-Your Ultimate Book Club-
He couldn't believe his eyes
as he raised his hands and she cried
he looked past the barrel of a gun
into the devil he created eyes
He knew his life would be short
just didn't expect it this soon
his mind wandered and so did his eyes
as his life began to play on the walls of that room
Everyone was dressed in all black. Women's mascara ran down their faces as tears fell and froze quickly. Zack stood amidst the rest of his family and tried to be strong for everyone else. He was the oldest and the only boy so he had to be strong for them. But this death took a lot from him, from everyone. Especially his mother. She had a different kind of tear in her eyes. A dying tear. They not only buried his little sister that day. They buried his mothers sanity as well. The sky was a dim pale gray, no leaves were on the trees. They walked back from the cemetery to their one room shack. There was no repass. They could barely afford the funeral itself. If it weren't for someone else giving more than half of the money for the burial, it would have never happened. That night was the lonliest night ever. He sat in the front room, all the lights off, and finally cried to himself. He hated watching his family struggle. He was fourteen now and could do so much more to contribute to the household. He couldn't bury another family member. He had his mother and three sisters left. He had to find a job after school. Anything would help. He layed there that night in the fetal position crying and thinking and planning a way to save his family. His head weighed heavy with the task ahead. Yet, no one was prepared for what would happen next.
He woke up the next morning doing his normal routine of getting everyone ready for school. His mom left for work before they would wake up so he was used to getting everything together. The girls were Ashley who was 11, Brittany who was 9, and Charity who was 6. He got them up on time and they were dressed by the time their buses arrived. He saw them to their bus and got on his bike and headed for school. The ride to school was cold and lonely. The crisp morning air allowed him to see every breath he took. He finally got to school, put his bike in his usual spot, and went inside. The halls were swarming since it was so cold that morning. He hoped the sun would bring a little heat later. Everyone was sympathetic. People who had never even looked his way were stopping in the hall to say "Are you okay?" and "I'm sorry for your loss." He just said "yes" and "Thank you." He found his friends and they did the same. He told them he was okay and that he didn't want to think about it. They said "you smokin' after school with us?" He agreed. He wanted it to be a typical day. The first bell rang and they all started heading to their classes. Zack had skipped a grade in school and instead of being a freshman he had been promoted to the sophomore level. He didn't take any classes with any of his friends. They barely ever saw each other until their lunch period. The day seemed to drift away slowly as Zack's mind continuously wandered as to how he could help his mom so they wouldn't have to suffer anymore. But everything he came up with would take so much time. Another bell rang, it was lunch time. Maybe he could get his mind off of it for a minute since he had lunch with his friends. He put his things in his locker and headed for the lunch room.
There she was. Amy. She was by far the prettiest girl in school. He tried to play it cool as they walked past each other. He knew she would walk this way everyday and one day he would finally have the courage to say something to her. Not today though. Nah! Definitely not today. He turned around watching her as she passed and did not even hear or see the Principal who he was 2 seconds from bumping into. 2... 1... "Mr. Robinson. How are we today?" she said. "i'm fine Mrs. Dreer." Zack replied. Mrs. Dreer was a fairly big woman so he had felt as though he had run into a brick wall. She was top heavy but her legs were soooo small... Anyway, she continued talking to him, "If you are having trouble you can talk to any of my staff or me. Don't be afraid to come to us. We know you're dealing with a lot of difficulties right now and we are here to help." "Ummm. Ok." Zack replied as he stepped around her and continued to walk to the cafeteria. He got there, got his food, and found his friends. They were sitting at the usual table. He walked over, sat down, and joined the conversation. "We can get two. We got enough for two." Jay said. "But we still have to get a cigar though." Replied Tee. "I got some cigars already. My brother has a box of them. I'll just grab some of his." said Jon Jon. Jay butted in "Hey Zack, you think you can talk to Charles about giving us some extra weed. I mean he is your cousin and it was his family that died too." "What the hell Jay. How you just gonna say that to him." "It's ok." Zack replied. "I may be able to get some for free. Jay's right, he's my cousin so maybe he will..." Then Zack stopped mid sentence as he thought about what he was saying. He began to put everything together. Charles was the only guy that sold weed and he lived in the next town. So everyone in the city that smoked went to him. If he gave Zack some of the weed he could sell it easy because they didn't have to go and get it from Charles and Charles could pay him.
He hopped up from the table and ran to his locker to get his jacket and his backpack. The guys figured he had some homework he didn't finish or something. He went out of the main entrance doors by the principals office, no one was ever there. He got to his bike, hopped on and started pedaling with nothing but ambition and adrenaline flowing through him. His brain raced around so many ideas of what he could do. He thought to himself "If I can just make a hundred dollars a week I can buy the groceries or help out with a bill. Man, I hope Charles lets me work for him. We could probably make more money." His heart was beating so fast. On his bike it would take him about 45 minutes to make it to Charles and the whole 45 minutes he pedaled as fast as he could. He finally got to Charles' street. He dropped his bike and took off running towards Charles' house. Charles was about 23 but he stayed by himself. He got to the door, out of breath, knocking so hard he hurt his knuckles. Charles came to the door quickly and angrily at that. "Who the fuck bangin' on my door like that?" he said as he swung the door open. "Oh Zack. What up? Come in." Zack walked in slowly still trying to catch his breath. "What the hell is wrong with you beating on my door like that?" Charles said. Zack tried to respond through his short breaths, "I was just tryin' to see... (heavy breath) you know my mom been (inhales) she been strugglin' tryin' to take care of us. (a couple breaths) I just wanna help out and I was thinkin'," he took a deep breath not for the sake of breathing but for the sake of mustering up enough courage to say this. "I was thinkin' i could work for you. You know, selling, and you could pay me so I could help out around the house." Charles was surprised, that's not what he expected at all, but he had to respect the little guy for wanting to work for what he wanted. So Charles sat there thinking, looking around the room. Then his eye caught a piece of mail. It was from a female friend from out of town. It was an invitation to come meet some more distributors to get more quality and quantity. He could leave Zack what he had and go and get wayyy more. The decision was made. He took Zack into the basement and opened a crevice in the wall. Inside the crevice was the most weed Zack had ever seen in person. Charles grabbed a zip-loc bag full of weed and handed it to Zack. "This one is free. But the rest you got to pay for. That is a pound. I know you know math. So take out your notebook and write this down...
So Imma go out of town for a while
Imma leave you the keys to my place
You sell what I just gave you now
and come back for more in a couple of days
you ain't gotta pay me for that one
but I expect payment for the rest
Now write this down so you can take this town
and learn how to be the best.
A pound is made of 16 ounces
an ounce is made of 28 grams
thats 28 bags at 1 gram each
so when you bag it up only weigh 1 gram
Now for the whole pound I want 2500 back
for an ounce you will make 280
never give nobody weed for free
cause then you'll lose money like crazy
When you come back for more
trade the cash for the weed
and don't you dare take some without payin
now hand me that notebook so i can read what you got
hope you understood what I'm sayin
Zack handed Charles the notebook and Zack had written everything down and had also began to do a bit of his own math too. He calculated that one bag was 10 dollars and he could make 28 of those 10 dollar bags. That would be 280 dollars if he only sold one of the ounces out of this pound of weed he had just been given. So then he multiplied that number times how many ounces he had. 16. and it came out to 4,480. He only thought he would make about 50 to 100 dollars. But, he could possibly make 4,000. He was bubbling with excitement but he had to stay calm and listen to everything Charles said. He paid a lot of attention to details. Charles said "I don't know when I'm coming back but it's 17 pounds in here. You'll have to sell in your city and mine. So before I leave I'll tell everyone that you have it. Now go make us some money."
At this point both Zack and Charles were realizing the steps they had just made. Maybe it was a bit dumb to trust a kid that young with that type of responsibility, but Charles had faith in him. He saw it in Zack's eyes. There was no way Zack would fail. Zack was on top of the world as he left Charles' house. He got on his bike and pedaled slowly back home. The weather had warmed up, warm enough for people to be outside. The 45 minutes it would take him to get home would be just before he got out of school. Maybe he could sell some of the weed today. And if he did he would buy the family a good meal. No noodles or canned beans. The feeling that he felt knowing that he could change his families direction was a feeling of pure awesomeness. He finally got home, dropped his bike, and unlocked his front door. He went inside, dropped his bag by the couch, and walked through the house to make sure his mom hadn't made it home yet. It was easy to tell since the house was so small. No one was home. He sat at the small kitchen table, pulled out everything Charles had given him and started to weigh weed and put it into baggies. He had noticed from always smoking that the tips of the baggies were burnt in order to seal them. He went into his mothers room and found a lighter. He weighed and bagged and weighed and bagged and weighed and bagged until he had 32 bags in front of him. "That's 1.5 ounces," he said to himself. He kind of leaned back in the chair, chest poked out, admiring what he had done. A few moments later someone was knocking on the door. "Oh shit, the girls." he scrambled to get all the weed back into his backpack. He stuck a few bags of weed into his pocket. He went to the door and opened it slowly.
It wasn't his sisters. It was his friends from school. They were all talking at once. "Dude, why the hell did you leave school?" "We thought something happened." "Is everything ok?" They were all spitting out questions so quick he could barely answer. "Everything is fine. I just had to go do something before school let out." Zack finally replied. "Well... Ok. you still smokin' with us? We finna go get some weed now. But we only going to smoke one cause Jon Jon brother didn't have any cigars left," Jay said. "I got some weed, y'all don't have to go to Charles no more. I'm selling it for him," Zack replied. "Wait. What? You selling weed? For Charles?" Tee said. "Yea. So y'all want some or not?" Zack asked. "Hell yea give us a bag." Zack watched as they all pulled out singles. They only had 17 dollars. They were discussing among themselves about trying to get more money and come back for more weed and how they couldn't buy two bags because they had to buy cigars. That's when Zack made a business move that he was nowhere near prepared for. "Look just give me 15 dollars and I'll give you two bags. That way y'all can get the cigars too." They didn't know what to say. Charles had never given anyone any kind of deal. This was amazing. They handed over the 15 bucks quickly and got the two baggies of weed. "You sure you not gonna smoke?" Jon Jon asked. "Naw. I got other things to do." Zack replied as he watched them walk off. After he closed the door he looked in his hand at the 15 dollars and smiled. "This is good," he thought to himself. He went back to his bag so that he could bag up some more. after making about 10 more bags he heard his sisters' bus pull up. He put everything away and went to the door to open it for them. They came in and dropped their backpacks. He told them to grab their things and put it where it goes and get started on their homework. He looked in the fridge to see what they could eat... Nothing but some old milk, a few slices of cheese and some yogurt. He had to get them some food. Simeon's Diner had dollar burgers. he could get each of them a burger. So he told them "I'm going to go get y'all something to eat. They said "Ok," as he walked to the front door and opened it to leave. There was a man walking up to him. "Hey kid. You Zack?" the man said. "Yeah I'm Zack." Zack replied, wondering who this man was and what he wanted. "Great! I need a half." the man said. Zack was confused what the hell was this man talking about. "A half what?" Zack asked. The man shook his head laughing and said "I need a half of an ounce of weed." Zack didn't think of the fact that he would be selling to everyone, not just his peers. "Oh, okay. Gimme a sec' then."
Zack went into the house, grabbed his backpack and went into the bathroom. He did his addition and weighed 14 grams hurriedly. He put it in a baggie and rushed back outside to meet the man. Once outside the man questioned him as to how much he had to pay for it. Zack had not thought that far either. "How much you usually pay for it?" Zack asked. "Here, this is $125," the man said. "Just give me $100," Zack replied. "Damn... Thanks kiddo," The man seemed a bit joyous of that and happily gave the $100 dollars over and left. He walked back inside to the girls and asked them what kind of drinks they wanted with their meals. They all started telling him what kind of meals they wanted. He took mental notes as he began to leave again. He got on his bike and began to ride towards Simeon's. "The park on the way. Imma stop for a second," He thought to himself. He knew that his friends would be there. That's where everyone went after school. Especially everyone that smoked. He saw the park up ahead on the right. He spotted Jay and the guys instantly in their usual place, but everyone was surrounding them. Were they trying to fight his friends? He became protective at that moment and dropped his bike, running toward the crowd to ensure his friends' safety. They were okay when he got there. "Thank God you came," Jay started as he began to address the crowd, "Okay everybody. Zack got the weed and he letting it go two for 15. So have your money out and ready." Then he leaned over to Zack and whispered "You got some on you right?" "Yea I got some," Zack replied as everyone started waving money trying to put their bids in. It looked like wall street. He handed out bags and took payments faster than he could barely count. He was almost all out now as he took the last couple of dollars. He reached in his pocket to see what he had left. There was only one. He saw Amy. He decided to give her the last one for free. In his mind he thought this would make her notice him. "Amy," he said loudly. She turned around to see what he wanted. He walked over to her and handed her the last bag. "This one on me," he said to her. She said "thanks Zack" and kissed him on the cheek. He was gloating at that moment as she walked away. The prettiest girl in school had just kissed him annnnnd she knew his name. Wow!
But reality struck again as Jay asked "Where Tee go?" "Iono," Zack replied seeing that Jay was trying to pass Tee the burning marijuana filled cigar. "I gotta go grab the girls something to eat. I'll Catch up with y'all later," Zack said as he rode off on his bike. He rode out to Simeon's. He was kind of happy that he could afford to buy food for his family. As much money as he had just made, he felt like he could buy the whole store. He stepped up and ordered food for him, the girls, and his mother. As he waited for his food he heard a familiar voice say, "Hey Kiddo." It was the guy who had bought the half ounce earlier coming from the employees only section of the restaurant. "Hey what's up," Zack replied. "You work here?" Zack further inquired. "This is my place," the man said. "Wait! You're Simeon," Zack said astonished. "Yea Kiddo. And you've got just about everyone in the city looking for you. And some people from the next town too. You're gonna have to make yourself easier to find. Maybe when you drop your food off you can come back and we can have a talk about helping you with your little... business," Simeon said to him. "Ummm... Okay," Zack said as he reached over the counter to grab the big bag of food. Simeon seemed like an OK guy. Zack wondered how Simeon could help him, but Simeon obviously knew a thing or two about running a business so what's the worst that could happen. Zack got on his bike and headed home.
The ride back home was much less exciting. Some of the thrill had left of this amazing day he was having. By now his mom should have been home and getting ready to go to her second job. He got to the house and dropped his bike. As he got closer to the door he could hear Charity crying. He ran closer and saw that the door was not closed all the way. As he ran inside, his adrenaline started to rush and he was prepared for anything. As he rushed in the door he saw all three girls crying there in the front room. He kneeled down to them asking what was wrong. They were all crying too hard to tell him tho. They tried, but no words actually formulated, only simple muttering words. "Mom." "Gone." "Can't take it." These simple phrases started to come together in his head. He began to figure out what was going on and couldn't do anything but hold the girls close. He didn't expect this. What was he to do now. He had lost his sister and now his mother had left them high and dry. He was so young and now was given so much responsibility. What was he to do? Where was he to go from here? He couldn't let his family be broken up anymore. He had to make a change and he had to make it now. He could no longer live a regular life like his peers. He had to live something much more. His life could no longer be defined by the social norms of the groups and individuals around. He had to live his life unrefined by the standards of the world. He had to become someone else from who he was in order to survive...