Back on familiar ground, the streets of The Lower East Side of New York. I had two things in mind, to find some get high and get back to my crib. I usually copped at Alan and Chrysie streets but “operation pressure point” had recently inhabited the entire area and flooded it with police presence. I got a tip from a fellow user that “Executive”, the best dope in town, had relocated to second street and first avenue. Finding good dope in the city was a game of hide and seek and once you understand how the game is played there are certain indicators look for and I found a steerer who steers people to the product.
Off to in search of some buzz, walking down 3rd street, no particular reason just a random route. I had just crossed 2nd ave when I spotted a somewhat unusual looking van. A used telephone company van in faded drab olive green color. Unusual and familiar because it’s the same kind of van my buddy Jim had when we got busted in South Carolina during a stopover on our way to Arizona. No big deal, a thirty day stint in a local jail filled with muscle bound angry Barny Fifes. Thing is Jim had some money wired an payed his fine leaving me there to pay my debt to society alone. Thirty days later I was put out on the street somewhere in SC, I think the name of the town was Inbred Cenral, with no money and no backpack of possessions which left with Jim and the van. My friend Judas Jim up and left me, taking my worldly possessions in a knapsack, and hit out I assume for Arizona with his girlfriend but without me. Alone and penniless a new odyssey began as I hitch hiked my way back to New York fuming the entire three days about my Judas friend. It was an adventure I’ll never forget, and I met a number of decent people along the way that restored my waning faith in humanity. But that was water under the bridge now.
At least it was until the sight of that van conjured up dark memories and returned me to a very angry place. Adrenaline pumped as I thought, “Holy shit, Jims fucking van right here in my city. If he’s around here I shall reign down upon that piece of shit all my vengeance.” A closer look was needed. A tell tale sign would be the custom job Jim had made in the van for his Prima Donna junkie girlfriend. He had taken the passenger seat out and replaced it with a nice comfortable chair his brother had adjusted to fit in place of the standard seat. A semi swivel leather chair meant for a living room modified for his mainlining princess. If I find that in the van I will know that Jimbo Judas is very soon to receive an overdue ass kicking of epic proportion. An unfamiliar devious smile spread across my cheeks, not normally one to engage in such trivial emotional payback, but those thirty days were tough, getting my ass beat by hick sadist cops every other day, then starving and alone in a town 6000 miles from home. The memories have been dormant for some time now but now the evil gargoyle of beat down memories quickly percolated to the boiling point in an instant. Payback is gonna be one helluva bitch for that young shit stain.
Right up to the back window I head, cupping my hands above my eyes to reduce the glare. I wanted to get a real close look to make sure this was the scumbags van. My heart was racing and my hands were shaking. But as I got a good view it was no go. Just a normal two seats in the van. Disappointed I steppe back but something was nudging at the corner of my eye. I felt someone staring, no, not staring, glaring at me from across the street. I thought maybe it was the vans owner so I quickly stepped back an that’s when I noticed the bumper stickers. First one said “Free Sonny Barger“, the next said “Don’t let your tongue get your teeth knocked out” and the third simply aid “1%er” with a skull and crossbones. Free Sonny Barger, the Hell Angel busted in Cali, 1%er a bike gang term, knock your teeth out self explanatory, and the distinct sense that the overlord of hell himself was across the street firing bolts of pissed off eyeball electricity at me from his burning figure. I peeked around in front of the van. “Oh Fuck!”
A row of Harley Davidson motorcycles were parked in front of the van and went on for at least 30 scoots. I swallowed hard and peered innocently at the menacing glare from across the street and he wasn’t alone. Three men, not the three wise men but three burly greasy mean and ugly bikers stood staring at me with their arms crossed in a doorway. I looked behind them to a sight that drained every droplet of blood from my head. A red brick building with a black door and arch, a skull at the keystone of the arch and the words Hells Angels New York City in red letters. A mural style picture of a devil with a trident in one hand and flames in the other. I was staring at the entrance of the headquarters of the Hells Angels, new York City Chapter. They didn’t look friendly nor looking to give me an invitation for tea. The three men walked much too quickly towards me.
The ground shook with each step these three gorillas took but not nearly as much as I was shaking. I blurted out what a horrible misunderstanding this was but I think it sounded more like, “Oh hey wait, no, please, I it, I umm, someone with a van, no please don’t do tha….gurgle gurgle t’fuuu tooie.” as I tried to beg for my life through a split lip and maybe some lost teeth. It was just one of the dudes hitting me, the other two laughing and taunting me in unrecognizable English. After repeated punches to my face as I lay crumble on the ground he reeled back an introduced my ribs to his motorcycle boot which for as far as I Can guess was “just for good measure.” The three of them stood over me laughing like idiots although I wouldn’t tell them that to their faces. I assume reading is beyond they’re level of education so I feel pretty safe writing about it now. I thought they were going to pound me into a slow and painful death but the beating portion of the event was apparently over. One of the Neanderthal bikers grabbed me and picked me up like a sack of potatoes then sat me on top of a garbage pail. “Now what the fuck was you doing with your eyeballs in our brothers cage?” It was hard to speak as I was choking on my own blood and all I could think about was how much everything hurt but I did my best to lay out my story. When I got to the part where I said I wanted to kick the shit out of the traitor Jim it seemed ironic. I was sure they would punch the shit out of me just for acting arrogant. When it comes to kicking ass their expertise shines.
Luckily for me my tale of woe struck a familiar barbaric chord with my new biker friends. They invited me inside the clubhouse asking for more detail obviously hungry for a good story. Once I had their attention my story telling instincts kicked in. I embellished on my prison stint in South Carolina, stretching my sentence form thirty days to ninety days and included a number of beatings by guards while handcuffed in a chair. I leveled so much anger and distain at authority and my nemesis Jim they began cheering and swore if he ever came to New York they would sever his arteries for me and let me take any spare parts home. I was Scheherazade of the Hells Angels that day coming up with new and more barbaric tales each time as they fed me cheapshit beer while listening intently as if I were reading them a bedtime story.
Eventually they let me clean up and sent me on my way with an open invitation, but I knew I would never be back to accept. Not that they weren’t a fun crowd but chances are they won’t remember me ten minutes after I’m gone, and like a Doberman, you just never know when it may turn and make you its victim. From that point on when I was headed down to that part of the city I would walk blocks out of my way to avoid 3rd street between first and second.