Original artwork by Shawn Huddleston
Click the “play arrow” on the audio bar below to listen to the track.
And click HERE to listen to the original music.
I don’t belong here.
I don’t want to die soon.
I’m just a weed dealer.
And these are dangerous men we’re lying to.
I’m here tonight cause Will said he needed numbers, and I’ve got to stand by my brother. I didn’t get scared until I heard their footsteps in the alley, till they got close, till one of Will’s guys lowered his voice and whispered, “I hope they can’t tell the shit we’re selling’s fake.”
I’ve only ever sold to white kids in the suburbs, but Will deals in the city. He’s the kind of guy who acts brash and talks fast, hangs on corners I wouldn’t try to walk past. Will’s always been hard as stone, like when he put our dad in the hospital cause he broke my arm. But then he let me live with him, so I never had to go back home. Will wouldn’t be here if he didn’t know this would work. That’s what I tell myself.
I wait with Will’s boys as he walks across the alley toward those men. He gives them his backpack.
They open it, look inside, and look up quick. So quick the guy standing next to me takes a step back.
They say something to Will I can’t hear, set the bag down slow.
And I hear Will ask, “What do you mean it’s not good? How do you know?”
I don’t remember turning to run, but I heard that gun, and saw Will’s head snap back. One of his boys is running next to me and he cries out and gasps. He grabs my arm but I shake him off, leave him on the ground, turn a corner, and realize I’m lost.
And I don’t know where to go as I look right and left and there’s nowhere to hide, and I can’t catch my breath. All I know is that I can’t stay still, but I can’t do anything but think about Will.
I hurry in the dark, trip on a curb, spin around just as those men come near. There’s nowhere to hide and I fall to my knees, and I cry for Will as one of them lifts his piece.
Blood is like a snake, sliding down the street. Will steps out of the shadows, helps me to my feet. And I’ve become a kid again, being carried by him. And the fear and the blood and the tears all fall away. I bury my head into Will’s shoulder, into his warmth, into the cold, into the street.
Shawn Huddleston is an award-winning artist and art director based in northern Virginia. More of his work can be viewed at www.shawnhud.com.