Reggie Hackerson opened his sleep-crusted eyes slowly, coughed
up a mouthful of phlegm (which he promptly swallowed), and looked
around the squalid room he sometimes shared with three other transients.
Their mattresses were empty and the clothes that usually lay
in sad piles on the filthy floor were gone, so he supposed that
they had grown tired of laying about on the nod and decided to
try to find a day job to make enough cash to score more shit.
He didnt worry about where his next high was coming from.
He already knew. He was a personal friend of his dealer, Bishop.
They had briefly attended high school together before they both
were expelled permanently for repeatedly sneaking into the girls
locker room and spying on the young beauties.
When they met again a few years later, Reggie was a two-time
loser and long-time junkie, heroin being his drug of choice.
* * *
Bishop didnt give a flying shit who it was that bought
his wares. He sold to kids, to senior citizens, to soccer moms,
and businessmen and women that wanted a quick walk on the wild
side, or anyone else that had the long green for his ready supply
of Mexican Brown.
He tolerated Reggie for old times' sake, but, just barely. His
antics reminded him of the character in the film Midnight Cowboy
played by Dustin Hoffman. He was dirty, unruly and had the foulest
mouth he had ever heard, but his money was good and when asked,
he would do the grunt work that he didnt have the stomach
for himself. As tough a man as he tried to project, he still cringed
at the sight of blood.
Drug dealing in his neighborhood was becoming harder and the
competition for the corner he held was fierce. Small-time drug
lord wannabes fought and died for the chance to take over his
turf. Bishop and his few trusted minions were ruthless in their
intent to hold on to the niche they had carved from the underbelly
of the city.
Bishop was far too smart and street savvy to deal or use the
drugs himself. He knew better than to expose himself to the eyes
and ears of the cops like that. Mrs. Bishop hadnt raised
her son for a fool and he sure as shit wasnt stupid.
He spent his day in the coffee shop next to his corner, reading
a paper and drinking seven-dollar espresso from a small paper
cup while his troops hustled the streets. He was always aware
of what happened outside the grimy window of his self proclaimed
domain and when a sale went down, he mentally calculated his profit
before the money had changed hands and was thrust into the temporary
pocket of his employee.
* * *
Reggie knew things that Bishop didnt, because he was able
to wander the streets without drawing undo attention to himself.
No one noticed him, a junkie, and other than to shake their heads
in disgust or think that for the grace of God
He was a non-entity,
invisible for all intents and purposes, and felt it his obligation
to keep his friend advised of the days street news.
This was how he learned that a rival drug dealer, Skinny Smith
(or SS, as he liked to be called), from across town was planning
on having "words" with Bishop. Hed heard that
SS was already enlisting homeboys outside his own gang to hit
Bishop and his street cronies hard.
Reggie had seen SS and his boys in action once, several years
ago, and the thing he remembered best about the incident, other
than the blood shed, was that Skinny was as big as a house. He
had more chins than most people had steps on their porch and his
belly was immense. It was said that his specially built ride had
extra heavy-duty suspension on the passenger side and that when
he stepped out of the car, the body rose two inches.
Gold-capped teeth that sparkled in the sunlight, dark glasses
and enough bling hanging around his neck to give a normal man
serious back problems, SS was a serious and deadly piece of work
in anybodys book and no one ever mentioned the words "weight"
or "problem" in the same sentence and lived to tell
* * *
Reggie hurried down the street and back into the relative safety
of his hood, looking for Bishop. His stoned face brightened into
his imitation of a smile when he saw his friend on the corner
in a heated discussion with one of his boys.
I gotta talk at ya, Reggie said, tugging on Bishop's
sleeve. It be 'portant, man.
Not as 'portant as this sick fuck that be tryin to skim
the Benjamins off me, Bishop said and jerked his arm away.
Wait ya fuckin turn, homey, I got bidness goin down here.
Reggie put his hands up and then leaned against the brick wall
behind him, reached into his pocket and took out a smoke.
You gonna want to hear this shit, man, he said, lighting
the cigarette. SS be looking to kick the shit outta you
and take over you bidness.
Bishop stopped in mid-sentence and pushed the offending boy away
from him. The kid fell backward and cracked his head on the sidewalk.
He shook his head, got up and, glad he was still alive, ran as
fast as he could away from the two men on the corner.
It be stone up, man. No bullshit, Reggie said, blowing
a thick stream of smoke and halitosis into Bishops face.
When this shit 'posed to be goin down? he said, giving
him his undivided attention.
Tonight, tomorrow, I donno. I just telling what I hear,
man, Reggie replied. You think that 411 be worth a
lil shit, man? I needs it bad.
Bishop looked at the man in front of him and wondered how it
was that his total existence revolved around his need for smack.
But still, he had given him information that, if it were trueand
knowing SSs reputation on the street, it wasmight
give him the chance to both save his stash and more importantly,
Yeah, I guess it be worth a lil shit, my man, Bishop
said, motioning to one of his boys on the street and then turned
and walked away.
Reggie watched him speak briefly to the boy as their paths crossed.
The boy nodded and walked over and handed him two small glassine
bags and then continued on his way, never breaking his stride.
* * *
Bishop was scared, and for the first time since he became a dealer,
began to look over his shoulder. If SS was after his ass, hed
better come up with a plan damn quick. He had just received a
new supply of the Brown that morning and hadnt doled it
out to his boys for distribution yet.
He couldnt run, because holding on to his territory was
the name of the game and he had fought hard to get it. He be damned
if that fat fuck was going to take it away from him and make him
run away with his tail between his legs or even worse, end up
No, running wasnt an option for him. He had to be smart,
a lot smarter than SS, and then in a sudden, blinding flash of
inspiration, knew exactly what he had to do.
* * *
Reggie sat in the dingy doorway of a deserted business and cooked
his fix in the old, dirty spoon with a stolen Bic lighter. It
began to boil, so he dropped a cotton ball onto the spoon and
the liquid was sucked up and waiting.
He fished in his pocket for his works and opened the plastic
bag carefully. He removed the syringe and looked at the old needle
screwed to the top. He didnt care about hygiene, or AIDS,
or anything like that. All he wanted was the Rush. The euphoric
feeling that hit his brain, his body, his soul, and that lifted
him from the depths of Hell and made him soar when he pushed the
drug into his body.
Hed been a junkie for so long that most of his veins in
his arms had collapsed. His arms and legs were covered with needle
tracks, bruised flesh that instantly told his story. Now he was
reduced to shooting this shit into a vein on his small, flaccid
The drug injected, and waiting for the nod to overtake him, he
became aware of his surroundings and saw Bishop across the street,
in the window of a ground floor apartment.
He remembered telling his friend of a threat, but the drug was
invading his mind fast. He forced himself to get up and walk across
the street and stand in front of the window. He was his only friend
and in his fogged mind, he still wanted to help any way he could.
Bishop was inside with a woman. His current whore, he guessed,
but he didnt know or care. Sex was not an important part
of his life any longer. The drugs had destroyed any likelihood
of having a normal life, and to him, a woman was nothing more
than another skanky person trying to take his share of the drugs
away from him.
He watched as the woman held a small funnel over the open neck
of a condom and Bishop poured the drug inside. Three condoms,
filled to capacity and tied off at the neck with what looked like
clear fishing line, were soon lying on the table in front of his
He watched as he offered one of the drug filled condoms to the
woman, but she shook her head violently and stormed from the room,
slamming the door behind her.
Fuckin bitch. He heard through the window. Dont
you ever show your sorry ass here next time you be jonesin
for some good shit. You be on your own now.
Bishop slammed his hand on the table and sat down. He picked
up the filled condom and looked at it, and then, tilting his head
backwards, swallowed all three before he lost his nerve.
Reggie had seen enough, and returned to the relative safety of
the deserted doorway across the street, where he leaned back against
the brick and then slid slowly down until he was sitting on his
* * *
Bishop was filled with a time bomb in his stomach and knew it.
If SS didnt try and hit him in the next two days, the latex
might dissolve in his body and kill him with a massive overdose
that would be written off as another drug related death. He didnt
want that on his tombstone, not yet anyway, and left the apartment
looking for somewhere safe for the night.
If the threat blew over, and at this point he had hopes that
it might, he could always take an enema and shit the goodies out.
His clients werent picky and wouldnt care where the
drugs came from. His asshole or Mexico, it didnt matter
This thought struck him funny as hell and he doubled over in
laughter, not hearing the car approaching from the rear. He didnt
hear the tires crunch over the trash on the street as it slowed
to a crawl and the darkened rear windows slid silently down and
three muzzles were thrust into view.
Bishop straightened up and turned to go inside the coffee shop
when the first burst of automatic weapons fire tore through the
night and peppered the brownstone entrance.
He dropped to the ground and tried to roll away from the field
of fire, but the car was tracking his movements and there was
no safe ground he could gain. He could tell that the shooters
were young and inexperienced or he would already be dead.
By the sound of the weapons, he knew that two Mac-10s and the
single Uzi, all having the capacity to send 650 rounds of death
towards him per minute, were slowly working their way to his position,
and there wasnt a damn thing he could do to change it.
The first round entered his leg just above the knee and shattered
his femur and severed the femoral artery as it ripped through
his flesh. Blood and bone flew in all directions, but before he
could react to the pain and shock, seven more rounds tore into
his abdomen and chest.
The last sounds Bishop heard were the scream of tires from the
accelerating car and the tinkle of the last brass cartridges as
they fell to the pavement.
* * *
Reggie watched his friend walk to the entrance of the coffee
shop and saw the dark car slow down. The drug was starting to
do its job and he had trouble holding his head upright; he was
on the nod and drifting into oblivion.
With the sound of the first shot, he stirred and at first thought
that perhaps a car had backfired. But when his eyes were finely
able to focus on the scene playing out in front of him and he
saw Bishop fall to the ground with bullets ripping chunks out
of the brick walls beside him, he managed to pull himself to his
He staggered into the street and was making his way to aid his
friend, when the dark car sped away with a burst of speed and
screeching of tires.
The gunfire had stopped and the street was deathly quiet. Reggie
made it to Bishop and knelt beside him. Even in his drugged stupor,
he knew that Bishop was beyond help. SS had seen to that, and
now this was his corner.
As he stared down at the ripped and bleeding body of his friend,
Reggies fogged brain realized that his ready supply of drugs
had died with Bishop. There was no one else that would take care
of him as Bishop had. There was no one to slip him a bag of shit
when the money was tight. No one to turn to when the urge of the
drug was so great that he would have sold his own mother, were
she alive, to get a fix. He was alone now. A small fish in a sea
of sharks, and he was scared.
He heard the sirens in the distance and knew they were coming
coming here. Somebody in the neighborhood had found the balls
to call the cops, and he knew that he couldnt be found here
with Bishop when they arrived. There would be too many questions
that he couldnt or wouldnt answer, so he struggled
to his feet again, cast a last glance over his shoulder at his
friend, and walked slowly across the street.
* * *
Reggie was high, high as a kite, but the drug was suppressed
with the adrenaline surging through his body. He watched the cops
arrive and dispassionately kick the body of his friend to check
for signs of life.
There was no yellow crime scene tape draped around the street
with eager young cops pushing the morbidly curious away. There
were no TV personalities or satellite trucks vying for position
on the street to get the best angle for the ten oclock news.
Nobody gave a shit about another drug dealer being gunned down
in cold blood. It would be just another couple of paragraphs hidden
on the back page of the paper, below the Gigantic Sale of Easy
Rest Chairs, and between the ads about Choir Robes Needed and
Get Your Degree in Two Weeks with no waiting.
Bishops obituary, if one was published, would eventually
end up on the bottom of a birdcage somewhere, and when its function
was fulfilled, would by rolled up and tossed into the trash without
a moments hesitation.
Good riddance to bad shit.
* * *
Reggies chin dropped to his chest and jerked upright again.
He was fighting hard to overcome the rush of the drug coursing
through his veins and he felt that he might yet be able to control
it. He focused his anger towards the law and the lack of sympathy
they showed his friend.
Bishop should not be disrespected, even in death. He deserved
to be treated, as anyone else would be if they were the victims
of a drive by shooting. He should be treated with dignity.
Tears ran down Reggies face as he watched the coroners
van pull up to the scene and a large black man opened the door
and stepped out. He walked to the rear of the van and opened the
back doors, reached in and removed a stainless steel cart with
folded legs and a large black bag resting on white sheets and
set it up on the street.
The man pushed the cart beside Bishops body, and removing
the black bag, unfolded it and lay it next to the deceased.
Enlisting the aid of one of the police officers, he rolled the
body on top of the bag, carefully placed the victims arms
and legs inside and pulled the heavy-duty zipper closed.
As the coroner loaded the body in the van, shut the doors and
drove away, it suddenly occurred to Reggie that with Bishops
death, he was cut off of his only source of drugs.
The thought of having to find another dealer, a dealer like Bishop
had been, was going to be next to impossible. He leaned back against
the wall and was lamenting his possible fate, when a wild thought,
so perverted and obscene, slammed into his brain.
Bishop still had the dope! Hed swallowed it to keep it
from being taken from him, and now, with his death, no one in
the world but he knew about it. All he had to do now was figure
a way to get it back.