One day, I stupidly decided to go visit
my old stomping grounds
in Far Rockaway
. I used to go to Brian Piccolo
IS53, an intermediate-grade school
. I knew a bunch of folks, but I had moved to upstate New York a few years previous. I happened to be down in the City, and stopped by to see what had changed in the neighborhood
It turns out everything changed. Things got so bad that they based a crime show on Court TV in Far Rockaway called The System. While walking by a candy store I used to stop in before school, I saw an old classmate named John. He was a shy kid that played basketball with me, and he was known for sucking on his index and middle fingers of his right hand. Here he was, years later, with the same two digits in his mouth. Here he stood, loitering in front of the "Old Chinese Guy's1" candy store. I knew it was him, except his eyes were burned out from the heavy drug usage. He had no idea who I was, or how I knew his name. All he wanted to know was if I had some money I could give him. Those shiny eyes, with their artistic2 potential, were vacant, exposing the nothingness within.
I haven't been back to Far Rockaway since.
1. Politically incorrect, but that's what us kids
called it in the 1970's.
2. He could draw some great cars, he had the 'gift'.