#1 Song in the Country Informer - Snow Accidents, Accidents, Accidents April 1st, 1993 “It’s spring again.” Biz Markie
The Black Knight had been expelled. I knew it was coming. He’s stopped playing sports. And that was his downfall. It was so easy to see. “Aight C. We’ll talk, this ain’t nothen.” And that was it watching him walk off campus that day at noon to get a bus to a subway to go home it was easy to think I’d never see him again. In the inner city no one gave a flying fuck if a kid ditched a class, Mr. Robinson never came looking for you. I’d say a prayer for him, “There it is, dam, gonna miss you homy.” I’d clap my squeamish, broken right wrist against his giant black paw and that was it. Time went on and I had to get to class. I’d think of Joe Clark, Kid Ray, Lean on Me, “you’ll be dead in a year.” I shrugged it off, I knew dude, block it out as always, Black’s invincible, besides I had bracket’s to update. I’d schooled my boy C, now my vice president of gaming (I adored titles) on my annual march madness grab we had brackets to update.
And walking towards ACE I couldn’t help but think about my dirty little secret I’d forever keep from the Big Guy. After all I wanted him to love me. The centerpiece of my script, hoops, I’d sabotaged. It was a bitter pill to swallow. It was my idea that dam party at the air force base the night before our state tournament game at Salem. I’d remind myself mentally to check in with my guidance counselor Mr. Conant, he being the anytime audience for Keith (Black Knight) and myself to air out our seemingly vastly different lives as we unraveled the world around us. We knew the expulsion was coming. He’d stopped caring, the sirens of the streets too much of a lure to even try and con the various house administrators forever on his tail. I’d gifted him a .38 out of the box pistol a couple days before he left. I’d now via Enrico and the guy whose name you can’t mention come into brand new .38’s and glock 19’s. They were three and six hundred accordingly. I’d move a few within the ACE program. My margins were a hundred on .38’s and two on the Glocks. And maybe I was living out my own rap fantasy. And maybe I was dealing with post-traumatic syndrome. Or maybe I was still insecure confused as to the limits of loyalty and what a family constituted. In reality my latest leaps had more to do with a new founded anger watching my abandoned mother, my one true teammate once again slip back into depression and obesity having ditched secretarial work due to the nature of her anxiety to cleaning houses in and around the painfully wealthy community of Madison MA. The historic town my father had grown up in. But whatever it was my I saw no boundaries, had a limited understanding of right and wrong and consequently had no taking the un-sanctimonious leap into selling firearms to teenagers that would probably use them. Counterfeit money was right around the corner. And I was unknowingly along with my sister, lost. Our mother was sick and we hadn’t seen our father for quite sometime. We had one side of the family, my father’s side and no one ever called. “I don’t give a fuck.” My savior, I’d say over and over again thinking about my mother’s condition cleaning floors for dollars. Get rich or die trying (50 C)
Guns? This wasn’t me. But Black I trusted with everything. We were one shady team. And ever since Enrico brought the idea of a “ten thousand dollar federal credit card scam” it sounded sexy consequently we’d become soldiers in a larger camp I was sacrificially, ignorantly playing both sides of via my little gambling operation. We’d never caught a whisper of the credit card thing after Enrico had extended the offer that fateful afternoon last summer at the center courts. We’d taken matters into our own hands. We got paid. Our shopping cart triumphs had inspired a credit card stealing frenzy amongst the guy whose name we can’t mention underlings. We’d heard a recent story about a forklift unearthing an entire US postal service drop box. It was in the center of town. We heard then read about it in the police log. “Wow.” I couldn’t fucking believe it. “At least fifteen in there.” I’d opine to Enrico eyeing catalogues stuffed with shit we coveted to steal. Only basketball saved me from these connections and my own shady virility. My sister and I continued to dress prep for school and held the illusion of a true double life far away from the docks of normalcy.
Our family motto of “repression is underrated” tethered along side the old UNLV and now YG motto of deny, deny, deny prohibited me, at that point from understanding the gravity of sin I was now involved with. It just wasn’t me. I sang my dead cocker spaniel to sleep along side my mother to the ballad, “Reggie go night, night.” Followed by three kisses on the forehead this just wasn’t me. Along with my sister and mother I too had no loss all sense of reality. I’d convince myself simply I was filming a movie, still perfect, the bumps were part of it and I’d get away with it all in this rich highly educated but down right stupid yuppie town. And I hadn’t seen my dad in quite sometime but I was selling newly minted “straps” to friends that were black and had never or in Black’s case died many moons since dimmed. The depression at home was back my mother could easily see the negative influences my sister and I were surrounded with. And my sister Brooke now squarely in love with my mentor DES helped accelerate and already fast track are legs clicked increasingly faster back and forth on.
The parties, drinking, I’d even begun smoking cigarettes at select gatherings to heighten my image, anything to block out the basketball, Blacks expulsion as well as my increasingly brazen behavior. And at sixteen I’d already seen it all, the sickness of both the inner city and the disease of my upper class suburbia. I’d found a family for me, but not for my mother and we were a package deal. I’d found a family for my sister however there were limits as well as a sucker component to loyalty. The role the mirror always let me know would never, ever be this king. But that word “family” something everyone in the ghetto or the glitz of Madison seemed to have was elusive. It’s the most important word in life. It made sense we craved and sought out this term for our own. But it also set us up. We were young and my mother for all intensive purposes for the unfortunate experiences for so long she endured rendered relatively her, the same as us, kids. Something had to give and we were all stubborn, we were all right.
Also in the tradition of my favorite game to play with my mother called, “I’ve never done anything really wrong” the loss had little to do with the brawl the night before. “One night in a hotel?” I could hear the Big Guy after our trip to Fairfield CT last year for a high profile scrimmage. I blocked it out, but it was a reel that was tough to mentally stop. The Fairfield Marriot, the lobby, the sign, 99 days to graduation, slipping out under the Big Guy’s deep snore. The party, the lie, the lies, breakdancing, fifties dancing which my godfather long ago told me was so easy laying a queen that I should endeavor more of a challenge, and all the beer. I loved it I was my own movie star, we had on sock ties. I’d made out with a number of college girls whom I’d revealed our exciting covers that found me “fucking adorable.” I looked around as 2AM approached and a number of us were visibly disabled. And thought, “so this is college.” Yo C, you, hahahaha. I couldn’t even get my own self-stroking out via myself the lay of all lay-ups.
The unshakable reality is that I was a vital component to the same unraveling that undid the legendary nineteen eighty-eight squad. My sworn idols and intelligent pact I’d made to myself in the face of that shocking, heart breaking loss, control the things you can, at the very least. And almost every coach on the planet would’ve let that slide in the name of victory, their players as well as their own careers but not the Big Guy. He was old school, part of an ear that associated high school and college basketball players as clean cut if only because they valued victory over loss and that’s what it took. Kids knew what to do. It’s just that most don’t want to. Doubling down on the shady stuff stopped that reel from playing in my head. It was too much to think, that party, my idea, my calls, 12 deep, Perry’s “doink” and my subsequent falling out with my former boy band the $mooth Adolescents. Kids I loved were now posting up various threats on my own landline as well as through the teenage rank and file. The celebration at Friendly’s.
And five of us were on the team. I laughed thinking of what Kevin and his brother Lamont, “Spec” had pulled off. It was our own western. But we lost the next day. We had the team, and a chance to advance to UMASS Boston for the first time since 1988 for a right to win it all in the Boston Garden. And we went out. And we repeated history. And we lost. And I was growing. My height, weight and appetite for legendary status along with the shadier male influences that now surrounded me.
The only thing real was my mother, Coach Sullivan and the Big Guy. And nothing was real about Madison MA except the houses. And the only reason I wasn’t suicidal with the mental reel of our state tournament loss was because we weren’t seniors. It was like the casino. I still had chips. In my mind the movie was still in tact. I believed I would get away with it all. We’d win a state title and I’d put 25K in my savings. I’d report it as income from my failed start up, “Nice and Neat Lawn services.” I’d already witness a classmate drop out of high school and start a landscaping business. I would never do that senior year was my sole justification for last seasons melt down, occurring again during our most critical hour. I was ahead of my era and had a look, and hustle that people followed, that’s why I was dangerous and precisely the reason why I believed I had it all figured it out.
In reality behavior of that kind would never constitute a champion in my story. I was designed a comedian a salesman. This allowed me to juggle the falsehoods inherent to rationalization. I conned myself. I had been in some capacity cheating at solitaire on some level for quite some time incidentally one of my great reminders to my classmates in the ACE program during group therapy. “Remember Derek, lying to your therapist is like cheating at solitaire.” I had chips, I was the new “All-American” kid my story was for lack of a better word, sick sellen me to me all day. I was a junior Even with a few setbacks I still thought how perfect the script rolled out. I knew the fire that was coming next year, I knew the curse we were birthed to break, and I was excited to be rewarded for all our hard work. I’d always tell my mother what a great story for the Boston Globe my lawnmower accident would make. After we bagged state champs it would be a great trailing story I rationed. I did it with one tendon from my right foot! Hyperbole, it was all over already. And I still believed I was black man stuck in a white kids body. I still believed I could “fall back” on rap. My comedy game with a year in ACE under my belt erupted. I found it the easiest way to turn a foe into an ally. It was spring and in school there was only a month left before Summer League, Young Gun’s and the start of our senior year and I was the master of our destiny sans a couple slips. I still got time.
“Yo C! You hear about Hank?” Before first bell, I had learned along with many other Young Guns that Junk Box was being sent away to a reformatory slash rehab slash any other place other than public high school in Madison MA. Fuck I saw that one too, I loved that mutha fucka I thought to my self in sad reflective remorse. He fell into the role yo, he left us not a one of us got even the chance to say good-bye to the kid. Why the fuck couldn’t he just got with us These were my many thoughts. Pound for pound even though the shortest (next to Monster) he was the toughest white kid we had in UNLV. But UNLV was over we were young Guns now and Hank wasn’t with us. I felt spoofed, like a father in the fifties doing the dishes on the Pleasantville tip. Reaction? There was none, highlighted by the fact that an absolute stranger had just told me this. I nodded my head downward, took a deep breath expanding my cheeks which always made me not cry, as I pace the packed main hall drenched in the kind of sulking solidarity that drapes your shrine when close friends disappear unexpectedly. I tucked my gold chain underneath my sweatshirt thinking only how desperately I needed a thinker one. The energy and roll, now of things not in the script was deftly troubling. Jesus yo stay with me dawg.
I bumped into Scully and judging by his detachment of face I think to be psychologically on the same plane. This calmed my chaos as we collided and for a chilling moment froze. “Good morning sir, I’m guessing you’ve heard the information about our dear friend Hank?” “Yo, I mean, fuck Scully!” I’m now becoming jacked with emotion and then not. “I just wish I could’ve gotten a chance to say peace.” Matt Scully replies, “understandable. I certainly do, (nodding viciously) I wish the same.” “fuck it what could we do?” “Times it seems are a changing Mr. Easton” It’s an old quote so I guess this is nothing new. Exiting I give Mat Scully the kinda of hug that loyalty makes concrete. “love you buddy,” a formal handshake and my sides are sauntering my legs forward lazily. I was depressed, confused and loved walking the halls. I needed my old dog Reggie from “Reggie go night-night” fame whom I’d given to Hank on asthma concerns stemming from Brooke. Reggie through no fault of Hank’s died his first night there. He just wanted to go home, ironic home meant little friends meant everything.
Saying I didn’t give a fuck was my first protection, whenever any doubt exposed personal shortcomings I’d say this to myself, I don’t give a fuck I don’t give you’re the fucking craziest mutha fucka in your entire high school. You ain’t scared of nothen, fuck life No matter what saying it always put me back on the yellow brick road. Walking into school, typically the first act of the day was to check the main hall and put my ear to the cajun wire for the latest Madison Mass gossip feed. More bad news I had conceded my first capitulation to Jesus after Black Knight and didn’t think the second would occur until much later in my forties. After the yachts, state championship and my one hundred thousandth blowjob is when the second “dent” would go down. Of course with tides seemingly turning this wasn’t the case. Yet another soldier in my “firm.” Living as the Dream from Madison MA I didn’t think this was possible, two friends gone like that. Old football buddies. A hustling companion and a fellow delinquent in my first gang, it shattered my always fragile state. Mulling over mordant thoughts of loss and life, I had to focus on Hank, a kid I’d broke bread with, played football, baseball, slept over and traveled to Florida with. Hank’s family wealth was impressionable and only added confusion. How’d that happen?
At some point the craftsmanship of adolescent delinquency gives way to the paved roads of teenage indulgence. And when drugs and alcohol replaced so much of what we did, Henry found a home and a temporary ally that repressed what he was fighting so desperately to escape. His parents didn’t care. They were rich. The cure for it all in my eyes never did shit for him. He’d soon find older kids that gave him time, dope and prop. An “in” on gigs and leeched his bank account and feasted on his now burgeoning drug fetish. Henry my childhood friend had went against us our one mantra. He gave into the requisite that wasn’t us. It hurt watching a talented kid drown in drugs with kids that he thought were his friends, he didn’t give a fuck, just wanted to get high, die and forget about all of that money. All’s it did was remind him of how broke he really was.
And today with basketball completely crumbled, Black Knight gone as I’m trying to work my way into the spring and not repeat the disappearance act of last year, I get another direct hit. Mr. Robinson confirms absolutely this, my mutha fucken Pop Warner star teammate He was just a few steps from shooting dope and incarceration and the Black Knight too except for slanging and not shooting the shit. Black and white, Madison and Mulberry (the hood) same exact result. The undoing of both Black and Hank on subsequent days was a college thesis staring me right in the face. Extreme wealth had the same detrimental effect on casted youth as abject poverty. You sprinkle in a lack of love in Hank’s case or of family itself with Black having lost a brother and a father and you got the same results. This is what I thought about not history, English, math or science. You can’t walk with fire and not expect to get burned. I was living in denial.
I dragged through the day. I didn’t bring up an explanation or reason for my sullen semblance because I didn’t want to hear what I knew the Big Guy would say, “Hey we’re dealing with thieves what did you think would happen? The best thing you could do all day is stay up here all day, go to the gym after school then home to your mother. And that’s it. And it’s enough.” “whatever” I thought non-creatively to myself. He’s heard and was forever bruising me on the idiocy of my out of the gym associations.
The fact I still missed more classes than most attended spoke volumes of how far I still had to go. But I could sell people and even now in ACE as long as I wasn’t egregious I could always talk my way out of a tow. I knew and studied the system I hustled kids for pocket change and was raised in a pond of very different influences. ACE had birthed me a monster advertisement of good publicity, and with that publicity I was able to work the chains, it was very apparent to everyone involved ACE had been a good thing. For the first time in my life the Big Guy had provided me with trust. Perhaps unintentionally but I had broke new ground and I began to realize with the real freedoms came a heavy premium. Anything more you gain you stand to lose and it’s always like that. I still had zero respect for the capacity of the town police or school faculty to ever catch me doing anything I wasn’t supposed to. Set on the fact I was disturbed enough over Hanks expulsion on the heels of the Black Knight’s, and the realness that things of this nature spawned, I needed one thing, strawberry milk. I needed some sort of egg product, a game of bathroom craps, I had to find Monster, venture down the main hall towards Crenshaw Av. for dice play and a $5 fade from the Black Knight in C House, Fuck he’s gone
I had to get my head straight. I had been too influenced on too many levels to just show up to class, study and be a good kid. So I headed to my favorite happy place, the couch in the ACE program and right away brought Coach Sullivan up to speed on my day. I’d begun smoking pot with Tick, Santo and Monster had assured me we had a treat for 2nd lunch. “I even asked Mr. Savage if I could call him at rehab or wherever to at least let him know the crew is bond. “
“Yeah what did he say?” Coach Sullivan asks in ACE?” “I asked him as a friend not an administrator” “Yeah well what did he say?” “He said rather than worrying about a kid people call Junk Box and the Black Knight you should be more concerned about what’s going to happen to you.” The Big Guy exploded in laughter as all the coaches thought that was a good one, “Eh he’s right, you love the losers, they’d never do for you what you’d do for them.” And it was that quote, right there that knifed into our biggest argument, the reality of loyalty and myth of friends as family. And like the famous blame game with my mother over our failures and isolation I refused to net even a little in his way regarding that. They were all I had. And that’s just the way it was. After school I returned home early to pray. I’ was confused and insecure and that is when I prayed. I needed to tell Jesus I think it might be happening to me as well. And at that moment my pretend panic didn’t seem so funny.
Jesus I’m not talken garden variety panic either. I mean the best part about you is just that, that your Gods son and if that falls through? Well Jesus if that falls through than what the hell credibility do you have? OK, that’s why you suck hairy donkey crack. Now let me tell you why you’re a star. You’re a star because even if you don’t exist we’ve had some great conversations. You’ve given me one person to talk to about everything when there’s no one else. If you do exist than we’re kinda friends. If you do exist than basically you got the best connect eva, God is your pops. Wow and maybe I’m a dreamer and you’re like some figment of everyone’s Newton imagination but if it really is true why can’t you give me a sign? Anything for more than anything I believe. A brother just needs a little somethen, somethen to believe it’s all true, dig? Peace out J-strong. I’m tired and want to nap before going to the movies night.
I couldn’t fall asleep though, stories of the young, restless and the retarded. Tonight my plans were to go to a movie with hoop teammates Magic, Santo and Wells the latter was driving. The crew was the crew and everyone had a best man which was defined by the one in the crew, YG, UNLV that lived a few doors down. Magic and myself were examples just like Hatty and Monster, Scully, Goldy and Tick were all on top of each just like Wells and Santo. It was the difference between walking over to a house X-Mas morning, comparing presents and seeing you later at the gym or on the trail lighting fires and breaking windows. Wells and Santo out of all us sans our newly minted center Stretch were the only true scholarship guys amongst us. Magic and I knew at this point we’d have to qualify for showcases hoping only to play D3 somewhere. A state title would make us legends I knew I could parlay that into something more than basketball. I didn’t think I needed college to make money.
To make matters worse these were my two toughest old school partners. And now they were gone. I saw sliding door moments flash across that digital brain scan that is your mind. I had no idea what would happen but at sixteen they were young enough to stand on the cusp of problems and games one were taught at all costs to avoid. Junk Box would move towards H as Black sprinted towards it’s profitable disbursement. Both could end up dead. One would OD one would be shot in no time at all. Their futures were dire and not anyone’s guess. Sad thoughts instantly replaced by immediate ones as I’m genuinely excited for tonight’s roster as well as hyperactive situations. I had a movie date with the fellas, not only YG but varsity YG, magic, Wells and Santo. “Eh you know I don’t even have to say it.” The Big Guy said as the final bell sounded that Friday before our first spring weekend. It was April second, 1993, Madison MA, it was cold and still had a thirty five foot snow bank that bunkered in the parking lot designed just for us students.