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My cousin had yet to return with the money to buy us both an extended week of residency, and judging by the 12-Man Eviction Squad’s rapid speed as they aggressively tossed all items in giant-sized trash bags, we were doomed. “You might wanna hold on to more than just those laptops,” the white sheriff said, “These Mexicans are likely to pocket some of your stuff.” Unfortunately, the racial overtone didn’t register because I was too busy looking at my late Grandmother’s photo frame being tossed in the same bag as the body wash and skillet. The white sheriff silently observed my room until abruptly yelled, “Holy Shit, you have a degree?!!” I glanced up, as always, there was my Howard University(HU) degree sitting on top of the stereo system. He walked over, grabbed it, and yelled to his partner, “A yo, this man has a f**kin degree!!!” The Black sheriff then rushed into the room, looked, and said, “Get the f**k outta here,” both now laughing and wiping away small tears from their corner eyes as I sat saying nothing. Minutes later, my cousin arrived with the check and gave it to the Leasing Lady, who looked somewhat disappointed. Soon after, we grabbed our stuff from the street back into the apartment and later moved out on our separate ways.
My then out-of-state girlfriend and close HU Homegirl were aware of the problem early, and both always offered their homes to me. However, I didn’t want to be a burden and refused to be the same “Broke A** Clown N***a on the couch!!!,” that I’ve heard growing up from so many women, “I’m staying with other friends” became my standard lie. The truth is, I was living mobile for a couple of weeks. I worked my radio shifts and occasional temp gigs that never turned permanent in the struggle economy land of Bush Jr. My access to healthy shower hygiene was courtesy of an expired gym membership that the employees never noticed. I slept in various parking lots at night with an alarm that could either be a security guard tap on the window or sensational hunger pains from my ribs touching. One day after almost colliding with a Mack truck on the beltway because of falling asleep with open eyes, I decided it was time to reach out for a by-any-means-necessary type of help.
My Big Homie from back home always warned me to stay away from his cousin; however, six months prior at his funeral, this same cousin said to reach out if I ever hit a tough spot, which can be assumed that stomach pains singing like a Sunday Choir is a qualifier. So I sent out a message and waited for 20mins in a College Park motel parking lot before the payphone ringed. We skipped the pleasantries, and I explained for close to four minutes before he(the cousin) quietly laughed and said, “That’s all?!!” I paused and said, “…Yea.” He then breathed slowly and said:
“Tell you what, I’ll wire you something to eat, for now, then after that, you make it back up here in 48, and on the way make quick stops at Toledo, and Point Breeze, and you’ll get about 13 for each. That should hold you, right?”
With a dry mouth, I said, “Yea…sure.” For seconds that felt like hours, I leaned my head against the booth, trying to understand what just happened. I would’ve stayed in that position forever until a familiar cold feeling of flashing lights brought me out of the trance. I turned around to see a tow-truck parked in front of my car with a cigar-smoking man standing beside it. I ran towards him and asked, “What was the problem?” he exhaled and said: “Expired tags, gotta take her in.” My shoulders collapsed, and my eyes stared through the flickering red lights as they became brighter with each flash.
“You already know where everything is, and I sat out a blanket and pillow for you on the couch,” my HU Homegirl said, leading me into her apartment, turning on each lamp. “Yea, sorry about the place being so dark, but I can’t be having no high ass light bill,” she laughed and said, moving swiftly from the bedroom to the bathroom. I flopped on the couch, grabbed the pillow, placed it on my lap. She sat next to me and said, “I talked to ya girl, she’s coming down this weekend, so the three of us gonna have lunch, come up with a plan, and everything will be smooth.” I stared at the wall mirror, looking at my loser reflection. “Humph,” I said, “Here I am, a broke a$$ clown n***a on the couch.” My HU Homegirl then looked at me through the same reflection and said, “Yea, but an indoor clown n***a who still got tomorrow.” We both chuckled, and that night, I slept, but for years still shake to a loud KNOCK sound.
j hall is a Detroit bred Howard Bison multimedia culture critic. An abstract thinker who believes “You ain’t wrong when you’re right,” and that his mother’s cupcakes are legendary. Check out his slight worldwide view here.