Pipe Dreams

The hood was life. We ate it, slept it, sucked it in like air, but that ain’t leave too much time for nuthin’ else. Hell, me and Ricardo ain’t even know there was no big world out there til we was twelve, and then what good it do us? Ricardo always talkin’ ‘bout movin’ on up, but we ain’t got no ladder, no stairs, not even no step stool cuz Bubba Jones took it last Tuesday and momma said we ain’t gettin’ it back.

“Y’all don’t got no prospect, ‘cept what the hood give y’all,” Seph Mason told me and Ricardo that summer we both grew in our wisdom teeth.

“Momma say sky’s the limit,” Ricardo told Seph. Seph backhanded him upside the head. Ricardo’s ratty Phillies cap flew off.

“Yo momma don’t know no better,” Seph said. “She always smokin’ that crack, make you have them delusions and shit. She wudn’t ever no good.”

Which is what everybody say about Ricardo’s momma, but I stay out of it. ‘Sides, we was gonna get a taste of that Jefferson movement ‘cuz our school got a field trip downtown next week.

“How you think they build them big buildings and stuff?” I asked Seph. He got out his crack pipe and lit up before he got to respondin’.

“They use slave labor, same as always,” Seph said, looking me and Ricardo in the eyes. His was bloodshot.

“Ain’t no slaves no more,” I said. It’s the one thing I learnt from social studies.

“That’s what the white man want you to think,” said Seph, shaking his head. “What you kids don’t know could fill a swimming pool. You know, if you could find a swimming pool.”

He broke down in fits of laughter and coughing. I swore he was choking but I ain’t move no closer to him. He smelled like stale Cheetos and sweat.

“Naw,” said Ricardo. “The books at school say they ain’t no more slaves.”

“Who wrote them books at school?” shot back Seph. “Yeah, they was all written by the white man to keep a brutha down, and y’all ate it up and said ‘Give me seconds.’”

Me and Ricardo thought about this, and about our trip downtown next week, and we shook our heads. We ain’t never seen the white man, ‘cept on TV, and he ain’t seem devious like Seph say. Devious one of my spelling words. I probably ain’t spelt it right.

“I don’t let nobody do the thinkin’ for me,” said Ricardo, hopping off the fence. He had this look on his face that said he was speakin’ the truth. I didn’t believe him none, though, cuz I knew Ricardo like we was bruthas. Like real bruthas, not just hood rats.

“Well, I’m gonna just enjoy the view from up top,” I said. They was both silent. We ain’t none of us never been up top of nothin’ before. Then I shook my head and we was laughin’. Them was just pipe dreams.

Sam

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