Big Sugar

—Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Pt. iii, st. 31.

 

Wheelchair Paul stared at Stella—who sat in her own wheelchair just alongside of him—at the north wing of the Port, on 42nd Street amid Eighth Avenue. Wheelchair Paul had known Stella for years but had never seen her in this state—she was no longer coherent. Wheelchair Paul had been hit hard also, by Big Sugar’s death, but you had to go on living, eating and talking. The police had swept the area clean and most of the residents had spent a night or two in a jail-cell, as Wheelchair Paul had with Stella, but she had been totally mute then also. The police never found the four crack addicts who had murdered Thomas Wang but had thinned out the Port’s homeless population almost in half, leaving only the physically and/or mentally ill such as Stella now seemed to qua1ify for, in both categories. She was emaciated enough as it was and it had been nearly a month since Big Sugar’s death and Stella had not eaten anything of any substance or even said a coherent word to anyone since. Wheelchair Paul—for all his street smarts and high intellect—simply could not figure her out.

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Stella stared into space, hypnotized like a zombie, as she was no longer among the living. Nothing drew any reaction from her, not when a well-heeled man dropped a five-dollar bill into her begging cup and not when a crackhead took it out, for Stella’s life was over and she knew it. Her light had gone out and with that light the last vestige of humanity that she had clung to so stubbornly over the years, had gone with it. Her hope was gone, blown into the far reaches of the voices that now talked to her daily, assuring her that she was indeed dead and Stella knew it was true because her hero had been smashed to smithereens, blown to bits by a steel-jacked .44 dum-dum bullet. For Stella, totally immobile in her wheelchair, all hope was gone—Big Sugar was dead!

EPILOGUE

PLEASE JESUS PLEASE

Streetlife, but you better not get old,

Streetlife, or you’re gonna feel the cold.





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