B*TCHES, RIGHT? BY LOUIS LEACH III (CHAPTERS 1 & 2/AUDIO)

YORK BOUND PUBLICATIONS

B*TCHES, RIGHT?
BY: LOUIS LEACH III

“B*TCHES RIGHT” is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and events are from the author’s imagination, or used fictitiously. Any resemblence to actual people or events is purely coincidental.

YORK BOUND PUBLICATIONS
Copyright©2021 By York Bound Enterprise. All rights reserved. No parts of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any means or form without written permission from the author (Louis Leach III).

Latonya Reid is a bitch. Khadija Greene is a bitch too. Nothing personal, just facts. Meeting either one of them… is definitely in the top five list of worst things that has ever happened to me. Strangely, meeting Tanya and Khadija, is also very easily in the top 5 list of best things that has ever happened to me. Crazy, right? Let me try to explain this shit a little better….

The first time I ever laid eyes on Latonya Reid was exactly 27-years ago to this day. That’s probably one of the reasons she is so heavy on my mind today. Honestly, Latonya is always a thing that’s on my mind. She has always had this effect on me. Always! It’s been like this since the moment I first laid eyes on her on a breezy day in March of 1994. March 23, 1994 to be exact. That would be where I would start, if the story was simply about myself and Latonya. This story is about more than myself and Tanya though. There’s a third member of this, almost 30-year old party. Her name is Taliya, A.K.A “Trouble.” Oh, yeah, I almost forgot…..Taliya “Le-Le” Alexander is a bitch too!

Taliya Alexander…. Just thinking about her makes me smile. That has always been my baby! Latonya is my baby too….well, Latonya is my number one. Latonya has always been my number one. So, I guess that would make Le-Le my number two. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m saying! Never did. Clearly! When I was mad at one, I loved the other more. Stupid shit right? Man, you don’t even know half this crazy shit…….YET!

    ***** 

My name is Raymond Lathan Jr., but everybody calls me Ray. A little lame right? My nickname was just my first name shortened. I always wanted a cool nickname… like, “Cold Sweat,” or” Cool Breeze,” or “Cat Daddy”. That would’ve been the one right there! If my nickname had been something cool like “Cat Daddy”, my life may have been different, you know? I would’ve definitely loved to hear the ladies yell my name when they saw me coming. Hey, “Cat-Daddy!!” But anyway…. I met Latonya when I was 12-years old! I was born in a 2 story rowhome on 7th & Dauphin Streets in North Philly, but I was raised on 9th & York Streets. Latonya and her mother moved to Dauphin Street around late spring or early summer of 1992. Tanya was an only child. And she was the same age I was. Of course, we were quickly introduced. We literally lived steps away from each other. I lived in 639. Tanya and her mom’s addy was 643. Two houses away from one another.

Even at 12-years old, I knew it was a very bad idea to even think about "liking" a girl that lived so close to my house. And just my luck, the daughter seemed to be infatuated with me from the moment she laid eyes on me. I could tell Latonya liked me right away. The problem with that for 12-year old me, was that I was just beginning to be heavily into titties and ass. 12-year old Tanya was lacking severely in both departments. She was a cute little brown-skinned jawn, but she was a high ranking member of the "Itty-Bitty-Titty-Committee."  There was no attraction there for 12-year old me. Tanya didn't make any friends on the block. She never played with the girls, and I noticed she seemed to be having trouble finding a place where she fit in. I've always considered myself somewhat of a "problem solver"........  so, one day when me and the fellas were about to go to the playground and play basketball, I invited Tanya to come tag along. The guys were mad at me for inviting her, but what was I supposed to do? She was sitting on her front steps, all alone, and that kind of softened my heart towards Tanya. Seeing her so vulnerable made me want to protect her. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. Turns out, Tanya's little ass didn't need any protecting at all. You heard? Hell, most people needed protection from her! The moment we got to the basketball court, I discovered why Tanya never played with the other little girls. She was a hardcore tomboy. The strange thing about Tanya was that she didn't really look like it. She was a pretty little jawn, sis looked like she did not enjoy getting dirty or sweaty, or any of that. You know, a girlie girl, play with dolls and all that shit type. I quickly learned that looks can be deceiving. Tanya always reminded me of the real pretty brown-skinned jawn from En Vogue. The only difference was that sis from En Vogue carried the confidence of a grown woman. Tanya was cute, really cute, but she was no where near reaching her full potential of "beautifulness" yet. She was currently smack-dab in the middle of her awkward pre-teen years. You know, bad Acne and all that other pre-teen and teenage shit. BUT MY BABY WAS STILL CUTE THOUGH!  

Tanya didn’t just know how to play basketball, she was just as good or better than most of us! Tanya was like Kobe (R.I.P Bean)…..she never passed the damn ball! But Tanya got buckets though! And you know the hood rules “with major buckets, comes major respect!” Tanya got all of that after the OG’s in the hood saw her skills on the court. I can’t lie, Tanya was beginning to look real different to me. Suddenly, that “Itty-Bitty-Tittie-Committee” shit didn’t mean much to me anymore. Tanya was bad… with, or without huge melons! I asked her to be my girlfriend right after we finished ballin’. She said yes!

Guess what happened the very next day? Ma Dukes told me we were moving. All the way to 9th street! The shit is really around the corner, but you know everything seems like a great distance when you’re 12-years old, and had never been anywhere. I was being forced to leave all my friends. Especially Tanya! I bitched and cried about “life” not being fair for a week straight, before we finally moved. Guess what? I began seeing my friends from 7th Street even more, after we moved to 9th Street! Or, at least it seemed that way. Plus, I made a bunch of new friends on York Street. Eventually, the two streets became allies thanks to my affiliation with both. That made me a little bit of a somebody in the hood, you know? Not a drug dealer, pimp, or major money getting dude, kind of “somebody”, but one of those dudes who goes anywhere and people be like “oh yeah, that’s bul from such and such Street. He aite”, kind of “somebody”. That was right up my alley! I didn’t care why, when, or how…..I just always wanted my name to ring bells in the hood.

Me and Tanya really began hitting it off after I moved. Well, sort of….. In any movie, this would be the part when they would’ve shown the couple hugging, holding hands, talking, and all that other puppy-love stuff. This wasn’t a movie. The second Tanya said “yes” to being my girlfriend, I was suddenly afraid to talk to, or even be around her. My baby Tanya led the way though. She was always good with things like that. She showed me what “going together” meant. Going together with Tanya definitely was not what I thought it was going to be.

I thought “going with” Tanya was going to be like going with any other girl. Tanya was not my first girlfriend, even though I was deeply in puppy-love with her after a few days. Tanya was such a tomboy in public, but when we were in private she always showed signs of vulnerability. Nothing major, but to me, it was apparent that she was showing me parts of her personality that she purposely hid in public. That made me fall even harder. It felt like I had to protect her. She had no brothers, and didn’t rock with too many people yet. So, being the good boyfriend that I am, I decided to introduce Tanya to some girls who she may have more in common with than the girls on 7th Street, my old block. All I knew about these girls was that they were from 8th & Jefferson Streets, and they played basketball. As a matter of fact, a few of them played in the summer league at Hartranft with the boys a few years ago. It was about four of them, but they were pretty known for traveling from hood to hood, looking for people to play. Probably for money. That’s what we did too sometimes, but this shit was a hustle for these girls. A daily hustle. There was no “WNBA” back in these days. College was always a dream for most people, but this hustling shit was a reality for a lot of girls who loved basketball, and lived around the way back in the day. That’s what these good ball playing chicks did, you know?

CHAPTER-1
SIGNS OF THE TIMES

TANYA

1984 will always be a special year to me. 1984 was the very last year that was considered B.C. in my neighborhood. Those two letters do not stand for “Before Christ.” This ain’t a Gospel book fam. Where I’m from, B.C. stands for “Before Crack.” Believe it or not, crack was not always a thing that was around in the hood. That shit seemed to appear out of the clear blue one day. And the shit spread quicker than Coronavirus. Crack users weren’t the only thing created when crack cocaine hit the scene. Crack dealers were also created. Don’t get it twisted. There were always people in the neighborhood who sold heroin, weed, and other shit. The difference between that and crack was…..RESPECT. Crack cocaine brought with it, an “I don’t give a fuck” attitude about everything. I watched that shit slowly transform people…..always for the worst. I became one of those “I don’t give a fuck” people at 13-years old. And I know for a fact crack changed my life for the worst. But, like I said before, crack effected practically everyone in the neighborhood’s life in a negative way. Especially Tanya’s.

Tanya’s favorite aunt Loretta messed around and became one of the early victims of the crack epidemic. Tanya always thought she didn’t have family nearby. After about a month and some change on 7th Street, Tanya slowly began to realize that her family was one of the biggest in the neighborhood. Sis had family everywhere…even on 9th Street! Tanya lived with her dad until she was about 10-years old. Mom was absent in the early days of Tanya’s life, for one reason or another. Loretta turned 16 right around the time Tanya turned 12. Retta was Tanya’s mother’s youngest sister, and word around the hood was that Retta had been a wild-one since she was Tanya’s age. Retta was 16-years old, but she hung out heavy with people in their early 20’s. The kind of people who were not so distant from high school age, but had already given up on life. They mostly partied and got high. People had jobs though. Getting high was mostly a weekend thing for most people, you know? Then came crack. People in their 20’s dived in head first, including Loretta. She went downhill quickly. I’m talking about Loretta looked like Beyonce last week…..the next week was a different story. Three (3) short weeks after taking her first blast, Loretta was turning tricks for money….well, crack. All bets are off at that point. There’s no more such thing as embarrassment, respect for one’s self, or respect for others. At this point everything is about…..crack! Even stealing from your favorite niece. Not just stealing, but robbing her blind. Tanya’s mom made the mistake of asking her youngest sister to watch Tanya while she went out of town for the weekend.

Retta sent Tanya to the store to buy them some groceries with some of the money Tanya’s mom left for food and other things while she was gone. Tanya’s mom had been gone for less than 10 minutes when Loretta put her plan into action. By the time Tanya got back from the store, Retta had cleaned them out. She had one of her crackhead friends bring a truck around to the house. If you don’t know, let me be the first to tell you. With the correct motivation (crack), a crackhead can make fuckin’ worlds move in minutes! That’s just what happened. Tanya and her mom’s world was cleaned out and gone in a matter of minutes. I can still remember Tanya showing up at her cousin’s house on 9th Street with tears in her eyes. Tanya stayed with her cousins for the weekend. I remember Tanya trying to tell me about what was going on. Can’t say I was listening, or really cared, but I heard her. With Tanya staying only a few houses from mine, the only thing I could think about was opportunity. I was so busy trying to get my grind on every time I was anywhere near Tanya, that I showed no emotion, sympathy, or even empathy for her or her current situation. I was not “good boyfriend” material at all!


Tanya ended up moving in with her cousins after her and her mom had a huge fight about Retta. Tanya’s mom got back from Atlantic City on Monday. She came home to see all of her things gone. She’d already known what happened because Tanya called her mother and told her, 10 minutes after it happened. Retta showed up at the house crying two days later. She needed somewhere to stay. Tanya’s mom believed family was still family. Even through thick and thin. She welcomed Retta back with open arms. Tanya was having none of it. There was no way in hell that she was living under the same roof with Loretta “the thief.” That was exactly what Tanya told her mother too. Tanya’s mom knew she was never going to see eye to eye with her daughter, and try to help her youngest sister fight the crack demon at the same time. I don’t know if it had anything to do with me, but Tanya told her mom she wanted to go stay with her cousins on 9th Street. Tanya’s mom told Tanya she would let her stay with her cousins for one year. Ma’ Dukes figured that would be more than enough time for her to get Retta back to her former self. Anyway, my baby Tanya moved to 2414 North York Street, with her cousins……three houses away from mine!!!

I was right about introducing Tanya to the basketball playing, hustling chicks. She fit right in. Tanya even started to slowly come out of her shell A.K.A – “That steel barrier she had built around herself as a form of protection from ever being hurt again.” That shit was cool at first. I was having the best of both worlds. I was able to get my alone time with my girl, without having her follow me around all day like a lost puppy. But, after a few weeks, I began to see some changes in Tanya’s behavior that I did not like. All LTanya began talking about was her new homegirls and how cool they were. And how they took “suckers” for money all over the city. I was jealous. She used to talk about me all of the time. Well, that’s what I like to think, whether it was true or not! It started to feel like these basketball hoes were more important than me. I ain’t like that shit! I ain’t like that shit at all! I let Tanya know it too, one night while we were walking home from my basketball game at 12th Street Playground.

“It seem like I’m not really all that important to you anymore.”

I said without even looking in Tanya’s direction as we walked. Tanya looked at me with genuine surprise showing in her eyes.

“You for real?”

“Yeah.” I responded dryly. Tanya raised an eyebrow as she stared at me like she suddenly hated me. Da’ fuck did I say? Before I had a chance to ask my question, Tanya had broken out into a power-walk. I was too tired for this shit right now. Me and my team just got finished playing in an elimination playoff game that took three overtime periods to complete! To make shit worse, we came out on the losing end of that game!! We lost on a fuckin’ buzzer beater at the end of the 3rd, five-minute overtime period!!! A freakin buzzer beater!!!!! By nut ass Skeeter “fuck-boy” Murray of all people!!!!! To say my night was already fucked up before this new bullshit, would’ve been a huge understatement. Tanya had me all the way fucked up, if she thought I was chasing after her gold medal winning in the power-walking Olympics, ass!

I kept my word. I walked the rest of the way home solo. I wasn’t chasing after Tanya. What was I going to say anyway? I still didn’t understand what I said that made her so mad in the first place! I knew I was going to run into Tanya when I got around the way. Tanya now lived just a few houses away from mine……again. My dumb ass really thought I would be able to avoid her….at least until she cooled off, from being mad at whatever the hell she was mad at! Of course I was going to run into her eventually, that didn’t mean that my dumb ass was doing anything to prepare myself for what I strongly felt was going to happen next. As soon as I turned off of York Street to head down 9th, I could see Tanya sitting on my front steps. My house was all the way in the middle of the block, but even where I stood, at the top of the block, I could see by the look on her face, that Tanya meant serious business. I began walking as slowly as I could toward my house…..and Tanya. I had always been the confident person, and the one in control of everything, as far as me and Tanya were concerned. All of my confidence was gone right now. I had no idea what Tanya was going to say to me, but I knew it was not going to be anything good. I could feel my heart pounding as I slowly walked toward my house. It felt like I was walking the “Green Mile” on my way to the electric chair.

“DEAD MAN WALKING!”


Tanya broke up with me that night. Just like I feared she would. She gave me some lame ass excuse about “us needing time apart to see if we were really right for each other.” At 12-years old, this was probably the first time I was being broken up with….I mean, VERBALLY. At this age, your “girlfriend” usually just stops speaking to you, or starts “going with” someone else. That was what I knew a “break up” to be. Some very disrespectful shit, that you nerds gave a name in 2021. “Ghosting.” For some reason, I felt like ghosting me….well, she couldn’t ghost me. I was guaranteed to see my neighbor from time to time. But, I felt like Tanya telling me why she was breaking up with me was worse than her just stopping to speak to me at all. Like I said, this was my very first bout with being broken up with verbally, but even way back then, I knew a lie when I heard one!

Three days after she broke up with me, I saw Tanya walking down the Ave. with Puerto-Rican, Rico from Darien & Lehigh Avenue. The two were holding hands and smiling as they shopped together on Germantown Avenue. Hurt wasn’t a strong enough word for what I was feeling in that moment. My girl was walking with another dude! Well, my ex-girl, but either way, SEEING THAT SHIT WAS DRIVING ME CRAZY!! What was really pissing me off was the fact that I knew Rico sold drugs. He had money! That was a problem for me. I couldn’t afford to take Tanya shopping. How the hell was I supposed to compete with a 14-year old drug dealer? The answer was obvious, but still a little tough to swallow….I COULDN’T!. Tanya was gone. And there wasn’t a fuckin’ thing I could do about it. Why would she do this to me? Why would she make me feel this way? Because Tanya IS A BITCH! That’s why!

Le-Le

Latonya lived two houses away from mine, and miraculously, I had managed to avoid seeing her at all for a strong week and a half, after I saw her on The Ave. with Rico. The last thing I wanted, was for her to get the pleasure of seeing how miserable I was, or how the world seemed to play out in black & white instead of color without Tanya in my life to brighten it up, or how food literally taste like nothing now. Even baked macaroni & cheese, my fave. Ahhh yes! I grew to know this feeling very well throughout my life. My old nemesis “heartbreak.” Tanya was my first bout with heartbreak. I had no idea if it would ever end, or if the rest of my life would be this miserable. My breakup with Tanya taught me something else that I would carry with me throughout my life. The best way to get over one chick is to get another one!

Sheeit! I wish it was that easy for me. It has never really been that easy for me. If this was the 90’s, my solution to any “bitch related” problem would be money. No matter what you did or didn’t do, in the 1990’s, I discovered that money was the answer to all of life’s problems……..at least, this was true where I was from. But, this wasn’t the 1990’s yet. This was 1984, about to go into 85′. If there was one thing that I knew absolutely nothing about, it was bitches! How to get em’, and how to keep em’! 12-year old me had zero confidence in myself. Girls always called me handsome, that wasn’t the problem at all. Chicks have been saying I look like Eddie Murphy ever since “Delirious” came out in 83′. I was straight in the looks department. The smooth-talking shit was a whole other thing. I had a slight stutter back then. It only happened when I was nervous. And guess when it was that I usually got most nervous? Yup, whenever I was in the presence of the female species. I honestly never got nervous around Tanya though. During our “Summer Of Love”, I always felt like Tanya looked to me for the answer to everything. Or, she always followed wherever I led. Either way, my confidence was usually at an all-time high whenever Tanya was anywhere near me. She was perfect! And I took her for granted like a dummy! I’ll probably never find another……

“Excuse me. Is this seat taken?”

I was completely caught off-guard. I forgot I was on the trolley, on the way to my very first day at my new school John Wanamaker. I was so deep in thought that I’d forgotten I sat my bookbag in the empty seat next to me on the #23 trolley. The last thing I wanted, was someone with funky ass morning-breath sitting next to me and trying to talk to me, at 7:30 in the goddamn morning! Hearing a voice had startled me like a muthafucka, but I think I managed to at least look like I had regained my composure by the time I opened up my mouth to respond.

“Naw. Ain’t nobody sitting here. My bad. Let me move this stuff out of your way.”

I said as I reached for my bag.

“Thank you.”

The girl gave me a very welcoming smile before she sat down next to me. This chick was gorgeous! I mean drop-dead kind of gorgeous. And the best part was that she was the complete oppositie of Tanya’s weird ass. Oh, yeah, I almos forgot…Tanya was also going to be attending John Wanamaker Junior High School this school year too. That was why I was so deep in thought. I had only seen Tanya three times since we broke up in August. It hurt my heart every single time I saw her too. She seemed to be so happy without me in her life. How? Why wasn’t she walking around here sad like me? Anyway, my thoughts were about my concern that me and Tanya might have a class or two together. Da’ fuck was I going to do then? How was I supposed to resist staring at her for an entire class period? All that shit was pushed to the back of my mind when I snuck a peek at the girl sitting next to me on the trolley. I don’t think I had ever been more stricken with a bad case of “love at first sight” in my life!

“You on your way t.. to school?”

I managed to get out of my mouth, even though it was getting more and more difficult not to throw up all over this girl, out of pure nervousness! I wanted to punch myself in the face! I couldn’t believe I asked her that dumb shit! Of course she was on her way to school stupid! Well, I guess my awkward ass fucked this up!

“Yup.”

She gave me a one word response as she pulled a book out of her bag and cracked it open. I nodded politely. I fucked it up, but at least she hadn’t cussed me out or teased me about my stuttering condition. I call this a draw! I’ve always been good with a tie. Some people hate ties, but for me, a tie is as good as a win. If it’s one thing I’ve always hated with a passion, it was being told no, or being flat out rejected. Honestly, that was one of my biggest fears as a teen. Being rejected by a girl in front of a huge crowd of people. That would be the most embarrassing thing that could ever happen to me. I hated attention. I also hated people in my business.

“I’m graduating this year. I ain’t got no time for games.”

I was staring out the window, feeling sorry for myself when shorty said that. I slowly turned my head. What I feared was actually happening. She was talking to me! Well, I didn’t exactly fear it, but this was one of those situations I hated. The type of jawns when you have no idea what to say. I was aware that she could’ve easily left the convo at “yup”, but she didn’t! Shorty was definitely on my dick!

“W-What school you go to?”

That was the first and last time I was ever nervous or uncomfortable in Le-Le’s presence. That was her name. Taliyah “Le-Le” Alexander. A name that would live in infamy in my life. Whatever the fuck that meant! Anyway, this Le-Le chick was gorgeous. Clearly out of my league. Yet, here I am. Honestly, that was probably the last time in my life I ever thought there was a female out here I couldn’t get. I have had many loves in my life, BUT Taliyah is the girl that introduced me to adulthood…….or what I thought adulthood was at 12/13-years old. For that reason (and many others) Le-Le will always hold a very special place in my heart. I say this because me and Le-Le shared something special. I didn’t know it at the time. Hell, Le-Le just admitted this shit to me a few months ago! We are both currently 42- years old. This special, life-changing thing Le-Le and I shared happened when we were 13-years old!

Me and Le-Le ended up having a conversation that surprisingly wasn’t all that painful at all on the trolley that morning. Guess where she got off the trolley at? The same place I did. She went to John Wanamaker too! She was an 8th grader though. My first tryst with an older woman!

    *****

Here’s some shit that’s going to confuse the fuck out of you, if you’re currently in your 20’s and from Philadelphia. Back in 1984-85, elementary school went from grades 1-6. There was no such thing as “middle school.” Junior High school was grades 7-9, but for some people it was 7-10. Shit was really weird back then, but my point is that, John Wanamaker went up to the 9th grade….at least it did for Le-Le. That meant she was 14, or about to turn 14, and I had just turned 13, two months ago on July 12th. We were only one year apart in age, but just listening to her talk, I could tell we were light years apart, as far as maturity and life experiences were concerned. Feel me?

Le-Le and I ended up getting off the trolley, and walking to the building together. We talked the entire time. She was mostly telling me the ins and outs of my new school, that I would be attending for the next two or three years. It really didn’t matter what we talked about to me, because this beautiful girl was walking with and talking to ME. Now that I was a little comfortable around Le-Le… after knowing her for all of 10 – 15 minutes, I was just waiting for the right moment to “cut into her”. (A.K.A) get my rap game on. I may have waited too long, because Le-Le disappeared into a sea of students right after she escorted me to my advisory class. I don’t know if kids still have this, but advisory was like a 15 or 20 minute class before you go to 1st period. You ain’t do shit in there. They just took roll-call. I never understood the purpose of that class. But anyway, I walked into my advisory class after Le- Le disappeared. My mind quickly shifted away from thoughts of Le-Le. I was excited about starting my new school, hopefully meeting some new people, and most importantly, coming a few steps closer to being done with this “12-Years A Slave” of school shit! My excitement was stolen from me immediately after I took three steps into the classroom full of my loud-talking peers, and looked over to my left. That heartbreaking ass hoe, Tanya was sitting right there! With her nut-ass, heartbreaking ass, holding hands on the Ave. with Rico. Ass. Whore! Fuck Tanya!

Sorry about that. Reminiscing got me a little emotional for a second. I guess I’m not completely over Tanya….even, 25 + years later! Anyway, “That Hoe Over There”, also known as Tanya, was in my advisory period. I was more than certain it was going to be a long ass school year, before it even got started….and I was right!

First off, Tanya and Rico were clearly still going strong. Rico didn’t go to Wanamaker, but he didn’t need to go here for everyone to see that Tanya was his girl. Tanya had Rico’s name one her nails, gold chain, hoop earrings, and she was wearing a shirt with a picture of them hugging. If you couldn’t see that she had a dude, and his name was Rico, it was because you didn’t want to see it. But, in case you did happen to miss all of the signs, Tanya was quick to tell anyone willing to listen, about how great her man treated her, how much he loved her, and blah blah blah. I tried to act like I didn’t see Tanya as she sat in the front of the classroom talking and laughing with her homegirls. As I sat there hating everything about Tanya, I couldn’t stop thinking about how good she looked. The worst part about it was that she had seemed to mature over the summer. She seemed older than me somehow, even though I knew we were the same age. It probably had something to do with Tanya seeming to have grown everything, and I do mean every damn thing, over fuckin’-nite! Tanya lived TWO houses away from mine. Yes, I had been purposely avoiding her ever since we broke up, but, it wasn’t like the last time I’d seen her was 20 – something damn years ago! It was more like 20-days ago! How in Fuck’s name had Tanya transformed from an ironing board to a Coke bottle, in 20-fuckin’ days!!?? Sis was super-bad now……. and I was super-pissed the fuck off!

Ms. Harris interrupted my little bout with my emotions when she stood up and introduced herself to the class, and welcomed us to our new school.

“Hello 7th graders and welcome to John Wanamaker Jr. High School. I’m Ms. Harris, your advisory period teacher. Since this will be your first time ever escorting yourselves to class, we will be issuing each of you a personal escort, of sorts. Your escort will be assigned to show you where all of your classes are at. Your escort is for today only! You’re on your own after that.”

Ms. Harris took a seat at her desk after she finished talking. An upper-classmen appeared at our classroom door moments later. Then upperclassmen seemed to start coming out of the woodworks. It looked like there were millions of them suddenly standing in our little classroom. Then she appeared out of the middle of the crowd. My baby from the trolley! Her face lit up the room like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. We were being assigned a personal chaperone for the day. My heart almost jumped out of my chest. What if she was assigned to escort me? My joy was quicky turning into panic as I listened to the teachers assigning an escort to all of us newbies. I heard my name called. Then I heard the name of my escort for the day. Taliya Greene. A name that would live in, I believe “INFAMY” is the word I’m looking for? (In my heart forever!) As great as meeting Le-Le was at the time, meeting her was something I kind of lived to regret. Me and Le-Le were “toxic” for each other way before that word was even thought of being used to describe an “unstable” relationship.

After they finished the pairings, we were finally set to meet our chaperones. They were all wearing name tags, so it wasn’t too hard to find the person you were paired with. I walked up to Le-Le and extended my hand for a shake as I attempted to introduce myself to my beautiful escort for the day.

“Hi, I’m Raymond, but everybody calls me Ray.”

I attempted to approach this older woman as maturely as I knew how. Le-Le smiled at me before grabbing me and pulling me in close to her, for a friendly hug.

“You forgot who I was already? Wow, you must have a lot of girlfriends.”

Le-Le gave me a devilish looking grin as she spoke. To say I was completely dumbfounded by the things that were coming out of her mouth, would’ve been an understatement. Why was she asking me if I had a girlfriend? Did she like me too? Hell, I didn’t even know the girl’s damn name!

“Naw. I ain’t forget.”

I said with an uncomfortable laugh. Le-Le stared at me with that devilish-grin shit again, as she smiled before she opened her mouth.

“What’s my name?”

Le-Le folded her arms and stared directly into my eyes as she awaited my answer. She wasn’t smiling. She wasn’t exactly frowning either. I just stood there with my mouth open and not saying anything. Le-Le bust out laughing and slapped my arm.

“I’m just playing. I’m Taliah. So you ready to be escorted, fresh-fish?”

“Fresh fish?”

I raised a curious eyebrow as I inquired.

“Yeah. People who are new to the school we call fresh-fish. We usually stuff them in the lockers on the first day of school.”

Le-Le smiled at me before she grabbed my hand and led me down the hall. This was 100% the weirdest conversation I’d ever had in my young life, but this would end up being far from the weirdest conversation me and Le-Le would ever have with one another in our lives!


You ever had one of those times where things just seem to keep going your way for some strange reason? I say “times” because I’m talking about more than one, or a few days. After being paired with Le-Le on my first day of school, things changed for me….for the better! That was good right? Wait. It gets better! As good as things were going for me during this little stretch, things were going equally horrible for Tanya at the very same time! It was like my prayers had been answered, and all of my dreams were coming true! I was 12. The world is really small to a 12-year old. What the hell else did you think I was dreaming about?

Me and Le-Le hit it off right away. We even ate lunch together that day. Le-Le showed me around the place on the day she was assigned to, but Le-Le stayed around for some extra credit as she taught me the ropes around the place….every single day. After a few days, me and Le-Le were almost inseparable at school. I don’t think I was completely in the “friend zone” at the time, but I knew that was where I was headed. That shit was as clear as day. Le-Le treated me more like a little brother, or admirer than anything else. That fucking sucked because I had no idea how to change things without possibly chasing her away. To Tanya, seeing me and Le-Le together every day for a few weeks straight probably looked like love. Tanya was heated! Her and Rico had broken up three days after school started. Rico snatched him up a little Puerto-Rican jawn at his school. He was around the way with her all the time. Just walking around holding hands and shit. Just like he used to do with Tanya’s nut-ass….before he broke her heart (lol). Sorry, that was childish of me. But, anyway, Tanya clearly forgot not to sign a pre-nup before her and Rico officially became a couple. Rico took all of his shit back. Without all that gold and shit, Tanya was regular-degular like a muthafucka’. There was something else I learned about Tanya too. She was jealous! Tanya was jealous of me and Le-Le, and me and Le-Le weren’t even a couple! Like i said before, life was looking great for 12-year old me around this time!

Thursday October 17, 1985, was the very beginning of what eventually became “the end of the line” for me. Thursday started off as a normal ass day. By this time, Le-Le and I were catching the trolley to school together every morning. Le-Le was from up 12th & Huntingdon. They used to call this area Iraq or Baghdad back in the day. I can’t remember which one they called 12th & Huntingdon, but I do know they did not lie. My hood was fucked up, but 12th & H looked like a third world country for real. And the body-count was way beyond “counting” on that side of the tracks. Feel me? But all of that wasn’t enough to keep me away from Baghdad/Iraq. Le-Le lived around there, I had to approach the danger. You know? Da’ fuck was I supposed to tell her when she asked me to come to her house before school so we could walk to the trolley stop together? And what about after school? Le-Le always asked me to escort her home, because dudes tried to holla’ at Le-Le all day. Every day! She hated that shit. So…..since we’re talking 1985, Le-Le did what most people today do when they don’t want to be bothered by other people. Act like they’re talking to someone on the phone. I was Le-Le’s cell phone. Every time a guy even attempted to approach her, she would grab on my arm for dear life, and pretend that I was the funniest, and most interesting person on the planet. That shit usually worked for her too. Dudes did try to get out of line, and holla’ at Le-Le while I was with her sometimes, but a few dirty looks usually chased the “thirst buckets” away. But, one morning as Le-Le and I stepped off the trolley, this older dude, who likely went to William Penn High School, was pressing Le-Le something serious for her phone number. Even while I stood there with Le-Le’s arm entangled with mine. This joker was beyond disrespectful, as he approached me and Le-Le…completely ignoring my presence the entire time.

“What’s up shorty? Can I holla’ at you for a minute?”

“No, thank you. I’m fine.”

Le-Le said to the guy with a smile. I could feel her gripping my arm tighter. She was beginning to dig her nails into my skin. It was like she was having an anxiety attack or some shit. But, why? I was pretty sure that Le-Le had to be used to being hit on everywhere she went by now. Bul pressed on, even after being rejected at the rim on the first dunk attempt.

“Oh, it’s like that?”

Bul put his hands up and looked toward the sky as he spoke. Just as quickly as he’d done this weird shit, his hands quickly came down from the sky and landed smack dab on Le-Le’s ass! Nut ass bul was standing there laughing his ass off! Still completely oblivious to my presence. That was the part that was bothering me the most. Dude was acting like I wasn’t even here. If he didn’t think I was her boyfriend, how did he know I wasn’t her brother or cousin? And this nigga still smacked her ass like he was in a fuckin’ strip club?! This wasn’t about Le-Le anymore, at least… not as far as I could see. This dickhead clearly saw no threat in my dumb ass standing here locking arms with Le-Le! She looked horrified after dude smacked her ass too. That had me hot, but this weird-ass nigga disrespecting me?…. HAD ME SEEING RED!! I slowly untangled my arms from Le-Le’s and prepared to steal-off on this dickhead while he was preoccupied with admiring his own wittiness. As I stepped in closer for my sneak shot, someone ran right into me. Next thing I knew, I was standing there locking lips with Tanya! What the fuck had just happened?

CHAPTER-2
THIS TOWN AIN’T BIG ENOUGH FOR BOTH OF US!

The shit that Tanya pulled on the morning of October 17th, 1985, was the first battle in a long, long, war that I’ve since named “The Battle Of The Bitches.” Mind you, this was just the first shot fired in a very long war. This war has been active since ’85, and believe it or not, the war is just as active today! By the way, today is July 17th, 2021. Real shit! This long war had many, many participants throughout the years, but…this….this shit right here……this is where everything began!

Time seemed to stop when Tanya laid that kiss on my lips. It felt like the entire world had stopped and every single person in the world were watching me and Tanya kiss. My very first, by the way. Tanya stepped back and folded her arms after she kissed me, like I was the most important person in the world. She just looked at me. The look on her face was saying that it was my move. Choose….Right now…Her or Le-Le?

I chose Tanya, without hesitation. I think Le-Le was lowkey hurt. This incident officially goes down as the very first time I fucked Le-Le over. There will be many, many, many more times in this little story that you will read about me fucking Le-Le over for another chick. Don’t look at me like that! The title of the book is “Bitches, Right?”, I never said I was a good person, I simply said…Bitches, right? Anyway, I want you to try to keep track of how many times I fuck Le-Le over in this story. Maybe it will help you understand why Le-Le did what she did to me, years and years later. But, for right now….let’s get back to me and Tanya. We had some serious shit to discuss. The problem was that Tanya was my queen. I had this chick on a pedestal that was so high in the sky, that J.C (Jesus Christ) himself couldn’t reach that muthafucka’! You feel me? Tanya was my everything! I was terrified to even think about losing her again. The very last thing I wanted was an argument, that could easily lead to a break-up. I had to say something though, this shit was getting ridiculous. I lost, what was at least looking like it was going to be a good friendship. And for what? It didn’t even feel like Tanya liked me, let alone anything else. Lately, Tanya had been spending most of her time bragging to anyone who was willing to listen to her….again! What was her big ass mouth self bragging about this time? Taking me from an upperclassmen named Le-Le. She did this around the way, at school, and anywhere else she thought someone who MIGHT know Le-Le hung out at. Tanya seemed to really have it in for Le-Le. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why though. Tanya broke up with me, remember? She was the one who wanted to “gallavant” around Germantown Avenue with the weird ass bul Rico. Yeah, he was getting money, but that didn’t mean he was not a fuckin’ weirdo. A lot of weirdos were getting major money in the 80’s. A lot of weirdos are getting major money in 2021. That’s just life sometimes. Not every nigga with a fat pocket is a “Thoroughbread.” Facts….


So, it was me and my baby Tanya again. Just like old times…or so I thought. Tanya had changed. That kiss in front of Le-Le was the most action I got from Tanya in the 3 months we’d been together after the day of “the kiss.” Not saying I really wanted, or would know what to do with more “action.” I’m just saying, Tanya barely spoke to me since the day she stole me (not really though) from Le-Le. What the fuck was this shit about? I was beginning to feel some type of way, because it didn’t feel like getting back with me was Tanya’s goal..or main goal. What was really bothering me though, was that I still saw Le-Le at school every single day. She wouldn’t even look at me. I left Le-Le standing there with a fucking Dire Wolf ,that was huffing, and puffing, and trying to blow Le-Le’s house down like a muthafucka’, last time I checked! And my pussy-whipped, without even getting within a mile of the pussy, ass, left Le-Le and walked away with Tanya. Some real nut-ass shit. That dude was named Reggie. Everybody called him Reds though, because he was a light-skinned bul, with freckles and a small afro. His hair was not red. So, Reggie’s nickname always bothered me, because IT MADE NO FUCKIN’ SENSE! Why the fuck was this nigga’s name Reds? Anyway, I know they call Reggie, Reds, and that he’s from Richard Allen Projects, because, the moment I left, that Dire Wolf was able to move in on his prey. He got her too! Yup, my baby Le-Le was in love with some weird-ass nigga from Richard Allen Projects. That was where she spent most of her time at too….when she wasn’t in school.

Bul Reds was one of those real asshole type of dudes. I have no idea what Le-Le saw in this guy. He was a piece of shit. He didn’t even attempt to hide it from Le-Le. And Reds was one of those dirty ass niggas too. Bul, like 17-years old and wasn’t getting no money. None! What kind of 17-year old wasn’t working, out there selling something, or doing something to get some money? I’ll tell you who…”Dirty ass Reds!” This old nigga ain’t do nothing but fight. All day all night, in every section of the city. And this dirty nigga had the nerve to be dragging my baby Le-Le around the city with his dusty ass! Nigga even had Le-Le out here fighting bitches with/for him. Reds was a rumbling muthafucka’ though. His name was one that was definitely known in every hood. That, “good in any hood” shit 100% applied to Reds back in the day, I will give him that much, but that good rumbling shit didn’t change one thing. Reds was still a dirty ass nigga! He just knew how to fight pretty well. But, that shit didn’t make him qualified to be anywhere near a queen like Le-Le. Why was she with this weird nigga? I found myself spending more time worrying about what Le-Le was doing in her relationship with Reds, than I did trying to fix the issues that I was having in my own relationship. I don’t know, kind of know, but I do have a strong feeling that Tanya is cheating on me. I don’t know how true this is, but somebody once told me that a “cabron” was a man that knew his wife was cheating on him and was not exactly cool with it…….but, just too pussy to do or say anything about it. In short, I was told a “cabron” was a man who allowed his wife to cheat on him. I was a cabron. Tanya’s bitch ass had turned me into a fuckin’ cabron! I hate this bitch! I kept “that same energy” as I walked to Tanya’s aunt’s house on 8th & Huntuingdon Streets. I was going to give her a piece of my mind tonight! Fuck all that “pedastal” bullshit, I was going to read that hoe the riot act tonight! I decided to take the long way to Tanya’s auntie’s crib. I wasn’t scared (just a little) or anything, I took the long way so I could hopefully get what I had to say to her, in some type of order. So I walked up 9th Street and turned left on Huntingdon Street. As I walked down Huntingdon, heading toward 8th Street, and my destination, I bumped into “Ice.” I knew Ice from school mostly, even though he lived right around my way. He lived on Le-Le’s aunt’s block. You know one of those people that goes to your school, that you know from around the way? You’re not really cool with them, but if they got into some shit at school with another neighborhood, or was getting jumped or some shit, you MIGHT jump in and help…..depending on how you felt that day. Well, that was about the extent of me and Ice’s “friendship?” That shit went both ways too. There was no guarantee that Ice would help ne if I was getting my ass whipped at school either. Ice was a cool ass dude though. He was one of those dudes who was always looking for a way to make money. Plus Ice knew a lot of people. All of the ol’ heads around the way fucked with Ice. This dude was getting into bars and drinking since he was like 12-years old. Seriously. The adults in the bar acted like Ice was a grown ass man. Nobody ever said shit to the 12-year old sitting in the bar at 1pm on a Tuesday afternoon, enjoying a double shot of Henny. That always struck me as weird. But, anyway, Ice shook my hand as usual as I approached him, but something strange happened. This nigga was attempting to say something more to me than “what’s up fam.” This was unusual activity to me. Unusual activity always made me suspicious for some reason. So, I was on guard as Ice opened his mouth to talk

“Aye Ray, what you doing right now?”

I knew it. This dude had never said anything to me other than “what’s up fam.” I always knew if the day came that he would ever say something more than that to me, would be the day he asked me some weird ass shit! And I was right.

“Nothing. Why what’s up?”

“You want to make some money right quick?”

Sheiit! That was the magic word if you were trying to get me to do anything! Cussing Tanya out and breaking up with her was going to have to wait until another time! There was money to make right now!

“Doing what?”


Ice never told me what I had to do to make “some money”, he just said “follow me.” I followed Ice to the other side of Lehigh Avenue. We turned on Darien Street and walked to the middle of the block. Ice finally turned to me.

“Alright Ray, all you gotta do is go up there and stand on the corner. If you see the cops coming, yell out “Agua.”

I nodded that I understood. It seemed easy enough. Stand on the corner. Look for the cops. When I see them yell agua. It was that simple, but nothing was ever that simple to my overthinking ass.

“What does agua mean?”

I knew what it meant, but I was pretty sure that Ice didn’t. I lived next door to a cool ass Puerto-Rican family that had wild ass parties every weekend. There was always a fight before the parties ended sometime around 5am. They were always next door yelling about this or that. If you know anything about Philadelphia’s Housing Authority rowhomes, you know the walls might as well be made of writing paper. I could always hear every single word that was being said next door loud and clear, without even trying all that hard.. Anyway, there were a few spanish words that I heard every weekend, and I knew them very well. The first one was “agua”. Somebody was usually saying something about bring some agua out of the house. This usually happened right after somebody got knocked the fuck out. I watched them bring buckets of “Agua” out of the house, and splash the person with it, or pour it on the drunk person who’d just got KO’d. The next word I definitely knew in Spanish was “pistola.” That word was usually used shortly after the person who’d just got KO’d finally woke up from his knuckle-sandwich nap. You usually heard the word pistola right before you heard the sounds of screams, and a loud ass commotion as 8,000 people all tried to quickly exit a 3-story row home at the same time….

Ice shook his head in disbelief as he looked at me incredulously.

“Agua means the police are coming. You understand?”

I don’t give a fuck what Ice says, “Agua” meant water! I wasn’t here to argue about that though. I was here to make some money! I nodded my head in agreement before I hiked it up to the top of the block to take my post as “lookout.” I knew that Ice was doing something illegal down there in the middle of the block. From where I was standing, I could even see people walking up to him and handing him money, right before he passed them something that I could not make out from where I was standing at my post. My parents would kill my dumb ass if they found out I was doing something illegal. I watched them lose their shit on my older brother because he played hookie from high school for a whole week. Pop’s kicked Mark out the crib for that shit. My people’s were strict like that. Don’t know why….sometimes it just is what it is, you know? My brother Mark got lucky though. He had a 21-year old girlfriend who was in love with him. He moved right in with her after pops kicked him out. Pops was pissed. He was expecting Mark to beg to stay, but he didn’t. From what I could see, Mark was doing pretty well. Still didn’t go to school, but every time he saw me, he gave me some money. Usually like $25 or something. Sounds like a little bit, but I grew up with my brother. I know that cheap ass joker like I know the back of my hand! If Mark gave me $25, Mark had money. I know this because Mark is the cheapest, and usually brokest person on the planet. If he had any money. And I do mean ANY! If my brother had any money at all, he would definitely spend every penny of it on himself. This was just Mark’s nature. Anyway, him and his girl lived on Germantown Avenue. Right between Lehigh and Somerset. Mark and Courtney lived in a two-bedroom apartment right on top of “Formation” sneaker store. 12-year old me thought this was the dopest shit I’d ever seen. Living right above a sneaker store seemed really cool to me. I don’t know why, but it did. Anyway, my point was that if my peoples knew that I was even halfway involved in some illegal shit, it ain’t no telling what they would do to me. My dumb ass might end up being exiled to Siberia or some shit!

After about an hour, Ice came walking to the top of the block. He handed me $50 and smiled.

“Shit was poppin today fam! I did 20 bundles in a fuckin’ hour!”

I had no idea what Ice was talking about. Didn’t really care at the moment either. I couldn’t stop staring at the two twenty dollar bills and one ten dollar bill in my hand. I had just made $50 in an hour for basically doing nothing! I had not seen one cop coming my way in the hour I was on the corner. I yelled “agua” a grand total of zero times during my time on post! This shit wasn’t even dangerous or anything. Just easy fuckin’ money! I was hooked, even though I had not one clue what was going on.

“So we leaving? I want to make some more money!”

Ice laughed, but I could see the enthusiasm in his eyes, as he took notice of my extreme interest in this shit.

“$50 ain’t shit! If you want to make some real money, you should do what I do! I just made $500. Selling bundles is where the real money is! Hell, I can even get you put on my shift. We can work together right after school if you want.”

Once again, I had no idea what Ice was talking about…….but, he’d said the magic word once again. There was no way in hell I was turning down the opportunity to make five hundred damn dollars!

January 22nd, 1986 was the first time I ever saw crack cocaine. I remember that shit like it was yesterday. I know for a fact it was a Wednesday, because I had gym class on that day. Gym was the only class me and Ice had together. January 22nd was two days after I made my debut as a lookout for Ice. He came to me in gym class, and told me “today after school was going to be my first day of REAL work.” No more lookout duties. I was getting a promotion to the big money. Selling crack cocaine.

Some weird ass old head and his friend, picked me and Ice up after school. Dude was driving a brown Caddy with some gold spoke rims on it. Shit was tight! The Caddy was only about three years old too. Real nice joint to be rolling around town in 1986. Me and Ice sat in the back of the car. Shortly after we pulled off, the dude in the passenger side turned around and started talking.

“What’s up youngins’?”

I just nodded my head and listened. Ice started talking some dick-eating ass shit about his sister. I was only halfway paying attention to be honest. After their little chat about Ice’s sister, he handed Ice a big ass sandwich bag.

“Same thing as before. I put a couple joints in there for your homie too. Hit my jawn if you run out.”

Ice nodded enthusiastically before he started dick-eating again. I’d never heard Ice talk this much in my life. I don’t know if this was normal for him, or if he was nervous or something, but his behavior definitely seemed a little unusual….at least, unusual to me. But, like I said earlier, I’d never spent any real time around Ice before. It had always just been a “hi” and “bye” thing, you know? The ol’ head that was driving spun the block a few more times, and we found ourselves right back at the place we were picked up at. Right in front of John Wanamaker Junior High School. Me and Ice got out, and began our lengthy hike to our neighborhood. I had a few questions for Ice, but I thought that he would think my questions were dumb. So, I kept my mouth shut as we walked in silence for awhile. Ice finally opened his mouth when we reached the food trucks on Temple University’s campus.

“Wanna grab something to eat right quick?”

I did. We headed toward the pizza truck to get a few slices. After we got our food, we took a seat at one of the outside tables. I was starving! I ain’t have shit to eat since earlier this morning. I shot dice in the bathroom during my lunch period. I lost most of that $50 I made the other night too. I was excited to be headed to work today. I was in need of some damn money! Ice began to get chatty again, just like he’d been in the car.

“Aye Ray! I’m telling you, we are about to make so much money you ain’t gonna know what the fuck to do with it!”

Sounded good to me. But, me and Ice had walked from Wanamaker to Temple’s food trucks, and he hadn’t said not one word about anything. That was at least a two block walk. Where was all this excitement at back then? That nigga had been as quiet as a church mouse on the walk to the pizza truck. I nodded, and listened as Ice continued.

“There are rules to this shit though fam! This is some serious shit you’re about to step into. People die sometimes!”

That was the first time I’d ever thought about death, and it scared the absolute fuck out of me! Which was likely the reason Ice had said that shit in the first place. I tried to play it cool, but I know my face showed straight fear.

“Oh yeah?”

Ice picked up on the fear in my eyes right away, and upped his sales pitch.

“The only way you stay alive in this game is loyalty! All you gotta do is stay loyal in this game and you’ll be good!”

I listened and tried not to give anything away with my facial expression. Ice was full of shit. My pops talked his ass off about this and that. Always giving out some bullshit advice and life lessons. I barely ever listened when being chastised by him, but there was one thing he said that always stuck with me. “Never trust anyone who talks that loyalty shit. It’s nothing more than a word used to have you be someone’s fool. People will use the word “loyalty” to get you to do what they want you to do.” I honestly don’t think Ice is someone I can trust. I was still going to make some money though, but I was definitely going to be keeping both eyes open around Ice from this moment on!

I played a little ball at Hartranft basketball courts, around the way before I walked over to Darien Street, to begin my first official day as a drug dealer. I Still had no idea what I was selling, but you know……money. My homies from around the way weren’t used to being separated from me for any substantial amount of time. This thing that I was doing….going somewhere without them. This was very unusual behavior. The homies went everywhere with me, usually. This was different. I was 12-years old, about to be 13. Yeah, I was young, but I was technically the ol’ head of my little 5-man crew. And every last one of them would follow me to hell and back if I asked them to. There was no way that I, in good conscious, could walk them into some shit that I didn’t even know what the fuck it was yet. You know? Out of all of the homies “Jay-B” was angriest, and usually the only person who was able to change my mind about some shit. Jay-B waited until everyone was preoccupied. He walked over to me as I was sitting down changing out of my ball clothes, and into my regular clothes.

“Yo, what’s up with you bouncing somewhere without us? You know we don’t do those.”

I nodded my head at Jay-B. Usually this was very true. We were a tight ass little crew with a shitload of enemies in the neighborhood. We only trusted, and fucked with US…Either a nigga was from York Street, or they were an enemy to us….or suspect, at the very least. Outsiders were not welcome on York Street. Let me say this, and be honest. I wasn’t thinking about anybody but myself at the time. That’s some straight-up honest shit…no lie. I had no plan for how to get some money into my squad’s pockets at this particular moment in time. I know it wasn’t my responsibility, but it seemed like it would be kind of fucked up for me to be the only one in the squad with money. If these were 4 people that I didn’t give a fuck about, there would be no reason to explain a damn thing to any one of them. But, this wasn’t that. We were all under 13-years old, but we’d already seen some shit in our young lives……together! You know?


My family moved from Virginia to Philly when I was about 5-years old. We stayed with family in Southwest Philly for about a year, before me, my brother, my mom, and dad moved to York Street in North Philly. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s there was a different kind of vibe in North Philly. People were downright neighborly! Those were the days when all of the other families welcomed a new family to the block with open arms. And it was all LOVE. My brother was the first to get “out there.” He became friends with the bul Gil who lived up the street. Gil was a few years older than my brother, but those two hit it off right away. My brother Mark introduced me to Gil, who turned around and introduced me to his nephew, Vic Damone Jr. Junior. Damone Jr. Junior was one year younger than me, he was a real cool ass dude though. Oh, one thing about Vic Damone Jr. Junior. If you called him Vic, Vic Damone, Vic Damone Jr., or anything other than Vic Damone Jr. Junior, you should be expecting to get sucker punched or some weird shit. This may have been some of the craziest shit you’ve ever heard, but dude really lost his shit when someone didn’t call him Jr. Junior. Vic was on some real “Weezy F. Baby…please say the baby!” kinda shit back then. Anyway, to make a long story short, Vic was never working with a full deck, even way back in the day! Then there was my nigga “R.D.R.R.” To be completely honest with you, I don’t have the kind of time to even attempt to try to explain to you how THAT shit became THIS niggaz name. Just know, it’s funny as fuck! But, since we’re short on time, let’s just call this weird nigga “Dawg” for now. Dawg ain’t live on York Street like the rest of us, but we adopted him as family after only two days of hanging with us. That dirty nigga turned out to be a real thurl-ass bul! The third member of our squad was easily the toughest member of the squad. Muthafucka’ knew Karate and all that shit. A “real mean hombre” type of person. You know? HER name was Apple, and she’s probably the only person in this world who made my heart try to hide, every time she came my way. Not because I liked her. Naw, it was the exact opposite! Apple was kind of a bully. She was technically older than me, but that shit didn’t really count. We’re only talking a few months here. I was the ol’ head of this squad! I don’t give a fuck what Apple says! Anyway, Apple had already whipped all of our asses at least three times apiece. Nobody even wanted to challenge her for supremacy. That was when she became kind of a bully. I was a 12-year old boy, who had always known a thing. Apple was a 12-year old girl, who had just learned about a thing very recently. GETTING KICKED IN THE BALLS FUCKIN’ HURTS LIKE HELL! I think Apple learned that by kicking her little brother in the nuts a few times. I don’t know. But, what I do know, is that when Apple learned that shit, us 4 boys in the squad became target practice for her. YOU HEARD???? Jay-B was the final member of our little squad. Apple and Vic are cousins. They lived right down the street from me. Their last name was Solomon. Like I said before…. Vic, Gil, Apple, and the rest of the Solomon family were the first people I met that weren’t family. You know? That’s a lifelong bond that’s forever unbreakable. Facts. That’s my relationship with the “Solomon’s.” Jay-B is the first person I met around the way who wasn’t a Solomon. Him and his brother “Pain.” There was a pretty good reason people called Jay-B’s older brother Pain. He was one of those good, always rumbling ass dudes. Pain was cool, but me and Jay-B really became friends quickly. Jay-B’s cousin Rafael stole my squad’s shopping cart/go kart. We had our joint hooked up too! Even added a sound system, rims, and a new paint job (Cardboard decorations). Anyway, Rafael stole our shit when me and Vic parked our joint in front of Vic’s house, and went inside for a snack. We came back outside and our ride was gone! Where the fuck was the po-po when you really needed them?! This was a fuckin’ emergency! In the middle of our panic, me and Vic spotted a mysterious figure coming our way. He was still too far away for us to quite make out the face, but we could see the person was headed in our direction, so we were on point. Like I said earlier…….we had a lot of enemies. One group of those enemies we were always on the lookout for, lived right around the corner from us. Pain, Jay-B, and their “loaf of bread head” cousin, Rafael. As the figure got closer, I could see who it was. The fact that the dude heading toward us had his index and middle fingers in his mouth like he was puffing on a cigar, was a dead giveaway. It was 100% Jay-B heading for us. One of the troublemakers from around the corner! But, why the fuck was he by himself? He had to know we were going to make a move on him if given an opportunity, and him coming around the corner alone was definitely one! I turned to Vic.

“Go get the sticks and baseball bats! Make sure you get Apple too!”

I was the ol’ head of the group, but Apple was our heart. We were kind of stagnant when she wasn’t available. I specifically asked for Apple because I believed a swift kick to the balls by Apple, might be enough to make Jay-B reconsider whatever the fuck kind of troublemaking shit he was coming around here for. No need to make this an all out war. One kick in the nuts was going to end this shit, quick , fast, and in a hurry! So, I was calling in in the “nut kicking specialist”, who just happened to be part of our team. Vic ran in the house. Him, Apple, and a bunch of our “weapons” appeared right around the time Jay-B was approaching me, and removing his “finger cigar” from his mouth so he could speak.

“I know where ya’ll cart at.”

I looked at Jay-B like he was crazy. This shit had to be a setup! He wanted us to follow him somewhere, where Pain and Rafael would surely be lying in wait to ambush our dumb asses!

“Why you telling us?”

I asked, full of suspicion. Jay-B just shrugged his shoulders, before he waved his hand, telling us to follow him. We cautiously followed him around the corner to this big ass abandoned building. He turned around and looked at us as he reached for the doorknob.

“It’s right in here.”

Really? We’re just supposed to walk right into this trap like three assholes? Before I could open my mouth to say anything, Apple and Vic were already following Jay-B into the abandoned building. I took five steps into the building before I saw it. Our cart! Of course Pain and Rafael had already stripped our joint, but we didn’t care. We could find more cardboard somewhere. Trying to find another shopping cart in this good ass condition, would’ve been a whole other thing! We later found out that Pain and Rafael had jumped Jay-B earlier in the day, and kicked him out of their gang, over some girl or some shit. But, this was Jay-B’s revenge against his brother and cousin. After we got our cart back, Jay-B rolled with us that day, and every day after that. Me and Jay-B got really tight because he was all about trying to make a dollar…. just like me. While everybody else was out doing some other shit, me and Jay-B were always trying to make some money. It got to a point that if you saw Jay-B, you knew I was there or on my way, and vice-versa. Me and Jay-B are brothers. Me and Mark are brothers. Jay-B and Mark are equally my brothers. You understand?


It was a lot harder for me to lie to Jay-B, than it was to lie to the others. Jay-B knew everything about me. That’s how I know for a fact, he knew I was lying when I said I was going to go see this girl I just met. He ain’t say it, but I know he knew. I planned on telling everybody about it later. I just wanted to make sure I dipped my feet into the water first, before I let them dive in. I began to think about all of the people I was going to take care of when I started getting money. First and foremost, my baby Tanya! Who the fuck was I kidding? I loved her. Always did, and always will. These were the thoughts racing through my head as I made my way to Darien Street. Ice was sitting on a crate waiting for me as soon as I turned the corner. He gave me a quick run-down as he handed me a large sandwich bag containing, what looked like to me at the time, some pills with a clear bottom and filled with some off-white substa…. Man, I don’t fucking know what I thought it looked like! It was a long time ago. But, I did know my dumb ass better not get locked up with this shit! I knew that much about crack.

“This is a $250 pack. Each one of these vials sell for $5. There’s 50 vials in this bag, that makes $250. Got it?”

Ice said as he barked out instructions and numbers like he was one of our teachers at school. I nodded my head in the affirmative as he spoke, even though I didn’t really get it. I still had a few questions, but I understood enough of what Ice said to get by. Plus, counting has always been one of my favorite things to do. I was about to head across the street where Ice told me to stand at, then Ice suddenly remembered he forgot to tell me one last thing.

“When you finish that, bring me $235. You get to keep $15.”

I nodded that I understood once again before I headed over to my post. I didn’t know much about anything, but getting paid $15 for selling $250 worth of whatever was in this bag, didn’t seem all that fair to me. But, you know the old saying, “beggars can’t be choosers.” And I damn sure fell into the beggars category! The moment I stood where Ice told me to stand at, people started walking up to me saying “give me four”, or “give me ten”, or “give me twenty” or some shit like that. People rarely purchased a single vial or two. I finished what was in the bag in under 15 minutes. I ran across the street to where Ice had been sitting, watching my back. I handed him the money, and he handed me another big bag.

I was on the block for about three and a half hours that day. The high-volume traffic never slowed. I never got a lunch break either! I was going to have to inquire about that shit! Maybe later. But, anyway, that shit was poppin’ like Papa Smurf out that bitch the whole time I was out there! Even though I was only making $15 for every $250 worth of product I sold, I had still managed to make almost $350 for myself! I couldn’t stop touching the money in my pockets as I walked home that night. I had more money in my pocket right now, than I’d ever seen in my life!


I woke up bright and early the next morning, with my baby Tanya on my mind! No matter what we’d been through, or were currently going through, I loved her with all my heart. I never knew how to say that to her, or show her that I loved her. But, money had never been an option of mine either. I’d never had any! But I did now! And I was going on the Avenue to buy my baby Tanya something nice to show her how much I loved her! I know, I know! I just got finish talking mad shit about her. But that’s the type of shit that happens more often than you would believe, when you love someone as much as I loved Tanya.

I was all smiles as I made my way to Germantown Avenue, and my first stop. “Scam’s” Jewelry store. I know the name sounds suspect, but I remember coming here with my dad a few months ago. He said Scam’s jewelry store, which was actually owned by a dude everyone called “Scam” by the way, always had the best prices in town. So, that’s where I took the small fortune I made last night. After I was buzzed into the little store, I headed straight toward the glass display that housed women’s earrings. Excuse me. GOLD women’s earrings! Only the best for my baby Tanya! I really took my time as I looked over the selection in front of me. I needed something special! Tanya had already been introduced to gold back when she was messing with Rico’s nut-ass. I knew I couldn’t compete with his money, but I still wanted to get her something she’d never seen, or had before. As I closely scanned the inventory with my eyes, one particular pair caught my attention. I hate to judge women’s things, but these earrings clearly outclassed the rest. At least, in my humble opinion. They were beautiful, but….childish, of course. I brought Tanya these big ass Minnie and Mickey Mouse gold earrings. I got our names inscribed in the middle “TANYA & RAY”. I ain’t gonna front, shits was tight! Those shits cost my weird ass $235 damn dollars too! They told me it was a great price, but that shit didn’t make me feel any better. Was Tanya really worth more than half of my total net-worth? You bet your black ass she was! Tanya was my baby!! Period!!!

I proudly walked back to York Street with my beautifully decorated box containing the huge earrings I just brought for Tanya. I had the box in my pocket and out of sight as I approached Tanya’s front door and knocked three times. Tanya appeared in her scarf, wearing a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt, and a pair of furry flip-flops, a few moments after I knocked. She smiled when she saw me standing there, which was surprising. But her smile turned to a playful frown as she opened the screen door to talk to me.

“Get out of here! You’re not supposed to be seeing me like this! I’m a mess!”

She laughed as she tried to close the screen door back. I beat her to the punch though, when I grabbed hold of the door tightly so she couldn’t shut it.

“I’m a leave. But I’m a take what I brought for you with me!”

I said playfully. Tanya quickly pushed the door open and almost made me fall down the steps. Before I knew what was happening, she had her arms around my neck and was kissing me on the cheek.

“What is it?! Whatt is it!? What is it!?”

She excitedly asked in-between pecking me on my cheek. This was strange to me, but it felt so damn good! My baby Tanya in my arms like this! This was strange to me, because I’d never known Tanya to be one of those “lovey-dovey” type of people. You know? This whole hugging and passion kind of thing was not an emotion that she showed often. Whatever the fuck this was. Especially since we’d been back together. Even though I’d never personally seen this side of her before, I now knew she had it in her. I loved seeing Tanya like this, and at that moment, I promised myself that I would try to make Tanya feel like this every day! Hell, she didn’t even know what I was giving her and she was excited. As far as I could tell, she didn’t care what it was, she was just happy that it was coming from me. That’s how I felt. I smiled at Tanya as I still held her with one hand and reached into my pocket with the other one. I pulled out the box.

“Here.”

Tanya’s eyes widened when she saw the packaging on the box. Everybody in the hood knew of “Scams” Jewelry Shop. That was a real high-class hood type of establishment. Feel me?

“What’s this?”

She frowned. Did she really frown just now? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

“What’s wrong?”

I imagined to get out calmly, even though there was a storm currently brewing inside of me that was about to make a direct hit on Tanya Island.

“What’s in here?”

“Open it up and see!”

I said with a confident smile. Tanya shook her head no, before she tried to hand the box back to me.

“Thank you, but you should take whatever is in this box back to the shop and get your money back.”

Tanya said calmly as she gently removed her free arm from around my waist. Pissed wasn’t a strong enough word to describe what I was feeling as I stared Tanya directly in her eyes. Who the fuck did she think she was? My gift ain’t good enough for her, but she let weird ass Rico buy her all types of gold and shit! And she proudly wore that shit every day! I guess I wasn’t as good as Rico!

“Fuck you bitch!”

That shit had mistakenly come flying out of my mouth. I knew the impact of calling a female a “bitch”, but I can’t lie…..the shit felt good! Really good! Tanya had that shit coming for a long ass time! She was a bitch. At least, more times than not.

“Fuck you too pussy!”

Tanya angrily shot back. I wasn’t about to stand here and go back and forth with her dumb ass! I said what I had to say, and so did she. We were done as far as I could tell. I flagged Tanya and turned around to walk away. I immediately began thinking about how I was going to get the money back I spent on these stupid ass earrings! As I walked down the street thinking, I never looked back. I just automatically assumed Tanya had gone back into the house after I walked away. She didn’t though. You know how I know she didn’t? Because I only took a few more steps before I could feel myself being shoved roughly in the back. The shit was hard enough for me to fall. Almost on my face, but I caught myself with my hands before my face hit the ground. I quickly scrambled to my feet, looking to beat the fuck out of whoever had just pushed me from behind like a fuckin’ sucker! It was Tanya. She stood there breathing hard as hell.

“That’s all it take for you to break up with me??”

Tanya was practically yelling as she spoke. I was surprised to see Tanya standing there. My surprise quickly went back to the anger I felt when I walked away from her.

“What you mean? You don’t even like me enough to wear my stuff! But you always wore the stuff Rico brought for you!”

That was the first time I’d ever displayed any jealousy that Tanya had ever seen. I think she kind of liked it too. I think shit like this really turned her on. The very mean look on Tanya’s face softened as she slowly walked up on me. She was right in my face. Our lips were practically touching as she spoke.

“That’s what you think?”

I took a huge “gulp” kind of swallow as I nodded my head in the affirmative. I was shook, because the last time me and Tanya found ourselves in a situation like this, she broke up with me. Before I could begin fully worrying about me and Tanya’s past, our future seemed to be taking form right before my eyes. She laid a kiss on my mouth. This wasn’t the regular type of kissing that me and Tanya used to do. You know, just have our lips meet each other’s for awhile. Naw, this was some new shit to me. Me and Tanya had our tongues down each other’s throats. This right here was passion! I never wanted this feeling to end! Apparently Tanya didn’t either, because we stood there passionately kissing like we were the only two people on the Earth. We were kissing for a good while before Tanya hugged me tightly and whispered in my ear.

“It’s you. It’s always been you. And it is always going to be you.”

Tanya’s lips were in search of mine again right after she said that. I had no idea what she meant by that shit to be completely honest with you. But I can tell you this….me and Tanya’s relationship changed forever that day. This did not feel like boyfriend and girlfriend anymore. This shit felt like destiny!

Tanya decided to wear my earrings to represent for team “US” wherever she went. I was happy as fuck! The whole world knew Tanya was mine! And mine alone! Me and Tanya even became one of those holding hands and kissing all the time couples. Even at school. Oh yeah! I almost forgot….. things had been going great at work lately too. Ice even gave me a $5 raise. I was now making $20 off of a $250 pack! I still had not told my squad I was hustling yet. But other than that, everything was going great for me. I don’t even think great was a strong enough word for how well things were going for me at that moment in time! I was happy as hell. If I would’ve been a little older, and had a little more life experience, I would’ve been worried. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my walks through life, it’s that when things are going too good, things are always on the verge of quickly turning bad. Really bad!


It had been a couple of months since the last time I saw Le-Le. I used to see a glimpse of her from time to time in the hallways at school, but it had been a while since I’d really seen her….or anyone else for that matter. Tanya held practically every bit of attention I had to offer. Well, one day, seemingly out of the clear blue as I was leaving 2nd period class and on my way to 3rd, Le-Le said hello to me as I passed her in the school halls. She smiled at me as she said it too. This was the first time me and Le-Le had actually spoken since that morning Tanya kissed me in front of her. I didn’t really think Le-Le was angry with me, because we didn’t go together or anything when the kissed happened. We were just friends. I was like her little brother. I didnt think Le-Le would be so jolly about speaking to me again though. I smiled and spoke back. We both kept it pushing after politely speaking to one another…on that day. The very next day, I saw Le-Le again as I was leaving 2nd period, just like the day before. This time Le-Le added a little more to her hello, when she asked me how things had been going for me? I decided to tell her the truth. Even though I already knew her and the rest of the school already knew about me and Tanya, I wanted Le-Le to hear the words come from my mouth.

Le-Le was actually fine with it. Like I said before, me and Le-Le were never a couple. She was….a crush. A crush that I truly believed was way, way out of my league. Le-Le was an older woman, at least older than me. This was always going to be a “confidence-booster” for me. Not every dude out there can pull an older chick. Le-Le kept me hoping to be in the small percentage of dudes who did. Just a small hope. A little hope ain’t never hurt nobody! Me and Le-Le began to make that meeting after 2nd period shit, an every day thing. I couldn’t tell if Le-Le was interested in me romantically, or if she’d just been missing our friendship. Me and Tanya were also still going strong. Tanya was all the way in my corner. She’d been being the perfect girlfriend ever since I gave her those earrings. Tanya even came to work with me sometimes and stood out there with me for awhile. Tanya was really playing her fuckin’ part, and she deserved to be rewarded, not punished. Not that I was planning on doing anything like that! But, I can’t lie. There was just something about Le-Le that seemed mysterious. That shit drove me absolutely insane every time I saw her! Le-Le was sexy as fuck! I mean, my baby Tanya was no slouch or anything, but Le-Le was just…….growner? I don’t fuckin’ know, but I did know, if the day ever came that Le-Le wanted more than a friendship with me, Tanya was going to be in trouble! I don’t know if I would be able to not at least take a peek at what was behind door #2, with Le-Le as my girlfriend.

After a week or so, me and Le-Le reached the level of comfort that we shared before the day of the kiss with Tanya. That was cool. I thought it would’ve taken me a lot longer to get back in her good graces. Then, me and Le-Le suddenly went a step beyond cool. I don’t think it was planned by her. And I know I ain’t plan the shit. It was just one of those things that seemed to happen. Me and Le-Le kissed! It was just a peck, but it lasted long enough for me to taste her lips. They were exactly like I thought they were. Soft as drugstore cotton! Not to say my baby Tanya’s lips weren’t soft……but, Le-Le had me right now. I can’t lie. I was Le-Le’s to do with, whatever the fuck she wanted, after that kiss. Everything about Le-Le screamed “excitement” to me. That shit really, really turned me on…..even way back then!


Being in a real relationship with Tanya, and an imaginary relationship with Le-Le at the same time, was kind of fun! Not fun… Bad word. What I was feeling, was more like important, special, the shiznit’? I don’t know, but I was walking around on cloud 9 for what seemed like months. Valentines day was coming up. I knew I was gonna go all out for Tanya. Hell, I had requested some overtime this week, just to spend all my money on Tanya on V-day. She was more than worth that! When I went to Ice to ask about overtime, he had some bad news for me.

“We ain’t getting paid today. Because the count was fucked up yesterday.”

I looked at Ice like he was crazy.

“Da’ fuck that got to do with me and my pay? I ain’t fuck up the count. My money always straight!”

Ice’s reply was some bullshit, just like I knew it would be. The “bosses” that me and Ice were in the car with, entrusted the duties of passing out bundles and collecting the money to Ice. He was getting paid twice. Ice was getting whatever he was getting weekly, plus he got paid $50 for every $250 pack he sold, just like we were supposed to get! Ice was robbing us! All of the workers! My dumb ass thought I got a bonus when Ice told me I could start taking $20 offf of a $250 pack instead of the $15 I used to get when I first started. This wasn’t a raise that Ice gave me! He was still stealing $30 off of every $250 pack I finished. Imagine how much money I would’ve been making if this sonofabitch had not been stealing my money! I was pissed! The only reason my dumb ass even knew Ice was stealing my money, was because the bul Twiz put me “D.” Twiz got fired a couple of weeks ago. Ice accused him of stealing $300. The “bosses” had put word out that Twiz was supposed to be handled on sight by anyone that worked for them. I wasn’t getting into that weird shit. Twiz was always cool with me, and straight up with anybody about whatever. Anyway, the bul Twiz told me that was the reason he stole the money. Because Ice was stealing from everyone, and the bosses wasn’t doing shit about it. After hearing that, I kind of understood this game a little better. Ice had no doubt “recruited” me because I looked like a sweet lick for this type of thing. I wasn’t here because we were friends. I understood that, and I could even kind of respect it. “You gotta get yours by any means” right? The problem I had was that I was too dumb to see it. Not too dumb, but too naive. I couldn’t live with that. Never could. I had to get some get-back, and my team was going to help me do it! I owed them a easy come-up anyway. It was the least I could do after flying solo on the whole drug-selling thing. Right?


Back on the love frontier, I was headed on the Ave. to go Valentines Day shopping for mi ‘amor, Tanya. Until I settled this pay situation, I was tapping my stash for spending money. It had been four days already, and my little stash was running dry. I was going to have to make my move soon! But, that would have to wait for another time. Today was about my baby, and I was about to spend $275 of the last $300 I had to my name. I was going to be fucked up in the pockets, but it was for something that always brought me endless amounts of joy….TANYA! Endless amounts of joy, in exchange for $275 seemed like a pretty good goddamn deal to me! I shopped until I dropped on Germantown Avenue that afternoon. I had balloons, a big ass white Teddy Bear, flowers, candy, a little jewelry, and the $100 left over was a cash gift to my baby! (Yes, I got all of that for $175. And no, the jewelry was not cheap!….That’s a lie. Yes it was cheap, very cheap…. but so was everything else in the 1980’s!).

Me and Tanya were tight. Like, “over each other’s house all the time” tight. My mom absolutely adored Tanya. Honestly, my mom had always said she preferred Tanya to any other female I’d ever brought home. (Which were very few!). As tight as Tanya was with my people, I believe I was tighter with hers. Tanya’s aunt and cousins were cool as hell. I used to go home after 2am some nights. Auntie Daisy never complained. Basically, our families were tight, is what I’m trying to say. So, I know there would be no problem at all, being in Aunt Daisy’s house waiting for Tanya when she got home from basketball practice today. I thought that was the best way to surprise her. Imagine her opening the front door and seeing that! It would probably be the most romantic thing she’d ever seen in her life! I sat on Tanya’s couch talking with Auntie Daisy as I waited for Tanya to get home from practice at around 4pm. I figured Tanya was just a little late when 4:15 rolled around and she still wasn’t home. That was until 5pm rolled around and she still wasn’t home. Then 6,7,8,…I said goodbye to Auntie and thanked her for the conversation and meal, before I headed for the front door shortly before 9pm. The moment I opened the front door, I heard the sound of “Learned To Respect Power Of Love” by Stephanie Mills banging out of somebody’s shit! Jawn had the crib shaking a little bit too. Joint was parked closer to my house than Tanya’s, which was only a couple houses away from mine. As I got closer, and was able to see through the front windshield, I saw something that still makes me sick to my stomach to this day. Tanya and Skeeter kissing. That same dumb ass Skeeter Murray dickhead that beat us in the playoffs with the buzzer beater….get this part, on the same night me and Tanya broke up the first time! It seemed like every time this weird Skeeter nigga appeared, some fucked up shit was happening in my life! And where did this weird nigga get a fuckin’ car from? Nigga had a Caddy that was only like three-years old! I had so many questions to ask, if only I could talk….or see…or hear..or

I was paralyzed. I just stood there like a dickhead and watched them kiss.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.