Elster's World

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Interview - Part I

Cornelious Brown gave most career criminals a bad name. He was the kind of guy you instinctively walked across the steet from, even in broad daylight. Cornelious, or C-Brown as he was known on the street was a two-time loser. He'd been down the road for selling crack to two undercover police officers in a low rent bar on the West Side then did a second, two year bit for breaking a pool cue across the face of the poor guy who beat him at billiards and putting him in a coma for three months.

Brown was out on Seventh Avenue and Thirty-fouth street, across from Penn Station. The late September sun was still strong and warm midday, but Brown was wearing a leather car coat over a black t-shirt and dark blue jeans. His skin was black too, the color of charcoal, and his ensemble made him stand out like a malignant shadow moving against a light blue sky.

He bought a ziploc bag full of sliced mangos from a Mexican street vendor and surveyed the crowd. Despite the season, the streets were packed with tourists, all desperately trying to look as though they were not intimidated by the never ending rush of New York's bare wildness.

Brown spotted two pretty girls at the corner, not quite yet college age, who were staring confusedly at a subway map. They each had one small suitcase on wheels standing at the sidewalk near their feet. They dressed almost in uniform, tank tops that didn't make it to the navel and tight jeans stretched over thin legs. Two white fish, he thought. He patted down his tight cornrows and walked over, the white flash of his smile a stark contrast to his darkness.

"You ladies need some help?" he asked, smile locked in place like a rictus. He kept himself between the girls and the crush of people, as though he were cutting off a lifeline.

"Um, no we're ok, one of the girls responded, refusing to make eye contact.

"You don't look fine to me," he replied, his voice full of false sympathy. "You look lost. You girls hungry?"

They looked at each other in surprise, as though the man in black was a mind reader or magician. In reality, they gave off an out-of-money, low-rent tourist vibe that was almost like the strong scent of phermones.

And no one could spot prey as well as a lifetime street hustler like Cornelious Brown. The hook was set and now it was time to slam the trap. "You know, he ventured, almost timidly. "I got a place for kids like you. Kids who are hungry and with no place to stay." If it was even possible, his smile widened, like a grinning black shark. "Let me take you there."

"I dunno," one of the girls replied.

"What's the matter, you not supposed to talk to strangers? You're big girls now. You know safe from stupid don't you?" They nodded with offended looks. Now it was time to reel them in. "And I'm safe, you know that too, right?"

Brown was so focused on his next meal ticket, that he didn't see the two shadows over his shoulder until it was too late. A hand was on his arm, spinning him away from the girls, before he could even think. He found himself staring at two homicide dicks he recognized from his many stays in the local pen.

"Well, well, what do we have here?" the taller of the two cops said. He was in his early forties, his back hair starting to go gray at the edges. "You wouldn't be trying to pull anything on these nice young ladies, now would you Cornelious?"

"Whatchu' talking about Murphy?" he said, the street back in his voice. "I aint done nothin'. I was just talkin' here, no laws agaist that. Back up out my space."

Murphy looked over at his partner. "Get a load of this guy, Charlie. He wants us out of his space. In a minute I'm gonna really be in your Cornhole buddy. So you better shut your face." He grabbed Brown by the arm and spun him around to face the two now terrified girls. "Take a good look at this mug ladies. The only place he wants to take you is to a place where you will never been seen again. Ol' Cornelious here's been arrested three times for trying to turn nice young ladies like yourselves into heroin addicts and hookers. Stay away from strangers in this town, this isn't Butthole, Kansas. Now beat it." The two girls grabbed their suitcases and took off up Seventh Avenue.

"Don't you think you were a littel hard on them Murph?" his partner asked as he eyed the two fleeing girls.

Murphy shrugged. I'd rather scare the crap out of them than zip them up in body bags," he said. "As for you shitheel," he said to Brown. "You're coming in with us for some questions."

"Questions? You got a warrant or something boss? You cain't just be takin me in dumbass. I got rights too man."

Murphy looked at his partner and shook his head incredulously . "He's got rights. You're a materila witness to a homicide, you big black moron."

"Homi..., what you talkin' man? What homicide?"

"Get a load of this guy Murph, he's a real comedian" Charlie Spangler said. "Hey Cornelious, you remember Vernon Hart? You used to run drugs with him out in the projects, selling dope to ten year olds. And when I say used to, I mean like last month. Well, someone decided to decorate his apartment with Vernon's brain matter. But you wouldn't know anyhting about that, right? You coming quietly or do we need to cuff your ass?"


  • Elster,

    A gut yor. I have to say, i eally like this story. I like the characters, very believable and realistic. I like the dialogue, honestly some of your best work so far 9that I have seen). i wish i were a publisher to give you a break, but for now i can only offer my praises.

    By Blogger The Real Neo, at 2:57 AM  

  • You have a signature style, Elster. Sort of a cross between 1940s hard-boiled detective novel and contemporary intrigue. Push it harder.

    By Blogger MC Aryeh, at 11:01 AM  

  • You want harder, you have to help me get my book published.

    By Blogger Elster, at 11:36 AM  

  • I'm back after a long time of not reading you. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy your writing...

    By Blogger Dayli, at 4:18 PM  

  • elster,

    shana tova to you as well. g-d willing the new year will bring your avodas hashem to new levels and your writing as well and hopefully you will get published.

    By Blogger The Real Neo, at 5:37 PM  

  • Great stuff. Gotta get you an agent, man.

    By Blogger brianna, at 9:30 PM  

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