There’s one night I remember. Just before we left New York and struck out for the West Coast. We never did get there, but I guess that’s another story.
We called her Inch, but I think her name was Ingrid. With the straightest long lightest white blond hair and her skin was so white and so thin so you could see a blue tracery in her arms. I think she started hanging with us because of Turk, but he never wanted to pay any attention to her, being busy mostly with himself. She and I spent long hours in the park, talking about her running away, how her family was so straight and hated how she dressed, her smoking, her late nights, and all the usual complaints. She said her boyfriend was in a Heights gang called the Vikings, but we had never heard of them. Why would we? This was the age of gangs, and every neighborhood had one.
So one night, in a rush of nearly hysterical chatter we ascertained that Inch was being held captive by her evil grandmother, or something like that, and we made a plan, centered around a phone number Turk had written on a corner of a paper stuffed in a chest pocket.
So we went down to rescue her. Me, Turk, Allen, and fat Mickey. We had vowed to rescue this princess from her family. We had her phone number and the plan was simple. We would call when we got off the subway in Brooklyn and tell her to come down to her door. Then we would scoop her up and protect her all the way back to the subway, and thence to the Village where we would stash her in Sullivan Street Basement (yeah, another story there, for sure).
It didn’t go quite as planned. We got out at Smith Street and headed for her house. There was a group of guys hanging out in Carroll Park and as soon as we passed they followed us. We walked faster. They started to after us, yelling. As I looked over my shoulder I could see bats over flying feet. We screamed at each other to run and made it about a block further before one of them slashed Turk down his back, right through the heavy leather jacket, blood coming when he turned to try to look. We kept running right into a bar on the corner.
That was a sight. Outside were about a dozen Vikings in black leather. Inside were a handful of early afternoon drinkers, mostly open mouthed and silent. “Call the cops,” we begged, and the barkeep did.
When two squad cars arrived the Vikings walked slowly away.
The cops weren’t really friendly. “What the fuck are you doin’ in this neighborhood? Where are you from? Go back to where you came from.” They did call an ambulance, and we all piled in for the trip to the hospital. I think Turk got 26 stitches from the box cutter slash. He was more upset about his bomber jacket. He had only stolen it a week or so ago and had become quite attached to it.
It was a quiet train ride back to the city. Nobody blamed anybody for anything. We were tired. It was just one of those days. Soon we’d be high and laughing and then crashing to wake up and pan-handle another day’s sustenance.