No Guns For Me

When I first arrived in New York, a gay jazz pianist friend of James Spicer, offered me a .38 at a Christopher Street bar.

“No, thanks.”

“No, thanks?” CT was small. He carried a piece for protection. New York in 1977 was very dangerous for man, woman, and in-between. “Someone like you needs a gun.”

CT thought of me as rough trade, but I was planning on being a poet.

“If I had a gun, I would shoot every skell on the street.” I lived in Park Slope. Thieves outnumbered citizens after dark. They were violent, but I came from the West of Ireland and every young thug in Boston was taught to fight. Running was never an option. “I’ve never broken the 5th Commandment and I don’t plan on doing so in this city.”

“Suit yourself.” CT slipped the pistol into his leather jacket and walked off toward the river. The bars along West Street had a bad reputation. Sex was hard-core and a .38 wouldn’t make anyone kiss and hug. I headed off to the Bowery. The Ramones were playing at CBGBs. Merv checked everyone for guns. The punk club was as safe a dive as you would get on the Lower East Side and no one shot anyone there.

And that was a good thing.

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