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

Dawn flooded 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. The blue and white Volare made its turn onto B and everything began to move. Trap Boy cawed “No Joke, No Joke, No Joke,” and the others joined in, all strolling along 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 like deep flamenco song. Something was happening that wouldn’t happen again. The air could be torn at any moment and no one had a clue what would come spilling out; the city, a rat’s whisker away from shattering.

The Radio Mobile Patrol passed through the next intersection. A few feet over on 4th, bucket hats, hoodies, Adidas trackies, all lined up behind a jagged hole sledge hammered through the bombed-up cinder block wall one 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 and the line moved forward. In the next block, a torn tan polyester suit pushed his way out two cracked glass double doors reflecting the RMP’s skewed white stripe as it passed, a frosted red bulb over the frame making it for an after-hours club. He spun, plastered, already falling and fell, flat on his face. The officers listened to salsa popping before the doors pulled shut. In the next block a sloppy fist fight, nothing serious; then three people, hands touching faces, tilted, on the nod. The cops smelled coffee and fresh bagels before making a right onto 14th. Crossing C, the car slowed in front of a dirty walk-up, sandwiched between two other dirty walk ups, while the driver lit the last Chesterfield of the shift.