nope, not by Goines but by me and not the story but the murder. anyway, judging from the mail i've received lately and might i add, mail becoming more and more – dare i say it? shit, why not? – eager, either people have forgotten they've read it on my real site or i have new readers – dunno and as usual, i'm doing it for myself so i don't care. then again, eons ago when i worked in the publishing world, it was believed that for every letter somone'd written, a hundred didn't. actually, one might extrapolate from there (but i'd rather not cause it scares me).
OK, here's the ending of the true story of an evening from way, way back in yet another lifetime, the start of which i posted here just under three weeks ago . *cough* now where was i? right, Gordy and i had just witnessed a murder – a Latino called Rocky stabbed a black guy to death – whilst we all waited to score in a particularly nasty building on NYC's Lower East Side. i finished part I by writing:
Our greed was such that this most gruesome thing in the world had happened but like the junkie jerks we were, we all stayed anyway. This didn't occur to me until I wrote most of it all down here (in my journal) when very, very stoned later on that night.
Rocky was unfazed as he dragged the dead guy off the line and over to the side. Suddenly the room erupted in a sort of hushed roar; everyone was talking at once but trying to keep it down. I leaned against my friend in terror and felt him shaking as well as me. The atmosphere was like the embodiment of some wild hallucination; our frozen clammy hands and perspiring bodies, the unreal nightmarish things we all had just witnessed, the occasional horrified face seen dripping with sweat, caught in the moonlight which streamed through the holes in the roof and the cracks in the walls... and then there was the stench.
We were all used to the stink of the long-condemned building but now it seemed to grow much closer and smell much worse due to the blood pouring from the body in the heat of the overcrowded room. Yeah, first he was 'some black guy' but within seconds he became 'the body'. It might've been my imagination but I'd swear I could smell the blood as it spread out underneath him, adding another layer of terror to the steaming miasma of the filthy little room. For once my motor mouth was shut because I was too frightened to whisper and wanted to split ASAP. Whether it was greed, denial, fear of drawing Rocky's attention by pushing out of the room or the sudden realisation that we actually needed to get high to balance out or maybe repair the inner turmoil of witnessing a murder... for whatever reason, we stayed.
Rocky came back on line in front of us and we instantly dropped about a foot away from him, as far behind him as we could without pressing against those who came in after we did. And then the hush turned into a loud babble when we suddenly heard a bang at the front and the slot was open for business again, so we all surged forward. For that one moment, I'd forgotten what'd happened a minute or so earlier. And then, as if the room had a mind of its own, the babble went from 'They're open!' to 'Murder!'
In the dim light the corpse was almost invisible but any newcomer would quickly get hip just by listening in. The first person up front finished his business and turned to leave. Not looking at anyone, he walked very quickly and I wished he were me. As those still on line got louder and louder and we got closer to the slot, Rocky turned around and hissed 'Shut up!' Incredibly the room was quiet again. We watched him wipe his knife on a rag he picked up off the floor and in a voice one would use to explain something to an incredibly stupid child, he quietly informed us 'If we don't shut the fuck up, they'll close the window and we won't get served.'
He was absolutely right and we all knew it. And everyone immediately shut up, got served and went home. We couldn't get off cause our hands were still shaking so I put on a Clash tape and took a bath. I peeked out before I got into the tub and saw my friend sitting on the edge of the bed with an open book in his hands. But he was kind of looking off, out the windows to the backyards of East 7th Street with an unreadable expression on his handsome face. Although by then I'd known him for ages, I'd never seen that expression before. Then when I was done, he took a shower before hitting the both of us up.
We didn't say anything about what happened that night and I didn't bother asking but we couldn't meet each other's eyes and I'd never felt that way with him before. It was as if we'd done something so incredibly monstrous or evil, we were to blame and totally complicit which, of course, we were. I think it was the guilt and greed we shared; guilt that prevented us from reporting a murder because of our greed. I idly wondered if things were ever going to be the same between us and at that point, decided I didn't really care because I was so totally disgusted with myself.
By the way, the shit was dynamite, really powerful stuff. And it was so strong that we had plenty left; enough to last us almost a week. I called in sick the next day mostly because I didn't feel like going through the motions one must do when successfully leading a junkie's double life; I didn't want anyone asking how I was doing and I especially didn't want to take part in the boring old office chit-chat in which one must indulge to get by. I actually had a pretty good job at the time; one of the few straight gigs I ever liked: I was assistant to one of the partners of a large firm of entertainment attorneys who represented a lot of bands and solo musicians, both in the UK and in the States.
Because I typed so quickly and accurately, after the first month or two, I'd been given a nice raise and the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, and put in charge of a group of secretaries and word processors. The people were all very friendly to me and there were a lot of perks to that particular gig, especially if one was into British music as I was. But I just couldn't see myself looking anyone in the eye for awhile and since I had near-perfect attendance (this was thanks to the heroin but that's another story), nobody thought twice when I called the attorney for whom I worked and told him I wasn't coming in.
I knew he wouldn't ask me why (and he didn't); he just assumed I wasn't feeling well and said he hoped to see me tomorrow. I think I said something like 'Sure thing'. My hands were shaking throughout that two-minute phonecall and I felt total relief when we hung up. For the rest of the morning, I relaxed in bed, drinking coffee and reading the NY Times, and in the afternoon, we watched old films on TV and then at night, we had Chinese take-out delivered from this really good place and then we read far into the night. The stuff from the night before was so powerful, we didn't even have to get off again; I mean, that's how good it was. We'd bought what was known as a half-load (15 glassine bags) and it lasted us a long time. All in all, it actually turned out to be a pretty good investment, except for the part about the murder.
Sometimes I wonder about the dead dude, like who he was and what his wife must have thought and how long it took for her to panic and whether or not she reported him missing. I watched all the newpapers for a few weeks, but read nothing about what happened or any missing black guy from uptown. And we never went back to The Toilet again, no matter what we heard was going on there or how powerful their smack was, which, according to those we knew, was very strong for weeks and weeks. But my thoughts kept returning to the black guy. Most normal people might think: 'Who gives a shit about another dead junkie?' But I did; I wondered about his poor wife and if they had any kids.
Damn, he wasn't more than a kid himself. My friend told me I shouldn't dwell on things like that because they'd only get me down and as usual, he was right. But I still wonder anyway. Yep, over twenty years later – to this very day. And I wonder if I'm the only one who remembers this horror and if his wife is still alive and if his children, if he had any, turned out to be junkies like their dad.
We saw Rocky once more, a year or so later. It was on the streets of the Lower East Side and we just kind of turned our heads when we saw him round the corner off Third Avenue. And thank fuck we saw him way before he saw us so it was perfectly natural to be standing there, on St Mark's Place, looking into a punk shop window. I know he saw us because our eyes met in the reflection of the window but neither of us said anything and he didn't come up to speak to us.
Anyway, I still do my wondering but as time passes it becomes more and more unreal, as if my initial impression of watching a film was exactly what it was. My friend and I don't talk about it. We've cleaned up twice since then, always to fall back into our habits, whether we're actually feeding them or not. We clean up mostly so the next time we get high we don't need as much dope. It's our old friend, Greed again. Absolute and total greed in the wild jungles of the Lower East Side.
[nb: my friend Gordy died at the end of the 80s, having never cleaned up for the last time, as i did. this was right before I returned to University for my teaching degree. when i told him what i was up to, i asked him to come back to school with me and when he balked, i asked him to return my keys. he wouldn't. so i changed the locks and put gates on my windows, the same windows through which he'd stared that night, looking into the backyards of the buildings of East 7th Street.
a month or so later, his brother called to say he found Gordy dead, in the kitchen of their parents' house in Queens. he had OD'd but it also turned out he had pancreatitus and was HIV+ (i never took the test until years later, in 2001 and amazingly – to me, since we shared sets of works many times – I was and am alright). anyway, we'd known each other since we were 15 and in HS and been together since then, apart from about six years when we both moved Upstate NY with a group of our friends. after a month or so, he left to go back to NYC and i stayed to major in Art History at college. back to Gordy, he was brilliant and gorgeous, very funny and very well-liked. anyway, RIP, dude.]
what's playing very softly:Hardtime Killing Floor Blues* (by Skip James).
what's blasting: Bloodbath Dance* (by Crystal Method). as always, do me a solid by R-clicking and Saving to your desktop or i-Tunes before listening. y'all have no idea what Alabama 3 rarities and remixes you've missed by listening and using up my bandwidth. and that's why i rarely post any of them (the foregoing statement's to answer those who've written me, asking me why i don't post any more A3 tunes). TIA.
*03. oct: soz to say, after checking my stats, i've been forced to pull these down.