It was Monday, November 21, 1988.
Wyatt’s “plan” to “repay” the money he owed me involved…:
a) …spending a few thousand dollars that his grandmother had sent him on…
b) …a bunch of cocaine, that he would…
c) …sell, to…
d) …make money, to…
e) …pay Shane and I.
I suggested the obvious alternative – give us the $600 or so he owed us from the money from his grandmother, and buy his cocaine with whatever might have been left over – might have been better for all concerned. He had bigger plans, naturally.
I pondered – how do I get rid of a roommate? My ponderings usually resolved to “there’s nothing I can do”.
Which seemed to be a habit I was in with most areas of my life at the time.
I had left to do some grocery shopping early in the morning. I came home to Wyatt presiding over a living room full of people – all of whose body language, dress and attitude looked you in the eye and said “drug trade” without a hint of worry.
“Hey” said Wyatt, “this is Marshall”, pointing to a stocky, unsmiling black guy with a big scar on his cheek in a Members Only jacket “and that’s Jeff”, a too-thin white guy with a porn-star mustache and long hair wearing a yellow plaid flannel shirt.
“Hey”, I nodded. They eyed me, making not the faintest sign of acknowledgment.
I walked into my room, shut and hooked the door. Then I sat down at my “desk” – a party table on which I stacked a bookshelf, which actually made for a fairly handy deskoid structure – and called the radio station in New York I’d interviewed at last month. The program director had told me to check in in a month or so.
The receptionist answered. “Is Charlie there”, I said, asking for the program director.
“I’m sorry, Charlie is no longer here”.
My heart fell like a shot goose. I sat, my jaw too heavy to move for a moment.
“Um…why?” I finally blurted out.
“The station changed ownership and format. We’re now a gospel music station!”, she chirped.
I thanked her, hung up, and leaned back in the chair, my legs and arms too heavy to move anywhere for the moment.
I sat for a moment, having a hard time focusing on much. I still have the voiceover gig at WOR, and that network gig out there, I reassured myself.
But they’re not going to happen, I de-assured myself.
I heard Wyatt, Marshall and Jeff doing their business through the wall. It took a moment to focus; unsurprisingly, they were moving some of Wyatt’s “product”.
I walked to my bed, and reached down behind the mattress and took out the little .22 automatic pistol I’d been keeping there for emergencies. I checked the chamber – empty. I checked the magazine – full. I stuck it in my pocket. It’d stay there for a while.