State stands with a lean in the middle of the alleyway. He wears baggy jeans and a gold-flaked black t-shirt, matching his favorite white with gold-trimmed shoes. He owns this same outfit several times over and considers it his work uniform.
He refuses to carry a gun but he has a six-inch quick fold blade in his back pocket. He has never needed to use it to stab anyone, but he has pulled it out on numerous occasions to threaten out-of-line customers. More often though he pulls it out menacingly on a bag of Cheetos and slices off the top of the bag. Some customers have started calling him Chettle due to his orange stained hands.
He’s already served more than his fair share of customers this morning and he’s about halfway through his stash. It’s only eleven. He carries twenty bags at a time. Each bag sells for twenty dollars. When those twenty bags are sold he likes to take a break and get high himself.
He doesn’t consider himself an addict like his customers, because he only uses marijuana. His customers are rock fenes. State has to have his marijuana breaks or he becomes ill and cranky. He spends most of his day in a daze just like his rock fene customers. There is little difference between the two, but marijuana is cheaper and therefore doesn’t cause the economic turmoil that rock causes.
State watched as Little Low entered the alley from the far side. Little Low was Big Dog Jones’ little brother. Jones was the de facto leader of the Quads street gang. Most of the Quad’s leadership was locked up after being convicted of a driveway shooting during a turf war two years ago.
Jones has been running the Quad’s ever since. Word is he still takes his orders from the inside, but he has been slowly making a play to eliminate his old homeboys from the power structure. Jones wants to control the entire Ville himself, but that is a pipe dream no one believes is possible.
The Quads are terrifying and good earners, but they don’t have the organizational structure to control an entire city. Especially the streets of the Ville. There is only one truth in the Ville — there is no love.
Little Low stumbled along the alleyway bumping into the brick wall and then the dumpster. He made his way to the middle of the alleyway. He wore raggedy clothes but he also wore a bright and shiny sterling silver cross that was ten times too big. It laid from his chest to his belly.
State grinned as we watched the wretched thing move closer to him. Little Low had been hooked on rock ever since the love of his life died at the hands of a rapist. She was raped, beaten, and strangled at the tender age of seventeen.
Little Low has been on a seven-year bender that shows no sign of letting up. In fact, the only reason he is still alive is because of his brother Big Dog Jones. Not even the rival crews mess with Little Low.
Jones is notorious for going against sound judgment and starting beefs where no beef should exist and then magically squashing it after he has wreaked enough havoc. Little Low resides under this magical blanket and is allowed to roam the streets high. Not even the police lock him up for a night of sobriety. This has led to Low never truly coming down. Lucky for State, he was Low’s goto dealer.
Little Low said, “Hey man. You got something for me?”
State responded, “Of course Low. How many bags do you need?”
“Just a couple. Man that shit you got me earlier was base, but that shit didn’t last too long. This shit needs to last longer.”
“Low, that was a couple of days ago, last I seen you. You been up this whole time?”
“Nah, I’ve been in and out. You know how it goes.”
“Yeah, I know how it goes. Two bags my man?”
“Yeah. Nah, wait up. Make it three. That shit going to last a long time? You promise?”
“Of course Low. You know I only sell uncut quality. Especially to connoisseurs like you.” State smirked.
Low fumbled into his pockets collecting his money. He was eighteen dollars short when he counted out his cash. He stared off into the distance for at least a minute. State was a pro when it came to dealing with junkies. He knew how they operated and he always gave them space and time to think. Even though the junkie’s mind raced at twelve-thousand miles per hour, it took them a considerable amount of time to rein in their thoughts and focus on the practicalities of life.
State saw the light go off in Low’s eyes. Low bent down and took off his shoe. Low expected to find money in there but all he found was a foot. Low took off his other shoe and came up short again. Low stared off into the distance.
“It’s alight Low. Just get two bags and I’ll get you the third later today. I’ll come find you and deliver it. No worries.”
Low just stared. Then the light went on again. “Oh shit, now I remember.” Low reached behind himself. State assumed it was his back pocket, but low actually went to the small of his back. He pulled out a thirty-eight caliber pistol. “Sorry man. Just give up all the bags and we don’t got a problem.”
State was stunned and disappointed at the same time. He kept his cool. He didn’t really believe that the gun was loaded. Rock fenes were notorious for using fake guns, fake nunchucks, and all-around fake anything to score a free bag or two. Rarely did you hear about a dealer getting jacked, as that was usually done on the higher level deals. Street sales were generally safe. You had to worry about the occasional snatch and grab but that was basically a shoplifting offense that all retailers had to deal with.
State thought about what to do. Low didn’t move or speak. The main concern was Big Dog Jones. If this incident went south he would have to deal with him. State was a street-level dealer. He paid for protection from the Quads, which left him at Jone’s mercy. It might just be wise to give up the rocks. He could give him three or four and act like that is all he has.
State said, “Look, I’ll give you the three bags I have and we will call it cool. Just put that thing away before someone gets hurt.”
Low said, “Nah man. I know you got more than three bags. It’s early. You must have ten or twenty. Give it all up. I’m hurting man. I need this.” Low kept the thirty-eight pointed at State but his hand kept dropping lower and lower as he spoke. The thirty-eight was now pointing at State’s thigh.
“No Low. I had a good morning. I never have twenty bags. I have four bags. I’ll give them to you right now and you can keep your money. No worries. We will call this a sweepstakes giveaway.”
State stared at the gun and thought about his next move. He could swat it away or run. If he hit Low, his brother Jones might take that as a direct insult. If he took off running Jones wouldn’t see any foul, and State would live to see another day. State started to move backward. Low raised the pistol and cocked back the hammer. State changed his mind and swatted the gun.
The gun flipped out of Low’s hands and the hammer slammed into the concrete. The hammer did its job. The bullet discharged and pierced Low’s stomach. Low screamed. He fell to the ground. State kicked the gun away and bent down to check on Low.
Low said, “Fuck! You shot me. What the fuck?”
“Oh shit. It’s not that bad. You’re okay Low. Don’t worry.” State stared at Low. “Seriously, it’s not that bad.”
“Fuck you. You fucking shot me. My brother is going to fucking kill you.”
State stopped acting and started thinking. Low was right. This was not going to go over well. Even if Jones didn’t kill State, Jones might lay a large beat down on him and possibly tax him an exorbitant amount of money. State couldn’t afford either and his mind started racing. Sweat appeared on his brow.
Everyone knew this was his alley. State would be the first person they would interrogate. Not only Jones but the law as well. Either way, he was dead. He only saw one way to save himself. State moved towards the pistol and picked it up.
“Sorry Low.” State pointed the gun at Low.
Terrified Low said, “What the fuck you doing man? Take me to the fucking hospital.”
State pulled the trigger twice hitting low in the head both times. Low’s body went limp. State yanked off Low’s signature necklace then took off running.