This morning Aniese was really late and to make matters worse it was raining. She splashed her way down First Avenue knowing there was no way Marla would still be at the market. But no matter, she would spend the whole morning going over the break-up and Marla would be delighted to be included. She pushed open the door of the 4th Street Flower Shop, shaking her umbrella carefully and composed her just-dumped demeanour.
“Don’t bother taking your coat off” spat Marla from the other end of the store.
“Marla, I’m so sorry I’m late I….”
“You sent flowers to Naomi Campbell saying Fuck off forever. Her agent is suing me and you better believe it missy, if they sue me I’m suing you.”
“But…..but….they were for Trey and …..but ….I..”
“Tell it to my lawyer,” said Marla turning on her Dock Marten, “now leave.”
Outside in the rain the whole horror of yesterday’s events hit home. Aniese wondered if she could use temporary insanity from loss of love as an excuse. She was sure that once Ms Campbell was made fully aware of the circumstances she would understand, hey hadn’t she ever been dumped herself? Anyway, Marla couldn’t sue her she had nothing to be sued for.
Aniese walked slowly back up First and began to zigzag her way across to Avenue B. She would go home and she would call her friend Pia and she would tell her all about it. Pia would know what to do. She crossed over the road and went into the Korean Bodega on the corner for supplies. She needed Ben & Jerry’s Wavy Gravy ice-cream and tampons and milk and more Oreos. Aniese barely noticed the two kids by the door, hoods up, heads down, standing under the green awning, keeping out of the rain. She was too busy wondering what to choose instead of Wavy Gravy, which appeared to have sold out.
Back outside the rain was stopping and the two guys had moved on. For some reason Aniese did notice the half smoked cigarette now smouldering where they had stood and she stepped on it deliberately and imagined it was Trey’s head, or Marla’s head. And then she imagined Trey, having realised his terrible mistake, rushing down to the flower shop to find her, to beg her to come back to him, and Marla having to tell him she wasn’t there. And Marla would be so upset when she knew what had happened and then they would both be desperately trying to find her and ask for her forgiveness and then the reverie was shattered by the unmistakable crack of a gunshot.
Angel Cortes had made a big mistake when he’d decided to go round to Pauli’s place the night before. Pauli had already been up for two days and he didn’t look like he was stopping any time soon. So Angel had a little smoke and then he had another and well what the hell, it wasn’t like he had anything else to do. And then somewhere along the line Pauli told him about the money he owed which was no biggey, everyone owed money, and then he told him exactly how much it was and who it was to.
Even then they were still OK, they were actually laughing about it. Then Pauli started making calls and then he started getting edgy because he began to realise that there was no way he was going to get that much money together today, which was already yesterday, and that these were not the kind of guys who looked kindly on a bad credit rating. So then they decided to do the 24 hour Korean deli on the corner. This in itself was no great career change, its not like they hadn’t robbed before they’d just never done it with a gun. They were punks but with a small p, now they were about to capitalise.
The thing was night had turned to day and now the lights had come on in the east village things didn’t look quite so clear. They hovered around the front of the store sheltering from the dull rain, heads down, hoods up, and Angel sucked on his cigarette. Pauli was muttering something and hopping from foot to foot like he was warming up for his first serve at the U.S. Open. And then Angel saw through red rimmed eyes his neighbour, Aniese. There was no way he could let her see him, she was always so chatty and he couldn’t speak, he could barely breath. He pushed Pauli away from the door.
“Hey fuck off man,” said Pauli, whose head had started to bob maniacally.
“Fuck you” Angel knew there was no way they were going to rob the deli, they were going to stay just a couple of no-good kids who smoked a little crack. He was going home.
“Forget it” he said, “go home and sleep, we’ll sort it out latter.”
But for Pauli it was already later. As they walked back down the street two guys appeared before them. Angel didn’t know where they had come from, they just seemed to drop from the sky like a couple of Ninjas, he was so out of it he didn’t even know what they were saying but what ever it was they were mad. Then he heard Pauli speak except he didn’t really hear him but he saw the word ‘motherfucker’ float out of his mouth, almost at the same time as he saw the gun.
Aniese watched as the four people who’d been standing at the end of her block seemed to be blown apart. They were all moving at first then one of them went down and then she saw the guy with the baseball cap stop and then she saw a gun in his hand and then she saw him shoot the guy on the ground in the head and then she saw him look at her. Frozen as she was with her key in the door she was sure she could hear that kid Angel who lived in her building, shouting are you having fun Aniese until she realised he was actually saying you gotta fuckin’ run Aniese. But she didn’t because now she was standing in her hallway and the door was closed and someone was kicking at it and shouting and it definitely wasn’t Angel this time.
Now Aniese did run. She ran the four flights up to her apartment and with shaking hands unlocked her door. Still unable to comprehend quite what had just happened, she dropped to her knees and crawled on all fours over to the sash window that looked out of the front of the building, and peered down to the street below. She couldn’t see Angel or the guy in the baseball cap or anyone at all. Then she heard a woman screaming, it was Mrs Schumacher from across the road, she was leaning out of her window crying “oh my gawd, oh my gawd,” which was pretty much the only thing she ever said about anything. Aniese crawled back across the room and out of her apartment. Then she went down a flight a stairs and started banging on the door of number eight.