Escalade, September 10, 2001
The cool thing about how TRUE, Sterling and I worked out these interwoven stories of our past is that each bit can stand on its own. So you should be able to hop on the story train at any stop and still get where you're goin! of course perhaps you ?WANT the whole enchilada. the full monty. the whole SICK bidness. so i've provided the other parts, if you're didn't catch them a couple of weeks ago and you're interested...
oh yes--i nearly forgot! the overarching name of the piece is "3 car crashes with 3 people in 3 months" and, as the title suggests it takes place over a three month period between July and October of 2001.
We picked up Sterling in Times Square, where she materialized out of the crowd like Moses.
After checking both sides of the street, TRUE deemed it safe to open the door. I sunk back in my seat and made eye contact with Sterling. She looked pooped from her temp gig downtown. We exchanged concerned looks.
Meanwhile, her presence seemed to galvanize TRUE, who leaned over with the weighted sock wrapped tightly around her hand.
“It’s so fucking on,” TRUE told her.
Sterling nodded coolly and adjusted her Steelers skully. The corporate glow of Times Square flashed across her freckled cheeks.
“I don’t know why you made me come all the way up here if we’re just going to go back to Brooklyn.”
“Too risky to pick you up down there,” TRUE said, as she nodded her head vigorously to the beat of the Pixies song that filled the car.
“Times Square is anonymous.”
“What!” Sterling said. “Do you have any idea how crowded it is around this time in front of those goddamn towers? You could have picked me up on a horse and no one would have looked twice.”
“Better to meet away from where you work…that way it lessens the chance of being spotted by someone who knows you.”
“Hmm,” Sterling said. I thought about how out of everyone in the car, she had the most to lose, legally speaking, that was.
“So we’re really doing this?” she said. Our eyes met again, in the rear view mirror.
“Of course, what the fuck did you think? After what happened!”
“I still don’t understand. Fitz told me some punk bitch jumped you? Grabbed you and felt you up? Where were you, exactly?”
TRUE sighed and rubbed her face.
“Here’s what happened: I was walking home, on Graham about to turn on to Bayard, when suddenly it began to pour. I had to run back into the shadow of the BQE, where it was cold as hell and there was the rushing echo of the cars overhead. I got soaked. My cigarette turned into a soggy mess.
I stood there, practicing a couple of rhymes, trying to think about what I wanted from the day…you know, whatever. The rain tapered a bit, like an invisible curtain had been pulled through it, and then all at once it stopped, as quickly as it had started. I waited a few seconds before continuing on my way.
That’s when I head the footsteps.
‘Hey, can I bum a smoke?’
I turned and saw a good looking, slim teenage guy with shoulder length brown hair. I-talian, I guessed, from the neighborhood.
‘OK,’ I said, or ‘Sure’, or something like that, and I dug one out of my pack and gave it to him. We made eye contact. He seemed happy and harmless. Young and dumb, that sort of thing.
Actually, he didn’t call it a ‘smoke’, he called it a ‘stoogie’. Yeah.
Anyway, he asked if he could get a light, too. I started rummaging through my bag, where I had just dropped my lighter. I remember hurrying because it felt like it might start raining again any second. As I had my head bent, he leaned over and ran a finger over my right tit. It was totally matter of fact, like, no big deal. I looked up and literally just watched it happen. My shirt was soaked so everything was super well-defined. He had no trouble finding the nipple and pressing down on it, like it was a buzzer on a door or some shit like that.
I looked at his face and he had this stupid, ugly, lustful expression…it was like, I don’t’ know....hungry…”
TRUE turned and looked out the tinted window. We were on the bridge, rolling along toward Brooklyn at a slow but steady pace with the rest of the rush hour traffic. Beneath us the water was flat and gray, like a dull linoleum floor.
I couldn’t see her face, but there was a flutter of excitement in my stomach as I could tell that she was upset.
“I had that fucked up dream feeling as he pushed me back against the black metal fence that’s there along the sidewalk and fully felt me up. His hands went up and down. His face was close to mine. There was a mole beneath his right eye.
I kept asking myself if this was really happening, or whether I was having some kind of flashback. That constant questioning shit is fucked because it made me stand there, zoned out and unable to move. He made these sounds, ‘mmmm, mmmm,’ like he was eating something extra good, you know what I’m saying? Right there in broad daylight, with cars passing on McGuinness. How fucked up is that?”
“How did you get away?” Sterling asked. Her voice was wound hard and tight.
“I don’t know, I just snapped out of it. That’s like, the worst part. It wasn’t as if he had a gun or whatever. He didn’t even have me in a tight grip. All it took was for me to wake up and realize, yeah, this shit is really real and step aside. I said, ‘what the fuck?’ and his eyes turned wide and he bolted.”
“Motherfucker,” Sterling muttered. The traffic had come to a standstill. I reached over and put my hand on TRUE’s shoulder. I felt proud of my nails. They were buffed and clean and shined like 20 carats without the help of a single drop of polish.
“He treated me like…I don’t know. It’s crazy. I realized that he has no idea who I am.”
“That’s for sure,” Sterling chimed in.
“All he had was a plan. A shitty little plan to walk over and get some.”
“I don’t think it was a plan specific to you,” I said. “He’s a straight teenage boy. All he can think about are ass and titties.”
“Give me a break,” TRUE said. She tightened the top of the sock around her knuckles. Beneath her palm the weighted toe hung heavily like a disease, the white cotton fabric pockmarked with quarters.
“He knew when he came up to me that he was going to grab my tits. Motherfucker pegged me for a sitting duck!”
“What difference does it make what he knew? Punks jump up to get beat down.” Sterling said. She again tugged on the edges of her Steelers’ skully and nodded her head to an imaginary beat.
“So what, now—you know where this piece of shit lives?”
“No,” TRUE said.
“What the fuck?” Sterling said, “How are we going to find him?”
TRUE handed her the printout.
“I was able to take a picture as he ran away,” she said, triumphantly.
“What!” Sterling said. She turned the paper over to see if there was something more. She stared uncomprehendingly at the paper and shot me a desperate look.
“Your camera is garbage. This is all we have to go on?” she said, incredulously. “Are you guys crazy?”
“Ha!” TRUE shouted. “How genteel of you to pose the question in the plural!”
“Genteel has nothing to do with it. He’s the one who’s driving us there...to this mysterious neverneverland.”
“Oh, yes,” I said, as I reached for a cigarette. “I may be driving, but I’m certainly not the one behind the wheel.”
“Oh, now I get it, Fitz. You’re completely stoned…no wonder...” she gave me a look like she wanted to spit in my face. “So this is all a bunch of bullshit? Well, you know. Maybe I had better things to do tonight.”
“I resent that. This isn’t some kind of act.”
“What do you mean? How the hell are you going to find him?”
“With the picture.”
“The picture is a zoomed-in, Photoshopped nightmare. You can’t see anything.”
“Yes I can. I can see it all.”
“TRUE…,” I started, wanting to add my two cents, but I was immediately disarmed by the low, reasonable tone to my voice that I forgot what it was I wanted to say.
“Do you still have the camera on you,” Sterling asked. “Then at least we can look at the picture raw.”
“No. But fuck that. I’m going to find him, you guys,” TRUE said. She leaned against the door with the window all the way down. We were moving, picking up speed as we exited off the bridge and into South Williamsburg. The white dome of La Puenta passed over her shoulders like the Capitol.
“With our without you doubting fucking Thomases.”
I felt her looking at me. I took the Ray Bans out of my front breast pocket and slid them onto my face.
“I’m ready, baby,” I muttered. “You know I’m with you.”
“Yes. Fine. We’re all with you,” Sterling said. “But seriously. How are you going to find him?” Her voice turned softer, as though she were pleading with some secret sense of logic. “I mean…,” her voice trailed off and she looked at me, wanting answers, I suppose. I opened my mouth but nothing came out.
I was giving up and going with it.
“It’s simple.” TRUE, said, as she sat back down and lit a Winston.
“We’re going to use publicity to smoke him out.”