Minutes later we’re at our darling center courts the site of last years Young Guns finals appearance. I jumped from Sully’s whip and pounded #’s into the payphone. I’d mesmerized DES calling card # just like him. I looked back over my shoulder at those courts. I could see Santo screaming, slapping, tapping full of live. His big bright smile back to life, I accounted for everyone, Spec was home in Boston living his other book, and for just a few seconds we waited, the sound of silence never before had been so deafening staring at the center courts. “Yo, center courts, get down here.” They were a series of quick conversations. I looked at Magic, shaking the black Krylon can of spray paint I’d walked out with. “Let’s do it.” Magic finger rolled his approval on my idea, and that was it.
Once we arrived in the 2AM dead of night at our now vacant student parking lot I snapped into action. And just like those precious moments on the court when I was “zonen” I’d move quickly and purposefully without thought. Dancing WITH EFFIECIENT grace OVER THE CHORDS OF YET ANOTHER ugly act there was no time to be distracted. “Stretch.” “Yeah C.” Replying eagerly in his southern drawl that always made me think he was retarded anytime we spoke. He being the savior I kept this to myself and Magic and Monster and B-Dawg. “Come here, boost me ten fingers here, to get on that overpass.” With the six foot eight the past problems of getting onto the overpass which allows you to simply trek to the top of the field house was mitigated. “That was sure easy.” Stretch remarks as all watch faceless. I needed another assistant up here with me while the rest of the crew worked on the lower ends of the schools south face spray painting anything and everything that came out. “Yo Stretch boost Monster up here with me.”
“Fuck yes!” Monster was excited to get up to the top of the field house, which once seated at sixteen, having seen such few places, you felt looking over Madison that you peered over the entire world. Monster offered a cigarette, it was peaceful and a great view I was able to share with MONSTER FOR THOSE FIVE MINUTES. SILENCE HAD NEVER BEEN SO GOLDEN. I never thought it possible. And maybe this was because we’d never seen the center basketball courts or the high school football field from such an angle. I started with a simple, Santo YG, #22.
And with that simple breaking of the ice the session began and then ended when we had finally run out of spray paint. Being hoisted down from the top of the field house that claimed the last teenage life in Madison (1977, fell through the then glass roof) before our beloved son, we stood back and marveled at our field house all tatted up. Where there was once no graffiti now there was a lot of it. My hands had blackened as that of my crew. It just happened. We couldn’t get pulled over. Monster was deliberant focused angry, Magic when his chance to cop the bottle arose appeared relaxed and dutiful. When my turn came I went big. “YG #22’s” “Santo we love you!” “#22, today and forever” “UNLV.” “YG will never forget #22 Santo” “Legend, #22.” Once saddled back in our two modes of transport we decided to head over to Bridge school (clay cliffs) and smoke dope, which actually seemed quite healthy at that point. Mr. Fullerton (Scully) coming from the party had a bag and given his acute attention to detail pertaining to certain activities he’s a savvy veteran in the world of joint rolling. But he plays second fiddle to Monster who’s cornered that market of skill and random acumen surrounding skills that for whatever reason are deemed vital to the teenage world. On the high school level joint rolling was an artful science commanding big props from the Ben and Jerry’s crowd. For the one handers out there like Monster a high degree of social respect is bestowed upon those that can “roll tight, but not too tight” with one paw, especially when in a car over a bumpy topography with limited spillage. His was a skill akin to my freestyle rapping both universally appreciated.
“Light the fucking thing for Christ sakes.” I’m annoyed and been ready to spark. “Would you hurry up?” Monster took years to do nothing unless it was destructive. “Dude shhh.” The boy knew my buttons. He loved controversy but not tonight. Monster nodded his head fixing his eyes like lazers on the last leg of his one handed, joint rolling magic. “OK, lick that shit, we’ve got about five misdemeanors going on in here fuck face, I’m the guy on probation Monster.”
“Relax Mr. Easton.” Mr. Fullerton aka Scully says, smiling for the first time for any of us licking the end seam of his own joint. “Nice.” Another joint was always welcome. I’d recently begun inhaling and got the then presidents excuse. But my ADD and my rapping seemed to benefit from weed. Plus everyone always had the best time smoking it. I’d remember Santo pulled “tubes” and his participation knocked down an early wall facing my own participation. And he was now dead.
If we barely could musk the might to feign the façade of moderate interest in general, this incident sealed our, “I don’t give a fuck” casket. The truth was I did care and hadn’t accomplished a god dam thing. The joints smoked that night made all of us content with the idea of fading away. I just didn’t care. “I’m not going to kill myself, but I will OD.” Monster speaks straight forward in dead monotone. It was only a handful of times that Monster spoke with resolve. I smiled overlooking his long dirty blonde lettuce. “I love you dude.” I had to say it. He made me crazy. “Same dude.” And since family as far as I could see was everything. And because mine had abandoned my mother, sister and myself I’d created a gang and inherited the best kids in my grade. It was like a lottery. Outliner’s taught us that everything matters. Where you were born, what you look like, when in times history did your “coming up occur?” And part of that golden equation, in my own microcosm because everything matters chasing outliers was, who were the kids in your grade? My dad carried only a few absolutely essential keys to life. And at the top of that list was the company that you keep. I’d seen my sister’s grade besides Magic and I were Hayden protégé’s aware of each and every classes rank over the last decade. This was according to the guys we then worshiped. And maybe that’s why adolescence is scary when you think about it, how dangerous is it idolizing men working in a gym? But I didn’t give a fuck. My private mantra to myself was I’d never have any regrets. Do it and try and get away but now was the time. And the other side of, that, was never change, be real, get older but never ever change. I’d grown up on hip hop tapes, and I believed them all. Scarface, Too-$short, Wille D, Ice T, they were right, and I knew it. I believed that I was chosen. And that’s only ever dangerous if you can command a stage audience or various so inclined unstable youths. That was power, money was the other side of that, I liked power better. I was a Star War kids but just by default growing up around so many successful people in Madison I knew I’d already cooked that goose. Magic was to be our politician. And watching Monster in the tail end of wrapping our get away leafs into something to be smoke, I thanked god for him. I knew my sister faced the same challenges and her friends sucked. I knew always my situation was different. My draft class on the NFL year of graduation tip was a deep pool.
“We’re ready.” Monster commanding a snap to command a light which decorum stated he sparked the session and Scully wanting to confirm in unity to timeless indulgent traditions provided it as fast as pulled trigger delivers exhaust, smoke. And at that moment there were no books in the future, the past had lost its trace, there was right that second. On the cold concrete and damp grass a froth, chilly night just me my brothers minus one back at the elementary school where it all started. And we were in Madison MA. Our elementary school had a beach, a reservoir not only were we “goosed” insulated but our town commanded the nod of where America started. And our basketball program had become one of the state’s top 5 nestled beside gritty urban classics. We had it all. And with that came expectations.
“Fuck life.” our new mantra. I observed Scully next to me drilling M. Red smoke after the other. “We should go and get Stretch.” Scully reminds us. Scully was a crew guy, I’d never forget those moments as the architect building just that from the boys I’d staged (*life) out with. Looking up again, it was 5:00 AM and the sun was coming up. Never to split apart we headed to Denny’s for some breakfast. It was now Sunday and as all sit starving no one was able to eat. And then it was time. It was time for us to visit the accident site, where just hours before Santo’s life was taken. Boys don't cry but I'd in a long life of crying amongst zip codes whose promise was that with money, premium, history here, this would never happen, exploded. I'd lost more than anyone in any house or zip code I'd ever known. But I didn't sweat it, I had faith from the lawnmower and I had METCO to drill in my first lesson, it could be worse.