Mistaken Identity: You Never Know How Fast A Peaceful Night Can Vanish Into Thin Air!

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The summer night was hot on this mid August night in 1980, perfect for a late night bike ride in south side Queens, the infamous Jamaica Queens to be exact.

As I fill my nostrils with the city air that is tinged with car exhaust, I rode in no particular direction as I craved to feel that pumped feeling that  begins to happen in my well developed thighs when I ride a few miles after a good workout with the weights.

Riding casually through those semi dangerous streets, I couldn’t help but think to myself, that at the tender age of 17 years old, life is good to me. I live in a nice middle class home with two loving parents and friends from all around and who enthusiastically visit with me everyday as we enjoy good clean wholesome fun. What I see in the street this early Tuesday morning just after midnight is quite a contrast to the life I live at home.

I see a drug addicted prostitute, who only a year or two earlier might have been the most appealing girl in high school; and although  she still possessed the female adornments that drove her testosterone crazed schoolmates crazy, her face reflected a sad lonely reality that her parents never expected their beautiful baby to experience.

I see drug dealers, who come out at night only and to me are the closest entities to a vampire that I have ever known.

I see wolf like thieves casing the terrain for their next victim, depending on their oh so obviously naive demeanor to signal to them that “this is the one”.

I see affluent “on the down low” homosexuals, cruising Sutphin blvd. in the hopes of satisfying their twisted man to man fetishes while their faithful unsuspecting wives sleep soundly at home without a clue of what she is really married to.

One might be tempted ask me;”why are you out there this time of night?” Well, this is my neighborhood, I went to school with these people and don’t fear them. In a sense, I understand them, I have felt the same pain as they have, the difference is that I had the support structures at home to keep me on the straight and narrow.

My weakness was always a pretty girl, a nice shape and a stolen kiss. Being an amateur athlete and in training most of the time with a killer physique and a gift of gab beyond my years, I appealed not only to girls in my age range, but to women much older than I. This unique positioning allowed me to get involved in situations with women that were quite dangerous but were too young to understand the potential consequences.

Thinking back over the previous weekend, I thought of the neighborhood block party and how much fun my friends and I had. There were many young ladies from other schools and neighborhoods that we have seen in passing but never had the opportunity to speak to for any length of time. There was one particular girl to whom I have always had my eye on that was there.

“What a perfect opportunity,” I though to myself.

Let me ask for a dance! In the heated conversation that we attempted over the loud noisy music, I discovered that she had a crush on me but I was just to busy to notice. We made a date for the following week and all I could think of was how good it is going to be to spend some time with this beautiful and sexy young lady even though she kind of spoke with a funny voice and was maybe a little tipsy.

Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t notice a black car riding next to me for the last few blocks. As I looked down slowly to make a mental note as to what they may have wanted, I noticed that there were three people sitting close together in the front seat with the back seat empty. “Why are they riding like that?” I asked myself.

I looked again into the car a little more determined to take even more  detailed mental notes before changing my course defensively and noticed that between two very angry looking men in the front seat sat the girl I had the date with in the oncoming weekend! Not only did I see her sitting there with tears in her eyes, but I noticed a shiny large gun in the lap of the driver glistening menacingly in the darkness of the car!

It didn’t take long for me to understand that this was not a good situation, but I had to think to myself, “What did I do to her so bad?” I tried to remain cool and aloof so as not to force them to act quickly. But when I heard the gentleman in the passengers seat say out loud: “That’s him isn’t it? That’s the bastard….Let’s shoot him. Kill him!”

That was almost the end of Scurv’s life!

I immediately turned my bike around so swiftly, utilizing the tricks on a bicycle that I learned as a kid imitating that death defying professional daredevil of the 1970’s named Evel Knievel jumping over an old board propped up by a few bricks in the neighborhood.

Once I heard the screech of the tires behind me, it confirmed my worse fears that I might die tonight. Never being one to give up, my desire to live would win. I pumped those pedals on my bike as though my life depended on it, because it did. Wisely riding into oncoming traffic, I knew I would not be able to out speed a car driven by an angry driver, but he would not navigate his vehicle as agile as I was on a bike.

He was going to have to work hard to see me dead tonight!

As I rode back toward Sutphin blvd. on Hillside avenue, the answer to my life was but a few yards in front of me. The subway station! If I could make it there and reach the underground tunnel they would NEVER catch me.

Hurling myself dangerously into the air off of my speeding bike was not an issue at this point, I knew the late night opportunistic scavengers who lurk those hungry streets and who are probably viewing my plight as business as usual, would take joy in utilizing my beloved donation in the underground illegal unseen economy.

Regardless, my life was more important I thought to myself as I hit the metal store shudders with a loud bang, dropping to the cold dirty pavement to the amusement of the illegal dollar van drivers who wait for the fear stricken train passengers to take home safely.


The black car skidded to the curb as I made my dive into the dark recesses of the all so familiar “F” train subway. I am quite sure an Olympic record was set that night in the track and field category if it were an officially sanctioned event, but fame was the last thing on my mind as I flew over the turnstile in a single bound.


Once down in the dark subway station, I carefully proceeded forward knowing that at that time of night, the next train would probably not be arriving anytime soon. “What was I to do if they came down to the subway with me” I thought. I quickly jumped down on the tracks, only to get startled again by the cries of a rat crushed below my foot. I cautiously stepped over the dangerous third rail, with is notorious for killing drunk vagrants who call the subway tunnels their home. After making it to the other side, to my surprise, a train was arriving!

My first thought was I wish I had some way of calling home, as there were no phones in sight and cell phones were not invented yet as we know them now. Heart racing and sweating beyond belief as I entered the train, I spotted a New York City cop who approached me and inquired to find out what was the obvious problem. I couldn’t have felt more relieved as he radioed for back up on the surface, to drive me to the  nearest  police precinct and take a report.


After calling my parents and letting them know that for now, everything was fine, I had to wonder what was it that made them want to take action on me in that fashion. Although I couldn’t reveal what that young ladies beauty caused me to think of in my deepest thoughts, I was definitely the perfect gentleman in the way I conducted myself in her presence. So what happened to her in such a short time? I found out later after the police questioned her about the aggressive behavior of who later turned out to be her brothers, that she was raped that night after the block party by someone who resembled me. Her brothers, like so many other New Yorkers who do not view the police as their alleys, wanted revenge themselves and did not want the law involved.

She was so traumatized on all levels that she really couldn’t respond to them properly and let them know that I was only a potential boyfriend, she needed professional help that their selfish vigilante instincts deprived her from receiving. After fully understanding the complete situation I refused to press charges on them, and we agreed to all meet amicably at a neighborhood restaurant weeks later amongst mutual friends as they expressed their apologies for their actions toward me and I expressed my concern for their sister, whom I could not even look at in a lustful way anymore after knowing the unfortunate tragedy that happened to her. That event changed my life and made me realize how being in the wrong place at the wrong time can mean the difference between life and death.

I later learned unfortunately that the young ladies partially nude body was found decomposed on the side of the Van Wyck Expressway just a few blocks from where we all lived in Queens after turning up missing for weeks! It was rumored that she was brutally raped and killed. And while I absolutely LOVE stories with happy endings, there would be no way to dress this one up so I have no choice BUT to tell the truth!

If there is any good to come out of this it should be a reminder to keep one’s eyes open when traveling about because we just do not know WHO is in our midst or WHAT intentions they possess for your life.

No one deserves to go out like that.

Sisters, make sure to protect yourself always……..

Lance Scurvin

 

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Culture Critic, Podcast Host, Blogger, Cartoonist & Social Media Activist who focuses on the issues that the Mainstream Media is deathly afraid to touch! Call/Text Direct: 407.590.0755

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