Are Hell

Gone are the days when my heart had time for play
Gone are my friends from the ghettoes far away
Gone from this earth to a better place I know
I hear the gentle voices callin':
'Are you ready, Bo? It's time to go.'
Stephen Foster (with a friend)

"In the Ghetto, Crazy Bob got drunk, and shot Johnny 'cause Johnny wouldn't move his car so he could get his car out of this narrow driveway. For trying to protect Crazy Bob my friend Johnny lost his life. Now in the ghetto, when someone dies, it is customary to pass an oatmeal carton or something like that around to gather money for the funeral. Sarah, the head lady - who was a motherly type - for the blacks was in charge of the collection."

"it was a sad time and Sarah made it worse by stealing from the funeral expense fund. She was caught in the act. Stealing was ok in the ghetto if you were taking it from strangers, but the unwritten law was 'don't take from your own - especially the dead. Sarah was disowned by the neighborhood for that. What the poor lack in material goods, they made up for with a good soul. And ain't nothing or nobody 'bout to take that away."

"Working husbands were scarce in the ghetto. We got lucky with Tory. Mom's Norwegian ship-jumper. Tory was able to buy us furniture, a decent car and food for our table. Coming from the Old Country, Tory was able to buy us furniture, a decent car and food for our table. Coming from the Old Country. Tory was 100% honest, trusting and with him your handshake was your bond. He instilled a lot of these qualities in me. This brief part of my life was the best part of my life - although I never knew it at the time."

"The CETA program was paying me 165 dollars a month to attend school, so I signed up for mechanic training at City College. I even got a factory job on the graveyard shift (11.p.m. to 7a.m). School was 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All I needed now was some wheels of my own - or a loan so I could buy me a car."

"Tory owned a 1964 Chevy SS 327 4-speed, black and clean! He was selling it to get a Camaro for himself. He knew I wanted that Chevy b-a-a-a-d- Because I had been such a screw-up Tory sold it to his friend's son for only 300 dollars. I was crushed! Because I lived on my own now, with my new girlfriend, Marie, I had bills to pay. It tore me up that Tory wouldn't loan me 300 dollars 'to teach me about responsibility'."

"Tory had an old friend in New Orleans he planned to visit, so he took 2,000 dollars for 'whores and booze' money and asked me to drive him to the airport. 'I'm checking the milage' he warned me, knowing I'd be wanting to use the car (a five-year-old Caddy) while he was gone. 'Don't worry about that, I assured him'. 'Screw you too' was what I was really thinking, needing that car worse then he did."

"LAX - Los Angeles International Airport - was 55 miles away, so my mind got to wandering about possibilities on my way back home. And so I pulled a job - a store burglary - that very night in Tory's car. As I sped away someone got the first three numbers of the license plate."

"One week later Tory returned from his trip. In our back yard there was this avocado-tree - with avocados. Tory was drinking quite a bit and decided to climb this tree to get some avocados for his boss. He fell right out of that tree and broke his arm and his back."

"Hitchhiking home from work, 'cause I couldn't be trusted with the car, I arrived just in time to see him leaving in the ambulance. He wound up in a full-body cast when he finally got out of the hospital, a real sight to behold. About that time the police came to the door looking for poor Tory for the sore burglary he had nothing to do with. As they led him away, body cast an all, I remember thinking: 'Paybacks are Hell, ain't they?"

"Everything is funny as long as it's happening to somebody else.
Will Rogers, The Illiterate Digest
Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humor itself is not joy but
sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.
Mark Twain Following the Equator

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