Seven Minutes in Heaven

I was at Food Bazaar, tossing items

into my shopping cart, when “Cowboys

to Girls” flowed soulful and sexy

from the store’s radio. And I’m taken

back, some twenty years, to a make-out

party at Larry’s, where I’m sitting on

the linoleum floor among a circle

of other 13-year-olds in the one-room

apartment that he shared with his father.

Pole lamp, trundle bed, portable radio

on a card table, and 2 folding chairs.

A gambler, his old man was at the track.

Spin the Bottle? Better. This Coke

bottle spin pointing to a one-on-one

make-out session called Seven Minutes

in Heaven. First time I heard “Cowboys

to Girls” was at that party. Moved, I

realized that a bona fide smash doesn’t

need playing through anything more

than a portable radio. Thinking, how

cool, a spellbinding number by a black

group, The Intruders, about cowboys.

They had as much to do with cowboys

as this Bronx white-boy son of refugees.

As the circle shrank, I grew edgy.

Then Debra Condor grabbed the bottle.

Gave it one helluva spin. Rotating twice

before pointing straight at me. Debra.

Not Deb or Debbie. Condor. Not Katz,

Bonanno, or even O’Hara. Straight, dark

shoulder-length hair parted on the right

side. The way she talked, not at all

like she was from the Bronx. Debra Condor

was my all-American girl. I had no clue

what brought her to that party. I did know

she was from the neighborhood, because

I’d see her on the street and warmly

smile, softly say hi. Our brown eyes

shared more than a passing glance. Now

she was mine. Or more likely, I was hers.

The closets and bathroom, were already

occupied, so taking me by the hand, Debra

led me out the front door into the hallway.

I shut the door behind us. Holding my hands,

she leaned back against the wall, drew me

tight against her. I liked how she took charge.

Resting my palms on the wall by her sides,

she tasted like a cherry Lifesaver—

“What’s going on here?” An aproned old

bat toting a bulging garbage bag destined

for the incinerator chute. I might’ve said,

Sorry to startle you madam, but we’re having

some whispery fun. Enjoy your evening too.                                                                          

But no, “Shutdafuckup!” I say. “And mind

your own business.” Appalled, Debra,

palms-to-my-chest, shoves me away from her,

and incredulously says, “Who are you?”

Same way my wife says those exact words

when I kick the door, days after I was served

the papers, “Who are you?” Sheepishly, giving

the same answer, “I don’t know.”

Ted Jonathan is a poet and short story writer. Raised in the Bronx, he now lives in New Jersey. His collection of poems and short stories Bones & Jokes was published by NYQ Books (2009). His poetry collection Run was published by NYQ Books (2016). He can be contacted at