By Bud Smith


Good Luck: Episode Nine

Just a quiet Sunday when you don’t care. Leave the bedroom, 8am. Go out to the couch, read for awhile. Two books, a novel, So Long, See You Tomorrow, William Maxwell, and a small blue book analyzing dreams. I can’t remember my last dream. In the novel, the narrator is an old man, and can’t quite recall what he is trying to say about Illinois, 1922. I put the paperback down and look out my window. Jersey City, 2019.

Someone across the street loves pigeons, they leave their window open and the pigeons fly up into that 12th floor apartment. Pigeon after pigeon after pigeon hopping from the ledge into the room. Staying awhile. Watching TV, maybe; eating pigeon food, maybe; just hanging out. Then, done with their visit, free falling towards the boulevard. Wings spread over traffic. I wonder what maniac lives there. Or I wonder what maniac is dead up there. I’m always wondering something.

Always music in this room on Sunday mornings. Got the stereo from a junkie who is doing well now. Two weeks ago, I added two hundred and seventy-five albums to Spotify. Now I’m listening to them. White Light/White Heat. Then Fear of a Black Planet. Then Van Dyke Parks’ Song Cycle. Then I’ve Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You. The blue book of dreams says out of tune music will fuck me up and harmonious music will bring me great luck. I’m not dreaming. It’s just Sunday morning. Sunday mornings feel like a dream. I’m fucked up, I desire great luck.

The blue book of dreams says dreaming of writing a novel is a sign of bad luck. I’ve never dreamed that. I’m one lucky dog. At least in dreams, I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Wrap your troubles in dreams, Nico says. And where is Nico buried? My laptop is in the other room and I can’t move to go and get it. Nico could be buried in this very room.

I give up. I don’t want to express myself anymore. Or at the very least, not today. You can express myself for me from now on. All the things you read here, hopefully they’ll erase right behind you. Read a word, a word erases. Read another word, it erases. Even better, as I type a sentence, it deletes behind me before it even gets to you.

O where O where O where is Nico buried?

There is a crematorium on the other side of the barbed wire fence. Sometimes on coffee break, we watch the black smoke come up out of the chimney. Yesterday, in regards to a large plume, Mike said, “There he goes, poor guy.” And then, in regards to a second smaller poof of smoke, he added, “There goes his wife.”

One night shift, delirious, out of the spotlit dread, stepped a random man, his hardhat read, “James Joyce.” I said, “Your name is James Joyce?” He said, “YEAH. FUCKIN’ ULYSSES.” He made that jerk off motion.

And then added that motion like, fingers flung open, the jerk off worked, and now: throwing the cum away into the distance.

Fuckin’ Ulysses.

Off he went into the oil and the midnight.

Flung into the distance.

Used to have a friend who would go into a store, prank it, pick up the store telephone and say to the store, “This store is closing in ten minutes.” Everyone would rush to the registers. That’s how it feels around here. Look up at the clouds and the clouds spell out “We are closing in ten minutes.” Anywhere you look it says, “We are closing in ten minutes.” That’s fine though, you’ve still got ten minutes. Some people can cram a whole lifetime into ten minutes. The birds fly together in the sky. Even the anti-social pigeons somehow amass to tell the world. I’m watching them now fall out that 12th floor window. They drop out and glide over the boulevard. Nine more minutes, everything is closing.

Tomorrow I’ve got no work.

Today is a day of rest.

So’s tomorrow I guess.

I’ve been sending myself emails, replying to them, ever kindly.

Quiet, here now, in this city. Aretha Franklin, too, is done singing. I can’t believe it. I check my pulse. Ah, there’s my pulse. When someone loves you the first time, it’s a natural disaster. The depths of the dark forest erupt with flame and open up. After, you can see everything wasted to gray and black. But it’s all wide open. New life can jump up. I’m supposed to be taking Vitamin D every hour on the hour. Or I’m supposed to dream of sunshine.

I picked up the dictionary, unsure, looked up ennui.

Nothing to worry about. You can only catch that in France.

Someone gave me a globe. It didn’t have the names of any countries, seas, anything. The oceans were tan and the land was white. I went to the store and bought another globe. The land was blue, or pink, and the sea was black. But at the very least some of the names were there. I spun it as fast as I could.

Faster. Faster.

Quiet out there. If you dream of a globe you will get a new hobby. How fun!

But somewhere, someone is scurrying out a collapsing house; someone else is being drowned by their best friend; someone else is drowning their best friend; and the lightning storms of paradise are lighting up the lovers in golden light; but here there’s nothing doing, just some pigeons and two people waiting for the bus, and forgetful William Maxwell—the parades are sleeping, and the dogs are muzzled, and no one is mad, or wants to be, as far as I can tell.

11am I go back in the bedroom.

She opens one eye.

Says, “I had a dream that we died.”

“Oh no.”

“But there was an antidote.”

“Quick, tell me what it is.”

“The diner.”

Somewhere, somebody else was breaking rocks with a hammer and as the rocks split apart, more rocks appeared. As someone played the piano, ivories bloomed out endlessly, crowding out the population, nudging everyone off the edge of the earth, sending them floating into space. Somebody else put on a suit and tie and dissolved. Somebody screamed hello when a lion nudged open the door of the bodega, came inside. Someone else, always somebody else. Always dreaming of someone else and their constant sorrow.

At noon, the stereo in the living room was top volume. The contents of the refrigerator and the cabinets were at  lowest volume. Rae walked out of the bedroom. “Were you listening to Nico?” I looked up from the blue book of dreams. “A while ago yeah,” I said.

She came out from the kitchen with coffee and put on From Here to Eternity. Giorgio Moroder.

I tapped my foot. Rae clapped.

I clapped. Rae tapped her foot.

Not only did Giorgio Moroder have cool sunglasses, he also had a Moog module and a cool mustache.

Yesterday, the man at the bodega had a bowl of white eggs on the counter. “Are these hard boiled or are these regular eggs?”

“Come on,” he said. “Would I have uncooked eggs here in a bowl?”

“How much are they?”

“Thirty-three cents. Buy three get one free.”

I bought sixty-six cents worth of eggs.

My test results concluded that they were in fact hardboiled.

The man at the bodega is to be trusted here on out.

Put that in your dreams.

If you dream of a lion, people will look to you for guidance. If you dream of eggs you will have good fortune in both family and money matters.

“What did you dream of?”

“I dreamed of bacon and waffles and coffee, ” she said.

I opened the little blue book. “It says here you get prosperity from the bacon; the coffee means exciting news to come unless it was bitter, in which case, you will have trouble with a friend.”

“What about the waffles?”

“Oh, this isn’t a goof. It says something will cause you to break off your marriage.”

“Throw that damn book away. And forget the waffles.”

How will we get rid of our Christmas tree? We wonder this on the way out of the apartment building. The building has a sign down by the laundry room that warns you there is a $75 dollar fine if you do it wrong. But someone ripped away those exact instructions. And who can remember back to what we did last Christmas?

Driving towards the diner. Peel Slowly and See. We pass a storefront with foggy glass. Tall cactus and taller bamboo and a small amount of electric light shining out. A maze of greenery. I pull the car over by the orange hydrant. The door is locked. I try again. Sign says, WE RENT TREES. I knock. I knock. No one answers. Coming back to her, I say, “Well, they don’t really rent trees, do they?”

John Cale playing the glockenspiel.

No. The celesta.

John Cale playing what you thought was a glockenspiel but what turned out to be the celesta.

On the seventh day, nothing happens.

Nothing happening on the seventh day.

Seven nothings daying all no-happening.

Happening day the nothing on seventh.

Nah. I refuse. John Cale playing the glockenspiel, I don’t care what it says. “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” too.

It takes us so long we cross into Bayonne. Another cemetery. But no barbed wire around here. And no Ulysses. Where is Nico buried? Is she buried in this sweet soot city?

When I get to the diner. Chrome and a gumball machine. Rae looks out the window curiously. “Wait…this isn’t it.” I put the car back into gear. I drive on deeper into Bayonne, to the other diner. She’s right to send me farther. I took Joey to that first diner once, the food came out, was dog food. When I get to the next diner she looks out at this diner, gives a big ol’ thumbs up. Advanced chrome, advanced gumball machine. “I love this diner. This one will save our life, it has the world’s best pancakes.”


Beginning at 3pm the diner will launch their seafood fest. There are also dinner specials beginning at 3pm. It’s 2pm and we are in a full blown after-church party. Families shimmy in their seats and kids are doing backflips. A neon sign says WORLD’S BEST PANCAKES. So we share a pancake. We drink four cups of coffee. We take our time. My  boss texts me, “No Work.” The job keeps saying, “Please hold on, please hang in with us. We’ve got no work. But please hold on.” They’re going to lay me off soon. I’ve worked there for ten years. If you dream of pancakes you will make a new friend. If you dream of seafood beware of deceptive adversaries.

Soon it seems I’m going to have no paychecks or health insurance or drug tests. The little blue book of dreams says ‘unemployment in a dream is reason to rejoice.’

Also of note:

If you dream of being diseased it is a most fortunate portent. Good times await.

Keep dreaming those diseased dreams. Keep dreaming my way into the welfare office. 2019 will be my year.

And on the seventh day, God finished Her laundry which She had made dirty by doing cool stuff; She used Tide Pods which used to be eaten but now were just Tide Pods again, blessed was the day; and after that She rested on the seventh day because her laundry was out of the dryer. God blessed the seventh day, and asked me to take out the garbage, and I did, and hallowed it; I rested after that too, read some more of William Maxwell, and then, in the other room, God sewed an eyeball.

get warm, the stereo glows

God requesting “Sister Ray”

we dance dumb, unruly

nobody’s correct

but some of us could eat

after Chinese food

the grocery store calls

so we expedition out

that is where we buy our

magic water, and rice

that is where we get our

loose leaf paper

diet mountain dew

and onions.

But! No shopping carts. Leave the store and walk back out into the parking lot. The cart corrals are empty. Each one. I go back into the store. A man in a red shirt, maybe the manager, is leaning against the customer service counter. He says he’ll get me a cart, no problem. Following him. We walk around the other side of the store. The carts are chained together with the kind of thick chain Victorian ghosts drag around. He unlocks the padlock, gives me a cart. “Do people steal the carts or something?” He shakes his head. He says, “Nobody has stolen a cart since I’ve been in charge.”

Nothing on sale this week.

Unload the car. Call your momma. Call mine.

If you want to see me, you can stand out on the sidewalk and look up at my building. I’m in the blue room by the gold door. This is where I do my work, if you can call it that.

It gets especially quiet for a moment and I hear church bells ringing, interrupting my nap. The sun is down. But it’s still Sunday. I’m so glad to be up, I was at the part of the dream where Rae and I were just about to lie to the police about a person we killed, the body on our kitchen floor. Together we broke the man’s neck. Left him there dead. But we Swiffer mopped up some of the mess. Night again. Church bells done. Sunday evening.

If you murder someone in a dream you’re gonna get evicted. You’re gonna wake up, at the very least, in jail.

Now from the other room, Donna Summers, moaning. The record company wanted the song to be the soundtrack to an orgy. And I guess it is. Good job, Casablanca Records.

After a series of stretches, I open the closet door and take out my weights. A 45 pound Olympic bar. Rubber coated plates. Squat stands. All this comes out into the room. I need something to watch while I work out. I rent Eraserhead, but fifteen seconds into it I shut it off, remembering the time I greatly injured myself lifting weights while watching My Dinner With Andre. I settle on a video interview with David Lynch where he talks about going to Poland and photographing factories. One hundred Polish factories (most of them abandoned), thousands of photos. When that interview is over, I search out something else. Down the hallway, I can still hear Donna Summers moaning. Giorgio Moroder was at the console, all those years ago, sunglasses on in a pitch black room. Mustache glowing. Tracking the hits.

Giorgio Moroder sounds lonely in the interview. Trying to make it as a musician. The dream seemed too big. 1968. 1969. He’d been living in his car in Germany, playing guitar in a band. He says living in the car helped him. He goes on a tour in Germany in the late ‘60s. But he’s nobody. Word leaks that John Lennon is staying at his hotel. He wants to meet John Lennon and does everything he can to hang out with John Lennon, but Lennon doesn’t want to meet him. Giorgio Moroder sits alone in his room. Through the wall, he can hear John Lennon playing the guitar and singing. He sits up, he listens closer. He listens for a long time as John Lennon writes some song, muffled through the wall. He doesn’t know which. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

In the kitchen, there is a pile of ceramic pots. Plants used to live in them. Twelve pots, all different, beautiful colors. Each pot has had at least two plants that once lived in it. Twenty-four plants dead and gone into the garbage can.

If you dream of a woman wearing a faded kimono, it will lead you to a regrettable romantic liaison, so don’t do that—don’t dream that. If you dream of flowers, you are in store for tremendous happiness. If you dream of dead flowers, you are in still store for tremendous happiness, I say so. If you let me be in your dream, I’ll let you be in mine, Bob Dylan says. If you decide to dream of nothing, you are still in store for tremendous happiness.



BUD SMITH lives in Jersey City and works construction. He is the author of the novel Teenager (Tyrant Books '19), among others.

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