V for Victory

Dusk had broken over the JFK campus and a bling sapphire blue sky was carpeted with sterling silver gun-smoke clouds, through which, a multitude of precious 24-carat stars twinkled.

I sauntered outside — because that’s how real men glide — chased by Principal Goring’s insincere ‘goodbye,’ by which she meant ‘good riddance’ to me and all radical thought.

I paused at the main gate to let the last few bars of Nuestro Himno smother me as they drifted north on a cooling breeze that was buff enough to blow fast food wrappers up the road like tumbleweeds, but too weak to stir the bare, knuckled, branches of the old oak tree to my left.


Moments later a “Rat with Wings,” AKA a Rock Pigeon, swooped below the tree and shat on my bike a few seconds before it exploded, shredding the dive-bomber into bloody morsels midair, throwing flames into the darkening sky and all over a full ‘Strawberry Moon’ --- named as such by Native Americans not because it is reddish, as it was now, but because June’s when strawberries are picked.


I staggered backwards in shock and awe, as the twin, lime-green capped, Trinitario gangsters’ Bentley Continental GT Convertible Galene Edition and the GRU’s matte black BMW X5 Security Plus sped away from the blast in opposite directions, ‘brir gas,’ scorching rubber into the road.


“Al dedo malo, todo se le pega,” I muttered, irrationally blaming my misfortune on bad luck, before yelling “Estas en el lado jodido de la historia” after them as if they gave a flying fuck which side of history they landed on given the attractions of being on the paying side of the present.


Ice cold on a hot day, still trembling from the shock, and out of an abundance of caution, I ordered an Uber and a Lyft and called Julio and asked him ‘Hazme un favor.’

Then, I hung back behind the school gates next to a NO SMOKING, NO VAPING, NO GUNS sign, and waited for my bum hand to play out as somewhere beyond the old oak tree, a young girl shrieked like she was being assaulted. Or perhaps she’d seen a ghost? Whatever it was, it added terror to a night that was terrible enough without it.

A few minutes later a red Uber 2014 Toyota Prius Two, a white Lyft 2015 Toyota Prius Four and Julio’s tricked out blue Dominican flagged 2019 Dodge RAM 1500 HEMI pick-up truck, which looked like a Rolls Royce Silver Phantom inside, arrived within seconds of each other, as planned.

So, I feinted left towards the Uber, but ducked right into Julio’s truck, as a big brown rat scampered under the truck on its way back to the comfort of the gutter.

As I pulled myself up and crouched in front of the passenger seat so that I was hidden from view, and asked Julio, who was wearing a smile brighter than his Hawaiian shirt, to ‘magic me’ to Joy’s primary election-night after-party, “fast — Más deprisa que el viento.”

And I gave him the address — Park Billiards Cafe and Sports Bar on White Plains Rd.

We left the rubbernecking herd that had gathered around my smoldering bike for dust.

A good barber knows how to shape a beard.

A great barber knows when the chump in his chair does and doesn’t want to talk.

I didn’t want to talk.

So, Julio sang ‘If trouble were money Degas would be Warren fucking Buffet,” in full Romeo Santos falsetto to yank my chain, as he yanked the truck onto 230th Street travelling east and sped down the empty ramp onto the southbound Major Deegan Expressway (I-87) and tucked us into an endless string of red taillights, which was when my S7 vibrated with a selfie from Monica, who was sitting next to Joy at the back of an Escalade.

They were flashing matching red glitter-tipped V-for-Victory signs and lips.

They were all made up.

‘Bygones had become bygones.’

I’d been officially handed down from one to the other.

The text with the selfie reads: “Win or lose tonight, Vamos a petarlo. ’


The next image was a portrait of Joy painting her face in front a sky splashed with lights and bright stars like a Pollock. The portrait was captioned with a quote: ‘Getting ready for a woman is hard --- it involves so many decisions about how you are going to present yourself to the world. Tonight, I choose gangster, though I’m scared stiff I might let my team down!!!!!!”


We slid off I-87 at West Fordham Road traveling slowly east behind a monstrous green Sanitation Salvage trash truck, which stopped suddenly, flashing red lights, to pick up a green black teen — the additional pair of hands required to complete a grueling nightly route of 1,000 plus stops before dawn.

The green black teen was decked out in short sleeved, predominantly green, Nigerian national soccer team t-shirt and a reversed baseball cap colored with the broad vertical green and white stripes of the Nigerian flag.

Snap!


In late 2016 I’d been hired by the family of Mouctar Diallo, a teenage African immigrant, who, like the green teen holding up the traffic in front of me, was plucked off Bronx streets and paid $80 in cash nightly, no matter how long the night lasted, to grab trash from the curb in competition with rats.


‘Hell-on-earth for Mouctar came to a bloody premature end at 5:08 AM on November 7, 2017 when he was crushed to death on Jerome Avenue in front of the shuttered El Caribe Restaurant, beneath the elevated train tracks, by the very Sanitation Salvage Truck he spent the previous 18 months hustling trash for, which had reversed onto him without warning.

Though Mouctar was in fact a warrior killed by friendly fire, his comrades sold an implausible fiction to cops Sanitation Salvage had bought and paid for, that he was a rabid undocumented bum that didn’t deserve their attention, who had ‘inexplicably jumped on the truck’s passenger side running board, lost his grip and flipped under the Peterbilt truck’s monstrous 44.4-inch wheels for sport.’[i]

So, I dug deep and discovered that more than three-quarters of Sanitation Salvage trucks had been ordered off the road having failed federal safety checks; that the New York State Insurance Fund was suing Sanitation Salvage for $780,000 in unpaid workers’ compensation obligations relating to accidents on the job; and that to keep the grimy horror show rolling Sanitation Salvage contributed generously to the mobs and the election and reelection campaigns of local bosses like Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who consequently looked the other way instead of punishing the Company or regulating an industry whose negligence had claimed 33 lives in New York City since 2010.[ii]

Mouctar’s case was pending, as were we, stuck behind the Sanitation Salvage truck, which had stopped in front of North End Liquor Mart, jamming the road.

It was 8:43 PM.

There were only 17 minutes to go before the polls closed.

So, Julio went heavy on the horn, which was when my S7 shook again.


This time with a call from Monica, who whispered confidentially, as if she was fearful of being overheard, that Joy had jumped out of the Escalade to get out the very last votes, unaware (as I was) that the Beasts had made good on their threat and passed the ‘Stallion’ tapes, of us ‘fucking’ and FOTUS and Monica ‘sharing a double-dong,’ to the celebrity gossip site TMZ in a desperate attempt to reverse Joy’s rising tide in the primary elections’ final minutes.


And then she seemed sink into a great depression and she told me haltingly but with great certainty between virulent sobs that everything she touched, by which I think she meant her best laid plans, turned to shit, by which I think she was saying that she was sorry for the collateral damage her obtuse variety of resistance had caused me, Beatriz, Jay-B and now Joy.


She paused, I supposed to take Shangó’s rock out for a spin and plot with herself how to put things right by herself. So, I tried to head her off at the pass (as she was on a losing streak) by counseling that the Beasts intervention was likely too little too late and might even backfire as Joy wasn’t a feature of the Stallion tapes. But she didn’t want to hear it and rung off with a thought, “Nos vemos más tarde,” which sent a chill down my spine and left me sorting through the Monica photo-gallery in my mind, one image at a time, searching for solace at the same time.


Monica reaching over my desk on the day we met, her breasts pulling on the fabric of her white shirt, then meeting my lecherous gaze by unbuttoning the top button, cupping her breasts through her shirt and squeezing them together, snarling:


“34 double-Ds. Same as Kate Upton’s. And real, I’m saving the silicon for my first post-partum. So that’s not happening any time soon. Now that’s out of the way, perhaps you can give me due respect and focus on my fucking story --- I’ll buy you dinner if you promise to act right.”


That became an early-evening breakfast at IHOP where she told me I was Kunt’s half-brother, or was I his son?

A face in the crowd then a flirtatious ghost by the side of Nadiya at Kunts inauguration.

Then weather got Stormy!

A selfie with hood-rats outside Mi Nido Taverna and my first brush with fame.

The last waltz at Mami’s as Henry Fiol’s “Oriente,” played — because Monica was the only other person in the world that understood that song’s meaning to me!

The meeting with James Comey and his explanation of the rules of Kunt’s game.

The trip to Key Largo on Kunt’s plane.


Where, in the still of a long turbulent night, Monica pulled me face down between her legs and guided my tongue inside her and pushed against it crying: “Elia Degas is a fucking Kunt.”


Monica undercover at the 2017 G-20 Hamburg summit, bugging Kunt’s treason through an ornate spy-camera brooch.

An attempted trade with Cohn of the Treason tape for the Stallion tapes goes wrong.

The meeting outside Mueller’s office in frigid Washington DC at which she told me she was, and had been since the day I met her, working for the Feds. And that her cover was blown.

Then the bike ride to free Joy with her thighs clamped tight.


And finally, her call from the Escalade, which got me thinking on how difficult it is to get redemption right --- because redemption happens when we stop trying to fix the mistakes of the past and learn to live beyond them.



We finally arrived at the neon blighted Park Billiards Cafe and Sports Bar, 7-minutes after the polls closed, which was 4 minutes after twilight at 9:07 PM. Joy was pleased to see me, but too nervous to go inside. So, we hugged thought big and talked small, until we saw a herd of reporters yelling ‘historic upset’ rushing inside.


“Oh my god oh my god. Oh my god!” She said looking first at me and then to the sky.

But she had to point at her poster, before the burly Vantablack bouncer would let us inside the bar.[iii]


Where a crowd, in whose multicolored faces you could see the world chanted “Joy Alicia Cortez for President” loud, skipping two election cycles --- as Joy, who was born on October 13, 1989 would have to be 35 to run --- because they were so damn proud.


A shriek and then a cacophony as the crowd’s focus turned towards the monitors where where CNN had called the Primary for Joy, who was leading Boss Crowley, who hadn’t seen her coming until is was way too late, with 58% of the vote, and the chant evolved to “58% for the 99%.”

A reporter pushed forward as ticker-tape rained and asked Joy who had her hands in the air like the marathon winner she was: “How are you feeling? Can you put it into words?”

“Nope, I cannot put it into words,” Joy replied modestly, though I suspected she could and would given time. We didn’t have to wait long as the reporter set her up with a softball she hammered home.

“Can you believe the numbers you are seeing?” The reporter, who quite obviously couldn’t, asked incredulously.


“No, I cannot believe these numbers,” Joy chuckled, and then she shared the credit like a pro, “but I do know that every single person here has worked their butt off to change the future of the Bronx and Queens and through our victory the United states of America and the world.”


Joy’s answer was met with hugs and a huge Bronx cheer and the gushing hacks final question, which she jumped on and hit out of the park: “When people found out you were going up against Joe Crowley, they must have thought you were a little crazy. You were going up against the Queens Machine as they call it!”

“Yeah, yeah I’m sure they did and maybe they were right. But you know what? The way to best a machine is with a movement. And that is what we have done today.”


And then Joy, victorious having slayed the Democratic machine, was passed a mic and she wailed a double chorus of ‘This Train is Bound for Glory,’ with the lyric improvised for the occasion.



“When I started out on this journey --- This train I asked myself why me? --- This train The answer was and is --- This train I should because nobody else would! –-- This train “Now,” she teased, air-embracing her fans, “because of you all!!! This train it is bound for glory,  IT DON'T CARRY NOTHING, BUT THE RESISTORS AND 99-PERCENTERS This train bound for glory, this train


And then she spoke. And when she spoke she sung. And it was glorious!


“Yes, the question I was asked again and again on the campaign trail was why you? And the answer I gave again and again was because it is our duty to resist. The next questions would invariably be who are you? and what do you stand for? Well, I am Joy Alicia Cortez and I am a 99-PERCENTER, AND AS OF A FEW MINUTES AGO I BECAME YOUR CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS,” which brought the house down, as it should, for a few short seconds Joy wallowed in their glory. When she resumed there was on fire and unbeknownst to anybody (including me) there was a gun-sight trained on her heart.


“It is ominous when a civilization predicated on economic growth loses its impetus, because the poor go hungry and poverty enrages us. It is as ominous when a civilization based on the sovereignty of all of the people surrenders itself. Because, it leads inextricably to state terror, barbarism and the oppression of the many by a few Kunts.[iv] We 99-PERCENTERS aren’t asking for a lot! In fact, we are not asking at all. WE ARE DEMANDING:

  • End the war on drugs
  • Tuition-free public college
  • $15 minimum wage
  • The abolition of ICE
  • Healthcare for all
  • A Green New Deal and 100% renewable energy to save us all!

WE ARE DEMANDING, through progressive, YES, I SAID PROGRESSIVE taxation to end the extreme inequality that has enabled the 26 richest billionaires in the world to own the same amount of assets as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world. For example, a wealth tax on the richest 1% would raise 418 billion dollars a year –– enough to educate every child on earth and provide healthcare that would prevent 3 million deaths.”[v]

WE ARE DEMANDING an end to the corrupting influence of corporate money in politics. And that it be replaced by a true, direct, bottom-up, participatory democracy enabled by the technological advances we have made that have the potential to empower us but have been hijacked by the 1%. “


“This is not and was never about electing me to Congress. This is about electing us --- 99-PERCENTERS like me that are thankfully different than me --- to Congress, the Senate and ultimately to the Oval Office, so that we can prevent a dictatorship of Kunt’s, that will start wars to extend its life beyond its sell by date and wage war on our reproductive rights!



Now that I have been elected against all odds, I am going to stand up for and advocate for ALL OF YOU, no matter you age, race, faith or sexual preference --- Yeah, LGBTQ forever!!!!!!! And if we don’t get what we want through the front door, we’ll knock the house down --- Vamos a hundir la barraca!”


BLAM, BLAM, BLAM — three shots rang out and Monica dived in front of Joy to take Joy’s bullets, which I supposed she thought fair having put Joy in the line of fire. And then the horrific dry-thud of each of the bullets hitting home, and after a stunned silence, panic as Monica, punctured, fell into Joy’s arms.

I spun from the sisters to a place by the entrance of the bar that was the only logical place for the shooter to have sniped from, where the Vantablack bouncer lay slumped on the ground, having tried and failed to prevent the assault on our hope.

So, I turned back to Joy and Monica and kneeled beside them, looking at death and wondering what it was to feel so much and then not to feel at all. Which was way beyond imagination. And that death is beyond imagination, was the scariest thought of all.

Of course, providing a neat solution to this problem is at the core of every faith. But, who in their right mind would be suckered by such a blatant convenience.


Dry eyed but hurting like hell and in fear of hell, I resolved that Monica would be missed on this earth and her sacrifice would not be in vain.

Because, born of extreme violence. Robbed of my birthright. I am the bastard going to take Kunt down and save us from ourselves.


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TO BE CONTINUED: CHAPTER THIRTY SIX

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