Edward D. Currelley

 

Sacrifice Paid Forward

There was a pounding on the front door. I lifted myself from the sofa and tiptoed to see who was there. Through the peek hole, I could see Ole Casey leaning against the door frame. I pulled the door open, and he stumbled in, collapsing half way across the threshold.

Casey writhed in pain, holding in what was left of his gut. His eyes bulged in fear. Across the hall, Miss Martha McCrea, his wife, leaned against her apartment door, her head bowed and bobbing. With one hand, she clutched her ten year old daughter, Jolie,  who hid in the safety of her mother’s shadow, dark red trickling down her legs. Martha’s other hand clutched a rusted butcher’s knife, blood dripping onto the threadbare carpet.

Miss Martha shivered and stuttered as she spoke. “You gonna save him, Dr. Edward?” Tears dripped from her chin. “Doc, you gonna save him?” She pleaded with terror-filled eyes, clutched little Jolie tighter, her knuckles white on the blade handle. I knew that if I answered yes, she’d finish the job.

I was down on one knee, my hand on Casey’s neck. His pulse was weak, his breathing labored. A rhythmic gurgle came from his throat; he was drowning in his own blood.

Their near nightly screams and cries had permeated the building for years, Casey yelling and cursing in his drunken rages, his wife and daughter at his mercy. Theirs was a story destined to end tragically, a conclusion befitting the beast. We’d seen the bruises and black eyes, the hair pulled out in patches, the broken arm and fingers. I didn’t have to think long. Right or wrong, I dragged Casey across my threshold.

“Don’t worry yourself about that, Miss Martha. Some things are best left to God,” I said. “Now go on, go inside. Tend to Jolie…wash everything down, and get rid of that knife.”

She hesitated for a moment, nodded, and backed into her apartment, pulling Jolie in with her. When she latched their door, I closed mine and turned to Casey. Unable to move or speak, he lay on the linoleum floor, gurgling and bleeding out.

I wrestled with the possible consequenceswith the Hippocratic oath I’d sworn to protect and preserve human life. What if preserving one life meant putting two others at risk? I was just a man surviving in a world where the fractured are cast aside, an urban sub-culture governed by animal instinct and common sense. Who was I to play God?

Casey’s breathing was jagged and shallow. Blood pooled on the linoleum floor, foamed from the corners of his mouth. I turned away and opened the cabinet over the sink where I stored my bottles of courage. Both glasses were dirty in the sink. I rinsed one, no need for two. Casey had already had his last drink. Bottle in hand, I pulled a chair from the table and sat. I poured two fingers, threw them back, and repeated. I’d made my decision.

It took Casey an hour and fourteen minutes to succumb.

My flat was one room with a small kitchen in the corner. It was located on the second level of a three story walk up. Everyone on the floor shared the bathroom, shower, and the payphone at the end of the hall where we’d sit on the windowsill to talk. Often, just before daybreak, I’d sit there with my legs dangling over the fire escape, watching the sun rise with bright orange and red bursts of heavena new day to wash away the stench of yesterday.

We called the building The Bridge because it was like an extension between nowhere  and the endcertainly the longest I’ve ever tried crossing. You can look out as far in the distance as you like and never glimpse the other side. Most folks, like myself, moved in at their lowest point after losing everythingthankful for a place to regain composure, though little hope of bouncing back. In my time here, few have left The Bridge on two feet. Just gotta keep your head up and never stop walking forward.

I threw back another finger or two and checked Casey’s pulse once againdidn’t need him coming to in the middle of an investigation. No sign of life. I opened the door and leaned over the railing, shouting down to the owner of the building on the first floor. “Miss Charlott, you up?” I yelled, repeatedly.

Miss Martha’s door was ajar. She looked at me in question. I could tell she hadn’t slept. Who could? I put my finger to my lips and motioned for her to go back inside, she complied as Charlott opened her door and yelled up at me, “Doc, what the hell is wrong with you? Its three fuckin’ AM?!”

“I know” I replied, “Look, Casey got himself in a bit of trouble. I need you to call an ambulance and the cops.”

“Why can’t you do it?” she yelled back.

“I don’t have any money, not even one thin dime. You have a house phone. Come on Miss Charlott, I think he’s dying.”

“Well save him, you’re a doctor aren’t you?”

Those words were like shards of glass in my brain. “Shit woman! Just call will ya?”

She slammed her door in a huff, ten minutes later the police arrived. “Upstairs,” I heard Charlott say. Miss Martha cracked her door to peek out.

“Where’s the injured person?” The detective asked, I pointed into my apartment. “There.”

“What happened?” he asked, “I don’t know, he banged on my door. When I opened up, he fell down. I dragged him in and did what I could. Then we called for an ambulance.”

“Do you know him?” the detective asked.

“Sure,” I replied, “He lives across the hall. I didn’t knock on his door.”

“Why not?” the detective demanded.

“Well, he has a little girl and a wife.” I turned from Miss Martha’s view and drew the officer closer. “His wife is a little slow, she doesn’t properly understand things. Know what I mean?”

“So explain to me, why he would knock on your door instead of his own?”

“Probably because he knew I was a doctor…once.”

The detective noticed the bottle and glass on the table. “Looks like that was the second wrong choice he made tonight.”

“What do you mean? I did everything I could do!” I responded.

“Yeah well, that’s obvious.” He replied, with a smirk.

The police took a number of pictures and questioned a few residents. They noticed Miss Martha, a woman of average stature, between forty-six and fifty years, worn and overworked, peeking through the crack of her door, but never spoke a word to her.

Once the authorities had completed their investigation, they packed their equipment and began the process of removal. Last to go was Casey’s corpse, unceremoniously stuffed inside a black rubber body bag. I had somehow thought they’d wheel him out under a white sheet. The body bag was hard to see.

Miss Martha saw Casey being taken away and softly pounded her fist against the door frame. She lifted the front of her tattered dress and wiped her eyes with the hem. Jolie hugged her mother tighter and began to weep. Taking notice, in a sign of humanity rarely exhibited in this community, the lead detective approached Miss Martha for the first time and touched her shoulder. Jolie looked on from behind, a rag doll with yellow yarn hair hanging at her side. The detective offered his condolences. “We’ll see that he’s taken care of, Ma’am. Don’t you worry. It’ll be fine.”

Miss Martha nodded as the officials departed. Raising her head, our eyes met, and she mouthed the words, “Thank you, Jesus,” and smiled through her tears.

I nodded, acknowledging the lifted burden, and wondered at what cost. Turning to enter my room, I caught a glimpse of little Jolieher wide-eyed innocence, staring up at her mother’s rarely seen smile.

*

Everyone who lived at The Bridge knew who Casey was, not to mention the dirty tricks and lowest deeds of humanity he’d performed to survive. He stood about five feet six inches tall with a basketball type belly mass, and dressed in all the latest neighborhood fashion trends, brightly colored and loud. It was the kind of clothing that people (black or white) living downtown wouldn’t have found acceptable, but around here it was considered a status symbol, mostly because of the expense. That’s how it’s always been; if you had more than your neighbor, they looked up to you.

Had it not been for his association with the men who owned the corner bodega and local numbers racket, many a man would have taken him out. Fear of retribution was the only thing that kept him safe. Casey made a lot of money for those guys on the corner and, as long as the money flowed, they had his back. Now that he was gone, there were questions that needed answering.

Jackson “Crush” Ruiz was the ring leader of the Bodega crew. He was tall, young and very handsome, some even thought pretty. With his hair slicked back, pearl white teeth and manicured nails, he was a standout with the ladies. Rumor had it that he got his moniker because so many neighborhood ladies liked him. Truth be told, it had come years earlier when he took a sledge hammer to the skull of a former bully and rival who had disrespected him in public. From that point on, he was neighborhood royalty.

It didn’t take long for Jackson “Crush” Ruiz to come knocking. Charlott was standing out front, showing off her new white-laced blouse. She usually held the post questioning everyone’s comings and goings. When Ruiz and his crew approached, she stood defiantdidn’t move or utter a word. As they entered the building and passed, she promptly entered her apartment and shut the doorthe only two bedroom unit in the entire building, and with a separate bathroom.

The men walked halfway up the steps and stopped. Ruiz yelled, “Doc Ed!”

I didn’t answer. No use in trying to be brave, I thought, they’ve come for me. I pulled the door open and made like everything was normal. It was anything but.

“Who’s that calling my name?” There were two of them in the building and one out front.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” Ruiz said, laughing. “There is a doctor in the house.” He had a big mischievous grin, his teeth gleaming like diamonds.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“You really don’t want to play stupid, Doc. You know why I’m here. I want to know what happened to my boy.”

“I don’t really know. Seems he got into it with somebody who got the best of him. Then he comes knocking on my door. I tried, but there was nothing I could do.”

“Well Doc, did he say anything, like who did it?”

“No, not a word. He could barely talk. He was holding his guts in with both hands. Nobody could talk in that condition.”

“God damned!” Ruiz yelled, and pounded the banister.

His henchman said, “Boss, I need the toilet.”

Ruiz turned angrily and snapped, “Well go! Do you need me to hold your fuckin’ hand?”

I pointed to the bathroom.

“You sure he didn’t say anything?”

“No, nothing,” I replied.

“What about his ol’ lady, you think she knows something?” At that point I knew I needed to come up with an excuse. Why not stick to the original? His next move would be to bang on her door. The henchman came out the bathroom. Ruiz looked him up and down. “I thought you needed to crap?” Walking down the steps the man turned and said, “I just as soon shit in the hall corner. I’ll be out front.” Ruiz shook his head and turned his attention back to me. “Well, what about her?”

“She’s slow,” I said. “Dumber than a sack of door knobs, and they got a ten-year-old girl that rivals her mother in intelligence. Sometimes you can’t tell the mom from the kid. You’ll get nothing there. No woman with half a mind would’ve put up with that piece of trash. You knew him.”

Ruiz just listened as I spoke out of turn. I realized my mistake a little too late. “Look, I’m just saying, after he died, well you know how it is. People talk, and none of it’s good. Most of it was about that little girl. Casey had devil problems. That’s all I got to say on the matter, don’t know what happened to your boy.”

“Well sooner or later, the truth will rise and someone will fall.  We’ll talk again, Doc.”

With that, he turned and walked down the steps. Charlott had come back out into the vestibule. She looked at Ruiz and rolled her eyes. He didn’t take kindly to that and stopped. He asked, “That night of the killing, you hear anything Miss?”

“I got nothing to say to you or your thugs.”

He smiled and grabbed a handful of her just treated Afro hair, yanking her head backward and forcing her against the wall. His knee was in the base of her spine. “I asked you a question.”

Noticing the commotion, the two members of his crew ran back and stood in the doorway. I kept quiet and crouched down, watching through the banister.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” cried Charlott, “I didn’t see or hear anything, I swear, please…”

Ruiz let her go, wiping the oil of her hair on her new white blouse. “Good,” he said, then yelled, “We’ll be talking again real soon Doc, count on it!”

Crush Ruiz exited the building. Charlott was crying. When he was no longer within ear shot, she yelled, “Mother fucker! You mother fucker!” then entered her apartment and slammed the door.

I stood and turned to go back into my apartment. There in the corridor, standing halfway out of his room, was Chung, an aging immigrant American of Asian descent. Chung had moved into The Bridge three years earlier after being discharged from hospice. He’d been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and thought to have only months remaining. Unfortunately, Chung survived, not to mention outliving his medical insurance. He’d given away or donated all his worldly possessions, and was discharged virtually penniless, when he arrived at the Bridge. The possibility of Chung bouncing back wasn’t an option; when he left it was going to be in a body bag.

“I hear everything, Doctor Edward, they no good scum of earth. Miss Charlott no call cops. I call cops. I not afraid.”

“No Chung,” I begged. “It’s alright, we don’t need any more trouble, they’re gone. Let it be. Just let it be.”

“If you say so, Doc Edward, you good man, I see what you do for lady apartment there.” He pointed toward Martha’s door.

“No Chung, I didn’t do anything, hear me?” My heart jolted in my chest.

“You save her life, protect girl. He scum too, glad he gone. You do good, Doctor Edward.”

“Ok, Chung, thank you. No cops. Our secret, ok?”

“Ok, you say so, Doc.”

“I do Chung, I do …thank you.” Chung nodded his head and entered his room.

*

The months following Crush Ruiz’s visit to The Bridge were tense. Even though there wasn’t any solid evidence or proof of what transpired, Crush had his suspicions. His goons  would come by periodically and harass the tenants. We all kept our guard up.

The Bridge experienced a steady flow of transientsmany who weren’t in it for the long haul, just a pit stop moving forward. That said, once in, you never knew how the dice would play out, one bad roll could make all the difference. Out of all, the most unlikely tenant stayed, the distinguished Dr. Ronald Clark. He was an unusual gentleman, well dressed and versed. He was in his late forties, carried himself with distinction and always wore the same outfit plaid jacket, white shirt, black tie, shoes and slacks.

As time passed and it was evident that he wasn’t leaving, the gossip started. Dr. Clark appeared very much out of place. Rumor had it that he taught school at one of those Ivy League colleges, which I assumed would make him a Phd, or something close. He didn’t appear to be a drinker or druggie, just lost, like the rest of us.

According to the gospel of Miss Charlott, he was hiding out from the law. That being the case, she also let it be known that if anyone disturbed the Doc, they would be out on their butt. One really couldn’t blame her, seeing as he paid six months rent in advanceespecially since most of us were at least two months behind.

Eventually our paths did cross and I started referring to him as Dr. Ron. He lived in the room right above mine. The tenants on the third floor praised him. They said twice a week he’d get in the bathroom with a whole box of cleaning supplies and scrubbed until the place smelled as sanitary as a hospital. Myself, I just cleaned when I needed to use the facilities. Miss Charlott never paid anyone a decent dime to clean. Considering the load of crap, no pun intended, they had to deal with, most just abandoned the project half way through without notice, simply walked off the job. So it was always left up to the tenants, God knows Charlott wasn’t about to get her hands dirty.

Prior to having met Dr. Ron formally, I would see him talking to Miss Martha in the stairwell. They departed the building around the same time in the morning. Martha had to drop Jolie off at school, the Doc just went off on his way. He appeared kind and respectful. I’d not seen Martha interact with a smile since Casey’s demise. It seemed she withdrew from living, but little Jolie kept her from going over the edge. She got a part time job stocking shelves at the market about a half mile away. It did her good, gave her a sense of confidence and strength, and it showed. Dr. Ron took a shining to her, and seeing that did my heart a world of good.

As time passed, Chung’s health began to deteriorate. Every day he’d set out on a walk, never making it any further than the front door and stoop. That’s where he’d plant himself and chitchat with Miss Charlott. That, I must say, was a strange combination. The woman thumbed her nose at everyone, but took a genuine comfort in baring her soul and gossip to Chung who barely spoke English. Miss Martha developed a penchant for baking. On the weekends she and Jolie baked enough goods for the whole building. The smell alone was euphoric, the pastries and cakes she came up with, none of us could ever have affordedwell, maybe except the Doc. We’d spend fifty cents on a devil dog or ring-ding and called it a luxury. I asked her why she hadn’t thought about selling some of her goods to help make ends meet. She said she had, but didn’t sit well with the notion because she got all the ingredients for freebusted bags of flour and baking items that couldn’t be sold were given to employees who wanted them. It gave her an activity she and Jolie could do together. Subconsciously, I imagined, it was also a way of paying it forward. After Casey, she strutted around with Jolie, proudly displaying heartfelt blessings.

There were times I wondered how I’d be viewed by God. For my part, there were many and continued sleepless nights, but I can’t say I wouldn’t repeat my actions. The situation restored a piece of me I thought was long gone, reconciling hard choices, doing the heart’s bidding, taking charge and understanding the nature of humanity and the raw wealth of sacrifice.

The seasons changed rapidly, it seemed we raced through summer and barely had a chance to witness the harvest colors of autumn. The early frost and brisk winter’s chill sent everyone into hibernation and seclusion. I got out as often as possible and walked in the blistering wind, leaves stirring and blowing like mini tornadoeshalf colored and browning, frosted and danglingwaiting for their inevitable demise. Pumpkins and gourds froze on vegetable carts before their time. The cold of winter was upon us.

Chung, who made his daily pilgrimage to the stoop no matter what the weather, was always accompanied by Miss Charlott who found it in her heart to provide him with a much appreciated cup of tea, and wrapped a worn blanket around his shoulders. Like clockwork, Dr. Ron, Mrs. Martha and Jolie would run out of The Bridge in the early morning hours. We finally had a sense of normalcy and civility, and it felt good.

I got up every morning and sat on the hall windowsill next to the telephone. There was something about having coffee and watching the city come alive. The steady stream of delivery and garbage trucks throughout the boroughs, all weaving in and out of traffic, trying to stay ahead of one another. It was like a competition, whipping around corners, pausing at the pedestrian cross walk only if they had to. Most people just navigated the gauntlet and continued on their merry way, dangers notwithstanding. As I sat sipping coffee, all departing tenants waved and extended morning greetings. Despite the financial hardships and emotional circumstance the small blessings were quite apparent. Neither of us had any more than the other and we knew it. That bit of knowledge united us. We were all in this together.

Right before the Christmas holiday, Dr. Ron appeared to have taken up with what we used to refer to as a brick house tall and curvy. She only made appearances late at night, coming in and going out. I’d overhear Doc’s conversations from upstairs, barely audible, but you could definitely make out a woman’s voice, and the annoying clicking of high heels prancing about the place. “Girl you look stunning, can’t wait for you to spread those cheeks.” Sayings like that were always followed by bursts of laughter, and then not too long after, I’d hear her leaving for the night. The heels made a distinctive sound, and curious, I’d crack my door just in time to see her shapely legs and behind as she went down the stairs.

I can’t be certain, but I believe she was aware I watched from time to time. One evening she paused at the perfect spot, hoisted her skirt up highway too highto adjust her stockings. I let out a huge gulp and she chuckled, pulled down her skirt and journeyed on, giggling all the way out the door. This activity continued on for a while, the comings and goings.

Eventually it got the unwanted attention of Miss Charlott. She suspected something was askew. If it hadn’t been for the fact that she thought an additional person was staying in Dr. Ron’s room and there weren’t any additional coins coming her way, it wouldn’t have mattered. Two days before Christmas, late in the evening, Charlott was hanging  a wreath in the hallway just beyond the vestibule, and in walks Brick House. She paused to remove her shoes so as not to make a noise, looked up before entering, and laid her heavily lashed and mascaraed eyes on Charlott.

Dumbfounded, Charlotte was unable to get a word outshe just stared. Brick House does a complete about-face, whipped around with heels in hand, and beat it up the street in bare feet, disappearing into the night. That was the last we saw of the Brick House until New Year eve.

It was tradition at The Bridge for everyone to come into the halls just before midnight with whatever beverage they had or could affordlaughing and talking and wishing one another well. Chung was sitting in a chair in front of his room with a cone shaped birthday hat on his head. I pointed and laughed. He said, “No New Year for me, American Birthday!” The only person not present was Dr. Ron. Miss Charlott started counting down the seconds, “10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1,” then she yelled, “Kiss my ass! Happy New Year!!”

Martha covered Jolie’s ears, I yelled, “Charlott! We have a child up here.”

“Oops! I’m sorry baby, I forgot myself,” she replied, covering her mouth to conceal her Cheshire cat grin.

This was indeed a happy time. We finished our beverages and got a good laugh as Martha and Jolie banged pots and pans with a big spoon and paraded up and down the hall. Ten minutes or so passed and we said our good nights, each entering our own rooms, and closing behind us doors that protect, shield and keep hidden the strange and painful mysteries of our existence. There was a commonality of feeling grateful and blessed that we made it through another year.

Sometime before dawn there was a terrible racket. The doors of the vestibule were slammed back and forth against the walls. Then screaming cries and yells for help.”Somebody help me, please!” Cries of horror filled the air, and every door in the building swung open. I raced down the stairs in time to see Brick House come flying in and land on the floor. She was screaming and crying, black mascara and ruby red lipstick smeared, stockings torn, blouse ripped. Her bright colored red wig in hand, crawling on all fours toward the nearest corner of the hall.

Jackson “Crush” Ruiz and his crew came bursting through the vestibule doors. The noise from the garbage trucks was so loud you could barely hear what they were shouting. “Fuckin faggot, queer bitch!” He yelled, all the while surrounding Brick House. Each of his crew took turns kicking and punching Brick House as she moaned and screamed and cried. I figured this to be my last day on earth, but it couldn’t be allowed to continue.

“Leave her alone, you animals!” There was a blow to the side of my head and I went down.

Ruiz shouted, “What Doc? Now you decide to grow a pair, for a queer!” He pulled out a knife and turned to Brick House.  “You want to be a bitch, let’s make you one!”

As he lunged toward her, his goons grabbed her arms. Out of nowhere Chung came racing down the steps. Yelling inaudible words, he brandished a long samurai sword. “Yi Yi Yi Yi, Yi Yi Yi Yi!” Ruiz and his goons were stunned. They released Brick House and beat it for the door, nearly knocking one another over. Chung followed, and then we heard a loud thump and the screech of truck wheels. Miss Charlott helped me up and we went to the door.  Jackson “Crush” Ruiz was lying under the wheels of a garbage truck, flat as a pizza. He couldn’t have met a more fitting end. All of his crew scattered, not one stayed around out of loyalty.

I put my arms around Chung’s fragile body, guided him back into the building, and sat him down on the steps. He looked up at me and whispered, “That’s that.” I patted his shoulder.

Miss Charlott helped Brick House to a sit up and pulled her torn blouse closed. “Doc, you better take a look at her,” she said, giving me an all-knowing look. Brick House was obviously Dr. Ron in drag.

“You okay Miss? I’m a … well used to be a doctor. Should we call an ambulance?”

“No, please don’t; you’ll do fine. Thank you.” She lifted her wig and stretched it across her head, lopsided. “If you could just help me up the stairs… I was on my way to visit a friend. New Year’s and all.” She tried but failed to manage a smile through her tears. We all glanced around, no one let on that we knew the truth.

I hoisted Brick House upher arm was around my shoulder and my arm was around her waist. Chung stood with a little difficulty and handed me his sword. “This would certainly have done the job,” I said, with a chuckle. Chung smiled and grabbed the banister with both hands. We slowly made our way up the stairs. No one from the building opened a window or made a peep. We just wanted it to all go away, and it did. The police and ambulances stayed past daybreak. Ruiz was pronounced dead at the scene without fanfarejust gone.

A couple of days later, I was headed down the steps to the hall mail table. Dr. Ron came walking down behind me. When we reach the bottom, I said, “You missed some big excitement, New Year’s Eve.”

He bowed his head and adjusted the sunglasses on his face. Miss Charlott peeped in the hallway. “Yes I was told,” he replied.

“I hope your friend is alright, she caught quite a beating.”

“She’s coming along.” Doc paused, then reached up and removed his sunglasses, revealing a real shiner. “She’s coming along just fine,” he said. “Thank you, all.”

He placed the glasses back on and headed out the door, leaning down to squeeze Chung’s shoulder as he passed. Chung looked up without a clue.

Miss Charlott and I stood watching him go. “He doesn’t know, does he?” I asked.

She smiled. “Probably not. Some things are best left in the dark.” Brick House never made another appearance.

It was sometime in January that year when we lost Chung. He came out to sit on the stoop, as usual, and was greeted by Miss Charlott with a cup of tea. The snow was piled high; cars and trucks splashed slush halfway up the stairs as they whizzed by. Chung had been a bit on the quiet side that morning, just listeningwhich was fine with Miss Charlott. He stared up at a flock of geese flying over head, an unusual sight in the city, and pointed. “Going home,” he said.

Miss Charlott looked up. “I think they’re going south for the winter. They were probably too lazy to get an early start,” she said, laughing. Chung smiled and released the cup. It shattered on the stoop. “Oh Chung,” Miss Charlott exclaimed, “You broke the cup.” She got up and went to gather the broken pieces. Chung’s arm just dangled at his side. I was upstairs, perched on the windowsill. “Doc, you better get down here!” Charlott called.

When I got there, Charlott was on her knees amid the broken crockery. She was sobbing, holding Chung’s hand. He was gone. I knelt down beside her, placed my hand on her shoulder and started picking up bits of the broken cup. Chung’s eyes were open and he had a slight smile. He appeared comforted, which made me smile as I closed his eyes. Dr. Ron, Mrs. Martha and Jolie came bouncing down the stairs and off the stoop with morning greetings. None of them noticed Chung’s demise. There would be an appropriate time to inform them later. Before notifying the authorities, Miss Charlott and I just sat there for a while with our friend and family member. I placed my arm around her shoulder and she continued to hold Chung’s hand, and all was well.  Chung, ahead of the rest of us, had finally crossed the bridge.

 

 


Edward D. Currelley is an author and artist. His writing is presently on exhibit at The Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art. Publications include HVCCA Anthology, Between I & Thou, Mom Egg Review, Sling Magazine and Metaphor Magazine #5. He is also a contributor to the online publication The Peace Correspondent. His poem, “I America,” appears in Split This Rock, as part of their Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience. He received honorable status by Writer’s Digest for stage playwriting. He is also a Pushcart Prize Nominee. He is the author of two children’s books. His recently completed collection of short stories, Righteous Indignation, and collection of poems, Hieroglyphs, will be published in 2019. He resides in New York City.

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