Thursday, January 6, 2011

6:15 a.m.: a Brooklyn Street Scene

I'm walking Remus. His usual early-morning pee and a nice sniff around to see what's doing.

Sunlight hasn't yet reached our world down here. It's cold.

The van--black inside, rocking and banging frantically. Right in front of my house. I stand by it, pissed off. Sometimes they come to our end of the street for this--the quiet end, thinking what? No one lives here? Do they know, somehow, that before the loud and dirty highway was built, our antique house was right on the docks? That the Brooklyn waterfront is historically the place to be for these sad stolen activities?

Once or twice I find a used condom in the gutter, when I'm taking Hedgie to school.

I stand motionless staring my fury into the back of the van. One of them notices, I guess, my shadow, thrown over them in the beam from the lone street lamp, and there is a sudden movement. He crawls backward out of the van, opening the hatch, shedding light on the scene, zipping his fly, angry.

The hooker lies prone on the floor. Naked from the waist down, cheap clothes hiked around her waist. Four-inch red heels. I tell him to move along before I call the cops. He tells me to fuck off, but he's getting in the driver's seat. I tell him "you have 5 seconds." The hatch is slowly closing, and the woman stares at me, without expression. There's nothing in her face: no shame. No opinion. She doesn't even move to cover herself.

As they drive off he rolls down the window and shouts, "get a fucking life."

I don't feel the need to school him on the pathos and irony of this suggestion.

On the curb in the quiet dark regular Brooklyn morning, holding Remus' leash (he sits and waits), two thoughts go through my mind:

I'm not afraid of anyone anymore.

And I have looked into a dead man's eyes, and her eyes were just as dead as that.


  1. Wow! How Brave are You!
    I think I'd have just kept walking on by...
    Though you do paint a very sad picture of the truth....

    I hope You and Remus enjoyed the rest of his walk.

  2. Let's face it, New York is a lot nicer place than it use to be, (Remember 1983? Shudder.) but it's still NEW YORK with its big city problems. Just don't pick up a rock and look at what's crawling underneath.

  3. Wow!

    There is a lot going on in this piece, apart from the magnificent writing!

    I applaud your bravery.
    But do not lose all of your fear, for a little bit may save you someday my friend.

    I have seen those same eyes in addicts on the streets of my town.

    Stay safe. :¬)


  4. Unfortunately, these kinds of things go on in my neck of the woods, too, but gladly not smack dab front of my house. Funny how tough we get, the older we get. Excellent write, as always, Leah.

  5. Great post, I had the same problem down here in Fla. A few years back when my neighborhood was being finished a group of kids would use our cul-de-sac for their orgy site, what sickened me the most were the used spunkies just thrown on the ground and of course that our dog "Wullie" would have to sniff every damn one of them. Kudos on your bravery - a true New Yorker you are.
    Cheers, Sausage....

  6. This is such a raw post, and I thought it was brilliant. The way you described her, so vivid. Amazing!

  7. well done you on so many levels! i have to agree with map, don't lose all your fear xxooxoo

  8. Brilliantly written. Can't imagine and quite frankly I would have been pissed with a capital pissed!

  9. I agree, it was brave of you. Some men in that situation could be vicious. Get a fucking life? Absurd. Does he think life consists of screwing prostitutes in the back of vans? And does he know (or care) that the majority of prostitutes have all the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder? The man's a scumbag.

  10. As you may know,we've just moved out of our beloved Hyggehus, but what I never said was that at the foot of the street, the major Canadian coffee/donut chain store was a hive of activity for prostitution and drugs, I'm sure.

    I was riveted to your relating of this experience, Leah. How big is Remus now, by the way?


    P.S. Happy New Year!

  11. So few words but I get the picture so well. You're brave.

    We get this out back where we park; stand up jobs against the car. Ick. That's big, anonymous cities for you.

    The prostitute (and probably crack addict too) deserves a better life.

  12. ok, first brilliant write...stark, real, honest...and i have seen the dead man as well...

  13. Right in front of my house? I'd be brave like that too...without blinking. Good for you!

  14. p.s. ~ you and Brian's posts...side by side on my sidebar. Coincidence? :)

  15. "I'm not afraid of anyone anymore."
    I could truly feel the power you put behind that statement.
    I applaud you.

  16. Princess, I must admit we went back inside after that...

    UB, agreed. It's still NYC, no matter how much they fussy it up. The grit is still there.

    Stew--I think she was an addict as well, an explanation for the dead eyes...I am fearless, but not without caution. I think that's the key: street smarts.

    Tess--thank you. I agree, as I've gotten older I've gotten braver.

    Sausage! Thank you for calling me a true New Yorker! An ultimate compliment I think. Luckily Remus hasn't gotten ahold of one of those yet...

    Bth--thank you so much! It helped me very much to write about this awful experience.

  17. Sav--as I told our Mr Map, I think the key is in retaining caution, which I must work hard to do. Xo

    Goob--oh I was so royally pissed off, I'm still fuming a little bit. Depressed and fuming.

    Nick--amazing he told me to get a life, right? Part of me wanted to sit him down and tell him the facts of life.

    Kat--oh that is such a shame about the donut shop! Awful. Poor Hyggehus. Remus is a big boy, a muscular 70-odd pounds but still acts like a puppy!

    Hazel--the prostitute broke my heart a little bit.

    Brian--thank you ever so much for your comment. I know you have seen it.

    Betsy--just thinking of Hedgie snug in her bed while this was going on right outside on the street where she plays and feels safe! It made me so furious. And we live in a very good neighborhood, too. Yikes.

    Liza--I'm so glad you saw that. That for me was the heart of the experience. It makes me, strangely, both sad and glad to be unafraid like that. I'm certainly no innocent...

  18. Wow. :(

    So glad Hedgie wasn't with you. Bad enough you was with you. :(

  19. i cant say this is great writing cos all of yours is....
    so let me say i love the style.

  20. At least they were in a van so they wouldn't frighten the horses.

  21. No little girl wants to be a prostitute when she grows up. It is what happens along the way kills them inside.

    I have a "thing," so to speak, for prostitutes.

  22. Wonderfully written! You took me there. Thank you.

  23. I'd walk on by I'm afraid. Sad tho but it is the oldest profession. Pretty seedy.

  24. Ach ... there are zombies.
    Carry a 45 with blinds. Good blam. Makes any pimp shit his pants.

  25. I hate that term the oldest profession. The oldest indignity would be more like it. Or the oldest humiliation.

  26. I think I am with Nick. Prostitution is not a profession. Is it is a human rights violation.