About 2010 or 2011, I was having black bass for lunch at Ms. Martha’s Restaurant and Lounge on 116th off Buckeye Road when this 6’3”, 260-pound brother, whom I’ll call DT, sits next to me. We start conversing before realizing we might have met before.
I glanced at him trying to recall. “Was it at the Shaker Shanty?”
“Could be. I believe that’s where I threw a dude through their plate glass window.”
“Okay. Well, I wasn’t there for that one.”
We conversed a little more before he said, “You know, I like you, OG. I like talking to you. I want to get your opinion on something.”
“I want to start selling drugs. I already got the stash house, the source, the runners….”
I turned toward DT, “How old are you?”
“And why would you want to start selling at your age?”
“For one, I want to get a Lexus like yours.”
“Really? You know that car is five years old?”
He laughed. “Naw, man. You keep it in good shape. “
“That’s because I keep my cars ten years or more.”
“Oh…That’s smart. I bet the honies still dig on it.”
I laughed. “I’m not kickin’ it with some lady because she likes my car, but that’s another conversation for another day. You asked for my opinion on your new venture.”
“Well, I can think of more ways you can lose than win. I had another acquaintance about your age maybe ten years ago who thought he could do what you want to do. He’s still in the pen. You got snitches, some you might even hire that owe somebody and got no allegiance to you; you got competition that know the ins and outs of the trade and will try everything in their power to take you out; you got the rollers; and you got a system that could care less if you get two to life depending on how much they find on you. Is that worth a 2006 Lexus?”
DT thinks for a while, then jumps up, wraps me in a bear hug and says, “God brought you here today. I’m not gonna do it.”
“Cool,” I said trying to catch my breath. “You can put me down now.”
He then whips out a pen and writes a telephone number on a cocktail napkin. “Look, I owe you. I’m the head of one of the largest gangs in Cleveland. Take this number. You got a beef with anybody now?”
I shook my head.
“Okay. But if you ever get into one, with anybody, walk away and call this number. I can usually get to any place on the east side within fifteen minutes. I can have up to ten of my men there in a half hour.”
I fingered the paper before putting it in my wallet. DT hugged me once more and left.
Our conversation took place close to six years ago. I haven’t seen DT since, but I still have his number. I never had to use it, but it felt good knowing I had that type of back up.
I also remembered his instructions about walking away. I hope he remembered mine.