Marshalling the troops into order, Streetz maneuvers their minds with hypnotic affect. Neck dripping with diamonds that shine so hard they seem wet. Clothes looking like he’d been styled by the editors of GQ magazine. Streetz is the success story of the hood. “This is the life. Y’all stay loyal, and I’m gone make sure everybody eat.” The men and boys hang on to Streetz’ words like they were quoted from one of the holy books. . .
Daquan was one of the sponges who soaked up the game from Streetz. That was years ago. Now at the age of twenty, D-Money, as everyone calls him, is the man. His new model Jaguar rolls to a stop near one of the most profitable drug spots in the hood. Hopping out, the smell of new leather and fresh cologne trail him. He goes to speak with one of his workers. “Everything good?”
“Yeah, it’s a little slow today, but I’m ready for you from last night,” the mature teen says discreetly and tosses a large envelope through the car window. “Oh, I almost forgot, some old head came through. He was calling you by name.”
“He was saying D-Money?”
“Naw, your government. He was asking for lil Daquan.”
“You get a name?” D-Money asks wondering how long it’s been since anyone other than his mother called him that.
“Ughh,” snapping his fingers the young guy attempts to spark his memory, “yeah, Streetz. That’s it. Streetz.” Another blast from the past. No one had heard from Streetz in about seven or eight years. He just up and disappeared one day. “Wonder why he looking for me after all this time?!”
A few days later D-Money is posted up with a few females just down from his building. A middle-aged man, slim, mid-height, and casually dressed walks up the block. His walk is more purposeful than most addicts, but he looks around like he’s looking for something. Security man “Youngster” steps out of a gangway alongside the building, “Who you looking for?” Noticing the interaction, D-Money approaches. As he does armed soldiers appear out of doorways and porches from all directions. He recognizes Streetz and tells his security, “I know him. Let him pass.” Sreetz approaches strutting smooth as ever. Gone are the jewelry and flashy cars. Gone are the fine women and money. Gone is his once seemingly invincible swagger.
“I see you got game tight.”
“You know what it is. It’s good to see you,” D-Money says as he embraces Streetz. “Where you been?”
Streetz pulls up his shirt and reveals two dime-sized holes nears his heart and points to the one in his head just over his left eye. “I was in a coma for two years. I woke up like six years ago.”
“Damn! Everybody thought you got killed somewhere out of state or something.”
“Yeah, well I aint come here to talk about that. I came cause I need you to do me a favor.”
“What’s that Streetz?”
“I’m just plain old Carl. Streetz is dead. I need you to hear me out.”
D-Money cuts him off, “Look at him, just like everybody else, looking for a handout.”
Streetz squares his body to look at D-Money face-to-face. ” I know this life is sweet to you. I know that this look like the best thing smoking right now. That’s right, aint it?” D-Money nods, still listening. “I’m here to tell you get out while you can.” D-Money frowns and can’t believe it. He laughs in Streetz’ face, “You can’t be serious? You came here to preach? You the same dude that taught me damn near everything I know. Straight up, I got respect but you wasting your time.” “That’s why I need a favor. That’s all I want is you to hear me out.” D-Money looks at his watch, “You got ten minutes Streetz.” And sarcastically adds, “Oh my bad, Carl.”
With sincerity jumping from his, Streetz looks D-Money in the eye, “How much is your life worth?”
Feeling confident, D-Money replies, “I got about a hundred racks or so, why?”
“Naw, see you aint hear me. I aint ask how much you have. I asked how much you’re worth.”
Unsure how to answer the question, D-Money shoots back, “I aint got time for riddles.”
Streetz responds, “See that’s one question most never think about. Even though we stay focused on getting money. I’ll answer for you. You like a five, nah, ten million dollar type dude.” D-Money smiles, hoping he can make it up that far. “Yeah, I see you smiling. Now let me ask you this. How much of that would you trade for five years in jail?” Again, D-Money is unable to answer. “Can’t answer? Okay how much would you trade for your health if you were brain dead or paralyzed?” D-Money can only stare, but his look suggests the questions are sparking thought. “Okay. Here’s the ringer. How much of that ten million would you exchange for the life of your wife and child?”
D-Money does not want to show it, but the questions hit home. Carl reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet. From it he removes a small picture of a beautiful baby girl. Her light brown eyes and huge dimples resemble Carl’s.
“When they came to rob me, they took my wife and kid first. Then trunked me. In that moment, homie, nothing mattered. Not the money. Not the cars. Not the power. Not even my own life. All I cared about was my wife and my baby. In that moment I gave them everything for our lives. Still they killed us all. Paramedics say I died twice on the way to the hospital. Woke up and was read charges in connection with my wife and child’s murders. Yeah, State try to say that my lifestyle caused the murders so I’m to blame. All the while the damage of the head-shot got me learning how walk and talk again. Between then and now, I could only think of how much I wish I could trade everything for my wife and baby’s lives. That’s what I’m asking you. How much are you willing to trade for your lifestyle?”