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

Dawn yielded, flooding west over Houston like blood backtracking into the 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; him cawing No-Joke, No-Joke, No-Joke, other mad hatters joining in, all trolling the east side between 2nd and 3rd. Patrol car windows were rolled down, two blueberries slumped in their seats, staring ahead, listening to brand names, Cash, Chinatown, Poison, echo through gutted space. Something was happening that wouldn’t happen again; the air was torn, and no one had a clue what had just spilled out the gash, the city, a rat’s whisker away from shattering.

The RMP cut across the next intersection; a few feet over on 4th, bucket hats, hoodies, Adidas, all lining up behind the jagged hole sledge hammered through a bombed-up cinder block wall; framed inside, the head of AJ, fourteen, price tag drooping off the side of a Knick’s cap. AJ handed the man in a wheel chair the glassine envelope, line nudged forward. Next block, a torn tan polyester suit pushed his way out two cracked glass double doors reflecting the RMP’s skewed white stripe, frosted red bulb over the frame making it for after-hours. The suit spun, plastered, already falling, fell, flat on his face; the officers catching salsa pop before the doors pulled shut. Then a sloppy fist fight, nothing serious; beyond that, three souls tilted, hands brushing faces, the smell of coffee and fresh bagels blowing through the car before making a right onto 14th; and slowing in front of the sooty walk-up, sandwiched between two other sooty walk ups, driver lighting his last Chesterfield of the shift.