A VALUABLE LESSON

Jay had heard that you could buy fake IDs in New York.  All that he knew was that you could get them on Canal Street. Jay remembered Sloppy Sullivan showing him the one he’d gotten while on a trip to New York with the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band. It said in small print on the back that it was not a real ID and that it was for “entertainment purposes only”, but other than that it looked pretty legit.

“You think the clerks at a corner store care if it’s real or not? Not a chance, they just want something to look at, so if they do get hemmed up they can show the cops on camera that they checked an ID. Plus it’s a North Dakota ID, how is he gonna know what a real North Dakota ID looks like?” Sloppy Sullivan explained to Jay.

New York City was a mecca for Jay. All his favorite rap songs took place there. It was the birthplace of hip-hop and graffiti, or so he thought at the time. Every magazine article he read seemed to sing its virtues. Jay had never been there, so he decided to go with his friend Allan Lee for midwinter break.

Both Allan and Jay held down part time jobs as “courtesy clerks” (more commonly known as bag-boys) at neighborhood grocery stores. Jay worked at the QFC by Roosevelt, and Allan worked at an organic food co-op near Bryant. Both lived at home, so they had no “real” expenses. Drinking was a cheap pastime, a keg cup cost $3 and you could drink as much as you could refill before the keg ran dry. Then you’d throw some money down on an18 pack with a friend, and you’d still have spent under $20. Of their friends, only Allan and Jay had jobs, so they had the disposable income necessary to plan and go on trips. The year before, they had flown by themselves to Hawaii and they’d had a blast. Jay convinced Allan that their next trip should be New York.

It was easy for Jay to convince Allan to go to New York City. They were both avid fans of VICE Magazine before it became a major media website. It was a free magazine given out at all the cool, edgy places on the Ave and Broadway.  The articles in Vice seemed to glorify a decadent New York lifestyle that was much more exciting than drinking in parks around Seattle.

Because they were young and didn’t know any better, Allan and Jay’s hotel room was nothing more than a shitty cubicle two blocks off Time Square. It was the smallest hotel room Jay had ever seen in his life. The room was dominated by two beds that were pressed against opposite walls, a nightstand wedged between them, and a TV and chest of drawers. Their suitcases took up the majority of the floor space, and both had brought only one bag. You couldn’t open the front door and the bathroom door at the same time or the doors would bang into each other.

It didn’t matter though. They were young, unstoppable, and they’d brought their own liquor from Seattle. They bought overpriced twenty ounce sodas from the vending machine in the lobby, poured out half, and filled the other half with Jack Daniels whiskey. Then they went out to roam the streets of Manhattan.

***

 Jay and Allan headed to Canal Street to buy the fake ID’s.  When they got there, they walked around looking for where they could buy them.  A black dude on the street came up to them shortly after they had begun looking and asked,

 “You boy’s looking for fake IDs?”

 It was like the guy had read their minds.

“Yeah dude, how did you know?”

The guy laughed.

“You guys just had that look about you, I’m your man, here, fill these out.”

The black dude looked around furtively. He produced two Xeroxed forms from his jacket that had blanks next to all the information one would need for an ID and handed them to Jay and Allan, who filled them out.

“Follow me.”

Allan and Jay followed him to the front of a Chinese furniture store. The man looked around nervously.

“Alright this is the place. I’m going to take your picture, you each give me 60 bucks and then I’ll go in and get your ID’s made for you, then be right back out.” He pulled out a digital camera.

“Wait dude, why can’t we go inside with you?”

“You kidding fool? The Chinese folk don’t want kids walking in and out of their spot, that would be a dead giveaway.  Here, stand against the wall.”

Allan looked at Jay. “I don’t know dude.”

“Why would he take our picture and fill out these forms if he wasn’t going to give us ID’s?”

“I guess you’re right.”

Allan and Jay forked over the money.

“Alright, stand next to that wall right there.” said the man, pointing at neutral colored section of wall.

First he took a picture of Jay from the neck up of, then Allan.  Then he said,

“You guys wait right here, I’ll be out in 20 minutes.”

Allan and Jay watched him disappear into the Chinese furniture store. Both of them knew that they weren’t going to see the black dude again, but they didn’t want to admit it.  They had been wrong yet, so they waited, holding on to the idea that their gut feeling might be wrong.

“Fuck this, I’m going in.” Said Allan, before walking into the entrance of the store, Jay followed.

The store was filled with Chinese-themed junk, it looked like a store where owners of Chinese restaurants went to buy decor. A Chinese lady sat behind a counter, she stared at Allan and Jay blankly, the black dude was nowhere to be seen. At the end of the store opposite the entrance was a door, the neon green letters above it read EXIT.

“FUCK!!!”  Screamed Allan “THAT MOTHERFUCKER!!!”

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