“Tough” by David Bassano

31064054908_3839398af6_o.jpg

When I was twenty years old I worked for the city road department. Tony and I drove around all day in a dump truck full of asphalt, looking for potholes to fill. Tony was a chain-smoking dropout with a buzz cut. He was a hard bastard, mean, poor, living alone off our crap pay. He knew how to get by with almost nothing, renting the cheap apartments with crooked landlords and eating lousy food. He always had money for cigarettes and beer, though. And he laughed at me when I said I wanted to go to college. He didn’t need that, he said; he’d been to the School of Hard Knocks. I thought about it but I couldn’t see the use. Tony gritted his teeth and bitched a lot but he never talked about leaving the Road Department. He just sat there and took it and called himself tough. And I thought, hell, if that’s tough, you can have it.

David Bassano is a History professor at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey. He is a human rights activist, an author of academic and literary works, and an avid hiker and cyclist. Trevelyan’s Wager, published by Harvard Square Editions, is his first novel. You may learn more about him and his work at: https://www.facebook.com/davidbassanoauthor/

“Vibration” and “Peace” by David Bassano

2175029257_df3a260983_o.jpg

 

“Vibration”

Caitlyn used to say that the entire universe was nothing but vibration. She read it in a book. Everything, everywhere, was just music, a cosmic symphony of harmonic resonances. Therefore, she said, there was nothing to worry about. Since everything was nothing but vibration, there was no need to fear death or change. There was no you and no universe; there was only vibration. And I had to talk her into using the morning-after pill on a couple of occasions when she told me what had happened the night before. She cried and complained about the men she dated. She hated her job and went to the local community college to learn a trade, but then dropped out. All that studying unbalanced her life, she told me over coffee. And she said that the one-night stands were good for her confidence, but then complained that the guys were just using her. But I didn’t see why it would matter if everything, everywhere, was just vibration.

“Peace”

That July, when Jen and I lived at the beach, we watched the sunrise over the water after a long night out in the bars. It was so peaceful and quiet I could barely believe it was Florida in the summer. The soft light was beautiful on the waves and the sand cool underneath.

“You should write about this,” Jen said.

“About what?”

“This.”

“Oh, I couldn’t.”

“Why not?”

“No conflict.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“No one would be interested.”

She thought about it. “No one’s interested in peace?”

“Hell no!” I laughed. “Who would wanna read about that?”

David Bassano is a History professor at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey. He is a human rights activist, an author of academic and literary works, and an avid hiker and cyclist. Trevelyan’s Wager, published by Harvard Square Editions, is his first novel. You may learn more about him and his work at: https://www.facebook.com/davidbassanoauthor/

“Empty” by David Bassano

3822385828_350e549b41_o.jpg

You have a photograph of your ex before you were married, when you were still in love, of your first Easter together in the old miller’s house you rented in the country. In the photograph, your friends are laughing together in the kitchen while your ex makes scrambled eggs and kielbasa on the stove. That life is gone now, and you live in another state with another spouse. Everything in the photograph ended. Your ex probably doesn’t remember that morning; without the photograph, you’d have forgotten it, too.  It all felt so true and happy at the time, and now feels unreal, like someone else’s story. And it might occur to you in vulnerable moments, when you’re alone at twilight, that the present day can’t be any more real than the one in the photograph, and will become as unreal as that Easter morning, and eventually there will be no one left who remembers it, no matter how much you try to believe in it.

David Bassano is a History professor at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey. He is a human rights activist, an author of academic and literary works, and an avid hiker and cyclist. Trevelyan’s Wager, published by Harvard Square Editions, is his first novel. You may learn more about him and his work at: https://www.facebook.com/davidbassanoauthor/

“No Consequences” by David Bassano

17155571889_c12323cdbc_o.jpg

That was the summer between graduating from the state college and starting graduate studies in fall. Jen’s parents had a condo in Hollywood, Florida that she used over spring breaks, mainly to avoid her father. We’d been dating for two years in college and she invited me to spend a few weeks with her in the condo that summer before I moved to New York. My mind at the time was all about future plans, about the program at NYU and living in Brooklyn. Jen was sedate; she was deep into the job search and didn’t seem optimistic. She was waitressing by day, so after she left for work in the morning I’d go down to the ocean to swim, or bike up and down the public walkway. We met a young Italian couple in the condo complex and sometimes had them over for dinner. Jen invited a few more friends out to dinner in the restaurants along the beach. We slept together but it was different now. Maybe it was because I was leaving her life, or because she had plenty of her own problems to think about. I could only guess because she didn’t want to talk about it. We kept up the circuit of eating out and drinking in the bars for three weeks. I met a young Brazilian woman a few days in a row on the beach and brought her back to our bedroom for an afternoon while Jen was at work. It was an odd time, always drinking too much and wandering around in the sun and sleeping with a woman while dreaming of a future without her. I felt like I was outside the world and that nothing I did had any consequences. It’s good it didn’t happen when I was just a few years younger, because it might have colored my thinking too much.

 

David Bassano is a History professor at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey. He is a human rights activist, an author of academic and literary works, and an avid hiker and cyclist. Trevelyan’s Wager, published by Harvard Square Editions, is his first novel. You may learn more about him and his work at: https://www.facebook.com/davidbassanoauthor/

“Edge” by David Bassano

4345766697_efe526e38f_o

Gary badgered me for months to join his jazz ensemble full-time. You know you wanna do it, he told me. Damn right I do, I said. But I didn’t want to relinquish my cozy, tenured position at the university. Risk it for a life in the music business? Did that make sense?

Then Paul emailed me. I hadn’t heard from him since medical school. He told me he had a private practice now and an apartment above his office in Moorestown, and he invited me over.

There were pictures of Constanza all over the walls of his place. Paul had dated her back in college, and they’d backpacked together across Latin America in the summers. She planned to open a traveling clinic in Peru to help the campesinos and wanted Paul to join her. Paul loved the idea, and he loved Constanza even more, but his father had built his medical practice over the years so that Paul could take it over one day. Paul decided he couldn’t hurt his father by refusing, so he hurt Constanza instead. She started the clinic without him and married a local doctor.

“Those were the best days of my life,” said Paul, gesturing at the photographs with his beer. “I can’t forget them.”

“You’re doing alright now,” I told him.

“Sure,” he said.

And that’s how I entered the music business.

David Bassano is a History professor at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey. He is a human rights activist, an author of academic and literary works, and an avid hiker and cyclist. Trevelyan’s Wager, published by Harvard Square Editions, is his first novel. You may learn more about him and his work at: https://www.facebook.com/davidbassanoauthor/

“Nice” by David Bassano

16261474473_b5452a84fd_o.jpg

I was doing another round of oral history interviews for the historical society. A local World War Two veteran, a Silver Star recipient, had recently died and the Director wanted to interview anyone we could find who had known him.

I interviewed the veteran’s widow. She was eighty-five and we recorded the interview in her home at the kitchen table. The Director made it seem to her that the interview was a great honor, and she knew her late husband had liked the Director, so she did the interview although she was uncomfortable with it.

“I don’t know what you want me to say,” she said several times. She fidgeted constantly, smoothing the skirt over her knees.

I asked all the usual questions, about life during the war and how she raised the children and the letters she wrote to her husband overseas. She talked a little about the war, about buying war bonds and how the rationing stamps worked, but none of it was new. She spoke only vaguely about making meals, washing clothes, shopping for Christmas. I was trying to get her own story, her own opinions, herself, but there didn’t really seem to be anyone in there. After a while I decided to spare her further discomfort.

“Well,” I said, “is there anything more you’d like to say about your life?”

She stared silently out the kitchen window to the green lawn and the white picket fence and empty clothes lines under the blue sky and stopped fidgeting. There was a note of confusion in her voice when she finally spoke.

“It was nice,” she said. “It was real nice.”

 

David Bassano is a History professor at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey. He is a human rights activist, an author of academic and literary works, and an avid hiker and cyclist. Trevelyan’s Wager, published by Harvard Square Editions, is his first novel. You may learn more about him and his work at: https://www.facebook.com/davidbassanoauthor/