i woke up when I wanted to-
a 16 year old with no job, no responsibilities
other than to show up on time for
band practice.
that was easy enough, as our band practiced
in the basement of my mom’s house.

“you had better come home with a job today. If not, say hello to living with your father!”
that was the worst thing I could hear from my mother. whenever my brother or I truly fucked up,
it was the final threat to bring us back in line.
moving into my fathers house was a death sentence,
not in a literal manner,
but rather within the long term scope of our lives.
my brother and I were acutely aware of that,
a curious side effect of divorce.

at 11am that same day, Alex called me. he had found “the amp” that would
catapult our nascent rock group to the next level.
his search led him to an ad in the Bargain News,
a weekly print magazine that was the craigslist of it’s time.
455 Whalley Avenue. New Haven.

we set out in Alex’s 1971 Pontiac in search of the near future.
as the salesman moved four dust ridden amps out of the way,
the Roland JC120 was revealed to us.
it was a shining purity amongst the detritus of the other equipment in the room,
no doubt bought and discarded by a wealthy gold coast family
who had succumbed to the momentary whims of an obsessed teen.
that was as far from our reality as possible.
Alex was the actual recipient. he had paid his early dues.

after more cash changed hands than I had ever previously witnessed,
we loaded the amp into the Pontiac. unfortunately, the car wouldn’t start,
even as Alex valiantly attempted to get the engine to ignite.
i tried not to be overbearing as the episode took shape,
but after the first hour, I couldn’t help but plead with him,
as if my words could somehow transmit the power to start the car into Alex’s hands.

“i have to get a job today before I go home tonight! we have to get back to town!
i’m seriously jeopardizing everything here…..”

the engine started.
we should be back in town by 6pm.

my 6th grade teacher spent his summers
as the maître d’ at one of the local restaurants.
with less than an hour to spare
to secure my first position of employment,
i had no choice but to plead with Mr. Z to help me
procure a dishwashers job
at the restored Inne, where he charmed each diner
with an effortless grace, his voice illuminating the spaces of any conversation.

i was introduced to the head chef and his assistant,
my outstretched hand was not reciprocated in the dark of the
basement tavern.
that traditional slight made no difference to me,
as I walked up the steep valley side
from the riverbed
to our house on the ridge. i was ready to confront my mother, having the gold
coin she needed as proof,
in my handmade canvas pouch.

“did you get a job today?” she shouted at me as I entered the kitchen, mired within the expectancy of
payback time.

“i start at the Packer Inne, doing dishes, tomorrow night.”
“i’ll call your father and tell him you won’t be coming over tomorrow.”

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