zingmagazine10 autumn 1999







about zing


8 poets making it new
generation z
lutwidge finch
the back of beyond

It is on the opposite side of the street from number 45. Once there, Jack opened the driver’s door, stepped out, and walked to the rear of the taxi. He opened the trunk lid and I took out my carry-on. I handed him three one dollar bills. This was supposed to simulate fifty dollars: two twenties and a ten. The payment is acted out in the unlikely event that Mo is waiting for me in the lobby of 45. MO would see me pay the taxi driver for the trip from Newark Airport.

The taxi drove off, leaving me on my own. I crossed the street and entered 45. I walked to the bank of three elevators. Waiting with me were two people, one of them was an agent. When the elevator door opened, we walked into the car. I pressed eight, the floor where the travel agency is situated. The doors closed and the car rose to the eighth floor.

Exiting the elevator, I turned left toward the office. I noticed another agent in the hallway. I am seeing agents all over, and this gave me a strange sense of security. Reaching the office door, I turned the door knob and pushed into the office, or at least that was what I tried to do. The door wouldn’t budge. It was locked. I knocked on the door, all the while wondering what was going on. Because I got no answer, I began thinking that MO was not in the office. I didn’t know what to do. I was angry, furious! I spoke into the wire.

“You screwed up!” My words were vitriolic. “Your fucking UPS agent’s made him skittish! He’s bolted! MO is gone!” I am outraged at this point.

After deciding to cooperate—agreeing to make a controlled delivery, flying from Chicago to New York, making two monitored phone calls, wearing a wire, participating in the planning, and mentally preparing myself for the physical danger inherent in this operation, MO was gone! The plan is “kaput”.

Standing there, feeling like a total fool, I recalled what a friend told me years ago: “The more intelligent a person is, the more he has to adjust.” I felt that I was adjusting all over the place but getting no relief. But thinking about what he said to me gradually assuaged my anger, my fury. I walked to the elevators, punched in the down button, and spoke into the wire.

“Perhaps MO went out for cigarettes, or a bite to eat,” I said as a way to calm myself down further.

“I’m going downstairs and wait in front of the entrance.”
I felt strange talking and not receiving a reply. I took the elevator down to the lobby and walked out of the building. I stood for fifteen minutes in front of 45 and still no Mo. I got the idea that I should attempt to find MO on my own.

I spoke into the wire. “Peter? I’m going to beep MO and try to locate him. If you don’t want me to, have an agent pass by and tell me so.”

No agent approached me. I felt that Peter was taking a chance. I mean, how did he know that MO and I did not have a contingency warning system? He couldn’t know this. He was gambling. On what? My honesty?

I walked to a public phone on the sidewalk curb in front of the building. I beeped MO and pressed “45 * 34,” indicating to MO that I was at the office. Ten minutes went by. No contact.

Then the security person at 45 came out of the building and walked slowly towards me.

“MO just called. He wants you to meet him on 5th Avenue and 37th street.”

“Thanks, see you later.”

I began walking slowly toward 5th Avenue. I relayed the message and meeting place to Peter in case he didn’t catch it over the wire. I repeated again that if Peter didn’t want me to go to the rendez-vous to have an agent pass by and tell me so. Again, no contact. I felt ill at ease with the change in delivery procedure. It was the first time in four successful heroin smuggling trips originating in Frankfurt that it did not come to closure with a delivery to MO at the travel office. The anomaly was quite disquieting.

I reached 5th, turned left, and proceeded uptown towards 37th street. I walked slowly in order to give the agents an opportunity to reposition themselves at the 5th and 37th site. I reached 37th. MO was nowhere in sight. “Damn it.” Five minutes of waiting. It was 2:00 pm. Still no sign of Mo.
I spoke to the air once again, “Peter, I’m going to beep Mo.” Decision time once more for Peter. He went with his gut feeling. He didn’t send an agent. I went to a phone at the northeast corner and beeped MO, putting in “5 * 37”.

As I stood on the corner waiting, I spoke into the wire. “I hope you guys are around. I haven’t seen you. Either you are all very good, or you’re not there. I hope it’s the former.”

At the same time I was thinking, people seeing me talking to myself must think I’m just another “wacko” New Yorker.

I thought that all I was doing was a waste of time until I saw it. I spoke into the wire, very excited.

“I see it! The car! It’s MO’s car! It’s a black Honda Accord with blue and ivory Jersey plates.”

The car was at 38th Street, traveling very slowly due to the congested traffic. “It’s coming to 37th,” I continued into the wire. “You guys better be around! I really don’t want to get into that car!

And that makes me sane, because I’m afraid.”

The Accord pulled up to the curb. MO’s facial features were carved in ice. He opened the left rear door without saying a word. I entered the car, the fear of failure driving me on.

Sitting directly behind MO, I said, “What the hell is going on?” as I handed him the carryon.

Suddenly, I heard a dull thud at the front end of the car. Shook, I looked up and saw an unbelievable sight: an agent lying on the hood of the car, his arms stretched out in front of him, and his hands together grasping a handgun. The handgun was aimed at Mo.