Kim at the Sandwich Shop introduced us to the waitress, Big Brenda. Brenda gave us each a forty. After drinking two forties, the restroom was calling me. I staggered to the small, cramped, dirty restroom with a chipped commode. There inside I found a drunk guy lying on the floor, soaked wet with piss. I helped him up, and leaned him against the wall with one hand as I fought to piss with the other hand (guys, this is something you would only try while you were drinking). Afterwards, I helped this guy to a corner in the bar. Top Dog and a few guys were playing cards.
“That fucking Beatle Juice is drunk again!” yelled Top Dog. I pulled up a chair and introduced myself to the group as Lead Dog.
A gentleman named Count, who earned his name with his two teeth, red eyes and light skin, said, “looks like you’re fresh out the pound, Lead Dog.”
“Yeah, more than you know.”
“Keep that to yourself, Lead Dog,” said Top Dog. “You’re talking too much. And Count, you’re talking out the side of your neck, you filthy tramp.”
A girl came over and sat on one of the guy’s laps. Unknown to me, she slipped him not only a kiss but a pocket rocket, a rock of crack cocaine, off of her tongue. One of the guys said, “Bitch, you are into everything besides a casket. Take your dirty dealings to the rest room.”
“Kiss my ass,” she replied. “You smoke so much your two back pockets are touching together. Get a fucking job!”
I looked at Top Dog confused at what just happened and he said, “That shit just went right over your head, you missed it. She just gave him some drugs.”
She turned to me, asking me my name. I almost told her my real name, Ricky, but instead replied, “Lead Dog.”
She asked, “Where are you from?”
If I knew not to give her my real name, I knew not to tell her where I was from. So I told her the first thing that popped in my mind, “Canada.” I proceeded to explain to her that I was French Canadian. “My mother was French Canadian and my father was African American.”
She said, “You have beautiful, smooth black skin. I knew you wasn’t from around here. Can you speak French to me?”
I looked into her eyes and with a deep, romantic accent, said something like, “Le fork le vay, jest te.” The closest I had ever been to France was a damn French fry.
She smiled and asked, “What did you say?”
I could have said, “Your breath smells like stale beer, and you’re uglier than homemade soap,” but instead I chose to give the lady a compliment. “It means you are beautiful.”
After a few more beers and a lot of lines of bullshit, Top Dog and I decided to leave. On our way walking to God knows where, he told me, “That’s pretty smooth the way you handled yourself in there, especially with that chicken head.”
“Thanks, but that’s not where my heart is.”
“I suppose you can leave your heart where you want to, but your ass is on the streets with the rest of us. So if I had to guess, I’d say you loved someone and fucked up. You don’t look like you belong on the streets, so what brought you here?”
I stopped and looked at Top Dog and lit a Newport. I took one deep pull and blew the smoke out slowly, because I knew I would never speak of this again to anyone. A big part of my life had already gone up in smoke, more than you could ever know. I once had that all American dream: a job, a car, a home, a lady and even a pup named Brandy.
I met Lisa late one night at a shot house, a place you can drink after the bars close. She was being harassed by a drunk, so I walked up and gave her hug, but whispered in her ear, “I’m just trying to help save you from this guy.”
“Thanks,” she said. I asked the bartender for a couple of drinks; a Heineken and a double shot of tequila. After a game of pool, she went to the lady’s room to freshen up and I went to the men’s room to freshen up on a few more lines of nose candy. I was shit faced. I asked the bartender for a half pint of vodka to go. She offered to drive me home on the north side of town. I passed out on the ride home in her car.
The next morning I woke up on a couch, wondering how I had gotten there. On the coffee table next to me, I saw a line of cocaine and an empty bottle of vodka. I staggered to turn on the TV, my head throbbing like a tooth ache. Out of nowhere, Lisa came and said, “Let me help you with that. Would you like a cup of coffee?”
“Yes,” I replied. “I’m sorry I passed out.”
She said, “That’s okay, you were a perfect gentleman.”
Lisa was a beautiful lady with pecan brown skin, jet black hair, and a body that was truly a magnificent work of art. She was not the kind of lady you’d expect to meet at a shot house, she was totally out of place. Seven years older than me, she was very intelligent, independent and even had a nice paying job. She was the total package.
After freshening up and drinking some coffee I told her that I must leave. I called a cab to take me back to my car. I asked her if she would like to go out to dinner some time. She said, “What are you doing this Friday?”
“Spending my day with you, I hope.”
She smiled and handed me her number. “I hope to spend my day with you as well.”
Over the next few months, my clothes would slowly accumulate over at her place. Eventually I moved out of my apartment and into hers. We sold coke and crack at our jobs, the local colleges, and to our friends. This took a toll on our relationship, and on our lives in general.
One night at our place, we sat around with our drug buddies sniffing coke, drinking beer and some of my money went missing. I confronted one of her friends. I thought she took it, Lisa thought one of my friends took it, but who knew; we were all high. I asked everyone to leave. Lisa and I began to quarrel, she threw a lamp at me and I threw an ash tray at her. She called the police, and I was arrested.
After 72 hours in jail, I returned home. We kissed and made up, and decided not to go to court, thinking they would drop the charges. I found out the hard way that the charges were not dropped. On a Saturday morning I was robbed by knife and wounded with several cuts on my left arm. I had to go to the hospital, where I told them what happened. They in turn reported this to the police, who showed up and took a report. Unknown to me, there was a warrant out for my arrest for failing to appear in court a month earlier. They put my bandaged wrist in handcuffs and drove my sore ass to jail, where I was placed without bond for the next month and a half. Could this get any worse? -Damn right. I got out on a year of supervised probation. I lost my job, my home, my dog, Lisa decided to move on and I was denied unemployment benefits. Within just a few weeks of staying in hotels looking for work, all my savings were gone. I was on the streets.
I took the last pull of my cigarette, threw the butt on the ground and stomped it out. I think that Top Dog could see I wanted to cry or scream with anger, but with a smile he said, “Tricks are for kids, silly rabbit. Put that shit behind you, because these damn streets can eat you alive, Ricky.”
I took his advice, and that was the last I thought about that part of my life. But the demons and the pain would plague me on the streets more than ever.