We were staying in Queens on one of our trips. It was Vivian Williams’ apartment. It was a very nice neighborhood as far as those kinds of neighborhoods go. It was clean and family oriented. It was not as rundown as Jackson Heights for example. It was old, but had a family flare to it. There were bushes on the sidewalks and some small trees as well. Not many, but one of the few places where there was some greenery.
I remember one night when I walked out in the street in my pajamas and began talking with all kinds of people. All the people hung in the streets because the air conditioning either didn’t exist, or was too expensive, or didn’t work. In the evening you just hung in the streets. I would walk up and down the street around our apartment talking to all kinds of folks in the streets. These were not apartment buildings that were stacked. They were all connected, but were not high-rises.
One evening Brook Sutters was coming back to the apartment with me. We got off from our ride, whatever that was, I don’t remember and we were walking down the street toward our apartment. There were about five kids or so leaning, sitting on/around a car. They were talking smack. For some reason I began talking smack with them. They were talking real big like they were going to beat somebody up or destroy this or that. I jumped in there and began mocking them, threatening them and talking smack as well. Brook was freaked out. He was not raised on the street. He didn’t know they were not serious. Though my language was different and my accent was really different and they knew I was not from NY we were all in there talking it up. I took a stick away from this boy and began telling him that I would beat him with it. I jacked him up against the car. It was a surreal scene for Brook. He had no idea which way was up. I had to tell him after we left that we were goofing off.
During that week, maybe that night, we were walking down the street, Brook and me. There was a gang at the end of the street and I walked up to them unannounced and began talking a similar smack. Brook was really scared at this. He had no clue. It was frightening. We jawed around for awhile, threatened one another and then begin talking about where I was from and what I was doing in NY.
It didn’t matter that we were from different “streets”. We were from the street and it was discernible between two guys raised on the street even though my street was Olive Branch Road in the country of Monroe, NC and theirs was somewhere in the maddening world of Queens, NY.