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 twentieth-century-prehistoric peat man; until the blue and white Volare made its turn onto B and everything began to move; with him cawing “No Joke, No Joke, No Joke,” and the other mad hatters joining in, all of them strolling along the east side of the block between 2nd and 3rd. The patrol car’s windows were rolled down, two blueberries slumped in the seats, staring ahead as brand names Cash, Chinatown, Poison echoed through gutted space around them. Something was happening that wouldn’t happen again, the air had been torn and no one had a clue what had just come spilling 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 trackies, lined up behind the jagged hole sledge hammered through a bombed-up cinder block wall, 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 lurched forward. Next block: A torn tan polyester suit pushed his way out two cracked glass double doors reflecting the RMP’s skewed white stripe, the frosted red bulb over the frame making it for an after-hours. The suit spun, plastered, already falling, fell, flat on his face, the officers catching salsa pop just before the doors pulled shut. Then up another half block to a sloppy fist fight, nothing serious; just beyond that, three tilted souls, looking more than sleepy, hands brushing faces, on the nod. The cops smelled coffee and fresh bagels before making their right onto 14th. The car slowed in front of a dirty walk-up, sandwiched between two other dirty walk ups. The driver lit his last Chesterfield of the shift.