I went around to the back of B’s house, through the dingy alley, and down to the basement door. His folks had an actual house, and since B was in the middle of “growing his oats,” as his mom put it, he was consigned to the basement, where he would have his own space and could do what he wanted. What is it with old people and these damned oats?
B’s real name was Bradley Moorehead, but he grew up as B, because Brad “sounded too white.” I pointed out that there were black Brad’s - Daugherty, a pretty decent player on the old Cleveland Cavalier squads Michael Jordan took upon himself to torture every year - but B pointed out that Daugherty was almost the token black dude on those squads. I let him have that and dropped the topic.
After the Wire premiered, he insisted we all call him B-More, which is what they call the city of Baltimore on the show. While it was clever, I pointed out that we’d been calling him B for more than ten years; maybe new people would call him B-More, but to the family and the neighborhood, he was B. He seemed to accept that, and dropped the subject. He was logical like I was. Didn’t stop him from having people who had just met him call him B-More, though.
B’s parents weren’t home a lot, but they trusted him to the point of guilt-tripping. He was the only child, and he acted out in ways they wouldn’t find out.
I knocked on the back wrought-iron door. It made a hollow, metallic, clanging sound which seemed loud as fuck in the still afternoon-evening. I waited a while and suddenly the door opened. B unlocked it and pushed it open with a grunt. He must have been taking a nap.
I walked into his refuge, dimly lit except for a drawing table in the corner. He was playing Halo, a game I hadn’t quite gotten into, and had his character hiding amidst a huge rock formation. SInce you couldn’t pause multiplayer, he had found a place to hide while he opened the door. Logical.
“Sup witchoo, nigga?” B readjusted the drawstring on his sweatpants and sat back down on the floor. B was rather, um, chunky, and the high school football coach had been drooling over him to play D or O line. B just wanted to LOOK hard, not actually have to prove it by playing ball, so he’d turned him down every year. But the kid was a beast on the court, on some Shaq shit. Just running muthafuckas over. That was a joy to watch, and painful to experience.
“Ain’t nuttin.” I idly brushed some shit off his bed and sat down. Hip-hop magazines, random CD cases... I had no idea where in the fuck he actually slept. When I slept, I used all of the bed, rolling around, sleeping in the middle, using both pillows. According to the pile of shit he had piled on his bed, he didn’t move and stayed confined to a space just big enough for him lying on his side.
“Ay, check this shit out.” B reached over and hit play on his stereo, and my ears were assaulted by some smooth jazz crap I was expecting. B was always getting free music from his uncle, who worked as a mid-major label, but nothing good. B had the market cornered on this smooth jazz, claiming that the bitches loved it. I pointed out that, as far as the botches were concerned, he was batting 0-fer. He countered that, when he DID get one, he’d be doing her on the very bed I was sitting on. I always sit very lightly on B’s bed.
He laughed as I recoiled from his music choice. “Man, my uncle says that this album is HOT. He said this is required if you wanna get some. Bitches love..” he pauses, reading the album sticker and changing his voice, “the smooth grooves and buttery vocals that arouse the best of moods.” He snickered. “What they don’t say is ‘make the bitches wet.’”
I laughed in agreement. The CD had some emotional looking motherfucker on the cover, complete with turtleneck and fuzzy edges. I idly wondered if bitches really liked this shit. Ang swooned over dudes who looked like this motherfucker, all suave and debonair, but Ang was like every other chick in that way. Dudes were one thing Ang lost all logic over.
I was an aight-looking motherfucker, mind you, but dude on this cover took that shit to the next level. I was trying o figure out if I didn’t like him or not when B interrupted my thought process. He seemed comfy with the music, comfy enough to make me think that he actually liked it himself, although he’d never admit it. We had reps to maintain, although sometimes I wondered who it was we were showing out for.
“You get that shit done for Novacs?” he asked, chasing some unfortunate fucker around with guns blazing. B could see the train coming, hear its whistle, feel the impending doom...and step out of the way just as the behemoth roared past him. That’s how B operated, and while other people thought him merely lucky, I appreciated the fact that he knew how to do it. He was my boy, though.
I nodded, my attention taken with the pile of CDs on his bed. “Man, put something else on,” I begged, eager to make the bad man stop. What’s the use of getting pussy music when there was no pussy around to get? I mean, I try, but it wasn’t as if chicks just hung out in our neighborhood. Their parents were usually overprotective, fearing that in the shadows lurked young men with designs on their daughters’ private parts.
I mean, we are, but we usually don’t exactly hide in the shadows.
B laughed as he stuck some poor slob with a grenade. “You mean you can’t handle this? I mean, this dude is singing some POW-AH-FUL shit. You might do well to marinate and memorize, young Jedi.” He took his hands off the controller to assume a yoga-zen position. “Meditate on this, young virgin. Let this man show you the way to feminine ecstasy. THink on his words, and on his melody.”
I reached to throw a pillow at his smiling mug when his screen went red. “See!” I yelled. “That’s what you get for fucking with me.” Someone, undoubtedly pissed at his mastery, had taken the time to come up while he wasn't moving his guy to shoot him in the damned head. It was poetic justice, I thought.
He caught the pillow and threw it back. “See, that’s why I don’t be fucking with you, nigga,” he said. “You be getting a nigga killed.”
I asked him what he would do for Novacs’ assignment. I told him about my rhyme and about the fake-ass biography snippet. He lit up. ”Maybe I’ll write a rap. “
No, I cautioned, thinking about the wack-ass raps written by frigging multimillionaires. What the hell would you rap about? You didn't do shit this summer, my nigga. You sat around, went to work with your uncle, and fucking played video games. And who would you be impressing? Novacs won’t give a fuck. You’d be breaking the rule, man.
He thought about this for a couple of seconds, and nodded his agreement. True, he reasoned. That’s why B was my man: he was logical, to a point.
But cream rises to the top, he said after a pause. What’s the use of pacing yourself to be with the clump of people when you make it to the front when the year’s over anyway?
Because, I said, it makes it easier on everyone. Shitty expectations all around. No one feels bad that they’re fucking stupid, and even the smart ones don’t commit the crime of singling themselves out for ridicule or extortion.
B cocked his eyebrows. And the point of that is?
I had no response to that. Fucking logic.
We got into some multiplayer sports game - I ddon'teven remember what it was - and my mind was ppreoccupiedwith what i could do. I was the pragmatic muthafucka - simply preoccupied with getting shit done before it was due. And because I was starting early, I could do something big. I mean, huge. But what?