Morris' hat had blown off. It was picked up by King. King didn't put it on his head immediately. It was too big and at first he spent time with the lining, looking at its invisible seams. The label stuck to the inside of the top seemed impossibly old. It cited the address of a store close-by. King knew this because he knew the neighborhood. King delivered whatever had to be delivered at the local bodega. For this King earned 50 cents a delivery, plus tips. Sometimes he made more than 5 dollars just in tips. So far he had saved $50.
"Whatcha doin' with that Jew hat white boy."
"It's notta Jew hat, it's my hat." King didn't know that it was in fact Morris' hat.
"You a Jew lover, that's normal for white people."
King didn't agree. He didn't like Jewish people, he thought they drove poorly and cut people in line at the bank, but they had really nice hats.
Morris was insane with stress. His hat had flown off. In some extremely unlikely twist of fate and wind it had turned the corner, spinning and tilting on its rim like it was in the vortex of a mini-tornado. Indeed it had been in the vortex of a mini-tornado, the kind that can whip around a Brooklyn corner and disappear as fast as it arrived -- a sigh from the stress of perfectly aligned buildings. His hat had flown a really unreasonable distance. Ha had never seen that happen to anyone, so why was it happening to him now? His father had bought the hat, acquiring it at the last of three payments only two weeks ago. Morris was now a man, but he was going to have to continue the rest of the way home looking like a child with his bare head, naked except for his yarmulke. He would take the smaller streets home.
King showed the hat to Jesus. Jesus was the blackest Dominican at school, which gave him the weird power of being black and Dominican at the same time. King was envious of this formidable luck. Jesus agreed, it was a fucking cool hat. First of all it smelled really new. It had what was inarguably new-hat-smell. Neither boy had ever smelled new-hat-smell before but it was unmistakable. It's lush surface was luxury incarnate. It's label was a relic of some unknown age. Jesus said:
"If I beat you I get to keep the hat."
"No fucking way, you can go find your own hat."
"If I beat you I get to wear the hat."
Jesus lost the game but King let him wear the hat anyway. Jesus got to wear it from the basketball court all the way to B-and-H bodega. It actually fit on Jesus because his afro was fairly important. King had brought 2 dollars with him to play Space Invaders. Jesus only had 75 cents. Jesus didn't have a job. King offered Jesus two 2-player games and let him wear the hat during one of them. Jesus got the high score. King played poorly because, he claimed, the hat kept falling in front of his eyes.
Morris had graduated from the Yeshiva. Morris had kissed a girl. Morris was so fucking proud of his hat and so fucking scared of his father's potential reaction to his losing it that he briefly considered walking to and boarding the Franklin Avenue Shuttle and taking it to certain death in middle Bed. Stuy. A guy he knew had once flipped out and taken the shuttle to middle Bed. Stuy. because his father had slapped him for listening to Disco. That guy had been stabbed 13 times and despite being alive was unable to utter even his name. Morris had pushed him around in his wheelchair one day.
Jesus had to be home by 7 because his mother was strict. King had a little more time because he had negotiated 8pm with his mother under the pretext that Jesus was going to help him with his Spanish homework and that Jesus' mother would provide dinner. While it was true that Jesus could have helped King with his Spanish homework, it was also true that neither boy had any intention of working on the homework. Mr. Perez didn't give homework, but mothers didn't need this knowledge. They had 1.5 hours left to do things. They had spent their money on Space Invaders at B-and-H, they had already played basketball... What was there left to do? King suggested that they visit the quasi-abandoned church up by the school. Both boys had already entered the church surreptitiously through the hole in the fence and then the broken basement window.
The street Morris chose had never been chosen before, at least not by Morris. Morris marveled at the fact that he had never walked home this way before and that indeed this street was entirely new to him, despite his having lived more than a decade and a half in the immediate vicinity. For a moment Morris forgot that he was hatless. Among the noteable things he noticed was a wink from the girl behind the counter at the Jamaican food stand. She was black but she had winked at Morris. Morris was sure she had even smiled. What was the meaning of this? Morris had heard stories of outside girls attempting to corrupt the Tribe, as he called it, to himself. Despite this he would never have believed for even a moment that he would ever be lucky enough to run his fingers along the curves of one of these community-wreckers. Could he be wrong? He had the distinct impression she had winked at him, he was sure even -- this moments after he had lost his hat! Morris walked on wondering what this could mean, was she taking him for an impressionable hatless child who would risk all for some fucking outside the herd (Morris' term) -- terrifying as it was, he truly hoped so.
to be continued...
In our next episode:
Morris circles back.
Posted by admin | 20 May 2005 20:50:51