-scale=1.0,maximum-scale=1.0" : "width=1100"' name='viewport'/> Plum Street Chili: Introit

Friday, July 24, 2015


Fra Angelico
I keep baker's hours. Snoring at nine and up at three ante meridian. My front step is on the pavement. What happens on the street happens twelve feet from my desk. Dawn happening. Peace.

I began to feel vibrations in the ether. Maria de los Dolores passing: earrings flashing, bracelets clashing, accompanying cherubs jiggy jigging. Everybody calls her Lola.

I am fond of Lola because she is the only woman I ever met who is louder and crazier than I am. I find that soothing. Everyone else runs when they see her coming.

Lola Maria de los Dolores starts her circuit around ten o'clock most days. Big disturbance in the pattern means big news. It is the Cherubs. Little fuckers tell her everything. So I opened my door.

"Baby Dee is dead. You got a stamp? Give me fifty cents and I get my own stamp."

Baby Dee and I, we had a thing. Knees. I would hobble around to the bodega on my (I can still walk and get my own coffee) mission every morning at 7 a.m. On bad days, Dee would hug me this hug that saved me every bad painful time. Dee ruined his knee being a  He would stop detailing some Cadillac and hug the fucking pain out of me. I am like a child. I thought it was forever. I can walk now and Baby Dee is gone to Jesus.

Lola jiggy jigged away, Cherubs in tow and one dollar richer.

I sat until the light told me it was coffee hour. I meet all my neighbors at the bodega, one time or another. When I rounded the corner onto Tangerine Street, I saw the Commodore and Shorty.  The Commodore looks like a mocha stork. Just as tall as can be. I call him the Commodore because he is a sharp dresser. Always looks like he is about to go sailing. Natty, you know what I mean? Shorty is short and short.

"What happened to Baby Dee?"
"Maybe you don't know Baby Dee worked with these young druggy kids. One kid freaked and Baby Dee was trying to calm him down. Boy shot him 4 times. Shorty found him in the morning. Didn't you, Shorty?" Shorty nodded.

Baby Dee was the Street Mayor on Tangerine and Orthodox. He had a small space in the old Victorian double rooming house street pharmacy SRO rotel. Did janitor work to defray his rent. He ran a car washing and detailing and nickle selling business on the street in front of his building until water froze on his hands . I would see him doing Mercedes and Cadillacs. My neighbors love cars.

People drop by to sit on lawn chairs and talk to Baby Dee. He was good advice and love of life on the corner. And he was unable to bend his left leg at all. Dee was lame, black as a frying pan, handsome and all his teeth were filled with gold.

"What can I do?"
"Funeral on Thursday at the Baptist Church at three o'clock. They started putting candles and flowers around his door. Shorty put up a balloon say PEACE." Shorty nodded.

I keep walking toward coffee at the bodega, I had to pass Baby Dee's altar. It grew over days. Candles, flowers, notes.

Robbers shot the clerk behind the counter at the bodega five years ago. Then they went straight home. Cops had them in 45 minutes. We got new owners of course. They spent their first year looking fierce.

Everybody in the world goes to the bodega just the same. The bodega is our oasis in a food and sundries desert. I get mango ice cream and Dominican beef stew. I get the heat. I get succulent roasted pork leg. I get fly tapes, socks, lottery tickets and EZwider. I get the story.

Stand in the same spot long enough and everyone in the world will come by. Truth.. I once stood on the same corner as Aristotle Onassis. Ari walked East and I stayed West and neither of us gave a shyte about the other. It was a timeless moment. But I digress.