Growing up in Windsor Terrace most of us spent time hanging out on a stoop. If you didn’t, I feel for you. Even though I grew up in a railroad apartment on the avenue, I had many friends that lived in private homes with a stoop. Over on 16th street they had apartment buildings with stoops. We hung out there too. I was lucky to have great friends with stoops so we spent a ton of time sitting and bullshitting morning, noon and night.
Starting today I’m going to write short fiction stories about hanging out on the stoop. Keep in mind these pieces are works of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Everyone in the neighborhood called him HAK, it was an acronym for “High as a Kite.”
When you saw him on the street corner he looked like a zombie from the film, “Night of the Living Dead.” As he stood there his head would be facing down towards the ground and he’d lean back and forth like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The amazing thing was that he never fell over. It was not too hard to see he was, high as a kite.
It was a late Sunday afternoon in April, somewhere close to five. Me, Bobby and JC were sitting on JC’s stoop. If we weren’t in the yard playing basketball or hanging out on the corner, we were on the stoop. We hung out on so many stoops I swear I thought I had hemorrhoids. HAK lived on the top floor of JC’s two-story brownstone.
“Hey what’s up fella’s?” HAK said as he opened the front door and stood at the top step.
HAK was a cool dude; everyone in the neighborhood liked him. Unfortunately he had a bad drug habit. HAK was not very tall, matter of fact he was one of the shortest guys in the neighborhood. He was in his late-20’s with long dark hair and a laid back attitude. HAK hung out on the park side with a bunch of people from the neighborhood. He was wearing blue jeans and a black leather jacket. I loved talking to him about sports (that is when he wasn’t high). HAK was well versed in baseball and basketball. What impressed me most was his knowledge of basketball players, HAK knew where a lot of the NBA players attended college.
“What’s up HAK”? I said to him as he appeared.
“Yo Red, how’s your mother”? HAK asked as he closed the door behind him.
HAK’s mom and my mom were good friends.
“She’s good,” I answered.
Before moving to JC’s brownstone HAK and his mom lived a few doors down from us up on the avenue. HAK’s mom would sit at the window on the third floor and watch everything going on. If anyone’s language got a bit salty, she’d let them know.
“Watch your language, or I’ll tell your mother,” She said to me one day when I dropped the F-bomb.
Last winter, on a cold and snowy day in January I remember walking into the Deli on the avenue with my boy G-Rock to get some hot chocolate. Whether it was a buttered roll and a coffee, or even a ham and cheese sandwich on white with mustard, you always received quality service at the deli.
HAK was standing in the back of the store by the beer refrigerator looking around to see who was watching him.
“Hey what’s up fella’s,” HAK said to us as we walked in and got on-line. HAK looked all messed up. We weren’t sure what drugs he was on but whatever he took that day, he was out of it.
Out of the corner of my eye I watched HAK open the fridge and grab a quart of cold Bud. HAK looked around the store again then tucked the bottle inside his green parka jacket. The naive clerk behind the counter didn’t even notice HAK, he was too busy slicing lunchmeat for a customer. It was the common strategy of a thief. Wait until the clerk turned their back.
HAK walked out the front door home free. He didn’t even bother to say good-bye.
After we got our drinks and walked out on the avenue we spotted HAK across the street.
“Yo HAK, why’d ya boost that beer?” I shouted.
G-Rock was laughing his ass off as HAK acted like he didn’t hear anything. He kept his head down and kept walking.
Bobby was sitting directly in front of the front door blocking the entrance. HAK was standing behind him trying to get by. Bobby was a wise-ass kid who had a lot to say. But give him a smack and he quickly shut up. Bobby was a good kid from a good family but like everyone else, he liked to break balls. He was a solid baseball player too and one of the faster kids in the neighborhood. He was a speed demon on the base paths. Like me, Bobby lived up on avenue.
“Watch out,” HAK said to Bobby.
“What?” Bobby asked.
“You heard me, watch out, get outta the fuckin’ way shit-head.”
“Fuck you, climb over me,” Bobby answered back.
HAK was pissed off. Me and JC glanced up at HAK and boy was he mad.
Without warning, or climbing over Bobby, HAK kicked Bobby square in the ribs.
“YO, WHAT THE FUCK MAN!” Bobby yelled.
“MOVE!” HAK screamed as he dug his black leather boot into Bobby’s ribs.
Me and JC both laughed.
Bobby didn’t find it funny as he grabbed his side and rolled over; he began to cry.
Holding his side there were tears rolling down his cheeks; seeing Bobby’s pain, we stopped laughing.
We stood up on the stoop staring at Bobby thankful it wasn’t one of us HAK kicked.
As HAK walked down the stairs we quickly made room for him, giving him a clear path. We didn’t want to get kicked or even punched. HAK was pissed.
“Why didn’t you move outta the way?” JC asked Bobby as HAK made his way down the block towards tenth avenue.
Bobby was in too much pain to answer.
I sat there staring at Bobby as he kept on crying.
“Yeah you asshole, why didn’t you move outta his way?” I said.
“FUCK YOU BOTH!” Bobby shouted at us.
I looked at JC and we both laughed again.
“That shit ain’t funny Red, I’ll kick you in the fuckin’ ribs and see how it feels.”
“Yeah, yeah, go ahead and try it you fucking shrimp,” I answered back.
Bobby tried to get up, but the minute he got up, he fell back down clutching his side. He sat back down and let out another scream.
JC looked at me, “He’s not fucking around, he’s really hurt.”
Bobby sat there and kept on crying like a baby.
“Fuck him, let’s get outta here,” I said.
Me and JC walked away from the stoop leaving Bobby alone.