Monday, September 27, 2010


I was nursing my Cosmopolitan, the bartender got it right, I thanked the gentleman who bought it for me, the Dominican who was rumored to have shot a guy in front of my apartment building a few days before.

It was a hot Summer’s evening, I had been grilling steak out on the terrace, and went back inside to cool off in the AC when I heard a startling Pop! Pop!! Those kids with those fireworks, I thought, I went outside like Gladys Krafitz to see who the culprits were. A guy from my building was wrenching his neck over the railing of the roof deck of our building, he said someone had been shot right there down on the sidewalk, smack dab in front of our building.

Sure enough, the ambulance came and whisked off the kid who was lying on the sidewalk, his Model’s t-shirt soaking up a good amount of the pint or two of blood that was escaping from his stunned body. He wasn’t dead just frozen in motion from the stun, someone had pulled up in a black SUV got out and shot him point blank – in the leg.

The cops arrived shortly thereafter and started taping off the crime scene, I had seen this on TV like everyone else, even about 10 blocks from where I lived, but never right in front of my house. It seemed like such a nice neighborhood, 2200 dollar 1 bedroom rentals, places to buy breakfast burritos and overpriced cupcakes; the next day I heard that it was a squabble over a large amount of cocaine, like a pound of it. The story went that Hefty Bags full of cocaine were moving in and out of a brownstone down the way, usually around 4 AM when no one was watching, but the old-school Italians didn’t miss much of anything, some of them in their 80’s now were finding it hard to sleep and would keep a watchful eye out from their windows, and word gets around, even to those of us who were “ruining” the neighborhood.

The detectives spent an hour or so talking to everyone in the surrounding buildings, people reported on the SUV, the rotund shaved head 30 something getting out of the car, a brief exchange of words between he and the boy in the white t-shirt, and then the two shots, seemed there was something to go on, but I never heard another word about the crime being solved, except some local intel from the guy who owned the flower shop up the street. He said word had it- it was this guy in the ‘hood I knew since he was a kid. He was this fat kid who was a real nuisance when he was younger, heckling me from across the street, arriving home by police car more often than not, but that was a long time ago, he seemed like he had turned the page, he would greet me with a “hi, Miss – how you doin’ today,” and tip his baseball cap that he never even wore backwards. It sure beat being called a whooore, which was his term of endearment for all us gals back in the day, he had really cleaned up his act. But according to my neighbor, he had got into a squabble with a guy he had fronted a pound of coke to, who also happened to be his first cousin, and had shot him not once but twice - taking careful aim in a non-life threatening area to encourage his cousin to make good on his end of the deal.

Seemed the guy at the Flower Shop had identified a solid suspect, as did most of the guys in the social clubs on Henry Street, the detectives had come up empty handed, and had seemingly moved on to other things. A friend of mine who used to head a crime unit said the detectives probably had the same info that had reached the streets, but tended to let low life characters work out their own business, particularly if the parties were "friends" that wouldn't offer up anything in the way of evidence, and only if none of the local yuppies got hit in the crossfire. The laws of the street trumped everything, and life went on. The boy who was shot was released from the hospital a day later, there was no more talk on the streets, the men at the social clubs had other more pressing business to attend to.

A couple of weeks later I decided to drop into my local bar for a beer or two, it was Friday night and the guy I was seeing was probably out with friends from work, or some woman who didn’t yet know about his formidable commitment issues. “Miss,” someone placed a hand on my shoulder, it was the Dominican fellow rumored to be the shooter, he offered a warm smile, “Please, let me buy you a drink,” he slipped into the open seat next to me at the old oak bar. He waved his posse over towards me, a huge guy with a shaved head and what appeared to be prison quality tats across his neck and arms, and his beautiful girlfriend who I imagined would be what you would encounter your first night in jail if you ever got caught doing something stupid. My old friend from across the street made the introductions, the bald guy extended his hand politely, the girl stared straight ahead as though she hadn’t heard. My neighbor and I had exchanged names, I had gone by “Whooore” so many years ago, he now wanted to know my name, he said he always liked me and just had his heart broken – he was looking for the real thing, tired of being a player, his bad boy days long behind him, I could think about it, but maybe he could be my boyfriend, he would treat me nice. The other two were now seated on the other side of my suitor, she was making it clear she and the bald man were an item by rubbing his half hard on through his Phat Farm jeans. Suddenly, the tat-necked bald friend got a call and went outside, my date said, “Will you kindly excuse me, Dear,” and followed his buddy out into the street. Now it was just me and my potential cellmate there at the bar, I thought it polite to break the ice. I noticed she was wearing a diamond watch I had spied at Bloomingdales, it was covering part of the muddied black ink that covered her hand and forearm. “Hey, I love your watch, that’s the “Diamond Deco”, right? – I was thinking about getting one.” She turned in her chair, “SO??.”, I assumed we were not destined to be besties, I returned to my drink and shut the fuck up. Our “dates” returned to our sides after deliberating outside, the night was still young, I feared. “Hey, I’m going to excuse myself at this juncture, I have to be at work early,” I realized tomorrow was Saturday, but quickly realized safe to say this crowd never had a 9-5 so my lie would not be detected. Everyone said goodbye, except for the girl who shot me an “I’ll cut you bitch” look before returning to her cold stare to nowhere. “Think about what I told you, I’d like to take you out for steak and shrimp, anyplace you want,” my Dominican neighbor said, he had been practicing dropping his Brooklyn accent for a few weeks, it seemed – he almost sounded like he read books, or The Times, or watched PBS after meeting guys with black brief cases right outside Kennedy. “Oh, I’ve got a boyfriend,” I said, referring to my commitment-phobe on again off again - who was probably out romancing a 24 year old, “it was very nice meeting you guys,” I thanked the alleged drug kingpin/possible shooter from across the way for my Cosmo; I was always sure to mind my manners, particularly in instances like these.

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