Back in the mid-1980s, I was walking to the Tunnel Diner in Jersey City from the 15th Street side. A car came up 14th Street from the direction of the exit of the Holland Tunnel and sped into the diner’s parking lot. A small group of young people popped out of the car. Two proceeded to drag a very unconscious young woman off of the back seat and onto the asphalt. Two others ran into the diner and began to yell.
“Call an ambulance! Call an ambulance!”
Paulie, a veteran heroin user, just happened to be having coffee at the counter.
He got up and looked out the window at the hysterical women standing over their fallen comrade. Paulie went over to the take-out section.
“Gimme a big cup a’ water with lots ov ice.”
“We don’t sell no cups a’ . . .”
“Git outta my way, y’a ape!”
Paulie pushed past the diner counterman, grabbed a big plastic cup, filled it with ice from a bin and then cold water out of a little tap. He walked out the door and over to the woman lying on her back on the ground. He unbuttoned her blouse. Those standing nearby now began to shriek mindlessly. Paulie poured the ice and water all over the woman’s chest. He stood back. Like Lazarus heeding Christ’s call, the figure suddenly sat upright and looked around in confusion. The friends helped her up and, with ice cascading from her hips, back into the car. The two in the diner ran out and jumped into the car. They all took off, heading up 14th Street and towards the Turnpike.
I was still inside waiting for a coffee to go when Paulie returned.
“Damned kids don’t know how to maneuver.”