Word Count 500
Ridley Street Lights
By: Sam McManus
They was brilliant even when they wasn’t, ‘cause they glory wudn’t linked to they freedom. Me and Ricardo would chase them down at twilight, when the shadows made them just visible enough to the naked eye, but not so bright they would try to hide. See, there was this patch of grass down Ridley Street, never got mowed. It was all bristly like one of them brushes that could never keep my hair from getting nappy. Ricardo’s mom said we was stupid for going down Ridley, ‘cause that’s where the hoes was at, and we didn’t wanna confuse them with no “fresh meat.”
We had no idea what a hoe was, and to me fresh meat meant we would eat that night. Ricardo’s mom would always shake her head at me when I tried to explain that.
“Y’all fittin’ ta get a rude awakenin’” she would say, slapping Ricardo upside the head and going back to her crack pipe. If that woman didn’t have that crack pipe in her hand I woudn’t a recognized her. But what she said ain’t matter when we was little kids, and it still ain’t matter when we was half growed up.
Ridley was five blocks down, but on summer nights we would haul ass down there, me and Ricardo, with the mayonnaise jar in hand. Sometimes it was his mayonnaise jar, and sometimes it was mine, but it didn’t matter. We was in it together. Wudn’t no mayonnaise in it no way. It was always clean like gram’s fake teeth in her water glass at night. We poked holes in the top ‘cause of what happened that first time when we didn’t.
When we got to Ridley we knew we was there ‘cause of those hoes Ricardo’s mom always warned us about. They was pretty brilliant theyselves, in my opinion, wearin’ all them fancy diamonds, them flash colors, and they hair was all puffy like I could lose myself in it. Ricardo liked “them miles of legs” that was always on display. He was all about them legs, for whatever reason. But they didn’t make me think of no fresh meat, not once. So I cussed out Ricardo’s mom for puttin’ the idea in my head in the first place. Every single time.
“Y’all young boys want to become men?” one of them asked that one time. She had smoky eyes and a deep voice like Darth Vader. I was not interested, even if my sole purpose in life was to become a man. For some reason I felt like following her wudn’t gonna accomplish that. We walked away, but Ricardo kept staring at her legs. Damn idiot.
Halfway down the block there was the patch of grass between these two houses, like the woods was coming up to reclaim the neighborhood. We took the top off the mayonnaise jar before we even saw them lightning bugs, but we knew they was there. They was waitin’ for us’ to give them they rude awakenin’.