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An Urban Tale

February 23, 2008

It felt like a story right out of `The Wire’ – the best tv series ever – which I don’t doubt, but it really happened.

He knocked on the front door about 5:45. Could he come in and use the phone. `No,’ says I, `you can’t come in, but yes, you can use the phone – I’ll bring it to you on the porch’, which I did.

He was obviously distraught, disoriented and in tears. He said his car had broken down nearby. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. I never saw a car. He was trying to get a friend or relative to pick him up. There was a call to his father that left him very upset and disturbed, `He’s disowned me…his own son and he won’t speak to me’ as he broke into tears. And then turning to me, somewhat contemtuously he said, `Don’t worry, I won’t steal it’, `it’ being the phone. `You could steal it if you like, it’s a piece of shit anyhow’ says me trying to get a sense of what was going but not being sure.

He was short, a Chicano, either in his late teens or early 20s and he obviously was hurting, in real pain, the kind that just doesn’t go away and just gnaws at your insides. Either that or he was a pretty good actor. Either way it was ok. I was more concerned than afraid. Actually I was hardly afraid at all just sad that `the world’ had somehow burst on to my porch. Didn’t have a clue as to why he was so unhappy but felt like he wasn’t putting me on. Kept weeping about his father, and how God made all people equal `even Chicanos’ he said. I was kind of startled by that, didn’t know from whence it came.

He tried a few more calls to his `niggers’, his `homies’ as he called them. Had no idea what that meant. One of my daughters explained it me later. He went on how his homies wouldn’t let him down, but I guess this time they did for no one responded.

I offered to drive him somewhere if it wasn’t too far and he accepted `Wadsworth and 90th’ – about 20 minutes away. Ok says I, let’ go. And we did. It was only in the car that I could see that he probably was on something, although what I don’t know. He kept talking, `I wanted to go to CSU, but my father wouldn’t pay’.

`Is he poor?’ I asked. `No, he just doesn’t like the fact that I’m a dope dealer. ‘` Yes, that would be a problem, wouldn’t it?…What’s your first name anyhow?’ `Carlos’.

Carlos kept talking. I’d ask him questions now and then and mostly he answered. I was curious, `What sells on the streets.’ `Crack, cocaine, meth and ectasy…. in that order’. `Can you make a living?’ He claimed his operation brings in `3-4 K’ – which I guess means $3000-$4000 a day. Not a bad living but the thing with his father was eating out his insides, that combined with the fact he can’t see his wife in Missouri. ____________________________________________________________

…they told me I either have to go to prison or to Iraq. f**k Iraq, f**k the war. It ain’t my war ____________________________________________________________

`Why not?’..`I broke parole there’, Carols said, `because they told me I either have to go to prison or to Iraq. f**k Iraq, f**k the war. It ain’t my war.’

An anti-war dope dealer. Kept wondering if he really took in that much money and if I was, perhaps, in the wrong profession.

He told me more, how the operation was a family deal, his mother, brother and sister were involved with him and they worked as a kind of family small business. `Family …family is important to me’ and he went on, in tears again about how he missed his wife and 2 kids back in Missouri but `a man has to make a living’. Didn’t the police bother him. `Not really, not here, there’s some Mexican politican – I forget his name – he fixes things for us with the cops, works pretty well, they don’t bother us and businss is good’. No it’s not the cops, it’s the other dealers coming up, fighting us for customers. Competition’s stiff’.

More crying and then alot of sloppy emotional shit about how I was a nice man because I wasn’t afraid of him,,, but why wasn’t I afraid of him? `I don’t know’ I said, which was an honest answer. `I probably should be afraid of you…but then, I’m not in your line of fire? not a customer, not a competitor, not a cop…why should you do me any harm?’ …`Besides,’ I told him, `you’re just trying to make it in a world where there isn’t much else to do, is there?…and you’re hurting and you’re not putting it on. I can see that.’..

He’s used to bossing people around…`Turn left, turn right..’ – I told him I knew how to get there. Didn’t need his advice. He acted surprised and actually said `excuse me’ and stopped doing it.

And then I dropped him off where I promised and turned to go him. I had this funny take on him – in the 30s or 40s he would have been a communist, in the 60s and 70s he would have been one of those kids who gravitated to and worked with the Crusade for Justice. In 2008 he’s just a young dope dealer caught in a world that seemed to be closing in on him from all sides.

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