The Four Horsemen of Avenue B by Ed Vega

BOMB 40 Summer 1992
040 Summer 1992

If you ever saw them together, which people in Alphabet City could not help doing since the four spent every waking hour and some sleeping ones in each other’s company, you would come to the incontrovertible conclusion that in their case civilization had gone astray in its socialization process and having deviated so drastically perhaps stopped by the side of the road to make amends and give them, as would a benevolent welfare system, rudimentary instructions on behavior among members of the human race. Ranging in age from 14 to 22 it is neither productive nor healthy to mention their real names. Discretion being the better part of valor we shall call them Pipo, Papo, Pepe, and Pupi. You could as easily call them FaminePestilenceDestruction, and Death, or Faminipo, Pestilenpo, Destructipe, and Deafpi since the LP (linguistically correct) pronunciation of the Ricans in this part of the planet is not death but def, just like health becomes helf, and breath becomes bref: like “Man, I jumped into the pool and held my bref almost two minutes before I came up.” Rejoinder: “Man, you’re one crazy mothafucka. That ain’t helfy, bro.” It is generally accepted that measuring people’s cerebral capacities is not always the most productive way of establishing intelligence since most tests of this nature do not take into consideration cunning, criminality, natural Machiavellian design and other despicable demonstrations of evil. In the case of the aforementioned four horsemen of Avenue B it is safe to say that if you added the intelligence quotient of the young men in question the sum would, on good days, hover around 320 but most often sank below that number. While 320 divided by four averages 80, which is a harmless IQ number, producing average rote learning and expertise on the comings and goings of Bullwinkle Moose and the Roadrunner, when added together for the purposes of evil, said numbers produce half of that intelligence which is 160, a considerable and dangerous IQ, capable of mayhem and cold blooded murder, an activity in which they had indulged on at least one occasion.

The leader of the four was unquestionably Pipo, an 18-year-old the size of an underfed mongrel with a heart so cold that rather than ventricles his corazónhad ice cube trays. His eyes, veiled by an ever-present anger had lost all semblance of trust or any glimmer of hope. This condition came about at the age of four when his mother’s boyfriend, Big Yuyo, a bicoastal type, pried Pipo’s mouth open for the express purposes of introducing him to the pleasures of fellatio and thus making him his special puto. When Pipo had reacted negatively to Yuyo’s advances, Yuyo had convinced him otherwise with an assortment of well placed blows to the face and head of his recruit. Big Yuyo was eventually shot in a bad drug deal, but the experience of being violated left Pipo with a sense of outrage concerning the human race. The outrage took the form of a seething anger which kept his own meager and under-developed organ constantly erect and yearning for release.

Eventually, his alcoholic mother became the recipient of this rage, for he had intuited subconsciously that she had, albeit unwittingly, condoned his violation. One Christmas Eve, after a pugilistic encounter in which she had gone 15 brilliant rounds with Kid Bacardi only to be KO’d in the last round when she could have at least salvaged a draw by staying on her feet, the fun began. A couple of friends had brought Awilda upstairs and deposited her on the bed. Morning came and 13 year old Pipo had risen to a urinary erection and had seen his mother, Awilda, pantiless, skirt hiked up over her hips and legs spread in pink and black splendor, left in that condition by her girlfriend Millie’s husband who had come back up and made sure she was all right.

Pipo tried waking his mother but she had been seduced and caught in a dream in which she was traveling back and forth from a soap opera to the welfare building in a pink subway shuttle staffed by blonde-headed American stewardesses and she could not hear her son and did not respond. Availing himself of the sexual training he had acquired from porno movies and magazines provided to him as his birthright, which all citizens of a democratic society must defend lest we lose all our other liberties, he essayed his first encounter with pubic reality.

As was and forever would be his fate being that he suffered from promptness in this endeavor, he’d thrust harmlessly one or two times into his mother so that you couldn’t even truly accuse him of essaying a return to the womb and was spent. Somewhat physically satisfied he was once again angry because, luckily, he was incapable of producing any life giving fluids; knowing nothing had ever emerged from him in his manual explorations but accepting this fact due to believing that such ejaculations occurred only in the company and within the confines of the female anatomy since whenever he was finished he was wet; learning eventually that this information was erroneous when he came home one day and wishing to emulate some large-membered screen stud with whom he identified being that his every waking moment he was pursued by the image of Big Yuyo’s enormity on his face, he entered, thrust, withdrew, grabbed his minute, erect member and tried to spray his mother’s belly and face while she traveled comfortably through the suburbs of oblivion. Observing a string of zeros appear rapidly from his glans he became angry, released his Pee Wee Herman, and making a fist of his right hand pummeled his mother about the cheeks and eyes, causing contusions and welts to appear on her already ravaged face.

Now, at all hours of the day and night as she lay in torporific repose he’d separate her thighs and quickly drive his infantile but erect member into his besotted mater, often combining this pseudo conjugal activity with the dual enjoyment of a classic “Sylvester the Cat” epic. When his mother, Awilda, became aware that her own son was playing feed the bear on her person, her maternal instincts protested and while he was out had a lock put on her bedroom. This action truly enraged Pipo who now resorted to even more masculine strategies, by walking in one day, demanding to know who in the fuck she thought she was, scabby bitch that she was and no more his mother than any other whore in the street, shit.

And with that opening salvo he delivered a perfect right cross to her temple which stunned her. Grabbing her by the hair he drove her into her room unlocked room and proceeded to rip her clothing until she was naked before him, cowering and reduced to a whimpering mess of tears, snot, urine, and feces, such was her fear. One would think that such a sight would produce, if not compassion at least disgust in young Pipo, but nothing could stand before his rage and staring at her he ordered his mother, with his now defunct eyes to hit the bed and spread. She pleaded for the dignity to be allowed to cleanse herself, but he insisted on his rights and she complied; shutting her eyes and wishing for death; conflicted as he lay atop her and within her, her maternal circuits awry since she wished to comfort her son, but knew that her arms about him were tantamount to approval of this violation and she would have no part of it.

Down at the Sixth Precinct they knew Awilda as a drunk and a whore so that when she complained that her son was beating her up and raping her, the officers laughed and said, yeah, yeah Awilda and that’s a good one Awilda, so that oftentimes she wandered the streets, hungry and cold, fearful of going home because of the humiliation and pain that awaited her; after a time growing used to the sexual abuse, but weary of the blows which rained upon her for the most minor of infractions; wondering what offense she had committed to have God punish her in this way.

This use and misuse of his mother was a secret which his partners knew nothing about. If they knew they would’ve found a way to rationalize it, much as they rationalized their brutality and heartlessness. But Pipo did not reveal his secret to the others because they would have wanted to have a go at her and what person in his right mind was going to allow somebody to fuck their mother. That would’ve been too much. In any case he was sure they would rather spend their time by recalling films they’d seen down on Delancey Street or up on 42nd Street, or programs they’d seen on television, particularly cartoons. Whenever they recalled an especially horrifying experience it was done in humor, spending time laughing and slapping hands at details of the adventure.

They still recalled last summer when they picked out at random a 57-year-old expert on the preparation of egg foo young, sweet and sour pork, and moo goo gai pan, who worked at the Golden Dragon Restaurant down on Mott Street and trailed him as he made his way up from his place of employment, across the Bowery and up Chrystie, walking in short, choppy steps, carrying the ubiquitous translucent pink plastic bag, which held food for his cancerous wife Mai Ling so that he could feed her and console her, telling her he was not ashamed of their childless marriage, recalling their miserable life in Hong Kong, and at least here they had been happy, even if they lived in such a small place. Poor Huang, hurrying through the night, knowing fate followed him, but little could be done, heading home to his second floor apartment and poor Mai Ling, who had been a true beauty in her youth; it did not matter that she had no fortune with children; little steps, his legs hurting from standing all day and now walking.

Two more blocks and he’d be home and then they were upon him, silent and mean, their arms around his neck so that he could not breathe; the words pouring out of his brain, but no sounds coming from his mouth, as Papo, who was the youngest but the biggest of the four, squeezed his larynx with his forearm, bending his head back so that if one were watching this on celluloid, one would’ve held his breath hoping the actor upon whom this outrage was being perpetrated would be able to walk away unharmed since the back of Huang’s head was nearly touching his back. The other three had already gone through his pockets removing 45 dollars, two lottery tickets, some change and his keys. But Papo, 14 and wishing to prove himself among his partners in crime, felt a great desire to learn whether what he had seen in that spy movie was really true and was it possible to have this trashy smelling chino acquire a permanently damaged spinal chord by forcing his head back as far as it could go. No more than 30 seconds elapsed from the time the pack struck until Papo’s desired effect took place and he heard the neck snap as if he were breaking a brittle stick across his raised knee. Huang’s body went immediately into spasmodic shock and his bladder and intestines began to emit their contents, causing Papo to immediately drop him and at the urging of the others take flight, hearing Pupi or Pipo or Pepe, yelling not to forget the food.

Later, when they had run along Houston, splitting up as they hit First Avenue and meeting up again in Tompkins Square Park to partake of the food, slandering dead Huang because there was no pork fried rice or ribs which was the extent of their knowledge of Chinese cuisine, they decided in a 4–0 landmark decision that “the fucking chino deserved it, even if Papo had kilt him, and whatnot.”

They were genuinely mean, these four. To this day Marcos, who saw the four defiling Pupi’s 17-year-old, retarded cousin Milagros, cannot talk about the experience without shuddering and cursing them. Marcos had been hit by a car crossing Houston Street when he was nine years old. He was now 40 and had existed seated in a wheel chair reading detective and science fiction novels, listening to all news stations and talk shows and living a secret life of self-provided pleasure. Ugly and loveless, he contented himself with watching other apartments from a neatly constructed blind in his bedroom at his sister Lucy’s 14th floor projects apartment near 13th Street and Avenue D. Seated in his wheelchair, rather than wasting time watching soap operas as other shutins did, he used powerful binoculars mounted on a tripod, bought with disability dollars, to study the human condition, particularly the goings on in Stuyvesant Town, which having been built in the ’40s is not wired for air conditioning and in the summer time residents do whatever they can to stay cool and therefore parade themselves in denuded splendor.

Although a great many of the residents were too elderly to draw even the slightest glance from Marcos, there were young women and couples who, unaware of this persistent and distant observer pleasured themselves and each other causing Marcos great satisfaction through the diligent use of various thick lumberjack socks filled with Noxzema, which he quickly washed and hung up no less than 12 to 15 times in a 24-hour period.

Marcos did not limit his rounds to Stuyvesant Town, for he had access to a number of tenements in the area. Most of the time it wasn’t worth the bother since the people in the area enjoyed their privacy and lowered the shades. Once in a while there was some crazy, drugged up, white hippy girl who walked around naked and that was cool. Most of the time it was dull as hell, except when there was a family dispute and then he’d shift his binoculars from one room of the watched apartment to another, observing as a child was chased by a parent or wife by a husband, enjoying the action and the culmination of the drama as the parent or husband cornered his or her prey and struck mercilessly. Marcos’s feeling was simply that they must have done something to deserve the treatment.

One Spring day around one in the afternoon he was making a cursory sweep through the tenements when he observed four young dudes undressing a girl. This was going to be a classic gang bang, something which he had yet to observe in nearly 20 years of patient reconnoitering. Although the scene caused him to become thoroughly excited what next took place made him nauseous.

What transpired was that Pupi’s aunt Gertrudis had to go to Puerto Rico because her grandmother was sick and left her oldest daughter Marta to take care of her sister Milagros, who was retarded. Marta who worked at the Con Edison offices on 14th Street saw no problem with this. It was simple. Marta would come back to the apartment on her lunch hour and check on Milagros and since her cousin Pupi was just hanging out and not going to school, she asked him if he could kind of keep an eye on her and gave him a set of keys, never for once suspecting that he was part of this twisted quartet of perverted junior executives of evil.

Milagros was retarded but she wasn’t no Mongolian boba, as the double negative parlance of the people went. She was just slow and couldn’t read and always wanted to talk about dopey things like songs on the radio, repeating a couple of lines and then going on to something else, repeating over and over things like Michael Landon is so cute or Kojak es muy feo. He’s too ugly. She could take a bath, comb her hair, get dressed, and fix herself cold cereal, except that she put too much sugar in the cereal and her teeth were rotting because she didn’t like brushing her teeth, and she could make sandwiches and pour herself a glass of soda, but beyond that she was useless and could not remember one thing from one minute to the next. If you told her put the dishes on the table in the sink, she would put one dish in the sink and when you turned around she was looking out the window or turning the pages in a magazine. One thing she like doing was playing games, especially made up games that did not have too many rules and did not require her to remember things, like let’s pretend we’re a train so put your hands on my hips and here we go.

The other fact is that Papo’s brother, who dealt a little bit of coca, had a Doberman to watch the house, but since he was up half of the night hanging out he slept in the daytime and paid Papo 20 dollars every day to walk Simbad twice a day because if Simbad wasn’t walked he wouldn’t go in the apartment but he would bark and bark until you took him outside. Simbad was a monster Dobie, not mean but big and crazy looking so that just watching him coming near you made you scared.

So one day the homeboys were hanging out on the stoop of Pupi’s aunt Gertrudis’s building when here comes Papo with Simbad and they all start messing around and talking about the flick they had seen with this guy that came all over the chick’s face and wasn’t that a bitch: all in her face and whatnot; hi-five, hi-five, hi-five, slap-slap-slap-slap, goof, goof, goof, slap-slap-slap, shit, man all in her face and shit. Word, man. So talking about all this stuff and remembering the film made the four horny. As usual they talked about sticking it to that one or the other but since they never had done with a woman except for Pipo who hit on his mother regularly, but, as stated previously, wasn’t about to admit this even among his crazy ass homeboys, the only thing they did was brag about having done it, which they individually knew was bull but collectively upheld the belief of having made it with a least a hundred bitches each.

When Pupi saw Simbad sitting on the sidewalk his tongue hanging out and his pointy pink pingo sticking out, he said he had heard of someplace where they had horses doing it to women.

“You crazy, man,” Pepe said. “What the fuck are you talking about? A horse? Did you ever see a horse. I was up by Central Park one time with my cousin Agustín, looking to bust somebody and get some cash for shit and these bitches were riding horses and they got off and this horse took a piss and he had a pingo the size of your arm. How in the fuck is a horse gonna do it to some bitch, homeboy? The shit come out of the bitch’s mouth and whatnot, man.”

“Some dude tole me, man,” Pupi said. “It was a little horse not one of them big ass police mothafuckas.”

“Oh, you fulla shit, homeboy,” Pepe said. “No woman can take a big ole horse’s pingo. They be having trouble with mine, man, so how they gonna fuck a horse.”

They kept arguing and getting more excited so that one thing led to another and who knows which of the four thought of it, but they ended up in Pupi’s Aunt Gertrudis’s apartment and Milagros was there eating Frosted Flakes with gobs of sugar and she said hi, boys and asked if that was their dog even though she had seen Simbad a hundred times. They laughed and said this was their dog and did she want to play a game.

Milagros said yeah and glommed the last of her Frosted Flakes and stood up. She said she was ready so they told her she should come out into the living room. When she got there Pupi explained to her cousin Milagros that they had to play like babies and they had to take their clothes off. Milagros shook her head, but Pupi said if she didn’t want to play then they’d have to go. Milagros got all sad and said okay but not in the living room because people didn’t get undressed in the living room. They asked where and she said the bedroom. So in they went and when she was undressed they scoped on her and she was fine and whatnot with big tetas and her bollo, her crica all hairy and black and shiny and they all wanted to touch her but there was something that kept them from doing so.

Finally one thing led to another and Papo, Pepe, and Pipo agreed that since Milagros was Pupi’s cousin he’s the one that’s got to get Simbad ready. Pupi said no fucking way, so Pipo, who knew what was going to happen when the whole thing got started and he wasn’t about to take out his own pingo for these mothafuckas to laugh at, said Pupi was a punk faggot and he’d do it and he grabbed Simbad down there and started stroking and Simbad’s pingo got tremendous and it had güevo, a knot in it. When Milagros saw this she started to laugh and asked if the dog had two tongues. They said no that this was like a lollipop and did she want to lick it. She shook her head. But then they told her that Simbad liked playing horsey and did she want to play that. She said yeah so they held Simbad and she got on him and they held her up and they walked her around with her titties bouncing around and everything.

This went on for a little bit and then they said that Simbad wanted to play horsy and could he get on her so she got down on her knees and put her hands on the floor and they helped Simbad up on her and before you knew it Pupi had Simbad’s thing in Milagros and now Simbad was going at it and poor, retarded Milagros, felt what was going on but she was having so much fun watching the other three boys with their red things out like the doggie and going back and forth over them with their hands and then they were over her and she could feel stuff falling on her face and on her back and then the doggie was really grabbing her and she felt this pain in her stomach that made tears come to her eyes but she wasn’t crying.

When they were done they made her take a shower and get dressed and said it was part of the game. They mopped everything up and everything was fine except for the fact that Simbad’s thing wouldn’t go down and it just hung there and Simbad looked all confused and whatnot so Pipo said he heard that it took a dog’s pingo about two hours to go down so they turned on the television and watched cartoons on cable and Milagros came out of the shower and got dressed and ate some more cereal and then came and sat down with them to watch cartoons until Simbad’s pingo went down.

Marcos watched the whole thing and he couldn’t even enjoy what he had seen it was so disgusting. Worse off he didn’t know what to do about it. He thought he should call the police, but he was ashamed of saying what he’d seen. He also recognized one of the boys and knew that his brother was a drug dealer and there was not telling what they would do to him if he ratted them out. It wasn’t like the time the man had been threatening a woman with a knife. He had called the police then, but by the time the police came the man had calmed down and nothing happened.

When Simbad was back to normal so that he could walk the street with dignity again the Posse of the Pingo as they would now call themselves, went back downstairs like nothing happened. When Papo brought Simbad back, his brother, Frankie Cabeza, who had a really big head and therefore his name, was up and feeling nasty as a mother-trucker. He did a line, fixed himself some cafe con leche and bread and butter and began calling his boys on the cellular. When Papo walked in with Simbad, Cabeza wanted to know where the fuck you been, you fucking retard. It’s 4:00 in the afternoon. And Papo said that Simbad didn’t want to go and he’d had to walk all the way down to Houston and the Drive. Simbad went and sniffed around his food dish, drank water from the toilet bowl and then sat on the couch licking his red pointy pingo.

So this was the nature of these four, except that not having a go at a real woman was beginning to annoy them and one day as they were roaming the neighborhood Papo who had snapped Huang’s neck spotted Fawn Singleton Farrell, who had now blossomed into a delicate young woman, too shy and frightened of herself and recalled that he had been in the fourth grade with her and she lived down by Clinton in some big old factory building where hippy, white people lived and wasn’t she a fine looking little bitch.

Ed Vega was born in Puerto Rico. His latest book is Casualty Report, Arte Publico Press, 1991. “The Four Horsemen of Avenue B” is a chapter from the novel: No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew it Cause Bill Bailey Ain’t Never Coming Home Again, a work in progress and should be considered in the context of the larger work.

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Nan Goldin by Stephen Westfall
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Nan Goldin’s photography never fails to entice, shining with her trademark sensuality and tenderness. She spoke with Stephen Westfall for BOMB in 1991.

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In April he gave me two pictures that later acquired a mild notoriety.

Originally published in

BOMB 40, Summer 1992

Featuring interviews with Reno, Derek Walcott, Neal Jimenez & Eric Stoltz, George Condo, Louis Kahn, Camille Billops, Darius James, Michael Jenkins, and Joe Mantello.

Read the issue
040 Summer 1992