I can feel the heat closing in, feel them out there
Making their moves, setting up their devil doll stool
Pigeons, crooning over my spoon and dropper I throw
Away at Washington Square Station, vault a turnstile
And two flights down the iron stairs, catch an uptown
A train… Young, good looking, crew cut, Ivy League,
Advertising exec type fruit holds the door back for me.
I am evidently his idea of a character. You know the
Type comes on with bartenders and cab drivers, talking
About right hooks and the Dodgers, call the counterman
In Nedick’s by his first name. A real asshole. And right
On time this narcotics dick in a white trench coat (im-
Agine tailing somebody in a white trench coat – trying
To pass as a fag I guess ) hit the platform. I can hear the
Way he would say it holding my outfit in his left hand,
Right hand on his piece: “I think you dropped some-
But the subway is moving.
“So long flatfoot!” I yell, giving the fruit his B produc-
Tion. I look into the fruit’s eyes, take in the white teeth,
The Florida tan, the two hundred dollar sharkskin suit,
The button-down Brooks Brothers shirt and carrying
The News as a prop. “Only thing I read is Little Abner.”
A square wants to come on hip…. Talks about “pod,”
And smoke it now and then, and keeps some around to
Offer the fast Hollywood types.
“Thanks, kid,” I say, “I can see you’re one of our own.”
His face lights up like a pinball machine, with stupid,
“Grassed on me he did,” I said morosely. ( Note:
Grass is English thief slang for inform.) I drew closer
And laid my dirty junky fingers on his sharkskin sleeve.
“And us blood brothers in the same dirty needle, I can
you in confidence he is due for a hot shot.” ( Note:
This is a cap of poison junk sold to addict for liquida-
Tion purposes. Often given to informers. Usually the hot
Shot is strychnine since it tastes and looks like junk. )
“Ever see a hot shot hit, kid? I saw the Gimp catch
One in Philly. We rigged his room with a one-way
Whorehouse mirror and charged a sawski to watch it.
He never got the needle out of his arm. They don’t if
The shot is right. That’s the way they find them, dropper
Full of clotted blood hanging out of a blue arm. The
Look in his eyes when it hit – Kid, it was tasty….
“Recollect when I am traveling with the Vigilante,
Best Shake Man in the industry. Out in Chi… We is
Working the fags in Lincoln Park. So one night the Vigi-
Lante turns up for work in cowboy boots and a black
Vest with a hunka tin on it and a lariat slung over his
“So I says: ‘What’s with you? You wig already?’
“He just looks at me and says: ‘Fill your hand stran-
Ger’ and hauls out an old rusty six shooter and I take off
Across Lincoln Park, bullets cutting all around me. And
He hangs three fags before the fuzz nail him. I mean
The Vigilante earned his moniker….
“Ever notice how many expressions carry over from
Queers to con men? Like ‘raise,’ letting someone know
You are in the same line?
” ‘Get her!’
” ‘Get the Paregoric Kid giving that mark the build
” ‘Eager Beaver wooing him much too fast.’
“The Shoe Store Kid (he got that moniker shaking
Down fetishists in shoe stores) say: ‘Give it to a mark
With K. Y. and he will come back moaning for more.’
And when the Kid spots a mark he begin to breathe
Heavy. His face swells and his lips turn purple like an
Eskimo in heat. Then slow, slow he comes on the mark,
Feeling for him, palpating him with fingers of rotten