Confessions of A Single Man: The Life

I’ve been around it all my life. At least most of my childhood. Growing up in the hood, it was part of a typical daily routine in the uncompromising urban city streets to step in or over dog shit, urine, and broken crack pipes while hurdling over dead stray cats my friend Carly killed in a project basement across the street from where I lived.

Needless to say, Carly wasn’t wrapped to tight. There were times he’d give me the impression he would grow up to become a serial killer. It had everything to do with the expression on his face and the enjoyment he received for doing such an act. What I will say, leaping over piles of neglected garbage and puddles of drug addict’s vomit was a premeditated obstacle course beyond my wildest imagination. For some, It was a way out; a type of basic training for the focused neighborhood athletes.

Confession of A Single Man: The Life

I had to have been 11 years old at the time. My stepfather would send me on odd errands dropping off this and picking up that. Life was dangerous enough until one day I opened a package I was supposed to deliver and discovered the contents inside. It changed my life and point of view forever.

Kittens bounced off the walls like a ball inside a pinball machine as I opened and entered the unlocked apartment door of a paying customer. I noticed, in the kitchen all four gas stove burners were lit. No food was being cooked. No pots or pans where visible just the overwhelming fumes of crack and burnt hair filled the air. No furniture existed inside the living room of the apartment. The kitchen was filthy. In the bedroom, only a king size mattress minus the box-spring existed. There wasn’t any sheets on the bed. The pillows were up against the wall on the floor. Located on the bed were five people sitting on it in a circle, passing back and forth a giant blow torch along with a base pipe to each other. The base of the pipe looked empty to me as each took their turn at it. I knew nothing about evaporation, how and when the cloud would return. I just thought they all had lost their minds. I was a kid and kids don’t know shit, right?

What stood out the most,  nobody even looked up at me as I entered the bedroom. The power of the drug was so captivating I could’ve killed them all and not one of them would have seen it coming. All of them had their eyes focused on the pipe, awaiting their turn. The memory of it all haunted me for years. It horrified me in a way which made me never touch nor inhale a substance of such. In fact, to this very day I can still can see their frizzed hair stand on its end. I will never forget the string of spit they shared and never bothered to wipe it off before the next use of the crack pipe. I never in my life seen a blow torch of that size. When I returned home, my grandfather who was a mail carrier would sneak me beer, “Miller High Life” vintage nips to drink. I guess to drown the pain. I drank it for the buzz.

It was the 80’s. Cocaine was huge but that’s when $3.00 crack surfaced and changed the game plan in the killing fields. That’s when the crack storm struck, moved in, settled, and pounded it’s ugly head against the ghetto buildings throughout the inner city of the 5 boroughs of New York. It was called a wasteland of forgotten dreams. It was like Desert Storm and Lil Beirut back then. I was on “Look Out,” duty which meant I did anything from answering a public pay phone and telling whoever was on the other end where they could buy drugs, solicit prostitutes, along with the unthinkable.

Confession of A Single Man: The Life

Years later, I had gotten robbed at gunpoint far too often. I had my ass beat down and stomped into the ground more than I care to remember. I was a loner, a target and I realized it was all part of the life especially if you didn’t have protection. I paid my dues and I’ve seen it all, drive-bys, shootouts and I also watched neighborhoods turn into wastelands. I remember when they killed Donnie, a young soldier for Nicky Barnes, on the corner of 149th street and 8th avenue. It happened in front of Bob’s Record Wagon. They shot Donnie in the head and it had rained immediately afterwards washing the messy blood and brain matter down the sewer drain. He was only 18 years of age. I use to play with his little sister, Natalie. I think about it to this very day. I can recall the pain it caused and how it left an everlasting effect throughout my life.

I remember when they killed stutter-man DDD-Derrick. Found him in a abandon building located in the South Bronx, Fort Apache district. A needle was in his arm when they discovered him next to a dead rat. Derrick wanted to dress like the gangster’s and branch out on his own. He was deaf and mildly retarded. He had been messing with the wrong set of people who pitched “Vietnam” out of “8 Corner Pocket” a local pool hall where some of the neighborhood gangsters hung out on 8th avenue. Like most of us, Derrick wanted to be a gangster, badly. Needless to say, he never obtained his goal. The fact is the entire block knew he was headed towards trouble.

Confession of A Single Man: The Life

Afterwards, I was desperately in need of hitting the restart button on life. The streets became the university I graduated from, above all with honors. Only, thing is the streets don’t handout Degree’s or Diploma’s. Those in the life understand. Living to share the tail serves as a doctrine itself. It’s almost like obtaining a poor mans PhD of the streets. The most horrifying aspect of the life was the drugs. You know, seeing needles and vials on the pavement of playgrounds and sidewalks where children would play. Empty crack vials scattered across the city streets like random trash roll with the wind. Discarded burnt out base pipes tossed in the gutter next to where dog and human feces would normally be found.

So many people were high off of PCP, better known as angel dust. I tried it once or twice and it scared the shit out of me and never touched it again. My uncle introduced it to me. He tripped out over it and jumped off the roof of a building in Brooklyn. Some people had gotten deeply involved and envisioned images that seem real although were not. My uncle was depressed. His wife had left him and he was never the same afterwards. He would often hear distorted sounds, and would display violent behavior when he was on that shit.

Dope fiends were different. They would fall asleep standing up, rockin’ back and forth trying to master their high. Sometimes they looked like they were standing on top of a invisible surf board to nowhere with drool dripping from side of their mouths. These people often were seen slumped over with a crazy, glossy look in their eyes. Meanwhile, beautiful women with good paying jobs had gotten turned out turned into women of the night found themselves conducting $5.00 head jobs to customers in the basement of Brownstones and abandon buildings. Meanwhile, smack users, leaning against the wall were seen throwing up on themselves in the alleyway behind a local crack house.

Welcome to the “Star-ship Enterprise” where “Scottie” will answer your call and beam you up to never-neverland. These were regular people, doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, mailmen, housewives and my mother.

Confession of A Single Man: The Life

Today, nothing much has changed. Maybe some new buildings, paint and stores next to a Starbucks and a Walmart. It continues to be a tale of two cites. Crippled poverty stricken communities with little to no hope of exceeding life’s expectations with a overview case of the promised-land in the horizon. The hike of a mountain top for many which will never be achieved. A mass exodus is stirring. Some call it gentrification. Economic warfare in vogue. But what do I know. This is a place where mass confusion and ciaos dwell along with the unforgettable groans of agony.

Heartache and despair run rampant in these mean city streets at an alarming rate. People living on top of each other. Rats, roaches and water bugs rule the day and rejoice during the night. Fire engine trucks drag race to their destinations as the police cars follow behind. The sound alone paralyzes a torn community, doing more harm than finding the answer to the cure. The urban streets is more like zombie-land of the apocalypse. That’s the environment some of us were living in, every day, every minute and every second of the year.

Confession of A Single Man: The Life

As I look back, it was the longest two weeks. I had seen some dark days flirting with a love affair smoking crack mixed with weed. My eyes would be bugged-eyed out. The crack, left me savoring a minty like taste in my mouth which made my lips chapped as they smack together. Some fiends could cut paper with their lips. I could recall trying to chase that very first high which everyone seems to fail to achieve. I was fortunate it wasn’t smack. That was the shit my father was on. It cost him his life.

The combination of the two drugs made my eyes bleed (bloodshot & tearing). The power of the drug would call my name every morning, afternoon and evening. My two week love affair felt more like two years in solitary confinement. Many of us failed to push the restart button of life. The life wasn’t much of any kind of life to live and strive towards. Living in the hood at that sad particular time in my life, I didn’t realize we all were trying to escape. Unfortunately, many of us, never did escape, like my dad, his wife and my little sister. 

 

Harlem,

Heaven Is At The Foot Of Mother…

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