Kids of Crack Town
She would always leave now and then, but I knew that this time was different; I could tell by the way she left. It was that night that my sister departed without a trace or a note. Without a goodbye, she left with nothing. No clothes, no belongings, she just left. I didn’t want her to leave but there was nothing I could do to stop her, she always would leave but this time was different. I was scared, I sat up in my bed and looked outside my window hoping I’d see her stroll back but she never did. I stayed like that for half of the fucking night until I finally conceded that she wasn’t showing up anytime soon.
I got about three hours sleep and woke up bright and early; 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 all over my head. The anxiety and fear that coursed through my veins gave me a disgusting aftertaste, tarnished my vision with a headache and made my heart whine. 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 was her guardian; 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 a dollar into three meals for the day.
I was able to take us out of the chaos, but it was far to 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 bare knuckle boxing or 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. The violence I surrounded myself with was all an analogical way of fighting the frustration I had in my life. It was clear and obvious, 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, it hit me the hardest the day my sister left. I had hoped she would have tamed her habits; the drug use and the promiscuity are what hurt the most. I hated thinking of what my sister was actually doing, getting beaten by men, doing things for drugs and being used as a tool. I had thought for some time that maybe the world would show us mercy, but then I had a wakeup call to this atrocity exhibition, this controlled depression that surrounded my life. I didn’t understand it, nor did I ever want to. I hated what she did, and 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. However, 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 hung out around the red light district at night, during the day we would stay huddled up in our apartment. We’d hear some bitch getting beaten nearly to death almost every night and I’d hold my sister as she cried. It was a bleak life to live. When I say I took us out I meant we moved to a better part of Hunts Point, but 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.
I lived in a decent apartment in a shitty neighborhood. It wasn’t far from where we grew up, the “Crack Town”, a part of the City where the Crack Cocaine epidemic had swept so hard it felt like it was something out of a movie. There were apartments that were a sickness, terrifying and unadulterated. We lived on the top floor for some time; passing by the building still in its sullen state was difficult. Crack heads with families piled into the apartments like the fucking 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 long gone at that point, 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 in 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, and I didn’t fuck around with her. The kids of crack town didn’t play games, instead we grew up young and became more responsible than the adults.
We pickpocketed sold drugs, committed robbery, worked at chop shops, shoveling snow, walking dogs or even cleaning cars, anything to get by each day. We used to sell Snickers bars in the Subways; we’d 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. We made it our home, I made it safe for her and it meant something back then.
My Uncle Karol was my mother’s brother, he was a cold hearted son of a bitch. A lot of people said I was basically a clone of him, we both had similar tempers, mannerisms and outlooks on life. I personally didn’t think I was anything like him. He also grew up on the streets in a similar situation to mine. Uncle Karol went on to carry out hits by age thirteen, he bragged about it openly. 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 made me want to see a therapist. What I grew up around seemed like nothing to what I saw working with Uncle Karol. It was training in a lot of ways.
My job was to watch over all the filthy shit that my Uncle had his hand in, 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 few bars. My official “job” was a car salesman, even though I had only sold one car and that was to a Korean drug dealer. It was all ugly and dirty with my Uncle, and if you fucked with him he’d kill you. It was just like a movie, except worse. His temper was explosive and violent, just like mine.
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 about my sister. I left the house early even though I spent at least an hour staring at the fucking 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, he 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 black tar heroin. Cardinal was my friend since fourth grade. 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, he showed respect to me and he actually cared about me.
I was a different person when he knew me, I was in Foster Care with my sister being abused and raped every night. I was meek, timid and afraid, far more disturbed and hurt then I could have ever comprehended. My sister was going through it even worse, I was haunted by not being able to protect her. One day, I picked her up from her class and ran out the school. We stayed on the run and met up with the other kids of Hunt’s Point for a few months. That was when I returned to Crack Town and learned everything I knew.
They finally found us, but by that time my mother had overdosed and my Uncle was in town. He vied for custody of us, and eventually won. The bastard put us to work, but he never hurt us, protected us and cared about us ultimately. My aunt loved us, I was never sure about Uncle Karol though. My Aunt was the picture perfect Aunt, full of love, hugs and kisses. My Uncle, a brutal bastard was the boss outside the house but in the house my Aunt always had the final say. It wasn’t like my Aunt was oblivious to my Uncle’s activities, he would often come home covered in blood and always carried a gun. She was just alright with it.
I earned my keep and started selling drugs to people like Cardinal who were my friends. I felt guilty about that, especially since I saw what drugs did to my mother. Cardinal had an appetite, and became quite the fiend. We stayed friends, through my guilt I often gave him freebies when we spent time together. Even as a fiend, Cardinal was quite the informant and the closest thing to a functioning drug addict I had ever seen in my life. His information had never been wrong, not once.
Cardinal got his name due to his fiery red hair. He was the classic redhead with very pale skin. He was skinny and tall since I knew him back in school, and he grew to tower over me. Cardinal hadn’t gone by his real name, Donny Wrinkle, also since I knew him. His family was very religious, 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. Considering it was Hunts Point, he lived in a nice area. He lived in an apartment building that 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 give a fuck 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, all I did was feed his habit and that day I was going to walk over to his apartment anyway to sell him some dope. I wasn’t really selling it, it was below market price and he was probably paying for it with money I gave him. I was conflicted; I hated what I did in general, all the violence and the darkness, the sickness. I knew that I was in to deep at that point, or at least I thought I was.
The cold air hit me hard that morning when I left my apartment. I put my hood over my head, but I had on a thin jacket so it didn’t really matter. I realized was going to be cold that morning. It didn’t matter, as I was heated and stayed deep enough in thought where I didn’t even think about the cold. I checked my waist holster, my Mark XIX .50 Action Express Desert Eagle tucked in there. I didn’t want to be like a movie star or anything, I just liked the way it fired and my Uncle had given me it for my seventeenth birthday and for some reason I cherished it.
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 Clarissa pushing her baby carriage across the street, she was bundled up. I waved to her but she didn’t see me. She lived on the first floor of the house I lived in and had bought with earnings I made from the money Uncle Sam knew about. The house was three family, on the first floor was Clarissa, and the second floor was an Old man named Bruce. He was quiet, they both were. It was a quiet house, I spent such little time there. The only person that made noise was Sephrina, and when we argued we really caused a commotion. I felt bad thinking about it, we probably disturbed the old buzzard and the baby, but at that moment I don’t give a fuck.
I thought about her more and 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. I slipped on my sunglasses which I forgot I had for the last few minutes of the walk. I noticed there were a lot of cars out that morning; I had forgotten that it was Monday. It took me awhile waiting for the cars to pass in order to cross the street, but they finally did and I was there at the doorstep of Cardinal’s apartment building.
I swung open the door and bolted through the door, charged up the stairs and then banged on the door of the first floor. After obnoxiously slamming on the door, I took out my phone and called Cardinal. I waited for him to come and open up the fucking door, he was taking his time. I decided to bang on the door again.
“Cardinal its Spiro, let me in,” I said as the door unlocked. I swung it open and then walked through. 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 fat ass. Then I saw Cardinal waiting for me by his door, he was naked beside a pair of drawers and some socks. “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,” he said as we shook hands. “Why you around here so fucking early man?”
“Something came up last night and I need to talk to you,” I said as we went inside his filthy apartment. His apartment was very small for one thing, and there was trash almost everywhere. He had a small kitchen area in the front; 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 on it. Following the horrid kitchen was the Bedroom/living room that had a glass coffee table and a bed. That was it for the apartment, beside a fucking horrible bathroom. Considering the past, it was fairly clean in there that day.
“So what’s good man?” asked Cardinal taking a seat on the bed. I crossed my arms and leaned up against a wall. I looked at him and he must have figured out what I was there for pretty quick. “Is it Sephrina?”
“Yeah…She left last night, I wanted to know if you heard anything lately, know about anything that I don’t?” I asked.
“I heard some things but I don’t want you getting mad it my apartment, ya know you are crazy bro. You’ll start smashing shit up and punching walls and shit man, you know you will too,” said Cardinal. He was right I was equipped with a brutal temper. As I said before, my sister was promiscuous and hypersexual; meanwhile I was violent and explosive. I’d break walls, hands, televisions, floors and anything else that was around and breakable.
“I heard she is back with Jeff,” muttered Cardinal. He looked down as I shuffled around, then I smacked his wall pretty hard leaving a little dent. “Come on man!”
I kept swearing and lounging in my thoughts, I had racing intrusive thoughts that were getting the best of me. I wanted to cry but I never did in front of anyone else. I caught up with myself and then realized what I did to the wall. I looked at Cardinal who had his hands up. I knew exactly what would calm him down so I reached into my pocket and threw him a balloon full of black tar heroin that my uncle and I had got from Mexico.
“You got me that Mexican Mud bro!” exclaimed Cardinal. He stood up and shook my hand during his small celebration. He looked at the wall and waved his hand at it. “Fuck the wall man, we’ll just have to put a picture up or something.”
“Are you sure she is back with that son of a bitch?” I asked bemused by the celebration. I was to wrapped up in anger to care about anything.
“That’s what people are saying, they saw them at the bar…and well…she was high and being all loud and he was kissing all over her and shit. My man was there and I was like, yo you should have knocked that motherfucker out! That’s my nigga Spiro’s sister!” said Cardinal loudly. He looked at me, I was shaking I was so mad. His jubilance disappeared and he came over to give me a hug and pat me on the back. “You know where he lives, let’s go and pay his ass a visit?”
“You want to come?” I asked.
“Hell yeah dude, I owe you anyway but it sounds like a good time,” he said grinning. We did a handshake and then he started moseying around the room. I knew what he was looking for, Cardinal really was a fiend. “You want a rail bro?”
I shook my head as Cardinal pulled out a mirror and placed it on the bed.
“Here is my Lassie, dude I was watching this Scottish movie and there they call bitches Lassies dude, no lie I swear to god. He was like, my lassie and I was expecting to see a dog or something. I can’t believe that, so I named my wonderwall Lassie,” he said plugging one nostril and shooting the cocaine up his nose. “This…this shit; this is the gear you gave me yesterday.”
I nodded my head; I was restless and ready to go. I wanted to hurt something; I was ready to get out of that shitty apartment. I was angry; I was feeling violent and sick. I was ready to explode and bring my sister home. It felt like almost every month my emotions would implode, and then on the outside I’d explode. I’d destroy my house, break someone’s jaw, and simply do something that would be destructive enough to get my rage out. Then after I had done that I would start up again, taking shit from people, torturous pain from trauma would be building inside my body and the angst would slowly take over. It would all build until one day I’d explode. It had been about twenty days since I exploded, so I was impatiently waiting.
“Cardinal let’s get out of here, I can’t sit around here much longer,” I exclaimed. Cardinal nodded his head and reached for a shirt and a pair of pants. I stepped out of the room into the small kitchen as he started changing into the new clothes.
“Ready to make a mess bro?” asked Cardinal. I wasn’t sure what he meant and I thought about it for a few minutes, before I could answer Cardinal elaborated. “I mean, we are going to crack some skulls right?”
“I can’t keep doing this man, I’m serious I can’t keep doing this,” I grumbled crossing my arms again.
“Maybe…maybe give her some space?” said Cardinal quietly. He stepped out of the kitchen and moved back into Cardinal’s bedroom, I glared at him as I was pissed off at the suggestion. “I’m sorry bro, ya know I’m just trying to help and you know how I am. Sometimes I say some dumbass shit.”
“No, well…I think you might be right. Do you know how in movies and TV shows, the brother is giving his sister enough space. I think you might be right man, I think maybe if I tell her that and kind of do it, she might come back home. She is only eighteen, she should be home right?” I asked rhetorically.
“Yeah bro…but you also can’t give her to much space, she shouldn’t be getting used and beat, that’s not right,” said Cardinal putting on his sweatshirt and wiping his nose with the back of his hand. He had a lot of guts to say that, maybe it was the cocaine. I appreciated him telling the truth though; I just hated hearing what happened to her. I knew all to well though, I cleaned up the mess each time. Deep down I hoped that I’d make such a sideshow out of one of one of her boyfriend’s that they’d all know about me. She was attracted to any man who said something nice to her; often they knew she was easy and that she would do anything they wanted. She was beyond insecure and thought of herself as a piece of trash. She’d get beaten, so high she’d be taken advantage of and she would sell herself for money for her dope. In an act of true desperation I would try to give her drugs but she had an expensive habit. Her arm took in thousands of dollars a month.
As Cardinal and I walked out of the house I thought about the real bad times, I wasn’t sure if a tear rolled down my cheek but I casually wiped something away. My sister had been gang raped numerous times, when I would find her I’d be so angry that I’d hyperventilate until I’d pass out or I’d cut myself before I started breaking things. I was loose a cannon, completely out of control. I had absolutely no control over anything in my life. Without my sister I wasn’t sure what I would do, and I knew that I couldn’t beat or kill every man that hit her. That fact paralyzed me, theoretically I could but it really wasn’t possible. She was used so much; I just wish she would learn that she was so amazing. That she was so beautiful and I loved her so much. But she kept running back to bad situations; I was tired of cleaning up these awful messes. I’d wake up every morning with a jolt, sick to my stomach, barely able to breath and with tremors like an alcoholic without the drink.
We walked out of the apartment building and I stepped into Cardinal’s car, a 1988 Lincoln Town Car that looked like World War 3. He had it for ten years as a birthday present from his mother. I had been in it four times when it broke down, once when we were in the middle of nowhere. Cardinal was more than a customer; he was one of my only friends.
“Remember that Mexican bitch Luisa?” asked Cardinal after he started the engine. I hated the word bitch, and he should have known that by now.
“Don’t use that word alright, I hate that word and you know that. Just don’t use it,” I hissed very annoyed.
“Hey man this is my car!” exclaimed Cardinal playfully.
“It might be mine in a second, ill pull out my gun and knock your scrawny ass onto the pavement if you keep it up,” I said laughing. “Just please don’t use that word, you can tell your dumbass story if you keep that out.”
“If you knew her bro, you’d know she is a bitch. Real talk I’m serious, she is big trouble,” said Cardinal. Then he nodded his head and looked at me. “Alright, well…remember that young lady Luisa, the one with the ten kids?”
“Yeah I remember her,” I said. I knew Luisa all to well. One of the products of degradation and New York City, Luisa was a crack head and the mother of ten children, each by men she prostituted with. The reason I knew her so well, was she was also one of the people I sold to. She would sell or do anything for drugs, I stayed away as much as possible but my uncle made me sell to her. He had me convinced that it was ok.
“She is pregnant again, I saw her walking around with a huge belly, a Popsicle, meanwhile wearing what looked like a wedding dress. She looked like she was from Gunsmoke,” said Cardinal laughing. “It’s a shame.”
“You know what, it really is a shame,” I agreed.
“Where does this guy live?” interjected Cardinal taking a turn.
“He lives a few minutes away, in the Point.”
“Now I remember,” said Cardinal taking a right turn. He drove for the rest of the way in complete silence, Cardinal turned on the radio softly to a pop station. That weren’t playing much that I knew or anything that I thought was very good. It all just sounded generic, I got tired of it quick but it helped the time pass.
We drove through the Red Light District during the day, but we saw the whores lined up waiting for sunset. I guess there was probably was business to do in this barren area. There were alleyways, abandoned buildings covered in graffiti, condemned apartments and a lot of garages and storage spaces. The streets were wet; it was especially unattractive when the sky was gray. It was a sad part of town to drive through; it was the epitome of decrepit. We drove a little longer until we got to the apartment that correctly stood between a small Spanish grocery store and the liquor store.
Cardinal drove up fairly close, but he had the right idea to move fast and get going before my sister could escape. The front door to the apartment was unlocked and weary, the hallway was foul. It smelled like urine, it didn’t look that bad but you could tell you didn’t want to live there. It reminded me of my old apartment. We hiked up two flights of stairs, took a left into a hallway of doors and stopped a 205.
So there I was wielding my weapon, my shoulder touching the door ready to pounce and break it open. I took two deep breaths, stepped back and then lunged forward. I had my Desert Eagle out aiming forward. I rushed into the apartment to find Jeff with his hands up. He had been watching television evidently. He had dropped his bowl of cereal and looked at me with a stunned expression.
“What the fuck! Hey, What the fuck are you two doing here…oh shit,” said Jeff with his hands up. He was wearing a Yankee shirt, and a pair of shorts sitting in a lounge chair with the television on.
“That’s right oh shit, Cardinal go check the house thoroughly,” I ordered. Cardinal dashed away to look through the small apartment as I walked over to Jeff. “Where is my sister?”
“Man, I ain’t seen your fucking sister, since the last time you told me to stay away from her, I listened to you I swear to god I listened to you,” he exclaimed closing his eyes.
“We will see,” I said quietly.
“Listen man…I understand I did wrong ok, but you can’t keep coming in her destroying my house and shit, especially if I didn’t do anything wrong. I listened to you, so–”
“Smack him Spiro, he is lying, I told you my boy saw him kissing all over your sister!” exclaimed Cardinal. I smacked him with the barrel of the gun, and then kicked him off his chair. He whimpered and cried, but I stomped him once in the head before crouching down to his level.
“Is that true?” I growled.
“Well…listen she was there and we were all high man, listen please–”
I kicked him in his face three times as hard as I could, then picked him up by his shirt and threw him against his chair.
“Nothing here bro!” called out Cardinal. I looked at him and nodded my head. I turned my attention back to Jeff who was crying with a bloody face.
“You can’t say I beat you for no reason, you lied to me man. I have a very good reason, a very good fucking reason,” I said blasting my foot against his face one last time. “Now I expect you will tell me the truth right now, I expect that much of you. So tell me, do you know where my sister is.”
“Hold on, Hold on don’t hit me again!” he exclaimed rolling over clutching his nose. He sat up still crying. “I didn’t do anything with her, I kissed her once and it was a mistake, it won’t happen again I swear. But, listen to me for one second…I know that she talked to Razak a lot that night. Razak, do you know…Razak, you know him?”
“Yeah I know Razak, when was this, the night you kissed her. When did all this happen?” I asked peering down at Jeff.
“It was two…two nights ago, there was a party. There were a ton of people there, I talked to her for a few minutes but mainly she hung out around Razak and I’m not lying,” said Jeff.
“You do know what happens if you lie to me, it won’t be me putting you in an oven, it will be Uncle Karol. Do you understand me? He doesn’t have as much mercy and doesn’t honor any type of humanity,” I said. He nodded his head flipping blood everywhere.
“Because you definitely have tons of mercy,” muttered Cardinal laughing. I almost told him to shut the fuck up, but I started laughing. I laughed at the moment we were in, it was so ridiculous and Jeff was funny when I beat him up.
“Ok Jeff, so I’m taking your word that Razak might know something, I apologize for coming into your house and causing all this trouble,” I grumbled taking out a money clip from my pocket. I noticed Jeff looking at the money, as he wasn’t exactly the most righteous guy you’d ever meet. “Why don’t you get a new door, get that nose taken care of and…well maybe you can get a new television, c’mon it’s the digital era, everyone is living it up and you’ve got this old hunk of shit.”
I threw the money clip on the ground and Jeff nodded his head. “Thank you Spiro, and I’m sorry about everything.”
“Don’t make me mad again Jeff, please don’t.”
Cardinal left the apartment first and then I followed behind, I didn’t put my back to Jeff even though I didn’t expect him to pull out a hand canon and blast us both away. I’d heard of stranger, so I kept watch. I could tell by his facial expression that he was satisfied, he was happy with his money.
With that we left, when we got back into the car I had to catch my breath. I felt sick, like I was going to throw up. Cardinal started the car but I wasn’t ready for it to get moving.
“Hold up, give me a minute,” I grumbled.
“Ok,” said Cardinal. He reclined my seat and grabbed a tissue to blow his nose with. I moved away from him as he did so, he thought it was funny but I already was feeling nauseous. “By the way, how much did you give Jeff back there?”
“Just wondering,” he mumbled. I knew Cardinal to well, he wanted to get paid. “Listen you know I’ll take care of you, but don’t piss me off asking me. You don’t need to worry about that, you respect me and I respect you and you should know that I’d pay you for today. But don’t start with me, we still have to go over and see Razak.”
“Razak…We going over there, well I need to be strapped. Cardinal popped his glove compartment open and pulled out a handgun. He tucked it into his waist and put the car into drive. We started moving but I kept my eyes closed, I was angry and the rage was building up. I knew I was bound to explode, I had rage like crying spells, a fit came every now and then and I’d destroy the house, hurt someone or hurt myself. I knew a bad one was coming, and I worried about when.
If I exploded on Razak I could start a small war. Razak was a Eastern European scum bag who often “hooked up” with my sister, he was part of a street gang in Hunt’s Point. I had my confrontations with him quite a few times, but his people always backed down against my Uncle. Almost everything I did, my Uncle had my back on. No matter how violent or crazy, because we thought alike.
“Where does Razak chill, you know?” asked Cardinal glancing over at me as we stopped at a red light.
“I don’t know, I figure he would stay around the only part that’s theirs. Go around Morris Heights, it’s still early we might be able to catch him before he leaves.”
“He lives in that fuckin neighborhood?” asked Cardinal looking shocked.
“Yeah, why what’s so fascinating about that?”
“Nothing,” muttered Cardinal. We sat there in silence for a little while, Cardinal kept opening and then closing his mouth to say something.
“What the fuck is Razak?” asked Cardinal as we stopped at yet another red light.
“He is West Indian or African, something like that. His name is Thierry Razak, like the soccer player. You know Thierry Henry,” I said as Cardinal looked at me with a blank stare. “Oh I forgot you are retarded, you never heard of Thierry Henry.”
“I don’t want soccer, it’s gay.”
“And what’s not gay, football? Yeah, straddling over men isn’t gay that’s right,” I said sarcastically.
“You don’t straddle, you tackle. Fuck that, Football is a man’s support. The bitches love when we ball down at the park, I told you about the bitch Marie, she was fine and she was loving me scoring the touchdowns,” said Cardinal laughing.
“I’m sure, playing catch in the park is impressive. And about the word bitch, if you say it one more time I’m going to strike you very hard,” I growled. Cardinal nodded his head and for the rest of the ride stayed silent. The word Bitch brought back memories for me. My mind was always laced with traumatic memories, and there were certain memories that I desperately tried to erase.
I didn’t have much time to think about it then, as we entered Morris Heights, we passed the low income shit holes and the guys hanging out smoking and drinking. I held my Desert Eagle tight in my hand, I knew we may had put ourselves in danger going through those parts.
“This doesn’t look good, why the fuck are we here bro?” asked Cardinal. We took a turn and then Cardinal pulled over at Clifford’s place. We sat there looking up at the step streets. I noticed a few guys coming over towards us but I tried to ignore it. At the same time however I clutched my gun religiously
“Ay yo, what’s good can I help you with somethin?” asked one of the guys. They both wore windbreakers, one was red and the other was black. They had hoods over their heads as well as fitted caps, I recognized them as part of the street gang Razak was in. The red and black were the colors, and even if theirs were makeshift and I could have been wrong I took it seriously. However, being a hothead I bolted out of the car brandishing my gun and charged up to them.
“Yeah you can help me with something, where is Razak?” I hissed. They actually put their hands up, one more than the other. They looked at each other and then at Cardinal who pointed his handgun at them as well.
“We don’t know no Razak, the fuck is Razak?” said one of them.
“If you think I won’t fucking shoot both of you and leave you here to rot, your brains sprayed on the pavement floating into the sewer. I will, I will shoot you. Just tell me where the fuck Razak is, Thierry Razak!” I shouted. We were drawing attention rapidly and I heard Cardinal say something but it was to late as a mob was rushing us. Instead of just heading to the car I pistol whipped one of them first.
I got to the car right in time as Cardinal sped off, we kept our heads down in case they shot but nothing was fired. We looked at each other and laughed.
“Yo, better luck next time man, we’re lucky we didn’t get tagged,” said Cardinal laughing hard. I looked at him laughing, I may have giggled but nothing near as hard as he laughed. I had pistol whipped the kid so that the message would get to Razak, because my gut feeling told me he knew where my sister was. I worried that he might hurt her then, in that moment I acted like I didn’t care because she got herself into that situation. But then the nervous stomach kicked in and I got scared, I thought about her getting hit and it made me sick. I was clinging on to hope that I would find her sooner rather than later.
Cardinal dropped me off near my Uncle’s Deli, I waved him goodbye and then there I was alone in the middle of the street. I walked far enough so that I could see the big sign for Karol’s World Famous Deli. Karol’s Deli was only known throughout New York and back in our native Germany, but beside that there wasn’t much acclaim for the Deli and its sandwiches. My Uncle just decided to put that on the label so that he could attract the few customers we got.
As I walked I noticed George Glazer causally walking up to me. Glazer looked good, and I doubted her had anything to do with Sephrina. She just loved talking about him; his Narcotics Anonymous group was one of the only ones she felt comfortable in.
“Spiro how are you,” he said shaking my hand with both of his. He had a warm smile, and was about the nicest guy you ever could meet. He was great, and someone I looked up to.
“I’m not good today George, shit is bad again.”
“What shit is bad? I came over here looking for you,” said George. He surprised me when he said that, I wondered if he knew anything about Sephrina.
“Sephrina is gone,” I said. George sighed and put his hands on his hips, he had a look of absolute dread. “Why were you here?”
“To tell you that your sister hadn’t been attending meetings like we had talked about, sporadically she’d be there but nothing solid. She would show up every other day, maybe a little less than that,” said George.
“Did she look like she was using?” I asked quietly. George shook his head and sighed once more.
“Not really, she was detached but I don’t think she was using. At least it didn’t seem like she was high during the meetings, and she did share once that she had met somebody. I never saw them and knew nothing about them, it’s just what I heard her say,” said George.
We shared a look of dread, if anything George was my partner when it came to cleaning up Sephrina’s messes. He knew all to well the consequences, and he looked bad that day. I felt the same, I felt like the wind was knocked out me. I just wish she’d pop up in front of my eyes; it would end all the tension and release the stress. I wouldn’t have to worry that much for the rest of the day.
Instead there was only a gloomy forecast; both George and I had energy sucked from out expressions. I walked over to give him a quick hug, he patted my back and then pulled back to look at me. “She is going to kill you one day Spiro; I just wish it would be easier to figure these damn problems out. But that’s why they are called problems, we have to solve them. We’ve got to solve this one before we are buried next to each other.”
I laughed but what he said was true, this was no fucking joke.
“You are right George, right now I’m a nervous wreck,” I said quietly.
“Meditate, read some literature and keep your mind occupied. I know how angry you get, I’ve seen it and it’s not good for you. You have to focus on you, and stop letting the other things in life get in the way of that. First you have to learn to love yourself,” said George looking at me with solemn eyes. He came close and touched my chest. “I know that you don’t, but I want you to know that we all do. And you can’t probably help your sister if you don’t even love yourself.”
As George walked away after a handshake, I wondered what this life would bring to me to next. I found out early, the waiting room of my Uncle’s Deli. George’s words lingered with me as I took a seat in one of the booths playing with my phone.
I waited at the Deli for two hours before my uncle showed up. He had an ice pack pressed up against his right cheek. It turns out he had gone to the dentist, my uncle’s least favorite activity. He was mad, and he usually had a pretty foul temper. I had never really been the victim of my uncle’s wrath; instead I stayed clear as much as possible.
“How ya doing kid, I missed you today. You know I had to go to the dentist, but this dumb fuck over here scheduled the appointment with the wrong dentist. I like Dr. Chung, but he scheduled to appointment with that other son of a bitch. Almost got me killed,” said Uncle Karol. He walked over and slapped Stevie, one of Uncle Karol’s new guys.
“I had a situation today, I’m sorry Uncle Karol,” I said quietly.
“No worries kid, no worries at all. But I tell you something, that guy was a fuckin amateur. He almost destroyed my tooth; I wanted to rip his fuckin balls off. I’m tempted to have a talk with him, ya know what I mean?” said Uncle Karol keeping the ice to his face. He showed me over to a table near the door, we both sat down and he sighed and groaned.
“Was it Doctor Stone, the guy with the heavy beard? He can be kind of rough.”
“He was brutal. I tell you what he’s got some balls, and this dumb fuck didn’t do a thing when he was torturing me. Stevie, Stevie! The least you could have done would have been to tell him to lighten up, right?” shouted Uncle Karol.
“He is an asshole,” I muttered.
“A guy like me, ya know a guy like me, you fuck with his teeth and that could be it for you, ya know what I mean?” said Uncle Karol posturing at the table.
“I’ll call up and file a complaint,” I said smiling. My uncle looked at me and laughed.
“You do that kid,” he said still laughing. “Your uncle is to much of a dickhead to ever consider something like that. I do it the old street way, right to the neck.”
I nodded my head still smiling and then looked down at the table playing with my fingers. I started feeling dread, a sick feeling through my body. I started feeling lonely thinking about missing my sister. My Uncle must have noticed my sorrow and picked up on it pretty quickly. “She left again?”
“Yeah she did.”
“What did she do, just ditch the apartment in the middle of the night or something?” asked my Uncle. I had always wished that my Uncle take these things with a little more sensitivity and care, instead of being his usual hard ass self when it came to all aspects of life. He was hard to be around for long, he knew it though and sometimes he tried his hardest.
“Yeah, I think I heard her leave but it was to late. I just don’t understand what the fuck she is doing anymore,” I complained and rubbed my forehead.
“Listen to me; you are my favorite nephew, honestly the rest of the family I can’t take in large doses if you know what I mean. I support you in whatever you feel is right, but she drags you along and is killing you. Look at your face, you look fucking tired!” exclaimed Uncle Karol. He paused for a second and then grabbed my wrist, so I looked up at him. “You’ve got to let her go.”
“But Uncle, if somebody knocked around your sister, Aunt Doris. What would you do?” I asked crossing my arms.
“I’d fucking kill them, but I don’t count I am a horrible person for Christ sake!” yelled Uncle Karol as him and his posse surrounding our table burst into laughter.
“You’ve got to understand I’m in a horrible spot, she is my sister. Not just some girlfriend or friend, she is my little sister. And you know how I took care of her, not one thing was wrong. She had everything she needed and even stuff that she wanted. I made sure there was food on the table every night, you get what I’m trying to say?”
“Yeah I do,” answered Uncle Karol.
“I just can’t stop and do nothing,” I mumbled looking back down at the table.
“You’ve got no fucking life kid, at your age you should be drinking, partying, getting your dick sucked. You have no life!” exclaimed Uncle Karol.
“I have a life!” I responded.
“No you don’t, you don’t. We’ve been trying to set you up with that brunette who lives across the street but you are never interested.”
“I don’t have time for it,” I said fidgeting in my chair. “Anyway what the fuck do you do Uncle Karol; you sit there in front of that television watching re-runs of the Seinfeld all fucking day. So don’t–”
“Fuck you!” shouted Uncle Karol giggling a little bit. Everyone at the bar fell out in laughter; they were taking an opportunity to laugh at their boss who was usually a very dangerous and volatile man. “It’s a funny show alright, and I’m a happily married man. Marriage is fuckin boring, wait until you get married you’ll find out.”
“I’ll at least pick a better show,” I said smiling, I knew that was enough before I would get beaten to death with a blunt object. My Uncle was less of a tyrant and more of a criminal with a bad temper, nothing more. We weren’t dealing in millions in our little group, sure we were worth five or six million but that was as a whole. We owned three clubs, had monopolized the red light district and had a decent share in the drug game. We sold a lot of Black Tar and some coke. I put my life in jeopardy everyday even working with my uncle, but it didn’t worry me to much. I almost wanted to lose my life, because I really didn’t care about myself. Not at all actually, it was always Survival and Sephrina on my mind. I had been through so much I felt like an old man.
“Listen I got to tell you something, I got a job for you kid,” said Uncle Karol after all the laughter and joy had ceased. I knew it was something big, I could just tell by his facial expression. “I want you go and visit that kid, Mason to help him move some crates. The weight has been heavy for some time and I think it’s about time that we gave him a quick hand.”
My uncle was using code, what he really said was go fucking kill Mason. Mason one of my Uncles Dealers; he had suspected for the longest time that he had been lying about getting robbed on the way to pay up. My Uncle was old school, basically if you crossed him and cheated him out of a somewhat significant sum of money you bet your life. Back in the day he’d personally kill you, but he was getting much older.
I nodded my head and he patted my shoulder. “I’ll head out in a couple of hours, but do me a favor Uncle.”
“Anything for my favorite Nephew!” he exclaimed smiling. He must have been really pleased that I actually accepted the job.
“Get some guys looking out for Sephrina; ask some of the right questions to the right people. Maybe even put some money on the street, the fiends will give her up quick. Ya know I’d pay you back and all that.”
“Done, you don’t even have to worry kid, I know you will because she is your sister for Christ sake but her wellbeing is in good hands. I’ll put my best guys on it,” he said shaking my hand and patting my shoulder. My Uncle always kept his word no matter what. When I left the Deli, my fear had switched from not finding my sister to going back to where it all started.