And now for something completely different… Because not everything has to be about work, this post includes a work of short fiction written by our CEO, Brian Parks. We hope you enjoy it!
I watched from the window of our sixth-floor apartment as my father struggled to squeeze a box of my mother’s shoes into the trunk of his 1953 Studebaker on a scorching August afternoon. “Frankie, have you cleaned your room yet?” my mother hounded from the kitchen. “We have to leave this place spotless you know or Mr. Delfontino will charge your father an extra 40 dollars. You know we’re leaving first thing in the morning, so it has to be done tonight. If you want to see your friends before we leave, you have to get your room cleaned. Rosie’s already cleaned hers you know.”“Yeah, ma, yeah. My room’s already clean. I paid Rosie a quarter to do it for me this morning.” I replied as I stared out the window, pondering what Charlotte, North Carolina would look like. “Would it be anything like Brooklyn?” I wondered.“You what?” my mother asked. “Where is Rosie? Rosie, did you clean your brother’s room for him? Frankie, where’s your father?”“He’s out front packing the car. Ma, why can’t I just stay here? I’ll stay with Miss Deluca or the Lucchesis. There’s not even room for my stuff in the car.” My mother replied, “Frankie, I don’t want to hear it out of you again. We’re moving to Charlotte and that’s that. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for your father. Now go downstairs and help your father load up the car.”I had been making excuses for weeks as to why it was a bad idea for me to go along with them to Charlotte. I sunburn easily. I get car sick. Rosie doesn’t want me to come. None of my excuses were working. My parents weren’t budging; the family, and that included me, was moving to Charlotte. We were moving because my father had been promoted up the corporate ladder at General Electric. Leaving Brooklyn, meant my younger sister and I had to leave our friends and our normal lives and move to the South, where people talked funny and lived on farms. I was not even sure if they had electricity down there; my father assured me they did and that I would adjust just fine.I jumped down the stairs, skipping two at a time, racing to get down to my father so that I could persuade him to let me stay. I almost ran into Mr. Delfontino on the third floor as I was swinging around the rail to propel myself to the next flight. “Slow down kid, you gonna kill somebody.” he panted as he heaved his heavy body up the stairs. I stuck my tongue out at him and continued my flight downward.When I arrived at my father’s car, he was attempting to shove my mother’s vacuum cleaner into the trunk. It did not look like it would fit, but with an explosion of power, he thrust his hip into it and slammed down the trunk with both hands and a grunt. “There.” He said. “All packed, I knew we could fit it all. Now we’re ready to hit the road in the morning, hey kid.”“Dad, mom said I could just stay here.” I said. “The Lucchesis already said it’s okay too. I can stay with them until you guys come back. Rosie can stay down there if she wants to I guess.” “Oh, your mother said you can stay and the Lucchesis are fine with that too huh?” my father asked.“Yeah, it’s all been taken care of.” I replied excitedly. My mind was racing; this was incredible! I would stay with my friends, and we would play stickball out in front of our apartment building. I would be Jackie Robinson leading the Dodgers to World Series victory. When it got too dark to play, we would go to Enzo’s store on the corner and drink pop and listen to the stories told by the old men drinking red wine and smoking cigars. My best friend Tony’s parents would adopt me, and my parents could have me back when they came back to Brooklyn after realizing that Charlotte, North Carolina was a horrible place. “You sure you don’t want to give it a shot, Frank?” my father prodded. “I hear the southern girls are pretty cute, and you’ll be the new guy on the block from the big city.” “Maybe I can come and visit next summer and meet them. I’ll be twelve by then, so I’ll be a lot taller and have more hair in my pits.” I answered.“Ok, we’ll see about that.” my father said as he laughed. “How about you run down to Enzo’s and pick up some cannoli? I’m sure your mother is very upset that you are not coming with us, and cannoli will help calm her down.” He gave me 50 cents, and I was off, sprinting down the street, screaming my head off with joy. I ran into the crew on the way to Enzo’s and told them the good news: I was staying, my family was going, but I was staying. Ray Gilletti said, “No way Frankie, you’re full of it.” But I told him and the rest of the guys, “Honest. My dad just said it was okay after I told him my mom said it was okay. My mom never said it was okay, but my dad bought it, and now he can’t go back on telling me I can stay.”“Your ma’s never gonna say yes, Frankie.” Ray countered. “You’re still going to live with the chickens.” The gang laughed at Ray’s quip and I replied, “I’ve got it all under control boys. I’m going to get my ma a cannoli right now just to seal the deal.”“Where you gonna live Balboa?” asked Joey Totina with squinted eyes, as if he had been thinking about this for some time and finally decided to ask once he couldn’t make sense of it in his head. “I’m staying with Tone.” I answered, wrapping my arm around Tony’s shoulder.“Yeah, he’s staying with me.” Tony agreed, as if this had been the plan all along. “No Charlotte for me boys. Brooklyn to stay!” I exclaimed. Then, I gave the guys a Brooklyn Dodger BD salute, both hands thrown over my head with my forefingers tucked into my thumbs, and was off to Enzo’s.At Enzo’s, I paid for the cannoli with the 50 cents that my father had given me. “Can I get a bottle of Coke and pay you tomorrow?” I asked Enzo. “Your father told me that you are leaving out early in the morning. Consider this one on me Frankie. We’re going to miss the Balboa family around here.” Enzo said. I started to tell Enzo that I was not actually going with them, but decided to keep my mouth shut and take the free Coke. “Thanks Enzo.” I said as I walked out the door. “We’ll miss you too.”I chugged the Coke, set the empty bottle on the sidewalk in front of Enzo’s, and then ran the three blocks back home. Once in the apartment building, I began darting up the stairs two at a time from side to side; no Mr. Delfontino this time. I made it upstairs and let out a loud burp as I walked into the apartment. Rosie walked directly in the line of fire and put her hand over nose while yelling, “Gross Frankie. You’re disgusting. Ma, did you hear what Frankie just did?”My mother’s muffled response came from the kitchen where she was cooking spaghetti and meatballs, my father’s favorite. “Yeah, I heard him Rosie. With manners like that, it’s a good thing he’s staying here. What would the southern belles in Charlotte think of that behavior? They would probably faint.”“Oh my God!” I thought. “It has really worked. Had my father convinced her? Had she made up her mind on her own, seeing that I was right all along? Whatever it was, it didn’t matter, it meant I was definitely staying in Brooklyn.”I walked into the kitchen to see my father sitting at the kitchen table with a grin on his face, my mother turned towards me and smiled. “Frankie, I’m sure gonna miss ya.” she said. “Ma, I’m gonna miss ya too, but I’ll be fine here with the Lucchesis. And now you don’t have to worry about my sunburn down there in North Carolina.” My mother shook her head and turned her attention back to the meatballs. My father smiled and refilled his wine glass. Rosie asked, “How come he gets to stay and I don’t? How come I have to leave all my friends and go to Chocolate?” My father laughed and replied, “Baby, where we are going is called Charlotte, not chocolate. But if you’re good in the car tomorrow, I’ll be you a Hershey bar. Frankie, doesn’t that sound good, a Hershey bar?” “A Hershey bar sounds good for Rosie. I’ll take my ballgame.” I told my father.My mother added, “Rosie, your brother is eleven now, and is a really big boy, old enough to stay here with the Lucchesis. In three years when you’re eleven, maybe you can move back to Brooklyn and live with Delphine’s family.”I was beginning to think my mother and father liked the idea of not having children around. I was actually doing them a favor. At dinner I promised my parents that I would write them weekly. My father said to my mother, “I don’t know about purchasing that television set anymore. I was going to watch the Dodgers games with Frank, but now that he’s not coming, I don’t really see a need for it.” I promised my father that my letters would detail every Dodgers game for him. After dinner, my father turned on the radio and danced with my mother to “Give me the Simple Life” by Tony Bennett while Rosie and I cleared the table. They must have been imagining their life to come in Charlotte. My father said they lived slower down there without all the hustle and bustle of New York. I didn’t know what he meant by this, but I was glad I didn’t have to find out. I wondered if I would have to clear the table at the Lucchesis house. If I did, I wouldn’t mind because I would be doing it with Tony and his sister Carmen.My father reminded my mother and Rosie that they would be leaving at 6 AM; it was a full two-day driving trip to Charlotte and they needed to get a head start on traffic in the City. “Dad, should we go get my things out of the car then before we go to bed?” I asked.“Go brush your teeth and put your pajamas on. I will take care of your stuff in the morning before we go.” replied my father.I did as I was told and got in bed. My mother and father came in to tell me goodnight. My mother said, “Honey, you can sleep in in the morning and just go over to the Lucchesis when you wake up. We will probably be in Pennsylvania by then.” They closed my door and I lay in bed for a little while before falling asleep, thinking about playing ball tomorrow. I had just picked off Johnny Curcio as he got too big of a lead trying to steal third. Now I was up at the plate. I smacked a line drive to right for a double and then stole third without being picked off, just like Jackie Robinson.I awoke to my mother’s hand on my knee. We were in the back seat of my father’s Studebaker and had just gotten on the Brooklyn Bridge. My eyes welled up, and I started crying hysterically. I pounded the back of the driver’s seat where my father sat. Rosie looked back from the front passenger seat with chocolate on the side of her smiling lip. They had pulled the switcheroo.