Category Archives: Joanne Jagoda

Beach Reverie by Joanne Jagoda

When the sun hit his face he closed his eyes and was back on the white sandy beach with her.  He could feel the hot sand and smell her apricot body lotion. Her eyes were green like the sea at dawn.   They watched violet sunsets getting wasted on icy beers at beach cafes.  She would slowly lick the salt off the rim of the chilled glass and laugh at his attempts to speak Spanish. He could taste her tongue in his mouth tart from the limes.    She led him to her apartment down a cobbled path. 
 
He was totally smitten, and she said she had never met anyone like him.  They hung out for the two weeks he was on Spring Break, and they were making plans for her to come to L.A during the summer. They would live together in his apartment.
 
On their last night, she asked him for a favor. “ Mi Amor, take this package to my grandmother in East LA.  She needs these documents to help her get a green card.”
 
He was proud she trusted him.  
 
The German shepherd at the customs line started barking.  He was yanked out of line and taken to a back room, stripped; then his luggage was torn apart.  They found the “letters” containing tiny cellophane bags of cocaine.
 
 The horn blast to return to his cell woke him from his daily beach reverie.

.

Return to This Week’s Flash

7 Comments

Filed under Joanne Jagoda

The Little Things by Joanne Jagoda

The little things tipped her: the haircut, designer jeans and especially the jacket. She had been nagging at him for years to dump his corduroy with the patched elbows. So many professors wore them they were a cliché.

When he came into the kitchen in a black leather bomber jacket with his hair spiked, she glanced at him sharply, peering over her half spectacles from the morning paper. This “new” look made her feel frumpy and self conscious.

“Eggs?”

“No, I’ll grab a bagel. I’ll be home late. I’m meeting a potential faculty hire. You know the routine, dinner and meetings.”

“Oh, ok. I have my book group.”

It was past 1am. Pretending to be asleep, she was barely breathing. Quietly he pulled off his boots, stripped and showered. . She loved when he would wrap his long legs around her, pull her close and nuzzle her neck, but he stayed on his side and fell into a deep sleep.

She got up, smelled his leather jacket and breathed in the unmistakable perfume. Gorge rose in her throat, and she went to the computer. She knew his password, S-P-O-N-C-O-M, for “spontaneous combustion”, the topic of his physics thesis. She had put the bastard through six years of graduate school. There in his email were thirty adoring emails from “J”…signed with a letter, not even her full name. Pure rage bubbled and she grabbed her best shears. He was sleeping peacefully. She cut that beautiful leather jacket in tidy squares.

.

Return to This Week’s Flash

6 Comments

Filed under Joanne Jagoda

The Sounds of Silence by Joanne Jagoda

In her last years with her debilitating illness, a Parkinson’s-like syndrome, speaking was increasingly difficult. I would phone her on my way home from work, and though I knew she was listening, because her helper gave her the phone, she could no longer converse. It was painful for both of us because we were so close and missed our daily shmooze. I would carry on a one-sided conversation just so she could hear my voice, jabbering about work, the grandchildren, and padded the strained silence with filler words.

Despite the fact she could barely speak, on occasion she would still communicate. One Saturday her weekend caretaker annoyed her and my mother looked at me and rolled her eyes. I totally got her frustration and a glint of her feistiness and humor. When my teenage nephew came to visit her in the hospital wearing a tee shirt and shorts and she noticed it was a blustery San Francisco day from the swaying trees visible through the window she suddenly piped up, ”Where is your jacket?” Her grandmotherly love and concern could not be silenced by her illness.

Shortly before she died, the young rabbi from her congregation came to her hospital room with a shofar or ram’s horn. It is customary to sound the shofar every day in the Jewish month of Elul before the New Year. The rabbi blew the shofar for her and those plaintive sounds transformed the heavy silence of her sick room and changed her whole demeanor.

.

Return to This Week’s Flash

3 Comments

Filed under Joanne Jagoda

The Missed Bus by Joanne Jagoda

Every morning is a variation of the same theme. First I can’t find my glasses, my backpack, wallet, cell phone or keys. I admit I am scatterbrained, despite having plenty of brain power when it comes to physics and advanced math. The organization gene is clearly missing from my DNA. Unfortunately I haven’t changed my bad habits while studying in Israel doing my junior year abroad. Though I attempt daily lists and try to set my things out the night before, I still waste so much time running about gathering my belongings every morning.

This morning is especially chaotic. My glasses fell under my bed and I spent an extra fifteen minutes cursing and hunting for them. My trying-to-sleep, exasperated roommate is fuming under her pillow. Then half way up the block I remember I forgot my cell phone. I trudge back to my apartment shivering in the chill of this January morning under a stunning blue sky. I figure as long as I am going to miss my regular bus and be late for class again, I will rummage for my knit scarf and gloves.

Warmly bundled and finally confident I have my stuff, I head to the bus stop, a ten minute walk to the #18 which will take me up to the university. A deafening explosion shakes the ground and I hear a crazy cacophony of horns and blaring sirens. I start to shudder. That was my regular bus.

.

Return to This Week’s Flash

13 Comments

Filed under Joanne Jagoda

Kazimerz by Joanne Jagoda

When my husband’s wiry hair stands up in the morning I remind him he looks like Kazimerz. We have fond memories of Kazimerz from our Jewish heritage trip to Poland. He was our driver, ferrying us about as we learned of the vibrant Jewish life and culture which once flourished in Eastern Europe from a knowledgeable Polish guide. We walked the streets of the former Warsaw ghetto, toured ancient cemeteries in Krakow, and gritted our teeth while visiting the death camp of Auschwitz.

Every morning as our small group trudged on the bus, Kazimerz would help us up the steep stairs with his bad haircut getting worse as the week went on as did his body odor. Taciturn, he barely gave a smile or grunt. His blondish hair was trimmed close on the sides but the top part would be standing up at precarious angles and had a life of its own .No real barber could have done this. His wife must have cut his hair in the kitchen. As the week went on his lack of bathing and hairstyle became a hot topic of conversation.

At the end of the tour it is customary to “tip” the tour guide and driver, and our guide was not shy in reminding us. We dutifully handed them our tips and Kazimerz lit up like a Christmas tree, all smiles, babbling away in Polish. The international language of money must have done the trick. Maybe now he could do something about his hair.

.

Return to This Week’s Flash

4 Comments

Filed under Joanne Jagoda