Posted by John on Wednesday, 26 October

his straw hat back on his head and said, Nuts to them mother-rapers, they aint got nothing on us. Grave Digger drove on slowly without stopping, and in the rear-view mirror he saw the punk take the wet marijuana sticks from his mouth and start blowing on them to dry them. They kept on down to 119th Street, turned back to Eighth Avenue, went uptown again and parked before a dilapidated tenement house between 126th and 127th Streets. Old people were sitting on the sidewalk in kitchen chairs propped against the front of the building. They climbed the dark steep stairs to the fourth floor. Grave Digger knocked on a door at the rear, three single raps spaced exactly ten seconds apart. For the space of a full minute no sound was heard. There was no sound of locks being opened, but slowly the door swung inward five inches, held by two iron cables at top and bottom. Its us, Ma, Grave Digger said. The ends of the cables were removed from the slots and the door opened all the way. A thin old gray-haired woman with a wrinkled black face, who looked to be about ninety years old, wearing a floor length Mother Hubbard dress of faded black cotton, stood to one side and let them pass into the pitchdark hallway and closed the door behind them. They followed her without further comment down to the far end of the hall. She opened a door and sudden light spilled out, showing a snuff stick in the corner of her wrinided mouth. There he, she said, and Coffin Ed followed Grave Digger into a small back bedroom and closed the door behind him. Gigolo sat on the edge of the bed with his fancy hat pushed to the back of his head, biting his dirty nails to the quick. The pupils of his eyes were big black disks in his tight, sweaty brown face. Coffin Ed sat facing him, straddling the single straightbacked wooden chair, and Grave Digger stood glaring down at him and said, Youve had a bang of heroin. Gigolo shrugged. His skinny shoulders jerked beneath the canary-colored sport shirt. Dont get him excited, Coffin Ed warned, and then asked Gigolo in a confidential tone of voice, Who made the sting last night, sport Gigolos body began jerking as though someone had slipped a hot poker down the seat of his pants. Poor Boy got new money, he said in a rapid blurred voice. Who kind of money Grave Digger asked. Hard money. No green money If he is, he aint showed it. Wheres he likely to be at this time Acey-Deuceys poolroom. Hes a pooi freak. Grave Digger asked Coffin Ed, Do you know him This town is full of Poor Boys, Coffin Ed said, turning back to the stool pigeon. Whats he look like Slim black boy. Plays it cool. Working stiff jive. Dont never flash. Looks a little like Country Boy used to look fore they sent him to the pen. How does he dress Grave Digger asked. Like I just said. Wears old blue jeans, T-shirt, canvas sneakers, always looks raggedy as a bowl of yakamein. Has he got a partner Iron Jaw. You know Iron Jaw. Grave Digger nodded. But he dont seem to be in on this sting. He aint showed outside today, Gigolo added. Okay, sport, Coffin Ed said, standing up. Lay off the heroin. Gigolos body began to jerk more violently. Whats a man going to do You folks keeps me scared. If anybody finds out Im stooling for you I be scared to shake my head. He was referring to a story they tell in Harlem about two jokers, in a razor fight and one says, Man, you aint cut me, and the other one says, if you dont believe I done cut you, just shake you head and it goin to fall off. The heroin isnt going to keep your head on any better, Coffin Ed warned. On the way out, he said to the old lady whod let them in, Cut down on Gigolo, Ma, hes getting so hopped hes going to blow his top one day. Lawd, I aint no doctor, she complained. I dont know how much they needs. I just sells it if they got the money to pay for it.. You know, I dont use that junk myself. Well, cut down anyway, Grave Digger said harshly. Were just letting you run because you keep ou