It was about 8 p.m. on a freezing, wintry, Thursday night in North Philly, when I stepped into what used to be “The 49er” for the first time in 10-years. The owners were new, but faces and activities were still pretty much the same. The bar had activity, but heavy traffic usually never really began rolling in until later. The bar wasn’t crowded yet but, there were still quite a few heads up in here. Especially for it to be this early in the night. The first person I spotted was Face. My nigga! In the 10-years I’d been gone, this “formerly” weird-nigga, had miraculously transformed into the most feared gangsta’/stick-up artists around this mothafucka’. I didn’t really rock with the “street life” all like that, but I had to admit, I was a little impressed at how far Ace had risen in the hierchy of the Underworld. He was a “somebody” around this joint. I walked over to say hello to my old pal.

“What up N-B?”

I said as I approached him from behind and gently tapped him on the shoulder. I called him N-B, which was short for “N-Bill.” Oh, there’s definitely a funny story behind that name! And I know because I’m the one that gave it to him! I just can’t recall what funny ass reason I chose that name for Ace….But trust me, It’s probably funny! But, anyway, Face and Grant were playing pool. Grant had always been one of those “you never knew” type of dudes, you know? Grant was cool as fuck, but he’d always been a very unstable and paranoid type of individual…..and that was before this crazy son-of-a-bitch started snorting coke. Tapping him on the shoulder had threw his shot off. He was mad. I could see it in his eyes too, as he glared at me like I was someone who’d stolen something from him. He suddenly broke out into a wide grin, that quickly turned into a smile when he saw me standing there.

“My nigga Bee-Reezy! What’s up wit you?”

Oh, that’s me by the way. Bee-Reezy. Well, actually, its Breeze. That’s what everybody calls me. They used to call me MoHawk back in the day, cause every time I start hittin’ buckets on the court, everybody used to say “Gimme some Mo’….Hawk” Get it? No? Annnywhoo, Grant had been playing pool against Face. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Blue. He was really the person I had been trying to run into here at the 49er, in all honesty. I needed a job. And I needed one quickly! If there was any one person that knew what was – and what wasn’t, around here, it was Joe A.K.A. White Boy or WB. If anything was going on around here, he definitely had the scoop! Getting a chance to holla’ at WB alone may be more trouble than it should be, with this weird Grant nigga around though. This nigga was straight up insane!…..Or so, I’ve heard. Anything could…and usually did, set this crazy muthafucka’ off. Even a simple conversation about a job, depending on what day of the week it was….. Or, so I’ve heard.

“So what you been up to B?”

WB inquired with genuine curiousity. Me and WB went back. Way back! Like Red Light-Green Light, Freeze Tag, and Rollie Polie, kind of way back, feel me? We were really tight back in the day. Time, distance, outta sight/outta mind type of shit, is the only reason we’re currently not all that tight like we used to be. Still, a really good dude by all measures though. Anyway, Me, Face, and WB found some seats and proceeded to order drink after drink, as we sat at the bar “shooting the shit.” Grant’s weid ass made yet another run to the bathroom….to powder his nose a little, I guess. But, apparently, a whole lot had changed around here in the past 10-years or so that I’d been away from the city. Sheesh! Shit was like a damn soap-opera! Always was though, if you really think about it. Everybody always knew everyone else’s business/dirt…..and honestly couldn’t wait to spread the shit around, and of course, add a “you ain’t hear it from me tho” or two in there. Shit was mad interesting, but I had some other shit going on that concerned me a little more than hearing that my ex-girlfriend was currently a prostitute. Like a real one! Like “toot-toot!” kind of prostitute. They said she be out there on Broad & Lehigh slangin’ cheeks…on the late-night tip. I made a mental note to take a trip up there when I got a chance! As I sat there and pondered about how much my old babe was charging for those “quality” cheeks (at least they were of good quality….last time I checked), and wondered if I could afford her price, a commotion broke out up at the front. Shit! I fucked around and sat up in this bitch getting drunk too damn long! ‘Wild-Young Nigga’ hours were starting around this joint! And the shit was beginning with a bang……literally!

One of the young buls from Huntington Street got into it with one of the youngins’ from the Projects. Yup, that shit was still a thing, even after all these years. For the life of me, I really couldn’t understand why this was a thing. These little “beefs” between neighborhoods…inside of our neighborhoods. Streets, basically. We’ve always represented, and were ready to die over streets…….that don’t bare our names or anyone we know personally, by the way! Anyway, some old heads broke up the scuffle before it managed to escalate to that next level. During the commotion a few people slid out the front door of the bar, myself included. I caught up to WB outside, and away from Grant’s “trouble-seeking” ass, who was still inside….probably looking to get the drama going again or some other weird shit I definitely wasn’t into. Face bounced when we got outside of the bar. I finally got a chance to buss’ it up with WB alone. I ain’t hear what I really wanted to hear, but he did steer me in the right direction. That direction? Gotti. According to WB, Gotti.. excuse me, Cyrus, had a job at some factory or warehouse or some shit. But, he did say they made good money there, and they got paid daily. The “paid daily” part bothered me a little, but not enough to set off any alarms or anything. So….my next mission was one to try to locate this weird ass “Cyrus” nigga…..which honestly wasn’t hard to do. Especially on a Friday night! If “Cyrus” was anything like the Gotti I knew from 10-years ago, he was somewhere drunk as fuck right now! Most likely, at the Aquarius bar on 7th & Huntington Streets. So, that was my next stop on this journey I hoped would lead to full-time employment of some sort.

The Aquarius was poppin’ tonight! I walked down Cumberland Street to 9th, on my way to the Aquarius, after I left the Niner. I turned on 9th and walked down Huntington Street. By the time I took a few steps past 8th Street, I could see the joint was goin’ crazy! There were people everywhere! Even in the middle of the winter. It was about 12 degrees outside, and cats were hanging outside of the bar like it was a hot summer night. Somebody must’ve been having some type of party/celebration inside. That was the only thing I could see that would bring this many people outside in this shit! It was definitely packed inside if this many people were outside. I nodded to some familiar faces and shook the hands of a few cats in the crowd, before I attempted to make my way inside.

“I see you managed to remember where the bar was.”

I heard a voice say from behind me. A familiar voice. A very, very familiar voice. I smiled before I even turned around.

“It wasn’t the bar that I remember.”

I said with a wink as I turned, and came face to face with my first love, Sherita Sampson. She still looked like a chocolate dream! Rita was still drop-dead gorgeous! Sis ain’t know how to do nothing but be a “bad bitch.” Rita never even tried to be a bad bitch, she was just one of those chicks that was….bad. You know what I’m saying?

“Well, what was it?”

Rita said as she ran into my arms and hugged me tightly. I smiled as I felt Rita kiss my cheek. We both knew what was coming next. A couple more light kisses on the cheek, right before the cheek kissing shit, turned into a full-blown “make-out” session…of sorts. Don’t ask…..Anyway, we had a rule to keep the P.D.A’s (Public Dispalys Of Affection) short and sweet. A peck on the lips……for now!

I knew I was going to run into Rita tonight. If anything was happening at the Aquarius Bar, Rita knew about it. And if Rita knew about a celebration of any kind, she was definitely going to be in attendance. Especially since Rita lived right around the corner from the bar, on Frankiln Street.

I have to pause the story right there for a minute. Sorry about this, but it’s probably important…..

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