FIRST GENERATION, JEFFERSON AVE

i was walking away from a taxicab, towards home, when carlo and i spotted each other. he was standing in the doorway of waterlaunge smoking a cigarette with one of the club's pretty young girls (who may or may not be hooking, the jury is still out on that). it was about 2am which meant the night was young for waterlaunge.

carlo had a scarf draped stylishly around his hooodie and a glazed, happy look in his eyes. we hadn't seen each other in a year but i could tell he was moving from his thugged out teens into soft and silly drug twenties - which was relatively good news.

he and the girl were familiar with each other and seemed to be friends, like alumni from the same orphanage. it was hard to imagine carlo had been living by himself in bed-stuy for over a year now but he had been. it was my first time at waterlaunge, which was the newborn neighborhood monster. every honest, working family on the block wanted the place closed down. besides accusations of prostitution, the place was known to sell beer to minors, blast music until dawn, and fights were common out front.

i bought us a couple six dollar coronas to drink in plastic chairs at a card table and i thought about prohibition. carlo told me his brother was working at wholefoods in manhattan and sometimes sees famous people. his mother was doing good. he hadn't seen brian in a minute but the two of them were cool now.

there were about twenty people at waterlaunge. all males except the bartenders and the girls dancing to the reggaeton below the light fixtures next to the stereo. you had to yell in order to be heard. everyone knew the police had been scoping the place for weeks and i could have been a cop if not for all the ways that i wasn't. carlo introduced me to some of his friends, one was the son of the owner. he asked me how i knew carlo and i wanted to say...

back in 2005 carlo was a chubby little necessary inconvenience in the package deal of life on jefferson avenue. he and his friend wilbur: taunting the weird white neighbors from behind the handlebars of their bicycles, calling us hipstas from the afternoon stoop in varying degrees of hostility. by 2007 wilbur had disappeared and carlo was in high school. his was the first family of jefferson ave. then there was 2008 when he got moody and spent his nights on h-block. by 2009 i didn't even ask his mom about him because she would say she had no idea what he was up to. in 2010 i moved and so had he.

...but it was easier to just yell, "neighbors."