Freddy Colón, a fence, snitch, and pop-up valet who had serviced IHOP’s undersized parking lot for more than two-decade. Tolerated, but not endorsed by a franchisee that would have been lost without him, he sat on a worn-and-torn green leather club chair, roasting his mitts over a beat-up, Dyna-Glow butane heater.
He was protected from the now wetter rain by an oversized golf umbrella, which, like his Mohawk, was made of the red, white, and blue of the Dominican Flag. His salvaged car radio was hooked up to a pair of powerful, blown-out, JBL speakers and tuned to El Jukeo on La Mega 97.9 FM, the most popular show on the most listened-to music radio station in the USA.
Joel Severino AKA “DJ Supreme," the station’s youngest and most popular DJ was on air spinning Marc Anthony’s 1998 monster hit “Contra la Corriente” a Cuban-inspired Salsascape propelled by marauding horns. The song describes a life spent swimming against the tide (without getting very far).
A life not unlike mine.
Freddy spat dark chewing tobacco on the ground to greet us, but he did not look up. He was nursing a heavy grudge dating back to April, when we’d been on opposite sides of a case, during which he perjured himself for $500 and the promise of salvation in this lifetime from Cookie Cleveland, a prosperity-preaching South Bronx pastor whose miracles happened in a heaven just beyond the reach of the SEC.
Freddy slyly angled his phone at us as we passed by and I heard a shutter click. Given Freddy’s various trades, I assumed he’d been paid to take the photograph, which got me back to thinking about the matte black armored BMW X5 Security Plus we’d tripped over lurking outside my office a few minutes ago and wondering who was responsible for the goons inside.