"Frank says you operate for him."
"That's right, sir."
"You don't look like all that much."
"That's maybe because I'm not all that much, sir."
He said "You don't say" just like that hawk-headed judge had. Maybe they go to the same school to teach them to say the same things like that. Then he sparked me with his cinder-black peepers and hit me with "How come Frank knows you ?"
"It's on account of Pepper, sir."
"Pepper ?! How come you know her ?"
"Pepper's my whore, sir."
He started to say "You don't say" again, but stopped before the whole don't. From what I hear it's rare for pigs to stop before the whole don't like that. He took me in, up and down. "You the nigger arrested coupla weeks back for kidnapping that girl. What'd you do with her ?"
"She's my whore too, sir."
"How'd you get Judge Whitmore to drop the case like that ?"
"I just said I didn't do it, that's all."
"You just said she's your whore."
"Yes, but saying is believing sir. You believed she's my whore and the judge believed I ain't done it."
"It's all starting to make sense now. Alright kid, what do you need ?"
"I need there's no house calls, for one thing."
"How many houses ?"
"Three or five."
"From time to time, Cap'n... you know how it is."
"I'll have to know where they are."
"There's no policeman that'll be without a warm meal in my watch. No sargeant no cap'n no respected visitor have any trouble to bunk by his rank neither. But some'd be secret, that's the course. We have to work soft together, them houses bud slow and it's nothing like waving a magic wand."
"We have to make arrests."
"Oh, Cap'n... I think you'll make more and better than anyone ever has. I'll see to that myself."
"What else ?"
"How's you stand on horse ?"
"Girl ? Gangster ?"
"I don't care. No horse, you hear me ?"
"I don't talk twice. On what we shake, that's what'll be."
"What else ?"
"Girls on the street."
"Keep it light. And clean."
"Girls gone from school."
"No white girls, if you've got half a coon's sense."
"Maybe a little yellow..."
"Don't start a fire you don't put out."
"Cap'n, the best thing in the world for a young girl is whoring out a spell. Builds character. All them cobwebbed prisses gone from sunday school to prayer house bringing this great country down. All that damn fool prohibition trouble they brought on. The time's nigh for a little prostitution now to wash the stupid out."
If I opened a secret trap door in his own office and showed him his Mama freaking off with Miss Peaches he wouldn't have been any more surprised. He didn't have where to put it on his face anyway. Then he just shook his hand like the judge had done and said "Get the hell outta here". I walked away, all the coppers in the whole precinct just peeping me on the dummy. It was freakish, like I put a spell on the whole precinct. I didn't know then but I found out much later, they had a big pow-wow all day long that day. Didn't arrest nobody or nothing. After I left the Cap'n got his detectives in his office, all of them, by clumps. He made like he didn't even know he was to sound them off. Maybe he really didn't know. He told them what the crazy nigger coon had said, like for laughs. They saw it like he said it, crazy nigger coon. Then one'd say maybe there's something to it, and they'd all warm up to the idea by degrees. Crazy nigger coon's alright, but wouldn't hurt anyone getting them preaching choir muffled out a notch. The way it worked out it was ten or twelve notches, but that's some later on. Then the detectives clumped up the sargeants, and by night time every two bit beat copper knew there's a new wind broken in town.
They didn't even offer me a ride back or nothing. I didn't flag a cab, I just walked down the street. A whore three blocks down gave me the come-on, but another with her flagged her down. I could make out their whispers, "Honey you don't know who that is ? That's Icebeck, he's the new pimp in town. He had Sweet Jones in a hold, up at the Roost." The clueless one protested I don't look like much. but another one said to her I'm kinda cute. That she'd freak with me anytime. The first one said "Oh yeah ? How come he's walkin' then", but by then I had walked too far to hear what they said. I heard a drugstore man tell an old rounded gent once that walking's the best thing for constipation. I don't know how true that is, I never get my gut stopped up. But let old Iceberg tell you straight, if you've got a head of thoughts rattling everywhere and won't come out, a mile's stretch's the best thing for it, get that stopped brain shitting and farting right again.
As I rounded the corner back towards the Roost I saw the white broad that was hot to freak off with me. She was holding the door open. Sweet and the rest of his menagerie filed out, his whores and the cat strutting out behind him all the way to that sweet Doozy on the curb. I somehow didn't want to run into them outside like that. I turned around sudden and pushed in the door to Nick's craps joint. The door smacked Preston a hard shot in the forehead. He had been peeping through a slat in the door blind. He rubbed his head. He looked scared. I almost leaped out of my hide. I didn't expect him there. His peepers were ballooning, looking past me to Sweet on the other side of the street. He said, "Kid, I told you he's nuts. You keep it up, a ground hog will be your mailman. To play it safe you better give me your Mama's address. I gotta know where to ship your corpse. Where you going now?" I said, "Look Preston, I didn't cut into him. He cut into me. Hell, I ain't no head-shrinker. I couldn't handle the maniac. I'm splitting to my roost, to think."
A tall brown-skin joker with a gleaming head of processed hair got out of a red Hog just then. Sweet's stable had already packed into the Duesenberg. The shiny-topped joker and Sweet took to rapping on the sidewalk. They pounded each other on the back. They looked like boon buddies. Miss Peaches stood lashing her tail at Sweet's side. When I looked at Preson again he was sucking air like a mackerel on the beach. He was fumbling a rusty owl-head twenty-two pistol in his paws. He was trembling like the zero second had come to assassinate maybe F.D.R. Wouldn't that have saved the world! He said, "Kid, you sitting here hating him, ain't you? You despise his guts. I saw the way you was looking at him. A bastard like him ain't got a right to live on God's green Earth. Do yourself and the world a favor, Kid. Take this rod and walk sneaky like down that sidewalk while he's rapping to Glass Top. Stick the barrel in his ear and pull the trigger. Then quick, blow the cat's brains out. It's easy, Kid. You can do it. Every nigger in the country will love you. Kid, it's your chance to get great. Go on, Kid, do it now. You ain't never gonna get a choicer chance."
I said, "Preston, I'm not hip to the murder game. I don't want to get hip to it. I don't want to blow his brains out on that sidewalk and waste them. I want his brains to work inside my skull. You on the other hand... you getting old, Preston. You can't cut no kind of mustard. Not dent it, no how. He screwed you around a thousand times worse than me. You can't lose for winning. Why don't you be the hero and croak him. Look Preston, take that tommy gun and split. I like you, but give me a break, huh? I've had a funky night and my skull needs a change." He flustered. "Kid, you think I ain't got the guts?" He started working himself up. "He ruined me, Kid. He destroyed me. He's just another nigger. He ain't no bear, and that cat ain't no tiger. I'm going over there right now and cash them out." Old Preston sprang out. I watched him all the way. That game leg had him tilting from side to side. He looked like one of those doughty "Spirit of Seventy-Six" jokers on the posters around the Fourth of July. I wondered if he was tanked up with enough rot-gut moxie to really fold Sweet's dukes across his chest for good. Preston was on the other side of the street only twenty feet from Sweet and Glass Top. His mitt was rammed into his benny pocket keeping the rod warm and ready. Preston's shoulders and back were stiff and straight. Sweet's back was toward me. He was facing the sidewalk. I thought, "The old dingbat may do it. He sure had reasons. Sweet put the hurt to him, at least to hear him tell it through. Will there be much gore? Will Sweet croak right away or flop around on the street like a chicken with its head wrung off? Will Miss Peaches leap up and cut Preston's throat? If Preston croaks him I'll have to cut into Poison. I'll bleed his skull then, if he'll be top pimp. Maybe a couple of all those whores Sweet's got will go for mine. I'd be some kind of sonuvabitching young pimp in a Duesenberg."
Preston came abreast of Sweet. He had slowed to an amble. I could see his yellow mitt easing out of his pocket. He got maybe three feet past Sweet and stopped. He was going to do it! He was coming back for a fatal flank sneak. At that instant Sweet turned his buffalo head and looked down at Preston. Miss Peaches stiffened. Old Preston bowed his bald head. He staggered back toward the Greek's joint. His shoulders were sagging. His back was a stooped slouch. Old Preston had missed that choice chance at glory he had tried to ply on me. I just sat watching Sweet and trying to plot a way to cut into him. It looked hopeless. Finally, Sweet got in the rear seat of his Duesenberg. The cat leaped into his lap. One of the white broads roared it away. I wondered where they're going. I saw Glass Top pat his greasy dome as he turned into the Roost. It came to me, that glossy-top stud with a face like a pretty whore's might be the tunnel into Sweet. I got out of the craps joint and walked towards the Roost. Inside, the joint was getting crowded. The married broad came to a skidding stop, elbowed a sucker, and pointed me to his now empty stool. The beautiful joker was on the stool right next to it. I sipped my Planter's Punch. I drummed my Stetsons against the stool legs. Hamp's "Flying Home" was rocking the joint. A kid could have been June's classmate killed it on that tenor sax. I heard later his name was Illinois Jack.
A pack of white broads had a booth behind me. They looked like they had come from a P.T.A. meeting. Their perfume sent a medley of sexy odors through the joint. They were flirting their cans off. I guess they were writers, doing maybe urgent research on "Sexually Baiting the Black Male" for their bridge club monthly. I wasted no time. I was afraid the pretty joker might split any moment. I snatched my eyes from the excited pack in the mirror. I turned my head toward him and touched him lightly on the sleeve. He sure was a wrong doer all right. He frogged at least three inches off his stool. It was like I'd stabbed him square in the butt with a red-hot poker. He turned his mug to face me, his long-lashed peepers popped wide in alarm. His ticker raced like maybe a cute nun's caught barebutt in the courtyard by Mother Superior. I said, "Jeez, excuse me, Jim. I didn't know you were in deep thought, I'm sorry I hit on you like a square. Are you the fabulous Glass Top ? It would be a boss honor to me if you let me buy you a taste." He looked me up and down, and snarled. "Who're you, nigger ?" I nodded at him and said "I'm Iceberg. I'm friends with Preston. He clued me in you're in town."
He patted his shiny mop and said, "Yeah, I'm Glass Top. What's your stupid story? You young studs sure ain't got no finesse. It drags me to get hit on like that. When somebody touches me I like to be digging it and facing the stud, don't you know that much? But I ain't salty. I dig you ain't nothing but a punk that needs his coat pulled to social polish and class. I ain't no lush. You can spring for a Coke if you want. Tell her to sugar it heavy." The Mexican broad spooned sugar into a glass and brought his Coke. He stirred it with a straw. He raised the glass to drink. I noticed ugly black streaks tracing the veins on his light-brown mitt. No lush maybe, but he was a junkie for damn sure. He'd know where to cop C for the Pep, and probably gangster for the runt. He was also a pal of Sweet's. If I was gonna throw a stone, why not throw it towards where's two birds, anyhow ? He said, "So, you know Preston? What's your racket? You tapdancin' tills or maybe gone all out. Huh?" I said, "I been knowing Preston since I was a kid. I used to buff his stomps back when he was pimping upstate Illinois. I'm no snatcher or burglar. I just mack a little on the side. I know you must be pimping on the top. I saw you rapping to the best pimp there is." He said, "You mack? I ain't never heard of you. Where you been, Siberia?" He took a drag off his slush. He looked up at me again. "Sweet ain't the best pimp there is. I am. Pimps are just like cars. The best known ain't no real yardstick to the best car. It's like I'm a Duesenberg and Sweet's a Ford. I got all the quality and beauty. He's got all the advertising and all the luck." I looked at him scratching my head. "Ain't he drive a Doozy ?" Glass Top looked at me like he couldn't decide if I'm dumb or just pulling his leg. "So he got more whores than I got. Better looking, too. A whore's looks ain't where it's at, and he ain't working them half as hard. He's got no discipline with them. These whores in town ain't hip to how great I am just yet. When they wake up to me I'll have to fight 'em off with a baseball bat. How many girls you got?"
I looked at him with a shit-eating grin pasted on my face. "My girl, she freaks around. When I catch her I make the joker I catch her with pay up." I said it serious but my eyes were laughing the whole time. He laughed, banging his mitts against the counter. The tamale zipped in by his side. She thought he was banging for her. Glass Top bellowed out "I betcha love her, too." I looked at him said "Sure, man. We're gonna be married, too. One day." Reached up to my nose from both sides and pulled on it. "Just look how open my nose is for her." It gave him fits. He laughed and laughed, then batted me on the shoulder. "You're alright, kid. You're alright. I'm going to go take a crap."
Through the mirror I saw him go out. When he walked past them that panting pack behind me turned as one. It was like Gary Grant had walked out. I had the tamale bring him another drink. I told her to doctor it for him, just fill the whole glass all the way up with straight sugar and then pour a teensy bit of coke to make it look alright. I saw him turn left towards the Greek's joint. I knew he was going to Preston to check me out. That tenor sax was moaning gut-bucket blues to raise the dead. Some joker was singing "Going down slow; Don't send no Doctor; Doctor sure can't do no good; Please write my mother, tell her the shape I'm in; I'm going down slow." I remembered it was my father's favorite record. He had kept it spinning on the rich Victrola. I remembered his shocked face there in the doorway when he discovered it and everything else gone. I wondered if he were alive and still in town. If I ran into him I sure wouldn't know what to say to him after all these years. I saw the silk chicks crane their necks toward the door. I switched my eyes left in the mirror. I saw Glass Top coming back in. Those chickens were clucking when he sat down. I said, "Jack, aren't you afraid those silk broads back there follow you in the alley and rape you raw?" He said, "Shit, if you stripped and searched all of 'em you wouldn't find a C note. You wouldn't find enough to stitch a C note together. They ain't nothing but square housewives. They sick of that half-ass screwing at home. They laying to swindle chump niggers outta their youth. They know enough on each other to keep all their jibs sealed. Ain't a chance for their husbands to tumble to what's going on. So what if some white joker who knows 'em made this scene and saw 'em? Everyone of 'em is just slumming out with the girls. Jack, what they got is a secret sex club."
I said, "Top, I'm frayed. I sure wish I had a snort of girl. Can you score?" He told me, "Ice, I believe you are a down young stud. I love you 'cause you got heart. I got news for you. You can score right with me. I got the best girl and boy in town. Even my reefer is dynamite. How much and what kinda stuff you want?" I said, "What's the bite for girl?" He came back on a string, like he'd said it a zillion times that way. "A fin a number-five cap. A sixteenth for a C. A piece for a grand. I got a cozy pad around the corner if you want a taste. You can fly to the moon there, buddy mack." I said, "Let's split to your pad. If your girl is mellow I'll maybe go for a piece." I dumped a saw on the log. The Mexican showed me her choppers like I was her dentist. Glass Top shook his head. "Kid, what you doin' ? I had a coke. You had a rye, I saw you when you came in. A buck or two's enough for that." Her smile was gone. She laid out a fin with three bones on the log. I copped with my right mitt, passed them under Glass Top's nose into my left, and while making like I'm stuffing them in my pocket I plonked them right back on the log where they had started out in life. I wasn't gonna stiff the broad out of eight slats for her five loads of Coke sugar and clearing out the stool I wanted for me. Three square black studs were standing, rapping to the purring pack in the booth.
We went out and got in Glass Top's Hog. The Hog shot from the curb like a red torpedo. Eckstein's syrupy "Cottage For Sale" oozed from the radio. I wondered what the runt's doing with her cop, and Phyllis with the young kittens. Glass Top padded in a plush apartment building. It had all the jazz. Technicolored lights spotlighted the exterior. Fake rubber plants stood tall in the foyer. We took a chrome-and-brass elevator to the second-floor. Thick red broadloom carpet wall to wall in the hall. Fresh black and gold paint sparkled the walls and ceilings. A Polynesian-type dream bare up top took our bennys and my lid in a small silver-mirrored entrance hall. Glass Top sat down. I sat down too. She was back and kneeled going for my stompers. I thought maybe she'll shine them with her tits ? She got them off my feet, then Glass Top's too. He walked off and I followed, my feet sunk to the ankles in the soft lavender carpet. I could hear the deep-throated boom of a console phonograph. The Ink Spots' lead tenor was parfaiting "Whispering Grass." I followed Top with the olive-tinted beauty in tow all the way to the womb-like living room. Double heavy lavender drapes covered the windows. Not a beam of street light or sunshine could violate this pimp's purple lair.
Top and I sat on a long gray sofa. The ceiling was lowered with silver lame fabric. The only light in the room came through the glass-topped cocktail table. It gurgled and flashed a pale green light. A score of yellow, red, and orange tropical fish streaked inside the table. It was like an acquarium. If you set your fingers on the glass top sometimes the streakers came to try take a bite. The broad's eyes were dreamy. She slunk herself on her knees at his side. Glass Top put his mitt on her head. She purred just like a real pussycat. The table's moving lights played and tricked with her itty bitty nipples. She didn't say anything, just gazed far away. Glass Top said, "Bring a coupla outfits and some caps of girl and boy. Oh yeah, Iceberg, this is Radell." She said "Welcome to Paradise, Iceberg" in a voice like a hush, then wiggled that awesome round ass of hers past me where he sent her. The big white phonograph in the corner was booming out a novelty tune. "When your pipes get dry then you know you're high. Everything is dandy. You truck on down to the candy store but you don't get no peppermint candy. Then you know your body's sent, you don't care if you don't pay rent. Light a tea and let it be if you're a viper." I thought "This pretty gowster is sure pimping his ass off, but he's the craziest gowster that ever lived if he thinks he'll con me into banging any H, or for that matter shooting anything." I said, "Jim, you sure ain't jiving. Your layout is a sonuvabitch." He said, "I got five bedrooms here. These whores on this fast track dig front and flash. You can't pimp here unless you got 'em. Jack, this C I got ain't going to let you split for awhile. You may as well shed your threads and get in the groove." I said "Glass, man, I'm not about to shoot. I'll take a snort, if you got something worth the snort. If it's to my taste I'll send a bitch later with the grand for a piece. I trust you, man, that it'll be a piece of the same stuff I tried out, and that you won't cop my whore. You can try her out if you want, a line for a line. I'll take your word for some gangster for the stable, too. I don't know cardboard from reefer myself, but they old nags love chewing on that hay, you know ?"
He opened his mouth to say something just as Radell came in with the outfits, a spoon and a dozen white and brown caps. She put them on the cocktail table bending from the ass, back straight, knees straight. I could smell her fresh scent through the thin skirt on her. He said, "You want to try this bitch out ?" I reached out to pat the plump behind she was putting under my nose. I said "I'm sorry, man. I've been sampling schoolgirls all day. None of them half as pretty as Radell either, and a bitch to break through that shit they put on their pussies when they're born. I couldn't get up for Jezebel herself. I wish I had known aforehand and saved some to put where it's worth putting, but then Glass Top my man, them's the breaks. You never know what you gonna need it for later, when you give it up." The broad turned her pretty oval toward me. She gurgled a pearly laughter through her half-open lips, her eyes still distant. Glass Top was laughing his ass off. He said to her "This joker's been this way all day, I'm getting the splits in my sides from him." Then he turned to me and said "You do what you want like you was at home, Ice. I got the merchandise, you tell me what's what." She helped him out of his duds, leaving him in candy-striped silk shorts. She sat herself in between us. She hooked her skirt all the way up and lifted a leg over Glass Top's left and another over my right. She put her arms flush along the back of the sofa. She had her cat wide open for a grab. I cupped her titty just to be polite.
The phone on the end table beside Glass Top jangled. He uncradled it and said, "You've reached Paradise, what's your desire? Oh yeah. Yeah ? Yeah. Ok. I'm on it." He hung up and said, "Rad, put something on and get to the Franklin Arms. Say hi to that guy Angelo, the head bellhop. Dimples and the rest are in over their heads. You gotta help turn some of that action. Take the kitty and get there fast." The broad zipped out of there like fireworks. She sure liked getting her man some money. He turned to me, "Sorry Jack, you've missed your chance." I said "Those tricks at the Franklin are going to give their swipes a treat as sure as sugar". She smiled at me again on her way out. He ran it down for me, "That's a good young bitch I got there. I copped her in Hawaii a year ago. There are twenty-thousand white suckers in town for a convention on shoe shining. They got a double saw in one hand and their swipes in the other, every last one of them to a man. Radell just copped some doss, my other whores ain't had no sleep in thirty-six hours. I can't miss a five G score for the three days even with Angelo's thirty percent off the top. Ain't but a C a day for a girl in oil for the heat." I thought back to my magnificent cocksucker, and how she got me almost four grand in one night, no oil for the heat no nothing. Then thinking about pigs it came back to me how she got me a discount off my first offer, and how it's by the block a week, not by the girl a day. I thought Pep's worth about a million in cold hard cash if she's worth a buck, no question about it.
He got up and whistled his belt through the loops in his pants. He walked back and started to coil it around his arm just above the elbow hollow. I said "Look Top, you've been a perfect host, but don't cook for me." He said, "Kid, I ain't squeezing your balls to hip you that after Mink comes Sable. Ain't nothing a greater blast than horse. It's your privilege to wake up slow if you want. Horse is what puts the ice in a pimp's game." He upended a cap of girl on the table, and cut it up into thin lines with the Ace of Spades. "You got a horn ?" he asked. I shook my head. He gave me a stout ivory one, flaring out at the business end. I felt my blood smashing against the tight coils of my skull. I saw blue and purple veins balloon and blow up through the dimness on the walls. The sharp, sicklysweet odor of girl hit me then. My palms were dripping sweat. I turned my head and closed my eyes. I bit down on my bottom lip waiting for the crazy glow of the nose drip. From far away he echoed "Damn! You alright kid ?" I shivered. That was some god damned fucking girl this nigger peddled. I had thought Pepper's was the best on account of never having had anything else, but hot damn! I opened my eyes and looked. The whole air floated around like yellow jello. Then it was like a ton of nitro exploded inside me. My ticker went around itself. I could feel it clawing up my throat. It was like I was June, with a million swipes fucking me in every pore from head to toe. It was like they were all popping off together in a nerveshredding climax.
I was quivering like a joker in the hot seat at the first jolt. I tried to open my talc-dry mouth. I couldn't. I was paralyzed. I could feel a hot ball of puke racing up from my careening guts. I saw the green, stinking puke rope arch into the black mouth of the wastebasket. I felt the cool metal against my chest. I saw Top's manicured fingers pressing it close to me. He was saying, "You'll be all right in a minute, Kid. Don't worry yourself. You thought I was bullshitting when I told you I had the best stuff in town, huh." I still couldn't say anything. I felt like the top of my skull had been crushed in. It was like I had been blown apart and all that was left were my eyes. Then tiny prickly feet of ecstasy started dancing through me. I heard melodious bells tolling softly inside my skull. I looked down at my hands and thighs. A thrill shot through me. Surely they were the most beautiful in the Universe. I felt a superman's surge of power. I thought, "It was a cinch that any stud as beautiful and clever as me would become the greatest pimp in history. What bitch could resist me? I turned and stared at the ugly stud beside me." He said, "Did you hear those chapel bells? Ain't they a bitch, Kid?" I finally could speak again. "Yeah man, I heard 'em loud and clear. I guess I'm married now. Your girl sure is the bang. The only time I'll talk to anyone else after this is when you make yourself a monk." He said, "Ice, you sure know how to butter a side of toast. Just don't forget where to cop. The more you buy, the cheaper I'll make it for your wanna-be chili pimp ass. Something tells me we gonna be tight."
He had a time trying to score for himself. He was only around thirty-two, but most of his veins had folded. He finally hit pay clay in his inner right thigh. He kept the needle in, pumping the horse into the vein then drawing it out. I said, "Jack, why the hell do you screw around like that?" He said, "Man, you ain't hip? That's where the thrill is. When I jack this joint off the horse kicks my ass groovy." His eyelids were coming down heavy. He was coasting. I thought, "Now's the time to crack on him to see about Sweet. I gotta phrase it right. This joker envies Sweet." I said, "Top, I was thinking how much more common sense and cool you got than your pal Sweet." His hands froze. His eyes beat his mouth to the question. I guess Preston hadn't told him all that much. Maybe his chicken act blocked Sweet out of his mind. Top shot, "You know Sweet personally?"
"I met him in the Roost, that's all. He said that tall blonde made of legs of his wants me to freak-off with her. He offered me a double saw to do her kitten in. The heat rolled on me just then. I guess now I have blown my chance to get acquainted with him, huh. I don't suppose anybody in town is strong enough with him to square me and cut me into him. As foxy as you are Top, I wouldn't be shocked if you couldn't cut it. After all, the man is complicated. He don't make any sense to me, but from what I hear nobody'd want a crazy enemy like that. So Top, say the word if it's over your head. I'll forget it, try and stay out of his way. I'll take my chances that way. I love you Top, I don't want anything to happen to you on my account." He gobbled it raw and whole. Horse is good for something after all. He flung his girlish head back and rolled off the sofa to the floor. He held his elbows against his belly and laughed like I'd told the funniest joke human ears had ever heard. He was gasping for air by the time he finally came to. He patted his mop. "Sweet ain't more dangerous than those fish, sucker," He stopped to press the clutch in his throat, gearing up. "He ain't never croaked anything but yellow Niggers. He's croaked four of them in the last twenty years. He ain't croaked nobody in over ten. He's ninety percent bull scare. He don't kill nobody, even if they bad mouth him. Maybe if a joker tried to muscle his whores and hurt one bad, if that. But he sure hates white folks. He pimps awful tough on white whores. When he puts his foot in their asses he's really doing it to the white man. He says he's paying 'em back for what they daddies done to black folks. His brain is rotted from hate. Sheet. He probably wouldn't know you if he saw you again. There's no way he's salty with you for being rolled on. Even a square from Delaware should know this much, you poor boob. I tell you what. I gotta take him some stuff this weekend. I'll buzz your crib to let you know just when. I'll stop on the way and pick you up. I'll take you with me to his pad. He ain't nothing but a big ugly nigger with a filthy loud mouth."
I said, "I pad at 29th and State, in that Blue Heaven dump. Just tell the clerk you want me. Top, you gotta overlook my dumbness. I told you I was just a kid in darkness needing some brain to light the way. Top, I sure appreciate your coat-pulling. See you later, Pal." He asked me if I'm taking off. I said, "Top, I gotta split. Remember me now, I want two pieces of that girl. Not one, two. A can of reefer too." He asked me "Which kind ? I got light green pot from chili gut country, that'll make a whore mellow and any stud a whore. I got black bronze reefer from Tenerife that'll make a square bitch forget her home. I got..." he droned on, drowsily. "How many kinds you got, man ?" I put out. "Six... seven... eight" he started counting, eyes closing and opening halfway again. "One can of each. What's that, the can ?" He nodded at me. "Twenny the can. Six to the bill". "Ok Top, two pieces of that girl and six cans of reefer, different kinds. Your pick. I'll have a whore over with the dough later tonight. You call me on that other deal, alright ?" He nodded. Then he opened his eyes wide. "You remember me now, Top ?" He said "Don't worry about me, kid. See you around." clear as a bell. I walked into the entrance hall. I looked around, found where Radell had put my stuff. I got my shoes back on and split. My ticker was speeding inside my frosty chest like I had ran a mile in two minutes to get to the elevator three doors down. I flinched before the stark street lights.
It musta been nine, nine-thirty. The sky was a fresh, bright pitch. This first April night had gone whore for some sucker that gifted her with a shimmering bracelet of diamond stars. The fat moon lurked like an evil yellow eye staring down at the pimps, hustlers, and whores hawking for a mark or a cop. I felt the raw tenderness of first April winds lashing at the hem of my white alligator. I felt the birth stirrings of that poisonous pimp's rapture. I felt powerful and beautiful.