January 2, 1978
So here I am face-to-face with this pretty girl who I don’t even know.
I told you my heart is racing, right? Well if you’ve been keeping up, you know from my last journal entry what’s going on.
It’s gotta be close to eleven by now, but who knows, I don’t own a watch. Been out here for a while though. I had no idea that this shit was going to happen.
When you go out to work on your shooting at night, in the dark, early January, you don’t think about running into a pretty girl. Especially in a different neighborhood. Did you think I just shoot in Holy Name’s schoolyard? Hell no. Some nights, in the summer I hop on my ten-speed bike and ride down to Tillary Park. It’s on Jay Street, downtown Brooklyn. Yeah I know, it’s dangerous and all but I don’t care. I’m there to play ball. You ever been to Tillary Park at night? My friend Pit once told me, “Red, hope you carry a pistol when you go there.”
Anyway, wonder what time Maria has to go home?
Church Avenue is not that far away. That’s where she lives.
But it’s Friday night, everyone hangs out later on the weekends. Shit, sometimes I am out until three in the morning. Actually broke night a few times.
It’s getting colder and colder though. Usually we hang out in the subway station or even someone’s basement in the winter.
I’m nervous, real nervous. Almost to a point I am shivering from being cold, frightened, and excited.
This girl is gorgeous. Dark hair, great body, awesome smile. Don’t tell anyone but she’s prettier than my girlfriend.
Maria sits on top of the stone table, there’s a few of them actually. The old men play checkers on them during the day.
Her feet are resting on the wooden bench in front of her. She’s facing East 5th street. Her Chuck’s are wet from the snow. Her jeans look great. She’s looking at me. She looks real happy. Wonder what she’s thinking? The sparkle in her eye is incredible. It’s like there’s a diamond in one of them. The streetlight outside on East 5th street lights up our little area. The shine helps with my late night shooting.
“So, where ya live?” Maria asks.
Like an idiot I’m sitting on the wooden bench, so I am below her, she is looking down on me. She looks cool sitting on the table. I should hop up on the table next to her.
“Up the hill,” I answer.
“Holy Name boy, huh?”
“Yeah, you can say that,” I answer as again, I look over my shoulder out towards East 5th street.
“I did say that,” she says and she also giggles.
I love her personality. I could see her breath come out of her mouth. Her lips are incredible.
But you know what? I just know there’s a guy coming by to meet her.
Why me? I gotta come up with something and get the fuck out of here.
“Why do you keep looking out there?”
Oh shit, she caught me looking out onto the street. Embarrassing.
“I don’t know, just lookin’ I guess.”
“What school you go to?” Maria asks.
Now I was stuck. She’s asking a million questions. Why does she wanna know all this? What do I tell her?
If I tell her I dropped out and I don’t go to school she’ll get up and walk away.
She’ll laugh at me.
She’ll want nothing to do with me.
Girls don’t want to hang out with drop-outs.
So I bullshit.
“I go to Jay.”
“Oh cool, I have some friends that go there.”
We’re staring at each other. Not saying a word.
“Where do you go?” I ask as I surprise myself with the question.
I’m thinking to myself, Dewey?
Where the fuck is that?
Do they have a basketball team?
“It’s down by Coney Island,” Maria says.
Gotta be honest, I’ve never heard of it.
Couple of kids walk by us.
“Yo Maria, what’s up?” a kid shouts.
There’s about four of them. I don’t recognize them.
They all look at me. One kid can’t stop staring at me.
“Hey what’s up!” Maria shouts back as they walk out of the park, down East 5th towards Ft. Hamilton Parkway. I can hear them laughing. One kid looks back at us.
I feel like saying, “What the fuck you lookin’ at?”
Here’s the deal; I can feel it. They’re going to go tell her boyfriend. Tell him that she’s hanging out with some kid from Holy Name up at the park.
I gotta get outta here. I’m sure they’ll be pulling up soon, ready to kick my ass.
“I gotta go,” I say to Maria.
“Oh really, well okay then.”
I stand up, she stays seated on the table.
“Nice meeting you,” she says.
I reach down to pick up my ball, walk on the court to take one more shot. Whenever I leave a court I always have to make my last shot.
As I get out onto the court, I notice she followed me. I dribble out to the right wing. Maria is standing under the basket. I look at her then at the rim. Thinking to myself, I better make this jumper and get my ass back up the hill before those kids come back with Maria’s boyfriend. They’ll probably come back with bats. I heard the Ft. Hamilton boys don’t mess everyone.
“Go ahead, let it fly,” Maria says as she turns her back to me, in rebounding position.
I rise up, shoot the ball and it goes through the netless rim.
Maria tracks the ball down and tosses it back to me.
“Nice shot, Red.”
She puts the emphasis on Red.
I feel so good now. Better than i thought a few minutes ago. Someone actually said nice shot to me. I don’t get that often.
Now I feel like staying with her.
But there’s no way that’s happening.
Maria passes the ball and I say good-bye.
“Hope we see each other again,” she shouts as I walk out of the park and towards the bridge.
She must think I’m an idiot.
As I head up the street, walking through the snow and make my way onto the overpass, I don’t dare look back. I even walked a little faster.
With my luck those kids will chase me, and kick my ass.