Know The Ledge: An Excerpt

I wanted to share the first scene from a play I started over the summer. As of now, I can’t find the file. I have my notes, but I can’t locate the document. Instead, I’ve got the first chapter to what feels like my next crack at a novel. This one is loosely based on the upbringing of the character from my first book.  City kids running and gunning like there’s nothing around the bend. Take a look and don’t be afraid to leave a comment.

7subway

___________

1. Truth or dare? Benny asked with a wily look in his eye as they climbed the scum drenched stairs towards the platform.

Benny always carved that evil grin into his face when they got their sweaty palms on a few cans of Miller from his father’s mini-fridge tucked away under the dusty basement steps.  His dad was already snoring when they swiped them; drunk as shit at 4 pm, happily collecting $250 a week from the Welfare man.

Truth dude.  We’re getting on the train, and I’m not singing New Kids On The Block with my fucking pants down again, Adrian snapped.

Benny and Adrian had been friends since they were shitting in diapers; and here they were, two soon to be sophomores hopping turn styles in Queens, sliding into the first train car with an open door towards Manhattan.

It’s not as if there wasn’t anything to do in Queens.  There were corner stores and weed.  There were cute girls, and meatheads to throw rocks at.  There was always a bike to steal and ditch in the alley behind the bowling alley.  Of course there were a few more cans of Miller, but it wasn’t nearly as live as Manhattan in July.

Truth be told, Benny and Adrian’s mothers wouldn’t come looking for them anytime soon.  These two boys had grown to be tougher than leather, but only when together.  Nothing got in their way.  Apart they were as thin and rubbery as wet paper.  Not just in stature, like most 15 old boys were, but of mind and soul. It was expected that you’d find one when looking for the other. They’d become defacto-brothers, inseparable by circumstance more that any bloodline tie.

Both boys came from homes where love boiled over a low heat at the center of a chaotic storm.  Moms worked harder than they should.  Dads smoked Camels and fucked up part time jobs as quickly as the cherry met the filter.  Little sisters played with new dolls, speaking in sweet tones; the plastic daddy holding the plastic mommy with the flowing blonde hair, gently pressing their shiny faces together. True love.

But Benny had Adrian, and Adrian, Benny.  And right this second, Adrian faced the first of the day’s truths as they settled into a nearly empty car barreling towards the most electric slum in the free world.

Did you kiss mustache Maribel at Vin’s house last weekend?  Benny prodded.  You two disappeared for like an hour, and when you came back you had a stupid grin on your face, and…

She doesn’t have a mustache dickhead.  She’s Puerto Rican.

So that’s a yes? You suck at this game.

Yes. Adrian replied in a near whisper as the sound of the train clacking against the weary, thousand year old tracks threatened to drown him out. He continued, she told me about her crazy uncle who used to be a boxer in California.  He fought in some illegal backyard ring for money, where people used to hangout and bet.  They watched that shit like WWF.  She said all kinds of stuff about her family.  She kept sliding closer and closer to me until our faces were basically touching…Puerto Ricans are nuts.

She’s a man-a-Rican, Benny blurted out before throwing his head back and letting out a goofy laugh that made Adrian smile.

Benny cracked the first beer from the backpack.  They always took a 4 o’clock train into the city because everyone was on a mad dash in the other direction.  They could pass the lukewarm Miller back and forth with little to no static.

The backpack held three more cans of beer, one yellow Bic, a deck of cards, a dog eared copy of Rap Pages magazine, one White Owl cigar, and a dime bag of entirely suspect weed.  The smaller pouch stitched into the front of the bag held two of the duo’s most prized possessions; a dubbed cassette copy of The Juice Motion Picture Soundtrack, and an actual copy of Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers.

Those two tapes gave Benny and Adrian a crash course in unrelenting cool. Pressing play meant becoming the Staten Island menaces who thugged from the speakers. They rolled tiny, cracked blunts and sipped cans of beer because fuck the world, that’s why.  They never felt freer than when taking turns trading Ghostface and Raekwon bars in a verbal standoff trying to settle who could capture the perfect cadence of a grown man.

I choose dare.  Because I’m not a pussy, Benny said.

No one called you a pussy, but you’re a retard for choosing dare, Adrian replied.  And since you’re so tough, I dare you to roll the blunt on the train.  Right here, right now.  You won’t.

Benny didn’t reply.  His eyes lit up as he watched the tenements speed by, the graffiti getting more and more impressive the closer they got to Manhattan.  He casually unzipped the backpack at his feet, grabbed the White Owl and the dirt weed, cradled both in his lap and went to work.

Adrian sat staring across the car, amazed at the speed and tenacity of Benny at work.  The kid couldn’t tell you who fought in the French and Indian War, but somehow without breaking a sweat he could crack, empty, fill, and seal a blunt in broad daylight aboard a speeding train on a Wednesday afternoon as effortless as it was to breathe.

He tucked the tiny brown stick behind his ear, put his feet up and stretched out along the empty row of seats, his hands behind his head.  He smiled at the train car roof.  They had no plans, no curfew, three beers, a blunt, twenty eight dollars between them, and life by the balls.  Summer time in America.

Truth or dare bitch, Benny said to no one and the entire world all at once.

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One thought on “Know The Ledge: An Excerpt

  1. Wait, “Know the Ledge” is the novel…I want that to be the title of the play (it is just so play title sounding)…nice tie in without beating the audience over the head to the dubbed cassette (likely a Maxell High Bias XL II) in the backpack.

    Lots of specific details and adjectives, sometimes maybe too much, but I will have to wait and see it in the bigger work…love it when it comes time to go inside the backpack, but other times I want a crisper line of text…

    Great stuff though, enjoy reading that which I understand in spirit, but is far beyond what I could create on a page.

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