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Finally they turned their attention back to Emmett and informed him that they would agree to try it out to see how it worked on the following Saturday morning, which was only three days away. " 'N you better make sure you got everything covered, kid, 'cause we gotta pay our men overtime from the time they show up at eight o'clock on Saturday morning to the time they finish up. So don' you go fuckin' up, 'cause there's lots a money we puttin' out to see this thing gets done right. So you better do your best like us, see, or you're gonna have a lot to answer to us for, if you fuck things up somehow. So, don't! It's a good idea, but we don' wanna throw no money away for nothin' you understand?! So, you make-a damn sure it counts front page! Okay, you a good kid. Now, what you gettin' outta all this?"

Emmett told them a line about how he wanted to give everyone on the Lower East Side a chance to live together in peace and harmony without the filth of garbage that had accumulated because of the city sanitation department's criminal neglect of the neighborhood. It was exactly their criminal neglect which he hoped to expose with the generous cooperation of the private sanitation companies who were being wrongly slandered by those same city hall officials.

Emmett shook all their hands before walking out into the crisp evening air of Hester Street for his long but enthusiastic walk back to the pad on Avenue A, thinking for a moment about the last time he was on Hester Street and what he came there for then, and also briefly wondering whether Willie Pondexteur was still in the penitentiary at Dannemora, or paroled by now, or dead. It seemed such a long time ago that Emmett hurried to push the thoughts of that day out of his mind, thinking instead about how he had to keep the upcoming Saturday cleanup very quiet, and at the same time organize slick press coverage of the event.

But even though Emmett maintained tight security about the project for Saturday, word of the cleanup by the private sanitation companies got to the wrong people in the East Village and they leaked it to the city government administration, who flooded the Lower East Side neighborhood with their own department of sanitation trucks on Friday, and copped all the publicity for the city of New York. Several Puerto Rican gangs--with whom Emmett had discussed the proposal he made to the Elizabeth Street "good people"--were outraged by the city's publicity stunt cleanup, after having always avoided their community in the past. They printed [end page 337]

 

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