Word Count 500
Me and Ricardo
By Sam McManus
When I was a kid I thought I would live forever. There was just something about that childhood optimism that was both refreshing and naïve at the same time. Old Pete and Raheim used to stand on the corner slinging rock, telling us kids we ain’t have no future but the streets, and that was if we got lucky like they did. And if we didn’t get lucky, well, there was some real estate a few blocks over that had some spots six feet under. Raheim told us that with a smile, and me and Ricardo would look down at our Converses like they was the word of Jesus, trying to break down what he meant.
We ain’t never met Jesus, not in the hood anyway. Me and Ricardo didn’t know him from Moses, the dude that financed Old Pete and Raheim but he ain’t never come around. He ain’t have to. Had his minions doing the dirty work for him. Whether that made Old Pete and Raheim smart was up for debate. Everybody knew they was doing the same rock they was slinging, and Ricardo’s mom said it was only a matter of time. I assumed that meant there was gonna be one less spot six feet under before too long.
Then one day it happened. I don’t know all the details cuz I wasn’t there, but Ricardo’s big brother said it happened fast. One minute Old Pete and Raheim was down on the corner, same as usual, with those doo rags on they heads like they was Deion Sanders, next minute a car come down the street, windows down, guns blazing. Raheim hit the deck like a rag doll, but Old Pete just didn’t have no reflexes anymore. To hear Ricardo’s brother tell it, Pete was like a dancing puppet until its strings got cut. Then the car was gone, and so was Pete, his blood running down the sewer drain.
Me and Ricardo was in school, and my mom said it was a good thing because young folk don’t need to see nothing like that, that we’d get messed up. Ricardo said we was already messed up cuz we lived in the hood. My mom cuffed him upside the head for that one. She wasn’t never afraid to teach us life lessons, ones that kept our heads ringing. Somehow Raheim survived, but he wasn’t on that corner no more. He got himself a robe, ditched the doo rag, and ended up over on 42nd Street with a Bible and religion. Least that’s what Ricardo’s brother said.
“Guess Old Pete and Raheim wasn’t so lucky after all,” said Ricardo the next day.
“I bet Raheim be singing like a canary when they catch up with him,” I replied.
“Yeah,” Ricardo agreed. “He ain’t got no chance.”
We didn’t realize back then that we ain’t have no chance either. That this was our forever. Me and Ricardo, staring down at our Converses like they was the word of Jesus.