Junk Eyes

(part 10 of 'The Cape')

Growing up, it was some sort of ritual the way we chose friends: Popularity with the opposite sex, sports, music style, etcetera. In reality, we were much smarter than we gave ourselves credit for. Each one of us needed something or had something to give.   Being immature we were reluctant to give or receive. True friends however did this without even realizing it. Those were the ones that stuck through thick and thin.

Unfortunately some friends changed drastically: the times, their family, peer pressure. One of them sticks out, something hauntingly. I wonder if I did enough to change his course. He gave. He took. Just like a friend.

His walk a creation of the neighborhood, a slight hop with each step. He truly was one of the only white people with rhythm that I knew. He even sang like the black guys in the neighborhood. A bad family background made Sal skeptical of almost everyone he knew, not me though. Our special relationship was singing. We could harmonize, anytime, anywhere, and love every minute of it. I could make him laugh any time. And for some reason that made Sal trust and love me.

Junk was his downfall and it didn’t take too long to creep into our lives. It split us apart. I couldn’t make him laugh anymore. He was way too sad inside in spite of the silly grin on his face, a different person, surly at time, lying at the drop of a hat. It crushed me inside. I tried, to no avail. I saw him change right in front of my eyes. It took some time but it seemed to be overnight. The transformation from a singing, laughing, bright-eyed teenager to Sally Junk Eyes broke my heart.

We would walk the streets, everyone would know our name
Being sure in our youth, it would always be the same
Then I watched you stumble, I did all that I could
You said you could change, I prayed, that you would

Catholic school alter boy, little league all-star
I knew you would go places, I wasn’t sure how far
Then I saw your hunched shoulders, under the elevated train
Ignoring all the people, cursing the rain

Schoolyard stick ball, punch ball in the street
High-top black Keds, soles melting from the heat
Youthful treasured memories, for which most people would pay
Sally Junk Eyes with a shrug, sadly tossed it all away

Street stand lemon ice giving momentary bliss
Black asphalt streets steaming from a summer storms kiss
Youthful voice meant for stardom, angelic face
Junk eyes searched for fame in a tenement staircase

You live on in my dream, under the Fulton Street el
No more junk eyes or sad smile, like you just returned from hell
Because it is a dream, when I call out your name
You walk towards me. We are kids again. And there we remain.

– niz

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