“It’s night time, go to sleep.” “Come inside before it gets dark.” “Good people don’t hang outside at night.” These were some of the verbal admonitions my guardians used to keep me away from her.
How could anyone know how long, and how I longed to be with her? Thoughts of how I could have her, continuously hatched in my mind. Filled with envy, I watched what seemed to be the entire world with her, except me.
At the age of eight, with a determined mind, my big boy pants, and what I considered to be the law of Moses himself, I went outside at night. The plan I devised and executed to escape from my home, was nothing less than Seal-Team- Six- quality -of-action. That in itself proved to me now, what eluded me back then: That I had gone quite mad at the age of eight.
After jumping from a second story window into an impressive tuck and roll, I opened my eyes. I saw her. I saw all of her. She was beautiful, and she was everywhere. I looked up at the stars that gave symmetry to her body. I hissed, “Yesssss!”
Now that I was with her, I had not the slightest idea what to do with her, much less to her. So I did what I did in the daytime. I went up the block to play. However, I didn’t find any other kids to play with; there were only adults. At this point I had a strange feeling that something was very wrong.
Not knowing exactly what to do, I did my tough guy walk to a guy standing on the corner, and asked him, “Where are all the kids?” As he turned around to answer me, I saw what looked like three jagged teeth stuck into the face of a rotten pumpkin.
As he spoke, I smelled his words more than heard them. “Little nigga ain’t no kids out at three in the morning.”
I replied, “Either I’m no kid or you’re stupid.” His made a feint attack at me, and I ran away. For the rest of the night, I just saw adults doing boring stuff. For the most part they were just standing around on street corners, in various buildings, or in front of 24-hour bodegas.
Some were cursing, drinking, and smoking. There was one group of teenagers, I always seen hanging around the school yard during the daytime. I thought of hanging out with them, except the crazy looking raggedly people kept coming up to them, and leaving after performing a very complicated, but gracefully executed handshake. None of this seemed like fun to me.
Nobody wanted to play. In fact, several of these adults threatened to tell my mother. Eventually, I got bored and went home.
For days after that I had mixed feelings about my first date with the night. I was certain that things were happening behind my back. Every night after that for days I looked at her and cried, because the night would not bend to my advances. There I was, an eight-year-old, self diagnosed depressed, heartbroken boy.
At first I wasn’t sure if she spoke to me, or if I just heard her voice.
She said, “I need a man, not a boy.”
That was my epiphany. “I gots to be a man.” I whispered to myself. I had to become a man in less than tweleve hours. Not having any men folks living in my house, I improvised.
I collected my mother’s razor and perfume. Next, I gathered my last year’s Easter outfit. Locking myself in the bathroom, I lathered my eight-year-old hairless face with lotion, and proceeded to give myself flawless shave. I then bathed in my mother’s perfume, using the entire bottle, just to be sure I smelled like a man.
I got dressed only to realize I had no money. A real man has lots of money, I thought to myself. I only had twenty five cents from the Tooth Fairy. Deciding that I wanted all of my remaining teeth, I liberated twenty dollars from my mother’s purse. After confirming my manly status in the mirror, I moved to my infamous escape route.
Back on the scene feeling like a real man, I was with the night once again. Looking good with a pocket full of money, and smelling like a French whore, I was ready for action. I brought a few loose cigarettes and a bottle of beer from a store clerk, who found nothing wrong with an eight-year-old boy making such a purchase at 1:00 a.m. in the morning. Being that he, and everyone else in the store saw nothing wrong with it, I deduced that I had to be a man.
Standing on the street corner by myself, coughing on, more than smoking on a cigarette, sipping this awful tasting liquid called beer, but still acting cool, I smiled. I smiled because finally the night and I were getting our groove on.
The night pressed in on me, and I in on her. Now I found myself sitting in the back of a stolen car with two older guys from up the block where I lived. My Night now had three studs courting her, instead of just me. I played it cool, but was a bit confused, and more so after smoking a handmade cigarette, one of my co-studs passed to me.
As Nick, Wanye, and I rode deeper into the night, I was able to summon up a new brand of boldness. Despite the thumping of Biggie Smalls “Notorious Thugs” blaring through the car’s speakers, while Nick and Wanye screamed over it, I heard the Night whisper in my ear. “Talk dirty to me!”
Feeling out of my mind, but so far into my heart, I started bragging to Nick and Wanye. “Yeah, all these nigga know I get crazy busy.”
Without taking his eyes off the road, Wanye said, “Oh yeah little nigga, you put work in like that, huh?”
I replied, “Word!”
Nick looked at Wanye, who nodded at him. Nick then looked at me through the rear mirror and said, “We got some wet work for you little nigga, what up?”
At this point the Night started to move very fast. She screamed at me. I had no idea what I was doing. Yet, I kept doing it, because I was doing it in the Night. The next thing I knew, I had the biggest gun in the world in my hand.
Corey Devon Arthur, #98A7146
Beacon, NY 12508
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