Where we are is deep in the ‘hood, somewhere along Stuyvesant street, East New York. How I got here is hardly relevant, let’s just say a friend of a friend. The friend, a long time veteran user and personal friend of Popeye’s is currently standing there behind us busily jamming a blunt pencil against the base of a misbehaving copper piece of gauze wire at the base of a semi clear hollow glass tube. Satisfied, he now takes a smattering of the crack cocaine in his pocket, the size of half a penny and evenly distributes it against the top part of the recently banged up copper gauze wire before methodically bringing a lighter to it before once again resuming his approach to heaven and hell. To watch Dupre go for it is to think he is just casually raising a cigarette to his lips. Of course the wild look in his eyes and the delayed exhalation of the white smoke tells otherwise. Popeye of course thinks nothing of it as Dupre nervously now puts the pipe down and lets the stench momentarily hang in the air.
A cursory look around the room reveals a banged up TV set that is set to auto surf, a scratched up wooden floor full of cigarette ashes, pale white walls that have the occasional sliding crack along it, a dirty barely sheathed twin bed with two well worn used pillows, a couple of milk crates that serve as chairs, a religious motif of Jesus Christ and his disciples sitting at the last supper and a collection of empty Hennesy bottles and Budweiser beer cans pushed to the side of a dirty blue dustbin. Sitting in the corner is a frail old man, Uncle Joe, Popey’s uncle who actually happens to live here who is quietly tending to polishing his Sunday shoes. Above him is a collection of ties that he will choose from when he will eventually gets up next morning to go to Sunday church at the church directly across the street from us. Once again the irony is palpable, but all one can do is light a cigarette and take another sip of the cold Budweiser that Popeye has just pulled out of the fridge.
The door finally opens and in it come a young man and what appears his cohort, a semi deranged Latino woman who is literally frothing at the mouth and swaying her hips as she looks to take out a half broken crack pipe out of her brasserie. The young cohort takes out a couple hundred dollars, gives Popeye a big bear hug before suddenly making eye contact with me.