Excerpts from my recently published personal essay, “The Pit,” in the Outrider Press PLAY anthology.
. . . Carlo slipped about halfway across and fell off the beam. He landed face down on a pile of sand. The game stopped because we thought he was dead. As soon as he saw what happened, his brother, who was on the other team, ran to call their mother. A few of us kids climbed down and stayed with him. After what seemed like a long time to us but probably wasn’t, he sat up, spit out a mouthful of sand, and started cursing about something on the beam that he tripped on because it was too dark to see. He was a tough kid and embarrassed because he fell. He wasn’t hurt badly, just a broken arm. His mother arrived, took him by his good arm, and got into a cab to Saint Vincent’s Hospital emergency room. . .
. . . They tore out the playground equipment, trees, fences, and pavement. After removing everything else, I wondered why they left a long section of the handball wall where the courts used to be, the one closest to the Bowery. We kids didn’t play handball. The games we saw there were fast and played for money by tanned hard-looking men – Jews, Italians, and Puerto Ricans. They played with a small black rubber ball. You could hear the distinctive sound of it smacking into the wall over Bowery and Houston Street traffic noise. With Houston Street being widened, no one could ever play handball on that wall again. . .