Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

Anthony’s Story

In Guest stories, Keeping hope alive, Soup Kitchen Stories, Stories, The worst of times, Uncategorized on October 10, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Anthony2

Soup Kitchen Guest Anthony was born in South Carolina but came to New York with his family as a child. One of seventeen children, his home life was troubled from an early age. “I came from a dysfunctional family: alcohol, drugs, prostitution,” he says. “When I got a little bit older, I took that on too. I first sold drugs when I was nine years old. Then I started cutting school.”

Anthony was eventually taken away from his parents and lived in various group homes and with different foster care families. Having no family or stable living situation, he turned to drug use to cope with his sadness, confusion and fear. By the time he was 18 he had become homeless, living on the streets of Midtown, and was addicted to drugs.

“I was bouncing back and forth between detox, using drugs, and sleeping on the streets,” he recalls. It was during this time that he first found Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, and started visiting every day to eat. Though he wasn’t yet ready to accept the help that he needed, those meals helped keep him alive until he could find the strength to make a change.

Sadly, it would take a long time before Anthony would make a full recovery. Just as he left the foster care system, and now an adult, he spiraled even further, ending up in prison for 15 years. By that point Anthony had become a father himself, but he had no contact with his children. After completing his sentence he was released with no support system in place, he quickly returned to homelessness and drug use.

His turning point came in 2012, when a little girl gave him a dollar. She said that her mother had told her to give it to him because he was “a bum.”

“I had enough money to buy drugs that night, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it,” he remembers. He had always refused help from homeless outreach workers, preferring to stay on the street and continue to use drugs, but that night, when their van pulled up and they offered to take him to shelter, he got in.

“It was 6 degrees below zero when they picked me up,” he says. “I had no shoes. I hadn’t showered in five months. I was embarrassed.” When he got to the shelter he was greeted at the front door and offered something to eat. He told them all he wanted was to take a shower.

“I stayed in that shower for over an hour,” he remembers. “When I came out, I looked like a raisin.”

That long, hot shower was Anthony’s first step toward accepting help and turning his life around. He went through detox and stayed clean this time, then moved on to get his own apartment in a supportive housing unit, which he shares with his two dogs that once lived with him on the streets. Now he is even reunited with his children, after many years with no contact.

“It took a long time to build up their trust because they all thought I would go back to using drugs,” he says. “It started with just conversations here and there. Now they’re always coming over to my apartment.”

Today, the soup kitchen is a place where Anthony can find a meal, but it’s also more than that. “God knows I’m grateful,” he says.  “I come here to stay grateful.” After years of homelessness and time spent in prison, the soup kitchen is a reminder of how far he’s come, and that there is some stability in the world, a place that didn’t give up him, where he can find community and kindness.

“I have people depending on me now. My kids trust me. I trust me, and that’s the most important thing.”

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Allen’s Story

In Soup Kitchen Stories, Stories, Uncategorized, Volunteer Stories, Who on August 22, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Allen SKS

Five year volunteer Allen Arthur remembers his first day at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, shortly after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012. Before working the tray station, he was quickly welcomed during the morning volunteer social hour. “A group of people saw me sitting alone and said ‘Come over and sit with us.’”

His motivation for coming back each week is simple; he loves being of service to others.

“I believe every time we feed somebody, they have another chance,” he says. “That meal could be the meal they have in their stomach when they go to a job interview.”

He remembers meeting one such guest while working the front door as a greeter. “He was working this job and they weren’t paying him. It was really hard, but he was interviewing for another job.” When the guest came back two weeks later, he told Allen “I got the job! I think you were my good luck charm!”

After Allen had been volunteering for a couple of years, he was asked to take on more responsibility as a volunteer coordinator. “It’s been a joy. It allows me more time to chat with volunteers and has freed me up to speak with more guests.”

Through his volunteer service, Allen finds parallels to his work as a journalist and his stories about the criminal justice system. “The people who come here aren’t just numbers, they’re stories,” he says. “And the first thing about those stories is that it’s never the stereotypical story about why they’re homeless or why they’re at a soup kitchen.”

Allen has also been one of our dedicated Fast-A-Thon fundraisers. “The Fast-At-Thon is an almost spiritual experience for me.” says Allen. “Many people walk around NYC and take for granted that we can go in and eat the thing producing that delicious smell….Imagine being confronted with all that and being totally unable to participate.”

What really sets Holy Apostles apart, Allen says, is the welcoming atmosphere and the kindness of the many dedicated volunteers.

“We’re doing this because we feel some combination of love, dedication, and obligation, some calling to this. That feeling that this place really has peoples’ backs, that’s important to me.”

Markus’s Story

In Guest stories, Soup Kitchen Stories, Stories, Uncategorized on July 10, 2017 at 5:48 pm

Markus soup kitchen storiesAspiring substance abuse counselor Markus first came to the soup kitchen a year ago after moving to New York from Rhode Island. He had just been accepted into an NYC program that provides housing assistance and other government benefits to people living with HIV and AIDS. But with no financial safety net to fall back on, and limited support through the program, Markus soon realized he was not able to afford to buy food and was struggling to provide for his needs.

“I had no food or health care,” he says. “I was emancipated from my family and had no social network to support me.”

One day while walking down 9th Avenue he saw a line of people stretching down the sidewalk in front of the soup kitchen and decided to go inside.

For Markus, the soup kitchen has provided more than just a daily meal. As a full time-student, the haircut and clothing vouchers help him look nice and well-groomed for class, and he enjoys the company of the “fabulous staff” and volunteers. A recovering addict, it has also provided a positive environment that motivates him to stay clean.

“The soup kitchen helped me when no one else could help me,” Markus says. “It has shown me true compassion.”

Today, Markus, who just turned 30, is optimistic about his future. He has his own small apartment in the Bronx and is only three months away from finishing his certification to become a Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor.

“A lot of my family has substance abuse issues,” says Markus, “and drug use is how I became HIV positive. I want to help others like myself.” He also hopes to start volunteering at the soup kitchen soon.

“I owe a lot to this place,” he says. “That’s why I keep coming back. This place has given me hope.”

The Fedora

In fiction, Stories on July 7, 2016 at 1:36 pm

fedora

 

There was a man on the corner outside my window across the street from the Third Avenue El. He wore a tan, belted rain coat and a brown felt Fedora. He seemed pensive, preoccupied. I don’t think he was waiting for anyone. It seemed more likely that he found he needed to stop and think a bit, and so he did. Right there.

It was a hot summer’s day and we didn’t have air conditioning. Almost nobody did and so the windows overlooking the streets of our railroad flats were where we spent our days hoping for a breeze, any small hint of moving air.

I had watched Mr. Perkins in 5B wait on the same corner. He waited for a friend, a spouse, his eight year old son—I couldn’t be sure because at one time or another all seemed to appear beside him. He never traveled very far—they all came to him because he used a walker and on Thursday afternoons, the one day I guess he could afford an aide, a uniformed woman would be by his side.

Over time I had watched him grow less and less able, walking slower and slower until one day he was no longer at the corner.

Jessie’s Gyp Joint was the store in front of which the man in the Fedora stood. His hands rifled through his inside coat pocket until he found his pack of Lucky Strikes, turned the pack upside down tapping it until one cigarette protruded. He lit it and I watched the end turn bright orange, the edge of the paper ashen and he blew out the first puff through his mouth and nose simultaneously.

He was a tall man and lean with an aquiline nose and dark, close-set eyes and an inquisitive turn of the lips. Whatever he had been thinking of seemed to have been thought successfully because his face lightened away from the intensity. He seemed almost to smile at himself.

My own father left when I was three. I vaguely remembered his scent, one of cigarettes—the first puff, the first heady smell of tobacco that made me cough, then laugh. That is the only memory I have.

Every man that comes to that corner of Third Avenue and 85th Street reminds me that I have never had a father and makes some longing stir in me and some imaginings rise up.  A man I conjure up out of a simple, long ago scent and the sight of a suited man holding a Lucky Strike.

There is a green pole upon which the stop and go signs light up alternately alongside an overfilled trash can.  The man with the Fedora steps aside as a homeless man approaches and begins rifling through the trash.  He finds a discarded cup and raises it to his lips on the off chance there is anything left in it. A glass coke bottle is lucky—about two small sips remain and  then the dark liquid disappears from the very pale green hue that washes over the bottle in the sunlight. He unwraps paper after paper and peeks into brown sandwich bags withdrawing empty butcher wrap.

I watch as the man in the Fedora watches him and I’m not quite able to make out his expression. I can’t read him—whether he is angry or disgusted or sympathetic and I feel frustrated because, for some reason now, it is imperative for me to know.  Then I see him reach into his raincoat pocket and pull some change which he extends to the man by the garbage.  The man thanks him and heads to Jessie’s Gyp Joint from which he emerges seconds later chewing on a candy bar.

The man in the Fedora once again is lost in thought.  The afternoon heat is rising and I wonder how he can stand in suit and coat and hat, but I think he is like my uncle Lennie who also keeps the formality of suit and tie no matter how hot it is.

I feel the small stream of perspiration run from my temple down to my jaw line, then drop from my face onto my lap. My tee shirt and shorts stick to me. My breath is hot, and smells from the street are rising now in the heat wafting up to me. The rank smell of summer streets. Urine from doorways, dog shit. The hot dog vendor’s sauerkraut, the accumulated garbage in the sacks in front of the buildings. Piles of them, open cardboard boxes with debris and rancid garbage.

It is funny I think to myself, that I never particularly watch the women.  I am only vaguely aware of women passing in their checkered Peck and Peck suits; their hair in bobs and page boys their chunky heels tap taping the grey sidewalks. I’m aware when Mrs. Finch in 3C walks her two Pekinese Chu Chin and Chow Toy. They are ugly little dogs, I think—but God knows I would never tell her—their faces smashed in; tongues hanging out; long brown and black hair. They pant, and drool trickles down their tiny heads. It makes me feel as if their ratty fur is in my mouth and I want to spit in some automatic reflex to it.  But, mostly unaware of the women, I am always aware of the men, and it is not lost on me that I am always looking for a father—but not just any father—my father.

The man on the corner in the Fedora fiddles with his wristwatch now, raises it to his ear as if to make sure it is ticking. Time must be going very slowly for him.  It is for me too. Last year when I was still in grade school it seemed days went quickly and I was always running out of them. Now, with my new awakening to longing, they move slowly but inevitably.

Finally, the man in the Fedora looks up. He sees me. I think to wave even tentatively because probably he needs encouragement to come up here.  So eventually I wave and he waves back and smiles but he doesn’t move.  It is one of those smiles that admits to someone being cute,  a child, and is somewhat dismissive. I am certain he must know who I am.  I am certain he must come upstairs after long, long last.  He lights another cigarette and I can smell it as I used to, and it makes me cough then giggle.  He is moving now, removing his hat for just a minute as he wipes the sweat from his bald head with his handkerchief than replaces the Fedora to his head.

He steps off the curb now and across the street towards what must be my building and I lose sight of him. After all these years I know he is coming back, and now crossing the street to ring the bell downstairs. And I wait in the heat in the darkening flat for the ring. But there is only silence.

-Annie Quintano

Friends

In humor, Stories on May 12, 2016 at 6:10 pm

rolls royce

            Harold, Marty and Murray were sitting on a park bench one morning as they always do, drinking their coffee. Suddenly a Rolls stopped before them, and stood for a while. Then a well-dressed man came out of the car, and asked for Marty Spencer.

Then Murray asked, “Who wants to know?”

The man said, “Bill Harrow.”

When Murray responded with, “Bill Who?,” the man said, “That’s not important. I just want to talk to Marty. Say you in the middle—you never looked at me since I got out of the car, so you must be Marty.”

Marty said, “Why you say that?

The man replied, “Cause I think you know who I am.”

“No sir, I never saw you before.”

The man said, “That’s right.” Then he asked, “Do you remember Doris Simmons?”

Then Marty said, “Doris from 138th Street? Yes, I knew her about 40 years ago. I haven’t seen her in so long.”

“Ha-ha,” the man laughed. “Well, Marty Spencer,” the man held his hand out for a handshake, “pleased to meet you finally. My name is Bill Spencer, your son. Doris, my mother, is sitting in the car. Come here, Mama.”

After a couple of seconds the Rolls Royce door opened, and a woman appeared in a long dress with diamonds around her neck and a large diamond on her wedding ring finger. She also had a white turban-like hat on her head.

She stood erect, and Bill said, “Mother, this is my father.”

She said, “I know.” Then she started, “You dirty son of a….”

Then Bill said, “Mother, watch your tongue. We spoke of this before. We will be civil to each other.”

Then an unusual thing happened. She clasped her hands, as if she were praying. Then she bowed before Marty, and said, “Please forgive my outburst. I apologize for my error in judgement. Please forgive me.”

There is more to this story. If you believe it.

 

The End

by George Cousins

DNA

In fiction, Stories on March 18, 2016 at 2:48 pm

 

 

criminal_genes

                    James Small lives with his grandmother in the projects uptown. So one night she asked him to go the store to get a few items. She gave him the money.

On the way outside he met on the stairs his friend Herbie. So they both went to the store. He made his purchase, and he got two Coca Colas, one for himself and the other for his friend.

They took his grandmother her stuff, and told her they were going for a walk in Central Park. So she said, “Go ahead, but remember that tomorrow is a school day.”

He said, “Yes.”

They started to walk in the Park, and had got about a quarter of a mile. They saw a man running towards them. He ran into the bushes to avoid them. They thought nothing of it, so they continued their conversation about basketball.

All of a sudden they saw a pair of headlights coming towards them. It was a police car.  So it stopped.  Two cops got out and started frisking them. Then they handcuffed them and threw them in the back seat of the squad car. They drove further into the park, where they saw an EMS van with a woman, who had been bleeding, with the EMS workers attending to her.

So they pushed the workers aside, grabbed James by the arm, and asked her, “Is it him?”

She pointed at James, and said, “Yes, that is the one who raped me.”

Both boys were arrested that same night. James’s grandma was called, and she went to the station house about 3 in the morning. There was no bail for them. They stayed in jail for about three months before there was a trial.

All this time Grandmother knew he was innocent. She stood by her grandchild and his friend. DNA from the scene, the DA said, could not be found. There was DNA from the boys taken after, but none available from the victim from the night of the crime.

My question to you is, what do you think happened to the DNA?

By the way, the boys were freed, finally, not because there was no evidence, but because earlier that night the police arrested a man walking suspiciously down 5th Avenue, who had scratch marks all over his face. He could not account for how he got them.

IT WAS THE VICTIM’S EX-BOYFRIEND.

As usual, fact, or fiction.

I asked you before, what did you think happened to the DNA?

Give up? This is my story, and I’m going to tell you my version.

When the cops saw the man walking very fast down 5th Avenue, they stopped him and they noticed scratches on his face. He broke down and said he was on his way to his friend, a doctor, to get a tetanus shot, because he just raped his ex-girlfriend in Central Park.

In other words he was confessing to the crime. They arrested him before they put him in the squad car.

They called it in. At the station house the Lieutenant who took the called told his Captain they had a problem. The Captain said, “How do?” The Lieutenant replied, “Because we arrested two teenagers for the same crime.”

The Captain said, “How can that be?”

The Lieutenant replied, “EMS was in the area when the officers came upon the boys. Captain, what are we going to do, Sir?”

The Captain’s response was, “Nothing. We will wait and see what happens.”

The Lieutenant said, “Captain…”

Before the Lieutenant could get out another word, the Captain said, “When the crime scene evidence comes in, bring it to me. I will lock it in my drawer.”

“What about the two boys?”

The Captain said, “They are our guests until the trial. Remember, our guests, give them whatever they want. Leave the cell door open, but they cannot leave until the trial.”

“Captain, this is not good.”

“Lieutenant, that is why I am the Captain. There you have it.”

 George Cousins

Schoolfriend

In fiction, Friendship, humor, Stories, Stories, secrets & dreams on January 19, 2016 at 5:45 pm

elevator buttons

            Pamela Santucci works as a cleaning woman in a medical building where there are many medical offices. She cleans daily from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. One morning, around 4:30, she got on  the elevator, and a passenger came in after her, and said, “14, please.” So Pamela pressed the floor she wanted.

As the elevator was moving, she kept staring at the passenger, until it finally dawned on her who the person was. It was her daughter’s best friend. The passenger also kept staring at Pamela. Both said nothing. The elevator stopped on the 14th floor, and when the passenger got off, Pamela saw that the floor only has psycho offices, so Pamela wondered why Gloria Banapoli would be going to see a shrink.

When she got home, she told her daughter, gossip that she is. Her daughter said, “Ma, sit down. But please do not repeat this. She is married to Richie Cannoli.”

Then Pamela said, “The mob guy? But he’s in prison!”

Then her daughter said, “Ma, Ma, read between the lines. He married her so she can carry things in and out of jail for him.”

Pamela put her hands to her mouth, then over her head, and said, “You didn’t stop her from doing this crazy thing? What did her parents say—they don’t know?”

Her daughter said, “No.”

And Pamela said, “Of all the cockamamie things! I will have a talk with her the next time I see her. And that has to be now. Today. Find her, please, and bring her here.”

And that evening, there was Gloria, sitting at Pamela’s kitchen table.

“You being married to Richie, can’t you see what a mess you’re in? Can’t you annul the marriage?”

Gloria’s response was to ask, “You know I used to go with Bobby Fantusa?”

Pamela said, “Yes.”

Gloria then told her that Richie was going to kill her if he didn’t leave her, “So Bobby dropped me, which I found out later was a lie. You see, Bobby had borrowed money from the mob, and for payment—I was the payment.”

Pamela said, “My God, what are you going to do?”

Gloria said, “That isn’t the worst part. When you saw me this morning, I was making a delivery to the doctor. There are quite a few doctors I deliver drugs to weekly, but rarely that early. Usually after 4 p.m. That doctor was going to California later that day, and I couldn’t miss him. Then I gave the cash to Richie’s father. That’s my story. Bobby Fantusa got me in this mess.”

Then Pamela said, “And Bobby will get you out of this mess.”

After Gloria left, Pamela sat down at the table on the same chair Gloria had just left. She started smiling to herself. You see, when she was at Erasmus High, there was a boy who had a big crush on her. His name was Emilio Lagatuta. He had a great voice, like the great Caruso, Alonso, or even Robison. Anyways, his father forbade him to take up singing. He said, “That profession does not pay any money. You should come into the family business.”

His father was Vinnie Lagatuta, the head of the mob of Amalie. Over the years Emilio became the leader of the family. And over the years Gloria and Emilio kept in touch. So Gloria called Emilio, told him the problem, and he agreed to take care of it.

Within two days she got a call from Gloria. The problem was solved, and she was free from her husband. You see, when you have friends in high place, things happen. Of course, this story is entirely made up.

by George Cousins

Storm Drains

In Stories on October 13, 2015 at 9:39 pm

rain at night

 

It was an unbearably long walk and wet, at that.  The rain had begun early and she knew this because she had been up since three AM and she knew this because she was certain that this much rain could not have accumulated in any shorter amount of time.  The storm drains were already clogged.  Rushing waters had the brown oak leaves scattered along the gutter into a mass at the corner drain.  To step off the sidewalk it was unavoidable that her feet would become drenched.  She submitted to its inevitability but resented it.  She had turned recalcitrant of late and harnessed much of her energy to defy dictates but she knew she best not battle with nature.  It was futile.  The cancer had taught her that.  Those in her support group had encouraged her in the opposite direction. ‘Defy it!’ they encouraged, almost in a chant, all of them, all together and she found the passion and urgency in their voices troubling as if fueled by a terror of which they were in denial.  Secretly she resented them.  Their facile comments.  She dropped out of the group and it was just that group from which she was walking away now.

She trudged through rain and leaves that flew up and plastered themselves momentarily to her cheek before they continued on their flight; before she even had time to brush them away.

She moved steadily on leaving the hovering of well-meaning people behind; affirming her desperateness to be left alone and unbothered and un-preached to.

The gutters of the crosswalk appeared to rise up against her – purposively and with some obscure malevolence as if they plotted and built this impediment precisely for her; this growing swell of water, dark and putrid. It deepened and rose.  It became a being unto itself.  But the walk and the emotionality of giving notice to the group had fatigued her and she felt unable to struggle against the brewing storm; against the storm drains themselves; the hard, mean, impassable wall.

She was an ample woman with broad hips through which she had birthed six children, two of them already dead.  To look at her one would assume she was strong.  Her own sensibilities also dictated she was, but now in the face of the dream-like flood waters, she had weakened considerably.  Her hips had slipped narrow, the meat on her bones gone paltry.

She did not attribute the weakness to the cancer whose supreme hunger for her death she still found she was able to manage.  No, it seemed to be the rain.  The rain had done her in.  The rain had leached away her strength; washed away her grit—threatened to drown her.  The rain had filled her pockets with stones like Virginia at the River Ouse.

If she could just manage to cross this street, she thought, drawing down the mountainous wall of water to a manageable size, then she might continue to live.  Just for the rest of this day.

She thought of Moses and the Red Sea—how stories not meant to be literal took on enormous literal force, inhospitable to refutes or opinions.  She wished for the powers, none the less.  For the power of a mind free of critical thinking that could take Moses at his word.

She stepped off the curb and the waters shuddered on either side of her wet sneakers.  She was making a way.  A way across.  Cars screeched to a boisterous, angry halt.  She was sorry for the consternation she had caused; the middle of a rainy street which seemed to demand cars stop, make a way. But she pressed on.  Pressed on while the water flowed.

The other side did not guarantee her life as she had hoped.  There was something about the very safety of that corner that caused the cancer to scream out—mark its territory; stake out its claim on her body; its terror on her soul.

-Annie Quintano

GREYHOUND

In Prose, Stories on August 14, 2015 at 12:54 pm

greyhound bus station

By the time I saw the turnpike exit from the bus, I knew I was almost home. I saw the refineries, the bridge, then the airport, and then the tunnel under the Hudson. I remembered the heavy traffic, the horns, the dim lighting once you got into the city. And then there was the chaotic bus terminal, all the people swarming around, hustlers, cops, taxi drivers with fares way out of my price range.

Normally by this point, I would have gotten my Metro card ready for a long trip to either my storage in the Bronx or my old place out in Rockaway. But it was 8PM on a Friday night, too late to drop off any excess luggage at the storage site. And even though I had enough money for a couple of weeks rent, I couldn’t go back to Rockaway, for another hour plus subway ride and cold February transfer at Broad Channel to Rockaway. And no cold but soothing beach to visit at night. I remembered the place I had booked for the next 3 nights was on the other side of the river, in Union City. I went to the NJ Transit bus counter and found out which bus went out there – and it cost $3.20 – 70 cents more than the subway. If the Greyhound had made any stops between Newark and the Port Authority, I would have needed to make 2 bus trips across the Lincoln Tunnel. But I had to do this – to get to a place that would cost me $45 for 3 nights which beat staying in a shelter or 2 nights on a greyhound from Colorado.

When I got to the still-under-construction hostel, I met the sour desk attendant. Even with my Colorado ID, he must have figured out I was a local, because he blurted that the rates were going up soon and that there were no vacancies on Monday, (when my 3 day payment was up).

But for now I could sleep on a bed, shower, use the microwave downstairs, and use the overpriced Laundromat to clean the clothes I had been wearing for 2 days straight since Colorado.

-Thomas Clarke

A Cameo by George Cousins

In Stories on April 30, 2015 at 9:19 pm

cameo

George Cousins continues his story about Elaine and Ernest who readers met in his story  “Our Daughter”. In this installment, “Cameo”, Elaine’s reunion with her daughter JoeAnn brings to light a gift from a mysterious cousin.  

            After for about an hour-and-a-half sitting in the garden thinking about the story Ernest had just told her, Elaine finally put herself together by drying the tears from her eyes with the handkerchief she had tucked away under her watchband. She stood up, made a sign of the cross, and went into the living room where Ernest was listening to their daughter’s record. On seeing her, he turned the CD down, turned towards her, and started talking, but she put her index finger to his lips as if to say shhh…shhh…I will do the talking now. She started to speak.

“Ernest, when you told me that our daughter had died, I was paralyzed. My whole body had no life, I was crushed. Ernest, I carried that chile for a long time. Every time she kicked, I thought that I was carrying a boy, the quarterback for the Giants, but I knew it was a girl. Then when you told me what you did, I was further crushed. Ernest, I am a mother and these are my instincts. After you told me she died, I cried and held my stomach, grieving for the dead baby. Then when you told me she was alive and the reason why you did it, it made no sense to me. But sitting out in the garden, I started to think how the life I had before we were married wouldn’t sit well with me sometimes. What you said about the kids teasing her about my lifestyle, then I finally say you were right to do what you did. Ernest, thank you for opening up my eyes for the long picure. Thank you, my darling.” (She hugged him, then they both went and sat down on the couch and finished listen
ing to the aria.)

               Next morning, Ernest was shaving for work, then Elaine came into the bathroom to ask him when are they going to meet JoeAnn. Ernest told her he had spoken to his ex, Claudia, and they agreed to meet next Friday at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. The reason for picking that place is because it’s special, and worthy of a meeting to remember. 

               Elaine asked, what should she wear? Ernest said something simple. 

               The day of the meeting arrived. Ernest and Elaine arrived first. Then about 10 minutes later Claudia and JoeAnn came into the restaurant. Ernest saw them and motioned to them to come to where they were sitting. 

               Ernest said, “JoeAnn, Claudia, this is my wife, Elaine.”

Claudia said, “Ernest and Elaine, this is your daughter, JoeAnn Sinclair.” They all acknowledged each other.

JoeAnn then said, “Elaine, we have been staring at each other ever since I came in the door.”

Then Elaine said, “Sorry about that. I couldn’t imagine how we look like twins. That’s not the only thing I was looking at, though. What’s that cameo you’re wearing? You seem to have it on in all the photos on all your CD’s. I had a cameo like that one with a chip on the side just like that. I gave it to my housekeeper a long time ago. I liked, and it was amongst the jewelry in my jewelry box. Let me take a look at it further. It should have my birthday 3-23-43 inscripted on the back.” (JoeAnn took off the cameo and gave it to Elaine.) Elaine said, “My God, this is my cameo.”

Claudia then said, “JoeAnn, I thought you bought it at a flea market.”

JoeAnn said, “No, Claudia…when I was about 12 or 13 years old, I went with my girlfriends from the Conservatory to Rumplemeyer’s to have some ice cream, and when we were finished, on our way out an old lady stopped and asked me my name, and I told her. She said, I know your mother. So I asked her, so you know my mother, Claudia? She said, no. Then she gave me the cameo, and said to me, you should always wear it for luck. I caught up to my girlfriends, and told them what this old lady said. Then all of a sudden a gust of wind blew a $10 bill on my chest. One of my friends said, you see, your luck has started changing already.

Then Claudia said, “JoeAnn, you never told me this before.”

JoeAnn responded, “Because the old lady told me not to tell anybody, not even you.”

Elaine said, “Her name is Big Rose.”

Ernest said, “BIG ROSE…Rose Cousins. She died last year.”

Then JoeAnn said, “So that’s why I haven’t seen her. She always took me to Rumplemeyer’s to have ice cream. She wasn’t there last year.”