They Bleed Like Us

It all started back in 96. I was sitting on the edge of my bed, rocking my young daughter to sleep – she was 9 months old at the time and would not stop crying. It seemed she was feeling the same hunger pangs I felt. After more than a decade running the streets, what I had was all I would ever have. A one bedroom in the projects, an uninsured Nissan Sentra with a registration sticker one month from expiring and a pair of stolen license plates. From small time stick up kid to small time hustler I’d seen and done everything there was to do in the streets. I’d committed evil, unspeakable acts and had many a night been plagued by suicidal thoughts. Enemies prayed and prayed for my downfall, yet, somehow, to that point, I‘d survived. And there I sat 29 years old, 365 days away from my next birthday – shivering at the thought of being broke at 30.  That night, my daughter and I were both possessed with an inexplicable hunger and so, as she cried herself to sleep engulfed in my arms, I sat – plotting.

The next afternoon, I dropped my daughter off at her mother’s house and headed uptown to meet up with Blanco. Blanco lived in a beautiful old brownstone furnished by the spoils of my toil. But that’s the way the game goes, the money rolls uphill as the penitentiary years roll down. As Blanco and I sat in the living room, he began to lay out the day’s assignment.

“When you get back to your car, you’ll find a couple suitcases in the trunk. In them is our end of the deal. The meet is set up at that little motel on the corner of Atlantic and Utica Ave – room 112. You know the motel I’m talking about?” Blanco asked.

“I know the one.” I responded.

“Now listen, this is the first time our organization is doing business with these guys and I have the strangest feeling that things might not be as they appear. As such, Jason and his associate, will be parked outside the hotel to insure there are no unforeseen troubles.”

“Jason that drives that black Range… the 4.0?” I questioned with distrust?

“Yes, that Jason. But don’t worry about him.  Your job is to just make the deal happen, if something does go wrong and you have to kill these guys, Jason and his associate will be there to clean up. If it comes to that just make it quick, like always, and get out of there as fast as possible. Whatever happens, don’t even think about coming back here without either the money or the coke.”

“How much we talking ‘bout” I asked.

“100 bricks.”  Blanco responded coldly.

It was the largest single transaction I’d ever been involved in. I immediately began to contemplate the repercussions of robbing these guys and double crossing Blanco. It would be all out war. Not even my family would be off limits. But neither would theirs, if they got shady, so too could I. 100 bricks of cocaine at $14,500.00 each brick worked out to be damn near 1.5 million in cash. I started to think about how far that much money could take me. I could buy a house for my daughter and I on a beach somewhere far away from cold ass New York. I could get up out this Nissan Sentra, maybe get a 6 series Mercedes. I could redistribute the bricks to my boys as their new supplier, that way, we’re all making money and they don’t have to leach off of me.  As my mind danced at the opportunity presenting itself, Blanco’s voiced snapped me back to reality.

“Frank pay attention. These dudes are sinister. I can see your gears spinning – don’t start thinking about going back to your stick up kid days and trying to rob these guys. And definitely don’t start thinking about crossing me. Jason and his associate are not there to protect you – they are there to protect my investment. If you die, they still get paid – extra actually since they’ll also get your share. Frank, promise me you won’t rob them.”

“I promise.” I said – with fingers slyly crossed behind my back.

As I left Blanco’s house I’d already decided this was the last job I’d ever work for him.  I was going to steal both the money and the drugs.  It would not be an easy task, and I was sure I couldn’t pull it off alone.  The first person that came to my mind for a job like this was my homey Arizona Ron. Ron is a hood legend of sorts.  As a young man, Ron wasn’t the brightest tool in the box, but he was always willing to put in work.

When he was 19 he slit the throat of his baby mother’s brother after the dude “ass-bet” him on a dice game. He hid out in the projects for 2 weeks and when the cops finally found him, he was high as a kite on kush and had a Glock 19 in his pants.  He took a murder charge and gun charge to trial and beat both. Over the years, he got much sharper with his game to the point that the old Ron was no where to be found. By that point, anytime I saw Ron driving around the neighborhood, he was rocking out to old Isley Brothers CD’s. About five years ago, he and his crew kidnapped the daughter of their dope connect just before the connect was to re-up overseas. As he was about to board the airplane, he received a note that read “your daughter’s tied up in a Brooklyn basement.” The connect, flush with cash, had no choice but to pay up. Ron and his boys made off with about $350,000.00 each.  Even better, when the connect was subsequently short on his re-up he found himself floating face down in a Peruvian river.  I knew that, despite his past success, 350 thousand would not last forever and that, for the right price, Ron would get back in the game.  As I saw it, after beating a murder charge and robbing a Peruvian drug lord – he was playing with house money.  A man with ‘nothing to lose’ tattooed around gun wounds only needed the right deal to bring the beast back out of him. He picked up the phone on the 3rd ring.

“Ron, it’s Frank – I got a job for you, it’s a one day gig and it starts in 3 hours.” I said – cutting straight to the point

“How much?” He responded.

“200” I said.

After about 10 seconds of silence, “I’m In.” He responded.

“You almost had me thinking you were scared” I said jokingly.

“Picture me being scared of a man that breathes the same air as me” he responded without hesitation.

“You’re right. They bleed just like us.”

I picked Ron up, drove over to the motel and found a parking spot right outside.  From the spot I could see directly into the tiny, hole in the wall joint. Not too far in front of us, I pointed out to Ron the black Range Rover sitting with its hazards on.   Ron and I agreed that the classic “kick in the door waving the 44”  method probably wasn’t right for this job.  For starters, we had no idea how many men would be in room 112. It could be an ambush and they could have henchman hiding out in the bathroom ready to take us out as soon as we walk in. Additionally, we had Jason and his associate waiting outside in the Range to worry about. If they see us go in and then hear gun shots immediately, they’ll know something is up and they’ll come looking for us.  We needed to come up with a plan fast, the meeting was scheduled to start in 15 minutes. Then it came to me.

“Wait, I know her.” I said to Ron.

“Who?” He Said.

“The Hotel Manager… see her right there? The Puerto Rican behind the desk. Her name is Gloria, she used to be in the game. I sent one of my young boys out to set up shop in Astoria a few years back. He caught a beef with some of the local cats out there. Her peoples. They robbed him, took the little stash he was sitting on and got him for his gun.”

“So what did you do?” Ron asked.

“Same thing you would have done.  Point is, Gloria knows me. She knows what I’m capable of. We can press her.”

“Let’s do it” Ron said.

As we walked into the motel, Gloria’s face turned white with fear as she recognized who I was. I leaned in close, the small, cheap wooden counter the only thing separating us.

“What’s the situation in room 112.” I whispered.

“Please don’t hurt me, I’m out of the game, I have kids” she trembled.

“I know. I only wanna know what’s up in room 112.” I responded.

“1 dude, 2 girls. The dude is definitely Jamaican. He walked in with two briefcases that both looked heavy. The girls he’s with, I don’t know, they looked like they were… together.” She said.

“So 3 people… total?” I asked

“Yes, and that Black Range Rover’s been outside all day. Frank, I didn’t see you, you were never here, I just want to go home to my kids, I don’t want to be involved. If there’s trouble, please let me know” She pleaded.

“There’s trouble” I said.

As Gloria quietly started packing up, I noticed an old fashioned portable heater behind the desk.

“What’s that?” I asked, looking at the heater.

“A kerosene heater, I use it to keep my feet warm in the winter.” She said.

“Ron, grab that.” I said.

As we walked down the hall toward room 112, it ended up being the last room just before the emergency exit. Perfect, I pour out what little kerosene there is in the heater a couple doors down to the left of room 112, toward the lobby. Then Ron and I post up inside the emergency exit staircase, to the right of room 112 – their only possible way out.  I lit the match and threw it down the hall. The kerosene caught fire immediately. Within seconds, the alarm was blaring, the sprinkler systems turned on and the Maxi Priest looking dude was poking his head out the door. He sees the flames down the hall, and bolts back into the room. Ron and I are ready.  Seconds later, he, a short haired Jamaican woman and a Malaysian looking woman come flying out of the room through the emergency exit doors, briefcases in hand. Ron and I start blasting away dropping the first two.  I look over at Ron, and he’s smiling gleefully as he unloads his clip. The Malaysian chic somehow made it down the first flight of steps, I spun around to aim down the stair case and caught her in the chest. Walking down the stairs toward her, I could hear her whimpering. With the single shot I had left in the chamber, I put her out of her misery. We immediately pop open the briefcases and, like we thought, they’re filled with money.  As we reload the guns expecting Jason and his associate any moment, we see that the sprinkler system has already put out the fire and the motel patrons are quickly filing out of their rooms and heading toward the lobby, not the emergency exit where we were.  We nonchalantly step through the doors and immerse ourselves in the crowd. Just as we’re walking past the front desk the lobby door swings open and fighting through the mass of exiting guests are Jason and his associate.  As they’re fighting to get through one set of doors, we slip out the other set right next to them without them ever noticing us.

“It won’t take long for them to find the bodies and see that the money is missing.” Ron says.

“I know.”

“And we’re not going to be able to out run them in your Sentra.”

“I know, keep moving”

As we do our best to briskly walk to the Sentra without drawing attention to ourselves, we see the Fire Department pull up with a tow truck.

The Range is parked in front of a fire hydrant and ends up getting towed.

The end.

“was told in shoot outs… Stay low and keep firing”

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