Good Luck: Episode Thirty-Five


Dear lighting bolts, no thanks. Dear thunderclap, no thanks either. Love to you both anyway, Bud.


Dear Mom, it was good to see you the other day. I’m sorry that you had identity theft on your clamming license and someone else is out there pretending to be you and getting your clams out of the Barneget Bay. Love, Bud.


Dear Dad, happy birthday, one month late. Here is one hundred dollars. Also, Happy Father’s Day. If you think one hundred dollars is too much for your birthday, maybe just think of it as fifty for Father’s Day and fifty for your birthday. Also, thanks for telling me that story about seeing the UFO flying over town hall when you were running those drills with the volunteer fire department, I enjoyed the diagrams and I do agree with you that UFOs would be attracted to flashing lights, I mean, everything else is. Love, Bud.


Dear Valentine, of all the dogs my family has ever owned you are my least favorite. You are a fluffy, white, nervous Maltese. I don’t have a problem with the Maltese breed, I specifically have a problem with you. You snarl and bite. You have anxiety and won’t see a therapist. You clawed the hell out of my French doors. I will never let you come to Jersey City again, even when Mom and Dad go to Disney World this year, for the fifteenth year in a row, no children. No love, Bud.


Dear William, Mom and Dad told me you thought you had leukemia but then the doctor gave you a cream and the lump went away so the doctor said, “Oops, we were wrong, not leukemia.” I’m so happy to hear that. I’ll be down soon, let’s get dinner, no need to text, just comment on this column when and where. Also, I hope you’re reading Dune, I’d like my paperback back, not that I’ll read Dune for another ten years. Love, Bud.


Dear Rainclouds, thanks for cooling the earth, and for making the rivers wild and the flowers bob and grin, but also, no thanks for ruining our trip to the beach. I’m sending along a microscopic amount of love anyway. Yours, Bud.


Dear Rae, you are taking a nap in the other room. Can you hear this? Can you hear what I am typing? Can you hear it in your dreams? Speaking of dreams, last night I dreamt we were robbing a bank together, while we were inside with guns and ski masks. Valentine was sitting behind the wheel of our getaway car. Problem was Valentine was so nervous and we were taking so long. He heard an ambulance siren and panicked, and thought it was the police and drove the getaway car into a mermaid fountain. We were apprehended by the dream police. Anyway, I’ll wake you up soon from your nap, it’s 12:39 PM, the afternoon is slipping away, away, away, away. All my love, Bud.


Dear Willow, you’re a cool dog, you look like a frog. Frog dog. It’s cool how your tongue does not fit in your mouth, at all, not even close. Frog dog. Love, Bud.


Dear Walter, congratulations for digging up that 14k gold necklace on the beach. That was incredible. Also, your mom sent me 66 photos of the fireworks that you took with her cellphone. They were amazing. I might post 30 of the best ones as this week’s column, but we’ll see. You’re a great photographer, stick with it if you have fun doing it! Also, I’m still amazed, you started out the morning saying, “I’m gonna find buried treasure.” And by noon, you found some. You held the necklace up in the air and everyone was astonished. And then you wouldn’t let your mother see it, because it was yours. A lot of people would have given the necklace to their mother. A lot of other people would have kept the necklace for themselves. I bet it’s worth about $75, which is a million bucks to you. But I heard later in the day, before you went to see the fireworks, that you gave the necklace to your Uncle George. You are one of the greatest living artists, just want you to know that, Walter. Keep looking for “gold,” the problems with the world are created by people who are pre-dead, who have stopped dreaming and searching. Much Respect, Bud.


Dear Marcie, I’m sorry your kid didn’t give you the necklace, hahahahaha. Love, Bud.


Dear Jeff, hope you’re having fun in Montana. Your son found buried treasure. Love, Bud.


Dear Stars in the Sky, you far off fires, thank you for making last night very romantic, I appreciate your hydrogen and helium and the nuclear fusion at your molten core. See you tonight, I hope, for more romance. You brought us closer.  Love, Bud.


Dear Joey, I know I was pretty drunk last night when I texted you about the amazing 66 photos of the fireworks taken by the five-year-old, and I know I probably shouldn’t have texted you all 66 of those photos (it was the middle of the night and I think I woke you and Ashleigh up, tell her I’m sorry) but I did laugh when you texted me “My phone is exploding lol.” When I read that about your phone exploding, it made me think about when you lived in NY and you were scammed by Nick DiLeonardi, that broken phone he sold you that would randomly go dead all the time, sometimes stranding you places. I bet if I had texted you 66 photos of fireworks all at once when you had that phone, it would have caught fire. Anyway, I think instead of running all those photos this week, I’m going to send you a short story about writing a short story, it’ll start out with a short paragraph that says, “I don’t know, in the first draft of this story, a woman slashed apart a screen door with a samurai sword and then cut her boyfriend’s guts out so they spilled on the floor.” But then in the next paragraph it will say, “In the second draft it got all the way to ‘the end,’ the man crawling out of the house as it was burning down, ending up in a glass atrium, where he listened to rain slap on the roof. The last of his blood oozed out. Black smoke filled the atrium. As he was about to die, he thought of how squids hide themselves on the ocean floor, make a dark plume and disappear. In draft twelve, the squid ink thought was finally edited out.” And so on, the whole story just explaining the many drafts the story went through, but never really telling the story. I read it to Rae before she lay down for her nap and she said I had been writing about writing too often. “What else should I do?” It was a bad time to ask a question like that because she was kind of mad at me already because I’d recently blocked most of my family and friends on social media and said to them the best way to get in touch with me was through letters, handwritten or typed on a typewriter but never printed out from a computer, and then when my friends and family called my bluff and sent me letters, I had not replied to any. Rae said, “Why not write those nice people back? That’s something you could do.” Of course she would say that, she is the sweetest person on earth. Every time someone does anything nice for her, she sends them a thank you card. Well shit, now I think I’m supposed to write everybody letters of appreciation or else. Maybe I’ll just do this week’s column as a “catch all” for those letters. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll send it along soon. Your friend, Bud.


Dear Mik and Max, thanks for the postcard from Hawaii.  I hope you and your pet baby shark are doing well. Love, Bud.


Dear trail of ants, did you find that sweet thing you were looking for? Let me know if not, I have some leads. I can and will leave some sugar bowls open, elsewhere. Bud.


Dear Internet, hey look, whatever I said that you didn’t like, I was just joking around. Please love me, Bud.


Dear Grandma, I’ve been using the hell out of those ABCs you taught me. I’ve been writing many short stories, poems, and even novels. I am not sure if you have been able to read any of them up in Heaven. Sometimes, in movies, a bird taps on the window and it’s an angel or a spirit, in other movies angels just look like regular people and are walking all around on the sidewalks. If you know any angels who are coming to Jersey City, please tell one of them to come and see me, I would love to give you copies of all my books. Or, I don’t know if you get the internet in Heaven, probably not, but if you do, you can find some of my short stories online. People seem to like them. One time one of my stories was nominated for a Pushcart trophy. Do you know anyone in Heaven who has been nominated for a Pushcart? Anyway, I don’t mean to sound narcissistic. Thank you again about the ABCs. Also zero to one hundred and the primary colors and how to make green out of yellow and blue and orange out of red and yellow. Okay, I have to go, I’ll keep an eye out for birds tapping on the window or people in big giant trench coats hiding their angel wings. I love you very much, Buddy.


Dear Grandpa, hope the players from the Miami Dolphins, who have died, are up all up there in Heaven, and you are able to go and see them play football in a stadium made of clouds and golden sunbeams. Love, Buddy.


Dear Other Grandma and Grandpa, I’m sorry we never got to meet, I bet we would have gotten along really wonderful. Hope you are enjoying Heaven as well, doing the things that you like to do, whatever they are, who knows, not me, we never met. Love, Bud.


Dear Fiery Bellows of Hell, I’m so tried of your shit. Hate, Bud.


Dear Frank Hague, thanks for being a corrupt politician and for building the building I live in. I’m not sure if there is such a thing as ghosts but if you are reading this, please help me find some of the gangster money hidden in the walls of this building, hidden under floor boards, down secret passageways, forgotten rooms gathering dust since the 30s. Please and thank you, Bud.


Dear Purgatory, oh fuck off. I guess, Bud.


Dear Ma and Pa Buleri, wuuuuuuuuuz up! Sorry it took me so long to write back, I haven’t really been writing anything, been years and years and years and years. Love, Bud.


Dear Virginia Woolf, I really like this book you wrote, an elegant lady just laid down and took a nap for three pages on a Wednesday in London, 1923, and it was amazing. In real life, Rae Buleri is also taking a nap, it’s not June, it’s July, and today is not Wednesday, it’s Sunday, and Rae is not rich as hell, but I hope her nap is just as pleasant. Anyway, Virginia, I hope Heaven is really great. Love, Bud.


Dear Michael Mungiello, hey man, I’m sorry I wasn’t around to go to the movies the other night. But let’s catch another movie real soon. Much respect, Bud.


Oh, Mungiello, P.S. I’m just not real into seeing Spider-Man 8, or Wicker Man 2, or Toy Story 4, or Men in Black part 4. I’m sure you have some art film in mind anyway. I guess it’s not fair to say Wicker Man 2 isn’t an art film. It looks good. I just don’t like renaissance fairs or people wearing flower crowns or white linen dresses, I think that shit is silly. Bud.


Dear Rae, are you awake now? I don’t want to let you sleep too long because I know that’ll mess you up tonight and you won’t be able to fall asleep and you have work in the morning. If you are still sleeping, send me some kind of telepathic signal. If you are awake and can hear this telepathic signal, just knock on the wall behind you three times, I am at the bamboo desk in the pink room and will hear the knocking. All right, I’ll wait. I’ll wait. Love from the other room, Bud.


Dear Ben, heard you had an earthquake(s). Tell me more. I’m trying to learn more about the ground ripping open, lava shooting up, the world set ablaze. We don’t have that here yet. Much Respect, Bud.


Dear William, hey listen, it’s okay if you haven’t started Dune, I’m just going to buy another copy. Your brother, Bud.


Dear Bud, this column turned out stupid, I’m disgusted with you. Fuck you, Bud.


Dear Chrissy, Looking forward to seeing you and Tim and Autumn soon. I sent Tim a postcard, hope he gets it. I wrote it in logograms, copied the symbols as best I could from Google translate, but I don’t know if I got it right and I also don’t know how fast the mail gets to China. He might be back a week before the postcard even gets to the hotel if I even sent it to the right hotel. I made a photocopy. Also, since he is from Texas, I guess maybe he can’t read Chinese? But he could always figure out a way to type what I wrote into google translate or I guess he could just ask a business partner. I’m always on some goose chase. Postcards are funny, I just did that big USA trip with my brother and we sent postcards from the road, and of course we beat a lot of that snail mail home by a few days. It’s always like that. We are all used to getting messages instantly. My friends Mik and Max sent me a postcard from Hawaii, they mailed it on the 15th of June, I got it Wednesday, June 26th. At least Mik and Max weren’t having an emergency, needed to be saved on the isle of Oahu. I guess no one ever sent a postcard in the middle of a Hawaiian emergency. Also, I’m thinking about when you and me and Autumn and Tim, and Rae, and Ma and Pa Buleri went to Hawaii and I was wondering, do you still dream about that place? I do. Love, Your Brother (against the law), Bud.


Dear Tim,我希望你在香港过得愉快,祝你顺利完成项目。你在设计什么?智能手表?苹果iPhone? GoPro的?如果运气好的话,您返回美国的航班将非常快。我正在阅读弗吉尼亚伍尔夫,达罗卫夫人,如果你需要一本书来阅读,我推荐它。否则,哦,Stranger Things 3在Netflix上表现不错。我期待下周末在Ma和Pa Buleri的家里见到Chrissy和Autumn。别忘了你的泳裤。Love Bud.


Dear Autumn, excited to see you next week. You are three and a half years old now and you are singing songs and laughing and your aunt Rae Rae is very excited to see you too. I might bring my mom’s dog Willow over to your grandma and grandpa’s house, so you can meet Willow. She is fucking insane. Her tongue doesn’t fit in her mouth. She’s a Boston terrier, but a runt, real small, I bet even you could pick her up but you know, the dog is nuts, will lick your face, frog dog. My mom’s other dog is an asshole. His name is Valentine. I’m not a fan, and I doubt you will be either. Anyway, hope you’re having a nice day in San Diego, see you and your mom and dad in New Jersey soon. Your aunt Rae Rae just sent me a telepathic message that she is about ready to be woken up, so I am going to go do that. Much love, Uncle Bud.


Dear Firework Photo, take it away.

Love, Bud.


photo credit: Walter Kapp


BUD SMITH lives in Jersey City and works construction. He is the author of the novel Teenager (Vintage, 2022), among others.

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