Angel Guerra’s bodega was on Jefferson Avenue, between Throop Avenue and Marcus Garvey
Boulevard in Bedford-Stuyvesant. It made up the bottom floor of a four-story building, the top
three floors consisting of six walk-up apartments.
From the outside, the bottom half of the store’s windows were covered with pictures of
deli sandwiches and various grocery items they had for sale inside the store. Maria’s Deli
Grocery, named after his mother and the store’s official owner, was printed in light-blue lettering
on the dark red awning that covered the top of the store’s windows.
Angel used the store as a front for his real business. He cleaned his money through the
store, and since he unofficially owned the entire building, he used the apartments to clean some
of his cash too. Paid himself rent for six unoccupied apartments. He even kept them furnished
and the names on the leases were legit in case someone came asking. Angel didn’t do any
business inside the building and the only people he let in were some members of his crew.
He liked where his store was located. A few years back, Brooklyn started to change. The
Nets moved into town, the Barclays Center opened, and everywhere west of Clinton Hill saw an
influx of million-dollar real estate properties, billion-dollar companies, and hipsters.
Rich people liked to see that their investments are being looked after, so the NYPD
always made a point of having a lot of cops patrolling that area. An area that in the past wouldn’t
see a cop unless they were called. Angel’s bodega was smack dab in the middle—between the
flourishing and the forgotten. Just close enough to where his shop got a taste of the new money,
but not so close that he had to worry about more cops in the neighborhood.
His spot was across the street from a Popeyes and T-Mobile Store. There used to be an
Associated Supermarket where those stores now stood. He remembered when Carlos Paz and
Artie Weisman tried to rob the supermarket before it went out of business and the building’s
owner converted one space to two spaces.
Artie and Carlos got themselves gunned down for their trouble. It was just one of the
many memories Angel had of the old neighborhood, and he liked to tell it. Especially when he
had younger members of his crew around as he did now.