Just A Car Ride To Staten Island
(Photo by Bald Punk – Photo from Wagner College, Staten Island)
Me, my lady friend(LF), Scrappy D, the pizza and Chinese delivery guys, along with Benny, “the cigar store Indian,” are on our way to Sandy Ground, Staten Island. We are searching for the ghost of a slave named Hardy. He’s the only one who knows the truth about the demon called Old Seven . . .
I’m trying to keep my posts shorter. So these are all the things I’m not going to tell you in the next one about our search for the ghost. I’m holding off on that installment for now, because I wasn’t paying close attention to everything that went down. Don’t think I screwed up or anything. I always think about U and try to remember as much as possible. I even write crap down.
But things were revealed in an unexpected manner. Just wait for the post. You’ll see.
So here’s what I won’t tell you in “said” post.
I’m not going to tell you anything about the car ride from our Manhattan apartment over to Sandy Ground. That’s because nothing happened. It was just your average car ride. We chilled and chatted.
I asked Benny, who believes he’s been reincarnated many times, if he had ever seen a bearded Indian. He laughed and said “yes.”
“How did you shave?” was my next question. I asked it as I looked directly into Scrappy D’s eyes, and rubbed noses with him. (I forgot to tell you that he was with us in the first post in this series.) He was zipped up inside my jacket, while I sat in the back seat. My LF was pressed in close to me, scratching the doggie’s head. “Bones, that’s what you used, right?”
(Photo by Bald Punk – Scrappy Doodles)
“Yes, also rocks, and shells,” said Benny, who was in the passenger seat. The pizza delivery guy was driving. (NO COMMENT.) And the Chinese delivery guy was on the other side of my LF.
“How the heck could you shave with a shell and not cut up your face?” I asked, looking out the window with Scrappy D–who had pressed his snout to the glass.
Benny laughed, and turned around in the seat. He looked at me–really focusing in on me. He rarely does that. I told you how he’s slight of build, doesn’t have the best teeth though has a warm smile. I never mentioned the force of his personality. That’s because I never noticed it before. When you’re with him, “it’s all about Benny, all the time.”
Maybe I need to be a tad more vigilant. I’m good at yelling at people to get them to do what I want. I’m also real good at breaking shit. That’s because I do demo work for a living. But I’m not so good at noticing the little things.
I need to change that. Especially now. That’s ’cause of late it’s starting to feel like I’m freewheeling down a dark road . . .
“You would be surprised how many things you can do when you focus only on what you’re doing,” Benny said, talking about shaving with rocks and shells. “It’s not like my Indian brethren were running off to work. We were living each moment, for the moment.”
The weight of his words shut me up for a moment. I planted my chin planted on Scrappy D’s head. We were on the West Side Highway. I gazed out the window over the Hudson River to the hilly shoreline of New Jersey.
–Scrappy D got passed around a lot in the back seat. I don’t hog him even though he’s my dog. He kept poking his nose at my LF and lathered her face with his tongue. Once she had him, the Chinese delivery guy was basically in her lap.
And you know what happened next, the pizza delivery guy kept looking back from behind the wheel. I yelled at him to keep his eyes on the road. I told him, “You can hold ‘the scrap-mister’ all you want whenever we got to wherever the heck we were going to.”
It took forever to find Sandy Ground. Not a single person in Staten Island knew where it was. I wound up accusing Benny, who is an old homeless man, of taking us on a joyride. I won’t gloat though I did howl when I finally found the address on my Blackberry. I “Googled” it.
But before that, in Brooklyn, we were holed up in traffic on the elevated Gowanus Expressway. There wasn’t much to see because we were stuck by rows of converted warehouses that are pressed right up to the roadway . . . Btw, I remember hearing a traffic report about twenty years ago along the lines of: “Roadwork begins today on the Gowanus, expect delays for the next ten years.” They have yet to finish “said” roadwork.
When we got to Staten Island, I saw many autumnally colored trees and mused, “What if leaves changed directly from green to brown and never turned all the beautiful colors; would Crayola have so many great colors?”
–Benny told us more about the demon named Old Seven, who he saw get off the same boat as Henry Hudson.
“I was lucky to catch a glimpse of Old Seven that day,” Benny said, who in one of his past lives posed as a cigar store Indian.
“September 12, 1609, was the date Hudson sailed into the harbor,” I injected.
“Yes,” Benny said. “As soon as I laid my eyes on Old Seven, he ran off like a scared child. He hid from me then as he does now. He knows who I am.”
“What do you mean, Benny?” my LF asked softly.
“It’s true that I am the same thin, meek, and unimposing person I was then,” Benny said and turned fully around in the seat. He wasn’t wearing a *seatbelt. “But I am still a full-blood Lenni Lenape. I am a Delaware Indian. I have knowledge gifted to me by the Great Spirit. He is the Master of Life. I don’t have to run to catch a man. The same goes for a demon.” He turned forward and lowered his voice. “I have Old Seven’s scent in my nostrils. I could find him if it was my desire.” He gazed out the window. “First we must talk to Hardy.”
“You saw Old Seven again, didn’t you,” I said to Benny.
He sighed, but didn’t answer.
“What do you hope to learn about Old Seven from Hardy?” my LF asked in about as sweet a tone as humanly possible.
Benny shook his head like old people do, and I couldn’t tell if it was a denial or a natural ailment. A full moment later he spoke cryptically, “No one knows the touch of evil better than Hardy.”
*It’s clear Benny does not ride around in cars all that much. That’s ’cause, he’s a freakin’ homeless dude. More than once I had to tell him not to take off his seatbelt, and to stop turning around. So please, no e-mails on car safety.
Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Nineteen – October 2009
(See more pics here: Mount Loretto in Staten Island)