“I ain’t got no motherfuckin’ friends… That’s why I fucked yo bitch, you fat motherfucker!”
Three white boys, higher than power lines, getting rowdy. Typical Friday at the Upton Apartments.
“Hit ‘Em Up,” one of Tupac’s most violent anthems, ends, and the iPod rolls over to his most sensitive song, “Dear Mama.”
“Maaan, flip that soft-ass song over to somethin’ else,” says Wes. He’s a pimply kid wearing Sambas, with a black Atlanta Falcons hat on his ginger head. New Era sticker still on the cap. Yeah, he’s pretty lame. We don’t know why we hang out with him either. Also, he can’t grow a mustache, but he doesn’t seem to know that.
“Why don’t you just shut your dumb ass down and go fuck with a fresh nug, bitch,” says Hemingway Gold. “Time for another blunt.”
This is the ritual: feel gently for the slight crease in the Swisher, break gently along the seam, scoop out the guts, roll it up.
Wes gets up from the ratty sofa and stomps into the other room. Hemingway is groovin’, singing along to “Dear Mama” as he opens the blunt and spills its guts. This is the ritual: feel for the slight crease in the Swisher, break gently along the seam, scoop out the guts, roll it up. Hemingway does this in seconds, letting muscle memory take over. Wes rolls back with a big purple nug, and Hemingway twists it up.
Just as he’s sparking it, Hemingway’s flip phone starts blowing up. He grabs the phone, blunt in his teeth.
“Man, fuck. I shoulda knew he would need purp at this time of night, “ Hemingway says. He stands up. “I’ll be right back. Y’all finish that blunt y’all some dead muhfuckers.”
He grabs a sack from the back bedroom, stuffs it in his back pocket, and walks outside.
“Dear Mama” ends and the keys and strings of “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” flow out of the speakers.
“Oh hell yeah,” Wes says. “Let’s hit the sticks.” He passes me a Playstation controller and I sit down next to him. It’s FIFA time. He chooses Barcelona — as usual — and I grab Real Madrid. We kick off and start playing what must be our 800th game together. It’s an intense rivalry, and by halftime we’re both yelling and throwing punches.
We’re so absorbed in the game that we don’t even notice Hemingway come back in. But we snap out of it when we hear the door slam shut. A voice that isn’t Hemingway’s says:
“Turn that music and that stupid game off, you little caramel popcorn-ass bitches.”
Hemingway, with his hands raised, is being forced onto the couch by a big guy in a ski mask.
We drop our controllers and turn around. Hemingway, with his hands raised, is being forced onto the couch by a big guy in a ski mask. The guy who spoke points a big handgun at Wes and me.
“Yo Hemingway, what the fuck is going on,” Wes says.
“Fuck you think, Lucky Charms?” says the ringleader, holding the gun. “You gettin’ robbed.”
There’s a third guy, wearing a ski mask like his partners. They sit us down on the couch and begin asking questions. The gun is always there, not necessarily pointed at us, but always in view. The ringleader plays with it casually, flipping it from hand to hand. He taps me on the knee with the tip of the barrel when he asks me questions.
The third guy — I can tell him apart by his bright blue Jordans — quickly finds the stash of weed. Two pounds of sweet, sticky purple kush. It would be surprising if they didn’t find it, given the way it stinks. Blue Jordans dumps it on the coffee table. Then he begins rifling through the room, opening drawers, knocking furniture over, generally trashing the place.
“Where the money at?” The ringleader walks around the back of the couch, letting the barrel of the gun drag across the tops of the cushions and brush against our shoulders. The cold steel scares the shit out of me. I’m keeping my eyes straight ahead. That’s when I notice it: my white Macbook lying in plain sight on the chest of drawers.
“There ain’t no money,” Hemingway says.
The ringleader circles the couch, back in front of us. He doesn’t speak for two minutes. The only sound is his partner searching the apartment.
In one motion he rips the ski mask off his face. He’s laughing, grinning wide. He isn’t any older than we are, but he looks hard. He’s got an Omar Little scar that runs past his left eye and a neck tattoo of a noose. “Yeah, there’s money. Y’all must think we slow.” He fingers the gun again. I’m totally focused on the gun.
“Nah man, no money,” Hemingway says, confidently.
He taps the gun against the side of his head. He’s not smiling anymore.
“Listen up.” He walks over until he’s a foot in front of us. “I’ve been playin’ with y’all. Don’t make me get serious.” He taps the gun against the side of his head. He’s not smiling anymore.
“You know you don’t want three dead white boys on your record,” Hemingway says. “You won’t be able t—”
“—Hem, come on.” It’s Wes. He’s had enough. So have I. “It ain’t worth it.”
Hemingway glares at Wes. But he gives in. “Trash bag at the bottom of the can, under the sink.”
They scoop up the cash. $4,000, easy. They take $10 out of my wallet. They even take the half-smoked blunt sitting in the ash tray.
“Alright then, no hard feelings, eh?” the ringleader says.
We hear their car peel out. We’re still sitting on the couch, shell-shocked.
“Man, FUCK!” Wes yells. He stands up and stomps around. “I can’t believe the nerve of those motherfuckers. We gotta come back at ‘em.” He looks at Hemingway.
But Hemingway isn’t listening. He’s doubled over, laughing his ass off, gasping for breath.
But Hemingway isn’t listening. He’s doubled over, laughing his ass off, gasping for breath. His telltale high-pitched giggle is contagious. I start laughing.
Hemingway can barely get the words out between breaths: “Those idiots… they cleaned us out… took all the money… took the weed… but they missed your laptop sitting right in front of their eyes!”
It shouldn’t possibly be funny, but it is. Then Hemingway lifts up his hand with a giant nug between his thumb and finger. There’s enough weed on the floor of the apartment for five more blunts. He smiles at me, holding up the nug like Simba, and just before cranking Tupac back up to full volume he says: “Bingo, bitch.”