Here’s a short piece I found mixed in with my music stuff. Not titled, and probably written early last year. It’s got a similar feel to the book I’ve been working on, which centers on two boys from Queens roaming the city in the summer.
There was a girl in New York City once. We used to follow each other, block to block, crafting hair-brained schemes on days when there was nothing but the sun and no curfew. Those summer days we’d walk for miles, smoking joints, plotting on bottles of liquor.
We were city kids after all, so we’d end up in a dusty, Spanish bodega, shoving forties into backpacks. Bolting up the block, we’d heckle the old man in the apron as he chased us past four or five parked cars. We’d make sure to remember the street signs and wait a few weeks before coming back.
I couldn’t have been more than sixteen. She and I went to parties to steal from coat pockets and raid medicine cabinets. We hunted that numb from chewing pain pills. If we were lucky and trendy enough, we’d swallow ecstasy and anticipate the sweats and deep chills. Like clockwork, we’d end up on the roof of her building, high as kites talking shit about clouds and the Knicks.
Some days we’d cruise through Central Park to the museum. We promised each other we’d never get wrinkles as we watched the grannies and the baby sitters shuffle in and out of the massive glass doors pushing strollers, carrying packages, living normal daily lives that our impatient teenage brains deemed inane.
She kissed me once on the platform waiting for the 7. I saw stars. A mash of lips and mess, a combination of saliva and sweaty faces. It felt like two hundred degrees underground in the middle of July. I rode the next six stops with a huge grin, hands in my lap.
Her name was Jocelyn. She was a tall, brown skinned Cuban with giant green saucers for eyes. The kind you could see from the bottom of the lake. So pretty it hurt. The type of girl every boy wanted but didn’t deserve. Fiery, loud as hell, and drop dead gorgeous. I loved riding the subway with her, arguing for hours. Mets or Yankees? Buckshot or Rakim?
We spent three summers running around the city. It was a fantastic time to be young in New York. Our existence was defined by hip hop, cheap weed and long, steaming days. One of those wondrous summers I got my first blowjob and my last nose bleed. Jocelyn stole a gram of coke from her older brother and chopped four decent sized lines on the back of a toilet in a mid-town McDonalds.
I didn’t catch a nose bleed from the coke. It happened two weeks later, when my friend Connor had too many shots of Bacardi at house party in the Bronx and called Jocelyn a whore. I have yet to meet a female with a better left hook.
After my sister died, Jocelyn and I sat for hours on a bench across from St. Pats on 5th. We didn’t say a word. I just cried and stared at the tourists and lonely wanderers pushing in and out of the great cathedral doors. I didn’t have the strength to step inside. She held onto my hand like if she let it go I could float away. And I might have.
Jocelyn got pregnant during the winter of our senior year. She started showing up to basketball games with a Puerto Rican rocking braids and gold in his mouth. Her parents wouldn’t condone an abortion, and my parents knew I was in love. That love faded over time, but the city and the stories remain.