The Problem and The Promise

MyWayOutCoverThis is the second chapter of a book that I am currently finishing.  It is a flashback to the childhood of the main character around the time he had just finished high school.  Hope you enjoy.  – Norman LaVelle



A couple days and several ignored calls from CJ had passed when my mother, Melanie, walked in the front door of the run-down two bedroom apartment, we called home, with tears running down her face.  I was in the kitchen making myself a plate of left over pork chops and mashed potatoes from the previous night’s dinner. You see, left-overs was always dinner the next night when you are on a tight budget. I’d heard my mother crying and went into the living room to see what was going on, but when I reach the living room I heard a bedroom door slam followed by more crying.  Something must really be wrong.  I walked down the hallway to the closed door of my mother’s bedroom and tried to turn the knob, but the door was locked.  I tapped on the door with my knuckle softly but loud enough to be heard.  My knocks went unanswered.  Finally I called out, “Ma, whatever you going through we can get through together.”  Still no response from the other side of the door.  Instead some folded papers stapled together slid from under the door.  The title on the top of the first page read in red bold letters: NOTICE OF EVICTION.  I didn’t think much of it.  In fact it was normal for us to receive those because my mother always paid the rent by the 15th of each month when she got paid her commission check from the cellular phone store she worked at.  So you see everyone got an eviction notice if their rent was not paid by the 10th of each month, it was just policy to cover the butts the property managers.  I figured I would let her calm down and talk to her later.

About an hour had gone past and my mother had come out of the room.  She sat down and told me that we need to have a serious talk about where we will be in the next 60 days.  I was still a little confused when I responded.  “What’s the big deal we always get those notices, and you always pay on the 15th when you get your commission check.”

“That’s true and will still stand true for this month, but its next month that I’m worried about.”

“Why???  What happen?”

“I lost my job today baby.”

“But they can’t do that. You are one of the best sales reps they have.  You won all those awards last summer for highest sales.”

“Sales have been slow, and we not getting business like we use to.  My sales haven’t been like that in over 4 months.  Nobody’s has.”

“So what can I do?”

“Well first thing first, I gotta go find me a job.  After I fill out the forms for unemployment.  YOU, will go to that college and still get signed up for your finance classes for the fall semester.”

“Well maybe I should hold off and get a job until we can figure things out”

“And that’s why I love you, but that not necessary baby, I don’t want anything stopping you from going to school.  So let me handle this if I have to buy oodles and noodles to eat for us to make it I will, we have struggled before and made it and we will make it through this time too.”

I nodded in agreement but wasn’t completely convinced. But out of respect for my mother I left the topic alone gave her a hug and peck on the cheek and said “I know momma, I know”


(30 Days Later)

My mother was having the worst luck trying to find a job. She had even given up on sales positions and started filling out fast food applications just to have something.  No one seemed to be hiring.  She was in the middle of filling out an application for some clothing store in the local mall down the street when Kevin and I walked in the house drenched in sweat.   We just finished a game of basketball at the park next door to the building.  I went in the cabinet and grabbed two cups and threw one to Kevin.  I then went after water pitcher in the refrigerator.   “Dude you moving a little slow with that water”, Kevin said.

“Don’t worry about what I’m doing I gotta check something real quick.  Momma!”

“Yeah,” she replied from the back of the apartment.

“Do you want any of this cold water, cause if not we bout to kill it.”

“No, I’m good, y’all go head…and don’t be in there making no mess.  I just cleaned that kitchen, so wash out what ever y’all use.”

Kevin interjected, “Hey Ms. A.”

“Hey Kevin, I’m sure you just heard everything I said, so that goes for you too.”

We took the water back to my room so that they could speak privately.  At this point I know that it’s just a matter of time before they we get put out of this apartment.  I had been putting a lot of thought into the math the CJ laid out for me about a month ago at the Wild Tangent.  I didn’t quite have the math down, but I knew there was the possibility of doubling my investment and then reinvesting in more product.  It seemed like it would be an easily accomplishable task.  Kevin interrupted my thoughts by saying, “earth to Sean are you in there?”


“Dude what is on your mind”

“If I tell you something, you gotta promise me it will stay between us and it never leaves this room until I say it’s necessary.”

Kevin saw the look on my face.  It was a serious scowl that I’m sure I have never shown him.  He couldn’t tell if I was irritated, upset, or just plain old pissed.  However he could tell that this was a serious matter and did not hesitate to straighten up his face.  With an agreeing nod, “okay, what’s up?”

“What do you know about CJ Jenkins?”

“Not much, I just see him on the block from time to time, I think he sell drugs.  Why what’s up?”

“Yeah he sell, and I may be running a deal with him to help put some money in my pocket.”

Kevin then had a scowl on his face and in an elevated voice, “Man, yo mother go kill you, if she find out you selling that shit.”

While quickly making a patting motion with my hand, I yelled through closed lips “keep yo damn voice down, you know she here everything.  Now do you remember that night that you dropped me off at The Wild Tangent; that’s who i was meeting up with.  Long story short, he showed me how I can flip this money I got and turn it into profits for more supply and so on and so forth.  I need somebody watching my back that I can trust, I don’t know him like that but I know you have had my back since day one.  So I’m go meet up with him later and talk the details out with him, and I want you to be there.  We like brothers so if I start doing big things, I’m taking you with me.  Can I count on you to have my back?”

Kevin held his fist out for a fist bump “You already know I got you Sean”

I sealed the deal by colliding my fist with his. “Meet back here tonight at eight”



Later that night

I received a text from CJ with a new location for our meeting.  Kevin and I were on our way to the address he left in the message.  We pull up and it was not what I was expecting.  This house was a gorgeous brown brick two story colonial with black shutters at every window and candy apple red door.  I just knew we had the wrong address but as we pulled into the driveway CJ emerged from the rear of the house directing us to drive around back.  Once Kevin parked we both got out and walked into what I thought was huge garage.   It seems that whoever’s house we were at converted the garage into the most awesome man cave I had ever seen.  There were nice comfortable sofas and recliners that surrounded the 80in flat-screen TV, behind the sofas was a pool table and to the right of the pool table was a poker table.  Along the back wall was a fully loaded wet bar with every brand of alcohol you could want.

There was only one other person there other than CJ.  He stood from the recliner to shake our hands and introduce himself as Anthony.  CJ walked over to the poker table to have a seat.  So to be polite I asked Kevin to stay in the TV area, and I went to join CJ at the poker table.  He had a bottle of Crown Royal sitting on the table with four glasses.  He poured himself a drink and one for me as well.  I don’t really drink, I’ve messed around with my mom’s wine coolers but that was like drinking fruit juice.  I can already feel the burn that will being permeating from the middle of my chest.  CJ said, “so now that you know how the math of how it all works let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how the whole game is going to unfold.   I want both of us to go in for the meeting we will put our money together and get as much as we can.  My plan is to get a…”.  I sat back and listens to CJ spill his guts about how we were going to make a ton of money.  Everything he said made perfect sense.  During his explanation I also wondered why I was putting up $900 and he was only putting up $600, but he explained that too.  Basically he has the distribution already set up and is doing most of the leg work.  After speaking nonstop for about 15 minutes he asked, “So what do you think?”

“I think we are going to make a lot of money as long as all goes according to plan”

“Let me worry about the plans” CJ said raising his glass from the table. “So shall we toast to this partnership?”

Of fuck I knew this was coming.  I reluctantly picked up the glass and forced a smile.  I tip my glass to connect with his and said, “To being partners.”  I took a swallow of the Crown Royal and to my surprise it went down rather smoothly and it was really flavorful.  Then came that burn from the middle of my chest.  I continued to force a smile as CJ looked me in the eyes still smiling himself.  CJ fill two more glasses and we each carried one over to the TV area where Kevin and Anthony were engaged in conversation about the MMA match they were watching.  They both took a glass and CJ raised his in the air and screamed “we about to make this money!”  Following his lead we raised our glasses in laughter and all said “to making money!”


(30 Days Later)

I have no clue how CJ did it, but it was working.  I was making more money than I ever have in my life and the cool thing was neither CJ nor I never actually sold the drugs.  I never even see the shit outside of going with CJ to get more supply and we had been back 3 times during the last four weeks.  Along with the money we were reinvesting in product I still had almost six grand saved up so far.

I walked in the house after getting dropped off by CJ and was feeling pretty damn good about myself.  I’d just got my hair cut yesterday.  I had on some freshly pressed jeans with a Chicago Bears jersey and a fresh pair of Air Force Ones.  It was kind of quiet in the house.  I walked into the kitchen and grabbed myself a Sunny D off the door of the fridge.   I made my way to my room only to find my door was slightly cracked open.  I could have sworn I closed it before I left.  I walked in the door and damn near shit my pants when I saw my mother sitting on my bed with her arms folded.  Sitting next to her was the shoe box that I had been hiding all of my money in.  SHIT!  I wanted to scream.

She had a serious look on her face as she was pointing to the folding chair sitting next to my bed.  “Sit down”, she demanded.  And I did just that.  She started out very calm.  “I passed the landlord in the hall today after avoiding him all month.  He was all smiles as he told me he needed to give me something.  I thought the arrogant son of a bitch was about to hand me an eviction notice, but to my surprise he hands me a receipt.  He said he forgot to give it to my son after he dropped off the money for the rent last week. This came as a total surprise to me because I didn’t know I sent my son down there with no rent money.  So I figure that damn boy spent his graduation money on rent.  Then I looked at the receipt and saw that it was not for one month but two months’ rent.  Now I’m getting very skeptical as I walked away from Mr. Evans.  So I came in the house and decided I was going to ask you just where the hell you got that much money.  But you were not here and I got tired of waiting so I came into you room and saw you had two new pairs of shoes.  And what do I find in one of the boxes.  A little over $6000.  Where in the hell did this money come from Sean!”  Now she was pissed and I was terrified.  I was rocking back in forth in the chair just waiting for the slap that never came.  Instead she said again in a calmer tone.  “Boy, I’m only going to ask one more time.  Where did you get all of this money?”

I look up into my mother’s eyes and said, “I have never lied to you and I won’t start now.”  I sat there and told her the entire truth from the first meeting with CJ up until now.

“How long did you plan on doing this shit” she asked.  “And more importantly how long did you think you were going to be able to hide this from me?”

“Honestly Ma, I never thought of myself as a drug dealer and I don’t want to be, which is part of the reason I don’t touch the stuff.  Like I said other than going to pick it up with CJ I never really see it. I only reap the rewards of it.  My plan was to get enough so that I can leave and go to school and we can get us a place and get out of here.”  Seeing that she was not as furious as I anticipated I opened my top drawer on the dresser and pulled out the brochures for Virginia Commonwealth University.  “See this is where I want to go to school and I found out that they have a lot of student housing available around the campus.  So I figured I would be able to pay our bills up on a nice two bedroom for a while until you landed a job out there.  And I could be in school earning my finance degree.”

She looked really intrigued but stayed quiet.  I don’t know if being down on her luck has softened her heart toward my plan or if she was just that disappointed in me that she didn’t want to say anything.  Then she spoke.  “Okay so what’s the amount you came up with to make this dream come true?”  I told her $75,000 and her eyes grew very wide, but sensing her apprehension I told her the six grand she was holding was from the past 30 days.  Then she calmed for a moment and got quiet again.  The silence was enough to drive me crazy.  I can’t just stop; I’m sure it was not that easy.  I have no clue what thoughts are going through my mom’s head.  All I do know is I am still terrified right now.

She raised her head to look at me and pointed her finger at me and said, “I didn’t raise you to be some damn drug dealer and it’s nothing that I would ever condone.  However, when I listen to you speak, you talk about your plans with such passion and conviction and I can’t help but to believe in you.”  She shook her head in disbelief of hearing her own words.  “As you said you are aware of the consequences and you have made a way so that you never have to actually sell the stuff yourself.  So here is the deal.  You need to promise me that once you hit that number we are leaving everything behind and moving to Virginia.  And to make sure we stay on target I will be keeping track of the money.  I’m still going to be looking for a job because I don’t want you to have to worry about the apartment or the bills.  We will only use this money if we have to.”

I thought I was losing my fucking mind.  Am I really understanding her correctly?  Did my mom just give me to green light to continue being a drug dealer?  Holy shit!  I looked her in the eyes and said, “I promise.”

 Thank You for Being My Audience

Norman LaVelle

© 2014. N. L. Writings

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