In all twenty-six years of my life the government never did shit for me. And that's OK. But I will not allow them to be business partners of mine. Today, in 1983, I work only for me. Nights, in a four-door 74 Ford Fairmont which I turned into a gypsy cab a few months after coming out of a weeklong coma.
The coma shut-down my promising boxing career. I was an up-and-coming white middleweight with a professional record of 8-0, when less than thirty seconds into my first fight on cable TV, a four-round preliminary match in Vegas, that plodding Panamanian deliberately head-butts me right above my left eye. Blinded bloody instantly, I couldn't see the right-hook into my chin that immediately followed. And the referee sees this head-butt as unintentional.
Anyway, this cab business suits me okay. I'm my own boss. I call no man boss. It's against nature, or my nature. Working nights, less people around. And that's good, because something about most everyone bothers me. Especially, if they bring up that fight. Like the other day, I'm walking on Broadway and a sprightly old-timer approaches me. "Aren't you?" he starts to ask, before I cut him off
"Look," I say, down into his obviously many times broken old nose, "I don't know you, and you don't know me. Let's keep it that way." The hurt look in his eyes . . . he probably was an ex-fighter. For the rest of the day, I couldn't shake it.
It's not like I've got anyone else to supportso the money's okay. Six nights, ten till six. I don't knock myself out working long shifts. Knock myself out? HAHA!
I cruise Upper Manhattan, Harlem, and the South Bronx. This includes Washington Heights, the Dominican neighborhood where I live.
My work starts with a pick up of whores from ghetto rooming-houses and residential hotels on West 145th Street, in Black Harlem. I shuttle them to Hunts Point, an industrial part of the South Bronx just a quick trip across the Harlem River, connected to the south-east Bronx by a short bridge.
Having grown-up down in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, nothing was new to me. So I knew, because of their size and Adam's apples, that many of these full-breasted girls were actually chicks with dicks. Chicks, or chicks with dicks, no matter. No tip. But they are regular business.
Anyhow, as far as the chicks with dicksconsidering all the shit they have to go throughI respect their commitment to perversity. Besidesas far as I'm concerneda blow job is a blow job is a blow job. Anyway you cut it. Cut it?! HA! I'm glad mine wasn't!
During the winter months open bonfires burn in corners of block long vacant lots in the wholesale fruit market that is Hunts Point. Fires surrounded by gatherings of warming whores. The whores wait for cruising johns, who pull up in cars and trucks, to signal them in. How do they fuel their ceaseless all-night bonfires? Coats open to showcase bare hormone tits, they shake their bodies around for more warmth. As though they were possessed by thousands of live tongues of lizardswhile their fire burns like bright, flashing, orange razors. Smoke rising into cold gray.
Sometimes, I feel like joining these amazingly tall stiletto-heeled warriors in their supernatural shimmy surrounding their fire. Maybe we could pull one of these doughy faced johns from his car and toss his flabby ass into the fire and dance and scream in exaltation, muffling his cries. And if he survived, he'd have the burn scars for the rest of his fucking life. A constant reminder of how, on a cold winter's night in the South Bronx, a black tribe of chicks with dicks along with a titless white prick fed him to their roaring bonfire. What fucking shame. Like getting knocked into a coma on TV?
A couple nights a week local men gather at Hunts Point job sites, in order to get work unloading crates of fruit from incoming tractor trailers. The pay is five dollars per hour, only about a third of what I net driving, but in order to stay in some kind of shape and share in the camaraderie I often join them. Really, I need to start roadwork again. And then the gym. Or maybe I'll apply to City College and take up writing, journalism maybe. Hell, I bet I've read a lot more than most of these college kids.
After knocking off from an unloading shift at two a.m. one night I noticed a very slow-moving station wagon passing by. On its roof, stacked but not tied down, were wooden pallets. Those used to hold the crates of fruit while in the truck, and then discarded by the truckers after the unloading. From about thirty hazy yards, I now observed the station wagon lazily pulling over at a corner curbside gathering of whores by a dying bonfire. I took two steps closer, and squinting, observed a black man in an ankle-length down coat and a furry ear-flapped hunting cap emerge from the driver's seat into the cold. He shoved the unbound pallets off the roof of his station wagon. Onto the sidewalk, crashed the wooden load. The guy looked to be about the same height as me, five-ten. But even factoring out the bulky coat, I could tell that he was exceptionally broad. In exchange for the pallets he was handed some bills by a towering, open-coated (to showcase big bare tits), dicked chick. As the deliverer of pallets turned to get back into the car the street-light struck his face so that I recognized him as Kent. A hard-bodied wall of a fortyish guy I'd run into at the nearby 24-hour Dominican bodega. He'd often be standing up front, looking out, while killing time sipping from a container of coffee. Now I knew why I'd sometimes see him buy several packs of various brands of cigarettes, assorted junk food, and small bottles of under-the-counter Dominican rum. I don't recall who initiated the salutations originally, but we would exchange "hey mans."
"Hey man," I said while approaching him in the bodega the very next night.
"Hey man," replied Kent. He had one of those naturally gravelly voices black men sometimes have.
Respectfully, I added, "That's some gig you've got supplying the girls with pallets to fuel their fires."
It was as though he had been waiting to talk for some time because with great gusto he bragged that he charged the girls ten dollars a load of pallets, and since there were several of these rapidly burning bonfires going all-night, business was brisk and very profitable. He also made money from the resale of the items he bought for the girls at the bodega. And his eyes glistened as he stated, "I don't allow no competitors."
He asked me if I would like to join him now for the short ride to the vacant lot where he picks-up the loads of pallets. That he wanted to talk to me about something. I got the feeling he knew who I was, that's why he had confidence in me, but that he was not one to bring it up if I didn't. But as I stepped into the passenger seat I had no idea what he wanted to talk to me about.
Right after he revved up the old station wagon's engine, I found out. He told me that in about a month he was going down to South Carolina for two weeks and wanted me to "consider filling-in" for him for that period.
"I'll need to think about it," I replied, honestly.
"You keep everything you make," he said slowly, to underscore the absence of kickback. "Two-hundred clear, a night. Nice and easy. Plus free sex."
Sex?! I thought to myself. What the fuck's he talking about? He must mean with one of the few real girls. Or, a long term ex-con, which he likely was, probably fucks them all in the ass. No way, I assured myself, was he implying that I am one of those who enjoys the COMPLETE versatility a chick with a dick has to offer.
"I dig a blow job from just about any of these whoreswhich I sometimes accept in lieu of farebut that's as far as it goes," I said.
"Whatever . . ." he replied, offhandedly.
If he had not replied, the issue would have been closed. "Whatever" did not close it for me. "You know man," I said, "I came up in the Meatpacking District, 16th on the far West Side, lots of wild shit. A few of us teenage boys would get blow-jobs from a tall, lean, neighborhood Cuban chick with a dick, who'd socialize with passing friends and neighbors from out her ground floor window. She was a prostitute, but would do certain teenage boys she dug on for free. Her name was Perfecta. I was sixteen. Never paid.
"So," I continue, speeding up my delivery to get to the point, "it's just me and her, on a hot summer's night, in her apartment. Stopped by hoping for a quick blow job on the way home after a whole day of stocking the dairy aisle at Daitch Shopwell. Perfecta poured us each a rum and Coke. I think she spiked mine, because I passed out right on her bed . . .
"I was awakened to a feeling of something hard pressing up against my bare ass. Perfecta had pulled down my pants and rolled me over and was trying to fuck ME in the ass! Turned quickly onto to my back and slugged the naked Perfecta square in the face with my right fistknocking her off the bed onto the floor, and drawing blood.
"'Motherfucker!' she screamed, rising unsteadily to her feet. 'You take blood from my face, now I keel you!' Pulling up my pants, I'm running out of her apartment, with herafter very quickly grabbing herself a weapon from the kitchenchasing me out into the street."
At this point, we arrive on the lot. Kent asks me to keep on with my story. Which was good, because I had no intention of stopping
"We're squared off in the street. Me, bare-chested and pants opened at the waist, and this titted, tall Perfecta with her considerable dickNAKEDready to bash my head in with a steel bar. Well, I remember feeling relieved that it wasn't a machete she hadbecause on the street I don't run.
"A girl who'd been sitting on her front stoop smoking and saw it all go down, would later tell me that everybody hanging outside very quickly crowded around this freaky face-off and was going fucking crazy. I have no memory of that, because I was completely locked in on the armed Perfecta
"'Motherfucker, I keel you!'"shouted the bloody-faced Perfecta, swinging the bar at my head. I pulled back to dodge the blow, and when bar slowed down as it finished its arc, I stepped in and snatched it away with my right hand. Held it like a spear and chased her ten or so yards as she fled back into her apartment. Everyone knew I could have caught up and destroyed her, but chose not to. I did knock out her front window with the end of the bar and chucked it back into her apartment. Then I heard sirens. Ran home."
"Funny shit," said Kent, nodding approval.
"It ain't quite over."
"Say what?" said Kent, surprised.
"Well, the next day I'm told by a buddy of mine that I'd better watch my back, because supposedly Perfecta had taken out a contract on me. For the next few weeks, I had to keep looking over my shoulder. It was a drag. So I bought a bottle of Cuba Libre Rum for her, and through this same buddy arranged for a peace meeting. On my way over to her place I also bought a liter of ice-cold Coke. She blew me."
Wordlessly, we now exited his station wagon.
There were hundreds of dumped pallets in the lot. I helped him load and we headed to a dying bonfire surrounded by the girls. As soon as we pulled up and got out, a regular, red-headed, black chick, flashing bare skinny legs, in hot pink hot-pants and a red bikini top, approached Kent. Pointing at a wisp of a girl who stood shivering by a corner bonfire less than half a block away, she asked, in a shockingly high-pitched little voice, for permission to "cut that high yaller little bitch who dissed me."
"OK," replied Kent, without any inquiry. "But don't cut her so she can't work!"
As Kent sent the load of pallets crashing onto the sidewalk, I observed two six-foot-plus chicks with dicks sharing a laugh. One caught me eyeing them and blew me a kiss. Unlike the regular girls, they need no man to provide them with protection. If provoked, they would, without any hesitation, shred your face with a razor that they kept stashed on their person, easily accessible. Inexplicably, a warm flash of affinity with these chicks with dicks passed through me. I got scared. And I don't get scared.
Kent pocketed his payment, and we got back into his station wagon. I wasted no time. "Kent," I said, "I appreciate your offer to fill-in for you but I can't commit to it.”
"Hey man, absolutely YOU do not get involved in any shit between the bitches."
I said it as it hit me, "If a chick can have a dick, then a fighter can change his ID and fight in another state."
"What the fuck you talkin' about man?"