As I sat in the car with the engine running my stomach felt like it had been tied in a knot. Unexpectedly I had to make an emergency trip from DC to my hometown Detroit because the family house had been broken into. A childhood friend named Woodrow called to break the news the day before and my emotions since then had been a rollercoaster. At the time it had been a few years since anyone had actually lived inside and I often was at odds with my mother about what to do with the house after my grandmother died. Unlike myself, she(Mother) hadn’t visited the neighborhood as often to witness its a steady decline. A Do The Right Thing type of block that had a strong sense of community despite never being surface pretty had now lost its balance of goods and evils. The sun that once shined bright over the entire neighborhood was now blocked by overgrown trees while the sounds of kids playing on the street were replaced by hollow echos from the increase of abandon buildings. Memories begin to run rapidly while sitting in my car but the reality was clear, I had returned but I was no longer home.

 

My two cousins who are brothers were parked in front of me and instantly I could tell by looking at the oldest named GP’s face that our feelings were mutual. Dae asked if I was ok and when my response was “Yes,” he immediately knew it was a lie and picked me up off the ground with all his 6’3 former college football lineman frame to bear hug me. GP and I dapped each other while both taking a deep breath to digest the situation. “You sure bout this?,” GP said. “Yea, I just need to take one last look to see if there’s anything worth keeping,” I said. He nodded to understood and as all three of us began to walk towards the house I heard “A yo B!!!,” from behind. I turned to see that it was Woodrow who was calling me “B” which was short for  “Bounce,” a nickname since birth that I never tried nor could ever shake. The years had long gone of Woodrow being the chubby kid who had a deep passion for cookies, however; now slender tall he still had the recognizable babyface only now with a shadow beard. I introduced him(Woodrow) to both cousins. GP with his hands inside both pockets unbudged said “Sup,” while Dae reaching out to shake Woodrow’s hand and said, “Nice to meet you bro.” As we walked inside the house Woodrow while lighting a cigarette kept stating with high confidence that the break-in came from what he dubbed as “New young niggas around the way.” He(Woodrow) felt that the new generation was too young to know my late grandmother, therefore, lacked the same respect that an elder OG may have. I heard Woodrow but my attention was focused on all the broken lamps that laid on the exact floor area where a younger me used to fight battles with a toy lightsaber against Darth Vader. The kitchen table where I once sat impatiently waiting for my grandmother to hand me the cake batter bowl was now on the floor damaged broken in half as if it had a personal beef with someone. My bedroom upstairs where GP and I spent many Saturday nights playings rap CDs and calling girls on the phone was now covered with knocked over wooden dresser drawers exposing the missing old heater that once stood behind them. “Yea, these new niggas, be stealing the heater pipes and selling the metal for money on the streets,” Woodrow said as Dae nodded to understand. Dae stood in my mother’s room to see that her bed was now gone while GP stared in front of my grandmother’s old mirror that had been completely shattered. “I’ve seen enough,” I said walking down the long steps that in the past I’ve tripped so many times over while hearing my grandmother’s voice yell ‘You better slow yo ass down!!!” There was no more to see because everything else had been only a memory.

 

The four of us stood on the porch and Woodrow asked if I needed his help “Handling them new niggas around the way,” I told him “No thanks,” and that I appreciate the offer. Our handshake collide was hard and at the end of the motion Woodrow while still holding hand pointed his finger and said “Fasho.”  When he(Woodrow) reached across the street he waved goodbye again while still walking. Dae waved back and said “He was nice,”  while GP exhaled loudly and said, “I thought that nigga would never shut up.” I felt a slight side smile and gave Woodrow, one last salute goodbye thinking to myself how my grandmother never trusted him inside the house. “Fasho,” I said, “Fasho…”

 

J Hall

@jhallradio

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