Memoirs of a Dopeman (Pt. 6)
Black Roses in My Garden Pt. 2
1996 started out as one of the greatest adventures of my life. I was a year in college and as usual, I set up an establishment not too complicated just a simple system. College was a brand new playing field with a lot of good money to be made. Upon arrival I set my precedence early, after taking into consideration of just how much school was going to cost with student loans helping a nibble, there was no funding from any other source unless I provided it.
School cost $3,000 a quarter, so I staked a claim on a space which was in the corner of the small cafe we had, it was equipped with cameras so I made sure that there was no visual on what was taking place. One day I made an announcement stating: "I pay $3,000 a quarter this table is mine, the vending machines, and the countertops!!" the group in the cafe roared as my bold statement sparked the minds of others to take the same stance, I called that little area "the VIP table" and only a select few were allowed there, if you were an individual caught at this table without permission you would be asked to leave kindly at first, if you refused there would be repercussions. Transactions, meetings of the mind and other events took place for six months while I struggled to find a good supplier, spreading thin what I had. Dread slowed down operations, causing a disruption in business.
One of my VIP comrades, a native of Houston, TX, came to me one day with a proposition I was sure not to refuse. We had minimal dealings, maybe a few smoke sessions, freestyles sessions through the months, Frenchie was his name, he became my greatest asset and one of my closest friends. This would be the first time in my life I would be moving major weight, he asked me how much I would be able to move. I remember exaggerating the number telling him I could move five to 10 pounds, when I only sold no more than a quarter pound at a time; I was ready for graduation and never doubted my capabilities, always up for the task. That wasn't a lie it was a promise, and Frenchie entrusted me to deliver. I didn't want to disappoint.
This operation would be less complicated than what I had in place and would bring in more cash flow than I had ever seen. We were getting weight from an undisclosed location in the southwestern hemisphere of the US for an unheard of price tag of $250 per pound, that's 16 ounces, 12 more than what I was getting previously. With Dread it made me realize that he was keeping me under his thumb, while the whole time I thought I was independent, what a great awakening. The shipment would come through one of the many delivery services that we use today; they would come packaged in cocoons 10, 20, or 30 pounds at a time, the address we used switched from time to time to avoid risks. My girl at the time, Nita, lived in student housing for the Art Institute, which was a perfect cover for the shipments, until we would get into arguments. One event I had to take a chance and break one of the rules and had a shipment come to the house. It was during the holiday season and I figured it would be a great blend; 30 pounds would be in this order, no problem, except my mother had the day off, 60 hrs a week she works but today she is off, when the package arrived large in stature she became curious as to what were the contents, I had to make up something quickly, I told her it was a gift from Nita I only produced a tape with holiday packaging.
When asked if that was all that came in the package I simply stated," No, there was more."
She said "Oh," and left the subject alone.
That would have more than derailed the operation, had my mother known at the time she would have derailed my neck, a chance I was not willing to take. That was the first and only time, until another address was found for the next shipment.
We had a list of clientele that included college students to some well-known celebrities, it was a great time. The shipments would come once a month, depending on the return, the next shipment would then double. I felt that my pockets weren't doubling enough. I was always the hare in the tortoise race, never understanding the slow and steady pace mantra. It would take me many years to learn the practice, at 19 the world was in the palm of my hand and I felt at every touch I could make anything happen, I did for the moment. That wasn't enough for me I wanted more and Frenchie allowed that. He was never selfish and allowed me to use the wholesale system with my own clientele, the only thing was I needed my clients to buy at least 10 or more pounds to accomplish what I was trying to do. The only one I knew would be a great candidate to supply a need to was Dread, I knew his well was either drying or had dried up completely, there was only one way to find out. I reached out to him, at first he was reluctant because when he asked me how much could I get for him I responded with, "how much do you need?" When he quoted the number 20 I told him I could deliver; we always did good business, this time the scenario would be in reverse, he would be the one placed under my thumb.
It was two weeks before Christmas and I was more than excited about making my first big deal. I started thinking ahead figuring if I can move 20, I can move 50 or more. I always loved abundance when it came to my pockets, this would be my defining moment. I may have been a little too anxious because another rule was broken when making a deal at night. I figured I would compensate by making the exchange in an open public space. The deal was $13,500 for a total of 20 pounds, at first he did not like the price I charged but me knowing in desperation you have to do what you have to do, as I have many times before he had no choice but to concede. At this price, I was making $500 off of each pound, which would give me a jumpstart to make my own orders direct, and severing my partnership with Frenchie although keeping close ties.
The meet was at a gas station by the freeway. Dread told me he would come alone. I knew that he was never alone for every deal we made it may have been only a few times but most definitely not at this time we have never dealt with each other in this capacity before. So I came with extra backup, he was disturbed at first until I assured him all was well. I needed to make sure that he had the money in possession before I retrieved the product it was supposed to be a smooth exchange; it became a chess match. He became jumpy, yelling in patwah "A four blood clot men in a de car" I had to calm him, as he stated, "A me alone out here so," I knew that was a lie and told him so and kept pushing the issue of the deal. After seeing the money I went to retrieve the product keeping aware of my surroundings I couldn't help but to feel at any given moment police or some individual was going to jump out and take the goods. I came back to the car, accompanied by Frenchie I needed him there as I counted, couldn't take the risk of counting it later. As we approached the vehicle Dread suddenly pulls off fearing that he was about to get robbed although that was not the case I tried to quell the situation. There was a lot of paging and calls from a payphone to make an attempt to close this deal. It was like waiting on that big fish for so long and you finally caught it and refused to let it get out of your grasp. I refused to let go. Dread finally agreed to make the deal after some brief persuasion telling him this is the deal of a lifetime and only for the moment, he was sold on the idea but had other intentions I knew nothing of.
He agreed to meet behind Good Times liquor store on Wesley Chapel Rd. I entered through the back door of the car, placed the bag in the seat and proceeded to show him the goods. He began to start acting frantic when cars would approach. I would explain that we are at a liquor store during the weekend it will always be like this, it was an act of paranoia. My focus was on the money and my surroundings, like how a candy red Acura coupe has switched drivers in front of us, but playing close attention to what was going on inside of the car, I shrugged it off because I had Frenchie and the crew across the street, and left instructions to follow me if the car moves. In the heat of Dread's paranoia I urged him to drive the vehicle around the corner while I count the money, he obliged.
As we drive down Snapfinger he instructed me to pull the product out of the bag and open it so he can inspect, they were five-pound blocks of grade A marijuana, I felt that the paranoia was at ease as he started passing me the money to count in increments of $1,500 while he drove. I didn't want him to go too far so I kept telling him to turn, each street he would pass the entire time he was on the phone I never knew with who and it didn't seem out of place because this was something he always did, this is how I knew he was never alone, there was always somebody on standby. As we made our trek to some undisclosed location I noticed Dread stopped passing me money to count it was only $5,000 at that point looking for $8,500 more, I kept directing him to pass me more funds. thinking that he was on the phone and couldn't concentrate. I understood Patwah very well, although he spoke low I didn't recall hearing anything suspicious, just thinking he was reassuring everything would go smoothly, so I thought.
We pulled in to the parking lot of an apartment complex, as Dread parks I'm still not pressured because I was sure Frenchie and crew were in tow ready for action. A candy red Acura pulls behind us, the same one previously at the liquor store, the driver hops out but I try not to pay any attention, keeping my focus on Dread and the rest of the currency due. All of a sudden the back door flings open as I feel cold steel against my neck a voice yells out, "Gimme de blood clot money no man!" I was frozen in time, as he kept making demands I left the scene for the moment; from my mind from my body I never experienced something like this, a first time for everything and this was the nature of the business.
So as my state of mind returned I knew I had to be smart, not scared, not stupid either, meaning no superhero antics. I'm outnumbered and outgunned, Dread faced forward the whole time and acted as he was being victimized as well, until I called them on it. After the third time of making a request to give him the money, the individual placed the steel to my head and proceeded to click the gun, when Dread informed him, "No Mon, you no have fe do dem tings, Mon." He snatched the money from my hand and pulled me from the vehicle, when I got out I noticed it was Dreads, cousin. He delivered a package to me once before. I never forget a face. We were the same size same build 'I can take him,' is in my mind, yeah I could fight but one thing for certain it will be a losing battle against a bullet. He kept telling me don't look at him or he was going to shoot me, that night he made many statements, closing with he was going to shoot me I felt the fear from him even though he had backup, I had none. He still was fearful of me this could make a dangerous situation worse when fear is the greatest factor and three on one. It appeared the odds were greatly against me. This entire time I remember making the statement that if I lost my life to the hands of another I would not beg a man for it when his mind has already been made up to take it. I felt like tonight was my night but it would be with dignity and honor, out of all the rants of how my victor was going to shoot me. I ignored all but one command and that was the one where he told me to get down on the ground, but did not end with "Or gan shoot ya." This silence meant it was time, it was a cold winter and a week and a half before Christmas, two and a half weeks before my 20th birthday I was about to be a statistic in my mind.
I thought of my cousin murdered four years prior, just a couple hours after his 20 birthday and how his mother saw the newsflash not knowing it was her youngest son making the early morning news. I thought of my mother watching the newsflash and this time being her eldest son and the devastation that comes after. "Get down pon de ground" would not be the last words I hear, just one more chance to go out without a fight.
I replied, "I ain't getting on no ground so you can shoot me like no dog so if you are going to shoot me, then shoot me," check.
His response was, "Turn around and jump de fence!"
Which means I'm getting a pass, no time for retribution just make an abrupt exit, so the fence I jumped. It took only a moment to notice that I was not being trailed by Frenchie, especially with my pager going off with 911 and 187 as if I ran off with the product. I believe it would have been difficult trying to return a phone call with a bullet stuck in my head, which is exactly what I stated upon my return after walking three miles in the cold and snow thank god for stadium coats, thank god I was spared. It was a brief argument about the events that took place, especially when I entrusted Frenchie to have my back on this deal I was fed to the sharks. Although we were semi roommates at the time I told Frenchie to drop me by moms house, all I could think of was her watching the news and me being tonight's segment.
There was never a reaction to what took place, maybe it was shock or me counting my blessings or an epiphany. No most definitely shock and anger being the only true emotion. As I entered my mothers room I just came in and hugged her, something I always did when I came in the house if she was up; this hug was different it was a little tighter and a little longer. Then tears welled up in my eyes as I began to cry uncontrollably she asked me what was wrong I told her it was something I could not tell her at the moment it was something for later. I told my mother everything, never wanted her to be the type of mother who always thought she had a good boy and then meet my demise and finding out I was a whole other person that was added pain that I didn't want to cause my mother. I hugged her tighter and longer because she was looking at the news that headline could have been me.
There were a series of events that took place afterward, many that I will not disclose here, there were a couple of other incidents that involved robbery, some from close associates, some hired strangers. I was making rash stupid decisions, causing the entire operation to fail, all for the sake of revenge. When the smoke cleared I was without a crew, or my woman, low on funds and on the low for when karma decided to strike. In my heart and mind there was no karma if an individual has wronged you in a manner that is unforgivable, the karma is in their favor and not in a positive manner, in my mind. Truly, at that time my mind became lost, after suffering much loss and emptying what I had left of a soul in the wind, my former partner returned to his hometown of Houston the roller coaster ride ended.
I was a broken man, living with a former classmate who opened her home and heart to me with no issue my entire soul needed replenishing. Although she was a great help she did not have the power to restore me, there was only one place that could do that, and that was home. I called my grandmother up making a plea that I had gone off the deep end, making a full confession, as if she was a priest, feeling my heavy heart lighten as she softly told me, "Come home." And as quickly as Greyhound would allow me to board I hopped on the bus and headed back to Norfolk, VA to pick up the pieces, to soul search I didn't know. What I knew was I had to leave Georgia, damn those money machines I never got by the way, but with my life intact there had to be a new order. This is the nature of the game, wins and losses there are great wins, and great losses, some you are able to come back from, some there is no point of return. I needed a new start retirement in my future, because my head was not in the game I felt that I lost my touch.
Memoirs of a Dopeman Ep.7
The Seven City Saga
About the author
Accomplished artist, writer, producer, musician, and independent label owner. Docta Skitz is a force to be reckoned with. a 20 year veteran to the game garnered notoriety on the underground hip hop scene in the mid 90's