I came-to on Sickles Street where the deep damp mist had gotten finer and wetter with age, with one arm wrapped around Joy’s neck and the other curled around Jay-B, being dragged standing towards Jay-B’s black Range Rover and a gauntlet made up of Lady-Cop Dowd and Man-Cop Tyrell who were wearing their last laughs like Purple Hearts.

They tipped their caps at us as we passed — no respect intended, and none tucked away for another day — and went back to the well banging out 115 beat per minute on their thighs with their nightsticks:

I like moonshine whiskey,” Dowd reprised. “I like blood-red wine,” Tyrell responded “We don’t need greener grass. Beating up on Deg-ass suits us fine,” they ad-libbed.

Which cracked them both the fuck up.

Which would have ruined my evening.

Were it not that a few moments later, Aaron Judge, the 6-foot-7, 282-pound rookie-phenom’ right-fielder of the New York Yankees, slugged a pitch from Milwaukee Brewers Rookie left-hander Josh Hader 432 feet over Yankee Stadium’s center field fence,[i] breaking Joe DiMaggio’s record for most home runs recorded by a Yankee rookie set in 1936, with almost half the season to play for.

I knew, like the South Bronx knew, because John Sterling, the bombastic New York Yankees play-by-play announcer on WFAN radio told us so.  His signature “It is high, it is far, it is gone,” home run call ringing out from boomboxes on the rooftops and the sidewalks and a swarm of car-radios as if from one single omnipresent source, which phased in and out of the midsummer night’s salsa, merengue, bachata, reggaeton mix with the ebb and flow of traffic.

And then Sterling got excited: “All rise, here comes the Judge! And baby, once again it’s Judgement Day! Aaron Judge homers to straight away center field to lead off the fifth. A Judgeian blast! His 30th home run this season, breaking DiMaggio’s record set eight decades ago.” [ii]

Dowd and Tyrell skipped a beat or two, but they weren’t done with Kid Rock. They had sarcasm to polish and a threat to veil thinly:

“Welcome to our shanty, Deg-ass,” Dowd gobbed.

“Drop by anytime,” Tyrell hissed.

“Bitch you’ll like our Redneck Paradise,” they chorused leaning into Joy.

She made a tight fist of her lips, and drilled Tyrell with a stare that knocked him back a few inches, which caused the nightstick to drum on his testicles.

As Joy wasn’t in an MC battling mood.

I changed the subject.

“Cómo chingados salimos de ahí?” I asked, which drew a wry smile.

“Jay-B went mixed-martial arts loco Degas. A One-Two kick laid out the first Vol. He rolled the the second Vol into the third and they both spun to the fucking mat like fucking skittles.  A rabbit-punch to the face stunned Shango. The next disfigured it.  Winner waved the Uzi at us like Rambo, but he didn’t pull the trigger. And then it was too late, coz Jay-B used a southpaw shuto uchi to shatter the arm of the hand that was holding the gun.  He covered us with his Colt as we left, but he needn’t have bothered coz there was no one left standing to fuck with us.”

Jay-B turned back to me wearing the same fat contented smile I’d seen with my lights out and bragged: “Hecho a la brigandine.”

Jay-B slid under the wheel as Joy laid me gently down to rest on the back seat, where I gathered my thoughts one at a time, nibbling on the butt of a cigarette I did not smoke.

My first thought was that I should follow the money. My second thought was that if I did follow the money then the trail would start with Vlad’s Black Caviar and filter through the Winner Network on its circuitous way to Shango and his Beasts for God. The third thought, THAT KUNT WAS A BIT-PLAYER IN HIS OWN CONSPIRACY, escaped me as we made a quick right onto North Broadway.  Where I was distracted by the dark petrified shadows of the forest at Fort Tryon Park which stands high on a ridge with commanding views of the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge, the New Jersey Palisades, Washington Heights, Inwood, the South Bronx and the still murky waters of the Harlem River.

As Jay-B pulled us up to the broken sidewalk in front of my office. A familiar matte-black BMW X5 bulletproof SUV spun away from the curb, headlights off, burning rubber into the road.

We picked up a tail as we approached the double-decker Broadway bridge, which spans the Harlem River Ship Canal and connects Inwood to Marble Hill, where a #1 train clattered over us on its way down south, spraying sparks into the Harlem River like it was soldering the night and shaking the bridge to its foundations.

The windows of the tricked out Ford Explorer Interceptor patrol car tailing us were blacked out, but my working hypothesis was that the coppers inside had Three Percenter ink on their forearms and Redneck Paradise on the tips of their forked tongues and that they were sending our turn-by-turn directions to Diaz.

As Jay-B pulled us up to the broken sidewalk in front of my office. A familiar matte-black BMW X5 bulletproof SUV spun away from the curb, headlights off, burning rubber into the road.

“Alguien tiene mucha jodida prisa,” Jay-B tossed at the X5 as it passed. And then he pointed to my building’s outside door, which was swinging off its hinges like a pendulum, pacing my anxiety.

Joy helped me up off the back seat. And Jay-B helped me up the stairs.  I didn’t need any help opening the office door because it was already open, as were my file cabinets, my safe and my drawers.  And their contents now carpeted the floor.

Jay-B scanned the room from the perspective of his twin pistols, but the birds had flown in the X5 and the damage was done.

A walked over to my desk and flipped the lid of my PC.

Multiple browser windows were open, and they had hacked my cloud accounts.

My Coinbase cryptocurrency wallet was empty.

All my lines of credit were maxed out.

The only file left in my Dropbox folder had a long Russian name, ‘сделать Россию великой снова,’ which Google translated to ‘Make Russia Great Again,’ that I had never seen before which meant that all of Monica’s files including the Piss-tape, Edwin’s Seguro file, the Treason Tape had been snatched and our leverage was gone.

The hacker had left me a message in Russian: ‘Найди веру,’ which Google translated into ‘find faith,’ which connected the hackers to Mami’s death as was intended and made a threat, as was intended.  And I recoiled, which placed my right heel on the Whitney frame, and the frame shattered, which set off ‘Memories.’

I’d first met Nippy in RPM Sound Studio in Manhattan in late 1981, where she was recording her first ever lead vocal on ‘No wave’ dance-rock group Material’s minimalist cover of Hugh Hopper’s ‘Memories.’I was there with  Robert Musso, the track’s producer, who was my first client out of Fordham Law.  She was there with Robyn Crawford, who she’d met at Mount Saint Dominic Academy, a Catholic girls’ high school in Caldwell, New Jersey, where she been sent when Newark erupted in 1967, and who was her first and only true love.Nippy, the second child of entertainment executive John Russell Houston, Jr. and gospel singer Cissy Houston, cousin of Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick, goddaughter of Darlene Love, and niece of honorary aunt Aretha “Lady Soul” Franklin, was already black music royalty,  when she astounded us with her diction and her discipline and her sense of pace.  And the interplay between her soaring, breathy, vocals and Archie Shepp’s soaring, breathy, sax, created “one of the most gorgeous ballads you’ve (n)ever heard.” [ix]The next time I heard Nippy was in late February 16, 19855 at a showcase for her first Album at Sweetwater Club, 170 Amsterdam Avenue at 68th Street, where she was introduced to the world in a suffocating bubble wrap of formulaic pop-songs through which we heard her sustained and restrained power in the clinches.  It was both a tremendous occasion, because we were witnessing greatness and at the same time a terrible occasion because IT WAS APPARENT TO ALL THAT CAN SEE AND FEEL THAT SHE WOULD BE ASKED TO DENY RACE AND SEXUALITY IN EXCHANGE FOR THAT GREATNESS — her image had been defined and the black girl next door, safe enough (on the margins) to date, an image that was as far-fetched as it was fetching and Robyn was pushed into the shadows.One observation I heard repeatedly at the time was that Nippy was “Pretty like a White Girl,’ which is apparently a higher state of beauty.And for a while the fiction worked as her first album spawned massive hits like “You Give Good Love”, “Saving All My Love for You” and “the Greatest Love of All.”  And her second, Whitney, released in 1987 contained four U.S. No 1 singles: “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” for which she won the first of her 7 Grammy Awards, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, “So Emotional”, and “Where do Broken Hearts Go.”But there is a fine line between ‘crossing over’ and embracing a new audience and selling out, and when “Where do Broken Hearts Go,” was announced as a nominee for best single by a female artist at the 1989 Soul Train Awards, the audience booed, which devastated Nippy who searched for a way back, and failed.She recorded the ‘I’m Your Baby Tonight’ with superstar R&B producers Babyface and LA Reid,  although the album went 4x platinum in the US, its sales were disappointing almost everywhere else and she didn’t release another solo album for 8 years.Then, on January 27, 1991, at Super Bowl XXV, 10 days into the Gulf War, Nippy, transformed the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” from an anachronistic waltz to a beat-driven 4/4, gospel infused, banger in front of 73,813 fans, 115 million viewers in the US and a worldwide television audience of more than one billion people. It is widely considered to be the greatest ever performance of Francis Scott Key’s patriotic ditty and confirmed Nippy’s place as America’s biggest star. It was also the night that her mother, Cissy, finally vanquished Robyn — jumping into the middle of a Nippy/Robyn altercation, and knocking Robyn to the ground, where she pounded her with fists and feet, yelling, ‘I’ll kill you — you stupid bitch!”Without Robyn in her life for the first time since her teens, Nippy decided to go straight. And with no experience of men to draw on, she chose badly.She married Bobby Brown, the crass, bad-boy lead vocalist of New Edition on July 18th, 1992, it was a marriage of convenience — he got her luster to burnish a fading career and she got straighter and blacker in an instant. Nippy’s first film role, as a singer stalked by a fan in The Bodyguard, confirmed her miraculous straightening. The movie went on to become the 7th highest grossing movie of 1992 despite the lack of chemistry between Nippy and her bodyguard, Kevin Costner, powered by Nippy’s cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and a soundtrack that sold 42 Million units and is the bestselling soundtrack of all time.The birth of their daughter Bobbi Kristina in March 1993, should have sealed the mass-appeal deal, instead to dull the pain of living a life that was not her own, of loving a woman and yet being married and having sex with a man that treated her badly and that she did not love, Nippy turned her  mansion into a crack-house, where she smoked away her teeth (resulting in $6,000 dentures she constantly misplaced), became incontinent and wore a nappy.

When Nippy died on February 11, 2012 she was the most awarded female artist of all time and had sold 200 million records worldwide, and there was an extraordinarily outpouring of grief, and an equally extraordinary and visceral outpouring of racism.OUT CAME THE FOX NEWS TROLLS AND IN THEIR LOOK BACK IN ANGER THEY UNWITTINGLY FORETELL THE TARRING OF OBAMA AND THE FEATHERING OF KUNT, AND THE DANGERS OF APPEASEMENT:

I am now patiently waiting for the grand messiah Obama to have a blk fundraiser in honor of Whitney with Kevin Costner as guest of honor with all the Hollywood elites invited along with Alan Colmes, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, Charles Rangel, etc. with a menu featuring blk eyed peas, grits, imported Kobe steak, Dom Perignon, sweet potato pie and a mus lll im scarf as a momento of this great occasion. Of course the door prize will be an all expense paid trip to Kenya to visit the Obama tribe and birthplace of his ancestors while the American people still look for this imposter’s birth certificate in Hawaii.This is the same disease that got Obama voted into the White HouseWoo Hoo One less obama voterB l a c k s have little to brag about about so they strut and crow about anything. The politically correct whites whine and cringe and try to be b l a c k themselves and identify with their “brothers”. Great singer but as stupid as her pal, the malignancy in the white houseshe still be voting for the head niggg this novTo bad it wasn’t the monkey in the White House

My memories of Nippy were rudely interrupted by Diaz marching through the door in an oversized raincoat and a Panama hat accompanied by a thundering herd of uninvited porkers and a scowl as broad as his graft.

I knew he didn’t have a warrant, so, I asked him for one anyway.

That pissed him off as it was supposed to.

So, he farted, adding:

“Soy una perra avariciosa Degas, consigo plata de todas las maneras — Yeah, I’m a greedy cunt Degas, I make pesos every which way I can. So, I work all the angles.  Right now, we are on the same side.  You want to get some shit back that we’d prefer to be in safer hands.  So, let’s work together to get it.” He said, looking over his porkers proudly, before adding, “We can bring institutional scale to solving your problems!’

“I get that you are a greedy man Diaz. I can smell it in your flatulence. Lots of aged steak, aged red wine, Manchego and too many carbs,” I said turning a filthy glance around to face his, “But we are not at all interested in your help. As I said, I’ve had an epiphany.”

“Yeah,” he growled making a guttural sound by way of sanding his throat, “I trip over men that have had epiphanies all the time.  Most of them in jail or on the way there.  All the others are dead.”

“My e·piph·a·ny is ---” I said, meeting his menace by punctuating each syllable, while meandering to the point. “--- that you and Edwin started out together selling dope you’d confiscated from criminals to criminals, which is how you got close enough to Monica to fuck her up.  At some point you recruited Shangó and his Beasts on the sell-side because you needed foot soldiers and Loverboy got you into the kiddy recovery business, which got you to Sheldon Winner, who was grateful enough to redistribute a little of his wealth your way.  Which was as good as it gets until Winner worked out your game and used it to acquire you on the cheap. Which is about as far as I’ve gotten, except that it seems that Winner having helped to elect Kunt, is concerned that he may be a liability, which is complicated.  Because until recently you motherfuckers were all on the same team.”

I watched him stiffen until the veins on his neck looked like a New York City subway map, and then he turned to leave, but not without launching a rocket: “La perra –” he spat a few inches from Joy’s face, “— wears a wire.  She is an FBI snitch.”

And he left that hanging to divide and rule and Jay-B demanding: “Qué mieldas pasa?!”

Joy didn’t move or change her facial expression from judge me not and in the short silence that followed we heard the porkers pull away in two and then a third car.

“I don’t regret what I’ve been through. I’ve had ups and downs, super highs and some really low lows, mostly in the past 18-months,” she said gazing past me to the past. “In early February last year, Monica arranged for me to meet FBI Director James Comey, because I had told her I was uncomfortable that we were working for James Alexander Kunt, a man we both knew to be a racist, a conman and a liar.”

“And in that meeting Comey asked me to wear a wire, which I agreed to do because Kunt is il·le·git·i·mate as he LOST the popular vote even after Vladimir Putin bought him the election and because he has committed crimes since becoming President.”

“And wearing that wire has transformed me. Degas, me levanto cada mañana, y soy una chica puertorriqueña del Bronx. And nothing will change that, because I’m proud of where I come from.  But now I’m also proud of where I’m going,” She said with a smile so determined, so crazily brave that  I wanted to grab it with my S7 to own a part of it forever.

“So, I wore the wire and taped Michael and Kunt talking to Roger Stone and Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails. I made copies of the checks Kunt wrote from his personal bank account --- after he became President --- to reimburse Michael for the payments we made to cover up his affair with Stormy during the Presidential campaign. I videoed Kunt asking Michael if he could name a country run by a black person that wasn't a 'shithole,’ with my phone, because my family comes from one of those shitholes. I have Kunt on tape telling Michael that he wasn’t going to release his tax returns because they might lead to an audit.  So, I made copies of the tax returns and fraudulent statements of Kunt’s Financial Condition and gave them to Monica.  And I recorded Cohn auctioning access to Kunt at the inauguration and to the pharmaceutical company Novartis and AT&T.  I’ve got the motherfucker dead to rights. And on May 9, 2017 after Comey was fired by Kunt, I sent everything to Robert Muller and stopped wearing the wire.”

I had been standing there in shock like I’d seen the future through a ghost of the past with my mouth wide open, so, I dropped a cigarette in it, which she lit.

“Degas, I was born to a dad who was born in the South Bronx while the Bronx was burning, while landlords were committing arson to their own buildings.[xi] Kunt is like one of those Landlords and he will destroy everything he is empowered to touch — the environment, the economy, our infrastructure, even our humanity,” she said softly, but loud enough to redirect the smoke.

And her determination made me more resolute that “Born of extreme violence. Robbed of my birthright. I’m the bastard that’s going to take the President down and save us from ourselves.