Two-one-four-oh

Nothing says “welcome back to the ghetto” quite like the local crack head running by. He noticed me. I was instantly reminded of Paul Revere, on his horse, yelling “The British are coming.” He was wearing a work suit. The crack head, not Paul. I wondered how he got that suit. I’ve seen him offer to eat pussy for a cigarette, but before I could take on the  inner workings of a tweaker’s mind, an “ewa” reached me from across the street.

“Sufyan.”
It’s a habit of ours. You see someone, you say their name, shake their hand, and put your palm on your chest. A secret handshake that can get your ass out of trouble.The guy’s an entrepreneur. He made more money in jail than he ever did outside. And now he’s back on the hustle. He asks where I’ve been. I told him I was away for school. My foot almost fell down a pot hole. I instinctively dodged it. That hole has been there since I moved in nine years ago. Your body never forgets home. That specific area on the magnetic field just rings you from the inside. Our very own ghetto spidey sense.

He tried to sell me weed. Of course he tried to sell me weed. Hell, I know Sufyan. All he wanted was someone to chill with while he sold and smoked weed. Even drug dealers get lonely. I wasn’t in the mood. I put my earphones on, and he disappeared into the background with all the other salesmen, actors and liars on the street. And I was one of them, tap dancing my way downtown, listening to gangster rap.

I’m on my street. The little Moroccan kids wearing their track suits walked around, shoulders hunched forward. Mini-gorilla guerrillas. They maintain eye contact, they’re bothered. My neighbor’s out, and there’s four guys standing at his door. They’re passing a huge blunt. They offer me some. I’m not interested, but I say my hello’s to my neighbor. He has an ankle bracelet. Three months probation.

I enter home to a proud family, smiling at me, asking how come I’m back. I tell them I dropped out of university.

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