Best Friends

by Jeph Johnson and DaddyO


Every name mentioned henceforth I've considered a "best friend" at some point in my life other than the two guitar players from Alcatrazz


The good news is I've had several "best friends"


The not so good news follows.. 


For a mama's boy before fourth grade no one else matters too much


But in fourth grade Ben and I formed a purple gang with Dan and pretended we were from the Planet Zooplop


We idolized the Minnesota football team because of our Viking heritage


Ben actually moved to the real Minnesota after grade school ended


I lost touch with Dan after sixth grade and we didn't reconnect until we both found Jesus as young adults


After sixth grade Phil and Jamie used to play sports with me


Jamie was more into football, Phil basketball


Phil eventually found that "the cool kids" in high school made better friends than a guy who just lived up the street and happened to have an eight foot basketball dunk hoop


Freshman and sophomore year I took a lot of pictures of the high school goddesses rather than engaging them in romantic conversations


I mainly hung out with Jamie


One weekend in November I went with his family to the Oregon coast and we chased girls with my camera


We soaked bread in vodka and fed it to the seagulls from the ledge of our hotel room's balcony


Yeah it was pretty fucked up


As a Junior I wrote a record review of the band Alcatrazz for the high school newspaper of which I was the sports editor


Jamie drank much too frequently but still had time to coax the junior high girls over to his house to raid his parent's liquor cabinet


Samantha was a slut; a smart valedictorian slut


She liked to drink too and put me in the friend zone before the term was even invented


I asked her to let me kiss her once after we waited in line to meet this band called Night Ranger


She was sixteen and her lips were soft


She fucked Phil and Jamie while inibriated, then a week or two later paraded naked around the table at a party


"Strip poker" was a good excuse to display her massive tits to me


I didn't kiss them, though she likely would have let me


She disappeared and twenty five years later I heard from her brother she died from breast cancer around the same time I heard from Sam's ex that Jamie died of alcoholism


Jamie had served a seven month sentence at a correctional facility in Montana, a state he had moved to because they allowed open containers


With Sam and Jamie more interested in sex and booze than I was, Senior year was the last time I'd be close to either of them


I slagged through the eternity of Senior year


Mike and Jeff didn't become my friends until a few weeks before graduation


That summer Mike and I looked for girls together while Van Halen changed singers and Jeff jonesed Mike's hash pipe


Jeff was one year younger but dropped out as a Junior so he could attend community college with me


Jeff and Mike were drug buddies but Jeff and I, having the same name, bonded over comedy, as well as the band Bow Wow Wow


We carpooled to community college and argued over whether or not Yngwie Malmsteen or Steve Vai was the better guitarist because Vai had just replaced Malmsteen in Alcatrazz


Mike moved in with a woman twice his age then succumbed after a relapse


After dropping out of college I found a full-time job at Tower Records


This is when I reconnected with Dan who'd been in my grade school purple gang


We both found Jesus (yeah, even Jesus was my best friend for a time) and I immediately tore down the posters of the scantily clad rock star chicks from the walls of my apartment


Dan led a Bible study that both Jeff and I attended religiously


As a conservative Christian the only secular music I felt right listening to was country


I also started picketing abortion clinics with Dan around this time


This is also when I met Angie at a country bar and I taught her the two step


I got Angie's sister a job at Tower and she soon got pregnant


Only she didn't know she was pregnant


No one did


So one morning Angie called me to tell me she was an aunt


We broke up soon after because being an aunt is a full time job


Teresa, who I also met at the country bar, filled the void for two tears


She'd been married before and had two kids from two different fathers


Despite our romance and excursions to the country dance club, I remained a virgin for God


She was at the mercy of her parents as they housed her and her two kids and cohabitation out of wedlock would've really upset my friend Jesus


Still Teresa got a little fed up and left me because "I didn't love her right"


Ten years after Dan taught me about Jesus he was institutionalized after stabbing his pregnant wife


About this time is when I stopped believing in the spiritual and started believing in the unbelievable 


Jeff had stopped believing before that but for some reason put his faith in Donald Trump in the 2016 election


I think it's because he likes his guns


Then I met Twilla who was technically the second person I had sex with


I was thirty six years old at this point in my life


Our whirlwind romance was accented by alcohol, the only three months in my life I experimented with the stuff


Drunk, I violently flipped over a table after Twilla displayed some inconsistency in our relationship


I didn't hear from her again until Facebook was invented and she'd became a divorced mother of two


Ken used to DJ so he'd come in to Tower and we bonded over music and sports


I met Tammy after hanging out with John at the karaoke bar


We fell in love


John was a better singer as well as a better drinker


John and Ken didn't know one another but I christened them co-best men at my wedding to Tammy


Ken and I spent Sundays touring the sports bars in an attempt to find the best sports bar for professional football


I soon discovered Ken was unable to bond with me over my love of sexuality, which I had finally discovered after getting married


That's right, my faith in the unbelievable manifested an older virgin than I was 


John didn't believe in marriage and was even more cynical than I was


Whereas Ken felt nervous talking about sex, John fled after we couldn't chase ladies anymore


I suppose I was also cynical of traditional marriage so Tammy and I became swingers


Technically it was Tammy's idea, yet we didn't do it until five years into our marriage


Initially I didn't thrive in the swinger atmosphere until I discovered BDSM


It was here where I met Tanya and we nearly became kink superheroes


In an open marriage it's always a good idea to have a marriage counselor


Tammy asked me for a divorce in his office while I was preparing to deal with the trauma associated with my Mom's inoperable pancreatic cancer


Eventually I was just getting my mail at Tammy's while sleeping in Tanya's bed between hours long fuck sessions


She enjoyed my sexual chemistry but Tanya did not sign on to my neediness


She actually had sought me out as a lover who was in an open marriage and preoccupied with someone else to take the pressure off of her


After Tammy's wish to divorce, Tanya told me she wasn't able to submit to me anymore

I unsuccessfully tried to kill myself


I had never fathomed this before


Mom died the day I got out of the hospital


Tanya and I reconnected after renegotiating, and even lived together for a soell


Eventually she found a lover more suitable to her needs, even though he was single too

We only sparred verbally when angered but there was one fight where she nearly bit off the end of my finger


I had several lovers I called "babygirl" after Tanya but none more comely than Joy who recently turned twenty one and had a breathtaking supermodel smile 


She had just moved out on her own to a place fifteen miles away from my place


She didn't even get a chance to unpack everything when I asked her to move in with me


It made sense logistically as we both saved time, gas and money

I planned to will the house and car I had inherited from my divorce from Tammy to her


I happily cohabitated with her for two and a half years but apparently for Joy the happiness lasted only one year


One day she left me after packing up her things


She had told me she was going to put them into "storage"


Technically she didn't lie, if you consider the storage unit was an apartment on the other side of town


I suppose I'm proud I didn't try to kill myself after that


Several people I probably should have considered "best friends" due to their sacrifice, came to my aid and comforted me in my king size bed while she moved three quarters of her stuff out


Joy's anger escalated so she left a fourth of her junk behind, never spoke to me again and chose instead to hook up with the dude who was supposed to help her move two days after moving into her new place


They had sex that day instead


I know because she posted a naked picture of the two of them, arms intertwined, on Tumblr with a Magnum condom wrapper strategically placed on the floor by her feet


All once best friends


I'm sure I'm forgetting someone


If so, consider it an honor

Author's Notes/Comments: 


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No May Baby


 Family is one thing you can’t define both politely and with honestly in the same lifetime ,thus anyone who loves theirs well, must also ,learn how to make an esoteric the fondest of friends.


“Step on a crack, break your Mother’s....”  It’s the rhyme that recently stalls on my tongue that reminds me. I have an understudy of that role, whose existence I  push to the back of my mind’s lineup among the other castoffs of  the unused - like the autopilot of a bad habit with the side effects being at least, having left me with an unflatteringly masculine Roman nose and at most seeing me turned  into a living marionette. I suppose second thoughts are homeless propositions in youth. That one aspect not inherited, given  my maturity,  seems to have blossomed  in the warm vastness of the late summer air granted that even as I tried follow her trail to the doorstep at which I would seemingly get all my questions answered: “Did you hate the idea of me that much even in theory? “ *veer left* “Anything to share concerning the other half of my chromosomes?” *nudge forward* These eyes of mine stayed unfailing fixed to the pavement, obsessively plotting the swerves that might spare her back. 


From the moment any kid hears those three words “you don’t belong” signaling their egg came from a foreign nest of origin, it is akin  to every vestige of balanced self knowledge sent splintering off into the dissecting personalities all implanted with the same curious and secret longing based on instinct. Smiling at strangers who’d comment on the similarities between my father and I without an admission to the truth began increasingly to feel like getting away with something, a dastardly deed, the escape from which had only gained a devilish sweetness in time. As I grew, every difference from my tribe in height or opinion would send the inner detective parsing for clues, as such never has such import been given to the love of eating orange rind for its own sake. Distinct memory: Crawling like an embattled soldier, carpet burning overworked knee caps, to riffle behind our VCR where a copy of “Beauty and the Beast” had been hidden as an artful bribe among many that served as smoke screens. It was the only way I’d submit to any exercise routine without protest. It all had a double edge that day. Sitting there nestled cross- legged among a bunch of pillows, I fancied that I could be some lost daughter  of a princess, watching the last petal fall because of an unfortunately hairy man who’d  by nefarious means been my father. A history over-dramatized, I knew, even ignoring the altogether thick smell of the troupe: Every girl that can’t dot her respective i’s of census thinks she could be of the bluest blood.  Well, whatever the case I needed a back story. Thus, unbeknownst to my nine year conscience, a quest had found me out of necessity.


The truth had come out the year before. My parents hadn’t known how to frame it, so didn’t, hoping that time would ease the task’s pain. The actual blow was dealt in a considerably more ill designed tact by my aunt (who to be fair thought I already knew) and seemed to take an honest amount of umbrage with the secrecy involved, so the opening was taken like an awkward pounce. My dad’s younger sister Vesekla, aka Violet, more infamous in the inner circle, equal parts for a hyper-religious/superstitiously gullible nature and a bad pageboy haircut (both of which may have contributed to the end of her marriage in some degree) never did have too strong a hold on the concept of subtlety on a good day, so the fact that she was dealing with a kid had little effect on her approach either way. 


In a cliché of family dysfunction, my Teta had come by for Thanksgiving of all things, but as I recall, she had missed the actual holiday by a few days and had my uncle silently trailing at her heels as was usual fare. Strange how I have no idea how my cousin Goran managed to skip out on the festivities, but it does stand out that he was missing as his presence would have squashed any uncomfortable conversation with a simple look. As it was, I was enjoying a bout of drawing in my room. This had been a common position for visitors to find me in as both books and pencils had taken on the role of appendages from the point that I was able to hold my head up straight. Looking back, that should have been my tipoff that things were different. Even before I glanced up, I could feel her smiling at my charcoal stained fingers from my doorway. 


 “What are you drawing Mikki? It would always annoy me to no end when adults would force conversation given their body language showed boredom or discomfort. But in this case I was just surprised and grateful that a grown up cared about my art, particularly her. I was the kind of kid who’d take a single olive if I couldn’t get a whole branch, so I offered one back in the form of a crayon. “Kid, why do you always have the TV on, even when you’re not paying attention to the thing? I was working on a house, even though it was the general agreement that faces were my thing. That said, I had gotten the hint that there were only so many random portraits even a proud parent could hang on the fridge before questions were asked. You could say I wanted to expand my range and the TV was helping me. “It’s my background music, too quiet in here... come help.”  


It stuck out that I was so busy noting her discomfort as she leaned to sit at eye-level with me that I totally ignored the blots being left on my turquoise overalls. Everything slowed to account for a growing tension, but my mind hadn’t caught up yet. “I can’t really draw” tiny scratches covered her edge of paper. “Try a tree. Those are so easy even Mommy can do em.” It’s funny that I can draw I mean fingers don’t work.  “Sorry, but you’re awful.”  Her tree was more paralyzed than I could ever dream to be with its undersized mangled limbs. She was good- natured enough to join in when I laughed. “Oops, okay you’re right. Must not be a family thing.”  She must not have seen Dad’s attempts. “Well Pop is pretty good at correcting me, so it definitely comes from your side.” She giggled from her belly leaving me thinking that she might just be easily amused. “You’re funny. It’s good you have a good attitude about it.” ”About what?” I said confused, with a look of bewilderment that reminded her. “Oh right, my stupid brother never told you. He can’t pass anything on to you - money and love maybe -- you’re mother couldn’t.... Oh hell. You’re not their daughter. What I mean is, you’re adopted. You know what that is right? Some girls, I don’t know. But there it is.”


And there it certainly was. I don’t remember crying or anything of that sort. I was far too gobsmacked by the prospect of something that went beyond consideration before the words were spoken. In spite of this, I wish I’d learned this earlier. Nothing can be stripped from you that you won’t allow. If you ever forget that nature will find ways to remind you -- just take note of your luck. The reactions of the supposed grownups were far less measured, and this to me was honestly one of the most unpleasant aspects of the revelation as a whole. My father was extremely indignant in his rage, which I didn’t understand in the least because what right did he have to be peeved given I was the one being kept in the dark. “What the hell did you do Ves?” was much the refrain of the day.  Needless to say that my mom’s turkey went cold and uneaten after she entered her only child’s room to have me ask who I belonged to. 


 In the moment I was torn between wondering why it had never before dawned on me to question why my folks seemed a good decade older than the parents of any of my schoolmates and feeling guilty for the wave of relief that flooded me at not being a blood relation to the kooks on my daddy’s side (not accounting for a burgeoning pattern of mental illness.)  There was an unspoken knowledge that my aunt should steer clear for the foreseeable future, the embargo lasted the seemingly paltry sentence of about three months. Over time I began to grasp that if I wanted to collect value information concerning traces of my background, my mom would be the all-too anthropomorphic well, what with her affinity for noting gossipy details and love of unsolved mysteries. The best way to brooch achieving this goal was teasing tidbits in small but effectively planned bursts.  As it was, it was as I prepared to enter hormone driven kingdom of the teenagers when I got a true sense of the story: 


My mythos in a matter of speaking is a less thinly veiled version of the Little Red Riding-hood allegory, no exaggeration meant. By all accounts I am the product of a youthful indiscretion. An army brat by association, my mother is one Dijana Kuć, the Herzegovinian-born daughter of an officer in a regiment linked to the former Yugoslavia. She was sent on a late summer sea holiday to her grandmother, and came back towing some very special extra cargo courtesy of a yet-unknown donor she had recently met. I find it ironic that when I was a child people had a strange tendency to mispronounce my name as “Marisa” Latin meaning “of the sea,” as rumor has it that is exactly where I was spawned. After returning home she hid signs of the ensuing pregnancy for several months by any means necessary, and not all of them healthy - belts, cords, body suits. It was an entire operation of dunce.  As noted by one of the nurses, maintaining the pretense of social standing seem paramount to the family. Dijana herself was overheard saying “The family has a reputation to protect.  The longer she survives, the bigger of a blight she’ll become.” Thus it can be seen how when at the point of no return she may have been persuaded to take drastic steps to maintain that veneer.


 Fits of what must have been blinding panic at possibly tarnishing her future and carefully orchestrated image, she tried to perform a self-helmed abortion. Reports vary as to what method was used: some say pills, while a more widely spread telling states that she came into the emergency room after having literally attempted to cut me out. Whatever the case may be, I lived,  coming into the world two and half months before my time at midnight of March twenty sixth.. One pound and three ounces of screaming uncertainty met the medical team who predicted a whole buffet of impairments ranging from blindness and hearing loss to complete mental retardation,  to the extent that my adoption ability was flagged damaged goods. Eastern Europeans pull no punches. It was well known that my grandfather’s internal connections are the sole reason Miss Kuć escaped an assault charge on her record at the very least. Culturally we weren’t usually known for taking kindly to “loose morals” in women , so really her punishment would have been for a different kind of crime altogether. And age was no longer the buffer of bad behavior ... unless.


Despite what anyone had told me over the years about an infant’s inability to form memories prior to the first year, I’m convinced that being born through a filter of trauma allowed for a few vivid snippets to remain. There are flashes of celery-colored walls and a plastered ceiling with  its constellations as my incubator is wheeled in her room. Nurses still wore white boat-shaped hats with the matching dresses at that point. In the corner young Dijana sat casually Indian style on the bed surrounded by books and magazines. Her hair was a messy tangle.  As the strands fell into deep set eyes much like mine, she grabbed at a particularly annoying curl and started twisting and uncoiling it along the length of her pointer finger as is my habit when nervousness or boredom set in. At the core the single physical difference between me and my biological mother could of course be pinned down to age and her more pointed chin. My self doubt entrenched her as being the prettier one, likely is the deep seated cause of why I’ve had a hard time giving my own looks a break. The mental kind are among the immovable scars.


She barely acknowledged my presence even as her parents walked in to inspect the new arrival: me. I’ve always had what can be termed as an uncanny knack for dropping in on people, upsetting the conventions you might say. My grandmother must have had a softer heart about my coming than expected, as I was told she held me for a bit. I have this impression of a robust woman with auburn wavy hair, who was smartly dressed in a mauve pantsuit. The grandsire’s most impressive feature was his imposing stature and wiry frame. A wide forehead and a bushy salt and pepper brow seemed to further offset the crows-feet around his eyes. He peered down at me.  Then, looking over to his own child extended his finger to me so that I could tug.  Despite keeping a stern expression he was affected enough to turn on his heels walking away in a huff of internal conflict. Who knows what words were exchanged regarding me behind closed doors, but part of me dares to hope it was their influence out of conscience that made Dijana list a phone number in the case that I did pass on from my injuries. I was deprived of air for an unknown stretch.  The mere sight of blood awakens my gag reflex, leading to the suspicion that I had been put in the position  to choke on  my own.


Often it is an assumption that I am an easily offended pro-life supporter who will brand  people evil on sight if they so much as indicate that they support a woman’s right to choose. In this scenario my debut is noted as possible reason for my aversion regardless of whether I actually voiced an opinion.   As the record should state, I have no issues with taking control of the body that you are blessed with. Where things become way more than slightly uncomfortable is when a prophylactic is used in aftermath, as seems to be a common sentiment of millennial so called independent woman. Not wanting a child is understandable, but making them pay for an oversight on your part over the long run is another story entirely. If abortion does end up seeming like a viable option, do it in a timely matter that doesn’t wait for the human to be nearly done baking. We didn’t ask to be here and as a result you don’t get to decide when we inconvenience those around us - it is much easier to leave a mess when the cleanup falls to the unknown.

So as it stood legally, people were not permitted to sign over their rights to a child while leaving that child nameless. Thus came the one forced gift I got out of this raw deal. I’m the runt that was sent to a state run institution for the workers to poke and prod until I chose to give in to death or manifested horns of some kind.  I was handed to my new home at three months on the thirteenth, the number many fear, I’m blessed by and no one should be surprised I am linked with. 


To be honest, Nevenka Todorović should definitely win a Nobel prize for child rearing if there were one. She brought out a lion’s spirit in the way she refused to give up on me through doctors appointments aplenty and insults to my intelligence. Thank you for forcing tone into my muscles by kneading me like a piece of uncooked dough and for not listening to that chain-smoking staff member with her blunt suggestion that she trade me in for a non-idiot. She clearly molded me from very little, at a point where I might have landed as another throwaway. My deepest regret is that I can’t save her in return. This is the thing I’ll continue to try for, because she never gave it a second thought, knowing the  personal toll it would take. I am in awe of the length and breadth of love when the heart opens to the unknown.  My father let her take the reins when it came to deciding what treatments to try -- the worst of which was Cortisone shots into my knee caps hoping to make me more mobile. They spent thousands of dollars going from Romanian specialty hospitals to biofeedback sections and visiting an Indian witch doctor who predicted I’d be famous in an artist field (ultimately a running family joke).  At times the best thing to do with dreams is destroy them while building new ones from what’s left. It took me a while to understand that maybe I was lucky.  The fact I was these people’s single shot at parenthood gave me a better life, slightly sadly beautiful. For every battle I lost, another was undertaken and won.  Case in point, I may have been slow about dropping the pacifier but I got the physics behind reading at about two and a half, no skipping pages around me. Overalls, pigtails and messing with my older cousins by letting them try and make me walk in exchange for candy; it didn’t matter who created the fight in me. I was trained to staying as normal as possible knowing the traditional path was gone.                                             

Each instance where you avoid an aspect yourself, though it may be with the best and healthiest intention is ensuring it will make itself known at a point to teach you a lesson. This is a notion I was confronted with at the close of a particularly dark and incredibly painful chapter in my life, the aftershocks of which I likely will feel till the day I leave this earth. Without going into specifics, because I’m really out of my depth, it’s not just my story to tell and hardly a morally simple one. I will say that grief can change the stakes of who you are. And the people who hurt us, at the very least  deserve the consideration for empathy.  Faith in the good of those we let that close tells us they feel  the pain of those mistakes a thousand times worse. Anger, to me doesn’t kill love, but serves to either confuse or affirm it.  The pattern is made bolder when held up in review of familial bonds in their very complication. It’s then that looking for an escape hatch which affords a self righteous comparison of your own behavior and degree of agency can seem pretty damn good. A bit of the old “ I have to come from something better than this.” and “This can’t be my life “ Many  would argue that the fact of these statements being open possibilities for me to explore make me simultaneously very fortunate coupled with divisively ungrateful for my upbringing....  I know. Regardless, losing my mom in every way that counts while fate having given me no appealing adult choices, sent me searching backward. To forgive, like the phrase says, start with yourself, but considering the mistrust I still have for the inner Mirela I thought best find the source. Thank you social media.


I had tried to type my biological mother’s name into Google once before with much less fanfare, a few porn ads and dead links were my reward, virtually slapping my wrist as a warning to stay away. What worried me about those ancestry registries is most make you charge your card to see the full results. I wasn’t about to trek through that over grown forest with the likelihood of it yielding anything of use being slim to none. The confirmed information I did have came from when my mom cleverly took advantage of my file being left fast and loose on the director’s desk during a lapse in their outgoing custody interview. The woman was kind and had developed a rapport, so this may have been a purposeful oversight on her part. In the midst of carefully dipping my toe into these waters, I thought about dad. He never seemed to care much about where I was from until he became the main parent “Why don’t you ever look for your family; don’t you care?” It began to feel as if he was forcing the issue in a misguided attempt to try to help me fill a few voids, so when started my inquiries I didn’t let him in on the plan. This was mine. I need space to do this on my own, come what may.


Facebook had also presented very little the first go around. Then the  shock came. One night during the distraction of the eleven o'clock news that blue search-bar called to me, offering  me a single profile matching down to still living in Banja Luka. She may have been blonde, was ostentatiously dressed and age been unexpectedly kind to that face, but it was my face I saw staring back from the profile. I quickly shut it down, ignoring her instead calling back the time in elementary school that my pal Andrew K. came up with a plan to circumvent the whole different parent problem: filter all the blood running through my veins out, then replace that with blended pints of my new parents contributions. I wished it were that simple.  


I let a week pass before logging onto the page again, because I needed to get ahold of myself and form some realistic expectations. It might not be her. The distinctive wide yet rounded shape of our nostrils would seem to be a shared family hallmark. If I did in fact have the correct woman, my two possible siblings have a similar feature. Thinking I might not actually be an only child didn’t strike me as odd. I’ve always sensed as much and an added grapevine said that Dijana got pregnant again six months after my birth, keeping that child and marrying the father. The girl pictured in many of these posts looked to be the right age, a strong, tall brunette with deep set  kind brown eyes, also having an M starting name which stung slightly. Total coincidence would have it that this would-be sister was online friends with a girl in dad’s village. But then places are merely a half hour apart by car so I could have been reaching. This all seems unlikely in that it fit my facts.  A part of me needed it, that said I wasn’t stupid. I did not believe it was difficult when glimpsing the moonfaced tweenie boy, byond a resemblance. My insides knew him.


Dijana seemed to have kept her maiden name either that or she married young and my conception was part of an unsanctioned Rumshpringa before her real life began. I felt sick. No wonder I was dispatched. I refused to assume or spy any more.  Besides, the kids didn't know. The right wasn't  mine to out her, uprooting their world in the process of questing for what? That was the argument.  I countered to my dad and Andjelka, my cousin’s wife, when they freaked out insisting that I meet her this last trip after I finally let them on my long held secret.  They didn’t seem to be thinking of anything other than “She looks so much like you.” and I wished they would just be quiet. This was exactly what I did not want, but that fell on deaf ears. 


My reservations came down to not wanting to hurt anyone.  Much of my time the last few year has been spent trying to avoid this outcome, to the point of forgetting that this sometimes happens no matter what. Investigating the profile we establish that she worked at a high-end clothing shop located behind Banja Luka’s Petar Kočić park. Some photos had her modeling their outfits, which set me to wondering if she’d she design any of them.  I did that all the time as a kid and that would sort of explain the art ability. The group wanted to go to the store and quite frankly that was the extent of the plan.  My mind kept repeating that it’s not like in the movies. I didn’t want to hug this lady, aside from that I’d cried over other more important things recently. I wasn’t angry at Dijana in the same way I had been as a kid and teen and I didn’t even know it until right that minute. I didn’t need to hurt her in return.  That probably meant I was ready. 


I agreed to shut my family up as much as anything else. Andjelka and her two girls I would let tag along on our little mission as well. I was really grateful, as they distracted me from the fact that when taking everything out of the situation, what we were trying to do was pretty creepy. Ana the tough talking thirteen and half year old was marching across the park like we were back in the Bosnia of the nineties.  I meanwhile was searching for an ice cream cart the way that an alcoholic says he goes to a bar  just to test his  courage. I had none and hoped to find it at the bottom of a cone. Before we crossed the street to the storefront, we saw that a big flight of stairs was the sole way of getting in. My reprieve; sweet joy I had never felt you till now. According to dad I wasn’t getting off  that easily.  We’d come this far, he was going in. “Bull, it’s my china shop. What are you going to say? Stop please.” “It’ll be what I have to.”  Knowing him, he meant to create a verbal tornado prior to leaving. Before I could think to grab his arm he had sauntered off. After about a minute Andjelka saw a leggy bottled blonde heading in from the parking-lot. I froze. It wasn’t her of course, but at seeing my gulping anxiety waiting to run without a fence it was decided that I should stay  with the girls and my cousin-in-law would follow  to leash “Oh Captain, my captain “ (to quote Walt Whitman) so as to make sure he didn’t verbally vomit.  There by the curb, I stood  each of my hand’s holding a child on either side, my body not knowing which of the nervous trifecta it wanted to win:   cry, puke or faint.


After what seem like forever in purgatory, the adults return smiling and dad tossed a card into my shaking lap. As it was, we got brave on Dijana’s day off. In order to save face, he lied to her two coworkers, posing as a typical aged foreigner in need of a suit. He wanted me to have contact in case I ever did have anything to say. When we go home I did one last thing asked of me and sent a friend request, the accompanying letter came of my own accord :

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈ * *≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈


I know how strange this sounds, but I think I may be your daughter. If you are the Dijana Kuć who gave up a child in 1987, I just wish you to know I’m alive and safe, as far as anything else I don’t need. I would however like you to answer a few questions after this conversation. Any further contact will be in your hands because the last thing I’d ever want is cause harm by disturbing innocent lives. I only to know who and what I came from. It is within your power to help me this once and that is all I ask.

 Sincerely yours,

Mirela T,



Though I can’t deny many things were taken away from me and I’m painfully aware of that.  But that can be  said by anyone to some degree. Bur most of all I am grateful. We don't have to be our parents.  I’m still learning how not to get drowned in the  idea of paying for the mistakes of  others.  Dijana hasn’t replied as of around  six months ago when I sent the note, in essence confirming  her identify through silence. I wasn't expecting her to, being well prepared for such. It was the finest of long shots.  I was born to keep taking them.

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Terrace Motel

Cheap carpet, caked with years of grime,

thrown across the cement floor like a shop rag,
stretched to the stained walls stacked high

with ordinary and torn boxes—resembling a mini

storage. Outside these walls, the police investigate yet

another stabbing. (Some movies are based on reality).

The old hood is across the street – which supposedly

separated old from new.


My mother, brother, two sisters and I slept, ate

and fought in that cube for more than three years.

The lights didn’t always work. The plumbing leaked

and the single door lock did not always lock. Harry never
spent money to have things fixed properly—It was the only
place Social Security and Welfare paid for. We slept

because we were tired and ate because we were hungry.


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Abandoned Child


My brother died,

And in his place;

I was born;

But I was repelled.


My mother threw me from the table,

Abused me, both mind and body.

My father never present,

And if so, he ignored me.

They left each other fast,

'cause mother was a lesbian.

But my father needed a woman,

For his children and as a housewife.


The second was quite alright,

Even if she made me eat axis.

Only my sister I couldn't see,

That became off limits.


After years they had their divorce,

And then came the third, the most terrible.

My wicked stepmother,

The greatest dictator.


She tried to strangle my brother,

Then father did interfere.

She put me in the sanitarium,

With false motives, my fear.


Firstly in a crisis-centra,

'cause I run away from home.

Then in the sanitarium,

Where I for six months did roam.


In the sanitarium,

Provided with medication.

By which I lost my memory,

Crawling in the emptiness of chaos...


Regularly I suffered blackouts,

By which I saw nothing.

Not knowing what I did,

Much like sleep-walking;

And strange vistas occurred.


I wasn't suffering delirium,

Is what the doctors told.

So all this time,

I was in the asylum for no reason.


Then I had to go to boarding-school,

Where I developed something bad: anger.

I wanted to kill another, a female;

And Nyarlathotep, I am sorry;

Maybe I didn't wanted to commit this act,

But I had to from Satan...


What happened was unforeseen,

'cause my room was now aflame.

The building completely in axis,

The police came to arrest me.


A year and a half in prison,

Locked away in a cell, in Hell.

A year and a half terror,

The bondage of society.


When I got out, there was another project,

Named room-training.

I had to work in a factory,

But that didn't end well...

I started to mutilate myself,

Which I learned in the sanitarium.

They send me to the hospital,

To the psychiatric division.

Then again to the crisis-centra,

Which I didn't liked at all.

As if I had to start over,

This was too much overall...


Through the open door I escaped,

And from my last money;

I was buying a train-ticket,

Which brought me to Ramses.


Author's Notes/Comments: 

This is my autobiography.

HIS American LIFE: Left to wander in the City of Angels; Ch. 2

Chapter Two; Left Behind…Again!

Narrated in the first person:

Both my Father and Mother worked late hours.
My mother would normally get home around
5:00 PM in the afternoon; my father would start
in the evening and get home around 8:00 AM
each morning, usually my mother and I would
leave the apartment at the same time; however,
she went south and I went north. It may sound
terrible that my parents did not take me to school
in the morning or accompanied me, but there was
no other way. They both had to work to put food
on our table and a roof above my head.
I understood that at a young age, and never have
or will question their actions. I became a young
man and a young age. After the first incident,
I thought for sure it would never happen again…so
I thought.

I remember this morning my mother had said,
“Apurale mijo, te tienes que ir ya, tu sabes que el
bus que te lleva a la escuela se va a las 8 en punto,
si no te apuras te va a dejar.” Little did my mother
know that the bus had left me behind recently? Like
a week ago. On this particular morning my mother
and I left together as always; she gave me a kiss
right before we parted our ways. “Con cuidado mijo,
no lleges tarde.” So I began my 30 minute walk to
the school were the bus picked me and other kids up
and took us to our Elementary school, which was a
45 minute drive (to this day I do not know and have
never bothered to ask my parents, why I did not go
to a school nearby or closer to home). As I continue
on my the distraction was everywhere that day, in
particular the alley I use to take as a shortcut, which
today was not a shortcut at all. Kicking and throwing
rocks was my agenda every morning through the alley;
seeing homeless people sleeping by the trash bins was
a common sight that I had grown use to; however, the
sight that I saw on this particular morning was not
pleasant at all. At the time, I had no idea what drugs
were, I remember walking half-way through the alley
when I noticed a bum passed out by a trash bin, as I
walked closer I notice his eyes were not closed but open,
and all I can see was the white of his eyes; a cold shiver
ran down my spine as I glance at his arms, I noticed that
from his left arm there was a red line from this elbow area
to the tip of his fingers, that is where I notice the red line
was dripping on to the concrete. From where the red line
began there was a grey object stuck in his arm, I had no
idea what that was then…as I got older I realize the grey
object was a syringe and the red line was blood secreting
from his arm, until this day I feel what saw was a dead
bum overdose on heroin. I recall running the rest of the
alley to the next block, that’s the block that led to the bus
stop in front of another school.

To my surprise as I am making my turn up the street to the
bus stop, all I recall seeing was the black cloud of smoke
from behind the bus as it sped away. I ran and yelled as
hard as I could, but it was not enough, so I stood there in
front of the bus stop and started to cry, with tears running
down my cheeks I walked back the way I came, this time I
was more scared than the last time, this time felt like I was
going to get punish for missing the bus; come to think of it
I was more scared for the punishment I would receive from
my parents than being alone again in the streets of L.A.
After I cried for about 20 minutes, I realized I had nowhere
to go, and I had eight to walk and discover more of the city
of angels. The first time I was left behind my journey began
to the east, and I remembered the bullies that chase me
were in that direction, so naturally this time I headed west;
with my superman backpack, I took steps towards the
greatest day of my childhood life. I saw a house burning and
stopped to witness people running out of the house, then
the fire truck showed up and firefighter ran inside with long
white water hoses, I stood across the street behind a car, so
I wouldn't be seen or ask , what was I doing there! The
house was ablaze and I felt the heat on my face, the sight to
me back then was cool! Time passed and the fire was
extinguished, the show was over, and my stomach began to
growl…I knew lunch was near, hungry and no money, I stole
again, this time from a ‘paletero’ an ice-cream man, which I
befriended by acting lost and asking him for a ‘paleta de
vanilla’ a vanilla popsicle. The ‘paletero’ reached in and gave
me the ‘paleta’ as soon as I got it, I ran like deer, jumping
potholes and sidewalks, all I heard was the ‘paletero’ yelling,
“Pinche mocoso, pinche ladron.” I knew I wasn’t going to see
him again, and I didn’t. I maintained the rest of the day with
only a vanilla Popsicle for lunch.

I continued my walk to downtown L.A. towards MacArthur Park
again, on my way I saw a helicopter with a house hanging from
it with cables, the sight was familiar, then I remembered the
time I fell from a second story building at another apartment my
parents and I used to live at; after my fall, I was rushed to the
hospital, in my dazed in and out of consciousness I remember
seeing the same site outside the window of my Tia Elvira’s
Volkswagen Van, “you know the long ones with all the windows
around.” This day was hotter than most, it was summer anyways,
so yeah, the heat was intensive, so I felt. I was thirsty, so I
walked into a liquor store, and stole a water bottle; the clerk had
them in a small cooler by the door, no one saw, I think! I
remembered the bum who I had met the last time I was left behind,
so when I got to MacArthur Park, I went looking for the bum and I
found in the same place I had seen him the last time. He was
feeding birds and cursing them at the same time; as I approached
him, he recognized me and said, “Hey, man, where have you been?”
As if I was a frequent friend who stops by daily. “I been okay, going
to school,” I replied. “The bus left me again,” I added. The bum
offered crackers; I took one only and sat next to him. I remember
onlookers staring at me then at the bum and probably wondering,
“What on earth was a child doing sitting next to a bum?” I didn’t care,
neither did the bum. After what seemed a long time to me back then,
I decided to go home, I knew the directions and I excuse myself and
said, “Well Mr. I will be going now, talk to you later.” He asked me,
“Have you ever made a wish on the fountain rit’ ovur der’,” just like
that it sounded like. “No, I haven’t,” I answered. So before I carried
on, the bum and I walk to the middle of the park and stand in front
of a big fountain that was located there, and he handed me a nickel.
“You see, you hold the nickel in your hand, which ever you like and
make a wish as you’re throwing the nickel in the fountain.”
He instructed. I saw all the coins in the water and thought, “Boy,
that is a lot of money in the water, but I did what the bum said and
made a wish as I threw the nickel in the fountain. My wish was never
to get left behind again, and I never did. That’s because my parents
and I moved to Rosemead, Ca two months later, were the chapters
of my life continued…

I got home around the same time as the last time, stood at the
bottom of the building, looked up and yelled, “, “Apaaaaaa, Apaaaaaa,
soy Yoooooo,” my dad looks out the window and repeats what he
said everyday when I got home, ““Mijo, ya llegastes,” throws down
the keys, I opened the big entry door and entered; I was home again,…
safely again!!

Author's Notes/Comments: 

HIS American LIFE is my STORY...

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HIS American LIFE: Left to wander in the City of Angels

Chapter 1: Left Behind

His America life consisted of walking through the slums of East LA,

eating with the bums from MacArthur Park, a 7 year old boy,

wandering the streets alone, the school bus left him…twice!

The first time he was left, he strolled through a neighborhood of

menaces of society, young hoodlums gave chase, the first grader

began his run, his run for life, his heart in his throat, he thought, “I

will never get home!” The american boy ran as fast as he could, in

a puddle of paint he slid and fell; the hoodlums almost caught him

but he stood and caught his balance, ran again. The miracle

happen as he reached what seemed a ten foot wall, he ran,

scared, but took a leap of faith and jumped so high that he reached

the top of the wall with his hand and pulled his weight over…the

hoodlums stood in amazement as the american boy escaped their

grasp. The running built up and appetite, “I must eat,” he said out

loud. He had never stolen, but knew that he had no money; his

thoughts were on finding home, but felt he couldn't be weak for the

journey he was about to embark in. A local bakery he entered, he

stood in front of the french bread basket, calculating the store

clerks moves; when the clerks back was turn swiftly the boy exited

like a ghost in the mist…that was the best tasting french bread roll

in his life. The journey began around 2:00 PM in the afternoon, the

young american boy found himself at the center of MacArthur Park

four blocks from the apartments he lived in. He was struck by the

world around him, he lost track of time and paces to get there, he

shared donuts with a bum, they had a conversation about the

pigeons and how they ate too much crumbs, which, was the reason

they shit-ed a lot, and on occasion the shit would land of him, “Fuck

you motherfucken birds,” he yelled twice throughout the

conversation as he gave the birds the bird. The only thing the

american boy could remember was the street he lived on, so ask

the bum, and bum lead him to the corner of the street that would

lead him to his home. He followed orders, as the american boy

walked up the four blocks, his memory recollected images and

memories, things took shape, the world had a pattern. He

remembered, then it hit him, he smiled, because he knew his way

home now. On Verendo Street, he turned left, took a few steps,

stopped and looked up; the bum had told that the him that the time

of day was 3:30 PM, and that was the time he usually got home.

He was worried that he’ll be ask why was he late. He yelled,

“Apaaaaaa, Apaaaaaa, soy Yoooooo,” his father looks out the

window, “Mijo, ya llegastes,” he yells back, “Siiiiii,” he answers.

“Ayi te van las llaveeees,” father yells back, as he tosses the keys

down the window so the young boy can open the door to the

apartment complex; a big brown door, heavy, he was tired was

his voyage through the streets of LA, but he pushed the castle's

door as he entered, he was home...safely.

to be continued...

Author's Notes/Comments: 

I was in first grade!!

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Me, myself and I


My name is Daniela Novelo Iñiguez, born in San Diego California on a very lovely day, march 24th 1993. My mother's name is Blanca and she is 47 years old. My father is Normando and he is 53, they are both proud mexicans born in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.The relationship I have with my family tries to be as warm and united. I have had the great opportunity to be under one roof enjoying the affection of my parents, Normando and Blanca, and the company of my only sister, Adriana. Thanks to the environment of integrity and support in all kinds of values, both moral and economic, I realized that I was very lucky.

My father has always been close to me, has guided me since my first steps and through the years about my schooling. He has always been concerned for trying to give me the best things possible, reflecting his personality with the one of his parents, looking upon them as as a great example. Meanwhile, my mom has given me everything a mother could give to a child, help in personal habits, my education, and value my home. Both have been careful to inculcate how to differentiate good from bad, which leads me to making decisions. My sister has become over time, my best friend. I trust her, and therefore we have a close relationship. I have the luck to have four grandparents who have been very close to me since my childhood. Actually I've been spoiled a lot, but also they have been correcting me when they have felt it necessary. Besides, I have uncles and many cousins ​​with whom I shared the best memories that unite us. We are a close-knit extended family.

I studied my elementary school in Colegio Mexico, Ensenada, Baja Calif.., Except second grade at the school attended Stella Maris Academy in La Jolla, Calif.. Later on, I studied my junior high at the same school except, eighth grade; I attended Stella Maria Academy in La Jolla, Calif.. Where I was given Outstanding Student Certificate. Then, I studied my high school at CETYS-UNIVERSITY ( Centro de Enseñanza Tecnica y Superios), Three years in the bilingual group.As for extracurricular courses, I took sewing classes for a semester, and have danced flamenco for nine and a half years.

Outside of family and school life to which I have referred, I have participated since the primary in different courses, events, associations and other tasks:

- I have cooperated with the Red Cross in Ensenada, Baja Calif.., In its Annual Breakfast to raise funds to equip the new hospital unit,participating as in a runway show.
- During my time at school Stella Maris Academy, La Jolla, California, attending eighth grade, i was chosen to participate in creating the cover of the Yearbook of the same school, having chosen my design for it. During this period (2006-2007) I was named Honor Student in Art.
-Back at the Colegio Mexico, Ensenada, B. Cfa., the entire high school voted for me to become President of the Alumni Association.
-As for my creative interests participated in the Third Bazaar Creations "All hand made," featuring hand-painted bags, custom, and various accessories, designed and made by me.
-In 2010 I was chosen as a candidate representing the city of Ensenada, B. Cfa., To support the AEBMAC (Baja California Student Association in Monterrey ITESM), in order to raise funds for scholarships in this state, having exceeded its goal of funding allocated to Ensenada, with the unconditional support of my mom, my dad and a committee of friends. That year, along with candidates from Tijuana and Mexicali, we obtained the largest amount ever obtained previously for this purpose.

For now, I am studying marketing at ITESM ( Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Campus Mty) an living in "Residencias".

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