Kevin Curran
10:00 P.M.

Hello friends, this is Mickey, I'm in a tight spot. Through very little fault of my own, I've become sandwiched between the storefront of Cepeda Santana's corner market and the aluminum covering which recoils in front of the shop.

So that we're perfectly clear - I've mentioned two separate objects - I'm in the middle of them. As I type, my backside is flattened by the glass storefront while my nose and toenails press against the corrugated thin-metal-guard-covering. I apologize for not having the proper name for this object - but you do realize what I'm talking about, right? It rolls down each night after closing, it protects the store from abuse . . . although tonight, it's dropped down and caught me unaware. This couldn't have happened at a worse time, I need to be on the subway early in the morning, and furthermore, I think I'm coming down with a cold.

I'm writing in the dark on my laptop and sending these messages through a wireless connection; I've come straight from work. I suppose I am blessed to have this technology on hand, however, it's hard to be grateful at this point, I'm incredibly uncomfortable.

To satiate your curiosity, I'll give you a quick synopsis of how this happened. At 7 P.M., before walking upstairs to my apartment, I stopped by Cepeda's market to share a quick drink with some of his cousins who watch baseball in the store. The Yankees lost, we played dominoes on a card table outside, the guys helped me with my Spanish, I ate some chips - it was a pleasant evening. At some point, Cepeda's cousins went home to their wives. I must have remained on the sidewalk and leaned against the storefront. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I remember starting to think about my childhood in San Diego, ways to minimize my commute . . . Soon I slipped into heavy introspection and apparently detached somewhat from the physical world. Although, I often delve deep with inte! rior monologue, this is nothing new. But tonight constitutes a high-water mark for my inward travel; even I am surprised I failed to notice the metal sheeting descending over my forehead.

In regards to Cepeda, I can only assume he was looking the other way when he closed shop. For three years, we've carried on wonderfully and enjoyed a healthy, reciprocal relationship. I've not burdened him with my debt and scrappy, yellow I.O.U.s for months. According to my ledger, we're just about even. I can't imagine that a family man and civic-minded shopkeeper would knowingly squash me up like a common house mouse. Therefore, from this point on, without any further discussion, I'll regard my present situation as a gross oversight on Cepeda's part and not take any of this personally. With that said, we need to focus on the number 1 priority, my immediate escape.

10:34 P.M.

Friends, have I lost your attention? Are you ignoring me, doubting me? Please focus. I've never needed you so much in my life. I realize my story may seem improbable. Some of you may have shrugged me off - but those with stronger faith, thicker skin, may be wondering just how much space I have to work with. Well, I'm going to venture an estimate of 8-9 inches of girth.

As the metal guard descended, it slammed my shoulder bag and knocked out the laptop that was tucked inside. The laptop bounced out and smashed against my hips. It remains there, frozen in mid-flight, but fully functional.

Now, I'm not a large man and I certainly paid a great price for that during elementary school dodge ball, but tonight, at Cepeda Santana's - with the evening's unfortunate developments - I find great relief in my stature. You see, I have some legroom to play with. I've also got the wrist and finger movement I need to negotiate the keyboard - I may be trapped but I'm not without my resources.

Incidentally, I do remember that my dear brother, Jason, e-mails late on Sunday nights. Well, what's up J? Could you please make it down to Cepeda's? I'm stuck.

11:03 P.M.

Composure, I've been speaking to myself about composure. Come on Micky, maintain composure and for Christ's sakes, remember where you come from. You're a college graduate with decent grades and a solid base of friends. For a number of years you attended church services and even went on a few youth group retreats, now surely you can beat this.

St. Christopher, if you're out there, I do hope you remember exactly how many years after confirmation I kept your icon on my silver necklace. I know your pious hands are capable of miraculous intervention and I am certainly hard up. So, if you're free at the moment, I'm on the corner of Park Place and Washington Avenue, in the seedy middle of Brooklyn, NY. Cepeda Santana keeps a tidy storefront, a yellow awning wraps around the shop while blinking orange lights illuminate his 'Ice Cream 25 cents' sign. As I said previously, I'm behind the aluminum covering. I realize you're a man of God and surely tonight you've received more noble calls than mine. However, as I mentioned, after confirmation the medallion stayed with me for five full years - that includes showers and dental x-rays, I never let anything come between us - I ! always related to you more than other saints, please help me now.

11:28 P.M.

The temperature is dropping, not dramatically, but we have reached the tail end of autumn and the northeast doesn't half-ass seasonal transitions. This doesn't bode well for me, and further more, I'm thirsty. I do actually have a bottle of water in my back pocket. The pocket is wedged behind my hamstring and if I lean to the left . . . I think I can . . . nope . . . it's totally beyond my reach. Damn. I'm thirsty. I don't work well when dehydrated; the thought of urine darkening within the bladder sets me off terribly. My mouth is getting pasty; I can hardly gleek. Ok, no time to waste. I would really like to be rescued soon, there's nothing here for me anymore.

Friends and family, please direct yourselves to the above-mentioned address as soon as possible. Perhaps bring a crowbar. I'll gladly cover the cost of damages inflicted to Cepeda's property. Incidentally, I know many more of you also check emails constantly and may be hesitating to act because, perhaps, I owe you a bit of money or have spoken poorly of you to others. Well then, if that's the case, I both apologize for my moral shortcomings and also encourage you not to be so judgmental. I am in a time of great need and besides, history is written about the people who act swiftly in crisis, not about those who hold grudges.

11:58 P.M.

I've completely lost my voice from screaming - no one seems to have heard. The street is quiet. Normally my neighborhood is vibrant, if not obnoxiously filled with human and automotive noise, but today is Sunday. The streets of Brooklyn are surprisingly tranquil on Sunday. All stores and restaurants close early. I know that. I should have realized Cepeda's would close early. I've lived on this corner for three years; I fully grasp the alternative Sunday schedule - yet still I find myself foolishly trapped. Okay, fine - I know what you're thinking. Aside from the deep introspection, what other factor contributed to this lowly situation? Was I perhaps - a bit drunk when I leaned against the glass storefront? Well, yes, I'll admit that, if it's so important, yes, as a matter of fact - I was a bit! looped. Thank you for making it an issue. Okay, so let's get that monkey out on the table. We'll all have a good long look. Yes - funny monkey, silly monkey - look, it's scratching its head, not seeing evil and wait, I think it's doing a somersault. Wow, a monkey flip - a real monkey flip, and now for his next act, the bodega-sandwich-fandango - how entertaining, yet in all truth, how predictable and how very hollow.

All right, so we've all had our fun. Can we please focus on the situation at hand? - thanks.

1:20 A.M.

I guess it's difficult for me to believe that nobody is checking e-mails tonight. Let me reiterate the idea that a companion of yours is in great peril. After hours of fidgeting, I've developed tiny cuts across my face and elbows. I fear microbial infection from the rusted shank - I've decided to call my aluminum sheathing a shank. Similar to a Boa constrictor, the shank appears to be tightening against my midsection. I can feel her inching towards my love handles with each exhaled breath. I hate the shank - I don't care how many break-ins she's prevented. I'm pissed off.

Have I mentioned the odors wafting through this wretched microenvironment? Reluctantly I've sampled each passing scent, alternating the filthy job between my nose and mouth. Just to pass time, allow me to mention the olfactory bouquet invoked by fried chicken skins, goat roti and uric acid. Of course, under normal circumstances, Utz cheese puffs and cans of Ballantine play a delightful role in my wily Saturday night escapades - but now, in this bodega coffin, they are decrepit and entirely too close. If only my nasal passage was smashed as the shank rolled down, if only the neuron connection between the outside world and my neo-cortex had scrambled, then perhaps I wouldn't be so sensitive to the fecal deposits and fermenting debris that kitty-corner in the dark, just an arms! length away.

Oh Christ, this is miserable. No, I've changed my mind; I don't want to talk about odors anymore. There's no joy in the telling. I must focus; we all must focus on my escape.

2:43 A.M.

Incidentally, there is a reason why I've attempted to communicate with you, I do desire release from this disaster. Spending an entire night lodged in a bodega sandwich just might blow out my candle once and for all. I've heard a few of you mention, no need for names, that I may already be, 'a bit off kilter' or I think, 'missing the plot' was the way someone expressed their concern for Mickey. Well, I'm not sure how to address all that, only to claim that until this evening, everything was relatively tip-top up top. But, if, for whatever reason, I do spend an entire Sunday night unassisted and jacked against a rusting shank and a filthy cold sheet of glass - screws may loosen permanently. Nobody really wants that, do they? I know Jason, who lives on Flatbush- just 5 blocks over - surely reading this message rig! ht fucking now - wouldn't want to see any signs of lunacy in the immediate family, it would make us all look bad.

Jason, please come now. I'm cold - nothing is funny.

4:29 A.M.

I regret to report that I've suffered a few physical setbacks since my last correspondence. A pack of dogs ran by and must have smelt my fresh blood because they jumped up and hurled their considerably weighty bodies against the storefront. The shank pressed in a few more inches and essentially melded to my upper molars and chin. You can imagine how pained and emotional I became. My breathing pattern immediately intensified and then - while I was making dramatic exhales - the punchy metal bitch snaked up under my diaphragm as if suffocating a rodent. Now I'm left with bleeding gums and, in regards to respiration, I've been reduced to just half breaths and sputters. I wish that were all.

Just a few frantic moments after the dogs left, I spastically pawed my right arm up and down over the door handle in a last ditch effort to free myself from the interior side. Tragically, I slipped in a puddle while I was straining my torso and, in doing so, a fragment of broken soda bottle stepped into my patellar tendon. The glass shard still hasn't released its grip. You can imagine how troubled I am to be losing so much blood. I've been leaking life's vital elixir for a good thirty minutes with no sign of congealment. My once boasted cache of resources seems to be depleted, ineffectual and as quiet as the Basin and Range. This bodega may bury me.

Regarding Jason, I am 100% positive that you're online right now, probably checking on your various dating services and poorly investing small sums of money in penny stocks. I cannot believe you've allowed this to happen to me. You're as guilty as the shank; I'll be seeking out revenge sometime next week.

6:18 A.M.

Sunlight is beginning to sift through the cracks. Judging by the different colors and textures of fresh liquid under my feet, I can tell that I've suffered greatly. My consciousness left me around 4:45 A.M. and I'm relieved that it did. I can't help but notice that nobody has either come to my aid or replied with an e-mail. I won't forget this neglect, how could I? In a few moments, Cepeda Santana will walk down the sidewalk and with a cup of coffee in his hand, crank open the shank and begin another workday. Cepeda will be unaware that by cranking open the shaft, he'll also rip out sections of my skin and hair, which are currently pinched within the shaft's encrusted metallic convolutions. Cepeda can be such an ignorant asshole; he probably won't even sympathize with my physical trauma, which he helped inflict.! Just another business day for that crook - I won't spend another dime at his store.

The shop opens every Monday at 6:30 A.M. In a few moments, I'll begin my day and with it, the healing process.

6:39 A.M.

Any moment now, I can practically hear his crooked little footsteps approaching. A new day is waiting in the wings. I'm ready for the painful rebirth. Waiting for God's sweet sunlight on my battered face, battered but resilient and genuinely American, essentially heroic.

6:43 A.M.

He must be a little late. Hmmm, overslept I imagine, though Cepeda is generally a responsible stiff. He knows who butters his bread. Any second now - I'm ready Mr. Monday, go ahead - rip the mask off and start me anew.

6:53 A.M.

Any moment now -

7:15 A.M.

Any second

Kevin Curran lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY. He has previously contributed to publications in Science, Protoplasma and Journal of American Botany.


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