Chapter 7 Summary
On the way down to New York City, Les is surprised to find out that Jude hasn’t learned to drive, so he teaches him and makes him drive the rest of the way. Once they arrive they are exhausted and go right to sleep. When Jude wakes up in the loft of Les’s apartment, he realizes how small his new living quarters are.
Les sits on the futon smoking pot from a huge glass bong. Les explains to Jude the rules of his new life—he won’t have a curfew if he promises to stay out of trouble. Les shows Jude the secret vault where he stores the marijuana he sells all over the city and introduces Jude to the first of his dealers, each of whom arrive throughout the day. Les runs a sophisticated, regimented drug-dealing operation, and tells Jude that it is imperative that he not do anything that would endanger the illicit business.
Jude spends his first few weeks wandering the downtrodden neighborhoods surrounding Les’s apartment at St. Mark’s Place. He meets a prostitute, is robbed by a pair of bums, rides his skateboard, smokes a lot of pot, plays video games, and thinks that he has things pretty well made. Les doesn’t seem to care what Jude does as long as he keeps out of trouble.
One evening Jude runs into Johnny. He has thought about Johnny constantly since arriving in New York even though he has avoided Johnny’s neighborhood, Alphabet City, because he was dreadfully afraid of running into the big brother of his dead friend.
Johnny calls out to Jude and after ribbing him about his clothing and being a new New Yorker, asks Jude to join him and his friends in a game of laser tag played on the subway between Fourteenth Street and Union Square. The group splits into two teams—one wearing white shirts, and one wearing black shirts—and descends into the subway. Jude is on Johnny’s team, and he follows Johnny as he gets onto the subway train and jumps from car to car in pursuit of the other team. Running up a staircase, Johnny is shot by a black-team member and eliminated from the game. Jude shoots the black-team member and spends the next few hours running from train to train and through the station in an elated, frenzied joy.
After a while, Jude doesn’t see any other laser-tag players, so he ascends to the street and is shocked by the cleanness of the air, which reminds him of Vermont, and the perfect blue color of the sky.