Saturday, January 10, 2009


That afternoon, I called Mr. Speaker.  I told him that I needed work.

Mr. Speaker was an old, white man with plenty of money; dirty money.  I met Mr. Speaker in 1989 at a restaurant bar.  Like myself, he also grew up a farm boy.  From that we connected in many ways.  Mr. Speaker used to be a stock investor.  He also owned several car dealerships in New Jersey.  He lived out on a big farm in the country and had a single engine plane.  One day he invited me out to his farm to fly with him. 

“I would love to fly, “I told him.  “It has always been my dream.”

“Dang,” he said.  “Not many country boys want to fly.” 

“I don’t like being called ‘boy’, ‘homeboy’, ‘my nigger’, or any other bullshit.  Call me by my name, please,” I told him. 

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean anything by that.  I like you, Rick.  I can call you Rick, right?”

“Yeah.”  Smiling, I said, “And you can call me for that plane ride too.”  

“You have my word, Ricky.  I don’t tell lies.  I don’t lie to you or anyone else.  Maybe I can show you around the farm, and show you some ways to invest your money.”

He called me the next Thursday, as he promised.  “Can you meet me Saturday morning to take a flight around the farm?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing where this flight would lead me. 

On Saturday, I met him at his large house.  He told me that he owned about four hundred acres of land.  Some he inherited from family, some he had bought himself.  We talked about stocks and how to make money.  I told him that I knew very little about stocks.  He said, “Rick, you are a very smart, young man because you listen very well.  Would you accompany me outside?”  We walked out to his large pool and patio.  “Look Rick, I made all of this happen,” he said as he waved his hand over his property, “because I believed in myself, and I worked hard.  And sometimes a man has to take a risk in order to succeed.  I’m coming to you straight, Rick.  I made some of this happen with dirty money.  And with that comes some heart ache and pain.”

“I don’t read you,” I said. 

“I didn’t think you would.  I have one son who you will meet today.  He’ll do the flying, I’ll do the talking and you’ll do the listening.”

One day I would crash and burn, but that day I was going flying.  Speaker’s son, Pete, flew us over and around the farm.  It was my dream come true.    As I looked down at his beautiful home and large farm I thought, damn this is nice.  I knew that getting involved with Speaker was wrong, but as I gazed at all he had, I wanted the same.  Maybe I could get into this for a little while, make a little money and move on.  I didn’t know what kind of plan Speaker had for me, but I knew it would change my life, and on this day I was excited but confused.  I was faced with so many questions but I couldn’t deny this opportunity for wealth and power.  Where do you draw the line between right and wrong?  Between dreams and reality?   I felt like I was putting a price on my own head; a very high price that I wanted there.  If it meant taking a risk, so be it.  The greater the risk, the greater the reward.  And Batman was wrong: crime does pay.  But at what price?    

After about an hour in the sky, drinking brandy and sniffing cocaine, I had to come back down to reality.  After landing, Pete and I walked into his father’s office.  There, I met a Spanish fellow named Rafael.  He was a car salesman and drug dealer.  Pete and Rafael explained how I could get involved in their business.  Pete would make the connections for the hot cars.  Raf would do the fake paperwork, the drug deals, and the logistics.  My role was to transfer the cars.  It was the most successful job interview I had ever had.  No resume, no background check.  I immediately had a part time job.  I still had my regular 9 to 5, but now I would be transferring cars on the weekends.  And the pay was great:  $1,500-$2,000 every Sunday with fringe benefits.  Not the kind of benefits you’d find at IBM, but crime benefits; enough drugs and women to keep the employees sufficiently entertained and sufficiently locked in.  How could anyone turn this down?

This was my weekend job for the next year.  I would drive hot cars to and from Florida, New Jersey and North Carolina.  At first Rafael would follow me in another car with drugs, money, and usually what Rafael referred to as his “hot commodities”.  These weren’t the chicken heads you’d find on the streets.  These were high end prostitutes; girls who would make about $1,200 a night.  Mr. Speaker would transfer these girls around from city to city to keep things fresh for his clients.  Eventually, I worked my way up to driving and delivering on my own.  It was a job I took very seriously.  The only thing I ever touched on the car was the steering wheel.  You never touched the drugs, the money, and especially the “hot commodities”.  It was all business while on the road.    

Once a delivery was made, and the drugs and money were in Mr. Speaker’s hand, you’d get paid immediately.  Some of the other drug runners would take off.  Mr. Speaker would always ask me to hang around and make overtime to learn more about the business.  The compensation for his overtime would always be the fringe benefits hard for any man to turn down.  Hell, Mr Speaker and I were like Hugh Hefner and Rick James partying it up at the mansion.

“Are you saving any of this money, or investing in stocks like I told you to?”  Mr. Speaker asked me one night during overtime. 

“Yes, maybe next year I’ll buy a small house and a farm.”  He knew I was bullshitting my money away.  “I’m only buying small things right now.  Hell, you know I have a regular job, and I don’t want to raise any suspicion.” 

“I know.  This is a business, not a fucking game, Ricky!”  Whenever Mr. Speaker called me Ricky, I knew he was serious.  “Save the money, you will need it one day.  You are not looking at the business aspects of this, Ricky.  You are gambling, drinking, and smoking that shit too much.  Just take some time off both your jobs.  I’ve got a place in the mountains and you can stay there.  You have to learn where to draw the line.”  I did take some time off, but the only line I ever drew was another line of cocaine. 

I had a lot of respect for Mr. Speaker and the game.  He’d call and check in on me.  Of course I would tell him a lie, saying that I was doing fine.  I was fucking up everything I touched.  My drug addiction had taken over my life.  I felt like I had let Mr. Speaker and many others down.  I was too ashamed to go back to this man who had helped me so much. 

“I’ve been there, Rick,” Mr. Speaker told me one time during one of his phone calls.  “I’ll pay for you to go to a treatment center.  You need help.  Ricky, I feel like it was my fault.  But I can’t help you unless you allow me to help you.  Call me Ricky, if you ever need me for anything.  I’ll always be there.” 

I should have taken the treatment, but pride and addiction got the best of me.  Years went by and I never called him.  But now I was a fugitive on the run, hiding out in a fucking, cramped rooming house, calling Speaker for help.  Like a child running back to his parents.  A hard head makes a soft ass.  

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