Weird NJ’s phantom tollbooth attendant

It was a great night until I tried to leave New Jersey.

I read my short story “Chokepoint” at the Walt Whitman Arts Center in Camden, and I got to hear sharp, witty verse by West Coast transplant Seve Torres and a virtuosically funny short story by Violet LeVoit, from her collection I Am Genghis Cum.

Everybody was there, even my blogger friend Susan Madrak, an avid Phillies fan who could have stayed home and watched the game. (I’ll bet she’s glad she didn’t.)

Heading back to Philly, I got as far as the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge and realized I didn’t have enough cash to pay the toll, which is up to five dollars. The attendant at the toll booth I approached told me no, I couldn’t use my debit card or take a voucher and pay double next time, they don’t do that sort of thing in Jersey.

The attendant’s preternatural calm rattled me. She had belladonna eyes and wore large silver earrings and silver eye makeup and speckles of silver paint on her cheeks. Her voice was barely audible. It’s not even Halloween yet.

My only option was to go back to Camden and get cash, she whispered. I tried arguing with her and reached for my wallet to show her ID. When I looked up she had vanished, but the gate was raised so that I could loop back around to Camden. More here.

Fiction reading Wed. at Rutgers-Camden

7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 5
Walt Whitman Arts Center, 2nd Floor
101 Cooper St.
Camden, NJ

David McKenna, a.k.a. Odd Man Out, will read “Chokepoint,” from Idiot Lights, his collection of thematically related short stories set in Atlantic City and Philadelphia.

Also reading will be fiction writer Violet LeVoit, author of the short story collection I Am Genghis Cum, and poet Seve Torres.

Directions from Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Center City Philly:

1. Stay in the right lane.
2. On Jersey side, take the Sixth Street/Broadway exit toward Camden
3. Turn right onto N 6th Street
4. Turn right onto Cooper Street

Destination will be on the right:

101 Cooper St
Camden, NJ 08102

(For a map, Google “Benjamin Franklin Bridge” to “101 Cooper St., Camden, NJ”)
More here.