" Laydown " in Little Freeport
1987 - Freeport, Long Island
Air rippled in heated waves rising above cracked pavement at the corner of Broadway and Graffing. Flies sunned themselves in the stench of a stained spot near a curb. The heat had people in various stages of undress. As reggae music blared over the street, there was an endless procession of hot mammas, old mammas, dealers, runners and retirees either walking or talking.
A smallish teenager rides through this crowd on a bicycle, and he stops at a payphone. He is short for his age, and so looks younger than he actually is. Unremarkable and unnoticed, the boy has assessed the street, and is pumping coinage into the phone and pressing buttons. There is no verbal message. When the boy finishes punching the status code of the street conditions, he simply hops on his bike and rides away.
On the street, heads turn - searching out the source of a rising angry mechanical sound. A whine like that of a mosquito can be heard faintly over the reggae. One mosquito's whine is joined by another, then another...
The whine explodes into a full scream of motorcycle engines and the first black Ninja rounds a corner, into sight. Leaning over hard, it's foot-peg touched down, sparking. Two other Ninjas were immediately behind it- just as fast. Other bikes followed these first three as backup, but these first three were hell-bent on pinning the corner down.
Ratty and his West Indian crew were coming, guns-out.
Every one of these cats was 'bad'. All wore fatigue pants and some form of black boot. Other than that, what they wore was individualized. Tank tops, chains, chopped sweatshirts, tatoos and piercings... Their helmets had painted fangs, horns, flames, or symbols and names, or nothing at all. Nearly all the warriors wore dreadlocks. One was bald under his helmet.
They all had uzi-pistols. Six bad-mothers, on six black Ninjas. They were all experienced killers with a list of bodies behind each individual. Everyone on the street knew it.
Electric Avenue... listen to the lyrics ... "Carribean AirWays"
Bearing down upon the corner almost supernaturally fast, Ratty aimed high on the buildings of Broadway and squeezed the trigger of his uzi. A window shattered. Holes were drilled in red brick or block structures. People began to hit the ground, and for a few brief seconds, six uzi-pistols opened up, filling the street with smoke, noise, and spent shell-casings.
There were too many wanna-be dealers on the street again. Time to thin things out. A little discouragement was called for.
Ratty came to an abrupt halt, locking brakes just before hitting Graffing. Only his uzi-pistol was still blazing. The five Ninjas behind him stopped in formation. He exchanged his empty clip, slapping in a full one. The rear-most rider, Bones, locked his front wheel and violently twisted the throttle lighting up his rear tire. Burnt rubber was pouring off that spinning wheel as Ratty continued firing into the sky.
A huge cloud from the smoking and sparking rubber joined the fog of gunpowder. The barrage of noise from the screaming engine and gunfire combined with the smoke to create a cauldron of mayhem. With that, everyone in the man-made canyon of Broadway was laid-down upon the ground.
Two soldiers dismounted their crotch-rockets. Each went separate directions. Curly went to one side, and Wolf-Mon, the other. They would snatch ropes from the necks of prone dealers. And then, to add injury to the insult, they'd pistol-whip them until they emptied their pockets.
Ones who gave up paper before being pistol-whipped still got a pistol butt to the bumbah-clot.
Not a word...
All this took place without a single word. Everyone knew the rules of this game. It was time to pay the piper. These guys would be allowed to live... this time. But they'd best not show their faces here again any time soon. They were not West Indian, so they were lucky today. Being new on the street, they knew they'd most likely get off with the warning. So, "this" was that warning.
Ratty also knew he could make no money if he got blood all over his streets. But next time, if there WAS a 'next-time'... one or more of the American kunckle-heads would disappear. Teach them a lesson for crapping all over his streets with their sloppy business.
As Bones lit his back tire again, Gemeni and Smiley simply sat and watched, guns in hand. They'd occasionally let one round off into the air- just to remind people they were there, watching. Gemeni's job was to watch Ratty's back.
Another clip went into Ratty's pistol.
As Ratty's soldiers returned to their bikes, he emptied his final clip skyward. He holstered his weapon, revved the engine, and took off in a wheelie. Standing on his pegs, he rode right through the intersection, and led the way out of there.
Curly and Wolf-Mon were right behind him, carrying what they'd just snatched from the hapless dealers. Bones, holding the rearmost anchoring position, burned his rear tire doing a couple three-sixties as the other bikes blasted out of sight. As Gemeni and Smiley pulled away, Bones straightened out, aligning himself along the street, and rocketed forward, bringing up the rear.
As they sped away, the sound of engines faded into distance, once again becoming a mosquito's diminishing whine. Then nothing. The whole thing took maybe one minute, two tops. Not even two. They were fast.
The scent of burnt rubber, gunpowder, and burnt gasoline dissipated slowly. Bullet casings laid about the entire corner.
Nobody bothered to call the Police... no point
Nobody bothered to even call the police. Actually, a police cruiser was probably in earshot of the lay-down, with a cop inside reading a newspaper. Even if called, the police would not arrive until after the incident finished. Standard procedure. They fully respected this area as a hotbed of illegal activity.
They would just oversee the collection of any bodies, if there were any, and fill out the usual lie-filled reports. Then go away till next time. Babylon just did not give a care about the people. They were on their own. Truly.
People on the ground looked at each other and began to rise from the hot sidewalks. Only the reggae music had continued uninterrupted through the entire event. And as people went about their day...
The sneaker-clad feet of children ran through the backyards of Freeport. Sounds of distant gun-fire providing backdrop to their "war-games".
To their play...
And the children ran, and ran...
(based upon the real events and experiences of "Likle Mikey")
"Bumbah-Clot" = Jamaican slang for "Brain-Case" or "Head"
"Babylon" = Cops
"Work" = Killing, Murder, or Mayhem of SOME (illegal) kind
"Soldier"= One who works under a Drug-Boss as one of his men (or women)
If you have not already done so, re-Listen to Grants "Electric Avenue" and try to understand where this islander is coming from.
In the mid, to late 80's there was a great deal of Jamaican gang activity surrounding the black market drug business of the day. There was a great deal of competition between various factions, Hispanic, Jamaican, Afro-American, and the Police. There were absolutely tremendous sums of money involved during these years. People, under the influence of cracked cocaine, would willingly empty their bank accounts for their dealers. And the police were not entirely innocent either. It would be difficult for even a "Good Cop" to resist the temptation of taking down a common street dealer with a bag of cash, and to be able to resist taking that cash for themselves. Or, even to resist the drugs. Often, cops were addicted due to their exposure. There were "local" cops that were infamous, and had their own street names. This, was an all too common occurrence, apparently. "Dealers" were shaken down, frequently. It was a popular activity to "hunt" dealers, and grab whatever they were carrying. It was a busy and potentially brutal time period. There was a great deal of drama unfolding ... Everywhere.
In the drug-game, there was SO MUCH money... bags of Ones and Fives were simply thrown away, or GIVEN away to the neighborhoods by the overly successful drug lords.