The first 3 chapters of a Non-fiction Novel. Be careful...
Do you really wanna know? Or do you jus’ think you want to know? –Be sure, don’t second guess. You can’t go into this thing thinkin’ you can jus’ turn around an’ forget about it later.
That won’t work.
Believe me. -I’ve tried. It doesn’t work.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Concrete turns to rubber after midnight, gets bounce to it, like trampolines with street names. Our steps stay light. The air smells like an old water fountain; it looks clean but you know people’ve been spittin’ in it an’ only ‘cause you know’s why you can smell the nasty. Somethin’ dirty is here. Maybe it’s us. Maybe it’s the stink of Newark waitin’ two towns down the Ave. I’m not sure. I’ont really care. ‘I wish he wouldn’t do this. There’s a lot a’ sweet spots on this block.’ –but it’s too late. He’s got cat in his step. I’m not even gonna try to stop’im now.
I got the shakes. Not bad, they’ve been worse. I wonder if Robo’s noticed ‘em yet. I noticed’is, I can see ‘em from here. He’s got one foot in the driveway, one still on the street. There’s a sensor light over the garage. I’m not worried, not nervous or excited. After you been doin’ this kind a’ thing for a while, you realize, there’s really nothin’ to be afraid of, an’ after that, once the fear’s gone, that’s when you’re free. What’s the difference between right and wrong? Who decides these things? Not us. Not me. Someone just tells you what the difference is an’ you do it. ‘Fear.’ That’s all that is. They dont want you knowin’ what it feels like to be free.
Robo’s goin’ for it. ‘Did I expect’im not to?’ Can’t expect’im not to. Fuck the money, sometimes it’s about the rush. I know he sees that sensor light. He’s gonna try an’ run that car anyway. I snap my fingers at him, try to get’is attention, point at the white unit perched over the garage; it’s just waitin’ for someone to trespass; ‘It ain’t gonna be me, but it sure as fuck shouldn’t be him.’ He turns, puts his hand out like he’s pettin’ a big dog, tries to make it alright, takes another step. I snap again, point, this time with an accent on my face, y’know, like I really mean it. ‘He’s not followin’ the rules.’ He ignores me. I knew he would. It’s what I’d a done.
We all got ‘em, pictures in our heads, stories so sad only thing to do’s smile. Then there’re the times so good that when they’re gone we gotta forget ‘em. They’re all around us y’know, not so hard to find nowadays. I remember some of ‘em, an’ others, I’ve had to forget. The days I do remember, I can still see ‘em, in my head. I can see ‘em so clearly that, sometimes, they’re all I can see.
World’s a strange place. Everybody’s attached to wires. No one knows anyone, seems strange, ‘y’know?’ -so much so that if you were to stand on the outside, peekin’ in, it’s possible you wouldn’ even recognize your own life. Could be anybodies life really. You’d probably say somethin’ like; ‘What a freakin’ mess? Doesn’t anybody clean up in there!’
I’d say somethin’ like; ‘Bet I could get money for all that stuff, broken an’ everything. Bet I could…’ That’s actually kind a’ funny? ‘I’dnt it?’ I’d rob my own life an’ sell it if I thought I could get away with it. Not tonight. Tonight we’re robbin’ strangers. ‘Eh, s’not important’ -After 21 years, 10 of ‘em pretty fucked up, I couldn’ get much for a life like mine anyway.
Runnin’ cars isn’t about one big score. If that were true I wouldn’t be sweating; there’s no easy money about it. Running cars is a system, it’s about endurance, probability, preparation an’ caution. You can’t go settin’ off a sensor lights jus’ ‘cause there’s a Beamer parked in the driveway, I mean you can, you can do whatever the fuck you want, but why? Sides, most a’ them things got hi-tech alarms. No point in givin’ up a street full a cash jus’ to try one car door.
Robo’s made it to the place where the rightful owner would a’ been standin’. Silence lives in his speed. Nothin’ slow makes noise out here, only speed breaks concentration. The sensor’s still, no lights’ve stirred, ‘he’s doin’ good; maybe that light’s broken?’ He looks over his shoulder at me standin’ in the street, back to the door as he curls his fingers under the handle.
‘This is stupid.’ I shake my head, take my jog back. I can see an old Cady up the block, maroon interior, rubber bands wrapped around the visor, papers strapped in an’ folded over each other, the lord Jesus Christ stuck to the dash. It’s parked a lil’ crooked by gold grass. I know it’s an old man who’s been pushin’ it, an old man who can’t forget about the days when it was still safe to leave car doors unlocked, back before kids like me were around. ‘Good target.’ Nothin’ but paces between me an’ the car, already I can see the old fashioned manual lock’s popped up, broadcasting its invitation. I am a ghost.
Gettin’ high, gettin’ real high, is a good fuckin’ feelin’ but it’s nothin’ when compared to the rush you get when you steal. You gotta do it right though, can’t jus’ go out an’ start throwin’ elbows through windows, that’s how you get caught. Most a’ the time folks like to say that drugs make people steal. I’ont think this is true. Desperation makes people steal an’ drugs are just the quickest way to get desperate. What makes stealin’ an’ drugs such a perfect combination is the high. ‘What else?’ They both get you high. It’s addictive just like dope. I don’t think a’ stealin’ as a crime so much, as a fix; just another drug to get off on.
I move. Quieter than falling leaves, deft; draw back the Cady’s handle, the door busts free like a bra; ‘Shhh, ew, real slow now, motha fucka’s like sex.’ I bend at the back, got a system here too. Start low, work my way up. Goin’ through a car shouldn’ take anymore than 45 to 190 seconds, dependin’ on the make model an’ crevices. Quarter under the seat; ‘Mine’, dimes in an ashtray filled with cigar leavens; ‘Gank!’ fuck it, even them pennies are comin’ with me; ‘Every cent counts.’ Now thinkin’ ‘bout that chubby visor with the whatnot’s all over it; ‘Can’t wait to see what’s up there.’ WAA-WEE-WAA-WEE; ‘Robo’s set off the fuckin’ alarm! I knew it- BOUNCE!’
I drop the plans, leave ‘em like that shit in the ashtray, hit a footrace with people in beds I hope I won’t get a chance to meet. Robo’s got a step, he’s ‘bout to hit the corner. I’m not as fast as him, even now, as thin as I am, he’s got the foot on me, but it’s coo’. I know the car’ll be runnin’ when I get there; that’s why I leave the keys in it, part a’ the system. In case some dumb shit like this should happen, whoever gets to the car first, turns the ignition an’ then we get the fuck out A.S.A.P. Every second counts.
The breeze is still bent like a runnin’ thief an’ it curves around the corner as I go. My cars got a humble voice, it ain’t loud. I like it better that way; loud cars are for people who speak softly. I’ont have that problem. I got alotta problems, don’t get it twisted, but when it comes to runnin’ cars, I’m the mother fuckin’ man, rippin’ streets for loot, this is what I do, I’m good at what I do. I been doin’ it since I was a teenager, it keeps me high, it keeps me fed, it even leaves some ones in my pocket for Anna Banana down at the titty bar.
I turn on the lights like eyes on the face a’ my son; an all white Chevy cavalier with a sunroof an’ a spoiler, it’s really jus’ a cheap lil’ car but it’s mine an’ it never fails me. Not too many things are mine anymore. Everything seems to be borrowed lately; clothes, showers, tooth paste, time.
Panting, Robo watches me pop the brake, asks; “Any one see you?”
I pull off s’if the we got nothin’ to worry about. “I’idnt stop to ask.”
“Well go man, go! Le’s be out this bitch!”
I hear’im. I know what jus’ happen, he dudn’t have to tell me twice. All the same, rather than drivin’ like an asshole, I stay collected, las’ thing I want is to draw attention to myself. I gotta remember; ‘I’ve as much a right to be on this road as anyone else.’ An’ by remembering I can get calm in a panic. ‘Good fun’, but like I said; there’s rules to doin’ it right. There’s a science to everything. Even bein’ a thief. You jus’ gotta have faith. It ain’t much, I know, but at leas’ I got faith in somethin’. ‘Right?’
I wasn’t always like this. Hell no. My mother’s not a thief, she’s a lawyer, which is worse but she ain’t a theif. She didn’t raise me to take things that aren’t mine. I guess that’s how I got started. Same ol’ rebellion shit; tryin’ to do the opposite a’ everythin’ I’ve been told. I do it for diffrent reasons now, not cause I’m angry at anyone. What I do’s got nothin’ to do with them. S’not their business… But so far’s the science of it; well, that only came with time, practice. I remember the night I started learnin’ these rules. I remember it well-
-It began as jus’ another pitch black drive. No money in my pocket. I’d spent it all on crack. I’ont smoke coke any more, I shoot it, but back then I smoked it, lots of it, s’if there’s any other way, an’ smokin’ that shit cost a lot a’ fuggin’ cash. It was 2:30 in the mornin’. That’s what my clock said but who can trust those things; ‘clocks lie’. I was headed up route 80 in a ragtag Maroon Mercury Sable (my first car) PA license plate taped to my trunk felt as permanent as a bumper sticker. I was livin’ with my old man an’ he was livin’ way the fuck away from where I’d grown up; Montclair New Jersey. I was tired. I jus’ wanted to get home.
Somewhere around the Denville exit, I looked down at my gas gauge; red light steady like an evil eye on the dash, needle pushed past the point a’ reason, a slurping sound somewhere behind me like a twisty straw reachin’ the bottom of an ice cream float.
“FUCK!” –I was about to run out a’ gas. There’s a difference between the feeling you get at 5:00 pm, a few miles from home, and the four alarm alert that goes off when you run out a’ gas at 2:30 in the morning, nowhere near home, near Denville New Jersey, on route 80, high on crack.
I took the first exit I saw, lifted my foot off the gas an’ coasted into a town I’d never been before. Down the road, to my left, the faint glow of a gas station marquee, but it didn’t matter much. Not at the time. I didn’t have a dime to my name. I’d completely forgot about gas.
My car idled at a red. I knew headin’ down to that gas station’d be a waste of time. When the light turned green, steada’ goin’ left, I went right. I could say that I wudn’t plannin’ on stealin’. I could say that I was jus’ lookin’ for a safe place to park, safe enough to pass out an’ sleep in my car. I could say that but it wouldn’t explain why I got outa’ my car an’ leaned in to hear to the wind. Honestly, I don’t know what was different about that night than any other. I wudn’t higher or angrier than other times, no less desperate than usual. Can’t recall jus’ why I knew that somethin’ was differen’. Somethin’ about the way I was listenin’ to the buzzing lights carried on the winds. Maybe nothin’ was differen’ at all, maybe the world’s never changed. Maybe the only thing that wasn’t still the same was me.
Houses lined both sides, bunched up together, square an’ dark. It was the first time I could see the whole scene like a room full a’ works of art, experiments with carbon paper and charcoal; headstone rubbings from cemeteries people no longer visit. Multiple automobiles in each driveway. I recall still feelin’ innocent. Managed to hold onto to it ‘till the first click clack of a car door gliding open broke the buzzing. Runnin’ car’s a lot like fuckin’. I’m sorry, I mean; ‘Makin’ love.’ Definetely like sex, I know that and as I leaned in an’ started fingerin’ some strangers possessions, it occurred to me; ‘Sex. Dirty sex with strangers whose names don’t matter.’ But then there’s the other side of it. The science of it.
The science; ‘On average, in a decent middle class neighborhood, there are; 3 cars per driveway, 12 cars per block on either side; that totals out at 24 cars on each block of a street, ‘bout 5 blocks headin’ all the way down usually where it meets a main street. I try not to cross the main streets. Too risky. On average there’r about 360 chances to try your luck at openin’ car doors. The quicker you get, the more cars you hit, the better you make off. I got go to spots I always check; center consoles, change trays, glove boxes, visors and door panel pockets. I got some good rule’s to my work; never break windows, never destroy property of value, an’ avoid alarms but that last one goes without saying. On any given street, you’ll probably find 1 in 3 car doors left unlocked. If I were to give an estimate, a conservative one, as to how many cars I’m able to go through in one town, in one night, I’d say; 120, yeah, that sounds about right.’
By the second block, when I realized I’d pulled in more’en enough money to buy gas, a pack a’ smokes an’ maybe even a pre-packaged individually wrapped pastry treat, the thought that I should turn around, go back to my car, crossed my mind. But that’s about it, that’s all it did was cross my mind; I kept goin’. By the time I reached the bottom of the right side, the halfway mark’ I was makin’ jingling sounds when I walked and by the time I got back to the top a’ the strip, I could barely keep my pants up; sweat on my brow, skip in my step felt more like a gimp with all that silver on me. I’d ganked over $100 in cold hard currency an’ I’d done it in jus’ under 20 minutes; ‘Not bad, huh?’ I got in my car an’ was surprised to find the engine turned. I coasted my way towards the oasis in the distance; the gas station marquee that had seemed so far away. I smiled s’if I’d done somethin’ great. S’if I’d been accepted into a good college or promoted at work.
I made it home that night. Parked my car with over ¾’s of a tank a’ gas, a fresh pack a’ Newport’s in my pocket, not to mention a variety of other brands I’d confiscated during my travels, a pair of new Oakley sun glasses, some CD’s for the cassette player in my car (those went inside the house) an’ about $90 in cash. The cash had come from squeezin’ an all night Shoprite’s change exchange machine.
How could I’ve ignored it? It was the bes’ payin’ job I’d ever had! –I couldn’t, it was too sweet. It’d only taken me 20 minutes. I knew right then, as I crept in the house, found the door to the guest bedroom an’ laid my head down on the pillow that I was on to somethin’; it was jus’ a matter of science. That was all. Jus’ science-
-It’s taken me three years to get to where I am now. ‘Where is that?’ If nothin’ else comfortable with my place in the food chain. Ok with bein’ a criminal. You gotta warm up to the idea of bein’ guilty as sin all the damn time, of bein’ wrong. All words. Lotta words; words someone else taught us but in the end they’re all jus’ words; student, junky, criminal, lawyer, thief, jail, guilt, cigarette- I reach for one a’ the scattered packs a’ smokes we stole from an earlier street. Marlboro Reds, I’ont smoke Marlboro Reds but nothin’ tastes bad when it’s free. I light it an’ pass it to my runnin’ buddy. He dudn’t need to ask an’ he dudn’t need to say thank you. “So wha’s next?” –‘You must be at least this tall to go on the rides.’
“I’ont know, lemme check the map.” He reaches into the back seat, sifts through a mess that I’m always meaning to clean, grabs the map. Unfolds it, turns it, squints at it, notices me watchin’im- “Ey yo pay attention to the fuckin’ road man, we don’t need no accidents.”
He’s right an’ I listen to him. Robo’s good people, he’s like my older brother, I love him like a brother. He’s pale from the life we live, thinner than some a’ our old friends might remember’im. Clean cut for the mos’ part. Keeps’is clothes clean. He chameleons like me when he needs to. We’re both pretty good at actin’ like things we’re not. He’s got a nose that’s been broken two too many times and it comes through in his speech, like his accent; all Brooklyn and tough, sincere enough to talk to, but tough. In a crunch, I know he’ll get whatever needs to get done, done. And I know that he’ll do it as good if not better than I would myself. Gotta love a dope head you can trust. Trust don’t come easy, mine never does.
“Ey yo, fuck Verona!” Speaking more to ‘imself than me.
“An’ fuck, Nutley… Poor ass bastards.”
I’ll give him a second. One idea’s just as good as another.
He shifts his face in thought, until- “How ‘bout… Lil’ Falls? We ain’t hit the stretch behind the reservoir yet, le’s hit there, then see where we at.”
“Bet.” I start makin’ turns towards the town of Little Falls as per the map. The map’s gospel; it tells us where we’ve been, how long since we’ve been there an’ where it is we wanna go. The last thing thieves like us wants to mistakenly hit a street we jus’ hit or hit a street we already made off big from, ‘cause sure as fuck them neighborhood watch folks’d be waitin’ for us. The map keeps us organized, makes us feel safe, or at least as safe as a couple a car runners are entitled to feel, which isn’t very safe at all.
Ever seen a reservoir at night? I have. Looks like syrup in a bowl, the water seems thicker, moves as blue blood does, laps at its arteries an’ vessels. There’re pipes an’ tubes stacked up on a hill, they look like they’d be fun to jump on, use ‘em like swords. No time for that. Too busy to play.
I drive with the window down. I drive with the night air on my face.
‘Can’t see the moon?’ “I can’t see the moon tonight? You see the moon?”
“Yeah man, it’s right back there.” Robo points over his shoulder without lookin’, flicks most’is Red out the window, drags his hand down’is face.
In my head I think;‘We’re runnin’ out a’ gas.’ I say out loud; “We’re runnin’ out a’ gas man-” but I mean somethin’ diff’ren’.
I wait until he finishes his stretch, a yawn, go on.
“I say we hit these streets an’ be done for the night.”
“Word. I’m ‘bout ready to bang my head against the wall.” -No one ‘cept Robo says this; ‘bang my head against the wall.’ But I know what he means. He’s talkin’ about shootin’ coke.
The reservoir’s surrounded by a rind of fencing, all teeth an’ no bite. Around that’s a long road; a yellow stripe down its middle. ‘Round the bend’s streets that go off as shadows left by dynamite, starting at the center an’ steady movin’ outward. Sunbeams. The streets head into the dark, past where we’re willin’ to go. Mostly ‘cause we don’t wanna make the walk back. I’ve robbed this neighborhood before, on my own. I didn’t do so great but I hadn’ worked it too hard neither, so; ‘What the fuck. Hit’er again.’
“You coo’ you need another smoke ‘fore we do this?” –He’s got’is car door open, one leg hangin’ out. He wants to get this over with. Want’s to go get high. I don’t blame ‘im. I do too.
I get out an’ lean on the hood a’ my car, try to believe myself into seeing in the dark. I can’t see shit. All I can make out is what the glow from the street lamps over head let me see. These fluorescent lights have always been here, my whole life. They’re those big metal mama-jama’s that make everything look the slightest bit yellow; ‘This place’s got bad teeth.’
Robo starts off, ‘nother cat’s in’is step. I got my own stride, it goes up on tip toes and runs without the use of gravity. ‘A Shaolin Ninja on rooftops.’ -Yeah I know; what we’re doin’ is wrong, it’s all crazy and shit, but I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t love it. For a long time it scared the holly fuck out of me, stealin’ in the dark, well; the dark more ‘en stealin’.
When I was growin’ up I used to have nightmares, bad ones. But dreams don’t mean shit; you can learn to love even the things that scare you. You can learn to do alotta things you can’t imagine doin’, an’ if you give ‘em time, you can even learn to love ‘em-
-One night I woke up alone, but not alone the way I like, alone like ghosts, alone like the Bleaker St. subway at 4:00 am. I didn’t know where my mother was. I didn’t even know where I was. Every place’s got a name but that kind a’ thinkin’ goes right out the window when you’re scared. I was in a strange place, in the dark. Didn’ know its name, only knew the smell. The smell had a name; cardboard like, the dust of industry. I felt someone else’s furniture rubbin’ my skin the wrong way, upsettin’ like a stranger touchin’ me.
It took a minute but ‘ventually I remembered where I was; in my Grandparent’s apartment. I had slept there that night because my mother wudn’t comin’ home. I stepped into the hallway, no lights were on. The framed faces of family had a kind a’ evil clown smile to them. They haunted the hallway walls. I ebbed to my grandparent’s bedroom, not so sure if what I was doin’ was such a good idea.
I didn’t want to hear them moaning, fucking. I hated that; havin’ a bad dream and then havin’ to interrupt my mom while she was with some dude. It always made me sick. That night, I got my wish. I heard nothing at all, not even snoring. No one was there. Everything was dead. I was alone.
I screamed into the dark. “Nana! Pop-pop!” -Never liked those names, wish I coulda’ called ‘em ‘Grandma’ or ‘Grandpa’ but, whatever.
No response- it wudn’t a dream. It was real, I was alone. I ran to the front door, flung it open. Didn’t bother to close it, trotted out into the cavernous belly of the complex an’ looked down four flights a’ stairs expectin’ to see somethin’ coming for me. Nothing, not even the monsters in my dreams would a’ visited that place. A sharper fear than running away is trying to catch somethin’ you’ll never reach.
“Mommy!” -No one was there. Somehow I knew no one could hear me but I yelled anyway. I ran down the stairs. It was a warm night, warm for a winter night. There was fog, and the glass on the front of our building beared marks from the mist like fingerprints left by kids on department store windows.
I began to bang on every door I passed. I was on fire, it was an emergency. I ran out the door to my complex, wearin’ nothin’ but pajamas an’ into the lamp lit cement of the parking lot. All around me, circlin’ me, cars like stone hinge leaned away from the dark into fluorescent fields, ‘an’ the air.’ I didn’t recognize the air, I hated it. I screamed at the sky, right up at the moon. The faces there had head lights for eyes and grills for teeth. The sound a’ street lamps buzzing, ‘-Are they supposed to make that noise? I’ve never heard that noise before’. It got louder an’ louder ‘til screams turned to whispers, ‘til there was nothin’ but strange air, ugly cars an’ alien lights. I closed my eyes, spun in circles. ‘Where’id everybody go?’
I’ont know what happened next. I can’t remember. Someone must’ve found me wanderin’ around, half in a dream, half in a panic, brought me back to my grandparent’s place. I remember my mother carryin’ me up the stairs to our apartment, layin’ me in her bed. I still don’t know what a’ that night was a dream an’ what was real. Suffice to say it was the first time I’d ever seen the fluorescent fields that cover the streets at night; those hours between very late an’ ultra early when everyone’s dead an’ I am a ghost.
The next day I decided I wasn’t gonna let that happen again. I didn’t need that shit. Fear’s dumb an’ so I spent the next few nights makin’ friends with the dark, stayed up just walkin’ around, watchin’ stuff, anything, didn’t matter what. ‘Ventually I came to love the idea that I was up when the rest a’ the world was down. You can make anything fun, s’long as you believe it can be. Anyway, I been friends with the dark ever since-
-I wasn’t surprised by what the big green change machine at the all night Shoprite said. $400 is a good take (I’ve had better). We feel satisfied with our mission. We’re a good team, Robo an’ me, we work well together. Soldiers. We exchange our little cash voucher for currency. The lady checking us out is a round an’ uninterested woman slumped over a lonely register. I answer her uninterested question with- “Ah, tens and twenties please.” -we stop for gas on the way out a’ town. “Fifteen regular.” -then hit route 21, head for Newark.
Last few weeks have been nails on chalkboards, razor blades scrapin’ my skull. A lot a’ drugs. A lot a’ thieven’. We been runnin’ hard. Gettin’ tired a’ workin’ so hard. Tonight was all about it, about not wantin’ to have to go out an’ do this tomorrow night; ‘Fuck that.’ We need a break. 400 beans should be enough to get us off an’ still have some left to get us started another night.
I could ask my moms for money, but that’s a wild card. I don’t see her much anymore, not since she moved upstate, some lil’ town I never been to. Sometimes we meet at the half way point, at a diner or a truck stop, but I’ve only asked for money twice this summer. Twice since she left town. It’s kind of a desperate move. More like a fall back plan. What rotten luck she has for gettin’ stuck with a kid like me. She’s tough, gotta give her that, she sure is tough. She wasn’t always so put together. She was different when we were younger, but she’s granite now-
-Sometimes I’d hear sobbing coming from my her bedroom. She cried about different things that were botherin’ her; money, stress, me, her schooling or jobs, sometimes men. I’d push her bed room door open, watch her for awhile. Didn’t matter; the crying never slowed, never stopped. I’d climb up on her bed, crawl to her side, put my hand on her back and rub in circles, tell her- “Everything’s gonna be alright mom, don’t cry.” Although I still can’t say what exactly was wrong. She’d look at me, tears falling, and when she did, for a blink or two, I was looking into some one else’s eyes, not my mom’s but really, just another lil’ kid’s. She’d hug me, try to fake a smile. After a few minutes a’ that, I’d ask- “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, I don’t know honey”
She was like a badly built lego castle on a three legged coffee table, I wasn’t a thick enough book to hold her up.
“I guess I’m just lonely.” –She still hadn’t crumbled, but only as a matter of luck an’ balance.
‘What does she mean?’ –I’m not sure. To this day, I’m still not sure. I was right there, how could she have been lonely- “I’m right here mom.” ‘I’m right here…’
If I’d a’ been in her shoes I’d a’ cut me off long ago, but she hasn’t yet. Not even after all them rehabs, jails and the nut house, she still answers my calls, even hangs out with me every once in a while, buys me dinner. Mom’s good people-
“-Where you wanna go?” We’ve entered Newark, it’s easy to tell by the trash on the streets. We got options. The Bricks (what we call Newark)’s like a junkies whole sale club. The only question is where do we feel like pickin’ up?
“Up round the row houses they got 20 jugs.”
“You in good with them cats?”
“Naw, when I got ‘em I was with that old guy Blood from the Junkyard, they might not recognize me.”
“Dead that shit; I don’t feel like gettin’ robbed.”
“Ey yo, le’s hit BT.”
“I thought you said that spot was hot.”
“That spot’s always hot, trick is to hit it when them junk heads are out, those mother fuckers don’t go out ‘less they know no cops’re ‘round, you down? We’ll drive by an’ see if anyone’s out, if not we’ll bounce, check out the spot by the police station an’if that shit ain’t straight we’ll hit the Latin King spot a few blocks over. Coo’?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
‘Baxter Terrace?’ Good ‘ol BT. Baxter Terrace doesn’t mean anything to most people, and why should it? For the most part only junckies an’ social workers even know it exists. For the best. I’ll say this; when a wanderin’ fiend or any kinda’ desperate heart, suggests ‘BT’ it means somethin’, at least to me it does. Better believe.
Baxter Terrace is located on Orange St. in downtown Newark, near the stadium, near the court houses, off the Garden State Parkway, perpendicular to route 21 which turns into Broad St. right before the iron bound section. Her name sounds deceptively quaint. It might get you to think of condominium rows, one after another, planter’s boxes trailing green vines down from window sills, a view of tall buildings to the east and courtyards dotted between, but in fact that’s exactly what ‘BT’ is not.
Baxter Terrace is the projects, not a place for a white boy at 3:30 AM. She’s concrete poured over concrete with bodies jammed between’er, the smell a’ urine an’ industrial government bought paint white washed over everything. Garbage an’ abandoned electronics scattered at her mouth. A basketball court at her center surrounded by coves where clothes lines cross hatch the smog. Bodies on railings, the sound metal makes scarpin’ against metal; children don’t cry here, they’ont laugh either. Most a’ the faces are dark, almos’ none a’ the faces are white. I say almos’ none, ‘cause tonight my face’s is right there. Right there; in the middle. See me? ‘There I am an’ so’s Robo.’
As an open air drug market its efficiency is industrial but along with that comes the feelin’ that you’re open an’ vulnerable, the waiting victim of any one a’ several disasters. I have that feeling right now. Right now as Robo an’ I approach a dark face, less slumped, more jittering, leaned on bricks, explorin’ his left to rights.
One eye, then the other, touch me; gimme the once over, jitter some more, rinse an’ repeat, onto Robo. “What up white boys? What chu all want ‘round here?”
“You got coke, diesel?” –I ain’t new, no reason to be timid.
Predictably- “You a cop?”
“How much chu all lookin’ for?”
“As much raw (Coke) as 350 beans (dollars) can get us and then five bags a’ diesel (heroin).” These are not small numbers, I’m not buyin’ the typical amounts junkies on the street buy. This is borderin’ on weight.
“Dam white boy? Y’all tryin’ to die?”
“Nope. Tryin’ not to come back no time soon.”
A long pause between more jitterin’ eyes- “Aw-ight, bet; follow me.”
Each building surrounding us looks the same an’ every door to every building looks the same too, the only distinguishable difference ‘bout the door we follow the dealer through is that it’s the first door in a row. To the left’s the concrete pasture we’d wandered through an’ the basketball court opening up to her mouth.
If you could see the look on her face, you’d know like I know; Baxter Terrace is alive an’ she’s one hungry bitch. ‘Gargle these lives.’
He kicks up a flight of stairs an’ stands at a door thrashed with claw marks; wild animals’d been there, we stand close at’is back, some urgency showin’ through. Before he reaches for the handle he turns, says “Y’all on my dick, back up, I don’t know you mother fuckers like that.” He pauses, pats himself down lookin’ for keys.
Robo an’ I back up. We’re used to this kinda shit. They don’t give drug dealers etiquette manuals, most a’ them are roughneck mother fuckers. Same dude who sold you a bag yesterday might beat your ass an’ take your money today.
He knocks again, harder this time. “Ey yo Danisha, open this dam door girl!” Scrambles, locks, more jittering eyes, a gap in the wall is spaced, brass chain holds it in place, a face behind it. “Danisha, let me in I got a couple a’ white boys want weight.”
The chain gets undone, the dealer walks in, motions for us to follow. On the other side, the face that had slid the chain loose is nowhere to be found, ran back into the wall; another ghost. The dealer tells us- “Sit down for a second, chill out let me go get the shit.”
I’m in the middle of a living room. Could be anyone’s living room, anyone of the apartments in my own neighborhood where I grew up. There’s a blonde wood entertainment center with glass magnet doors, a large screen TV, a play station 2, a VCR and a DVD player, speakers and a receiver, vinyl couch with the matching love seat, EZ boy and ottoman. To my left’s a 300 lb woman, sittin’ up, snoring, a dinner plate on her lap, nothin’s on the plate, ‘cept a crumpled up wax ball, half a straw balanced at its edge. She sits in the middle of the love seat an’ she is slowly (very slowly) falling forward.
I’m weary of where I step, so’s Robo. We’ont wanna disturb nothin’, don’t wanna wake the sleeping giant. ‘Doubt I could if I tried.’ I avoid the love seat, sit on the couch an’ wait. Robo stays standing, rocks on heel toes, then reaches for that pack a’ Reds, pulls one out, lights it. He starts pokin’ eyes as if we ain’t in Newark, not in a dealers house. Squints at some family photos on the blonde wood entertainment center. Robo squints a lot, he can’t see too well, think he needs glasses but I don’t think he knows it.
“You got a cigarette?” -A rasping voice from the afterlife.
I turn and see a hand out, the straw from her plate mid-fall rolling towards the floor, her eyes still shut. “Yeah, hold on.” I reach into my pocket, remember I don’t have the pack an’ get a smoke tossed in my lap before I have to ask. “Thanks.” I hand it to her.
She puts it in her mouth, appears to fall back asleep… Until again, from the spirit world- “You got a light?”
“Yeah.” Back into my pocket for my lighter, never white, I stole a bunch jus’ tonight. I hand her a blue Bic.
A deep hack comes from another room and when I look back, again, she’s still. She must a’ slipped away. I know I’m wrong when one a’ her eyes goes half up. She flicks the Bic, lights the smoke, puts her hand out again, same as she had when requesting the flame, gives it back to me. “Mmm, thank you…” The eye shuts. And then opens- “Y’all white huh?”
“Yeah, I’m white.”
“You here with my son?” –The dealer I’d followed in.
“He a good boy, he take care a’ you… My name’s Wendy, you can call me momma if you want everyone else does.”
Friendly. ‘Why?’ There’s a catch, there’s always a catch. Not sure what but I’ll know it when I hear it. “Good to meet you Wendy, my name is Chris, that’s Robo-”
“This is a nice home.” –For lack of subject.
She smiles. She’s got answers to questions I won’t ask- “What did you expect mother fucker? I gots mine. Jus’ ‘cause we in the ghetto don’t mean everything is ghetto.”
I feel dumb. I should’ve known better ‘n to say somethin’ like that. “Sorry ma’am I didn’t mean to offen-”
“I know, I’m jus’ fuckin’ with you white boy.”
The room goes silent- ‘Was she?’ -not uncomfortable, just silent. ‘Was she really jus’ fuckin’ with me?’
The body in the back coughs again, same pitch, must be the same body.
Wendy’s cigarette throws smoke, the ash at its end s’like the lady herself; refusing to fall. She takes a puff an’is struck by an idea. “Listen here Chris-”
I ready myself.
“-If you ever ‘round here an’ you wanna get high an’ you lookin’ for a safe place to chill an’ do your shit, come by here, it only cost a few bucks or a bag an’ it’ll keep you out a’ trouble; you don’ need to be flashin’ your white ass ‘round this mother fucker, that’s how you end your ass up in jail.” Her eyes never open, they sway behind their lids, but never open.
“Yeah, word, that’s good looks Wendy, I’ll might take you up on that.”
“Mmm“ -before leaning back.
Same kinda’ quiet. I look over at Robo, wide eyed, glazed off in the distance, preoccupied with chewing on the inside of his cheek. He wasn’ listenin’. I know he heard everything that was said but he wasn’ listenin’. He has no idea what we were really just talkin’ about; what was said had very little to do with it.
The dealer finally comes out of a back room, resets the tone. “Aight, I’m givin’ y’all jus’ shy a ½ an ounce, that’s lovely, ey yo, y’all got works?” ‘Works’, sometimes referred to as ‘a set’, a softer way a’ sayin’ ‘needle.’
I stand up, tell’im- “Yeah, we coo’. You got that diesel?”
“Yeah, word-” Robo’s got the same question. You run long enough with people you get to know what’s on their mind. None of us are very complicated; we ain’t hard to figure out.
“Bet, almos’ forgot.” He digs into the front pocket of his Grey Perry Ellis Fleece- “Too much stupid shit in here…” -lifts out a Ziploc baggy. Inside the baggy’s a salt stalagtite, surroundin’ that’s a buncha’ lunar moon rocks. He holds it with his free hand, continues diggin’ for the dope. All the blood is leavin’ my cheeks, but Robo’s face’s already blank, both of us thinkin’; ‘That’s a lot a’ mother fuckin’ blow.’
Wendy’s thinkin’ the same thing too- “That’s a lot a’ blow white boy, what chu doin’ with all dat shit, you clockin’ or sumpin’?” She just says it out loud.
“Sumpin’, I don’t even know sometimes.”
She smiles again, eyes still closed.
The dealer hands me the dope, but holds the coke back, palms up an’ waitin’ for the money. I take it out my pocket, stacked, sorted an’ crisp.
Time stops… I’m standin’ here, ‘bout to leap out the door, about to go on with my business, go get high, talk like my parents still trust me, my girlfriend still loves me an’ eveythin’s gonna be alright, but there’s a feeling coming over me. Can’t rightfully say why or even what kind a’ feeling it is, but whatever it is, it’s got time stopped. The dealers hand is poised an’ reachin’ for the cash. Robo is mid motion between his pockets an’ the front door. Wendy can’t find an ashtray to put her cigarette in. And me? –Well I’m slidin’ a bag a’ dope from my own palm an’ tossin’ it at the large woman on the couch… Time starts.
“Here Wendy, this is for you, consider it a down payment for when I come back through.”
She’s distracted from’er search when the bag hits’er plate. “Mmm, tha’s sweet a’ you.” S’if I’d complimented her hair or taken her garbage out for her. “I won’t forget, you’s welcome in my home whenever you want.”
I can feel Robo’s disapproval, like another person in the room, it’s standin’ next to me, crowdin’ me. He’ll sweat it out, rather than smackin’ the back a’ my head, which is probably what he wants to do. I’m a’ hear it in the car. I’ll apologize, but I ain’t gonna explain. Not sure I could even if I wanted to.
The dealer’s got his an’ I got mine, nothing left for him to say ‘cept- “Alright man, you cool? You want me to walk back with you to your ride?”
“Naw, we straight.” Robo’s first full sentence since we arrived. Sumpin’ in my head wants to be friendly to the ghetto. Don’t wanna be just another cracker comin’ through to buy dope an’ fuck up their hood. I’ve always liked the ghetto, ever since I was a teenager an’ first started hangin’ out in these types a spots. There’s a freedom here you can’t find anywhere else. I’m sure most a’ them think the same thing about where I’m from. I’ont think any of us really know what we want, we only know what we got an’ more often than not what we got is not what we want.
Montclair; the town I grew up in, the town I spent most a’ my life in. Once upon a time, long ago, Montclair had been the hot spot for those Manhattan escape artists, the baby boomers; yuppies with kids and cash who didn’t want their babies growin’ up in the city. It was ‘altruistic’ at least that’s what folks used to say. Don’t know what they say now. The summer streets had been lined with coffee shops, antique stores and ‘cute’ lil’ bistros. They were still there when it came time for me to be runnin’ around all crazy like but whatever the fuck they had been talkin’ ‘bout when they had said ‘altruistic’ was long gone. Maybe I jus’ never saw it? I dunno know. All I can speak on’s the fucked up shit that rushed in to fill the void.
Place became about the money, like most places do. Rent went up on the nice side a’ town, lower middle class people had to move out, while the bad part a’ town got worse; new projects, more drugs, more guns, more cops. Bloomfield Ave in Montclair is gettin’ to look like Washington Ave in Irvington, a nasty mother fuckin’ street. Montclair was once listed as one of the top ten places in the United States to grow up. I’ont know when this was, but it’d happened because the fact that it had was a source of pride, a frequently mentioned ‘Did-you-know?’ bullshit conversation starter. It don’t matter anymore. Now everyone is just as fucked up as everyone else; rich, poor, white, black. It dudn’t matter any more.
It’s changed a lot since I was young, gotten pricey. Can’t really afford to live there anymore, less you coo’ with havin’ mad roommates but I’m not so I’ont actually live there anymore. It ain’t that bad though, I’m not far. The rent a mile out a’ town is cheap. We still hit the ‘Clair to hang with people who live there, not so much lately. We been busy.
Robo lives in Bellville. In Bellville you either fix things or you rob ‘em, not too many neighbors know one another out here. Houses don’t try so hard to be nice, they kinda’ given up on themselves. Bellville’s what I imagine the ‘Clair’s gonna look like in 25 or 30 years. A ghost town that people can afford to live in, a place to stay till you move away. ‘Fuck ‘em.’ –Maybe Bellville’s more’en I’m sayin’, but that’s all it is to me.
Ten minutes after gettin’ in my car to leave BT an’ head towards safer harbors, we’re parked out fron’ a’ Robo’s crib. He lives on the third floor, in one a them places that only one small family was ever meant to live in. He’s got a refrigerator but he don’t use it half as much as it gets in our way. ‘Who am I to talk?’ without Robo’s crib I’d be sleepin’ in my car, which ain’t all that bad, but it’s hard gettin’ high without four walls around you.
I open my door and take out the keys. The interior light in my car goes on.
Robo ain’t movin’, but I can see that his shakes are back. “Ey yo…”
“What? What’s up?”
“We got everything?”
“Yeah, I think.”
“Be sure ‘cause I hate havin’ to come back out here after bangin’ up.”
I stop and think, my foot out the door, set on the rubber street. I run down a mental checklist; ‘drugs, check’, ‘smokes, check’, ‘wallet, check-’
Robo interrupts my inventory. “The spike?” Another, other, cute word for ‘needle.’ “-where the spike at?”
“The stash spot in my trunk.”
“Word, get that shit, we definitely gonna need dat.”
“Bet.” –I pop the trunk releasing the smell my dirty laundry makes when life has begun to form. It’s like a travelin’ Petri dish. ‘Dam, I gotta do laundry.’ I lift my spare tire, under that’s a little Styrofoam thing, used to have a pen light in it, that’s where I keep the spike. It’s wedged in there next to some kind ‘a power steering fluid that I ain’t never used, probably never will. The Styrofoam keeps it safe, the tire keeps it hidden and I know enough to tell the pigs where to go if they try to search my trunk without a warrant. Not much of a safety net, but it gets me from A to B a lil’ safer than otherwise.
By the time I’m leanin’ on the trunk, tryin’ to close it, Robo’s gone, already in his house, headed up the stairs and, if I know him (and I do) gettin’ everything we gonna need for our shots ready and waitin’. Two glasses a’ water, a glass a’ bleach, strong booze would do, and some sacrificial cigarettes for their cotton.
We don’t have much to say to each other anymore. It’s hard to have a serious conversation with someone when they don’t do nothin’ but wide eye ogle and sweat. This life is fucked, we know that, it certainly ain’t how we were raised. ‘Wish this shit didn’t feel so good. Wish I was still scared a’ somethin’.’ –But I’m not.
I am walking slow. My insides’r movin’ fast. My guts got maggots in the meat, makes me feel high before I’m high. It always goes like this; tipping from one side to the other, I go back and forth, inside. Frankenstein with a belly ache. My body doesn’t like the way I’m walkin’. A little pigeon toed, then bowlegged. I’m fuckin’ with myself, tryin’ to string out this nausea. I do it jus’ shy a’ passin’ out right here in the middle a Robo’s stairwell. I tell myself; ‘Calm down, we gonna get there. It’s jus’ a drug, that’s all, jus’ a dumb drug, nothin’ else.’ But my stomach’s not interested in what I think. It won’t ever forget this feeling. Flavors tickling the back a’ my throat. This sickness is wonderful. I don’t know if I’m ever gonna get out a’ this shit. I don’t know if I even care anymore.
At his door, I see he’s left it cracked. I put my hand on the knob an’ catch my breath, don’t know where it went. He’s in there waitin’ for me, shakin’ an’ shit, tryin’ to pretend like there’s somethin’ in this world he would rather be doin’ but there isn’t. This is all there is. We got a model airplane to build. Lil’ kids, sittin’ cross legged on the ground with a model airplane, parts all over the place. Makin’ a mess. Everyone else in the world can drop dead so far’s we’re concerned. Nothin’ matter’s ‘cept this. Can’t say we remember what we were like before. Maybe there never was a before.
I don’t know what other drug buddies do when they get home from a hard day of robbin’ an’ stealin’ but for us, small talk ain’t one of ‘em, at least not before we get off. Gotta get right first, then we can talk. I been settin’ up needles for a while now, I can get a shot ready in under a minute if I got what I need in front of me. Been doin’ the hard stuff since I started sniffin’ coke at 17, got bored with that quick, right after my 18th birthday, startin’ sniffin’ dope. Six months later I started puttin’ needles in my arm. I’m almos’ 21 now.
As promised the shot is ready ‘bout 45 seconds after I walk through the door. Robo’s got his belt out, wrapped around his right arm, above where his favorite vein runs down like cable wires under carpets; everything and everyone is electrified. Currents. Currents. What is my blood ‘cept the ultimate conductor. Y’know blood can tell a lot a’ secrets about a person; who their parents are, how long they’re gonna live, who they been fuckin’, a lot. A big ‘ol pile a’ dirty laundry. –My head is fucked. ‘I need to concentrate on hittin’ Robo’s vein right.’ –Nothin’ worse than missing a vein, wasting a shot. Whenever it happens I feel awful, guilty, like I let him down.
I tell him- “Yo turn to the side, get in the light more.” He turns. I smack at his arm with two fingers, try to irritate the bullseye red like the center of a dart board. Somethin’ is casting a shadow- “I see it, now stay still.” ‘Stay still’ –Easier said than done. Robo’s never had good veins for this shit. He can’t bang up on his own. Come to think of it, I’m the only one I know who does. That doesn’t mean anything; ‘Concentrate, don’t wanna blow this, don’t like fuckin’ things up.’
He don’t have enough skin, lil’ bastard worm is slippin’ around in there, not lettin’ me get a clean shot. But the needle’s already in, pullin’ it out and tryin’ from another angle will only make him bleed more. ‘The rug in here’s still nice, let me try to keep it that way.’ Finally my spins, his grimaces, show a brick red leak in the dropper. I manage to zero in on it. I get a lil’ more red. This is iffy, better get his permission before I run this mother fucker home- “Ey yo, Robo.”
“What up?” He swallows some spit, same drool I get when I’m about to take a trip; we’re dogs at the grease trap, bacon is everywhere.
“I think I got it, but it ain’t flowin’ like it should, you want me to take it out an’ try again?”
“You see blood?”
“A little but, I don’t know, There’s more now.” –I watch as another tendril curls up on itself.
“Aight, do it but go slow.”
“Bet, stay still.” I begin to press the plunger. The clear fluid in the needle moves out under pressure into what I hope is Robo’s vein, when-
“STOP STOP! You ain’t hittin’ it, I can feel it, it’s burnin’ like a mother fucker. Take that shit out.” He rubs the new lump on his arm- “Fuck, fuck, fuck; dam yo, I thought you said you hit my vein?”
“Look man-” I hold the needle up, show him the blood still suspended in the fluid. “-I did hit your vein, but those things got a life a’ they own. Don’t be yellin’ at me over some shit I got no control over.”
“Mother fucker, you’re the one shootin’ me up, ain’t nobody else got control!” He’s frustrated.
I sympathize, really I do, but I need my hit too. “Ey yo; calm down, let me do one and then we’ll double up on you next hit, ai-ight?”
“Yeah man, go.”
I get my shot put together in a vacuum of space and time, nothing interrupts me, nothin’ slows me down. I yank my belt out in a single motion. I say fuck all; there is something sexy about shooting drugs, stickin’ it in. ‘I’m out there, but I know I am.’ Chokin’ on myself, but I don’t have a lot ‘a time to think about these mysteries; already I got the touniquette ‘round my bicept just over the tattoos on my left arm; tribal lion clawin’ at torn flesh. I got a beautiful lil’ line drawn through, scar tissue you don’t notice less ya look for it. I hit myself easily, the fluid commingles with the blood and goes down smooth. Any junky who sees me get off is envious of how easy I do it.
Before it hits me, I try to think about how much I jus’ did- ‘That was probably ‘bout thir-’ but that’s it. Don’t get a chance to think anymore. I go away. Robo sees the change. I smack my lips together. Numb floods my tonsils, it’s always the first place it hit’s; the back a’ your throat, then your ears. We call it ‘Dolby Surround Sound.’ Like echoes from a world that’s silent most other times. Voices from somewhere else. Really just hallucinations, auditory hallucinations, it’s typical of shootin’ a bunch a’ coke. But still, it’s a feeling so intense that it’s impossible to understand, don’t know why I’m even botherin’ to explain it to you. You won’t ever understand.
It’s like the imaginary man once said- ‘Quiet, or else they’ll hear you.’ He’s right an’ I begin stumbling over words in a whisper. “Robo.”
“Yeah?” His voice is loud. Too loud. He can’t hear the imaginary man.
“Shhhh-” But I can hear him an’ the low flyin’ ‘copters reading my body heat signature. They’re up there. I know they are, Robo jus’ can’t hear ‘em.
“Shit must be good huh?”
“-you really don’t feel nothin’?”
“-dam, shit is strong, real strong.” I’m on my feet but I don’t remember gettin’ up, guess the high’s got legs tonight. ‘Careful Chris, take a seat, don’t let the seat take you. Gotta concentrate on my heart beat, make sure I ain’t dyin’.’ I slowly vibrate myself down in the chair, the one I can’t remember gettin’ up from.
‘I can think my way through this. I know how many times I’ve gone this way. Same every time.’
Got an eye for the clones, got an eye full a’ dopplegangin’ strangers. The straight away goes on till I fail, like two mirrors facin’ each other. A thousand of these me’s standin’ one behind the other; the longest line to get into a club that I’ve ever seen an’ they all look just like me. Everything to my right is folded up like bubblegum wrappers, if I could find my pocket, I’d stuff the whole world in it. Robo’s watching. He’s waitin’ for me to come down but it’s takin’ longer than usual.
“Ey yo, you ai-ight kid?”
“-am I alright?”
“Yeah, are you coo’ or you ‘bout to drop dead?”
A glob of sweat puts prisms in my eyelash. There are amazing colors all over the ceiling. I see colors all over the ceiling until a twitch flicks the sweat. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m alright, I’ll be alright.”
He’s still so loud but finally I’m comin’ down some, enough to set him up, get him high like me, he’s earned it. There’s nothin’ easy about watchin’ someone else spin out when you wish you were spun. You don’t gotta show it but I know if you see me, if you should pass me on an elevator as I’m on my way up, a lil’ pool a’ somethin’ useless is collecting under your tongue. But I got a patch for that.
Batman blurbs over my head say shit like; ‘Blamo!’, ‘Kazam!’ and ‘POW!’ I got spider legs for fingers now. They move with all the efficiency of a digitalized, computerized, mega modem, 565 Pentium chip processor. Hold that fuckin’ needle up to the light, see past it, see which vein I wan’im to lemme hit. ‘There’s a good vein.’ “Let me hit that one.”
Robo doesn’t care. “Whichever one you like just hit that mother fucker right!”
“I got chu.” I’m serious. My spider computer’s on auto pilot. He got his belt ‘tween teeth. I use the tool like a javelin. My friend gasps when I let go, put air under it for a breath. We hear a lil’ pop. The spike is set, it jus’ needed a determined touch was all. Blood in the dropper and I push. ‘Shhh, ew mother fucker; smooth-’ “Smooth man, smooth, all done.”
I lean back, he stands up. My own high comes on again, good coke’ll hit you twice in a 7 minute span. Robo smacks his lips and as he does I know he’s right. There are effects up ahead an’ my old friend’s ‘bout to get ‘em. I smile start lookin’ for that pack a’ awful Red’s. Just like fuckin’, ‘tween every orgasm’s a cigarette. I am looking right at the pack, right at the lighter sitting on top of it. I know I am, but to fuck if I can’t see it. I know they’re there. I reach my hand out grab ‘em, notice the blob a’ blank makin’ my vision unclear. It floats this way an’ that, goes from annoying to entertaining. I almost forget to light my smoke and think- ‘This shit is ill.’
“What the fuck was that?”
No answer. I light my smoke and turn around. Robo’s on the ground.
“FUCK! Ey yo stop playin’! Get up man!” He ain’t movin’. I kneel down next to him, shake him, still ain’t movin’. Flip him. Slap him. Still nothin’. His lips are turning blue, whatever color he had is gone- ‘This mother fucker is dyin’!’ I start in with CPR.
I start in and I don’t stop…