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Gibran

DON'T TAKE ME ALIVE: Continued

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“FREEZE!”

We rushed inside the bank so quickly that the bank employees looked like it was the end of the world as they knew it. We had caught them with their underwear down! They were bullshitting, laughing and talking and we never gave them time to regain their composure.

I vaulted over the counter like an Olympic high hurdler and when I came down on the other side, I swept the teller out of my way as if she were a five foot five Barbie Doll. “This ain’t your money, bitch, so don’t get yourself fucked up. Just lay your ass on the floor and let me go on about my motherfucking biz’ness.”

 

I snatched open the teller drawer and for a brief moment in time thought I was in the Federal Reserve. Money was stacked up like that. Shit, with all that damn paper, nigga just might destabilize the local economy. I wasted no time in going to work as I yanked open the red plastic shoe bag and started stuffing the money in like I thought it was going to evaporate. I, quite possibly, broke a world bank-robbing record for the fastest time in emptying a teller drawer, but you damn better believe that my partner was equally as swift because out of the corner of my eye, I could witness him at work. We met at the center of the long counter after vacuum-cleaning two drawers each. We both smiled, figuring that we were working our way up the millionaire list.

 

“Let’s go!” Lowe hollered, indicating that we had just about worn our welcome out as far as time was concerned, so with a pained expression on my happy face, I dismissed the notion of grabbing the long trays of coins under the counter. Plus, the serious expression on Lowe’s face was suggestive enough. It was time to roll out.

 

Given the fact that the heist was practically over and so far all had gone according to plan, I could live with the fact that everything from the moment we had charged into the bank had seemed to be in slow motion, but the trek back out of the joint seemed to take forever. It was as if some invisible architect, probably on the government’s payroll, had magically re-constructed the entire front lobby, extending the length of the bank by about thirty or forty feet. The black and white tile floor appeared to have hemorrhaged so that in some spots it felt as slippery as an oil slick while in other places felt like a nigga was running in sand. I knew it was just my mind playing tricks on me, but getting to that damn door was an epic struggle.

 

When I got close enough to the door to be thankful, Lowe held up his hand like it was a stop sign. I was getting ready to curse the nigga out when he stuck his head out of the front door to make sure the coast was clear. Personally, I didn’t give a fuck if it did become public knowledge about the crime I had just committed since I was dead-set against letting a motherfucka stop me from spending this paper now that it was in my possession.

 

We made a mad dash to the getaway ride.

“We did it! We did it!” Butch shouted. “We did it!”

“We ain’t did shit,” Lowe cracked, “until our ass safe back in Piedmont Courts.”

I didn’t want to add my two cents in and burst Butch’s bubble, but I wasn’t about to start counting my chickens until I was back at my Mama’s house. Yet, I did sense that we had won, that we were on the verge of victory although a lot could go wrong in ten minutes which was about the time it would take us to reach 10th Street and Seigle Avenue, our safety zone.

Driving through uptown, I flinched as Boo steered the car onto Davidson Street.

“Nigga,” I yelled, “this ain’t the way we s’posed to go.”

“I’m taking a shortcut. Now, chill out and let me drive. Y’all niggas done done y’all job, so let me do mine.”

I was about to get mad when I suddenly recognize the genius of the nigga’s unexpected and unexplained departure from the script. He was taking us through Earle Village, the project just above the projects where we lived. By driving through Earle Village, we were practically invisible to all outside traffic and the police wouldn’t be in the projects at this time of morning because niggas didn’t start selling heroin on Seventh Street, down by Paso’s, until noon.

 

At the bottom of McDowell Street where Earle Village ended and Piedmont Courts began, I was ready to celebrate because I had just put my days as a broke nigga behind me. Piedmont Courts had never looked any sweeter to me. Bitch sparkled like The Vatican.

 

Parking the stolen car at the top of the projects, we all jumped out, except Boo whose next job was to dump the car in North Charlotte and let them niggas over there take the heat.

“Take the ride up on Belmont Avenue and leave it,” I ordered. “I’ll make sure your cut is straight.”

From out of nowhere, three nappy-headed hood rats popped up as we departed the ride. They saw us running away from the white Ford, but had no idea why. And it wasn’t none of their business. Bitches knew how it worked in the hood—don’t noBody see shit!

 

Crossing over the big street in the middle of the projects, I involuntarily grew happier than a motherfucka. Butch, Boo and Lowe felt it as well. Sometimes a nigga wins.

When we crashed into the back door of my Mom’s crib, the celebration was on even before we made it upstairs to my bedroom. The feeling was indescribable, surreal, and when we dumped the money on the bed, the illusion was amplified a thousand times. It was as though money was all the proof a nigga needed to feel like he was worthy of being alive.

 

Already, I could hear the police helicopter, Snoopy, flying close by, and a cold chill ran up my spine. “Close the door,” I barked as if the police in the helicopter could see through the walls of the crib and that the door would be the only thing that could spare us. “Don’t nobody look out the window. Snoopy just flying in motherfucking circles.” I tried to sound cheerful, but Snoopy had spooked me out so much that I ignored my own decree and peeled back the curtain to peek out the window.

 

I almost pissed on myself. To the immediate right of the crib, Snoopy zoomed into view, looming over the projects like a menacing attack bird. When Lowe asked if I saw the helicopter, I nodded without speaking, but just as quickly as Snoopy had appeared, it vanished. For a minute, I thought the police were closing in, but I didn’t say it aloud. Instead, we divided the money up and we each went our separate ways. What none of us knew was that we had just made history, but it was the kind of history that can rob a nigga of a future.

 

 

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