The Minstrel

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Everyone was going crazy. The fortress was going crazy. The serfs were crazy. Shit was hitting more than fans this day.

The media heard it first. It was a gem of fortune, which they snatched and pranced around with the glee of a child with his first toy. They enjoyed the squirming of their leadership and following. That was what they were in the business for, to make people uncomfortable. It made everything all that more interesting for them laboring of their petty words over midnight coffee.

Breaking information in the Emmanuel attack had been divulged. Apparently there had been more than a fleeting relationship between the wicked minstrel and the Black Light Emmanuel, as he was being called now. There had been some dude, black, the source said the phone call sounded like, who’d rounded some facts on the good minister that had not been so holy. Drugs and murder. The minstrel and the fallen angel had been druglords. There had been fights over territory. Brawls in the streets. Then Abdullah Patrick, Emmanuel’s pregnant lover, had been brutally beaten, then dismembered, digit by digit. A note had been scrawled in blood on the wall. It made vile threats that were unprintable in notable respectable media. The gist had been, this is punishment for a certain racial epithet for blacks going where they didn’t belong. In despair, in a drug induced state brought about by grief, Jackson went to avenge the love of his life, and only in a state of temporary insanity brought on by such suffering, he took two women from the evil minstrel, and soon went to prison for his crimes where he was converted. And the vile minstrel, years later, still roamed the streets, burned from drugs and despicable living, a cold killer calling with his music, coming for the final, calculated strike against once who paid dearly for his crimes of passion and intense grief.

The minstrel. He had no regard for authority. A hatred for God, life, and all things holy, that’s what he was. Taking lives in scoffing manner of those righteous men who fought against his lifestyle and for things good. There was the implied question of why this injustice was allowed to take place. Right now, in the District Attorney’s office in Harlem, the DA’s press secretary was forced to answer hard questions like these. Why was the killer still at large? Why had they captured an innocent man just to shut up the victims’ families and the public? Where was the manpower on this case? Who was assigned? How come Homicide had not contacted any of the victims’ families since Velda had been released? How much longer was a community going to have to live in fear while an important law enforcement stood by?

Russell Frawley watched the news conference on the group’s TV. Each man had his own room, each with a small hot plate and twin bed. The bathroom was down the hall. There were showers where each man stared the other down. A pay phone was located at the end of the floor by the stairwell. Basically, Russell Frawley, Attorney-at-Law, graduate of Yale Law School, was living in a flophouse. And no Cindy/Addie to be found. How low could a man go?

Each man had a different story as to why they were there. Not that anyone would sit down and have a conversation about their misfortunes, but if you listened, you could gather valuable keys to past lives from epithets such as ‘fucking bitch’, ‘damn boss drinks but hell if anyone else does’, ‘damn landlord don’t know what’s good for him’. The atmosphere was pleasant enough, though, plenty of beer and pot to go around. Most times, you were just left alone, which suited Frawley just fine. Peaceful here.

The DA’s press secretary Elaine Weiss was having her ass kicked. She looked like a nervous bimbo. Frawley had always known she wasn’t cut out for the job. She’d been given the job because she was a woman. In the middle of Minority Haven, the trendies in the DA didn’t want to look like the fascists they were. So they hired Weiss. On a more extreme note, they’d released Velda

Frawley’s client was dead. And even though he hated the minstrel as much as the next person, he couldn’t help but think that something that had been said in that holding pen that was related to his dead client.

Certain kinds of people didn’t commit violent crimes. This was one of many lessons learned on the streets, which carried over to the classroom as well as the courtroom. At one time, the upper class and the white race did not commit violent crime. Black and Hispanic did. Then, women did not commit violent crime. Men did. Then, minorities did not commit crimes. White people did. Now, it was known people in communities did not commit crime. Only unknown strangers did.

It was crazy how easily people brought the horseshit stereotypes that the media threw out. So easy to pin the blame elsewhere. So easy to believe that the bad guy was somewhere out there, nowhere near here. You had to be able to trust the neighbors. But everyone seemed to forget, the bad guy had to live somewhere. Someone would be his neighbor. That seemed to be OK to most people, as long as they were assuaged that someone else was the neighbor.

And justice had no justice. Conditional justice. It changed to suit circumstances. Some people were lucky to be who they were at the times they were. People like Joan and Velda. Some people were not as lucky. People like him. And this minstrel guy.

He opened a new case of beer as he awaited the noontime news watching Jerry Springer. Jerry Springer, he knew about justice. Let mayhem rule. It was the only thing that ruled. It was the only god that he saw.

The minstrel followed Raulita at a far distance, but close enough so he could keep her in his sight.

She worried him. Over the years, it seems as though she had gotten herself in a life of trouble, away from love and away from God. Her rage he felt from her even as far away as he was. Such pain and suffering. He knew she had suffered. But what had happened that hardened her so? Growing up, she had been such a gentle soul. No more. Had the pain of those moments changed her forever? Or had she deteriorated little by little over the years? She did not have a father, and no mother there to shelter her. How Raulita must have suffered.

Lupe had been the only love of his life. There was a vague memory of something else, of a life before her. Other girls, their faces. Somehow, the emotion they evoked had no effect on him compared to the beautiful Lupe. The face of an angel. A sweet innocent with a tomboy mind and a gentle soul. The girl who had became the only woman to own his heart and name. Then violence. Screams as she clung to him, for one last time before she was ripped from him, and Raulita right behind

Then silence.

And then the pain followed. It exploded with the same magnitude that it had that night, as his head sank into deeper and deeper levels of pain as each ensuing blow fell; mercifully, unconsciousness came as the explosion in his chest made him fall. And like that night, an angel watched him; the angel of his mother then, and the angel of Raulita now, turning back to him to protect a worthless soul like himself.

Cindy was making her way back to Manhattan. The numbered streets were coming. There was a climax of violence building up to their arrival, the numbing effect of their reality dwindling as the numbers fell themselves. Cindy was skipping through a park in Co-op Land. So artificial, this bland tribute to nature in the land of slime and concrete. So fake and unreal, its absurdity made the fugitive want to laugh despite her impeding danger.

She sat in perplexity, a state brought on by instance fatigue and emotion. She should get to a drugstore and change her appearance. But soon, she would enter a land of danger. Right now, she could pass as Latina with her dark looks, giving her safer passage than if she were suddenly transformed into a Basinger or Kidman look-alike. Rape struck all women, but some made more visible targets than others. For now, Cindy was going to have to pass au-natural.

Along the same line, Cindy had adorned appropriate attire for the escapade, carefully selected from the rare open Bronx Clothing Bin. Baggy jeans, baggy sweatshirts, wool cap and winter jacket. There was frost now forming on the streets at night, so Cindy was grateful for the physical warmth the tatters brought. The last few nights had been cold ones. Perhaps she should take a subway, at least to 96th Street, where the cops started to bunch in droves on the subways. Then she could walk to Penn. Buy a ticket. In cash. God she hoped not to get robbed. To get out of New York. Outta here. It was like a dream.

Her reverie broke like a balloon on nails. There was a wail, a piercing scream. A man’s scream. Her heart palpitated. Fuck, not again. This mother was out for her ass big time. He probably worked for the police. Maybe he worked with Patrick. Maybe it was Patrick. He was out to see her ass fry

There it was again. Cindy managed to look because some wacko desire to witness danger. Addiction to the chase, the excitement. What enticed her to Patrick. What kept her alive now.

In the dusk, a figure. He stood with his hands clutched to his head as though he was hearing an unbearable noise. His scream still resonated in the pink, dusk silence, even though no noise came from him now.

He sat in a crouched heap, like a scared child. For a minute, even Cindy forgot her pain. Something told her to go to him. She listened, despite the cursing in her head demanding why the hell was she wasting her time with a loser like this when her life was in such shit shapelike, don’t mind the speck in someone’s eye when you had a plank in your own, something from back in the Bible days of childhood yore. Annoyed at herself for doing so, Cindy walked over to the father figure that represented the one that left her so long ago.

She had to scream to get his attention. She grabbed and shook his arm to jolt him out of the crazy man state he was going through. When he looked in her eyes and recognized her, she tolerated being pulled into his arms in a crazy, crunching bear hug. Why do I do these things, she was thinking. I have enough problems of my own.

So he was okay, she surmised as he held her at arm’s length again. No injury. The crazy demoniac running around was not back for her. She was safe. She attempted to pull away from the man, only to find her breakaway remarkably easy. He was crying. Cindy was discovering that she had a conscience and couldn’t very easily desert him completely. Sighing, she found herself next to him. He grabbed and held her tightly, and before she knew it, she was asleep right there.

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