Tyrell's father is just out of jail, and Tyrell doesn't know how to deal with that. It's bad enough that his brother Troy is in foster care and that his mother is no help whatsoever. Now there's another thing up in his face, just when he's trying to settle down. Tyrell's father has plans of his own, and doesn't seem to care whether or not Tyrell wants to go along with them. Tyrell can see the crash that's coming -- with his dad, with the rest of his family, with the girls he's seeing -- but he's not sure he can stop it. Or if he even wants to.
I been driving for hours, got the radio blastin', and I'm flying up the New Jersey Turnpike like I be doing this shit all the time. Like it ain't no thing. Regg is 'sleep with the passenger seat pushed all the way back, and I know it's just 'cause he tired from being up all night doing whatever he do, but still, it feel good that he trust me with his brand new Escalade when I don't even got no kinda license and don't really know how to drive for shit.
It's like four in the afternoon when I get back to Bronxwood. I pull the truck up in front of Building A, and the only reason Regg wake up is 'cause I hit the brake too hard to keep from slamming into the car parked in front of me. When the truck stop, he look 'round, not knowing where the fuck he at, and I just crack up 'cause he missed the whole drive back from D.C. "You get enough sleep?" I ask him. "'Cause I could drive 'round some more if you need more time."
"Nobody could sleep, the way you was driving."
"Nigga, you was snoring and drooling and shit."
"You dreaming, man," Regg say. "My eyes was closed 'cause I was praying for my life." He open the door and say under his breath, "Musta been crazy giving you the keys to my truck."
Regg is my pops friend, the only one that's alright, you ask me. He mad cool, the kinda guy you know got your back no matter what. And he the size of a linebacker, so that help, too, 'specially in the kinda places we was hanging out at for the last twelve days. First we drove down to Atlanta and stood there for more than a week, then, on the way back, we went to Baltimore and D.C. for a couple days. The whole time was mad fun even though we was working. I played two parties in Atlanta, and one in Baltimore. Made some good money, for me. Regg was doing his business too, but he don't want me knowing what he do. He don't want me going down for whatever shit he doing.
I cut the engine and get out the truck. Regg come 'round to the driver side and, before I see it coming, he grab me up in one of them man hugs and say, "Remember what we talked about, man."
"Yeah, I remember," I say, and he let me go.
"Call me if you need me, Ty."
I reach in and grab my heavy-ass duffel bag and backpack from the backseat. Then I watch Regg try to squeeze his ass in the driver seat, get out and push the seat back, like, a foot and a half, then get back in and drive away. I just stand there for a second, watching him go. Hanging with him was cool, but ain't nothing like being back in the Bronx.
It's the first day of August and it's real nice outside, sunny and hot, but not Atlanta hot. It feel good walking into my building, like I'm home or something.
But that feeling don't last too long. Just 'til I get to the fifth floor, open the door to the apartment I'm staying at, and see the way the place look, like fucking animals was living here while I was away.
I go inside and Greg is 'sleep on the couch. The whole living room is jacked. They got them white boxes half full of Chinese food all over the table and on the floor, cans of beer and bags of chips and shit on the floor and chairs. I knock a empty thing of Pringles off one of the chairs and put my duffel bag down on it, but there ain't even no other place to put my backpack on, that's how fucked up they got the apartment. I go in the kitchen and it ain't no better. I mean, I been living with these dudes for like seven months, and I know they some nasty niggas when they wanna be, but this shit don’t make no kinda sense.
My friend Cal come from down the hall in sweatpants and no shirt. "You back," he say, like I don't know I'm back. "You make money?"
"Course." I don't tell him, yeah, I made money, but I'm coming home with a duffel bag full of new clothes, shit they be selling down south that I ain’t seen in the Bronx yet. "Made a lot," I tell him.
Made it. Spent it. Still damn near broke.
Cal wipe some Oreo cookie crumbs off the chair before he sit down at the kitchen table and start rubbing the crust outta his eyes. "Last night was crazy," he say, laughing. "We had a party that was wild. I got with this girl and she --"
"What 'bout Tina?" I can tell when Cal 'bout to go into one of his stories 'bout all the females he getting, and the best thing to do is shut that noise down fast.
"Me and her had a fight."
Nothing new 'bout that.
"She coming by on Sunday so I could babysit CJ."
"It ain't babysitting when it's your kid," I say.
"Whatever." That's when he finally look 'round the kitchen. "Shit." He turn and look 'round at the living room. "Fuck."
"Just so you know, I ain't cleaning none of this up," I tell him. "And I ain't chipping in for Keisha to clean this shit up neither."
Cal look back over at me. "What your problem?"
"I ain't got no problems."
"Good then," he say, standing up and getting the milk out the refrigerator. Then he go up in the cabinet and get down the Cocoa Puffs, and when he try to find a clean bowl, there ain't one 'cause all the dishes is in the sink, dirty. But he do find a measuring cup and one of them big spoons and he sit down and start eating, like that’s a normal way to eat cereal.
"I ain't playin'," I tell him. "Y'all gonna need to do something 'bout this shit 'cause--"
"Your pops getting out today, right?" Cal ask, even though he already know the answer.
I swear, I ain't in the mood for Cal today. It's like the whole time I was with Regg is through and now I'm back to this shit, only today it's pissing me off more than it normally do.
"I'ma be back," I say and, just like that, I up and leave the apartment before Cal can say something else to me.
Outside, I walk 'cross the street, over to Kenny candy truck that’s out in front of Building G. Kenny sister Adonna is leaning up against the truck with her arms folded in front of her like she got a attitude 'bout something. But that's the way she always act. She fine as hell, though, so even when she mad she still look good. And she wearing shorts and a tank top, showing off all that skin. Damn.
I been knowing Adonna from back in the day when me and my family used to live here at Bronxwood. Before we got stupid and moved outta the projects like we had it like that. Then, when my pops got locked up, they threw us outta that new apartment and we ain't had no place to go. The city put my family through a lot of shit. ’Til I decided to come back here and live with my boy Cal. And be on my own.
Now that I'm back, me and Adonna be seeing each other all the time. She real nice, but something 'bout her, 'bout all them girls like her, that just stop me from trying to get with her. I can tell by looking at her that she one of them females that's more trouble than I need in my life. She know she hot, and she know niggas would break they neck to get with her, but I don't know. I hook up with her and I can tell it’s gonna be all 'bout me buying her stuff. I don’t need that.
Only thing, the last couple times she seen me, I know she been checking me out. Now that I be spending money on clothes and shit and lookin' good, she definitely on it now. When she see me, she smile but not all sexy like she usually do 'cause she probably don't wanna act like that in front of Kenny.
"Hey Adonna," I say.
She look me up and down real fast, trying to be slick 'bout it, and go, "Hi, Tyrell."
Kenny hand her a Sprite and say, "I'm gonna put that on your bill."
"Yeah, yeah," she say and roll her eyes.
"What up, Ty?" Kenny ask me.
"Chillin'," I say. “Let me get a loose.”
Next to me, Adonna is still standing there opening her can of soda and taking a sip. After Kenny hand me the cigarette, I'm like, "What you doing today, Adonna?"
She shrug. "Nothing. It's so boring around here. I saw you driving that Escalade and I thought it was yours at first."
I shake my head and go, "Yeah, right. Wish I could roll like that."
Adonna look me up and down again and stop at my sneakers. "You must be making good money DJing, right?" She try to hide her smile.
"I'm doin' a'ight."
Even though I don't mind talking to her, I could probably get to Southern Boulevard in time if I go fast. So I tell Adonna I gotta go, light up my cigarette and smoke while I walk away from her. This my first cigarette in like four, five days. I thought I was through with them, but it don't look that way. Least not today.
I'm walking fast down the block, on my way to the train station, not really thinking 'bout nothing. The second I turn the corner near the bodega, that's when I see them. My ex Novisha and some dude. Some pretty boy. They walking right in my direction too. And they holding hands.
©2011 by Coe Booth