New York City’s drug problem had long been out of hand. Most of the cops who worked narcotics were on the streets undercover, blending into the fabric of the community. Their mission was to infiltrate the various cells that claimed territorial rights all over Brooklyn, and since turnover and burnout were high, much of their success could be attributed to anonymous tips and street informants.

Malik was a down cat on the job. A true brother in blue. A cop’s cop. But he also had twin brothers who were deep in the drug game, and he’d come up on the streets with that kind of criminal element.

So when he approached his man Taylor, a brand-new narcotics officer who was bucking hard for a promotion, he knew he’d have very little trouble being persuasive.

“’Sup, Taylor,” Malik said, offering the cat some dap. Taylor looked like a damn kid, Malik noticed. He knew Taylor came from one of those rich-niggah families from upstate New York, but the cat had mad street credibility and his swagger and shine came off as truly official.

“Is your boss in, man?” Malik asked the question but he already knew the answer. The head man was at a training conference and wouldn’t be back for three days.

Taylor shook his head. “Nah, son. He’s outta the office. You can catch him in a couple of days, though.”

Malik dapped him like he was ready to walk out, but then shook his head. “That’s all right. Shit’ll be done jumped off and over with by then, man.”

That got him. Taylor was the opportunistic type. Always looking for a leg up the blue ladder. “What’s cookin’, baby?” he asked, his interest piqued.

“I heard some noise on the streets last night, that’s all. A cat I know from back in the day is about to get into some shit, and you know how it be. We on opposite sides of the fence right now, but he still my niggah and I got luh for’im. There’s a big drop going down, and a crew of young heads are scheming on some real mutiny shit. My man is in trouble, but he blind and the niggah can’t see it. I was gonna whisper a lil something in Big D’s ear, but since he ain’t here I’ma have to find another way to wrestle this shit.”

True to form, Taylor was all ears.

“Dig, man,” he said, leading Malik over to a table and pulling out a chair. “Big D don’t stop the sun from shining. I got full authorization to act, my man. Ya dude in trouble? Then it’s only right that a down cat like you try to help him out.”

He waited until Malik was seated, then pulled up a chair beside him.

“So what’s poppin, homey? Gimme the who, what, when, and where. I can figure out the why by my damn self.”

“Cool,” Malik said, sincerity creasing his face. “’Cause I might wear this uniform, yo, but I’m still a street soldier at heart. I luh my niggah Borne, though. I really do. And that’s the only reason I’m here, yo. I wanna sink them niggahs plottin’ on him, man, because he’s a down cat for real, ya know?” He sighed and shook his head. “I’d rather see him locked up in the joint than stretched out in the ground.”


The streets were full of danger on Friday nights in Brownsville. The Monster walked down Livonia Avenue on the outskirts of Tilden Projects, where transactions occurred right under the well-lit porches and cats played Cee Low in the lobbies. With eight buildings on the block and sixteen stories in each building, Tilden was like a city within itself. A breeding ground for drugs, crime, and all manner of blight.

He crossed Rockaway Avenue, moving like a hunter as he traveled under the El toward Sutter. Marcus Garvey Houses teemed with criminals and vermin on his left, and Betsey Head Park sat dark and quiet up ahead on his right. He crossed Hopkinson Avenue and walked a few more blocks, then turned the corner on Amboy Street. Minutes later he stood on the raggedy porch of an aged house.

His fist was like a bat as he pounded on the door.

Shuffling feet, a muffled curse. An old woman’s voice rang out in the night.

“Who is it?”

He heard the eye-cover slide back and waited until a blurry image appeared at the peephole. He touched his piece to the tiny circle of glass, and then he fired.

On the other side of the door: the sound of a body thumping to the floor, and then another curse. This one much louder.

With his piece aimed, the Monster kicked the door in. It flew wide open, the latch giving way as it slammed inward on its shattered hinges.

An elderly man sitting at a small round table moved toward the kitchen fast, but not fast enough. The Monster stepped over the dead woman and was on him before he knew it. The old man screamed as he fumbled around in a silverware drawer, coming out with a butcher knife. His hand shook. The Monster raged. Laughing, he bent the old man’s wrist back, then caught the knife as it fell from his fingers.

The sharp slice of metal moved like a blur. It cut deeply into the withered old flesh: chest, neck, cheek, penetrated an eyeball.

The body fell, and the Monster moved on.

They were here. He could smell them. Hiding.

He stomped through the old house, moving from room to room, following the scent of fear. He tracked them to a back bedroom. Huddled in a tiny closet. His prey was deep in the back, his woman boldly protecting him like a shield.

The Monster stared into her dark, defiant eyes. No fear. She had some beast in her too.

They moved at the same time. Her gun coughed as he slapped it from her hand, snapping her wrist. She screamed, and the Monster bit her.

With his eyes trained deep in the darkness of the closet, he lifted her with one hand and hurled her behind him, across the room. Bone on wall rang out, but he never looked back. Instead he reached into the pit of the closet and grinned as his rock-breaking hand closed around hard flesh.

“Yo,” Acqui cried. “It wasn’t me, man! I swear to God. It was that niggah Rayz and ’em. I wasn’t even there when it went down. Don’t do this shit, man. I wasn’t even there!”

Setting his gat on the ground, the Monster swung. Acqui screeched. Teeth flew, bones shattered, blood spurted. Fury raged and the Monster swung again. And again. And again, and again, and again. Crushing a nosebone, tearing flesh from a skull, bringing darkness down on his prey.

“Not yet…” he muttered as the battered lump on the floor moaned and shuddered, close to death. Taking a knee, the Monster reached into his back pocket. A wrist-flick later a curved blade glinted in his hand.

“You like makin’ smileys, huh?”

In a flash the knife sank into his prey’s bloodied flesh, laying his cheek open to the bone. The Monster paused momentarily to study his work. Dissatisfied, he went back for more.

“Not deep enough,” he determined, then retraced his first slash. This time he carved a deep line in front of the ear and swung under the chin, then aimed the tip of his blade and pressed it deeply into Acqui’s naked throat-meat.

The Monster didn’t stop until his knife scraped neck-bone.