There was seven of them. Three of them had a gun lodged into their tight jeans, over their t-shirts. Inevitably, I was intimidated, but I still approached them with the same walk I would approach anyone with. I walked like hip hop sounds. Rhythmic and with a loud bass.
Clarissa was one of them. I knew her from back in the day. Back when things weren’t so damn complicated. When the rules were set straight, when my position in this world was an easily understood concept.
“Is that a gun, or are you just happy to see me?” I asked.
“Tiswayri?” she pointed at me, and propped herself off the wall with her left foot.
“One in the same, booboo.”
She hugged me and laughed, and I could see the other six looking at us.
“Where the fuck have you been?” she asked, grabbing me by the shoulders, and taking a look at me.
“Here and there, doing this and that.”
Clarissa wasn’t the same as the last time I saw her. She was thirteen back then. Now she’s twenty-one. I remember she used to exclusively wear a dress, and walk around calling herself a princess. Now she’s wearing boots, and pants that are crumbier than mine.
I take a long look at her eyes, and the innocence she had was no longer there. You can tell when a person saw too much too quickly. Their eyes reflect it. And hers were a dark pit with images burned into the sides of the walls. She had five little dots on her right hand. A few people might understand what this tattoo means, even less proudly exhibit it. Four dots represent the walls of a prison. The fifth, in the middle, is the person.
“Done time already?” I asked.
She looked at her hand, and spun it around.
“I don’t see no tears.” I said, “That’s good. You’re a bit too young for crying.”
“I was too scared to get a face tattoo.”
“Oh, damn. Already?”
“Gotta do what you gotta do.” She said, and in my head, I saw the tear tattoo materialize on the inside of her right eye. “So, what are you doing here?”
“I got business to take up with you.”
Here, you can tell her personality switched between old friend, to new business associate. I could always respect the sudden shift. Shows real work ethic.
“What do you need?” she asked.
“I need a twenty-two.” I said.
She looked behind her, and nodded her head at one of the girls, raising up two fingers. The other girl walked away into a small clearing behind the wall they were all resting on.
“Didn’t think you’d be back here for that kind of thing.” she said.
“Why else would anyone be back here?”
“Old friends?” she laughed.
“You’re not half wrong.” I said, pulling out a small stack of one-hundred dollar bills from my back pocket. “Same old price?”
“That cheap?” I asked.
“I’ll be frank with you. It’s a converter.”
“Tested it out? I don’t want it jamming on me.”
“I got you covered, don’t worry about it.”
I handed her three-hundred dollars, and she spread them open, and looked at them through the sun.
“Where’d the trust go?” I asked.
“You tell me. You’re the one here to see old friends.”
“You gotta do what you gotta do, remember?”
“What happened anyway?”
I saw the other girl come back from behind the wall, and she handed Clarissa the twenty-two. She showed it to me, took out the clip, and gave it. It was cold, and heavy, just like I remembered it.
“Looks like a nine-mil.” I said, looking at the thing side ways.
“That’s the thing with converters. They only fit a twenty-two cal. You can get a damned sniper, and all you’ll fit in that bitch is a twenty-two.”
I chambered a bullet, and put the thing on safety, and stuck it in between the ridges of my pants and my bare skin. The cold sent a shudder down my spine, and the memories followed it.
“Who you visiting anyway?” she asked.
“You’ll find out soon enough.”
She hugged me again, and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
“You come and visit some time. The hood missed you.”
I made sure the gun was stable in my pants, and that it wouldn’t fall through when I walked. I nodded at Clarissa, and the other girls.
“Take it easy, yea?” I said, and walked away.
Back home, and strapped. I thought things changed. I thought the world had its way with me, filed me like a sharp blade into a blunt joke. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I’m just a converter. A pistol that no matter how much you drill, will always hold the same caliber.