HAIRSPRAY AND LIGHTER: LOWER EAST SIDE NOIR COMING SOON FROM ORPHAN PAPER

The meteor starred the Helheim like gravel hitting a windshield on the BQE. The crack extended, pointing toward Nuuk. Four more fingers spread, each a mile-long, and the hand pressed down. Only whales in the Greenland Sea heard the agony. A frozen mouth opened, and between sharp teeth, caught a rare Haliaeetus albicilla groenlandicus. The eagle’s spine snapped, the bird swallowed, feathers and all, before ice shifted, leaving the white plain in silence.

Twelve hundred miles away, dawn yielded, flooding west over Houston like blood backtracking into grey dope filling that morning’s syringe. Trap Boy stood frozen, arm raised, mouth open, a prehistoric peat man, until the blue and white Volare made its turn onto B and everything began to move. He cawed “No Joke, No Joke, No Joke,” as the other mad hatters joined in, all of them strolling on the east side of the block between 2nd and 3rd. The patrol car’s windows were rolled down, the two blueberries slumped in their seats, staring ahead. Cash, Chinatown, Poison echoed through gutted space; something was happening that wouldn’t happen again; the air was torn and no one had a clue what had come spilling out the gash; a city, rat’s whisker away from shattering.

The RMP cut across the next intersection, a few feet over, on 4th, bucket hats, hoodies, Adidas trackies, lined up behind a jagged hole sledge hammered through the bombed-up cinder block wall a week before, the head of a fourteen-year old wearing a Mets cap framed inside. The kid handed the man in a wheel chair a glassine envelope, the line moved forward. Next block, a torn tan polyester suit pushed his way out two cracked glass double doors reflecting the RMP’s skewed white stripe, a frosted red bulb over the frame making it an after-hours club. The suit spun, plastered, already falling and fell, flat on his face. The officers listened to salsa pop before the doors pulled shut. Next block, a sloppy fist fight, nothing serious; then three people, tilted, hands touching faces, on the nod. The cops smelled coffee and fresh bagels before making their right onto 14th. Crossing C, the car slowed in front of a dirty walk-up, sandwiched between two other dirty walk ups, the driver lighting his last Chesterfield of the shift.