After the shooting, cycle starts again


By mid-morning today the southwest neighborhood had returned to normal.

"Got that Blacktop. Got that Blacktop," said a small disheveled man in his late teens or early 20s as he sidled by me on the street. "Blacktop" is one of the street terms for heroin.

Just three hours earlier in the same block of South Fulton St. where I stood, a 29-year-old man was shot, chased and shot several more times in front of a house in what police said was a drug-related incident.

Investigators came and took reports. Blood was washed from the sidewalk. Small empty red- and blue-topped vials used to package cocaine and heroin were swept into the gutter.

And all that remained were the drug dealers.

"Hey, man, I've got that Blacktop, you know," the man said.

I was stunned by his boldness. I had never seen him before. A shooting had just occurred there and the area had been teeming with police officers -- both uniformed and plainclothes.

I shook my head slightly. He stared indignantly at me for several seconds.

"Sorry," I said. "Don't have any money right now."

He nodded, pushed his hands into his pockets and walked away.

I stared at the house, looking for details which might help visualize the story of the shooting scene. I saw no one in the windows and no one came out. The door was open and I was tempted to enter.

Suddenly, two young men crossed Fulton Street toward me. Both had on shorts and oversized t-shirts which covered their pants pockets. One wore a light blue baseball cap.

"Ounces of boy, ounces of boy," one said as he passed by me.

I learned years ago when I first started writing about illegal drugs that "boy" means heroin, while "girl" is cocaine.

Neither man stopped but both slowed down. Several yards from me they turned around for my answer.

"I don't think so," I said.

Splotches of fresh blood from the shooting stained the pavement and the two young men took pained efforts to avoid stepping in it. Both wore new athletic shoes.

I talked to residents and was told that many shootings occur in the area. One said the man who was shot may have been involved in drugs.

After the victim was shot, he ran a block and a half to a bar on West Pratt Street where he collapsed. As I traced his path, a woman in an aqua dress walked towards me.

"I got what you want," she said.

I continued walking.

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