Archive for the Tohm Bakelas Category

$40 fix by Tohm Bakelas

Posted in Tohm Bakelas with tags on February 18, 2021 by Scot

by the way he walked up to me
I could tell he was in bad shape—
his skin was 6 shades paler than his
usual olive tint, he was leaking sweat
all over, his jawline was tense, and
he never made eye contact.

“listen man, i need $40 to get
home. i’ve asked everybody, but
no one’s got cash, can you help me?”

“sure” i said “hold on.”

i dug deep in my pockets, fumbling
around chapstick, a fallen button,
loose change, and lint before
handing him two twenties.

that was the only time he looked at me.

“i’ll pay you back as soon as i get paid.”

“forget it, it’s all right.”

he walked away and never thanked me.

he was withdrawing at 2:45pm
on a wednesday at work.

i accepted the possibility
that whatever gas he bought
was going to be shot or snorted,
and that it could be the end of him,
but i couldn’t stand to see him
suffer like that.

a few weeks went by with him
being labeled a “no call, no show.”

i didn’t think much about it.

a few months later he called me
and said: “leave work early and come
down the street where the old
hospital was, i got something for you.”

twenty minutes before the shift
ended i drove to the place
and parked behind his car.

before i could get out he opened my door,
handed me a 12 pack of beer and $40.

he never said a word, then drove off.

i put the car in drive,
turned off the radio,
and drove in silence.



Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He is the author of several chapbooks, one full length book of poetry, and his work has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. He is also the editor of this press.



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