Evan Nabavian doesn’t wait in bathroom lines.
The first man walked with casual consideration from the rose red awning of United Fried Chicken onto the corner of 139th Street and Lenox Avenue, a familiar haunt, but not quite comfortable these days. His brow creased with mild scorn whenever the surrounding familiars spoke. It was a practiced reaction from his days of petty dope dealing and he hadn’t yet shaken it off these last few years. He holstered his charisma and used it sparingly, like when there was a camera or a check involved. He wore a white t-shirt that fell below his waist, Timberland boots, and a chain with a cross big enough to put out an eye. His name was Cam.
Another man jockeyed for attention. His default expression was dour incredulity covered by a beard he inherited from his Puerto Rican father. He didn’t have his hair in braids tonight, so it fanned out like a screech owl. He wore a wifebeater and jeans that contradicted his diamond earrings and red carpet swagger. He was the louder one, provoking as often as he was provoked. Sometimes he would croak rare truth and you would have to admire him despite the contemptuous sneer and the smoke blowing in your face. This one’s name was Jimmy. He and Cam stood out amongst the group getting chicken wings that night in July, though perhaps not on purpose.
Passersby noticed them, but didn’t notice them. A girl slipped down the block like wine on satin. She had long brown legs that stole everyone’s attention and she knew it. The pink top was window dressing. The mob looked at her and she stared back, hard, allowing the smallest hint of a smile. Eyes that resolute never hid innocent intentions.
She placed her arms on her waist with a flourish, but didn’t say anything. Cam and Jimmy gave her an interested eye. A kid shot through the group and grabbed Cam’s chain. He looped it over Cam’s head in a single rehearsed motion and continued speeding down the block like a hornet. Jimmy alone reacted; he caught the shoulder loop of the kid’s basketball jersey and swung around in a circle. Jimmy released and the kid’s face smashed into a garbage can with a sound that could only just be heard above the taxis and subway cars.
A chill ran up the block. The kid got to his knees and they recognized him from 112th and 1st. Cam, indifferent to the erupting whispers and jeers, walked over and cracked the kid’s temple with a hard fist. Cam and Jimmy went back inside for a fresh order of wings and someone hung back to empty a bottle of malt liquor on the kid’s face.
An excerpt from Dipset Noir, reprinted with permission from King Jaffe Joe publishing and inspired by Knxwledge’s cinematic take on “Certified Gangstas.”