(Another premise for a short story… Please let me know what you think.)
It was a typical New York summer morning, you know, hot, muggy and the air had the thick charge of war. Last night was not a typical Friday night, though. The sounds of battle were louder than usual. The gunfight, the police sirens glaring and the urgency of the ambulance’s lights seemed closer. The popping of gunfire kept me sitting at the edge of the bed, curled up in a corner. It goes on for what seems like hours. The noise constantly going and the sounds of timber popping in the fire! I don’t know if I could go out there and do that.
I head outside for some air. Sitting on the front stoop waiting for what – I don’t know – just staring off into space. My mother comes out a few minutes later sees me sitting there. What’s the matter honey? The sounds last night kept me up. Don’t worry, honey that was far away – it won’t affect you, she conforts me. With these words, I forget last night’s events. Quikly, she loads the kids up into the Kermit-the-Frog green 1972 Chevy Station Wagon. Every third Sunday of the month, always at six am, we would head down to Hunts Point market. The point, as it’s reputation precedes it, was an unusual sigh of relief from this war zone. It was full of activity and life, unlike this neighborhood.
As we pull away from the house & round the corner, the sights of the South Bronx come into view. Building after building burned to the ground and the unlucky ones that did not burn or collapse, stood like hollowed out skeletons with an empty stare. This created a field of ruble, among empty shells of the past, that my older brother and I would use as our playground.
We were one of the lucky ones. Our block was one of the few that were not destroyed from the usual fires. Each of the houses on our block were owned by normal folks and as such did not suffer the demise of the ones owned by the slumlords. Many of our friends have lost their homes this way.
Finally we arrive at the Point. I love this place! Here I see my mother’s true ability of negotiation. Her strongest virtue is her ability to haggle with the vendors to buy cases of carrots, oranges and tomatoes. She would work them down to the point where the guys would say, lady! I give up – I can’t go that low. At that instant, she would say, Ok kids lets move on! She would take a small step forward and start walking away. Sure enough, the vendors would stop her and a strange thing would happen. Her eyes would light up and she would get this look on her face, she knew she’s got them. As she turns around, she would add, I will only take it, if you throw in two pint of strawberries. Sure enough she would get it and we would be satisfied for the rest of the day of shopping.
Eating berries and playing safe innocent kids games on the loading dock of the Point. Safety among the chaos of the city.
I liked this story enough that I started a new blog all its own. It is a fictitious journal of the daily adventures of a young boy surviving the urban jungle of the war-torned South Bronx. Check it out!