Hey Everyone! I am a 20 year old author from New Haven! My first book just came out and i am excited to share the beginning with you. If it seems like something you’d maybe like please head over to The City Breaks its Promise and check it out!
“She would always leave now and then, but I knew that this time was different. I could tell by the way she left that she wouldn’t be coming back. Without a goodbye and after a fight, my sister had left the house. She left without any clothes or belongings. She was always impulsive like that, but the fact she didn’t even bring a purse made me think this was only temporary. I didn’t want her to leave but there wasn’t anything I could do to stop her. I was scared, I sat up in my bed and looked outside my window hoping I’d see her walking up the street but she never did. I stayed like that for half of the night until I finally conceded that she wasn’t showing up anytime soon.
I got about three hours sleep that night and woke up bright and early to the sound of my obnoxiously loud alarm clock. After I slapped the piece of shit across the room I bit my lip for a couple of minutes. After I drew blood I walked to the bathroom feeling the hangover of the rough night taking its toll on me emotionally and physically. My sister and I had argued all that night, for hours and hours about redundant bullshit. My stomach felt contaminated as I looked at myself in the mirror, my wavy hair matted and unruly. I was overreacting as usual to my sister’s rebellion, she was a grown woman and had her own life, but I had reason for my fear.
My baby sister was my life growing up. I took care of her when nobody took care of me. I felt like I was her guardian and that I was meant to protect her through life. I had a bond with her that nobody else could have. Throughout trauma and the violence, we stuck together. We held hands, but after a while our grasp became much lighter. Sephrina and I were dealt a bad hand when it came to life. We grew up in Hunts Point South Bronx in a crack den. Essentially we were raised on the streets by the streets. I knew every scam, every scheme, every hoodlum, every trick and the one after that. All the games people played I had to take seriously in order to survive. I became so good that I made it my living; I joined up with my uncle in his South Bronx crime ring. I was teaching the old timers tricks, like how to make five dollars into three meals for the day.
I was able to take us out of the chaos, but it was a little late for Sephrina. She had already been hurt, torn apart so many times when I wasn’t there. She didn’t blame me, her gentle heart never could but I blamed myself because I was supposed to protect her. I was furious all the time, and the only place I was able to take it out was on the job. I was in reconstruction; I was a mid-level thug with job security and the best type of life insurance the streets could buy. Working with my uncle had a lot of positives. He basically allowed me to run wild. The violence I surrounded myself with was all an analogical way of fighting the frustration I had in my life. It was clear that when I swung my fist I was fighting more than just the person in front of me. I was fighting the past, the present, the future and reality all at once.
I came to realize I could only fight but so much, and it hit me the hardest the day my sister left. I had hoped she would have tamed her habits. I had thought for some time that maybe the world would show us mercy, but then I got my final wake up call. I had fought plenty of abusive boyfriends and made my share of threats but all of that kept me in denial. I believed that I had enough power to somehow influence her and everyone around her. I didn’t and god must have been busy because he never showed himself around these parts.
Hunts Point scared me when I was younger. Once I grew up I adjusted to it. Sephrina and I were basically abandoned so young we had to take on adult tasks before we were teenagers or else we wouldn’t have survived. We wouldn’t eat if we didn’t make the money. We dodged the government and survived in the cold hard world of facts.
We hung out around the red light district at night to help guide tricks, assist the whores and make extra money. During the day we would go and sell candy bars on the subway, help at the chop shops, sell some weed and often we’d assist the drug dealers by guiding customers in abundance.
We had a little apartment where we’d hear some girl getting beaten half to death almost every night by her pimp and I’d hold my sister as she cried. There were about seven kids and some crack heads, drifters and bums crashing there all the time. On my sister’s birthday I was able to scrap together enough money to get her a cake and a few presents. The little party was going well. It wasn’t until about ten at night when we heard a gunshot. The woman killed her pimp and the first thought in my head was that the police were going to find us and put us into foster care.
We packed up our stuff but it was too late, as the police came and started asking us where our parents were. I lied a few times and then tried to run away. It was a futile effort and the saddest day of my life. They didn’t split up my sister and I, instead the stuck us both in a brutal residential full of fucking nuts, kids who were already rapist, schizophrenics and raging mental cases. After about a year of that we got sent to foster care.
It was a bleak life to live, and when I say I took us out I meant we moved farther away from the Point. The problem was still it wasn’t far enough from the chaos. I don’t know if I could have ever gotten far enough away especially on days when I was so alone. Then on the other hand, I began to feed off the violence surrounding me. My world was a time ticking bomb.
When we grew up South Bronx was in bad shape. There were still apartments that were a sickness, terrifying and unadulterated. Crack heads with families piled into the apartments like the rent was free; somehow they found a way to pay up. The land lords never fucked around, we almost got kicked out for missing one month. My mother was a whore and my father was a failed pimp, both were crack heads. Together it took them three hours to put in a light bulb.
So I had to find ways to pay the rent. In the beginning I tried to help my mother by rationing money and trying to help her kick her addiction, but over time my blood became cold and I lost all hope for her. I adopted the gun at that point, and after that it was a free for all. If she tried to take the money I made that day, she would face my gun. And if you didn’t stop there, I’d beat my own mother in order to save enough for my sister and me. She never had our best interest in mind. The kids of crack town didn’t play games. We’d all talk about how we were going to grow up into responsible adults who would live functional lives. Part of us all knew that was a joke.
We would pickpocket in the City, sometimes we’d beg or sometimes steal street performer’s cash. Sometimes we’d even steal cars that were parked and drive them to the back of chop shop. One of the legal things we would do would be to wash cars and walk dogs for the old folks in the town. Those same old people would be trading their pain meds for Viagra, money and weed.
We’d always do everything to try to find an angle to make a little bit of profit each time. That was the objective, profit no matter how small. We’d get together at night and have meal time in one of our barren apartments and fix dinner for each other. Each night that I had my sister in my sights was a good night. This was before she knew any better, it was after all the abuse but she didn’t know what was happening to her delicate body. I didn’t know what happened to mine either.
My name was Tobick because apparently my mom’s family wouldn’t allow her baby to ever take someone else’s surname. They must have been glad that rule was in place because when my mom got pregnant at fifteen the father was some older crack head named John Manikos, my father. My mom became an outcast from her orthodox German Family after they found out she tried to have arrange an abortion.
My Uncle Karol was my mother’s brother. He was one of the craziest bastards I’ve ever met in my life. I personally didn’t think I was anything like him. Somehow his family was very strict and incredibly orthodox, but he became a teenage Hit-Man for an German Crime outfit. Now he was the boss of Hunt’s Point, and a very valuable ally to have. I worked for him, as his trusted employee who watched over everyone else. It was mind blowing sometimes, the shit that happened around me. What I grew up around seemed like nothing to what I saw working with Uncle Karol. It was training in a lot of ways.
I had to watch over the people and the rackets. I had to watch over everything from the drugs, the gambling, the prostitution, the sales of firearms and even real estate. He was rich, and he tried to make as much legit money as possible. He owned a construction company, a few liquor stores, two car dealerships as well as a bunch of bars and clubs. My official “job” was in construction even though I had only worked a few hours in my life.
The day after Sephrina left, I was supposed to be overseeing a drug deal but instead I called out. I had to figure things out as soon as possible because I was in frenzy. I left the house early even though I spent at least an hour staring at the wall. But once I snapped out of my trance, I was able to get out of the house. I decided my first stop would be to see an old friend who knew everything that went down in Hunt’s Point.
Cardinal, was a drug addict and a loyal customer and was also the unofficial overseer of the city. If he didn’t know something, he knew someone who did. It was amazing, especially since he spent so much time in his room shooting up. I remembered when he was clean and a decent member of society. The one thing that attracted my friendship to Cardinal was he always respected my sister and he showed respect to me.
When we first became friends I was a shaky sickly boy of fifteen years. We met the day after my Uncle picked us up from Foster Care. My uncle started me young dealing drugs and my first deal was to Cardinal, who was my age. He mostly just smoked weed and did some coke at that time. So I got to know him through all the deliveries I made for him. He lived in a posh apartment in Manhattan so it wasn’t to long of a long voyage. He would tip me a couple hundred dollars and sometimes I’d even smoke with him.
Cardinal got his name due to his fiery red hair. He was the classic redhead with very pale skin and freckles. He was skinny and tall since I knew him years ago, and he grew to tower over me. His family was very religious and Cardinal was sacrilegious so it wasn’t working out. They beat him for swearing and he had to study the bible for four hours a night after homework. He couldn’t take it anymore and I didn’t blame him, so he escaped their grasp during high school and we moved into an apartment together. As I said before, Cardinal and I had a long history.
Even years later he only lived a few blocks away from my house, and it took me about ten minutes to trek down there. The apartment building was a little run down, but the rent was cheap. For the most part I paid the rent and every other expense Cardinal had, the landlord could care less where the money came from as long as he got it. It was that guilt thing again that got me, plus if I didn’t pay the rent Cardinal would be on the street.
I didn’t do him many favors. Basically all I did was feed his habit. I was a conflicted enabler. I knew that I wasn’t in to deep at that point, but that I had to rescue myself I got caught or killed.
The cold air hit me hard that morning when I left my apartment. I put my hood over my head to prepare for the walk. I decided to check my waistband holster, which held my stainless Remington R1. After I fixed my shirt to hide the gun I noticed a group of bums across the street walking. It was Harris, Morten and Tommy. They probably just left the homeless shelter and were on their way toward the liquor store. I saw Melissa pushing her baby carriage across the street. They were both bundled up. I waved to her but she didn’t see me. She lived on the second floor of the house I lived in.
I had purchased my house four years ago with all the legitimate money that I had. It only cost a couple hundred thousand and I paid the mortgage just like any other normal person. It was a three family home and I lived on the first floor. I collected rent, installed central air and made sure that everything was taken care of. I had become friends with everyone that lived in the house with me. They always heard my brutal arguments with my sister, they heard the time I pushed her onto the ground and when I destroyed our glass coffee table. They heard all of my regret.
I thought about my sister more as I walked through the streets. I felt so tired because I hadn’t gotten any sleep, I felt sick because of the combination of everything. I had a headache and a few cars passed blasting music which didn’t exactly help. There were a group of bums with big padded coats walking across the street. A few kids were riding bikes and in the corner by a garbage can a fiend was shooting up.
I laughed as I walked up into the apartment building. I skipped up stairs as quickly as I could towards his third floor apartment. Once I was on the third floor I cut in and went to the first door on the right. I banged on it loudly to make sure he could hear it. Knowing Cardinal he was probably sitting there with his eyes red after an all-nighter.
“Cardinal its Spiro, let me in,” I said as I heard a door unlock and open. A woman was leaning out of her apartment, she glared at me viciously.
“Why are you hitting the door so god damn loud!” she snapped.
“Fuck off,” I growled. I matched her glare, I outdid it actually. She looked at me and then closed the door. The message must have registered with her. Then I turned my attention back to Cardinal who was in the doorway laughing. He was only wearing some tight briefs which offered a pale view. “Why don’t you put some god damn clothes on kid?”
“This is my house, don’t nobody tell me what’s good in here. You know that my dude,” said Cardinal as we shook hands. He led me into his apartment. He stopped for a second and turned around to look at me with his hands in his underwear. “Why you here so early, dude. Yo I got to tell you dude I had a crazy night. First I fucked this crack whore on the couch so I was like, and I thought wow, like this is gonna be a great night.”
“What does this have to do with me?” I asked.
“She gets me off and all I can remember is her undoing the belt on my arm right? But then I woke up a little later and I find that all my gear was gone. She took everything, all the pills too. I couldn’t believe it, I’m sorry but that was out of my hands ya know,” said Cardinal pinching his nose and sniffling. His body was covered in sweat and it smelled straight like body odor.
People like Cardinal often irritated me, they wanted to be part of the drug culture so bad but when they get to deep they’d retreat and expect someone else to come and rescue them. It bothered me, but I tried not to allow it to affect unhealthy friendship we had.
“Listen, go and take a shower man. Please you smell awful,” I said with my head down examining the disgusting apartment. Cardinal nodded his head and walked over to a mound of clothes. He grabbed a towel, a pair of underwear, a shirt and pants. I could tell he had been going crazy that night, most likely smoking coolies. That story of his was bullshit, the reason he made it up was because three days ago I had given him some Ecstasy pills to hold on to. Sephrina was around and I had to find a place to hide it so she wouldn’t sell them for dope. Cardinal had a tendency to fuck up and I basically ruled out those pills anyway. My hunches were usually right with him, and this one was that he had freebased a lot of cocaine and then decided to take a few of the pills after he sold the rest to his friend Ike. I sat there thinking about it and decided to look around for stuff. It didn’t take my long into my search to find a watch, so I took it and pocketed it.
His apartment was very small for one thing, and there was trash almost everywhere. He had a small kitchen area in the front, while there was a miniature table on one side which had Chinese food containers, pizza boxes, needles, condoms and a knife on it. On the opposite side of the narrow kitchen space was the counters and the stove, which had all other types of miscellaneous shit all over. Following the horrid kitchen was the Bedroom and living room area that had a glass coffee table and a bed. That was it for the apartment, beside a small bathroom
I heard the door open and Cardinal came out the bathroom rapping “Started from the Bottom” obnoxiously while drying off.
“You want a line?” asked Cardinal basically naked beside the little towel.
“No I don’t want a line, listen to me…Listen to me god damn it! Put the fuckin mirror down and listen to me!” I hissed. He put everything down and looked up at me with concerned eyes. “My sister left again last night and this time I know something bad is going to happen if it hasn’t already happened by now. It’s been a almost a day man.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t know,” said Cardinal shaking his head while sliding on his cargo pants and a black t-shirt. Few moments later he came over to give me a hug and I laughed as we embraced. It was a short hug because I kind of pushed away eventually as hugs weren’t something that I enjoyed. He walked back over to his couch and put on socks before grabbing a pair of yellow Nike Hyperdunks.
“Yeah, so I came over here to see what you’ve heard,” I said with my arms on my hips and a grim expression on my face. He looked at me with a weird expression and I knew what he was thinking. “Don’t insult me like that man, you know I came over here to give you your shit. So don’t insult me by looking that way holding out on me. Do you understand me?”
“You know I would tell you everything I knew, I just wanted to ask if you could help me get through?” he pled.
“You know I will, don’t I always man. Here take everything I’ve got,” I said throwing him a package which was in my sweatshirt pocket. It had about five grams of Cocaine, some oxycodone, ecstasy and a balloon of mud tucked inside.
Cardinal was a dumpster fiend, a cabbage head or a trash can addict. He didn’t care what he was getting high off of, he just wanted to get high no matter if it was glue, Ether and in his worst of times snorting Lunesta. Most of the stuff I’d give him, I wouldn’t give him Ether or glue, but the other stuff I’d supply. As I said before I felt guilty, but I didn’t want him robbing old woman because he would. Plus I gave myself reassurance on a business level by keeping in mind that he gave me a lot of information on the streets, so I justified everything by saying I was paying him. He was my friend, he used to be my best friend but I worried that I was losing more than just my mind.”
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