Friday, December 4, 2009

I Can Not Tell A Lie

As a kid, I had the kinda pops that would teach me things in a way that made me want to listen, learn & use that shit in real life. Even if to only be more like him. I guess that's admiration. & I guess I do the same thing to/for my son, because on a regular basis, dude surprises me with the way he handles things. His teacher says he's "very mature", among other positive adjectives. I wish more Black men could experience the fruits of positive, tangible fatherhood.

One of the main things he made sure was planted in my psyche was the importance of honesty. Most kids are told "don't lie!", but my dad went as far as to lead by example. Case in point; I've never, ever in my life believed in "Santa Claus". Never had a reason to. Easter Bunny & Tooth Fairy, same thing. Until I moved out of his house, I stood firm on that value, so much so that, one summer, honesty caused an ass load of headache for my family, including almost jail & death.

Yeah, I got some stories...

It was the summer of 1988, between my 6th grade graduation from 54th Street Elementary & my first year at Orville Wright Junior High. We all know that jump from grade to middle school is one the first big steps towards adulthood. Puberty, a little more freedom, the onset of the teenage years. At this juncture, we begin to realize that the world is our oyster. We may not have the skill to crack that bitch open & have at it's mystic pearl just yet, but we've pulled up a chair to the proverbial table & begun to behold the possibilities.

As if the anticipation of Junior High school wasn't enough, my family & I were also moving that summer, to a bigger apartment. My life was changing right before my eyes. Luckily, I'm the type of lad that can respect the unknown. That shit's exciting, in most cases. The new apartment was roughly a half-mile up the street from the old one, so I wouldn't be moving too far from who & what I knew. That made the transition that much easier to accept. The school bus stop was a block away, & all the small conveniences one could want were in walking distance. Also, I'd already been frequenting these establishments, so it was no surprises. Anyone who knows where Slauson Avenue & Overhill Drive cross, in L.A., knows that, back then, that was a generally "good" area. Funny thing though, two summers after we moved there, a nigga got shot in front of our quadplex over some drugs, stumbled into our alley & bleed to death. That was the first freshly dead body I'd ever see.

[tony's note: real life gunshot wounds are nothing like television ones. & coagulated blood stinks...]

My dad told me he needed my help to make this move go smoothly. No worries. My dad knew he could depend on me, especially since I'd been looking after my little brother since day one. I don't recall my parents ever having a babysitter. So, he tells me what I need to do.

"The gas man is going to the new house in the morning. I need you to let him in."


"But, an adult needs to be there. So I want you to tell them that your mother is next door, & they can g'head on turn it on."


"Are you sure you can do it?"

"Of course, dad."

The next day approaches, & my dad drops me off at the new place on his way to work. My mom had already left for work. My brother & I were latch-key kids anyway, so I had no problem chilling alone, waiting for the gas man. Eventually, he arrived & knocked on the screen. I opened the door, hoping he would mistake me for an adult & handle his business. No dice.

"'Sup lil man. Ya mom's here?"

Damn. I didn't want to lie.

"Umm, she said she'll be right back, but to tell you it's cool. You can start now."

"Nah, gotta be someone here over 18 here."

Figured I'd be able to convince him, even pleaded with him. It wasn't happening. He said sorry & headed back to his truck. Now, in my mind, I knew I was in trouble. Trouble for NOT lying. What kinda shit is that? When I did finally talk to my dad, he was pissed. But, oh well. Back then, I didn't know that we had to be out of the old spot by the end of that day. Hey, I'm a kid. He should've taken off work, instead of asking me to do his dirty work, as if bills & rent pay themselves.

Our furniture was already in the new place, so at least we had that going for us. By the end of the day, we were completely moved in, sans heat & hot water. My dad, who's a mail carrier, needed a shower after work. Me, being a boy going through puberty, needed one also. We still had the keys to the old spot, so him & I went there to clean ourselves. After a five minute ride, & him telling me that all-in-all, I didn't do anything wrong, we arrived. You know how when you live somewhere for a long time, you become acquainted with the logistics of the street. Volume of people walking, amount of cars passing, etc. Two dudes were walking down the street, which was slightly unusual for that time of evening. Of course, I noticed them. We pulled up & I got out first, looking at the dudes who to me, looked like Ed Lover & Dr. Dre. That's old school, youngsters. My dad got out & before I could look at him, I heard a loud, shaky voice.

"Gimme those keys, man!"

What the fuck? Was he joking? Nah, not at all. He repeated his sentence, as he pulled what looked like a .38 out of his pocket. Now, the slo-mo kicks in. I'm assessing the situation. These bum ass niggas were robbing my dad at gunpoint.

"Run, Anthony!"

I was also taught that my dad shouldn't have to repeat himself to me. So, I bolted. I ran around the corner, crying, mortified, hysterical, to a large complex around the corner. I knew a lot of the kids, but adults, not so much. Instinctively, I looked for lights & open doors to find help. Oh, & I'm screaming "HELP!" the whole time as well. First door slams right in my face. Word? Am I not a crying kid? Next door I saw, fuck that, I opened the screen myself. An older lady pushed me out the house, while I'm trying to tell her my dad might be shot & shit. *SLAM* Now, on top of my fear builds anger. Old ass scary bitches need to live in a retirement village or some shit if they can't hack it in the real world. Maybe they should be living in a church, because real life happens out here.

I had one older homie, who was like the coolest older kid in the area. He lived in that complex. We all called him "Teddy Bear" for whatever reason. All I remember was him coming outta nowhere, picking me up & running me back around the corner to find my dad. Like a football player. When we arrived back on the scene, my dad's car was still there, & our old neighbor's who'd heard the commotion were standing outside. My friend Terra's mom took me inside, while the other adults started walking down the street to find my dad. In a matter of minutes, he came walking up the street, sweaty & out of breath. He said when I ran, he ran the other way, & those scumbags followed. He said he thought he heard a click, then the guys just scattered. I was so relieved, I cried even harder than I had been. The adults milled around, Teddy Bear made sure I was cool, & everybody went back home. My dad & I got in the car, & headed home as well.

Never did get that shower, though.

We got home, & my extremely angry father stopped the car, got out, ran inside, & came right back. Now, he seemed even madder. Still in shock of it all, I just sat there. My dad asked me was I okay, for like the hundredth time, & we left again. We headed back to the old apartment. I assumed we were going to finally take our showers. We got to the spot, & kept driving. I was curious, but I wasn't about to ask my dad where we were going. My question was answered without any words being exchanged.

I looked over, & he had his gun on his lap. What?! My dad had every intention of finding & killing these men. He was looking, ever so intently, in every shadow, nook, cranny & possible hiding spot for at least a mile's distance. I couldn't believe this. I knew he'd carry his piece from time to time, as well as I've seen him attempt to kick people's asses if he felt they were wrong, but this was another level I'd not yet witnessed in my dad. He was cursing to himself, ignoring the fact that his son was a foot & a half away from him. Shit was scary, because I know what he's capable. At least, before he got all sensitive with age & grandfather-y.

Of course, God helped those clowns get away. I think that made him even angrier, because he wouldn't be able to exact his revenge. We got home, & him & my mom got into a big argument. I stopped listening once she started quoting bible scriptures & talking about me being in the car. Fuck that shower, man. We were home, & "safe", & my dad didn't kill or get killed, so I was good. in hindsight, I understand why he took me back out with him. I can't say I wouldn't do the same thing. Men are complex creatures. Threats of violence are usually met with reciprocation, even if at a later date. This was no exception. I know for certain what my father's intentions were when he never contacted the police. Hardbody.

My mom talked to some emergency gas people, & the following day, there was a dude out to turn our gas on. My father & I have NEVER spoken about the situation. Probably never will. I'll never forget that shit, really though.

Some years down the line, I was watching a football game with some friends. I saw this face, & lit up. "Oh shit!" I said, "that's my homie from my old neighborhood." It was Teddy Bear, who's name is Marcellus Wiley, of the San Diego Charges, Buffalo Bills & Dallas Cowboys. He was a big ass kid, so it made sense when I saw him plowing down the oppostition, & I also remembered how fast that nigga scooped me up, & jetted down the street. Up until that point, I'd all but forgotten that attempted robbery even took place. Even a few more years later, I saw Marcellus at a grocery store in Ladera Heights. He remembered me, came over, gave me a hug, & asked about my "crazy ass dad".

So, yeah.


Capital G said...

Never a dull moment with you T. Good read all around. Your pops is a good man but good men can be pushed to do foul shit, especially if their children are involved. Hardbody indeed.

Rob said...

Damn yo crazy one. Gettin a gun pulled on you is a strange feeling. Dont wanna say scary cause you're not just scared but pissed and thinking about a whole lotta shit while focusing on the gun in front of you. Dont wish that feeling on anybody or their fam.

And Marcelus Wiley?? For real?? That was a cool end to a story that coulda had some not so cool endings.

Daywalker said...

Damn man, that was a good read. Not sure if you ever seen the movie Joe Dirt, but it was like listening to one of his crazy ass stories. The ending was wild...Marcelus Wiley!?

By the way, just downloaded your mixtape. The Makin Money joint was dope. Not too shabby on the mic.

somebody said...