10.17.2003

This morning I put on my red pants in honor of the fallen challengers. It was early—everything was very quiet. The heat hadn’t even started its clank-boom concerto in the pipes yet. I looked out the window and saw that Brooklyn was lit up pink and gray.

Then I did something I haven’t done in almost two weeks:

I went put on a paint splattered sweatshirt and went outside.

I didn’t go far. Just out the front door and down the first couple of steps. I could smell the cold radiating off the metal railing. I lit a cigarette and allowed myself to be hypnotized by ground-up glass glistening in the asphalt.

I asked myself all the big questions.

What do I want?

What’s in it for me?

Where was my next fat bag coming from?

A whiny voice pulled me out of my reverie:

“Hey Lady.”

I looked down and saw a kid in a blue hooded sweatshirt, standing at the foot of the steps. He had a brown face and a pink nose. His eyes were among the brightest I’d ever seen.

“Got an extra smoke?”

“Pfff,” I waved him away.

“C’mon,” he said, his voice cracking.

“OK, whatever,” I said and held one out to him.

“Al-right!” he said, and made his way up the steps. His enormous jeans made it difficult—the crotch was nearly to his knees. I noticed that he wore a Yankees hat under his hood. He took the cigarette and put it in the corner of his mouth, where it stuck out awkwardly.

“You watch the game?” I asked, as I lit it for him.

“Of course!” he said, his eyes widening and nearly blinding me. He took a long, thoughtful drag and exhaled all over the place.

“You like baseball, miss?”

He couldn’t have been more than 14.

“Hell yeah,” I said. “Yankees all the way, man.”

He chuckled and brushed a flake of ash off his thigh. There was a pattern of bleached white circles on his jeans, in accordance to the latest style.

“I gotta say I almost had a heart attack last night.”

“Me too,” I said, “That was one helluva game.”

“Hell, yeah,” he said.

We sat silently, smoking and watching the sky turn colors.

“You going to school,” I asked.

“Um, yeah,” he said, uncertainly.

“Off you go then,” I said, flicking away the rest of my cigarette.

“OK,” he said, “Thanks for the smoke.”

“Shit gives you headaches,” I told him. “You should stick to weed.”

He gave a nervous laugh and looked to either side of him.

“Why? You got some, miss?”

“I wish, little man,” I said.

He shrugged and gave me a wave.

“And another thing,” I said, as I stood up and got ready to go back inside.

“There’s no such thing in this world as an ‘extra cigarette’. It doesn’t exist. You got that?”

“Got it,” he said.

“Peace.”

“Peace.”


big shouts to all real new yorkers....worldwide




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