The Boy in the Bin

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Raphael sat in the chair, pondering his situation. He didn’t know what Eve said about the events in the vacant classroom, but he sure as hell would get in trouble. He asked Mr. Brooks if he might get a drink of water and Brooks nodded for him to go ahead.

As soon as Raphael exited the office, he headed straight for the exit doors. He ran fast to the subway entrance, slid down the poles to the platform floor and boarded the first train arriving.

He ended up on 125th Street; right in the heart of Harlem. This definitely wasn’t where he wanted to be. He took his time and located a south bound train making its way to Penn Station. With the day being early, he hoped he would run into his buddies. Maybe the guys would offer ideas how to extract him from his current problems.

He arrived at his stop and went up the exit, walking to the regular meeting spot. None of his friends seemed around as he paced back and forth, trying to figure out what to do. As he thought about the problem, a black Cadillac limousine rolled into a parking space and let out a familiar face. The car left as quickly as arriving.

“Sammy,” Ratso shouted, “over nhere.”

“Hey, when did you get out?” Sammy burst out, “And why are you here so early?”

“I’ve been out a while,” he answered, “but I got into trouble today. I bailed out of school.”

Sammy asked what kind of trouble Raphael meant. Raphael went into detail about his meeting with Eve in the empty classroom. He described the tender touching between them and getting caught by the math teacher.

“I ntried to ntell him she nwas nmy girlfriend,” Raphael whined, “but nhe wouldn’t listen. He called nmy mother. I couldn’t nthink of anything else to ndo except nrun. What should I ndo Sammy?”

“They can’t do shit Ratso,” Sammy assured. “You didn’t actually engage in sex with her, so they can’t get you for statutory rape. Even the age of consent doesn’t concern her claim. She consented and you consented. The worst to happen is they bounce you out of school. You’re what, 12 years old now?”

“I njust turned 12 last week,” Raphael affirmed.

“Well, there you go,” Sammy asserted. “You’re too young for the Coppers to even consider you anything but a kid. You got the deal made.”

“So they can’t arrest me?” Raphael questioned, “and I won’t go back to Lakeview?”

“Don’t worry about simple bullshit man,” he advised. “They’ve got more to worry about than you getting a hand job from some girl in school. Besides, you can always blame her. Ask Zipper when he gets here. He’ll tell you how he got off two rape charges; because he’s smart.”

Raphael took on a better feeling after hearing Sammy’s pep talk. He asked him about the black limo and Sammy informed him of his new employer.

“You nwork now?” Raphael expressed. “What nkind of njob are nyou doing?”

“I work for a guy named Mr. S.,” Sammy bragged. “I do little jobs for him. This morning I hit a t-shirt vendor in Chinatown and grabbed a quick $ 600 bucks. Usually I get a job assignment every week .”

Their conversation continued as the other members of the gang slowly arrived. Zipper, Flash, McPuke, Mitch and Bozo all joined in to welcome Raphael back from Lakeview. And they all wanted to hear the details. They talked for the better part of 45 minutes before deciding to do something.

“Hey,” McPuke broke in, “did you hear Mack is getting out of the slammer?”

“Who told you about Mack?” Sammy asked.

“I talked to his uncle last week,” McPuke explained. “Mack and I always stayed tight, even when he got caught red-handed trying to boost a car. He didn’t steal the car; only got caught sitting inside. Due to the circumstances, his lawyer got him off. He’s been doing a stint in Riker’s Juvenile section and should be coming home this week. ”

“Cool,” Sammy agreed. “Now, possibly we can get some wheels.”

Because of the winter months, nighttime got dark early in New York. Raphael considered himself lucky having his warm leather coat. Because he went to Lakeview, the shoplifting case got lost in the shuffle and he kept the jacket.

“Let’s celebrate by lighting something up,” Bozo proposed. “We haven’t done arson in a while.”

“Yeah,” Flash remarked, “we can go down into the Bowery. I can distract the bitches by showing off my tool while you guys find a target building.”

Raphael liked this idea too. Some time had passed since he threw a Molotov cocktail or left his mark on a building. He imagined his mother would find out about bailing from school anyway. He may as well enjoy his freedom for at least another day. He probably would be headed for another school next week.

“Piss on it,” he decided. “Count me in.”

“Count me in too,” Mitch chimed in. “I’m itching for something to do other than deal with those assholes at school. Simply going to Village Community School sucks.”

They took off and headed for the subway south to the Bowery. Raphael gloated about the decision because the Bowery section was fairly close to his residence and getting home would be easy. He told the gang about an abandoned ballroom down on Delancy Street.

“There’s a nplace called The Bowery Ballroom nthats has nbeen shuttered up for nyears,” he mentioned. “I’ll bet all nthat old wood would nburn pretty quick.”

A little old lady came out of one of the delicatessens on Lafayette Street as the boys walked along toward their destination. Flash took the initiative and charged the lady while opening his long coat. Underneath, he wore a pair of pants with the center section of the crotch cut out. The poor lady caught sight of Flash’s private parts and screamed; running up the street.

Everyone rolled with laughter.

At one of the litter bins on the street, Bozo found an old liquor bottle and a tattered shirt. He grabbed them both and told the rest of the gang to keep an eye out for a truck or a car. He needed to steal gasoline. Raphael ran back to the litter bin and found an empty Pepsi bottle.

He wanted to join the fun too.

Sylvia arrived in record time at The Dalton School, only to find out Raphael already left. Mr. Brooks explained how one minute he sat in a chair in the admin office and the next he disappeared.

“I busted my ass to get here Mr. Brooks,” Sylvia bellowed, “and I find out you let him go?”

“Mrs. Hernandez,” Brooks said calmly, “we think he feared we would make a call to the police. That’s why he ran.”

“So what are you going to do about this situation?” she demanded.

“He left us no recourse,” the administrator confessed, “we called the police and they will find him.”

Captain Bob Martin buzzed Lieutenant Paul Sherman on the intercom. Sherman worked in the office today, finishing up the paperwork sometimes he recently solved.

“Paul,” the voice blurted, “didn’t you deal with some kid named Hernandez?”

“Yes,” he replied, “Raphael Hernandez ... why?′

“I thought he got sent to Lakeview,” the Captain grumbled.

“He got out because of his father’s murder,” Sherman continued. “Remember the guy killed by that hood named Dexter? Why do you ask?”

“Because I just got a call from The Dalton School uptown,” he continued. “It seems Hernandez got caught molesting some girl. When they called his mother, he took off. He’s in the wind now.”

That little shit, Sherman thought. I can’t believe he’s back to his old tricks again.

“Captain,” Paul confided, “I know this kid. Sooner or later, he will turn up home. There’s nowhere else for him to go.”

In an alley off Lafayette Street, the boys found a Honda Civic parked under a street light. Mack crawled under the car and cut the fuel line while the other boys kept a lookout from the corner. He carefully dribbled the gasoline into the empty bottles. When both were filled, he dashed back to the waiting pack of punks.

“We need more little bottles,” Sammy said. “We can fill them up from the liquor bottle and everyone will get a shot at the Bowery Ballroom.”

The gang broke up and went to scour the litter bins along the street. Within minutes, everyone returned with a bottle suitable for filling with gasoline. McPuke tore up the dirty t-shirt they found and stuffed a piece into each vessel. Now came the waiting for the right moment. They would toss the Molotov cocktails at their intended target.

The gang walked down Delancy Street and spied the old abandoned building. The frame likely was built in the 1920′s because all the wooden doors and window frames appeared black and rotten. Bozo told them if the wood turned out to be very old, any fire should catch quickly once lit.

“Wait until I leave nmy nmark first,” Ratso said. “Afterward, nwe light up and run like hell. We can all nmeet on the subway to Penn Station.”

He ran across the street and spray painted his mark on the adjacent building. His new mark recently became an R-F in a circle with a zig-zag line underneath. He smiled at his artistic craft and ran back.

Sammy brought out a lighter for his cigarettes and lit the cocktails one by one. Each of the members took careful aim at the building and threw their liquid bombs hard . With the crash of glass, the building immediately burst into a cascade of flames; rising up two stories high. Like a gathering of cockroaches, the boys dashed in all directions

Within five minutes, the boys of mayhem celebrated and were acting giddy as they rode to Penn Station. They enjoyed much camaraderie between them and laughed at their successful project. They laughed until a transit cop entered their car.

“Whatchu boy’s been up to tonight?” he wondered.

“None of your business Copper?” Sammy sneered. “You’re just a rent-a-cop.”

“Perhaps that’s true,” he confirmed, “but I’ve got some big brothers.”

The door of the car opened up and four uniformed NYPD officers entered. Each carried a lead filled nightstick and they looked prepared to use them.

“You little assholes aren’t too smart,” the transit cop jeered. “A camera caught you all on tape. These fine gentlemen are here to escort you off this car and into a paddy wagon. Enjoy the rest of your night.”

The train slowed for its next stop and a contingent of five more officers waited at the platform. Every one of the gang members was fitted with their own set of handcuffs and escorted up the ramp to a waiting transport van. From there, they went to the precinct jail.

Ratso’s fun night out wasn’t so much fun after all.

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