It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Part CIX

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.


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