rain coat and crossed the street. He stood in front of the comedy club and looked down at the chalk outline on the ground and smiled, fully contented with how things had worked out. He even thought that the smell of cordite had been quite pleasant.

Looking up into the street he whistled for a cab. He did not feel like walking in the rain to his car that he parked a few blocks away.

The cab pulled up to the curb. It was a typical standard cab. Andrew hoped a big checkered cab would come by, the one he used to be taken in by his mother but remembered that they, like decent people in the city, were now extinct. Andrew sighed and got in, he paused for a moment and looked at the bloodstained sidewalk on West 57th Street in front of the Brigadoon comedy club. Soon the rain would wash it all away. Soon, Andrew thought, like the rain, he would wash the city clean. Tonight his work had just begun.

A Note About The Blog

Hi, I hope you are enjoying my posts as much as I do writing them. One thing of not some of these posts I save as draft to finish a few hours later, or in the case of What If She Had Given Me A Chance 2, I posted it a day later. It then goes on the blog the date and time I had originally began it. So on occasion you may have to scroll down a bit to check for new posts. Also, if you can please post comments on the entries you like, hate or could not care less about, it would be greatly appreciated. You can post a comment by clicking the comment icon under the entry.

Thank You

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Poetry Break 1

-D. V. Castagna

Why can't you see
that all that you do or say
is annoying me,
voices surround me,
words confound me,
escape from misery?

Thoughts of swimming in a bottle
or spike in my vein,
can they
keep me from going insane?

Or push me further along the edge
of death & life
causing more strife
razor against wrist
can end all of this
& deliver me to bliss
these thoughts are hard to resist
a fleeting idea of happiness...

There is no way out
There is no way out
There is no way out
.............. no way out

Life drains away in silence
& I ask justwhat was it all about.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

What If She Gave Me A Chance? Part TWO

I had heard she lived a few blocks from where I had moved too. I had left 44th street around April of 1993 and didn't really look back. I was playing phone tag with Maryann from the old neighborhood, who had said she ran into Dora's brother (half brother on her father's side) and he had given her his new number and Dora's as well. While I knew there was nothing to rekindle, I did think it would be cool to talk to her again.

I called her on my cell phone and she told me where she lived, since I was on the phone in my car driving home I drove down her block. She asked where I was and not knowing enough to lie, I said I was outside her apartment. She said to come on up. So I tried to squeeze my 1984 Delta 88 Royale Broughm into a parking spot, which is no small feat if you have ever seen one of those monstrosities.

I guess the decor of her place was post apocalyptic squalor. Empty beer and liquor bottles as well as overflowing ashtrays adorned the table and counter top. It wasn't the worst looking place I had ever been in, actually it wasn't even close, but it was pretty bad considering how I felt about her and what I had wished for her. She told me she was living with some guy she met at a bar who got her into her current profession, no get your mind out of the gutter.

She was a psychic reader on the phone. She did Tarot Cards and Readings at 2 bucks a minute. This was rather interesting because I know she has no innate psychic ability and she admitted as much, she would get a call and talk to the person, (after getting credit info and verification) and try to get a feel for the person and go from there. If she was buzzed or high she said that she would make stuff up as she went along. I hate to admit it but Dora was no Ms Cleo.

As I sat there and waited as she took a client over the phone I surveyed her life. She wasn't the hot and pretty girl I knew, she was now a young woman who looked older than her years, and also a bit unhealthy. With some unhealthy life choices and men choices. I wondered then if she were happy. I wondered what things be like if she had given me a chance back then. And in situations like this I usually project. I envisioned what life could have been like for her, for me, if we had gone that route and in every scenario it seemed better for me, for her, than it was now and instead of being happy that I had reconnected with an old friend I was left saddened by her life and what had become of it, and I hoped that she would get out of her rut and be the young and fiery woman with a thirst for life that I had once known.

After her call we gave one another a perfunctory kiss and promised to keep in touch. It was a promise we both broke. I did not see her again until a decade later.

What If She Gave Me A Chance? Part ONE

I had a crush on a friend from the old block named Dora (yes once again changed to protect the guilty or is that innocent?). She was good looking and had a nice body and was really cool to hang out with. Over the summer of I believe it to be 86 we used to hang out daily. My mother would let me take a few of her boyfriends beers and me and Dora would drink and bullshit and share ideas, poetry and our love for the Doors and metal music. Some of the other guys would think she was a weirdo, but that didn't bother me. The only thing that did bother me was that she was pot head.

She got her stash from her cousin, who has since died of a drug overdose (or so I am told) and she would smoke daily if not several times a day. She even tried to get me to ride shotgun with her or smoke on my own, though I never acquiesced. I liked her and thought that maybe we could go to the next level, but I had recently had a bad experience doing that with a close female friend and when it didn't work out our friendship had crumbled and we drifted apart.

So I needed an intermediary. (yeah sounds so high schoolish, but that's were I was so I figured what the hell) During the day me and Dora hung with Maryann, who was unoccupied because she usually just spent the days waiting for her boyfriend Redd to come around, or just watched her soaps with her mother. She was in a wheelchair and when wed go out I would ofter wheel her around and Dora sat in her lap. So I would be wheeling both of them around.

One day when Dora wasn't around I set my plan into motion asking Scare (what we called Mary Ann) to find out if there was a chance that Dora would go for it, you know to think of me as more than a friend. I don't know exactly what transpired but the word back to me was that I was too nice for her and it wouldn't work.

Now I had gotten that before but this time it had hurt, so I did some childish things like stand her up or not remember something she asked me, and I would just reply ( when accused I had done it on purpose) that I couldn't do that, I was too nice. <---see I can be a bastard.

Anyway she soon had to move off to her mothers (her parents were divorced and she was living with her father for the summer. And we said our good byes and and promised to keep in touch though the reality was that we never met again until 1995.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Supposed, Upcoming 44th Street Reunion 2

Geek or Mike G as I affectionately called him used to use at least a can of hairspray in his hair daily and his ears would prick up like a dog who has heard a silent whistle whenever his grandfather came out and whistled for him to come home. He had lived on the other end of the block and would often hang out on my stoop.

Mikey Ideas as Redd and I called him was named after we asked him, or rather red asked him about a bandage he had on his finger. Redd asked him, "Hey Mike, cut yourself shaving?"
Mike looked rather amazed and said, "How did you know?" It turned out that he said when he was shaving the razor got matted with hair so he ran his thumb and finger along it to clear the offending stubble, and well, cut himself shaving."

Brian who would often puntualte every sentence with, Hey bud, was an alcoholic who worked at RX unlimited on the corner. He was a nice and well meaning guy that eventually got into harder drugs. One time he and I got suckered in a caper to steal a boat motor. (that story I will get into only if its requested of me)

Now I was of course included in this cavalcade of curiosities, and well we are our own worst critic, as well as we tend to shine a light on ourselves so we may appear to be better than we truly are, or were. So you will have to judge for yourself through my many upcoming posts.

Car Inspection

So I am driving around with an uninspected car, sorry, Jeep. Remember you drive a car, I use a Jeep. Blah Blah. The drivers seat broke over a year ago. And while it is fairly stable, (I have two books I swiped from my job holding up one side if the seat, and a few paperbacks I bought from the library holding up the other side.) Now I know how to get into the car, very gently, so as not to disturb the books. Anyone else, including my wife, just throws themselves in and BAM, the books shift and the seat is like a tilt a whirl.

I admit, not the safest thing to drive, but last year it passed inspection. It was a bit more sturdy and the guy doing the inspection did not throw himself into the seat with the fervor of someone playing musical car seats. That was not the case this year. They would not pass it. Here in Pennsylvania you need an inspection AND emissions, which are two separate stickers that are placed on the window. I have one. Not the other.

The dealer wants over 700 bucks for a new seat and over 200 for the mounting brackets. Who knows how much to install the friggin thing. I could not afford that. 1000 bucks. For a seat. Damn, I got my last car for that. So I turned to the only place I could for help. The internet. I posted at Jeep sites and got help. I was directed to some sites, and the price was halved.

So far so good, I am waiting for the seat to come in the mail with the brackets, and well now I only need to know how to install the thing and I am set, then it is off to get reinspected. How much you want to bet now they will find more things wrong with the Jeep?

If it didnt suck........

Lost Posting Along I 895 S

I was going to write a rather pithy story here about driving down to DC to see my friend, who also was my Best Man at my wedding. I was going to talk about a moment of realization that came to me while I was driving through the Harbor Tunnel when Survivor’s Desperate Dreams came on. A sense of melancholy had swept over me and I began forming some rather cogent metaphors for the ramshackle shed that is my life. However, as I was ruminating on the verbiage of both fact and purple prose I exited the tunnel and what was a sunny morning had now turned to a ghastly gray pallor, and I realized damn, this sucks. And I forgot my composure. So what would have surely been an awesome and awe-inspiring post is now lost somewhere along I895 S on the way to DC. If you find it email it to me……

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


A brief interlude from my rantings. This is the opening of a memoir I have written. Feed back would be greatly appreciated.

I have often heard people say that they wanted to die with dignity. What does that mean? Illness robs of this, as does advanced age. So how does one die with dignity? I ruminated long and hard over this saying as I stood in the cramped cluttered kitchen of my Aunt Harriett who had expired hours earlier. Looking around the small sparsely furnished one and one half room apartment, there seemed to be only a fleeting vestige of a life lived. It seemed hollow, sad, empty, and that is what it was. I was estranged from my Aunt for quite some time, but she was a big bold and brash woman who was always overbearing. While her boisterous and almost always obnoxious personality managed to attract many people to her, she had no close friends, and so, like many people, died alone in her lonely little apartment.

She was sitting at the window in the kitchen overlooking the debris filled courtyard and was in the process of peeling a grapefruit when her heart exploded. Or at least a blood vessel in her heart had burst. That is what the cause of death was, a pulmonary embolism. It came on suddenly, quietly, and without warning. Now I know sometimes Doctors say, that someone did not suffer when maladies like this occur, but do they really know? Pain for no matter how brief a moment when it strikes is, depending on the severity, sufferable. So I hold little confidence in the words of someone who tries to comfort the living by saying that their loved one did not suffer. I am sorry if you were disillusioned and by no means take my word for it, it is merely my opinion. Though sometimes I am inclined to believe it only insofar as that life is so cruel, so arbitrary, that when one is about to be deprived of our only gift, our life, and if we are alone when it happens it should be without pain. Without suffering. That would not make it all right but it would make it fair. Though I know no one ever said life was fair. But don’t get me started about that.

I wondered about the fairness, or the justness, of someone dying in their kitchen, slumped over on the windowsill, looking as though they were merely napping. I wondered about that and about what legacy a person leaves when they die. I thought about a sonnet by Shakespeare, that discusses the love he had, and says as long as the poem exists, people will know of the love and that their love and memory will live on. What happens when someone has no family, no loved ones, no friends. Is it as though they never existed?

My mind was filled with a myriad of disjointed thoughts as I looked through the apartment for paperwork, insurance, any valuables that lied around, anything that would prove her existence to the world. While there may have been something before, there was nothing now, because before I was notified a neighbor had discovered her body, called me, but before I arrived I knew that everybody in the building had come in and ransacked the place. I only knew this for certain because of two things. Three actually. Her television was gone, and her Harriett ring, worn on her left ring finger was not on her hand. She had gotten that ring on her 18 birthday and never ever took it off, it was now off her finger for the fist time in forty years. The final clue as to the grave robbing ghouls being there first was that her new linen was stripped from the bed, no where to be found. Only a bare, broken and stained mattress, no laundry basket with the linen. Nothing. That too was gone. So is this the remnants of dying with dignty? To have your bed clothing stolen, and the ring you loved so much wrenched off your hand? Does anyone no matter what kind of person they were in life deserve this in death?

For as much pain as my Aunt caused me and her family, which included my grandmother, who died years prior, and my mother, whom I recently just lost, she lived a rather short, unhappy life riddled with illness. I did not know all about her, but I knew enough about her through my mother and through the summer I spent with her some twenty years prior. I was eight years old and my mother had a new boyfriend. His name was Fred and he drove an ambulette. So, since she just started to get serious with him she wanted to spend time with him, and figured that summer would be coming up, I would be out of school and she could pawn me off on my Aunt. I know that may sound harsh, but that is what it felt like she was doing. I had hated my Aunt, mainly because I was afraid of her. Her volume level was permantely broken so she always yelled. She wasn’t hard of hearing, she just liked to yell. She liked to yell, and she liked to hit. So I feared her. I guess the hate didn’t come until later, until after that summer, and that was all I could think about while I stood there, alone, in the middle of this apartment, looking at a sad woman who caused much sadness. I was eight years old and I was about to stay my Aunt for six weeks that summer.....

Monday, April 18, 2005

Supposed, Upcoming 44th Street Reunion

So the other day I was on line and someone I know from the old neighborhood IMed me. You know in the tech age IMing is just as good as running into them on the corner, only you don't actually have to see them, or have them see you and the mess, or success you have become. So Mare, or Scary Ann as she is affectionately known let me know about a reunion that is in the works. I can only imagine that it will be the equivalent of the best of the neighborhood block party or something like that. In any rate after Iming, we spoke briefly and I was reminded of some of the people that I knew from the block and wondered if I wanted to see these people after I escaped...I mean after I moved away years ago.

It was a truly interesting place to live, some of the people were truly characters, there was a guy who lived with an endless procession of transexuals. She males. This, while now seems to be intriguing to a multitude of internet porn fans, it was, how can I put it gently..FUCKING WEIRD to a kid who didn't know what it was at the time. I remember sitting on my stoop playing some kind of board game and two of them walked by, a savvy older kid made a rude comment to one of them, who looked like some sleazy looking woman, and one turned around, and grabbed he/she/its crotch and with a deep voice suggested that my friend suck him off. Those two and many others passed through our block, and eventually one, named Tanisha came by who seemed like a genuinely nice person, and while I am not commenting on the lifestyle, or pretend to know anything about the transgendered, the ones on the block before her seemed like nothing more than prostitues. Tanisha suffered some beatings from the hands of her live in lover/landlord and disappeared months later.

Ally, Paco and Rabane (not their real names) lived in an apartment on the block and one was a drunk, one a nutcase on SSI (don't act like you don't know what it is) and another a low priced whore. (sorry that isn't politically correct, she was a cut rate call girl) She primarily was in the service industry, that is servicing the police and garbage men daily. Every day at various intervals a police car would park or double park in front of the apartment and one of the officers would go up into the apartment and about twenty minutes later (sometimes longer but usually shorter intervals of time would elapse when) he would come down and sometimes his partner would go up. The same tag team fucking could be said of the sanitation workers when they were on their scheduled route, at times we would even have bonus visits from our G men, though they never did pick up the trash on those days.

The older of the brothers had a penchant for younger girls he was in his twenties and used to cruise by the middle schools to pick up chicks. Many nights the police would come by looking for him. When not contributing to the delinquency of minors he and his brother would rip off cars, replace the tags with ones they found in the junkyard, prime them black and drive them. Well I know what you're thinking and yes, they did get picked up by the police on more than one occasion.



C is the big blog ! I can't wait to c the latest ! Thanks for looking out for all of your fans !!!! - Tafkaj7

Thank you for your comment.

Today's post concerns the same thing that all previous and future posts will focus on and that is me. Sorry for appearing egocentric, but that is how it has to be sometimes.

Anyway today I wrote a poem while awaiting what I call "THE 100 MINUTES OF DEATH" or what is known as staff development for teachers. It is a mind numbing and way too large block of time in which we are herded into a usually uncomfortable room to be developed in what claims to be advantageous to us, but what really is, on the whole, detrimental. We are forced to stay in school, after several long and arduous hours of incessant pedagogy only to be forced to be spoken to and treated as if we, the supposed professionals, were in fact students ourselves. Now I know that we are "life time learners" and all that party line dribble, but GIVE ME A DAMN BREAK, if we were really the students for this we should treat our admin, who in all actuality rather not be there either, as the students (some, not all, you got to be careful for sweeping generalizations nowadays) treat us. You know such things as pulling out our cell phones or cd or mp3 players, or ipods, or going up to them and saying something classy like "FUCK YOU MOTHERFUCKER" all in a way to make them feel cozy and at home as if they are teaching a class of students, albeit an older and less active bunch, but students nonetheless.

My vent is over, its just that I guess the time should be spent more constructively, or the information disseminated by other means. Today one piece of the presentation was actually useful and (I am truly shocked to admit it) will love to try it in my class soon. The problem was this could have been done in about twenty to twenty five minutes, it was not necessary for 100 minutes. In those minutes I died of the heat, throttled my presenter, pictured a colleague or two naked and in many compromising situations, and when it was over, there was still a group activity for us to do! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Anyway Mayor DOOMSBERG and BOZO DeKLEIN have totally taken control of the BOE turned into the fifth Reich DOE, and unfortunately have irrevocably wrecked and ethnicity the terminally ill educational system. Congress fought to keep others alive when someone pulled the plug, this time they let these two come in the room execute the patient.

But I am not bitter, Oh No, I love my job, and getting developed and Mikey, enjoy the next few months your time is up at the mansion.

The truly sad thing, and I am not being altruistic by any means is that the damage that these two have wrought over the entire system will take many new administrations to fix.

And who truly suffers.........

Until next time

Sunday, April 17, 2005


On the anniversary of my pilgramage to PA, I think back on what I may or may not be doing at this very moment if I were still in Brooklyn. Probably the same thing. As I sit here and type and wipe honey mustard from my fingers I also ruminate on what a beautiful day it is and wonder why I am sitting here like an idiot, indoors, typing this incessant drivel? Who knows, I surely don't, if I did I would be getting paid the big bucks. Future posts will have a purpose I promise you this.
I am working on my memoirs or at least I should be, that is the project I plan on finishing this summer, or at least I hope to, since my novel is just gathering dust maybe this will be my crowning glory, though I cant think of anyone who would want to read about someone like me, I am a thirtysomething married HS english teacher that has fueled no fires to date, climbed no mountains, righted no wrongs, but is as opinionated as all hell when it comes to things I think about. Actually I think about a lot of things like the price of tea in China, or the amount of lumber that a woodchuck would go through if given his druthers.
A main reason why I never updated my website is that I met my wife around the time I stopped updating my posts and well ironically enough though we met on the internet she doesnt want her picture or for me to write anything about her on my site, so well the only point of updating it would have been that, well not the only reason but the main reason, so I just stopped. Then again abandoning projects is something that it doesnt take much effort to be good at right?
I went to a Chinese/penny auction the other day, why is it called a Chinese or a penny auction anyway? I want to know, they sold no asian products, nor asians for that matter, and the prices for tickets far exceeded the penny. I actually won though so I will let them slide this time. I won to things that I dont really want or need, but things I thought my wife would like, I guess she did because she didnt throw them out or ask me to put them in my storage unit. They are sitting in the den under the window that is now opened because of the wonderful weather that we are having here, and here I sit, indoors typing.

Welcome To My World

This is the first posting and the grand opening of my blog, I have a pseudo defunct site at that I have long since abandoned updating. It isn't difficult to do, just time consuming. This appears to be so much easier, but who knows I probably will tire of this too. Oh well, I guess I am just lazy.

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