Hero had told Ilana, “no,” that he did not think that
she should come over to Jimmy’s so late but she begged
him and he’d given in to her even though the absolute all
of him was telling him no, no, no.
Jimmy was a physically slight (emaciated was more like
it), Gay, black, undercover crack fiend from Atlanta, Georgia
with a sniffy habit he couldn’t keep up with. Hero
had started using Jimmy’s apartment to meet his connection from the Bronx: every evening he would bring Hero between 20
and 30 bundles for the next day and then drive back with
a few thousand dollars. Jimmy got 3 bags of
dope and $25 to buy groceries and cook dinner for Hero.
Ilana had recently finished a $3,000 naltrexone detox
somewhere out in Jersey but as soon as she’d got back,
3 days earlier, she’d been trying to get high – except the
implant the doctor had surgically put in her thigh hadn’t
stopped releasing more naltrexone which was blocking the
dope. Hero had seen junkies who’d gone through this type
of detox before, most of them his wealthier customers, and
they’d all thrown some pretty serious temper tantrums trying
to get high and wasted as much $ as they could shoot or
sniff in the process. It was always a bad scene because
although the naltrexone blocked the effects of the heroin
it didn’t do squat for the now “clean” junkie’s cravings.
An Israeli national of Moroccan decent, Ilana had come
to NYC 7 years earlier to attend film school and somehow
ended up owning a reasonably successful used clothing store
on St. Mark’s Place just east of 1st Avenue that she called
“Tattoo You.” Somewhere along the line she’d started sniffing
dope and that’s how she met Hero.
Hero thought Ilana was attractive, a real Sabra in every
sense of the word. Long, frizzy dark hair, and light olive
skin, very full lips, and large brown eyes with naturally
“Of course,” Hero speculated later, “she might have just
been dope sick, I don’t know.”
Ilana was all this and more – she was also a raving bitch.
About 5’6” and shaped well for her 30+ years,
Ilana was sort of like Dahlia, but not. He’d thought
that maybe it was because they dressed alike but whereas
Ilana was fun to be with and watch when she was relaxed,
she was equally as much a terror of disproportionate mental
mind fucking and adolescent game playing that normally
allowed her to push any man stupid enough to stick around
into one of her chosen corners. None of that got her very far with Hero once he’d caught on. Once he’d
caught on. In the beginning, Ilana had the most annoying habit of always being the very last customer of the evening to beep
him and she intentionally pushed the envelope every single
night. Then, once he’d arrived at her store, she’d make
him wait in the back room which was really a bathroom and storage area with a low ceiling full of used clothes in dusty boxes; very hot and stuffy. When her Highness finally tore herself away from her neurotic sorting of faux patent leather purses or whatever latest piece of garbage she was obsessing over at the moment, she would make her way to the back to see
Hero, who was tired of riding all day. Hero, who was
exhausted from dealing all day. Hero, who just wanted to
“Hero! How are you doing? You look tired, you should get
“What do you need, Ilana?”
“I don’t know, how is it?”
“It’s good, it’s from the same package as yesterday.”
“Are you sure?”
For Hero, this was no good. It was a stupid question that
was just begging for a very much deserved nasty and abusive
“No, I’m not sure.” His blood pressure rising fast, his
sweating body covered in bike gear, the two of them in that
cramped little room, “in fact, llana, it’s probably garbage,
no, in fact it’s no good at all, it’s beat – that’s why
I only sold 18 bundles of it today – so you don’t have to
worry if it’s any good. Now, how many?”
And, as this regular nightly exchange was getting itself
underway, Ilana would ask to see the bundle that she intended
to buy all of 4 or 5 bags from and then she would proceed
to hold each one of the ten in the bundle up against a low
wattage light bulb trying to figure out which of them had the
One time, Ilana said, “Do you have any others?”
And Hero thought about the 32 bundles stashed away in
his messenger bag. Three hundred-and-twenty bags for Ilana
to hold up and inspect one-at-a-motherfucking-time, never
quite sure which bags were biggest so that she would always
have to repeat the process over and over again until frustrated,
she’d finally just take whatever was in her hand at the moment.
“Oh, no, bitch,” Hero told himself – saying out loud instead,
“Here, lemme’ see.” holding his hand out for the bags
she was finger fucking and once he had them he said,
“That’s it,” and headed for the door.
“What? Don’t go, ok, ok, I won’t give you a hard time
anymore – but look – am I wrong? c’mon, c’mon, don’t go,
Hero, please – I’m sorry, ok?”
Ilana had placed one of her hands on his shoulder. Her
pleading tone – that accent. It was enough so that he went
deaf to the staccato pealing Death Metal knell of the Sucker
Alarm going off inside his head. Ilana knew he liked her.
She liked him, too. Those eyes were killing him. He genuinely
was fond of her, but oy, what a ball breaker. Later, Hero
thought that that had undoubtedly been a large part of his
attraction to her. Times would come when she would behave
selfish and cruel and still he would hold on. He saw why to be rejected when you sought the love and acceptance
they’d sold you as some bullshit birthright. Hero didn’t
want to reject anyone and he speculated at that moment
if this wasn’t the maker of saints and saviors?
Worse. Insulting by its implications, and pathetic in
its truth, was the fact that Hero and Ilana had been so
high all the time that they’d never even made love. A dope
habit, a real proper out of control, gotta’ get high – do
or die dope habit eventually consumes one’s desire for everything but more dope. That was a pig’s habit although personally Hero had known people who’d been strung out for more than 20 years without any major problems – in fact – a lot
of them said that the shit had preserved them by slowing
down their metabolism and reducing stress. Heroin was also
a great antidepressant. Dope: the ultimate consumer product.
Hero knew that the better the dope – the faster it sold
– the more it was in demand – the more money he made.
So, on that cool September night at about 10:30 P.M. Ilana
wanted to drive over to Jimmy’s place on east 6th Street
and Avenue D so Hero could hit her; she couldn’t inject
herself and although Hero wasn’t too thrilled about doing
it for her he was trying to delay the inevitable crossing
of those dark and brackish waters, tepid at best,
when he would eventually be asked to teach her how.
When she got there, Ilana went into the bathroom of the
studio apartment. She sat down on the toilet seat so Hero
could hit her in some relative degree of quiet because
Jimmy liked to play his T.V. so obnoxiously loud that concentrating on anything became next to impossible. When he finished Ilana thanked him and asked for a cigarette which Hero lit for her and then he left her sitting there while he stepped
into the kitchen to clean the works. His back was turned
when he heard llana’s head hit the tile wall with an audible
“SWACK!” and then her head and shoulders sliding against
- She was out cold sitting upright and beginning to
lean forward when Hero caught her and tried to wake her
- He pulled her body around and dragged her out of the
bathroom by hooking his hands under her armpits laying
her down a few feet from the front door beside a large wicker
chest that made an L up against the wall with the back
of Jimmy’s couch. Hero put some pillows under llana’s head,
and noticed that Jimmy’s unusually high strung crack body movements were accentuated by new jumps and starts that
when combined with the holding of his hands up under his
chin, made him look like a half-starved black squirrel on
the bad end of a 3 week speed jag. His shoulders appeared
as if they were trying to swallow his nappy head by sucking
it in through his craned straw of a neck and the skin on
his face was rapidly turning ashen gray as it tightened.
When Hero glanced back at him again he saw that a very
blank nervous expression had taken Jimmy over completely.
Had he been a little less worried about llana dying – and
worse yet – in front of a fucking witness – Hero would have
laughed at Jimmy’s too late realization that once he was
in the door it was his program. Jimmy thought whatever
Hero let him think and everything else was bullshit. Sooner
or later Jimmy would get farther behind in the rent and
Hero would be there to bail him out – and then throw him
out. Sooner or later.
Hero tried calling, “llana,” and then listened for her
heartbeat with his ear against her chest. Next he felt for
a pulse which was light but steady. Afraid because she wouldn’t
wake up he called 911 on his cell phone. (Jimmy’s phone
had been turned off months ago.) Before the police and ambulance arrived, Hero took off a black leather fanny-pack with 23 bundles of dope in it stashed it under some sweaters
that were on top of the wicker chest, and then pushed the
sweaters back towards the wall so that they’d be under a
short telephone shelf. Jimmy became frantic at the idea
of the police coming. Hero told him to, “Calm down – just
let me do all the talking.”
Jimmy tittered and babbled until Hero made him make sure the apartment was clean – that there were no stray straws or stems that the idiot had forgotten about laying out in plain view.
“She’s not gonna’ die, is she?! Not in my apartment! Oh,
God, no, oh, no, the POLICE?!”
Hero wished that it was Jimmy laying on the floor instead
of llana so he could’ve just put a dry cleaners bag over
his ugly stub of a head and tied it off at that spindly
black crack head neck of his. Then he would have gone out
for a couple of slices of pizza before coming back to wipe
the apartment down for prints. And if Jimmy woke up? He
would have had him committed for trying to kill himself.
The police arrived in about 10 minutes and Hero felt lucky
because the cop doing all the talking wasn’t too interested
in anything but getting out of there.
“She just got out of detox- she went to the store – she
must’ve copped,” Hero knew that if he sounded just a little
upset and jumped around in his presentation of the “facts”
that the police would immediately feel secure and in charge
– which they were and he was just trying to steer this crowded
boat with a half dead body in it.“When she came back up she
went into the bathroom for a while and I got worried and
knocked but she didn’t answer. When I went in she was
like this. “
“ What j‘ado with the needles and stuff ? “
“I got nervous so I flushed everything down the toilet
but I don’t want her to get in any trouble or anything. “
The first cop, the one asking the questions, was a round
faced Irishman somewhere in his late 40’s who spoke with
a clean Queens accent. Either that or he’d transplanted
to Long Island or gone to college. He leaned over Ilana
and rubbed the knuckle of his middle finger against the
center of her chest making her groan.
“Wow, what’s that?”
“If they’re not too bad – this usually wakes’em right up
– here – you do it till EMS gets here.”
All of the nerves that ended at the center of llana’s breasts
were stimulated and she groaned again just before
coming to and asking sleepily, “Wha? What happened?”
One good look at the police woke her right up. She was
still a bit groggy and unfocused protesting, “I’m ok, I’m
ok,” but the cop told her the rules were that she had to
go to the hospital to get checked out.
In another 2 minutes the EMTs were taking her blood
pressure and other vitals and also telling her that she had
to go to the hospital and she protested again until Hero
and the cop, combined, broke it down for her: she could
always go in handcuffs if she wanted to.
So down the stairs she went and into the back of a large
truck like ambulance also known as a “meat-wagon.” Hero
let the cops out and told Jimmy he’d be back. Inside the
cab of the ambulance he considered running back upstairs
to get his bag except the cops hadn’t left yet and he was
paranoid; he didn’t want to take the chance of anything
else going wrong seeing as how he’d gotten over so far
– so good. Also, it was too much dope to get caught with
23 bundles was about 3/4’s of an ounce – which would have
equaled 10 to Life at the very least. That had been mistake
#2. Mistake #1 was letting Ilana come over in the first place.
The hospital was quick. The ER was practically empty if
the waiting room was any indication. Hero waited about 2
hours and when Ilana was finally done she sat next to him
while they waited for her paperwork. She said, “You know
I love you?” and that’s when he heard the bell connected
to his Sucker Alarm clanging and wailing away inside his
head again. Hero wasn’t feeling very romantic at that particular
moment so he simply kissed Ilana and was glad to see that
she was ok.
Earlier that year a customer who’d seen Hero twice in
the same evening had mixed dope, Special K and only God
knows what else so that when the designer drug dealers,
whose apartment the young man was crashing at, tried to shake
him awake the next day – they couldn’t. The brains behind
the operation told her boyfriend to carry dude downstairs,
put him in the car and then take him to the ER and say
that they’d been out partying all night and that he’d fallen asleep
in the car. When he woke up – his buddy didn’t and was
he ok? Worked like a charm.
Hero admired that girl. She had shoulder length blond
hair and an upturned nose like all little rich girls should
and pursed full lips. She was awfully cute in a very
sexy way. When Hero’d made a delivery to her one day he
noticed that she had an “X” made of two by fours painted
glossy black bolted to one of the walls of her bedroom.
It had eyebolts for attaching people to it. He never asked
and she never offered.
Hero was truly grateful for her fast thinking – too many
customers knew that the kid had been up to see him
at another client’s apartment that he was using over on
the West Side. He watched his P’s and Q’s for a while but
was worried about some of the kid’s friends who were
nothing more than a brazen bunch of snobby, herb dealing
white boys with dreadlocks, tattoos, and too many piercings.
He wouldn’t put it past them to try and pipe him from
behind or attempt to perform some other equally honorable
act upon his person – like ratting him out to the cops.
This was indeed the 90’s.
Hero took Ilana home and caught a cab back to Jimmy’s.
The early morning air was damp and chilly and at what
must have been about 4:00 A.M. the scarecrow buzzed him
- At the top of the stairs Jimmy was holding the door open
just barely enough for him to see with one eye through
the crack it made. In frantically hushed tones. he said,
“You’d better get out of here! The police came back here
looking for you! They know your name – they asked me if
I knew you, if I knew who Hero was!”
Tired but not sick, Hero could smell the bullshit – but
– police was police was police.
“Open the door, Jimmy,” he said in a monotone that told
Himself, “I’m gonna kill this clown.”
Once inside with the door locked Hero went to where he’d
left his drugs. They were gone. Jimmy fretted on the opposite
side of the cluttered studio. Before Hero could get word one
out of his mouth Jimmy said, “I flushed it down the toilet.”
Now Hero’s bullshit alarm broke from an overload of excessive
and outrageous bullshit.
“I saved a bundle for you so you wouldn’t be sick, I was
afraid, they said they were coming back …. “
“Gimme the bundle.”
Jimmy handed him the bundle of heroin with his arm fully
extended and torso pulled back, cringing like he was
feeding a rabid dog in the worst performance of fright that Hero
had ever seen.
“Tell you what, Jimmy, I’m gonna’ call my connection and
then we’re gonna’ see what happens.”
With mock terror so pathetic that it was beginning to
piss Hero off almost as much as his missing drugs, Jimmy
stammered, “Oh, no, what’s he going to do? Is he going to
break my legs?”
“Relax, it’s not him you have to worry about, Jimmy, it’s
- I’m responsible for that material.”
Hero called his man, told him what had happened and said
he would probably be needing more product for tomorrow because Jimmy wasn’t too bright right about then – and he’d rather be safe than sorry. When he hung up, Jimmy was still doing his “Chicken Little” routine. Hero wanted to kill him dead
right there on the spot but there were too many complications
not the least of which was his dope. The words “stupid”
and “nigger” kept coming to the forefront of his mind.
“Where’s my shit, Jimmy?”
“I told you – I flushed it all down the toilet – I swear,”
his voice rising gradually so as to alert his neighbors.
“Why you ugly little bitch,” Hero muttered to himself
and shook his head; he hadn’t even laid a finger on him
yet. Motherfucker, he thought, he’ll rat and he’s letting
me know it before I break a chair leg off in his ass and
then knock his little yellow teeth down his throat with
the dirty end.
“Lower your voice, Jimmy.”
“But I told you!!”
“Don’t make me search your apartment,” Hero said. It was
only a studio but Jimmy had so much shit crammed into it
plus a short walk-in closet that was waist high full of
clothing that Hero suspected he’d collected off the street.
He was too tired and so he fronted – trying to scare the
little faggot into giving up the remaining 22 bundles. He
started searching and suddenly Jimmy threw on his jacket
and announced, “I’m going out to get some beer.”
But the only place he was going was to a pay phone to
call the cops and Hero knew it, too.
“Wrong act, Jimmy. Besides – you’re not going anywhere.”
Jimmy practically screamed, “I TOLD YOU, I flushed the
DRUGS DOWN TOILET!! Now you should LEAVE!!”
Hero weighed all his options as best he could without
any rest; he wasn’t too worried about the money. He could
make up the $1,300 he owed for the package in 3 days and
without breaking a sweat either. Hero promised Jimmy that
if he didn’t give him the 22 bundles he would not only
make an example out of him but also hurt him very, very
badly in the process.
“OK, Jimmy. You can play your stupid little games if you
want to – but here’s the deal: If you don’t call me to return
at least 20 of those bundles by noon today – you are going
to be one sorry faggot – no one told you to go flush anything
down any fuckin’ toilet, so, even if you did, which I don’t
believe you did, SHUT-UP! I’m not finished talking yet
you lying fuckin’ bitch – if you did flush’em? Tough shit,
asshole – you just bought’em, so either shit me 20 bundles
by noon, or come up with $1,300 in cash. And that’s not
counting my lost time and profit spent fucking around with
your pathetic ass, you sorry fuckin’ moron.”
And with that Hero turned around and broke-out, got himself
a room in The St. Mark’s Hotel and crashed.
Six and a half hours later he went back to Jimmy’s because
the asshole had beeped him: it was around 12:00P.M. Only
the jerk-off didn’t have his dope for him. Instead, he was
talking mad shit about how he was going to call the police,
“If you don’t leave me alone!” Where upon hearing such
threats, Hero, still very tired and definitely not in the
mood, demoed Jimmy’s entire kitchen alcove – broke everything.
Jimmy loved to cook so Hero flipped over a serving
cart full of china, flatware, and glasses telling him,
“Good! You do that, Asshole! And when they get here –
you show’em this!” and then he flipped the cart creating
such a cacophony of breaking glass and dishes that it was
deafening. Then he broke every dish on the floor some more
by stomping on them with his boots. When he was done he
grabbed Jimmy by the nape of his skinny neck until the punk
cried sissy tears that pissed him off so badly that he bitched
slapped him 3 or 4 times fighting back a very strong
desire to beat the thief to his literal death. He half dragged
the liar into the bathroom and held his face in front of
the mirror and pointed out that his eyes were pinned.
“You don’t look very dope sick to me, Jimmy!” Hero barked
in his ear making Jimmy wince so that he shriveled up and
yelled, “OW!” too early though, like a real sissy-boy “OW!”
when Hero bounced his head off of the bathroom door.
“Where’s my shit?! huh, Jimmy?!”
“I told you,” he cried but Hero cut him off, telling
him, “Shut the fuck-up!” and continued to bang his forehead
against the wooden door just hard enough to bruise him up
a bit. He wanted to torture Jimmy whether he’d flushed the
shit down the toilet or not but was frightened that the
bitch would tell and fuck up his whole program. (So far
the cops didn’t even know that Hero existed.) He thought
of filling up the bathtub with ice cubes and cold water
and then forcing Jimmy to lay in it for a few minutes but
the temptation to drown the cocksucker was just too great.
Hero knew that he might not be able to help himself. If
there had been an armchair he could’ve tied the loser to
it and then duct taped his hands and fingers so that the
spread digits steadied his nails and they would be easier
to access with the burning ember of a lit cigarette – but
it was always the same – if he didn’t kill him he’d tell.
“Fuckin’ New York!” he screamed at Jimmy who looked as
if he’d just seen Lucifer on bad acid. “It’s not enough to
to spend all fucking day cutting you up, you son-of-a-bitch,
and then all night cleaning up!”
Hero had often scared people into paying when they’d tried
to beat him but they usually had some kind of backbone
and common sense – not like this cum drunk, homo-ass, crack
smoking, invertebrate rat fuck.
“It’s all relative,” he once joked after an associate
had watched him scare someone into paying some $ they’d
“forgotten” to give him for a front. It was his personal
“Theory Of Relativity” at work.
“Relative to what, Hero?”
“Relative to my foot in that motherfucker’s ass if I didn’t
get my money!”
And they both laughed so hard that they doubled over.
But today? Today the “Theory Of Relativity” wasn’t applicable
so Hero could only get away with breaking up some of Jimmy’s
He told him, “Ya’ know this ain’t over – you retard –
I’m still gonna’ get you personally for this.”
Jimmy whimpered and fretted and told Hero, “Just leave!”
sobbing over his precious china and broken brick-a-brack
now good for nothing but kitty-litter. Hero had guessed
right that another version of the “Theory Of Relativity”
was at work here. This was called Hero’s “Special Theory
Of Relativity.” The one in which the junkie’s desire for
dope became of greater importance than anything else – including his or her own personal safety. Hero’d been there and
knew that some people never came back. He’d get Jimmy later
he told himself, having worked some of his leftover anger
into a more manageable instrument than it had been before.
“Smell’ya later, Jimmy!” he said cheerfully and laughed
at the pathetic stick figure kneeling to clean up the
mess Hero had made. Halfway out the door, Hero turned back,
“ And, oh , just one thing, Jimmy. When I get you,” and
Hero winked at him, “just promise you won’t tell, ok? You
don’t want to give the shit back? No problem, Jimmy; but
one way or another ya’ gotta’ pay, Jimbo. Later, pal.”
And with that Hero whistled all the way down the stairs
while a few of Jimmy’s neighbors peeked out of cracked door
jambs to observe the last act of the spectacle they’d been
listening to for the past hour and a half. Jimmy sniffled
and closed his door with a quiet “thump.”
Three months later at about 5:00 P.M. on a cold February evening Hero was riding his bicycle all bundled up and
ready to make his rush hour deliveries. He had on long-johns,
long legged black spandex bike pants, 3 layers of pullovers
with a Gortex shell, gloves made especially for riding
in the cold, a 2 color, reversible neoprene face mask and
his very favorite wooly cap from Peru, knit thick with a
beautifully rich purple and white close stitch.
By no extreme coincidence Jimmy was crossing the street
while Hero made circles in the crosswalk waiting for the
light to change.
“Hero, is’at you? I have $40, sell me four bags,” Jimmy
bleated sounding too much like a sick calf ready to die.
Hero ignored him glad that the asshole wasn’t sure if it
was him or not. The second the light turned green he
rode off and bought a couple of McFood’s cheesy burgers
and waited for Jimmy to get a head start Back outside
he rode behind him from just under a block away while he
finished his burgers and a small cola which he’d slipped
into the water bottle carrier bolted to his bike frame.
One block. Two blocks. At the third block he got closer
and when Jimmy was about 25 ft. away from his apartment
building – on the fourth and final block – Hero
opened a 4 inch serrated folding knife, rode right
up behind Jimmy doing about 15 mph and stabbed him as hard
as he could dead in his left ass cheek – hitting bone as
he did – and then pulled the blade out just as smoothly
as it had gone in and rode off the sidewalk with the weapon
under his right hand pressed securely against the handlebar
grip of his mountain bike. When Hero hit the street Jimmy
was just ending his greatest performance ever: a blood curdling
and genuinely heartfelt, “OUWOO!!” that let Hero know
it was definitely time to burn the road up. The block was empty in the cold gray twilight except for one Section 8 janitor who was tying up some garbage bags halfway back to Avenue C. Hero cut left down the avenue and up 11th Street where he dropped the knife in a sewer – without stopping – and hightailed it to the hotel where he’d been staying over on the West Side.
Hero avoided the East Village for a few weeks but only
to the extent that he didn’t hang out too much and it was
just as well because the temperature was really low. He
didn’t learn that he had a warrant for the stabbing for
almost 6 months. Jimmy spent 5 days in the hospital – all
of them on his stomach – and another 10 weeks without sitting
on anything. The miserable rat fuck identified him in a
photo line-up and the detectives and his legal aid
attorney told the judge that he had rescued Jimmy several
times from rogue crack dealers he owed money to and that
ever since he’d had a terrible crush on him only he wasn’t
interested and had eventually let the crack dealers exact
their pound of flesh. Now Jimmy was trying to punish Hero
for rejecting his overtures by blaming him for the new hole
in his ass. Hero almost lost it when his lawyer told the
Judge the story then congratulated himself and smiled.
Proof positive that the biggest lie was usually the best.
Bail was set at $5,000 for the drugs and $250 for the hole
in Jimmy’s ass.
A few months later Hero’s connection caught up with Jimmy
and after a short conversation he not only volunteered to
drop the charges – but to move back to Atlanta as well.
Ilana went back to Israel and stayed about 5 months before
returning to the East Village. (It was an addiction itself.)
Hero still thought about her selfish ass almost every day.
Hero? Well, we all know where he is. He’s still sitting
inside a 6’xl0′ cell in Attica but it’s not over yet. In fact, it has
“You better believe it, motherfucker.”