December 24, 2002

By Tenzin McGrupp

Pedro would get up early each morning, before his mother, and even before his grandmother, who’s daily routine began at 5:30 promptly everyday. Pedro would sneak out of his bedroom, the smallest bedroom in the apartment, which he shared with his oldest brother Marcus, who sometimes was passed out from too much cheap rum, or sometimes had not yet come home from wherever he had been partying that night. He would slowly pass his grandmother’s bedroom, carefully listening to make sure she was still snoring, and the surest sign that she was still sleeping. He’d then sneak past his mother’s bedroom, which she shared with his youngest sister, who moved into his mother’s bedroom after his seventeen year old sister, Marta had gotten pregnant by her Driver’s Ed teacher, and gave birth to a set of twins, one sleety January morning while waiting for the bus on 189th Street. If Pedro wanted to get any alone time, in the unusually large four bedroom apartment, but made restricted and cramped when all eight inhabitants were up and screaming and yelling and living the daily drama that happens each sarcastic morning and every appalling night.

Pedro pulled an old chair up to the window in his living room and peered out at the darkened street, which would soon be invaded by the onset of morning. He could hear the faint churning of garbage trucks making their pickups a few blocks away, but aside from that, the street was quiet. Pedro loved sitting in the window and watching what was going on outside. Sometimes he would make up stories about the people he saw walk in and out of the apartment. Especially those folks sauntering in and out at five in the morning.

On many instances, Pedro would watch his brother stumble home from his late night drunkcapades, after he stole a few wallets from idiot tourists gawking at Ground Zero, or picked the pockets of several cell phone yapping, not paying attention to anything 9 to 5ers in Midtown. Sometimes Marcus would be drinking with the superintendent’s wife, Lupe, and she would be carrying him home on her back. She was strong for her size.

Pedro’s dilapidated building had more than it’s fair share of sketchy tenants, whom made their way in life in unhealthy ways. He would see customers come and go, either buying or selling, or getting high, or pushing product, or sometimes he’d see older guys in suits, most recently white guys, in pleasantly tailored suits, and forty dollar haircuts, who’d be coming over at sun up to get their fix as they stopped off in Spanish Harlem from Connecticut en route to the office.

“I’ll be leaving early in the morning, dear, I have a breakfast meeting with our legal department,” as he casually lied to his trophy suburban wife, before he fired up the pipe for a hit of poorly cooked, improperly cut cocaine while sitting on the couch of his drug dealer, then properly medicated, he hastily sauntered next door to have a quickie with the crack whore du jour.

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

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