Semi-surreal photograph of a young man who is listening to his message on a cell phone. A hand with a gun it it is seen on a television Monitor

Switching Stations: Jeffery’s Messages

Warning: Adult themes and language


Hey Jeff-reee! Wat up ese? Guess who I seen? I seen Kenny an I seen his new wrap an he got himself a new van where he can be sleepin’ in it.  He traded the Buick! But ese! Wouldnya rather have a Buick? Lissen-up ese: I gotta joke! You an’ your Mom got moren one thing in common. You both whores! Jeff-reee! Is the shit fresh!  Whaja doin? Wachin porn? You an Manuela de Palma? Why don’ja go out an getta job. Yo ese!– Getta freakin job!




Jeffery? This is Sara. I need Robert’s tools. I have to go to Mom’s after work tonight. If you take them over to Mom’s, I’ll leave five dollars for the taxi. Please Jeffery. We have to have those tools so please bring them to Mom’s today! OK?



Hey, hey bro. I know you ain’t amped out. I know its crank, dude. So hustle ur ass over here an bring me the merchandise. Yak at ja later.



Jeffery? This is Sara! Please bring the tools to Mom’s. Please Jeffery!




Hey Jeff. This is Bob. It’s 8:15.  I guess I’m calling to ask if you’re OK. I’m at the St. Francis doing some work if you catch my drift.  If you want to make the drop meet me on Ellis in two hours. Over by the construction site: be there.

Photograph of a young man who is standing in a squat listening to his messages
I’m at the St. Francis doing some work, if you catch my drift.


Hey, man. I’m telling you man; you better call me dude. I’ve waited patiently for you to pay for that briefcase. Don’t make me go over there with my authorities. No BS, dude. I want my money.


Jeffery? This is Aunt Esther. You have Robert’s tools. Please bring them to your Mother’s.




Jeffery! This is your Mother!  Aunt Esther wants you to bring Robert’s tools to my place. Where I live? OK? Call me! Bye!



Yo Jeff-reee! It’s Bobby! I sold them tools an’ got a fifty! Rock an’ Roll, dude! I got the candy so’s I’ll catch up with you later!

Semi-surreal photograph of a young man who is listening to his message on a cell phone. A hand with a gun it it is seen on a television Monitor
Rock and Roll, Dude!


Whadup, Jeffery? I know you know who the fuck this is. Check it: a client wants to sell you an MK 16. I know you like collecting that kinna shit: gimme a buzz.


Jeffery? This is Sara! Did you get Moms message? Bring us those tools! They are essential to Robert’s work. You borrowed them without permission and we need them now!


Heeeeyyy Jeff-reee! Ese! Pick up de phone. I know you’re there! Pobrecito mijo. Yankin’ his life away. Jeff-reee! Pendejo!!—You screwed up bad an’ now ur goin’ downdowndown. Crank brought ya down, ese!


Jeffery. This is Sara. If you’re home pick up! How long is it going to take for us to get Robert’s tools back from you. I’ll give you a hundred if you bring them back. I guess I’m going to have to come over and get them.


Hey, hey bro! 12:35 at night. Howcum you ain’t on the horse troll? You better have my dollars! Yeah! Big Daddy R Money!

Photograph of a young man who is listening to his message on a cell phone. A hand with a gun it it is seen on a television Monitor
Howcum you ain’t on the horse troll?



8:22 in the morning and you missed another session. For a parolee that says he wants to get straight you stick too close to convicts. ’nuff sed. You know who this is. Call me.



Jeffery? It’s your lawyer. It’s Tuesday, 10am. I hope you didn’t go out on another binge. We need you here at the Hall of Justice in two hours. I need you here to win!  Ok?



1:45 PM and another parolee of mine is back to jail. He got two years. He wanted out on OR but no one will vouch for him. So to jail he went. Two years my friend. I see you guys sharing a cell. No one will vouch for you! ‘nuff sed.



This is Sara.  Are you still in bed? Are you bringing Robert’s tools to Mom’s house? Aunt Esther said you better bring them! The tools. Robert’s tools? Do you even know what I’m talking about?


OK,  Miss Thing. Your phone was just bizzy.  So I guess you gone in less than a minute? You gonna hang in that shitty dorm all day? It’s 3:10 on Tuesday in case you ain’t  oriented x 3. Call me sweetie. You said you would share.




Double dealin’ Jeffery! It’s Randy ya messed up tweak! Ya didn’t come out yesterday! Ya was gonna buy me drinks or so ya said. So, uh, what up? Did it all go up in smoke? It’s 5:10 sos I’ll call back about 7:30.


Hey Jeffery ya up in smoke fool! It’s Randy! We ain’t makin no deals cos you ain’t around! So howcum you don’t be around? I’m over at Jack in the Box tryina hustle a BLT. I’ll be here all night. The address is JACK-in-the-Box!
Laters dude.


Jeffery! This is Sara! Get your ass out of bed and bring Robert’s tools to Mom’s house! NOW! And you better answer my calls too! Goodbye!



Hey, man. I’m telling you man; you better call me dude. You think I’m letting you slide or something and I’m telling you homey don’t play that way. I’ll put out a ten thousand dollar contract your ass —so if you want your life you better give me a buzz.  2 Questions: What is John Wayne’s real name and what was his first movie that he starred in. If you know the answers, I’ll just bust a cap in your pretty white ass.


Photo of a young man in a squat listening to is messages-staged in Virtual Reality
I’m telling you homey don’t play that way


Jeffery! This is Sara. Mom’s in the hospital. DO NOT CALL THE HOSPITAL! If you call her I’ll call the police and let them know who you are and where you live. I know there are warrants out for you. I don’t want you near Mom. I don’t want you near the hospital. If you have any questions, bring Robert’s tools to Mom’s house first.



Hey Jeff-reee! Esaaaaaaay. You makin’ luuuuv now? Is it all luvy duvy in this land of screwed up druggies? Ain’t a damn thing funny, Jeffery! Get you a real woman, amigo! If you don’t get a real woman you’ll lose them shrinking pelotas! Dedee is chotito. A punk, bro! An’ you da punk-ee!



Jeffery this is Mom. When you visit tonight sneak in a pack of cigarettes? I’ll give you fifty dollars. Don’t let the nurses catch you. It’s extremely important. I love you.



Jeffrey this is Sara. Stop visiting Mom! If you don’t stay away from her I’ll have you arrested. How can you bring smokes to a woman that just had a stroke?



Hey, man. I’m telling you man, this is the last message you’ll ever ignore. I know you got paid an’ you better have my crank or my dollars ’cause I just sent a shitload of trouble your way! If you got the answers to my questions about John Wayne they’ll make it quick—OK? Good-bye, Jeffery.


Photo of a young man in a squat listening to is messages-staged in Virtual Reality, I used a toy camera filter to give it a sense of tunnel vision
Good-bye, Jeffery



First posted in 2015, as Jeffery’s Messages

Jeffery’s Messages (c) Rob Goldstein 1992-2015-2017
Illustrations staged in Virtual Reality.
Gun textures found on shutter-stock and GIPHY





41 thoughts on “Switching Stations: Jeffery’s Messages

  1. Your friends who have already commented have said it all. Brilliant piece. A great idea, presenting the story through messages. I enjoyed reading, despite/because of the anxiety it caused me. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Teagan! This is my third major revision of this story since I wrote it in 1990. I’m glad I decided to revise it. I’ve learned a few tricks about using VR to stage an illustration over the past five years. It’s true that perseverance pays off. I feel so validated by your comment. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If my words validated you, Rob — my day is made! I never give empty praise. I suppose this set up is similar to “diary” or epistle format novels, it feels completely different to me. I never cared for the books written as letters. They didn’t draw me into the story. So I can’t explain why I don’t like those, yet I loved what you did here.

        The way you handled the phone messages here… I heard the beep and whir of the tape with every message. I felt the tension build and the tones change as the story went. The part about the “tools” was the perfect touch to give it reality.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know you don’t give empty praise. I don’t either. It’s hard to know why this format worked for you. I wanted to create a character whose life was spinning out of control. The tools were fun to write; especially having Bobby sell them,

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The first time I met a gay FTM I was deeply baffled. It wasn’t until I fully understood gender as an ‘identity’ beyond anatomy that gay trans men made sense to me. Reuben’s messages is a peculiar piece — I wrote it in the early 90’s when I lived for a short time in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District.


      1. Yes, Robert, Gender is a spiritual thing which is why the mis match with our bodies. Sexual attraction is that thing that gives us the labels, and an ftm transsexual who has had complete surgery or even only metoidioplasty rather than phalloplasty is just as likely to be attracted to men as any cisgendered male. An ftm transgender male without lower surgery also is just as likely to be attracted to men but not as a female is attracted to men and that is the spiritual difference. When I was married to a man I was sickened by our sexual relationship because it sent mixed messages to my brain because I am attracted to women as all men are who are attracted to women. I used to detest my body

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I didn’t fully understand this about gender until I went to work for San Francisco’s public mental health system. The treatment facility for which I worked had an outreach to the Trans community. I learned in my training and from my interactions with clients about the ways sexuality worked for trans people it’s logical. Most people never experience the mind body discrepancy and find it hard to imagine. As with most of our clients, their biggest problems were
        the result of stigma. The most pathogenic feature of our world is the way we as a culture indulge out fears and hatreds.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Our fears, our hatreds and this binary system we insist is reality. Knowing, now who I am and how things work as I am I have the freedom to accept my body and its limitations. In Australia I have had enough surgery to be no longer physically female – almost enough to be physically male so the Office of Birth deaths and Marriages gave me no tick for gender which is the closest Australian Law can come to change the sex and gender of a migrant. My wife who was born here has a new birth certificate in her current name issued as though right from the beginning. The other Identity Laws have me as male all the way through.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I think it’s wonderful! And courageous!But I’ve always said it takes a lot courage to be a GLBTQ person who doesn’t back down when faced with the intense pressure from our culture to shut up and return to the closet.


      1. Robert
        I am clueless, didn’t know tagging was in the neighborhood. I’ll check it out. If art is involved, that’s way out of my kindergarten league.
        Have a great day in sunny SF.:)


      2. It’s a game….people will write something or make a video or spoken word recording on a theme of leadership, authority, peace, some aspect of being a change agent and then tag one of 13 people. The person that is tagged has to come up with a seamless transition on the theme within 24 hours or bear the heavy burden of
        having the word ‘Freeze” where his or her artwork would be. Well not heavy burden..:)


    1. It was difficult to write…Especially the different voices and accents. I suppose the weirdest thing about it is that in my mind I hear it on tape–as if it was a real series of messages in my voicemail. The close of story always leaves me feeling devastated. I want to save Reuben but that isn’t how the story ends.

      It was an interesting device for telling a story–the idea of a narrative in a series of messages that escalate in frantic worry, manipulation and menace and that closes with the last message coinciding with the violent end of the life of a confused young man.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It’s powerful. Your emotions come through and drive the narrative.
        Your experiences are translating to impressive work including your writing.
        They say that times of great upheaval create conditions for amazing art.
        Your audience feels for Reuben…that’s the definition of art!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you Danica…The fact that you feel for him means that he becomes more than a screwed up druggie…that’s important…He’s in over his head — That feeling emerged for me after the first call from the dealer that wants his money.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah…there are people who want to turn this kid around…even the friend that first calls and seems to be ridiculing him is trying to turn him around. I found the sister and the mother interesting–the co-dependent elements that they bring to their interactions with him are telling. Having him arrested would have saved his life. Instead they fed him money and guilt.

        Liked by 1 person

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