The Meatman Cometh

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“T-bones! Filet Mignon!” a round Hispanic guy with a beard and apron yells into the evening at 14th St. and 8th Ave. At his feet, on the sidewalk, is a cardboard box.
“T-bones! Filet Mignon! Excuse me, sir, would you like to buy some steak?”

A much larger man, black, with an apron wrapped around itself and hanging off him like a skinny tie, strides onto the scene and grabs one end of the box.

“C’mon, let’s move this inside,” he says; he and the Hispanic man migrate to McKenna’s Pub, 245 W. 14th. A small group of patrons at the window are waiting for them.

“So I got filets, thirty-five dollars for twelve,” the black guy says, putting the box on the counter by the window. He’s got a patchy beard and a wide smile. “And you can see it’s cold, real cold, fresh.”

The men who circle the box, all Caribbean, reach out their hands to touch the meat, which is in plastic wrap on top of sytrofoam, just like it would be in D’Agostino’s, except in vastly larger quantities. It is, indeed, frosty.

“You don’t have rib-eye?” one customer asks.

“Man, you know the Meatman don’t fuck with no rib-eye.”

The Meatman works at the newly fishified Hunt’s Point Markets in the Bronx. On Wednesday nights, he brings down certain choice cuts for Manhattan customers in his refrigerated van.

“How many filets is that?” a guy in cornrows inquires.

“I told you twelve.”

“For forty?”

“Man, you know the best I could do for you is thrity-five.”

“Thirty-five? I got rent due, you know? So it’s like that.”

“It’s like that. Where you paying rent that five dollars is gonna matter?”

“How about you give me a deal on those T-bones?”

“T-bones,” the Meatman’s assistant says.

“This is some serious hustling right here,” another meat patron says. “Get out the camera.”

The Meatman ends up parting with the filets for thirty-five and the T-bones for twenty (“C’mon, man, just make it twenty-two, a’ight?”) before taking his box back outside, assuring those gathered that he’ll be back next Wednesday.

“And I’m gonna have oxtails, too, for the holidays,” he says, giving out his cell phone number. “Y’all know who to call when you need some meat.”

The Meatman can be reached at 646-309-1710.

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