Looking west on Stillwell Avenue, Coney Island, Brooklyn, August 2008

“I see you later, yes?”

I couldn’t help but chuckle hearing John’s thick Turkish accent. Here we were, the last week of our film program and he was still here. Despite all the obstacles, including the film permit rejections, police production shutdowns and missing 8mm film, he was still here. Our other two group members had since left the program, though not before their productions were finished and complete. How ironic. We had helped Sarah with her fuckin’ zombie film for twelve full hours that day in Williamsburg. Where the fuck was she now that we needed someone to hold to key light? Now that we needed a DP? Whatever Fuck her. Me and John had promised to help each other finish our films. Whatever the cost. We weren’t going anywhere before our shit was done.

“Yaya. Tomorrow.” My response sounded lack lustre, but confident.

“Okay. Yes, yes. Tomorrow, Jesse. Bye. Bye!” With one hand carrying his brand new Panasonic HDX camcorder that he had graciously lent me for my last film of the summer, he excitingly waved to me as the doors of the R train closed. The sound of the subways in the station seemed to get louder as John’s train pulled off and into the Brooklyn night. I walked down the stairs wondering why I hadn’t accompanied him on his train ride back to midtown manhattan. I couldn’t answer the question. Perhaps I just needed some time to myself. Holding my sketched screenplay in my translucent green binder in my right palm, I walked through the MTA turnstile and onto Stillwell Avenue.

“Where to now?” I thought to myself. Well, I had two options: left or right. Going straight would lead me into the carnival where John and I had just spent the last 4 and a half hours finishing up my last film. I had seen enough ferris wheels and cotton candy for the week. I did not want to go there now. Right then, I suddenly remembered what my nigga Kickz had told me chilling on Paisley back in the day.

“When in doubt my nigga, go left!”

Why not? It had worked for me every single time ever since I started living by it. i wasn’t sure why. Perhaps it had something to do with the blue bandana that I refused to remove from my left back pocket. Perhaps not. Either way, I wasn’t concerned with the answer. Not now, at least. Heading in the left direction, I noticed the lighting on the sidewalk becoming increasingly darker. The buildings got a lot taller too. Was I really going to walk through these Coney Island hoods at 11:15pm at night? I knee they weren’t NYCHA (thanks to a little Google earth research before) but still. I was ninety-five percent sure that several residents used that section eight housing subsidy. Then I wondered if that was even a help to them. What about the residents on disability like auntie? Was there proper accessibility on the main floor? Were there enough youth recreational programs for all the youngn’s? Wait. Why did I even care? This wasn’t my hood. Why did I seem to care so much about adequate housing and ensuring that the community grow? I wasn’t from here. I shouldn’t care. My thoughts were distracted by a shorty walked by me in the other direction. I noticed her bamboo earrings, long, yellow nails and of course, amazingly fat ass. Talking loud on her cell phone, I noticed her eyes shift towards me as she came within in an inch of my shoulder. Her voice was hood, but sexy hood.

“…I don’t know girl, I want a nigga that can, you know, keep it real but, you know, have a good life like…”

Her conversation faded out of my hearing range as her distance from me increased. I smirked, damn well knowing that I could more than be that nigga she was looking for. If I wanted to. I noticed the twenty-something storey apartment buildings become increasingly larger. I had made up my mind. I was going to go for a walk through the hood. Soft. I had walked through Marcy just the week before. No intention really, i just wanted to because I could. Gave me an excuse to ride the G Train too. My sky blue Air Max nineties crunched some leaves on the floor. It was somewhat spooky, but soft. If something was going to happen to me, something was going to happen to me. I made a left turn and down the darkened, dimly light alley. Time to see the Real Coney Island.

An excerpt from ASS: A Smart Story. Chapter 10: Last Shot



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