My Few Words


My Few Words

John Rodriguez

I Wish we can say that we’re all alike, but we’re not. We do go through the same struggles, but we despise each other. I look at my neighbor and smile. He says “Good mornin’ neighba’.” I say the same.

I’ve been living in these old apartments for over a year and I still don’t know his name. I I just know that he always asks me the same question, “Ay neighba’, you got a cigarette?”

It’s always the same reply; “Neighba’, you know I can’t smoke, I’m only 15.”

“Oh tha’s right, I almos’ for-forgot.” He’s old. I can tell that his tough, black skin has been through a lot. His fingers are stiff and wrinkled; he has arthritis written all over them. It’s probably from all the cans he’s crushed, digging in the garbage to make a little money for his Newport menthols.

He looks away. He looks lonely. I’m sure he has no one to talk to. He looks invisible to his children. I feel bad for him; he reminds me of one of my grandparents. His body looks fragile and beat; so many wrinkles on his face, so many stories to tell. But all he knows is how to say good morning and ask for a cigarette.

At times I think I see a tear come from those dark, lonely eyes. But I think it’ just my eyes playing silly tricks on me.

I push my feelings aside. I hate it when they get the best of me. I look at my neighbor and let him know I’m off to school. He just nods his head, raises his hand above his wool-like hair, and wiggles it freely.

I walk towards the bus stop and think about my neighbor. He’s a man of a few words. I just wish he would smile.

I wake up the next morning and open the door. I get a whiff of the polluted L.A. sky. I walk down a flight of steps and look for my neighbor. He’s nowhere in sight.

I stole a pack of cigarettes from my stepdad. I hope he doesn’t find out. Mom would go crazy. I thought Neighbor might like them. Hopefully make his day, maybe even say a few extra words.

But Neighbor’s not going to show up. I finally had a cigarette ready for him, but I guess I took too long. Neighbors not going to turn up right now; I can feel it. He left last night.

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3 Responses to My Few Words

  1. Amy Friedman says:

    I’ve known John Rodriguez’s writing for a few years now and as always in his work, with a small word here, a deft stroke there, he paints the most exquisitely vivid pictures of our world. And that heart–the heart that stole stepdad’s cigarettes to make the sad neighbor smile. That’s the young man I know. And admire.

  2. Antonio Sanchez says:

    Dope short story my boi!!! Much love stay solid..

  3. German Martinez says:

    A good read. I see my boy Johnny is doing great things. Never stop writing my boy. He has allot more stories and poetry that are good as well.

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