RAYMOND “WINDOWS” BELL, 59, EAST VILLAGE
RAYMOND “WINDOWS” BELL, 59, EAST VILLAGE
WORD ON THE STREET: What’s the biggest run-around you’ve been handed?
RAYMOND “BELLS” WINDOWS: The biggest run-around I got was when I got locked up for something I didn’t do. I was in the fucking hospital. Afterwards, every month for three years I had to go down and report for probation!
What didn’t you do?
Stalking. After I had my big accident, they transferred me there to the hospital on Roosevelt Island. Do you know where that is? So I’m in a wheelchair and I start going to the library right there in the hospital. I meet this good-looking woman — she’s librarian there. She’s telling me she’s divorcing her husband, she’s got a beautiful little apartment right there. I thought, alright, budda-whoa, budda-wing, I’m going to try this romance.
That’s something out of a Hemingway novel.
So I’m getting to her, buying her flowers and things. Then all of a sudden the whole administration gets involved in this shit. They call me to the office, so I roll myself there. [Makes wheeling gestures, squeaks.] They said listen, we don’t like patients and staff being romantically involved. I said, “What’s your business what we’re doing?” Well, they said, we have a thing here and we don’t like that; leave the woman alone. I said fine. So I finally get out of my wheelchair and I started strolling around, exploring Roosevelt Island, right, but everywhere I went I kept running into the woman. She got it into her head that I was stalking her! I was like, What! [Laughs.] It was stupid, right?
I mean, Roosevelt Island is a small island.
Yeah, it’s a small island — you’re going to run into people!
Say, have you ever gone to the southern tip where there’s the abandoned children’s asylum?
Wait, let me finish. Now, I got back to the hospital and again they call me into the office. I’m on crutches at this point. They said they’re going to have to discharge me from the hospital. I say, “For what? I ain’t done nothing wrong!” Now, me and the head of security didn’t get along. The head of patient relations said they’re going to give me 90 days. I can put an appeal in and maybe I can stay. So I made the mistake of telling the head of security that. I said to him, “I’m going to call in the investigators and see if they can come down here and check you out.” That was the worst thing I could have done; after that, he talked the librarian into calling the cops on me. They came and arrested me right out of the fucking hospital! The cops lied to me. They said don’t worry, we’ll take you to court and you’ll get an order for protection and you’ll get out of jail the next day.
This happened a week before 9/11, and I’m in Riker’s Island when the Twin Towers go down — I get stuck there for three months! But that was actually a good thing because I was still on a methadone program and when I was on the Island, I asked them to detox me off this shit. I have a way of turning a negative into a positive, so when they finally brought me to court I was drug-free and they gave me “time served.” I went back to the hospital on Roosevelt Island to get my personal property. The fucking asshole head of security wouldn’t even come out — he was afraid to look me in the face. He knew he fucked up, man. The woman got fired from her job. All the other patients, my friends, said, “Hey, Ray, don’t worry about it — she got what was coming to her.” They thought I would be happy to hear that, but I wasn’t. And the head of security is still out there, laughing. Me, I don’t give a fuck any more. Now, I can walk around Roosevelt Island anytime I want, but I’ve kind of lost interest.
That’ll do it.
And Roosevelt Island was an interesting place. There was a bar out there that’s not around anymore, half a block away from where [the librarian] lived, called Julie’s Sports Bar. I’m out there, having fun, drinking, talking to the women. I was talking to a good-lookin’ black woman there — she married an old Italian guy — and guess who bankrolled them the money to open the bar? The owner of this one.
Is this private information or…?
Naw, I don’t give a shit. You know, you’re a little slow today.
What’s something you learned at Riker’s?
You know, you’ve got so many people with drug habits who are locked up. That’s not a good idea. Instead of that, the government should put them in rehab. If the government wanted to stop illegal drugs, do you think they would do it? No, because then they would have to shut down half the prisons.
How does the government make money off prisons?
The reason they have so many prisons upstate is because people upstate don’t have no jobs! So they build prisons and now people in town can work as a guard. Do you know what I’m saying!
You don’t have to yell at me, Ray.
Look, once when I was locked up in a prison upstate, this family man comes in. You know what they locked him up for? Having too many DWIs. Instead of putting him in alcohol rehab, they give him a flat three years in prison — no parole. This is stupid! This is a man who is not a criminal. He and I became friends, actually. He taught me how to play pig knuckle, which is a card game.