Tuesday, April 15, 2008



There had been so many chances to get killed this year, and last year, and the year before. I just thought about that. Not as a list or anything. Nothing specific. Just a vague sense of a life uncertain. A life lived just a few steps beyond the razor's edge. These things flashed through my head as the landscape of Brooklyn wheezed outside the windows of the F train as it drifted along the el above McDonald Avenue, heading south, toward the sea.

Night was just starting to fall. It was getting late, but not late enough. Still, I was going now. I didn't want to ride out here later, in an empty subway car, being one of just two or three getting off a train. The best way to be anonymous is always to be in a crowd. So I was on my way. I could surely kill five hours on Coney Island. Anyone could.

The meet wouldn't happen until two, over in the abandoned lots past the Thunderbolt. This was a scary buy. Anytime you're buying guns it's fucking scary. I mean, if you're buying guns there's no doubt that there'll be guns around, right? But these guys made me twitchy. They seemed less like people interested in getting money than like psychos. Maybe that was cultural. I might have been misreading Eastern European shit the wrong way. They might just be sane criminals. I'd keep repeating that to myself, hunting some shot at calm.

I got off at West Eighth Street and walked. I walked all the way to Nathan's. Grabbed two dogs and a beer and walked along the boardwalk, going back east. The sun had vanished, the neon was exploding. The night was hot and the crowd smelled of alcohol and sweat and baby oil and Coppertone. The boardwalk felt small, and I decided to get above it.

So I got in line for the Wonder Wheel, and climbed aboard with two twenty-something girls who said they liked my earrings, and rode up into the August sky.

We laughed. They rocked the car. They shared some toxic liqueur they were carrying. I pulled out a joint and shared that. The ocean breeze cooled us, quickly, in a way that heightened the moment of sexual tension. I looked down blurrily on the scene. Three and a half hours ahead I'd meet these guys. I'd be so scared sweat would be pouring down my body, but it would come off clean. I'd drop the evidence on two cops sitting in an old Ford Galaxie stopped at the boardwalk stairs west of the Parachute Jump. And then I'd walk away - on the empty streets - not even really knowing where I was until I found the Brighton Beach station and boarded a train back north. There were never any arrests. The three guys I bought from were found dead in Sheepshead Bay two days later - we were never sure why - or I was never told - or I never asked.

But now I was just looking down from our date on the neon-carpeted night. Girl Two had her hand on the inside of my thigh. Her little finger just brushing the denim that covered my balls. "Wanna come party with us tonight?" she asked. The way her hand was placed she knew I was ready to do something, and I knew she knew,
but I just said, "Sorry sweetheart, I'm working tonight." "Working?!" Girl One laughed. "Working? You a cop or you clean up at Nathan's?" "A cop," I told her. "Yeah right," she said, as Girl Two removed her hand. "Think of me and whack yourself off when you're cleaning up the french fry machine."

We were back down at the bottom. "I'll do that," I said, grabbing my crotch as they climbed out of the ride. "I'll think only of you."

copyright 2007 by Ira Socol
images from The Bridge and Tunnel Club

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