I just got off the jack with SoundWave. He is chillin’ in V.A. Dude has made a remarkable life transition after being on ice for a decade. When we talk about shit he hypes me up just like when we were 16 yrs old. This brother could sell the tone to the phone and it’s nothing. S.W. could make you jump out a window on the tenth floor after he taught you the tuck and roll technique. I have to remind myself that I am talking with my boy and not the Black TONY ROBBINS.
We talked about T.C. because today was his born day. I will call his moms tomorrow and say hello. I can’t tell you how many times the three of us have been plotting some ill-fated street caper or some other heist that we pulled off by the skin of our teeth. There was no logical reason that we found ourselves doing this ridiculous teenage shit, especially when we weren’t teenagers anymore. But it’s the call of the wild, the call of the streets. You think that you can somehow beat the odds. That you can somehow take it to the endzone and then retire. But you can’t, no one can. The sooner you realize that the better off you are going to be. Some of us don’t get a chance for that epiphany. I do this shit for y’all.
Rest In Peace THUNDERCRACKER.
T.C. and I were lamping in my apartment, burning down White Owls back to back when my doorbell rang. I already knew who it was without asking. S.W. came upstairs all excited and out of breath.
“What the deal, yo?”, I asked him.
“Yo, I got a Jetta and I got a new spot with mad exclusy shit”, he replied in a pant like he couldn’t catch any air. The apartment was mad hazy though.
“So what’s up? Who’s down to roll?”, S.W. asked us.
T.C. jumped up like, “Fuck it, I’m ready.”
I had to think about this for a minute. It was a Wednesday night and I had to go to work the following morning. T.C. worked with me at the architect’s office, but he was known for blowing off a random day. He and S.W. still lived in their parent’s cribs and they didn’t have the constant pressure of the first of the month that I had. We all supplemented our day jobs with miscellaneous dumb shit, but that dumb shit wasn’t going to be my career. It was just my hobby. That is how the cocky, arrogant kid in these pictures thought about doing crime. That was all about to change after this night.
“Fuck it, I’m d. Where are we going?”, I said to make the cipher complete.
“Sunnyside.”, S.W. replied.
“Where?!?”, I knew where was Sunnyside because of my dad’s job, but I thought that neighborhood was only about factory buildings and warehouses by day and late night Latin prostitutes. Turns out S.W. had found a little residential enclave in Sunnyside because he was beating out some Spanish shorty. The neighborhood was hell’a quiet and there were some nice rides posted up on the street. The truth is that we had made Forest Hills and Kew Gardens too hot with all our various nonsense. From stealing cars to doing stick ups there was nothing left for us in that area of Queens. Plus some of the other young fools that put in work were out there now so when they got caught up they would be taking the weight for our dirt.
S.W. told T.C. and me about all the whips he saw parked on the street. As was S.W.’s habit of leaning toward hyperbole, he made it sound like the folks in this neighborhood left their car doors open. I put on my hooded sweatshirt, grabbed my Eastpak bag with the pulley and the screwdrivers and we all left my apartment. S.W. drove the Jetta to Sunnyside. I sat up front and T.C. rocked the back executive status. The first joint we came up on was a brand new ’89 Montero. The joint was white two tone with the silver grey on the kick panels. Mitsubishi doors are like water if the car doesn’t have key guards. If you stared at the motherfucker for ten seconds the door locks would pop up. In any case, I pop the passenger door and I hop in the truck. I bang the pulley into the ignition, turn the screw into the cylinder four solid times, slide the weight back to me and out pops the cylinder. T.C. has the ‘key’ screwdriver. He jumps in the driver seat and turns the ignition. Contact motherfucker, we are gone in less than 60 seconds. The Montero was sick as fuck and it only had like 2k miles on it. We could probably flip this joint at the chop shops next to Shea Stadium.
A few blocks down we came across the motherlode. An Audi 5000 GT parked under a tree as if it were trying to hide from us. The tree however provided perfect cover for us to do our thing. Audi door locks are the same as Jettas and Golfs since they are all part of the same parent company. Porsche is part of the company too, but sadly I don’t have any stories about us bagging up a Porsche. Japanese cars require that you move the screwdriver inserted into the doorlock up and down to pop the lock. The German cars only work on a sideways angle. I still got the door open with no problem. Once I’m inside the car it’s a wrizzap unless there is a kill switch under the hood. This car had no switch so I popped the ignition and S.W. hopped in with the starter screwdriver while I jumped out and got into the Jetta’s driver seat. We had to get the fuck out of dodge just in case that Montero was called in and the jake were in route.
I told them to follow me since I was like the official navigator for the clique. We drove to the nearest parkway which was the Long Island Expressway and we headed to T.C.’s crib in Hollis. Once we got to Hollis we would figure out what to do with the cars. I admit to being a little jelly that these dudes had new cars. Since I didn’t really want to roll with the mission that evening I couldn’t lay claim to either of the cars. Those were the rules that we played by. The person with the mission plan got first dibs on the bounty. If there was money on the table then we split that equally (if you didn’t stash some first), but for shit like clothing or cars it was always the proprietary choice of the dude who set the plan in motion.
At T.C.’s crib we all got a chance to see what we had scored. The Mitsubishi Montero was a sophisticated SUV. The driver’s seat was set on some kind of gyroscopic shock plate and the seat bounced and swiveled on angles as the car turned. The interior front was a cool grey leather that matched the two tone exterior. The Audi was two years old but is was still crispy and plush. It had a 5-speed sport transmission and leather throughout the car. There is a reason why some cars cost more scrilla. It’s because they are just designed and engineered better. They include shit you didn’t even realize that you need, but once you have it you wonder how you ever lived without it. The Audi had a mobile phone in the center console. It was one of those joints that was the size of a telephone book. What did we care? We were big fucking pimping. The question came up what if we were to sell these two cars to the chop shop? We would probably only get about a thousand for both. I know that sounds fucked up but chop shops became really leery about using “contractors” outside of their network because there was a Fed sting a few years before that nearly shut down the whole Iron Triangle. Aww, who were we kidding? We were going to floss hard in these cars as usual.
S.W. had the Audi since he found the neighborhood and T.C. was going to keep the Montero so now it was time to find a ride for me. I was caught up in the moment and I wanted to have some shit that was on similiar status with these dudes. We parked the Montero down the block from T.C.’s house and left the Jetta across the street from his crib. When we piled into the Audi we used the same seating plan as when we first got in the Jetta. By sitting in the front seat next to the driver you assume navigation and deejay duties. The Audi had one of the sickest systems that we had ever heard. This my friends, was like car thieves heaven.
We drove through Jamaica Estates but there wasn’t anything glossy enough for my taste. I would have been cool with an Ac’, but not an Accord. I wanted some official shit. The truth was that I wanted an Audi too and I let my jealousy cloud what little remained of my better judgement. It was already late enough that I should have ‘deaded the mish’ and just gone home. But instead we continued our search outside of the boro of Queens. We crossed the Whitestone Bridge into the Bronx.
Back in the day there was a cool azz drive-in movie theatre right by the Whitestone Bridge, but it had been replaced after a few years by a multiplex. These mega-theatres were always easy spaces to pick up cars, but most of them only existed in Nassau County or WestChester. In any case, we cased the parking lot and didn’t really see any action. So I was beginning to get desperate. I thought about driving through the Pelham Parkway neighborhood, but since I wasn’t a true Bronx kid I knew that I didn’t know the landscape too well. However, there was one Bronx neighborhood that I did know like the back of my hand and they had just built a multiplex theatre and strip mall there – Co-Op City.
We drove up I-95 into the parking lot entrance for the brand new Bay Plaza. What had been a dumping ground was being converted into new retail spaces. The PathMark had relocated fom the PlayWorld building. There was a Red Lobster across the lot from a multi-screen movie theatre. Just as a quick aside, a meal at Red Lobster and the 9:30pm show of ‘The Last Dragon’ is something on par with a ghetto fabulous engagement date. As we crossed into the parking lot we passed in front of an unmarked Caprice Classic with two detecs peeping our whole steez. As we drove a little further I turned around to see that the jake began to follow us. I gave S.W. the heads up and told him to park the car. We could ditch it for a time and cross through the Burger King to the other side of the parking lot. S.W. wasn’t having any of that. This Audi was his baby and he was going to find a way out of this situation. S.W. drove around the back side of the theatre into an almost desolate parking area and as he went for the exit another unmarked police car and a squad car blocked his way. S.W. screeched to a halt and we all jumped out and began to run in every direction.
The police jumped out of their vehicles and drew their revolvers (pre-DIALLO, thank GOD) they yelled at us to stop and S.W. and T.C. did. For whatever insane reason I continued to run. I had the bag of tools in my backpack and I didn’t want to be responsible for the car so I tried to get away. I ran all the way to the end of the parking lot and as I was preparing to vault the chain link fence I realized what was on the other side. The Hutchinson fucking River was on the other side of the gate. My heart sank because I knew then that my dumb azz was caught. The police were chasing me on foot and in a car and when they got to me I was taught the ultimate lesson. Never make a police officer run.
In hindsight, I realize that I was lucky that the police that evening were all seasoned veterans and not rookies or racists. Instead of shooting me, which they would have had no problem in proving their justification, they just tackled me to the ground. While my face scraped the asphalt and I was cuffed another cop decked me in the head. That’s when I turned to look at one cop run up to me as if he were kicking off the football to start a college game and he kicked me in my stomach. After that I can tell you that I received the most medieval azz whupping of my life. I can’t tell you how long it lasted but I was being kicked, stomped and called a piece of shit until I began to spit up blood and phlegm. S.W. and I laughed about this because he said that while he and T.C. were more than a hundred feet away they could hear me getting thumped on.
My azz was fucked the fuck up. The cops picked me up and threw me in the back of one of the cruisers. Then they drove us all to the station house to be processed for our pics and prints. I limped into the precinct and when the desk officer asked what had happened to me the arresting officer said that I had fallen while trying to run. As I sat on a bench next to T.C. and S.W. they began to bust out laughing. My face was swollen and my left eye was closed. I had blood and mucus on my sweatshirt. I looked a fucking mess. I tried to get my mugshot from the Police Department’s archives, but they told me that my photo isn’t available any longer. I was going to use the picture for the Mugshot Hairstyle Modeling contest. I would have won.
Inside the station house cells I was placed alone while T.C. and S.W. were placed together. There is something unfortunately meditative about sitting in a jail cell. There’s also nothing else to do but meditate on what you did to put yourself there. I had made a lousy choice for my personal time, and now I was reaping the full results. I don’t care how many times you do some shit and get away with it. The one time that one-time pinches you should be all you need to never want to feel that feeling again. When the next morning arrived we were given cold coffee and an even colder Egg McMuffin. I was given the customary phone call.
I didn’t call my folks since I didn’t live with them anymore. I called my job and told them that I would be out for a few days. Thay knew without asking because T.C. and I had been working for them for a few years already and this wasn’t the first time that we were both away for a few days. You could never really call it back then, but you hoped for the best. A couple of days in a precinct house, add two more in the central booking facility. If you made bond with the court you could see light and smell air in four days. A short stay at the ‘hood Holiday Inn. Well, not quite.
I wasn’t going to make bond this time. My parents were so tired of my bullshit that they told me to get the fuck out when I was 17yrs old. To be truthful, I deserved that because I was like a cancer. I was out of order. I was out of pocket. I was out of my cotton-picking mind. My parents were professional, progressive people. Highly educated and highly motivated. My lifestyle was one-hundred eighty degrees from where their mindset pointed. Speaking of numbers, a Middle-class family makes $200k annually which is say $150k after taxes. The last network that broadcast the SuperBowl charged sponsors two and a half million for a 30 second slot. And that’s just one of the days in a year when people are trying to sell you shit. All of that to say there is a lot more money invested outside someone’s home to make kids feel and act a kind of way.
I have some dough stashed at the crib, but nobody has my keys. I am incognegro right now with my folks so I can’t borrow any chips from them. My maternal grandmother, who lived in Co-Op has to take care of too many people that I wouldn’t feel right bothering her for a loan either. Asking the people at my job would be embarrassing as all fuck and it might let me see that they didn’t really, really need my help after all. I was just going to have to ride this one out. I had fucked myself up with this lack of judgement so whatever the cost I was boss.
Inside the central booking facility we all got back together in a huge cell with 7 or 8 other detainees. This is the Bronx and kids don’t try to steal chains like in Manhattan or, of course, Brooklyn. In the Bronx kids hustle them jums, nah’mean?!? That is how kids in Uptown and the Bronx get money. I am not saying that there ain’t no stick up grimeys and shooters in the B.X., but it is all centered around the Crills. In Brooklyn, you can have niggas on some random ‘its Tuesday’ bullshit. That’s why seeing the Bloods and Crips in New York City always surprised me. New York City became programmed into being followers instead of leaders. HAIL, MEG!
Some dudes had a C-low set of dice (don’t ask me, but anything is possible after I saw the movie Belly). We played a few hands and won, then lost, then won again. In reality the money never really leaves you, but it was a good passtime as you awaited your name to be called by a bailiff. Once you leave the bullpen you are escorted though a narrow low-ceiling hallway into the main court chamber. The natural light is shocking to you because you have been under dimly charged flourescent tubes for four days. Dim bulbs for dim wits.
When the judge read aloud the charges to each of us he also rendered his bond decision along with the indictment. T.C. and S.W. both had a 10k bond and I was realeased on my own recognizance. R.O. Motherfucking R. T.C. was mad as fuck at me too. I told him that he should’a ran. He told me to go fuck myself (no GEORGE MICHAEL… this was 1989). I was going to get some action too as soon as I got home. My ladybug from Morgan State U. was in town and I knew she would stay at my crib for at least a night. I needed to get home quick too because I hadn’t shaved, showered or shitted in four days. I smelled like a hot roasted bum.
That was the last time that I had to do a short stay. They are the worst. I mean, yeah shit can get worse than a short stay, but why would you want to do it? The reason that I did it is was for the money and the thrills. The outsider outlaw motif permeates my community and it affects men who should be well into responsible adulthood. I was still very selfish and this wasn’t the last dumb shit thing that I did in my life. Lucky for me that AAUM has had some patience with my development. I still owe this city, my community, my family and myself to pick up the baton that I carelessly dropped and carry it to the next station.