Avenue X

     Jason was ecstatic as he ran down the stairs from his sixth floor apartment, out the front door and through the parking lot across the street. A token in his hand, his hair tenaxed back, t shirt under a linen white sports jacket and a light blue colored pair of slacks. He had one hundred and fifty three dollars in his left front pocket plus the token added up to one hundred and fifty four.

     As he made his way towards the el on Avenue X he saw a train coming around the bend; he went into high gear. He ran across the street against the light; somehow avoiding any hard kisses from the Camaro’s and the Celica’s – jumped over a four foot puddle onto the sidewalk and ran up the stairs towards the turnstile. Put in his token and rammed through the rotating entrance; up the stairs to the Manhattan bound side and caught the train as the doors were about to close. He sat adjacent to a window on a two seater bench and smiled.
     “This is a good omen; tonight is my night.” He said to himself as the Korean lady across from him glared his way while she ate a white pudding out of a plastic bag. He turned away and saw two black girls sitting, facing him. One of them was pretty while the other was not to his liking. The one that was pretty, ignored him while the big friend smiled his way. He turned towards the window and let out a breathy laugh.

Avenue U
     Five or six Italian boys walked on the train, smoking and speaking loudly. They eyed the two black girls and then sat at the other end of the car. From where he was sitting he heard them speaking about the Met’s.

     “Ojeda is pitching tonight against the Astro’s.”

     “Big pick up for this team – what is he 6 and 0?”

     “I think he is 5 and 0. Him and Sid are two big lefties, with Doc, Darling and Aguilera – they are going to win it all.”

     “I called sportsphone, they were losing to the ‘stros. My Yankees are going to surprise you all this year.”

    “Oh please – this is the Met’s year they are unstoppable.”

    “The Yankees are the Yankees and George won’t allow the Met’s to steal their thunder.”

     “I don’t think George has much of a choice – the pitching is fucking stacked with these guys – their lineup is – forget about the Yankees they are ancient history.”

     Jason listened to them speaking and laughed to himself. “These idiots are talking about other people winning awards and their achievements – what about themselves? What if they concentrated on their own achievements rather than others? Must be a deflection of sorts – live successfully through the successes of others. Sad, really.”

Kings Highway

     Jason sat there thinking about that girl he met the night before. Alex. He couldn’t stop thinking about her – especially how her lips felt against his. She told him that she would be at the bar at Nells at 10 o’clock. He was concerned about getting in and she said, “Just tell Jessica, at the door, that Alex sent you.”

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    She exuded sexuality. She had dirty blonde hair which was frizzed up and tied, wayfarer sunglasses, she wore a sleeveless undershirt with no bra and a short skirt. 

     Jason had seen her before and had wanted to walk over to her in the past, but he was gunshy and just filed her away as someone who was way above his grade.  When she walked over to him last night he was tongue tied for a couple of seconds and then he turned on the charm.

18th Avenue

    Jason looked around and tried to read the graffiti painted on the walls – nice colors and shapes but he had no idea what was said or meant to be communicated. He looked out the window and watched as the train began its underground ascent towards Church avenue.

     “Hey, I always see you watching me but you never come up to introduce yourself.”

     He stood up and was silent for a couple of seconds (which felt like centuries); she pulled out a cigarette and he quickly went to light it for her.

     “Well, sometimes it’s nice to sit back and watch; also you could have introduced yourself to me.”

     “I am old fashioned that way. My name is Alex.” She put out her hand.

     “I am Jason. Can I get you a drink?”

     “Not yet – how about tomorrow night?”

     “Are you asking me on a date?”

     “I guess so.”

     “I thought you were old fashioned?”

     They both laughed and she whispered in his ear. “Only when I choose to be. Be here tomorrow night at Ten; I’ll be right here.” She kissed him on the side of his lips.

     “I will be here.”

East Broadway

     The train was packed for a Thursday night; he wondered where everyone was heading. He  imagined the whole train walking with him to Nells and all of them expecting to see Alex as if she was playing a joke on them all. He laughed to himself and thought, “Not that funny.”

West 4th Street

     A very tall scantily dressed woman walks on the train and sits next to Jason. She is very white skinned and muscular. She looks his way and smiles and it’s then he realizes it’s a man. There is a strange feeling when you first encounter a man dressed as a woman. Definitely not the same as when a woman dresses like a man.

14th Street

     He jumps off the train and walks up the stairs to the next level. Groups of men are sleeping on the floor which leads to the exit. An older lady with newspapers covering her body is asking for spare change while two men wrestle on the floor beneath an advertisement for menthol cigarettes.

     New York City – horns honking, squeegee men, cool May air with a touch of humidity making it seem cooler. He looked up and saw the entrance to, “Nells.” Walked around some groups waiting on line and spoke to the girl up front.

“Hey, are you Jessica?”

“Depends.”

“Alex told me to tell you that she sent me.”

“I got around one hundred of those tonight; you need to leave.”

 “Seriously?” She let him stew for a couple of seconds and then smiled.

 “No, step right in and tell her I said, ‘she is right.’”

Jason walked in and found Alex by the bar.

“Hey, you come here often?” He whispered in her ear from behind her.

“You are on time, I like that.” She smiled and turned to give him a hug.

She was wearing a black sheer top, lace fingerless gloves and a mini-skirt. She had large globish type of earrings and her hair was done up and curled.

They had a drink and then he said, “Let’s go dance.”

“That sounds good to me.”

They danced in the middle of the floor; he knew he was a good dancer but still he felt insecure about it; she must have had an sexulal emission machine installed within her – with every move she emitted a sexuality that could not be imitated or learned – it came naturally. She wasn’t beautiful in a societal sense – but the combination of her eyes, lips and the way she moved…

She took his hand and she led him to a backroom. She took out a small plastic bag and a small spoon. He had never tried coke before but something about this girl made him want to do anything and everything with her. As he bent down to snort the first line he hesitated and then looked at her. She lifted his head and pushed her lips up against his and then smiled. He bent down and did two lines successively. He felt a burning and then a strange taste, similar to playdough in his throat. His face was numb then he felt her lips against his again. Now he felt her lips part and then the soft sensation of her tongue. Within a minute or so she took his hand and led him to the dancefloor.

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He wanted to dance and suddenly he felt a confidence about his moves that he never felt before. He was now in the center of the floor, like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and she was smiling at him.

They danced for the next hour and then she took his hand and they sat down to drink. He was talking incessantly – things that he never thought he could or would say. She was answering him and validating each sentence, nodding and looking around in quick motions.

He was working in a Wall street firm and was pulling down big numbers. He described each detail to the tee and she pretended to be interested in each one. She came from a New York family who had been around since the 1800’s. They were established millionaires who owned most of the buildings in Lower Manhattan.

“They probably own the building you work in.” She said, matter of factly.

He went to kiss her and she ceded to his desire. Her blouse was revealing the tops of her breasts and he was hungry for them. She led him to the backroom again, this time there were others standing around, hunched over tables or laying back on the couches. There was a girl with her face in a man’s lap; she smiled when they walked passed her. There were two girls talking closely, lips less than an inch apart, holding hands and smiling. Alex led him to sit next to them and opened up the plastic bag again. Poured the contents onto the table in front of them, sat on the floor, legs spread beneath and began to separate the lines for them to ingest. They each took their turns and then they lay back and began to kiss. It was dark so they were able to do a little more than kiss; during the next fifteen minutes the two girls who were seated next to them asked if they could partake – Alex spread the powder and then each girl sat on their laps. All four of them shared a quadkiss and then Alex went to Jason.

They all went to dance and they kept at it for a couple of hours; by now it was past five and the club would be closing soon.  

Jason was wired and Alex told him about a poker game that was going on at her friend’s apartment on 1st Avenue. Jason was a good poker player and had even worked at his Uncle’s underground Casino in Brighton Beach. He was a con artist along with his cousin; they would walk in as if they were average players – sons of rich kids out to spend Daddy’s money gambling. It was the classic scheme where they would lose several games and then suddenly begin to “get lucky” and win back their losses and a lot more. They had protection in case of anything – but Jason’s Uncle found out about it and forbid him and his cousin from even walking on the same block as the place.

So Jason went to play poker and walked out with $3500 in cash. He had entered the apartment at 630ish in the morning with $87 or so, still wired on adrenaline and the cocaine; and left the apartment at 1030ish with $3500. He pulled on his jacket and saw Alex sleeping on the couch; he woke her and then walked her home.

As he turned around to leave he felt a tug on his back. She was smiling and motioned for him to come close to her so she could tell him a secret. “I want you.” She whispered and then backed up and showed him a crooked smile, looked down and then motioned with her finger to follow her.

Four hours later they came down stairs and she took him to buy a change of clothes. He had the cash and didn’t want to go back home yet. They went and he bought a Sergio Tachinni jumpsuit for close to $200. Money didn’t mean anything to him as he was on a high. He had the most amazing evening at the club with Alex and her friends; went to play poker and won a shitload of money; just when he thought it was over he got that “come hither” look from Alex. He never wanted to leave and have this moment end for him; somehow he instinctively knew this only came once in a lifetime. The sex, the drugs and the money.

At her apartment he had fallen asleep and woke up to her doing lines on his lower stomach. At first he was startled and then felt a feeling of extreme exhaustion.

“I can’t do anything I am so tired.”

“Here, have some of this, with me on the side.” She lay beside him and made a straight line on her cleavage. He wasn’t sure if it was the cleavage or the coke that excited him but he did as he was told.  

They went out that night back to “Nells” but when people try and duplicate a perfect event it rarely, if ever, can live up to the past. She ended up dancing too close to another man and when Jason objected she pushed him away and said, “I am tired of you, I need fresh blood.”

He felt kind of kicked in the balls and with the combination of the coke bringing him down and his exhaustion – he was falling fast.

“Fuck this.” He walked out and went straight to take the subway back home.

14th Street

He sat down against a window with his leg up on the seat in front of him. He fell asleep as soon as the train arrived at West Fourth St.

Somewhere Between West Fourth and Church Avenue

He felt a tapping on his shoulder.

“Wake up, buddy.”

“What’s happening? Where am I?”

“We are at Church Avenue and it looks like someone stole your wallet.”

He looked down and saw that the left pocket on the front of his pants was hanging. He stood up quickly and noticed that his wallet was still in his jacket pocket, so he felt ok. It was then that it hit him. The cash…there was $3200 and it was stolen by a man with surgical hands and tools.

“He went straight to you, with over 20 people on the train; took out what looked like a scalpel, cut a perfect rectangle and pulled out a wad of cash. What you doing walking around on the subway with cash like that?”

“Oh shit…”

“It looked like a lot of money buddy.”

“No it was all singles.” He didn’t want to admit how big of an asshole he felt like.

Avenue X

He walked off the train feeling the effects of the past two nights’ debauchery, he reeked of smoke, perfume and Alex. He also felt slightly hurt by her rejection at the club and of course, felt stupid because someone had stolen his money while he slept on a subway train.

“The fucking F train.” He thought to himself.

It wasn’t just the fact that the money was stolen from him – it was the fact that he had already planned to use that money for a down payment for a Camaro. Now he would be stuck with his old used and banged up Celica. As he walked towards his house he thought about the money and how those fucking thieves would be spending it. Probably on drugs or god knows what. That’s what pissed him off more than anything – he knew that they would be throwing the money away or using it to hurt other people. Nothing he could do about it now – just go home, take a shower, fall into a sleep for a week and start again.

Somewhere in Brooklyn

Joe had never stolen anything in his life; but when he saw his mother crying in her room he knew that he had to get her the money she needed.

Joe’s mother was in danger of losing her job because of cutbacks at the store where she was working. Without that job they would be in deep shit financially.

Kings Highway

He took F train to the city that morning to see if he could find a way to meet up with his uncle, his mother’s brother, who had money and could possibly help them. His mother didn’t want to ask for any help – but Joe knew that there was a time and place for pride.

He got off on Lexington Avenue and walked up towards 81 street. When the doorman told him that his uncle was away somewhere for the next couple of weeks, his stomach fell and he began to shake.

Walking back towards the F train on Lexington Avenue; he kept walking past the station and down to 23rd street, where he made a right turn towards 6th avenue and walked down the stairs to the train station.

14th street

He noticed a large man asleep and at first he was concerned he might actually had been dead. But he saw his stomach go up and then down which confirmed he was alive. His left arm fell to the side revealing a huge stack of something in his left pocket. He walked over and sat next to him.

West Fourth Street

He took his pocket knife from his pocket and decided he would take the chance. “There must be at least 500 dollars in there,” he thought to himself, “that would solve a lot of problems.”

The lights on the train kept on turning off between stations and he made up his mind when the train pulled into East Broadway.

With surgical precision he cut a rectangle and the cash fell into his hands. Much more than the 500 dollars he was hoping for.

York Street

The doors opened and he ran out the doors. He counted 3200 dollars and immediately went back on the next F train and headed back home.

Kings Highway

Walking down the stairs of the station he felt an eerie sense that someone was following him. He kept turning around but no one was there. When he walked into his apartment he placed 750 dollars under his mother’s pillow, put the rest under his mattress and walked down the street towards the church to see Father Fletcher.

In a dark closet with a curtain he recited the words, “Forgive me…”

His mother never asked where the money came from; he denied knowing anything about it. He took the extra money and invested in Microsoft, buying 100 shares for $2100. When he was getting married in Thanksgiving of 1999; he sold the stock and cashed in almost one and a half million dollars. His portfolio as of 2016 was valued at over 20 million dollars and has given away almost that much since that fateful day when he performed his first and only surgery.

Jason married a year later, never put anything other then his finger in his nose again. He was able to make a decent living as a financial advisor, ironically enough, it was Jason who advised Joe about an investment opportunity with Accel Partners, in a startup called, “Facebook.”

Jason still takes the F Train everyday to work and occasionally spots Joe and together they ride into the city. Neither one admits to being a part of that fateful day.

 

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