Chapter 21 (Remastered)

When I first got to high school the smart kids took a liking to me. I went to see Titanic with them and partied at their houses. These were my first parties where no one drank or smoke. While atttending one of those parties, some older kids parked down the street. They were smoking and drinking. All the girls dropped what they were doing and ran over to them.

That’s when the devil first seduced me.

Envious, I stood alone, plotting how eventually that would be me with the girls. I realized right away what girls liked, danger. I wasn’t good at sports or school, but danger I could do. Nothing about my life had been safe up to that point. I had no reason to start now.

Someone else took a liking to me too; Seven Sonna, the Pablo Escobar of St. Clairsville.

He had the money and the power. He was one of the leaders of the “Crew”. Everyone feared and respected him. It was no secret he sold drugs. I didn’t even know what drugs were, yet.

He started bringing me around. He cultivated a vibe I knew I could emulate, danger.

I had study hall with my smart friends and Seven Sonna. It was one of those defining moments, a crossroads where I would pick my future.

Whose blueprint would I follow?

My smart friends who would go to college and have respectable day jobs? Or Seven Sonna who’s currently in prison for 10 years?

It wasn’t that simple.

My grades were so bad that me going college might as well have been Atlantis. Girls were the only real goal.

My dad was entirely moved out by this point. He lived in a nearby town called Martins Ferry. I made friends in his neighborhood with another a nerdy black kid my age – Preston. He introduced me to a girl so pretty I still get chills when I think about her.

When I got back home it hit me, Homecoming! Since I wasn’t having any luck with girls in my school, why don’t I ask her to go? I told Preston my plan.

A few days later I get a call.

Preston: AJ, I talked to Theresa. She said she would go to your dance with you. She said you seemed really nice.

Holy shit I thought. I step into the other room so my mom can’t overhear.

Me: Preston are you fucking serious right now?

Preston: (speaking ridiculously casual as if this isn’t the best news anyone’s ever given me.) Yea man – she’s here with me now. Hold on.

Theresa: Hi! AJ?

Me:

Theresa: Hello?

Me: Uhhhh hi.

Theresa: Preston told me about your dance and I’m happy to go with you.

Me: Are you serious!? -I mean.. that’s cool.

Theresa: Sure. Here’s my number. Just call me when you have more details and I’ll talk to you soon. Bye!

Cloud 9 evaporated quickly when it hit me. How on earth am I going to pay for this?

In study hall later that week, I told Seven my predicament.

“Man don’t even sweat that, my nigga. I got you. I was gonna ask if you wanted put on anyway.”

“What do you mean?”, I asked.

“This dope game” he said. “I can front you some work and you can flip that. You’ll have more than enough money for your little dance.”

That would check off two boxes. Danger? Check. Money? Check. Get the girl? Check. Damn that’s three boxes. He gave me the weekend to think it over.

I had seen the cautionary after-school specials about just saying no and how older kids might try to lure you in. I never thought it would actually happen to me. I was wrong. It was just like the warnings.

Monday back at school, it was first period and I still hadn’t made up my mind. Before I get to study hall where I would see Seven, he found me. He’s motioning for my attention in the hallway while I’m in class. He has his arms up like, what’s it gonna be?

I think about what it would be like taking such a pretty girl to my first Homecoming. It would change my entire perception. Also, I realize if I align myself with Seven, my enemies would be forced to retreat.

I think about how my smart friends wouldn’t like my anymore. I thought about the study groups I wouldn’t get to attend and how my grades would suffer.

After weighing the pros and cons, the decision was easy.

I looked at back at Seven Sonna. The teacher was lecturing on something I wasn’t paying attention to. I silently mouthed two words. No one in the class noticed, but Seven read what I was saying clearly.

Hell yea.