The Café Don on Columbia Road was the last bar I worked.It was an un-improved, narrow storefront dive characterized by its décor- a bizarre menagerie of ‘taxidermized’ animals that loomed from the walls, including a great dane above the entrance door whose scrotum was continually licked by the fluttering tongue of a 'stuffed', oversized frog plopped in front of a fan. The clientele in this black/white/Hispanic neighborhood were mercurial enough that when the cops were (not often) called, their appearance was magical - at the flick of a finger. With a raging Kitchen Queen in the back, the food was superbly at odds with the scene.It was past midnight early in the week and the bar was empty. The kitchen was closed and only two of us remained in the place. I waited out the shift seated at the front window, gazing upon a scene whose desolation had earlier been softened by snow. The figure of a man crossed my view on the opposite side of the street, paused for a moment, then walked on. In a moment he returned, and with an in-determinate object in his hand he smashed the glass door of the cheap jewelry shop directly opposite the bar. He reached through to free the latch, swung the door out and stepped inside.
There was a boom and flash that silhouetted his form as he flew backwards out onto the pavement. I was out the door and crossing the street seconds after the event, and stood above him. He was supine on his back. Stone dead with a dark well blown through his winter coat where his heart would be.I walked back to the bar and anonymously called it in. This piece records the remaining hour of that night's shift, with the body draped by a sheet, somewhat casually maintained against a gusting wind by the solitary cop assigned to guard the scene. It would be awhile before homicide detectives arrived. There was another homicide in the neighborhood.
ACROSS FROM THE DON1985acrylic/paper70" x 45"Artist collection