Category Archives: Paul Greenberg

Cleaning Up The Neighborhood

Rainbow Street is one hundred yards of concrete by twenty-five yards of nothing. Every other house is rewarded with a dead tree. There are eight, cookie cutter triple-deckers, on each side of the street.
+++++Back in the day we called it the projects but now it’s just low-income housing. Working people or people in “transition” trying to get by or catch a break of some kind. Just like me.
+++++I’d been here for about three months and one thing that I’d learned, as I walked my dog up and down the street, is that you don’t see too many people. This isn’t a block party kind of place. There are no backyards for one thing. My second floor apartment looks right up the ass of the house over on the next block.
+++++You do hear gossip though. Rainbow was a place ripe with stories. I got into the habit of looking up the police fire beat on the Internet to see who got busted for cooking meth in their kitchen or BBQ-ing pig in their bathtub.
+++++Tuesday is always a good day to catch up on the latest dirt because it’s trash day. I dragged my barrels from the back of the building and I always stopped by the first floor to see if Edna Washington had anything going out and that’s when I ran into the neighbor in the house to my right. Known to me only as Hank. “Hey, he said. You hear about that wife-beating bastard up the street, Bill Wilson?” “No.” I said. “You got any proof to back that up? Otherwise, I wouldn’t be talking out of hand like that.” “Oh, it’s true.” Hank said. “It’s most definitely, true.” He dropped his bag on the street and headed back to the rear of his house.
+++++Later that evening I checked the Internet for news on Bill Wilson and sure enough there was a complaint of a couple arguing loudly at his address.
+++++Next Tuesday, I woke to the sound of the garbage truck. I pulled on a pair of sweats and leashed my dog for a walk. It looked like the barrels had lost another war as they lay haphazardly across the field of battle. My neighbor, Hank was standing there straight as a rigid dick with his hand lightly touching the top of one of those giant industrial trash bags, his fingers nervously dancing across the top.
+++++My beagle, Rocky, went straight for the bag like it was filled with raw meat. “Whoa, boy.” I said and gave him a yank. “Get that fucking dog away from me.” Hank screamed. I was shocked at his reaction and pulled Rocky in the other direction, deciding to take the back stairs up to avoid Hank, who was obviously off his fucking nut this morning. I’ll get the freaking barrels later.
+++++Upstairs, I pored myself a cup of coffee and watched as two brutes got out of the truck and heaved his bag of whatever the fuck, into the back and take off after lowering the boom on the thing.
+++++It was business as usual until one morning I came out and saw one of Hanks’ giant industrial bags of shit sitting unattended on the curb. I had Rocky with me and he started to grrr at the bag and I looked around for any signs of Hank. I got closer to the big grey monster and kind of toed it a bit. My balls almost hit the ground as I heard what sounded like a muffled harrumph come from inside the bag.
+++++But before I could explore any further the trash men came by and the same two brutes jumped out like they just saw me tongue their mother. “Something we can do for you Mr. Dog Walker?” “No.” I said. Good comeback, asshole, I thought. “Well, if you don’t want to see the inside of one of these bags I’d clean up after your pooch and take off.” Brute One pointed to the ground where Rocky had dropped a steamy bomb. I bent down and picked it up in a plastic bag tied it off and tossed it into the back of their truck. “Kind of territorial, aren’t you?” I gave them my best, fuck you sneer, and walked on. They tossed in Hank’s bag and the rest of the trash and crushed it. I listened for any sound that might be human but couldn’t hear anything over the metal on metal screech of the blades.
+++++I started to obsess about crime in the area and particularly on Rainbow Street and even started to buy the local newspaper in fear of missing something on the Internet. I also dug up a pair of binoculars so that I could keep an eye on Hank, who after some research in the public records I find out is, Henry William Curtis divorced father of one, 51 years old, unemployed city worker drawing a pension, fired for “excessive drinking” on the job. I never knew there were tiers of drinking on the job. I thought you were either caught drinking on the job and got fired. But, apparently you could work until you hit the, “excessive drinking” at work, level. Then you got fired. Live and Learn. I also started to map out the street. Names and addresses, moved in and out dates and crimes and misdemeanors.
+++++If Hank was into some kind of kill club, then I had to get close to him. But, putting on a friendly face was difficult for me. I am not the most engaging guy and I had to do this without the help of man’s best friend and magnet, with whom Hank had taken a disliking to.
+++++I saw Hank out my window one day with a plastic white shopping bag picking up scraps of paper. His lips were moving faster than a chicken’s ass.
+++++I stepped out on the stoop and he perked up and said, “Look at me, cleaning up the neighborhood.” “Yeah, how bout that.” I said. “Here, let me give you a hand.” I started to pick up soda cans, cigarette packs and vodka nips. He offered the bag to me and I dropped the trash in.
+++++“This was never a nice neighborhood.” He said, apropos to nothing. “You know the saying, money goes to money and shit goes to the dump.” “No, can’t say I’ve ever heard that one.” “The people that rent these dumps?” He went on. “They just keep renting to the same maggots, whores and niggers.” “Whoa boy.” I said. “Do not let me hear you talk like that again, you hear me?”
+++++Shit, I thought if I blow my cover now I’ll get nothing from him. But I’ll be damned if I’ll become Jimmy the friendly neighborhood racist. “Whatever.” He said. “I do think the local PD could come down harder on local crime.” I offered up feebly. He bit. “Yeah, that’s right. Hey, I’m going to a local town meeting next week. You should attend with me.” “Yeah, maybe I’ll do that.”
+++++He was tying up the little trash bag when he asked if I’d like to come up for a coffee. He looked me in the eyes and kind of titled his head like he was thinking about something else or maybe just checking me out. I got a chill up my spine and a lump in my throat, which I cleared and said, “Sure.” No turning back now.
+++++We walked up to his third floor abode. All of the apartments were the same in these tenements. Some were singles, like mine, his was a three bedroom. One bedroom he used for storage, another as an office. The kitchen was adjacent to the small living room separated by a wall with a tiny bathroom off to the right.
+++++What hit me as soon as we entered was a metallic smell like he had been painting. I caught a splotch of red as we passed the bathroom and thought he must be doing the walls over. We walked into the kitchen. He had coffee already brewed and it smelled good. He asked me to sit and I took a spot at a teak table under a seascape he had hung on the wall. The table had a place setting for one, some paper napkins in a wire basket and a set of knives in a teak block with matching cleaver. I nervously grabbed the cleaver by the handle and realized that Hank had been carrying on a one-way conversation. I came to when I heard him say, “Your black neighbor, Edna Washington is a nosey bitch. I don’t know if you knew that.” “What?” I asked. “What about Edna?” I said. “That black woman is nosey. “Always butting into everyone’s business, especially mine. I see her looking out her window at me and I think she’s making notes of some kind.” “My NEIGHBOR is just an old broad who doesn’t bother anyone and you’re a paranoid fuck if you don’t mind me saying.”
+++++That said, I excused myself to go to the bathroom and started planning my exit. Whatever I had thought might be happening here didn’t amount to shit and I needed to spend my time at a gym or trying to get laid or trying to get laid at the gym.
+++++I headed to the bathroom before he could stop me. That’s when I discovered the corpse of Edna Washington in his bathtub. I turned and Hank was standing there still holding the glass pot of coffee like he was about to offer me a refill. My own hand still held the meat cleaver. I swung it and nearly split Hank’s head down the middle. Hank dropped the pot of coffee, which miraculously didn’t break, spun around a couple of times like he was doing some kind of zombie twerk, before falling on his face. Dead.
+++++The apartment was so quiet you could hear the piss dripping down my leg.
+++++My brain went into overdrive: Edna Washington will be reported missing. Cops will go from house to house asking everyone what they knew. They’ll get to Hank’s apartment. He won’t answer. They’ll go away or they’ll open up. If the open up they’ll see the mess and put two and two together and figure he killed her and took off. The only way I’ll get caught is if someone sees me coming and going. I have to be stealth and I have to get moving. I have two bodies to dispose of.
+++++Edna was a twig. I could circle her wrist with my finger and thumb. So hacking her up wasn’t a problem. I kept my brain busy by reminding myself to wipe everything down and to keep the blood in the bathroom, so I planned to clean up there and not the kitchen. I put the remains of Edna Washington in one of Hank’s giant bags and put it near the back door. Hank was more of a project. I worked him over diligently and when I looked up, three hours had gone by. It was dark out. I cleaned up and pinched some sweats and a tee shirt from Hank’s wardrobe. Tossed my clothes in a separate bag that I’ll bring back to my place and dispose of later. Mr. Curtis went out the back door with Edna.
+++++I wiped everything down. It was Monday night. Tomorrow was trash day.
+++++Look at me, I laughed. Cleaning up the neighborhood.

The Legend Of Ballsack Billy

Ballsack Billy Sullivan was a legend in this town. As notorious for his nickname as he was for the crime that he had committed. A crime, that lit this shithole of a town on fire, for a month or so, securing his place and mine, in local lore for years to come.
+++++The story of the nickname goes like this. One day Billy Sullivan emerged from the funk of the high school locker-room shower, gym class, 1994, displaying for the first time publicly, at age 14, the largest scrotum anyone had ever scene.
+++++We’re talking mutant big. We’re talking, how does he not walk bow legged big, extra large jock strap big, looking like a water balloon… big. You get it.
+++++Why someone hadn’t dubbed him “Super Scrotum” or some other alliterative is not known. My guess is that if you had polled anyone in that locker-room, they would have said that a scrotum was, a plant or some new kind of exotic food. Used in context it would go like this; “The place is littered with Scrotum.” Or, “If you go to that new place, try the Scrotum.” So, it ended up being a case of “go with what you know.”
+++++Of course, it could all be bullshit. I wasn’t there to witness it. I know I didn’t believe it. I mean a kid with a world record set of balls would be in the Guinness Book of World Records, right? Of course, this was all pre- Internet. If it had happened today Billy would have his own reality TV show, a movie contract, maybe a shot on Dancing with the Stars. To me Billy was a punk with a head shaped like a pie plate and a pimpled face you just wanted to smack. I didn’t give a crap about his balls, except wanting to give him a swift kick in them given the chance.
+++++Well, the moniker must have bugged Billy, because after that, he pretty much kept to himself. He did manage to graduate with us, in 1998. Over the next ten years, you might hear the occasional barroom tale of Billy drowning some gal in his juices or floating out to sea to save someone from drowning. But for all intents, Billy was disappeared.
+++++I grew up to be Officer Leon Savage and I patrolled this sleepy seaside jerk water town by the name of Chapman. A community that always carried the down wind stink of the algae from the ocean. Chapman had been immune, for a while, to any type of crime except for the occasional drunken argument or break in. I used to spend a lot of time napping behind the donut shop, directing traffic and keeping an eye on the stores on Main Street until Billy showed up. From then on we had to triple our staff and budget because of scumbags trying to do what Ballsack Billy failed to do.
+++++I’ll never forget the day I saw the legend himself return in a crappy Ford Windstar mini van.
+++++For lack of anything else to do I put the car in gear and, keeping within a safe distance, followed Billy down Main Street to the Fish House, where he pulled the car into the parking lot, next to the boats that were up on trailers for the season. He sat and lit a cigarette as I watched him from the curb across the street. If he noticed me he didn’t acknowledge it. I watched him, finally realizing that he was watching the bank on the opposite corner.
+++++We each sat there for better part of an hour. Me watching him, watch the bank. Him throwing butt after butt out of the window, the interior of the car a haze of grey smoke.
+++++He finally put the car in gear and I let him drive off, thinking that it may be best to keep an eye on the bank for the next few days. If he made a move I was going to be there to take him down.
+++++Sure enough, it happened a week before Thanksgiving. Timed before the locals emptied their accounts for the holidays. Billy drove from the Fish House parking lot to the front of the Essex Bank, got out of the car with something clearly stuck in the back of his dirty blue jeans.
+++++He wasted no time, going up to the teller wearing one of those clear plastic masks over his face and fake rubber dick attached to the outside of his pants looking like a character from A Clockwork Orange. It appeared he had embraced his moniker after all.
+++++I followed him in, dropped to my knees and shouted, “Billy!” He turned, showing what was clear to me to be a toy gun, his toy dick flapping in all directions. I took aim and put one in his head, chest and one right in that famous ballsack of his.
+++++He fell on his knees and then flat on what was left of his face, bleeding, to the screams of the teller, the bank manager and Old Man Tyler the security cop.
+++++For show, I kicked away Billy’s toy pistol, pulled his wallet, rolled him over on his back and took down his mask.
+++++“Do you know him, Leon?” Old Man Tyler asked me as I handed him the wallet.
+++++“You mean you don’t?”
+++++To each his own legend, I supposed. Ballsack Billy Sullivan was dead.