Chapter 25

I found myself at Sal’s after school. It was me, Sal, Seven Sonna, and Byron. What’s ominously prophetic is that everyone I was with would either end up dead or in prison. This would be my first time getting high.

I was just meeting Byron but I liked him. He wasn’t like the other older kids. He didn’t seem to have an ego or be competitive. With a lighthearted humorous demeanor, he told me stories of pulling shotguns on people and the horror on their faces. He talked about hooking me up with his super hot younger sister. I thought he was joking but hoped he wasn’t.

My nerdy ass sitting in a basement with 3 of the most dangerous kids in school smoking blunts.

My lungs felt what it must be like dying from smoke inhalation. I coughed so much I didn’t realize I was high. The trio laughed with promise, knowing what was coming next.

By the time I was able to breathe, I was high – as shit. It felt familiar, like I had somehow been this way before. I was scared but intrigued. So this is what high is, I thought. They welcomed me to their world, as they talked about girls and drugs.

We never talked about the future. The idea of one day being adults – married with cubicle jobs didn’t seem realistic. This was either a premonition or self-fulfilling, because some of us wouldn’t make it. If we would’ve aspired for more than getting girls and high, maybe we could’ve avoided our looming fates. But we were high and all of that was only under the surface. I guess that’s where the paranoia comes from.

We left Sal’s basement and walked to the gas station where they’d use pay phones to call back ‘clients’. Walking the streets with them felt like I was finally apart of something. But there was a catch. We were in my neighborhood so I’d have to walk past by my mom’s house.

My little brother was playing outside and decided to pester and follow us. High and not wanting bothered, I yelled and told him to leave me alone. He couldn’t of known I was high, but the look he gave me, he could tell something was wrong. So he fell back. I still feel bad about that.

We made our way to the gas station where I fumbled over my words and laughed at stupid jokes. The cops drove by and noticed the new little black kid hanging with the drug dealers.

“Hit me up, Harlem” Seven said when they drove away.

Everyone called me Harlem, for being been born there and acting like it’s where I grew up. I loved the nickname but truthfully I barely remembered New York. But because I was born in the biggest city in the world, and was raised in such a small one, New York always fascinated me. I still rep it. NY til I die.

Enough time had passed that I didn’t smell like smoke. So when I went home I was clear of suspicion. My dad was there watching TV. I sat in the chair beside him and fell asleep. When I woke up a few hours later still high, I thought to myself, how long does this last?

I successfully pulled off being high around my parents, without them having any idea. If they would’ve caught me, maybe they could’ve saved me from years of self-medicating. But I was too smart for my own good. This was just the beginning.