NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 22

I tried them on and had to agree: “OK, I’ll take these. How much? Hmm, just five dollars, wow… cool.” Randy joked; “I can hear Miles now when he peeps you in those, he’s gonna say fuck you Bobby.” “Yeah man you got that right… Haha.” We both knew Miles to be a fashion fiend so we made it a point to dress to impress. Although Randy could have easily been mistaken for El Debarge, he never relied solely on his handsome looks. If he wore jeans they would be contrasted with a stylish jacket. I too strived to maintain a ten on the cool clothing meter as Miles always noticed and would comment. During the walk up, we anticipated passing by a couple electronic shops where we could compare prices for the new Sony Walkman cassette tape players released earlier that year. At 59th Street halfway around the circle counterclockwise, we briefly enjoyed the green relief provided by the southwest periphery of Central Park. We resisted its allure, sauntering past Lincoln Center and then continuing almost twenty blocks up the progressively more upscale Broadway. We eventually hit 77th Street and walked over through the more quiet affluent residential area just past West End Avenue to arrive at Miles’ brownstone just before dusk. I rang the bell and we soon heard Judy’s Australian accent inquiring; 20 “Who is it?” BRN-FALL-2013.indb 20 “It’s Randy and Bobby,” we said respectively. Curiously, she didn’t open the door, but instead asked: “What do you guys want?” Surprised by her question, I explained; “Miles invited us for fish dinner with Jack.” She seemed completely confused as we heard her hollering back up to Miles; “It’s Bobby and Randy.” “Who?” Miles asked again in the background with that gravely voice of The Godfather. Judy had now cracked the door open and told us: “Look guys, I think Miles forgot about your dinner plans. He’s pretty high right now and not in his right mind… so this may not be a good time. Why don’t you call back later and see how he’s feeling.” This was the first time I had heard anything about Miles getting high. We looked at each other with the question in our eyes, “high on what?” If she had said he was drunk, we’d know it was the Heineken or Jack Daniels. I thought, Hmmm…. I’ve never smelled marijuana here and heroin would have made him more mellow. His apparent agitation and paranoia about who was there indicated some kind of speedy drug. I then realized that maybe I had been a little naïve about things. I knew that Miles had not recorded music in seven years, but had no idea of his lifestyle or activities during that reclusive period. Was it drugs that had won out over his horn? I had heard fragmented stories of his two victories over heroin addiction when he was younger, but had not seen any evidence of abuse so far during our time with him. One of my older cousin’s had overdosed on cocaine when I was 16-years-old, so I knew a little bit about its hyper-vigilant effect and suspected this to be Miles’ current demon. So, I said to Judy: “Look, Miles did invite us, or else we wouldn’t be here… so if he wants to cancel dinner, why don’t we let him make that decision himself.” She grimaced as Miles again screamed from the recessed ledge at the top of that long and narrow staircase: “Judy, I said who the fuck is it you talkin to?” Before she could answer him, we heard a loud thud followed by the ominous sound of wooden stairs brutally meeting body part. My subconscious photographed each slow motion flicker indelibly emblazing each fractal frame of Miles’ downward tumble… down to an end I could not imagine. Yet, in real time, it happened so fast that only our wide eyes and open mouths could respond as gravity made him a human avalanche. In a surreal finale, his body violently hit the short wall at the bottom, bouncing off to land— eerily unconscious. The deafening silence amplified my horrified gasp into a well-projected stage whisper. Miles lay there in stillness with blood on his head and his right hand still clasping his trusted 22-caliber pistol. 9/13/13 12:47 AM