Big Sugar

Thomas Wang strode resolutely across the glistening terrazzo floor at New York City’s huge Port Authority Bus Terminal. Wang, the CEO of Wang International, a huge computer-tech firm, was in a hurry but then Thomas Wang was always in a hurry. He had been in the city for two days straight, in heavy negotiations with his staff and the CEO and staff of Plum Computers, as the two firms were consolidating their assets in order to buy out an ailing microchip computer firm. It was the advent of a new year, 1990, along with a new decade and—as far as Thomas Wang was concerned, a new era—an era in which computers and high technological companies would outstrip and out-sell all others, to the extent that they would dwarf them almost into oblivion. Wang was a visionary who was consumed with buying out any software or high-tech company that showed even a hint of any intention to sell. Wang’s limo driver had taken ill and, rather than employing a new one, Wang had decided to try, for the first time in his life, the mass transit system; he had decided to take the bus back to his palatial estate in New Jersey, even though several of his staff minions had offered to drive him home in their cars. Wang had been offered a large block of shares in a bus company, as part of the microchip computer deal, and he wanted to see firsthand what he might be getting involved in and how many people rode the buses, as well as what kind of people they were. He spotted a men’s room on the second floor of the terminal and headed towards it, not even realizing that there would be a portable toilet on the bus. He noticed several maintenance men dressed in red jumpsuits pushing mops silently across the shiny terrazzo tiles and smiled towards them, as he began walking up the stairway that led to the bathrooms.


A saint may be defined as a person of heroic virtue whose private judgment is privileged.

—Bernard Shaw. Saint Joan: Preface.

The huge black man smiled, showing several gold-capped teeth and a pressing need of further dental work. He was six feet four inches tall and weighed 250 pounds—almost all of it sinew or muscle. Known around the port only by his street name, Big Sugar, he was a Jamaican who had been living in the port for a little over three months. The Port Authority Bus Terminal, which was situated on the corners of 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, was home to innumerable drug-addicts and alcoholics as well as the mentally ill, the incapable and the infirm, and those innumerable human beings that found themselves homeless through circumstance, a stroke of bad luck or just that cruel, uncalculating master of us all—fate—and the Port was a veritable glass and steel-girded city within a city, for most of them. The sprawl of the two lengthy city-blocks, located in the heart of downtown Manhattan, provided this ragamuffin population with enough unguarded tourists and unsuspecting travelers for many of them to virtually make their living’s off the marks, robbing and stealing from them indiscriminately, and using most of their booty to buy drugs or alcohol from the numerous dealers in and around the Port. Of course, there was always that rarity of rarities among the homeless population—like Big Sugar himself—an honest man who neither stole nor harmed anyone willingly and who, though down on their luck, rarely stayed in the Port for very long, Big Sugar being the exception that broke all the hard and fast rules, the hard and fast rules that said anyone who could escape the Port would—and did—as soon as they could, but not Big Sugar, who the homeless, the alkies, the street people and even the mentally ill it seemed, all knew. They knew Big Sugar’s story, that he had come up from Belle Glade, in Florida, where he had been working, cutting sugar cane and, as the story went, had come to New York after injuring, or even killing, one of the bosses who worked for one of the major sugar cartels, cartels that held enormous financial as well as political power in the State of Florida.

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