Inside abandoned Scranton building,
16 year old Aazis’s body shook violently.
With expressionless eyes,
he looked at an elderly homeless man,
drunk, asleep some 10 feet down hallway.
Aazis nervously pulled black dreadlocks,
counted stolen money stashed in pockets,
he pointed warm gun at the man,
whispered, “Say anything, and you’re next.”
A deep silence reigned, Aazis lowered gun –
Maybe cops found dead taxi driver by now?
He propped forehead against damp brick wall,
held welfare cell phone, he could call
a taxi cab right now…,
disappear into Sherman Hills catacombs,
until all the bad shit calmed down.
Aazis breathed deep,
young lungs handled building’s stale air.
He remembered Nigger Jim on run,1
he never had a Pap, no Widow Douglas,
only a Huckleberry friend or two.
Once again, he’s faced with single
most important analytical thing in life:
How to consistently get from Point Alphabet
to Kingpin Omega, the quickest, cheapest route.
Street smart, Aazis rarely paid cab fares,
he felt good about quitting high school,
never finished Miss Akhmatova’s ridiculous
writing assignment about fallen Rome.
The homeless man stirred, turned on side,
he had ugly face, Aazis grinned,
took exact aim, he’d do what he had to do.
Hallway footsteps, flashlight beam, badges,
a powerful voice,
“Stand still, kid, keep both hands in view!”
Thunder, pigeon coo from rafters above,
Aazis stood, tossed $500.00 at the vagrant,
said, “Relax Pap, enjoy a little tip for listening.”
• Author’s Note: The poem is a fictional account of a 16-year old’s getaway after the murder of McCarthy Flowered Taxi Cab driver, Vincent B. Darbenzio, May 2014. Moments ago, I spoke with next door neighbor, Kirk Muha, who is a pizza delivery person. Kirk said business owners prohibit pizza deliveries to Scranton’s troubled Valley View Terrace apartments.
- Escaped slave, Huckelberry Finn’s companion, was called “Nigger Jim” by Mark Twain in the novel’s original publication. [↩]