(Gabriele’s journal – August 6, 1991)
(Nick’s narrative – June 16, 2022)
Miguel nodded his head yes. “Okay, give me a minute.” He took a couple slow drags on his cigarette. He seemed apprehensive to speak. Only after he told me the story did I understand why.
“Yeah. Three of them jumped me in the street. They had Halloween skeleton masks on. They put a hood over my head, tied my hands, and threw me in the back of a van. They drove me about twenty minutes somewhere over one of the bridges into Brooklyn. They walked me down some stairs into a room and tied me to a table before they took off my hood. There were the three skeleton-mask guys and a tall, skinny white guy with Dracula fang teeth. There was a drip of blood coming out of his mouth. A real freak show. I thought they were going to sacrifice me to the devil. Cut my heart out or something. I started screaming for help. They all just stood there and let me scream until I stopped.”
Miguel stopped speaking. He started shaking his head no, as if to deny that any of this had happened to him. The terror in his face told me that the nightmare he was reliving was real. He took a quick drag on his cigarette and continued the story.
“The white boy walked up to me and told me not to worry, they weren’t going to kill me, he just needed to take a little of my blood to teach me a lesson. The three skeletons held my shoulders and head and stuck a sock in my mouth. The white boy took a boxcutter razor to my neck. He cut me real slow. When he was done he leaned down to my ear and whispered, ‘Now I need just a little taste.’ I could feel him sucking on my neck. When he stood up, blood was coming out of his mouth. He spit out a full mouthful on my chest before he spoke to me. ‘You have three days to leave the neighborhood. If we see you again, I’m going to drain all your blood.’”
Miquel took a couple final drags on the cigarette, looking to me to ask what he should do with the butt.
“Just throw it in the fire pit. That’s crazy shit. When did this happen?”
“Six months ago.”
“I talked with someone around that time with the same scar and with almost the same story.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that they did this to others. I live in Williamsburg now. I moved there to my aunt’s apartment right after they cut me. I got completely clean for about four months. I’m in a meth program, but now I cop once in a while. I’m still hoping to get clean again.”
“Do you know someone called Blade?”
“Blade? Yeah, I don’t know him, but for sure, I’ve heard of him. All dealers heard of him. There was even a wanted poster of him.”
“What do you mean, like a police wanted poster?”
“No, not the police, I think one of the gangs had xeroxed a sketch drawing of him. It was distributed to all the dealers. Pretty much block by block the different gangs had the Lower East Side divided between them. But then this White Boy gang started moving in. Before that, the only trouble was Blade strong-arming their dealers. He’s a crazy fuck. He uses a sawed off shotgun. He blows the locks off the doors and everything. My supplier gave me the picture of him. Other dealers got the same sketch. All the gangs supplying drugs were looking for him, saying that they would give a $500 bounty to anyone who could point out where he lived.”
“White Boy found out where he lived. They cut his neck like you and left him tied up and bleeding in his apartment, then they called the police. He was arrested for possession of an illegal firearm. That’s when I met him in jail. His neck had been freshly stitched.”
Miguel shook his head in disbelief. “You think they would have killed him. That’s what the other gangs would have done.”
“Blade is hunting them down.”
“He’s one guy. And now he’s got this brand on his neck. If not White Boy, then one of the other gangs will kill him if he stays around here. Don’t understand why White Boy didn’t already murder him. Maybe they’re advertising to everyone, including the other gangs that this is their turf now. Everyone who gets in the way gets dead, or gets branded.”
“Strange that they leave someone as dangerous as Blade out there.”
“It’s like a game for them. After White Boy finished with me, they took me off the table and put the hood back over my head. They put me back in the van and dropped me off next to the East River. I ran the ten blocks to Bellevue emergency. I was covered in blood. Everyone in the waiting room freaked, they probably thought I’d been shot. But the receptionist and attendants were all casual-like having me lie down on a bed. The emergency doctor treating me said ‘Don’t worry, we’ve seen this before.’ He told me that the wound had mostly stopped bleeding and that he was just going to clean it up, give me some antibiotics, and call in a plastic surgeon to stitch it. The nurse was cutting my shirt off me with a scissors when the doctor told me ‘Most of that is not your blood, it’s not even blood.’”
“What’d he mean by that?”
“I don’t know. I was too fucked in my head by everything that happened to even ask. I really believed White Boy had sucked blood out of me. I only remembered later the doctor had said that, about the blood on my shirt. When I looked in the mirror the next day, I saw a bruise mark where White Boy had sucked at my neck. The freak didn’t suck my blood, he gave me a hickey. The mouthful of blood he puked on my chest was fake blood.”
I offered Miquel another Eagle cigarette. “Thanks, no, I should go. Coco is right. I shouldn’t be here. This is White Boy territory now.”
We walked out into the yard. “Tell Red that Mickey D said hi.” Miguel walked away, but his horror tale remained. His and Blades’ stories were etched into my mind like the “life mark” brand on their necks.