Urban Angel Ch. 02bySapphoG©
Although Harlem is but a few thousand yards from some of the wealthiest families in the country, most do not cross 110th street, for that means coming face to face with the ugly realities of life.
On a hot summer's day, like today, fire plugs are turned on full blast. Children from the neighborhood run around soaked, doing their best to remain cool. On every corner, square freezers serve flavored shaved ice, and like the pied piper, a Mr. Softy truck slowly drives down every block with a trail of children running behind it. The air is thick with humanity and although the weather today has been expected to hit 102 degrees, now at one in the afternoon the temperature has hit 98. People trying their best to beat the heat sit on stoops fanning their selves drinking fresh brewed iced tea or homemade lemon aide.
A black Lincoln town car with municipal plates comes to a stop at the corner of 112th and Malcolm X Boulevard. Three boys run in front of it to catch the ice cream truck that has just passed. The two men in the car draw attention to themselves by their dress. Their suits and ties and being white make them stand out, even in a car with tinted windows. The only white folks that cross these streets are Police and college students looking to score, weed of smack, so when a child sees the men, he logically concludes the are one of the former.
"Po Po." A child screams as they ride past the fire hydrant that he plays in.
"Why are we interested in this place?" The man in the passenger side asks.
"I can sum it up in one word, gentrification. Gentrification means more government money, more taxes, more tax breaks, a better local economy, a better economy a better New York, a better New York, more votes, more votes, more terms in office. It's that simple, gentrify, gentrify, gentrify."
"Why can't we just impose Eminent Domain?"
"We're not building a highway, so we have to think of more industrious ways to move out the old and bring in the new."
Parked to the side of 127th and Lenox, Officer Lewis Newton waits in his patrol car for the black Lincoln. When he sees it pull up behind him, he opens his door and walks to the drive side. The driver rolls the window down and nods.
"We need you for back up."
"What kind of back up?"
The loud thump of music blasting at rock concert decibels can be heard from the parking lot of the Black Bird Gentlemen's club. A valet runs up to the black Lincoln and opens the door.
"Welcome Sir." He says as the two men step out.
The driver hands the valet a ten and looks over to Lewis, walking towards them, and gestures for the men to follow him.
Lewis stands waiting in front of a large blue wood door and as he opens it the music from inside pushes its way out. The two men drop their heads in sync and walk behind Lewis.
A six foot five bald black man towers over them, looks at Lewis and the two men standing behind him and says, "Welcome to the Black Bird."
Lewis looks up at him and smiles and then yells, "They want to see Maurice."
Barely above a whisper had the man responded. "Maurice is a very busy man."
"He owes me a favor. Tell him I'm collecting." Lewis says.
The doorman steps away and disappears into the sea of half-naked women, bottle girls and patrons. Lewis turns and looks at the men and says, "Now you owe me a favor."
For the two men the noise becomes unbearable as they stand silent scanning the large open floor. Men throw dollar bills at women as they dance on stages, swinging from poles and grinding on laps to the baselines of the music being played by a DJ high above in the rafters.
Lewis nods his head at the two men and smiles as a young woman takes her top off in front of him.
"I'll be with her if you need me."
The bouncer knocks on a door marked, 'Private' before entering. He then walks up a short flight of steps and excuses himself.
"Maurice, you got some visitors."
Maurice swivels around in his chair and looks out the two way mirror, overlooking the club. He sees the two well-dressed white men, brushing off the advances of the three topless women and asks, "Police?"
"No. Well, one of them is, Lewis."
"What the fuck does he want?"
"He said, he's collecting a debt and wants you to speak with some friends of his."
"Who are they?" A man lying on his back on a leather sofa, smoking a cigar asks.
Maurice shrugs his shoulders and gestures for the bouncer to let them up.
The bouncer emerges from the back of the club and whistle, waving for the men to follow.
The two men look at each other and walk towards him, continually brushing off the girls in the club.
The bouncer walks them through a maze of dressing areas, passing topless women putting on makeup before approaching the door that leads to a set of stairs. He point up, "He's waiting for you."
When they enter the room, a man approaches them, pats them down and points to two chairs in front of a desk
Maurice walks out from a bathroom zipping his pants. He then sits behind a desk, props his feet on the top, tilts his head and examines his visitors.
"You ain't cops. I can tell that from the way you're dressed."
"My name is Roland Girard and I want to make you an offer for the property you own, on 110th."
Maurice shakes his head and leans back in his chair. "Not for sale."
"You haven't heard my offer."
"Whatever it is, I'm not interested."
"I'm offering five..."
The man sitting next to Roland leans forward in his chair. "We can make things bad for you."
Maurice rolls his head and laughs along with the other men in the room. He drops his feet, slides his chair closer to the man and sneers. "Who the fuck, are you?"
"That's John Morales." A voice from the back of the room says.
Roland and John turn to see the man in the corner of the room, smoking a cigar lying on a leather couch.
"Who the fuck is John Morales?" Maurice asks.
The man on the couch leans up and slides around. He takes a puff of his cigar and blows a smoke ring.
"Chief of Staff for Saperstein."
"The Mayor?" Maurice asks.
"You know me, now who are you?" Johns asks.
He shrugs his shoulders and rests his cigar on an ashtray. He then walks over to Maurice's desk and sits on the edge.
"I'm nobody. I just read the newspapers."
He says before turning his head to Roland. "And I know who you are too, Mr. Real Estate developer."
He point to Maurice and smiles. "I told you that property would be worth something one day."
"See, your own man knows the value of it." Roland says.
"Don't do it Mo. Whatever these crackers are offering you, is peanuts compared to what it's really worth."
"You're going to listen to him?" John asks.
Maurice shrugs his shoulders. "He told me to buy."
John grabs a piece of paper form the desk and reaches in his jacket pocket. He pulls out a gold pen and writes his number down.
"You got ten hour to sell. Call me when you're ready."
"Or else?" Maurice asks.
"Decline the offer and find out."
Maurice laughs and stands up from his chair coming within inches of John's faces.
"You come to my house and threaten me. Tell me why I shouldn't kill you right now?"
"We have back up." Roland says.
Maurice and other men break into a hysterical laughter. "Lewis?" Maurice asks. "Lewis is your back up? All I gotta to do is give him credits for free lap dances and he'll look the other way."
John gestures for Roland to follow him out the door and before leaving John looks back at Maurice and says, "You got ten hours."
Maurice sits down in his chair and leans back folding his hands.
John shrugs his shoulders uncaring and leaves.
John and Roland scan the floor for Lewis and makes eye contact with the bouncer, who point to a section closed off by a red velvet curtain. John walks over and pulls the curtain open, and rolls his eyes at Lewis who is receiving a lap dance. He then shouts, "Lewis."
Lewis opens his eyes and pushes the woman off of him and takes a twenty dollar bill from his pocket. He hands it to the girl and gives her a kiss on the cheek.
"You have a serious problem." John says. "I got a job for you."
"What is it?"
"We need to send a message."
The chastising my mother gave me for my being a promiscuous whore, just made me want to rebel. I wanted to fuck anything with a pulse, but then my anger subsided and I took them out to dinner. Connecting with my parents felt good. I forgot about my fights with mother, and genuinely looked forward to starting reality. I think getting a double doctorate was just me subconsciously trying to avoid reality. And if I could, I would've spent the rest of my life in college. My eyes, for some reason are drawn to the other end of the restaurant stopping at a sight that makes my heart drop. Oh fuck, I thought. The guy sitting with a woman and three kids, used to be a boyfriend of mine. God just the mere sight of him made memories of orgies and getting high at Berkley. He makes eye contact with me and smiles. As he stands and walks toward out table, all I could think of is shit; I'm out of my inheritance.
"Emmy? I thought that was you." He said. I looked up and smiled. "Mom dad this is Bobby. We went to Berkley together."
"Well she graduated, I didn't."
My mother gave him this cursory glance, almost like he was beneath her and her child. It really pissed me off when my mother did that because I knew her past. Her dark, top secret, sordid past and trust me when I say, she had no room to look at anyone that way. I rolled my eyes at her and stood up giving Bobby a kiss on the cheek.
"He had family problems. I used to cheat off him in Philosophy 110."
He glances back at me and flags me, "It was just the opposite. Well it was wonderful seeing you again Emmy."
When he walks away, my father looked at me and said, "Nice kid."
The look on my mother's face I could read as asking, "Did you fuck him?" Geez I don't know why she was so concerned about my sex life, I mean I'm twenty six and yeah I've had many, many lover, slash that, sex partners, but I wasn't some out of control whore.
My father touches my hands and, said, "Well angel, welcome to reality. Here is what I've got for you. Assuming you do want to work for me."
"Of course I do. It's been my dream to work with you."
"Okay, so I'll give you a few options. The first is this. I can make you Editor and Chief..."
All I heard was Editor and Chief and my heart pounded out of my chest.
"I'm going to be Editor and Chief of the Tribune?"
My mother broke out in hysterical laughter. My father leaned back in his seat and reached into his pants pocket, pulls out a one hundred dollar bill and hands it to my mother.
"I told you, I know my child."
"What was that about?" I asked.
"Your mother bet me, you would think I was going to make you Editor of the Tribune."
He leaned forward and looked at me, "What made you think? Never mind. I can make you Editor and Chief of the Miami Herald."
"Miami? I don't want to live in Miami. I want to be in New York City."
"Well here is what I have for you. You can start as a beat reporter and work your way up. Learn the streets, make contact. I want you to bring something to the table. Just because you're my child, doesn't mean you get a free ride." He took my hands and kissed them. "Do you understand?"
At this point, I was pissed. The reason I majored in journalism is because I knew my father would hire me as an Editor, not a fucking reporter. I huffed away from the table and walked to the back of the place to where I saw Bobby standing outside the bathroom. When I reach him, I push him and punch him in the stomach, "What the fuck man?" "What is wrong with you?" He said "You motherfucker. Where the fuck you been hiding?"
"Emmy, I needed to..."
"You needed to what fuck face?
"Emmy I needed to leave you. I had to." "Why?"
"Because you're a brat and all you cared about was fucking and getting high. You had the trust fund. You could walk away from me at any minute and never look back. I needed to get control of my life and the only way I could do that was leaving you."
I stepped back from him and lowered my head. When I reflected on our relationship, I could see in hindsight, that only reason I was with him was because he access to some of the best weed on campus. Fuck, was I that shallow?
"Was I that bad?"
He touches my face and looked me in the eyes, "Yes you were."
I punched him in the stomach and laughed, "Shut up motherfucker." I step toward him and grab his waist, pulling him toward me. "I masturbate to the things we did all those years ago."
He leans his head back and closed his eyes, "Yeah. So do I." "You wanna hook up for old times' sake?"
"You know, I would but..."
I pushed him to a dark corner and raise my skirt. He looks down at my clean shaved cunts and bites his lip.
"I...I can't Emmy."
I begin to unzip his pants, but before I could get his cock out, he pushes me away from him, and says, "I married."
"I am, for two years. I have a wonder wife and two beautiful step kids."
"Step kids? You married a bitch with kids? I thought you were smarter than that?"
"She changed my life."
"Are you happy?"
He leaned his head back against the wall and sighs. "I'm content."
"That's not what I asked you." He began to walk away from me and in passing said, "Yes I am happy."
I was stunned. I was rejected. He turned me down. I don't believe it. Was I losing my touch, or was he really in love?
"Graduation is at noon. I'll be by the north bleachers at eleven if you change your mind."
He stops and turned. "You don't give up. I'm happy Emmy."
The day of graduation, I stood at the north end waiting. I know I know it was a bruised ego but I'd be damn if I let another woman make a man I spent two years with, happy. I looked at my watch and sighed. It was twenty of and I had to be on stage by noon. I don't believe it. A quarter of and just when I thought it was over...
"I'm happy, but." He says as he grabs me from behind.
"What changed your mind?"
He unzips my gown and grabs my tits. "No bra?"
"I knew you were coming."
"I've got ten minutes."
I step out of my gown revealing my naked body. He unzips his pants and pulls his cock out. As I step closer to him, he grabs me and enters me.
"Fuck I miss you."
I wrapped my legs around him and began to bounce. I reach up and grab hold of a steel rafter and let him pound away at me. I glanced at my watch, "Fuck. Two minutes."
He motions faster and leans forward to kiss my tits. He looked up at me and, said, "I'm about to cum."
I lowered my legs and dropped to my knees. I then wrapped my mouth around his cock and waited for him. About ten seconds later, a stream of hot sperm filled my mouth. I wiped my mouth and stood up. As I reached over to grab my robe, he rushes toward me and stick his cock in my ass. He then grabs my hair and pulls me up and toward him. I pushed him off of me and zipped up my gown. I turned and blew him a kiss, "See if you wife will let you do that to her. Have a nice life, fuck face."
The sun beat down on the crowd of about twenty thousand, and I walked toward the podium, I felt a bit of nervousness. I stood there glances out at the faces of the crowd, some I knew, some I didn't. Some I fucked, some I wished I would've fucked, but that's neither here or there. After today, after this speech, I was coming face to face with a harsh world. "This is our day. This is our decade and we the Graduates of Stanford University will seize this world with our knowledge, grace, wisdom and power. Scream if you hear me, for we are the greatest fucking class this university has ever witness..."
NEW YORK CITY, 1970
Deep under the canyons of New York City, the concrete, asphalt, tar and granite, steel snakes slither shuttling souls in and out the darkness like the infernal ferryman Phlegyas. The final stop for many on these rides through the urban river Styx is the center of the Universe and laying foot onto the grit of its many platforms, the weary travelers comes to the instant realization they are not in the imaginary world of an 13th century exiled Italian poet with a grudge.
A man blowing into a tarnished saxophone nods to a case on the concrete floor indicating to passerby's that he would like for them to drop in a coin or two. An old woman slouches on a wood bench holding a bottle wrapped in a crinkled brown paper bag in her left hand, the liquid inside spills out forming a puddle below her foot. Panhandlers pick pockets of wallets and cash accosting the mindless souls of this modern day Dis who weep and grieve over their eternal damned condition of rut and drudgery.
The walkways and stairs of this underworld can be overwhelming, confusing, fearful making a visitor feel like a rats trying to claw its way out of these pits, to freedom. Take for instance, the young man and his new wife who chose to honeymoon in New York City because of the excitement, but after missing their stop and wandering about the dirt, soot and darken halls reminiscent of a biblical depictions of hell, they stop and collect their thoughts. They begin to say to each other, "how hard can it be to find a way back to the hotel. It's at 59th and according to a sign on the wall, they are now at 42nd."
After stepping over the legs of a homeless man sleeping on a bed of cardboard boxes, and dodging a panhandler, they come face to face with words they both have seen on television shows and postcards...New York/New Jersey Port Authority Bus Terminal. As they exit the turnstile and climb out of the pit of despair and before stepping onto Eighth Avenue and Forty Second, their hearts pound in their chest as their ears catch the sounds of music blasting, voices resonating in the air, horns honking and man shouting about the end of the world. Reaching the light of artificial day, they come to face with modern day Gomorra, a place family members made them swear they would not go. But as with everything forbidden they are attracted to the damned strip like the cliché of the moth to the fire. Hitting the streets and stepping out from under the iron rafters of the Port Authority they wipe their eyes, for the neon lights of billboards, theater marquees and triple X rated shows singe their virgin pupils. The one block walk from Eighth Avenue to Seventh feels to them like a million years, for they stare and examine every marquis. Along the way, women dressed in their tackiest best try to allure the innocent wonderers with propositions that have them questioning whether they've lived life to the fullest. A man dressed in a grey flannel suit bumps into them as he steps out of a dark steam filled alley followed by a woman, who has just serviced him, wrapped in a three quarter length faux leopard coat trying to balance on six inch stiletto heels, chew gum and count money at the same time.
The couple continues their walk passed pimps, dressed in audacious faux exotic prints wearing large brimmed hats strutting as if they rule world while out of town John's close inconspicuous deals with the women under their watchful eyes. Two women approach a sailor on shore leave. They rub their hands up and down his pea coat and tip his hat to the side before asking, "What's your name big boy?" He smiles and as he walks away with a woman on either arm, he says, "You can call me Ishmael."
Eventually the innocent two come face to face with the residence of Olympus stepping out of the latest show. The young woman loosens the grip on her husband's arm. Her mouth drops at the sight of goddesses in full length mink coats clinging to the arms of their cigar chomping, tuxedo clad, demigods of industry and finance. Flawless diamonds dangle around dainty necks, reflect lights of cars, gas lights and the night luminary, casting a hypnotic prism in the shadows revealing activities that should be only for the dark.