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    Story of Lyrics Contest Winner 
 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: July 19, 2020      Views: 124

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a Story of Lyrics contest entry
"I Am, I Said" by Mark Valentine

Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of bein’ a king, and then became one? Or maybe it was a prince. If I am not mistaken, it went down like this: da guy was a prince, then one day, for reasons I cannot at present recall, some broad; a witch or a hag, one of dose chicks with warts, put a spell on him and turned him into a frog. To undo the hex, he needed some classy dame, like a princess, or a lounge singer, to kiss him. Only den could he go back to being a prince. I believe that was the gist of the story.
Anyway, my point is,
except for the names and a few other changes , if you talk about me, the story is the same one. Well, not exactly the same – I mean I ain’t never been no reptile. From what I understand, dey are cold-blooded, whereas us Italians are warm, if not hot, blooded. And I ain’t never kissed no princess neither -- that is, unless you count Connie Bustamonte, a chick I used ta date. She thought she was a princess on account of the fact dat she grew up in a fancy house in Long Island and had lots of jewelry. Rumor had it her dad was mobbed up. I don’t know, but I didn’t take no chances – always treated her wid da utmost respect and made sure we had an amicable parting of da ways when we broke up.
So, to summarize: except for the fact that I am not a reptile and I have never made out wit a princess, save for Connie, I am just like the frog in the story.
Allow me to expound. A couple of months back I moved out here to L.A. Whatever possessed me to come out here, I cannot recall. Must have been a temporary lapse of sanity - or perhaps a good-lookin’ blonde (same difference, am I right?) What I do remember is dat I had saved up a little money and figured a change of scenery was in order. So, I hopped in the Camaro and headed west until I ran out of road. Bad move. Don’t get me wrong, the weather in
L.A.’s fine, the sun shines most the time, but the nut jobs who inhabit dis zoo are un-friggin-believable. I’ve never seen so much spandex, and not just on chicks either – dudes wear it! I swear to God, I’ve seen dudes on Rodeo Drive decked out from head to toe in spandex!
Da whole experience has been quite the culture shock. See,
I’m New York City born and raised; Brooklyn, to be precise (but you probably coulda guessed dat right?). I grew up on Tirdy-Foist Street, right by the Flatbush Avenue Station. Just down the block from Ray’s Pizza – best one dollar slice in the borough. Dis stuff dey call pizza out here in La La Land – fuggedaboutit – they put friggin’ pineapple and alfalfa on it. It’s an abomination – like Walter O’Malley moving the Dodgers to Los Angeles – don’t even get me started on dat miserable SOB. You know the joke right? If yer in a room wid Hitler, Mussolini, and Walter O’Malley, and yer gun’s only got two bullets – what should ya do? Answer: Shoot Walter O’Malley twice.
Once again I find myself straying from the narrative I wish to convey. Where was I? Oh, yeah, I was talkin’ about moving to L.A. Well, one unfortunate ramification of the aforementioned relocation was dat, having toiminated my residency in the Empire State, I found myself in the unenviable predicament of needin’ to get a California driver’s license so dat I could tool around the City of Angels in my Chevy Camaro. And dat brings me to the events of 15th June, 2019.
I’m in line at da California Department of Motor Vehicles, I’d been dere for like two, two and a half hours, when finally, dis pencil-necked twerp behind da counter asks, “Who’s Salvatore DiMarco?”

“I am,” I said.
Guy doesn’t even friggin’ acknowledge me. It’s like
no one heard at all, not even the chair. Not that I would expect a chair to hear – chairs ain’t sentient and dey got no auditory apparatus – it’s just an expression.
Anyway, I figure maybe he’s a little hard of hearing so I say it louder – twice:
I AM” I cried. “I AM” said I.
Jamoke doesn’t even make eye contact with me, just says, “License transfer - that’ll be one hundred dollars.”
“Holy crap!” I sez out loud. I was figurin’ it was gonna cost twenty, maybe tirdy, dollars tops.
I open my wallet to find, much to my chagrin, I only got eighty bucks. Da pencil-neck guy appraises the situation and sez, “You’ll need another twenty.”
Now, I may not have gone to college, but I soitainly do not need Captain Obvious to point out to me that I’m a Jackson shy of a C-note, so I sez to him. “I woulda had a hundred, but I left twenty on the nightstand so dat yer mudder could have cab fare home when she left my place dis morning.”
So den he sez to me, all snooty-like, still not makin’ eye contact mind you, “Well, Mr. DiMarco, I suggest that you go home and come back when you can afford the fee.”
I’m not a man who likes to swear, but I never cared for being treated like I’m a piece of crap floatin’ in da tirlet, so I sez to da guy, “You lookin’ to lose some teeth today, my friend? Cuz I got an emptiness deep inside and da only ting dat can fill it is puttin’ a good old-fashioned Brooklyn beat-down on some California snob-types, capeesh?”
I figured I got him scared real good at dis point and he’s gonna treat me wid a little more respect, you know what I’m sayin’? But, get this – little West Coast piece of crap, still not makin’ eye contact, just points toward the door. Can you believe da cajones on dis guy? Instead of apologizing, he’s doublin’ down on the attitude! So, what am I supposed to do?  I do a little Rocky Marciano number on the guy’s face. What I didn’t factor into the equation was da response time of the L.A.P.D. They show up before the bell can ring ending Round One and start givin’ me da Rodney King treatment. Apparently Italian lives don’t matter to these galoots either.
Next ting I know, I’m waking up in the L.A. County Jail. Turns out ‘Assault of a State Employee’ is a felony – who knew? I find myself in quite the pickle. I can’t make bail, I got no friends in L.A., and the sorry excuse for an attorney the Office of the Public Defender has assigned to my case does not appear to be the sharpest knife in the drawer. Tings are not lookin’ up for Sal DiMarco. I have gone from prince to frog.
But tings were about to break my way. A couple of days later, when I go to court for my preliminary hearing, I glance over at the prosecutor’s table and I cannot believe my eyes. The District Attorney in charge of prosecuting da case turns out to be one Consuela Bustamonte  - that’s right, it’s Connie from Long Island! Turns out she was no big fan of her old man’s line of business, so she decided to go to law school, move as far away from New York as possible, and work for the other side. Classy dame. By way of doin’ me a solid, for old times’ sake, she offers me a plea bargain: if I take the rap and plead guilty, I’ll get off with time served. The frog has once again been kissed by the princess. So when the case is called, the judge asks me if I’m prepared to plead guilty in exchange for da ‘time served’ sentence.

“I am,” I said.
I ask Connie if she wants to go out for a beer. Turns out she’s married – still uses her maiden name cuz apparently dat’s what married chicks do out here in California. What’s more, she’s got a couple of bambinos at home and another one in the oven. Oh well, sometimes ya gotta just take yer winnings and walk away from the table. I thank her and walk out into the L.A. sunshine. I’m a free man once more.
Needless to say, dis whole episode has made me reevaluate da wisdom of a guy like me livin’ in a place like dis. I mean,
the rents are low, but you know I keep thinkin’ about making my way back to Brooklyn. So I tink maybe tomorrow, I’ll throw my tings in the Camaro and head east. First ting I’m gonna do when I get back? Dollar slice at Ray’s.
Story of Lyrics
Contest Winner

Author Notes
The song cited is "I Am, I Said", by Neil Diamond. In the story, lyrics from the song are italicized. Here are the complete lyrics:

LA's fine, the sun shines most the time
And the feeling is "lay back"
Palm trees grow and rents are low
But you know I keep thinkin' about
Making my way back

Well I'm New York City born and raised
But nowadays
I'm lost between two shores
L.A.'s fine, but it ain't home
New York's home
But it ain't mine no more

"I am"... I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair

"I am"... I cried
"I am"... said I
And I am lost and I can't
Even say why
Leavin' me lonely still

Did you ever read about a frog
Who dreamed of bein' a king
And then became one
Well except for the names
And a few other changes
If you talk about me
The story is the same one

But I got an emptiness deep inside
And I've tried
But it won't let me go
And I'm not a man who likes to swear
But I never cared
For the sound of being alone

"I am"... I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair
"I am"... I cried
"I am"... said I
And I am lost and I can't
Even say why

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