Tuesday, May 14, 2002


Five bullets, six minutes.

That's the last line in the article on the New York Post website which details the first day of testimony in the trial of Sean Salley, 29, and Andre Smith, 31 in Manhattan. Known as the Carneige Deli Massacre in the press, on May 10, 2001 a woman's apartment was raided. Five victims were shot gangland style. Three dead, two survivors. And they are now the star witnesses in the trial.

Why does this concern me?

Well, one of the dead is a member of my extended six degrees of separation. His name was Charles Helliwell, better known to everyone Trey, and he was 36. One of the victims who survived was his girlfriend.

I last saw Trey and his girlfriend at Bonnie and Duncan's wedding. I had met him before once or twice before that memorable, but can't pinpoint the moment I met him in my mind. The wedding day has him burned into my mind.

I remember him being hip. Totally and painfully hip in a really campy and self-effacing sort of way. Too hip and he knows it, too silly, and he knows it. And everyone loved Trey. Bonnie's parents, Duncan's parents...

He provided the way too incredibly cool car for the married couple, and served as driver. He wore brown corduroy hip huggers with a two or three inch thick belt, and a pink tuxedo shirt, and wicked cool Bono style wrap around sunglasses. He had awesome hair.

I danced with him and his girlfriend at the reception. He did a wicked cool twist kind of move. She invited me to all sorts of parties they were having that summer. She was so genuinely sweet, and I could tell that as a couple they were loved by all their friends.

I looked at my own life of non-hipness, and told her that I very much would love to go to the barbecue for Trey's birthday, the concert he was organizing, the way too fun for words Boston based shindigs that were all lined up. But we never went. We never go anywhere, and we seem to never take anyone up on their offers for entertaining us.

That was June 2000. Less than a year later, he is at a friend's house in Brooklyn, and her music studio / hydroponics lab is raided by Smith and Salley, acquaintances of hers. They knew her doings, knew what she had up there, and figured that it was easy money. But too many witnesses.

The article says that the two survivors missed death when they flinched, and the bullets missed their spinal columns and brains. They were injured, but able to call 911.

The whole thing is just so horrible. A lot of people would say that drug dealing and illicit lifestyles lead to bad ends. We've seen it played out before in our own lives. Jennifer was making some nice side money growing and selling weed to "upscale" customers, the hip and the musical. But to be given a bullet in the head? Was that necessary? I'm sure she thought what she was doing was cool and safe.

It just absolutely stinks, that staying the weekend with a friend who grows weed could get you killed.

I feel badly for Bonnie and Duncan, and all the people who knew Trey well. He only touched my life a couple times, but Bon would regale me with Trey stories and crack me up. He was a trip. The life of the party. And I'm so sad that I didn't get to see him again, or go to one of those parties that he and his girlfriend threw. I'm sad I didn't get to know him better.

I never took Bonnie up on her offers to go to the Cape to one of the rock shows he organized and promoted. He was so talented with that kind of thing. I had kids and felt like I was old and out of the loop, even though everyone else involved was pretty much my age.

I will always have the memory in my mind of him opening the door to the car for Bonnie and Duncan to get into for their ride to the reception, with this huge and very joyful grin. And his smooth moves on the dance floor. That's all I've got.

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