The Bad Die Young

The Bad Die Young

by Jerome Charyn

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A black defense attorney struggles with his obsession with the laziest whore in Harlem
From his penthouse in posh Sugar Hill, Edward Parkchester rules over Manhattan. A silver-tongued defense attorney with a flourishing criminal sideline, he has fame, fortune, and the respect of uptown and downtown alike. But for the right working girl he will throw it all away. He meets her at the Brig—a high-class cathouse that caters to the upper crust of Harlem society. Her name is Carla, and she does not bother to seduce him. She just lies there, munching on chocolate and working her way through the great books of Western literature. She is hypnotically indifferent, and he can’t get enough. His empire is crumbling beneath him, but Parky doesn’t notice. He’s too entranced by a prostitute who doesn’t give a damn.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480410978
Publisher: Road
Publication date: 04/09/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 38
Sales rank: 756,903
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Jerome Charyn (b. 1937) is the critically acclaimed author of nearly fifty books. Born in the Bronx, he attended Columbia College. After graduating, he took a job as a playground director and wrote in his spare time, producing his first novel, a Lower East Side fairytale called Once Upon a Droshky, in 1964. In 1974, Charyn published Blue Eyes, his first Isaac Sidel mystery. This first in the so-called Sidel quartet introduced the eccentric, near-mythic Sidel, and his bizarre cast of sidekicks. Although he completed the quartet with Secret Isaac (1978), Charyn followed the character through Under the Eye of God. Charyn, who divides his time between New York and Paris, is also accomplished at table tennis, and once ranked amongst France’s top 10 percent of ping-pong players.  
Jerome Charyn (b. 1937) is the critically acclaimed author of nearly fifty books. Born in the Bronx, he attended Columbia College. After graduating, he took a job as a playground director and wrote in his spare time, producing his first novel, a Lower East Side fairytale called Once Upon a Droshky, in 1964. In 1974, Charyn published Blue Eyes, his first Isaac Sidel mystery. This first in the so-called Sidel quartet introduced the eccentric, near-mythic Sidel, and his bizarre cast of sidekicks. Although he completed the quartet with Secret Isaac (1978), Charyn followed the character through Under the Eye of God. Charyn, who divides his time between New York and Paris, is also accomplished at table tennis, and once ranked amongst France’s top 10 percent of ping-pong players.

Read an Excerpt

The Bad Die Young

By Jerome Charyn


Copyright © 2013 Jerome Charyn
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-1097-8


"Baby, did you ever move your tail for a man, just a little bit?"

"If you don't like my lovin'," she said, "you can always go elsewhere."

There wasn't any elsewhere. She was Parky's burden, his white bitch. He should have zeroed her and all her junk out of his life, but he couldn't. She was like a fugitive in his own crib, twelve rooms that sat above the bitter roofs of Harlem, on Sugar Hill. Carla wouldn't leave the crib. She ate chocolates, yakked on the telephone, and devoured books while she lounged in Parky's king-sized bed. She should have grown into a hippopotamus; her rump should have reached the sky, and it troubled Parky that Carla could stay so beautiful.

He'd met her at his favorite cathouse, called the Brig because it catered to black tycoons—generals, bankers, and criminal lawyers like Edward Parkchester—who didn't want the public to watch over them; they took their delight behind closed doors, at the Brig. It was on East Ninety-Sixth Street, at the edge of Spanish Harlem, and it was run by a former fashion model, Marie. Parky would play chess with Brigadier General Washington Starke, who arrived from the Pentagon once a week to chat with Parky and drink champagne with the girls. The black tycoons enjoyed one another's company. They lived in a world of white men, and battled when they had to, but relaxed at the Brig. And once, after Parky had been absent for a couple of weeks, defending a Mafia overlord, Brigadier Starke told him about the new girl at the Brig. Carla. None of the girls ever revealed their last names; they didn't seem to have one.

"Parky, this kid is a heartbreaker. She lies there, dead as firewood. I commanded her to wiggle. I wore my fucking uniform. Got no satisfaction from her. I'm in love with the bitch, but I have my pride. I'm asking Marie to toss her out."

The general had scratched Parky's own pride as a criminal lawyer. He considered Carla a possible client, a girl he might have to defend. "I'll talk to her, Wash ... I won't give your secret away. I'm good at listening."

He climbed up to Carla's roost on the third floor, armed with a split of champagne and Marie's best crystal. Carla wouldn't even open the door and retrieve the champagne. She was lying in bed with a book. The girls were supposed to wear negligees, it was a house rule, but Carla was naked. She wasn't showing Parky her wares. She didn't seem interested in Edward Parkchester. She had platinum hair, cropped very short. The girls at the Brig never had short hair, and Parky wondered if Marie was sleeping with Carla. Her crotch had the same dark silver look as her skull. She couldn't turn Parky on.

He'd already lost out to Carla. He had to introduce himself. "I'm Edward Parkchester," he mumbled with the crystal in his hands.

"I know," she said, without taking her eyes off the book. "You defend maniacs, and you've never lost a big case."

"What are you reading?"

Carla shoved the book under her pillow and smiled at the man who defended maniacs.

"I'm ready for you, Mr. Parkchester."

It was worse than a duel, and Parky could never win. He glanced at the bookshelf near her bed, noticed Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and Chester Himes. It irked him, because Chester Himes had gone out of print; Parky had to order his books in England, and Carla had access to Coffin Ed and Grave Digger Jones, the baddest cops in Harlem's history.

She sipped the champagne, helped Parky undress. The brigadier had been right. She lay under him like firewood. Her limbs never moved. Parky had to dream of some other bitch or he couldn't have penetrated her. But he howled like a lunatic the second he started to come.

"Who turned you on to Coffin Ed?"

"Mr. Parkchester, do you have to talk in parables? You're not in court today."

"Don't lie. You've been reading Chester Himes."

"And suppose I am? My library doesn't belong to this crib."

Parky got dressed and walked out on the bitch. He would have told Marie to fire her, but he had other business on his mind. His chauffeur was waiting for him outside the Brig, and he rode down to have a chat with his future father-in-law, Sasha Klein, a Latvian tailor who'd broken into high society and had his own investment-banking firm. Park Avenue mistook him for a White Russian prince. And Sasha had all the paraphernalia of a prince, including five Picassos, a lovely daughter, and an idiot son, whom Parky had to defend in court. The boy would expose himself in public buildings, steal merchandise from the finest stores. But he had Edward Parkchester behind him to plead his case, and his big sister, Tatiana Klein, who was in love with the black lawyer from Sugar Hill.

Parky arrived in the middle of a soiree. He danced with a wall-eyed debutante, shunned champagne and caviar, and cracked hard-boiled eggs with Sasha in the kitchen. The old man had adopted Parky, picked him right out of law school to represent Sasha & Son, and that's how Edward Parkchester moved between high society and the Maf.

"Sash," Parky said, "I have a shipment of sweaters that fell off a truck."


"Of course. Would I bother you with any of that synthetic stuff?"

"I'll take the shipment off your hands."

"With your usual cut?"

"God can strike me dead if I gouge my son-in-law. Thirty percent."

"Twenty-five. And I'm not married to Tatiana yet."

"Go to her," Sasha said. "She gets violent when you're not around."

Tatiana was sulking in a corner of Sasha's salon, but Parky had a little problem. He'd forgotten to shower after he'd slept with that platinum-haired bitch, and Tatiana would sniff around and realize that he was coming from the Brig. He marched up to the middle floor of Sasha's triplex, draped his clothes on the back of a chair, crept into a shower stall edged with beaten silver, soaped himself, and started to sing, when he discovered a shadow on the other side of the glass. The stall opened and Tatiana got in. She didn't have cropped hair, like the other bitch, and she only read main selections from the Book of the Month. Tatiana had never heard of Grave Digger and Coffin Ed.

"You bargain with my father, you make your deals, and you haven't even fucked me. This isn't a hotel. You're supposed to bathe after we've been to bed."

He didn't bother answering her. Tatiana didn't expect any answers. He carried her up to her bedroom, like some black Rhett Butler, and she wrapped her legs around Parky like a passionate octopus. She screamed and moaned under him, thrashed about, bit his shoulder, clawed his chest, and all Parky could think about was that indifferent, heavyhearted whore at Marie's mansion, the Brig ...

* * *

He had eleven court dates in a row. The Mafia chiefs were proud of Parky, said he had a silver tongue, like the best Jew lawyers. And jurors loved him, a black man from the mean streets of Harlem who could quote Shakespeare and Malcolm X. Marie called him while he was sitting with a judge at Manhattan Criminal Court. She'd never interfered with Parky's professional life, but she was calling on behalf of General Starke, who was in a desperate state.

"Did he have a heart attack?"

"Worse," Marie said.

Parky broke his lunch hour and rifled up to the Brig. General Starke stood like a catatonic in Marie's sitting room. He hadn't shaved. He'd "blinded" himself, plucked the buttons out of his uniform. He wouldn't get on the Metroliner and go back to the Pentagon.

"Parity," he muttered, "I'm leaving my wife."

"And where will you stay, Wash? At Marie's, with a whore who collects Chester Himes?"

"Gonna marry her," said the brigadier. "We'll have three brats, live on Sugar Hill."

"They'll love that at the Pentagon, Wash."

"Gonna resign my commission, devote myself to Carla. Otherwise I'll go insane."

"Wash, I'm not talking career. You can be a general or not be a general; I admire you all the same. But that girl never gets out of bed. I'm not sure she has any clothes.... Consider Marie. She'll have to shut down the Brig if you occupy one of her bedrooms with the bitch."

"I'm fond of you, Parky, awful fond. But I'll blow your brains out if you slander my woman."

The fool had a .45 in his pants, a military policeman's gun, and Parky had to wrestle it away from him.

"Stay here." He climbed up to the bitch, who was painting her toenails, a book on her knee.

"Carla," he said, "you'll have to vacate."

"That's nice. Are you gonna shoot me, Counselor?"

He was clutching the brigadier's .45. It was too big for Parky's pockets. He had to stuff it inside his pants.

"You've made a mess out of General Starke. He doesn't want to go home. He'd like to marry you."

"Those black generals, they're always accumulating wives."

"It's got nothing to do with being black. You've put a hex on him."

"I'm a working girl. Do I look like a harpy?"

"Yes," Parky told her. "And you'll have to voodoo in somebody else's parlor."

She smiled under her platinum crown. "Mr. Parkchester, is that a proposal? Am I going with you? I didn't think you cared that much."

He could have sold her to a harem. His Mafia connections would have shanghaied the bitch, and she'd have ended up in some little labor camp near the Mexican border, putting out for a battalion of wetbacks. But Parky wasn't seeking revenge. Carla had troubled the brigadier, not him.

"Put on your clothes."

She didn't bother with any underpants. She got into a simple dress, packed her books into a child's briefcase, winked good-bye to her bedroom at the Brig. Parky hustled her out the back way, or General Starke might have committed wholesale murder to get his hands on the bitch. Parky's chauffeur was waiting, a certain Giles, who'd once driven for the Rockefellers and was down on his luck. He'd joined Parky's criminal enterprises and was a little ashamed of his sojourn on Sugar Hill. Giles carried a gun, and his pockets were stuffed with cash in case Parky had to bribe someone on the spot. He seemed amused by Parky's acquisition, a girl with a battered briefcase and a nipple popping out of her dress.

Parky deposited her on the backseat and conferred with Giles outside the limousine.

"Where can we dump her?"

"I don't understand, Mr. Edward."

"The bitch sitting on her ass. She's poison. Tortures men, turns them into swine."

"Looks like a waif," Giles said, peeking through the window.

"Waif? What waif? I have a general upstairs who's lost his mother-fucking mind."

"You'll frighten her with that kind of talk."

"I want to frighten her. Get the picture, Giles? I'm a badass today, a mean hombre. We'll drop her in the Village. With a body like that she can land herself a date."

He got into the car, and Giles drove away from the Brig. He had to have a chauffeur who'd lived among white gentry and was a master of etiquette. He didn't have to examine the terrain. Giles wasn't heading downtown to Greenwich Village. Parky sat on the cushions, stared at Carla's briefcase.

"Are you saying Wash isn't your first black general? How many black generals have you been with?"

"Around a dozen."

He'd sell her to the Maf. That was final. He didn't even know of a dozen nigger generals. He watched her dig into the briefcase for a book. Her hand trembled just a little, and he figured what the hell, maybe she belonged in Harlem with the Grave Digger and Coffin Ed....

He meant to keep her for a couple of days, until he could find a cathouse that didn't cater to black generals, but she settled down in Parky's king-sized bed, fit her books on the night table until they formed their own shelf. He slept beside her for two nights, listened to her breathe, made love to her while she lay under him with a cat's gleaming eyes.

Tatiana had a fit. "Get rid of your concubine! Do I have to remind you, Parky? You'll be marrying twenty million dollars. My father adores you, and he's a generous guy."

Parky had his own millions, but he'd miss the old man. Sasha had been his patron and his employer, and now they shared the same sideline: stolen merchandise. He couldn't bear to lose the old man's affection. He met Sasha at a Mafia hole on Mulberry Street, a restaurant with only two tables.

"Parky, she'll kill us both. She thinks I introduced you to the concubine."

"Sash, I had to take Carla in. And I can't allow Tatiana to dictate terms. I'll be laughed off Sugar Hill."

"But you keep a whore in cold storage."

"I'm saving a general's life."

"Will you give the concubine up?"

Yes, Parky thought, and said, "No."

"Then we'll have to do business behind Tatiana's back."

He was always on the verge of moving her out. He inspected cathouses with Giles, as if he were preparing Carla's application to a country club. But he couldn't seem to lay her ass down in another crib. He lost half a million during the first six months of her residence on Sugar Hill.

"Parky, how's your fox?" his associates would ask. They never once saw her out of bed. They pitied him and began to grow jealous. They imagined Carla was the rarest kind of sexual slave. A concubine who fed on chocolate. And when they saw Parky dance with other bitches and vomit into the toilet at Marie's, they assumed that Carla was a cat woman with her own secret life, that she climbed down the fire escape when the counselor was gone and diddled whatever general happened to be on the block....


She would leave notes under Parky's door. "Edward dearest, can you ask that lowlife chauffeur of yours to bring me some pantyhose, magenta if you please, six pairs, and ten bars of Delhaize black chocolate, with a lion on the wrapper. He can ask for them at Bloomingdale's, in the chocolate department. Just have him say, 'ten of the special Belgian bars for the lady from Sugar Hill who orders a lot of "Lions."'"

Carla was at war with Giles, and Parky had to play the go-between. He was in the middle of a crisis. His whole Harlem operation had begun to fall apart. Badasses were driving him off the street. He couldn't go and complain to the Maf, because the Maf didn't know about his sweetheart deals with Sasha Klein, the freelancing they did, buying and selling caviar and other luxury items. Parky had to scribble briefs, and sit with Sasha's son, who'd exposed himself again. He couldn't attend to the details of all his enterprises.

"Giles, tell me about the badasses who are grabbing our merchandise. Who are they?"

"Black gentlemen, Mr. Edward."

"That's impossible. We're protected in Harlem. I'm half a king. What nigger would be foolish enough to mess with me?"

"Not on Sugar Hill," Giles had to remind him. "But there are tight little gangs in the Valley. You're much more vulnerable down below."

"I can't believe it," Parky said. "I pay my bills. I feed all the riffraff. Lenox Avenue is my crib.... Carla wants you to go to Bloomingdale's, pick up some chocolate and pantyhose."

"I'm not her delivery boy, Mr. Edward."

"That's news. I wanted to dump her in the Village. Remember, Giles? She's here on account of your goodwill."

"She has no dignity. She's a graceless girl."

"You were her champion, Giles."

"Well, Mr. Edward, I changed my mind."

Parky was losing his grip. He could defend idiots in court, but he couldn't even command his own chauffeur. He had to beg Giles to bring him to Bloomingdale's. And it was a funny thing. The counselor loved to shop for Carla, loved to range through the store, which was like a giant battlefield of products. He sampled men's perfume at the Christian Dior boutique, looked at his own reflection in the mirror, under the influence of several different neckties.

He carried Carla's pantyhose and chocolate bars into the toilet, and when he started to pee, a man in a business suit lunged at him with a knife. This wasn't Lenox Avenue or Sugar Hill. This was Bloomingdale's, the great white mountain, and the man with the knife was no uptown nigger. He was as pink and genteel as some ofay aristocrat. Parky might have met him at one of Sasha's soirees, or a shindig where Tatiana had been crowned queen of the ball. But this ofay had misjudged the counselor. Parky could talk like Shakespeare, but that was a bit of diplomacy he'd picked up at college. He was a child of the Valley who had shopped in garbage cans to keep alive and had to dodge Harlem detectives who were all white and didn't have the cunning or the craft of the Grave Digger and Coffin Ed. Parky socked the ofay on the skull with a Bloomingdale bag full of Carla's chocolate bars, but the ofay nicked his ear with the knife, and Parky had to rush out of the toilet with a silk handkerchief on one side of his face.


Excerpted from The Bad Die Young by Jerome Charyn. Copyright © 2013 Jerome Charyn. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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