Posted 01 June 2012 - 07:40 AM
Edited by bufu7690, 01 June 2012 - 08:27 AM.
The M.O.B. in Acter. Prologue.
“What’s up Big Guy?” The man exclaimed with joy across the dimly-lit, loosely-populated room, as he entered and locked eyes with the bartender. He moved with the cautious courage of a roughneck, which is characteristic of the Westside players in this bar. He wasn’t old, but he has been through much in his time. The uplifting look on his face today, however, indicated that his past was far from a concern, and he was just glad to be where he was. As for the future, none of these old souls ever took that for granted.
“Oh whoa. Eggy, what’s good!? They actually let you out? Damn, society’s a trip.” The Big Guy replied sarcastically with a slight grin on his face. He was, understandably, a larger heavyset man, but his presence behind the bar made him a much less imposing figure than his reputation would suggest. The Big Guy was obliged to fill this role as a legitimate businessman, out of respect for the previous owner who met an undeserved, but long overdue, death. This gave the Big Guy opportunity to diverge from the previous path of force that people of their lifestyle were compelled to follow. Though the Big Guy was preoccupied with pouring a beer and collecting money from another patron, his face signaled that he was also happy for Eggy to be here, in this small hole-in-the-wall establishment on lower Bear Street in Berchem.
There was no sign out front, and there didn’t need to be. If someone had just happened upon this location and decided to come in for a drink, they were automatically out-of-place. In fact, stumbling upon this whole neighborhood and its back alleys used to be dangerous, but redevelopment and gentrification is changing that atmosphere very quickly. Many new businesses are thriving and residential buildings being fixed up, prompting a newer, more prosperous class of people to occupy the territory. This relic of a bar remains as a testament to the customers who have survived long enough to keep frequenting this bar. In bars like these, you demanded respect for the simple fact that you were still around. And if you didn’t know the other patrons well enough to shake hands and do business, you at least knew them by reputation.
“Yeah, you know the whole system’s messed up, from the bottom up. Everybody’s going at it in the streets. Police be locking everybody and they mamas up.” Eggy preached loudly as he made his way from the door to the bar. He drew minimal reactions from the crowd, for his perspectives and situation were nothing new to those present to hear him. Eggy merely amplified his tone to match his mood and the state’s current situation. “Prisons can’t hold every gun-toting goon now can they? While politicians always making the wrong moves and ain’t fixing nothing.” By this time, he was close enough to the bar to speak in a tone where only the Big Guy could hear. “It’s all just a game, and we all getting played.”
They both chuckled as the Big Guy put some small change in the register. He then turned to shake Eggy’s hand in a familiar manner and agreed, “It is what it is. Streets been hot. Can’t even tell you if it was worse back before you went in, or nowadays. How long were you in for, by the way? I just know it’s been a good minute since I seen you.” The sound of the Big Guy setting down shot glasses on the table alerted Eggy as to what was next.
“Three years, but it was out of five. Had the iron on me when they pulled me over.”
“And with your record…” The Big Guy trailed of as he reached for the Cooper Regal cognac on the top shelf and began to pour.
“…Can’t even complain. Like I said, revolving door. Especially with Westside being so hot recently. We can even feel that sh!t in lockup. Dodged a few bullets just being in there I guess. But it sure is nice being out here in the open, stretching and moving my arms around without some soldier thinking I’m swinging on him.” He said, rotating his shoulders. This little reflection by Eggy was enough time for the Big Guy to pour two shots and a tall draft of fine Logger and set them in front of Eggy.
“No Pisswasser for you tonight. Cheers.” The Big Guy toasted, and they tossed their shots back. Before Eggy had the chance to react by offering money, the Big Guy preemptively interrupted Eggy’s payment by handing him his drink and pointing him to the reason he strolled into this bar. “Anyway, Early Boyd’s been waiting for you. End of the bar, as usual, even though he don’t come around as often!” The Big Guy said, looking at the individual sitting alone at the end of the bar. His face was hidden in the shadows, which were at their darkest in that very corner of the room, fairly isolated from nearest group of people. The Big Guy said that last part loud enough for the patron to noticeably react, although he had been aware of Eggy since he walked in.
“Good seeing you man” Eggy said, shaking the Big Guy’s hand once more. Eggy then walked briskly towards the end of the bar for a warm greeting. “Er-LAY!” Eggy exclaimed as Early Boyd got off his barstool to properly embrace his old friend and running mate. “You’re looking well. How’s everything, homie?” In the light, the most noticeable thing about Early Boyd is his scarred face. For familiar eyes, however, the light illuminated his enlightened expression, making it evident that he had recently been actively reducing the worries in his life.
“For me, it’s as good as it could be. It’s hard times out here though.” Early Boyd said distantly. He was never one to use too many words, but he always got his point across. On the same note, he raised his hand, to have Big Guy instantaneously pop up with another pitcher of Beikenhen. “How you living though, soldier? Looking pretty diesel, must’ve been putting that time in there to good use.”
“Lifting and reading, you know how it goes. Sharpening my physical and my mental, with that Banchiavelli and Gun Tzu.” Eggy said very matter-of-factly. They both treated his time in the pen as if they were only a few days out of the year, talking business and picking up right where they left off. “Of course, M.O.B. business and the occasional scrap, but not even that really. Drugs be flooding the whole penal system, so even hitters and long-bidders stay doped out of their minds. It’s crazy, but it’s how they be keeping it chill in there too. Race beef heating up, Westside/Eastside beef, not so much. But all that aside for now, how’s the kid? Man, I remember little man not even being as big as your arm.”
“He’s real good. An energetic young buck, three years old now. He be outside a lot, you know. Take him everwhere I go, making sure he familiar with Westside.” He spoke as though these memories were much older than his son. “He’s starting to act wild now and all that. Must be something in the drinking water.”
Eggy laughed. “It must be, homie, it must be. Seems like everybody around the way be acting up.”
“You don’t know the half of it, brother. I can’t even begin to tell you, being three years removed from the action. Older outfits keep getting pushed outwards by these young crews. And teams of wildboys and hitters of all sorts getting thrown into the mix. Even those whiteboys on bikes, teaming up with young’ns to pump out these new drugs that the whole state be on. Westside so cutthroat with that beef that n!gas even collaborating with Eastside on the money tip.” Upon hearing the Acter area dichotomy, Eggy reacted instinctively by lifting his hand over his face, with crossed middle and ring fingers. “Hard to trust an Eastsider, but the bigger problem is Westside gunners always coming for anything you be sitting on. Westside is a killing field, not much respect for anything with these young’ns.” This prompted Eggy to lower his Westside hand sign, which was then followed by a rare silence from Eggy, as he needed all of his mental faculties to take in all of this information.
“Listen, like I said, I’m far removed from all that now, with my kid and all. But the game’s still the game. Product, muscle, and territory. If you trying to get back into that, link up with the Tall Man, Slim.” Early Boyd paused to give Eggy some time to react, but he was still busy taking in the Westside situation. “IF, that’s your thing. Tall Man’s still holding it down in the Brix, holding court outside of the 201 building most days. The M.O.B. ain’t got sh!t in Acter no more, though. Nothing north of Hardtack. Not even the last Franklin tower. Tall Man got all the connections, but just enough muscle to keep the Brix. Not enough team to hold onto anything outside of the ‘jects in West Tudor.”
“Damn, homie. That’s all I really cared about. All I know is the M.O.B. and Westside. And just hearing all that….Anyways, I’ma talk to the Tall Man tomorrow, just to get back in touch. Cheers, to every soldier that ain’t here no more.” They toasted and proceeded to get drunk and lively, in celebration of Eggy’s homecoming
After a few festive refills, the conversation somberly made its way to other reputable M.O.B.sters. “So who’s still around?” Eggy asked, knowing that the answer was going to be disappointing.
“Not many M.O.B.sters, that’s for sure. Tall Man, CCO, Roc Roc, Peanut, that’s about it. Oh, and Moe been back for a quick minute. They’re busy most the time in the Brix. Rico, Tank, Stink, Country, Tater, they’re all gone, and you know the Mayor, Bey, Bird, and Perry all got long stretches ahead of them. As for the rest of the M.O.B.sters locked up, you know who’s coming out as well as I do. Brandon’s in the wind. Peacock too, I hear that he’s in Northwood now. A few turned to the needle. The lucky ones, like me and Big Guy, are walking around with some lead floating around our system. Maybe that’s how we learned our lessons.” Early Boyd’s roll call of missing, fallen, and captured soldiers went hand-in-hand with the weakened state of the M.O.B., and the Westside situation seemed even bleaker as he continued to speak. “James, you know he been dead, but his little brother got dropped too. Also Brandon’s. Even Donnie and Butchie, and they were out the mix for a while, but Black threw them right back into the middle of everything. That’s why Big Guy’s back there running things.”
“Butchie got touched? Wow…And Black Donnie?” So many names and events were whizzing by Eggy that he could not even begin to properly lament the fate of his fellow M.O.B.sters. A fate that they were well aware of, given their lifestyle, but nonetheless consistently dodging. “Donnie was right, the M.O.B. is cursed.”
“Sheeeeit, I don’t know about all that, but everybody can get touched. Old heads out the game, and even some legendaries. As a M.O.B. figure you already know String’s gone, but even the Terror was dropped by a Krazy-a$s young’n. Like I said, this new generation…” It became evident that Early Boyd was becoming more and more disillusioned with Westside’s narco-criminal developments as he spoke. It was rare that Early Boyd called for this much attention when he spoke, but he needed to relate to someone about these events as much as Eggy needed to get updated on them. It didn’t seem to improve when he began reflecting on the Westside Acter and Berchem’s other civic developments.
“You cruise the old hood yet?” Eggy shook his head. “Babbage was already kinda nice when you went away. Now it’s way too nice for any action to be happening. Same with everything above Kemeny. That goes for Berchem in general, except for maybe in the Heights where Kintel’s mob is set up. Your old block is still intact at least, but the rest of Schneider…” Early Boyd was referring to the row of townhomes on the western end of Schneider, and the reform-driven changes to the surrounding city blocks. “The part you really gon’ trip at is how they erased the whole north end of Sinclair to make that new hospital. Decided to put some of that space all them vacants were taking up to ‘good use’. Schneider and Sinclair’s still a hot corner where all sorts of crews are beefing, just one less block for crews to hold onto. More convenient for them now, I guess, being that they get shot and the hospital’s right there.” This last bit of dry humor was lost on both Eggy and Early Boyd.
Eggy was once again in shock. While he did expect the world to keep on turning in his absence, he imagined that the physical landscape was a given and resistant to change. “So they swapped those vacants for a new hospital. I guess that makes sense, but what about the old hospital on Aspdin and Kemeny? Where the fiends all went when they were dropping like flies from all that good product we were moving round there.” He suppressed his more horrific memories about M.O.B. soldiers going in that hospital with gunshot wounds, wondering if they were going to die in there.
“The government used up that WHOLE block for a new government building. I mean, Rory Hooker and the government need some turf to do their dirt too, know what I mean? Didn’t think they’d hang the whole city out to dry, though, soldiers and citizens both.”
“So the Vitullo Homes, Berners Block?” Eggy inquired, regarding some of Acter’s most infamous drug trafficking sites.
“Tore down. It's whatever, given that you were liable to either catch a slug or the bug being in the Vitullo Homes anyway. And what's left of Berners Block belongs to the bikers now.” The combination of alliteration and inebriation slowed down Early Boyd’s speech, helping him arrive at the next conclusion. “They tore down and redeveloped so much prime real estate that crews are all scrapping over the tiny patches of leftover land.”
“Damn man. And we thought that the police was the most powerful mob out here.”
“Nah homie, it’s the ones signing their checks.”
* * *
They staggered out of the bar still reveling from their reunion. As they walked south on Bear Street towards Early Boyd’s parked Emperor, they noticed a green figure lurking in the alleyway. They were very familiar with that alleyway, because it was where they went whenever they had to settle any bar disputes “out back”. They even used to hang out in those alleys as young troublemakers, before they were even in the game, and long before they could enter the bar.
Out of curiosity, they stared at the young man who wore a green sweatshirt, shoes, and bandana tied around his neck. He looked like a bizarre version of Eggy and Early Boyd when they were younger, but only a more ridiculous with his flamboyantly matching attire. They were by no means within each others’ breathing space, and Eggy and Early Boyd did not even break stride as they turned their heads around and continued their walk to the car. They would not have given him a second thought, but the young man noticed them gazing, which seemed to irk him. He stepped out of the alley onto the sidewalk, and addressed Eggy and Early Boyd.
“Old men lost or something?” The young man said in a disdainful manner as Eggy and Early Boyd were ten feet away and continuing to walk. Then, while raising his hands and making various shapes with his fingers, he went on. “Yeah, keep on walking! Grove Street Families reppin’, Rolling Heights Balla killer bay-buhhh!”
This last part prompted both of them to turn around and approach the young man. “You say something to me young’n?” Eggy replied as he walked back towards the young man, staring down the young man the whole time. Early maintained his silence, but was also visibly annoyed by the young man’s inflammatory statement. “’Cuz you the one that seems lost. Ain’t no Grove Street around here, and those heights over there be Park Heights, son.” Eggy was now right in the young man’s face, with Early Boyd crowding him off to the side. “Now you better get lost, before I lose my composure. Go watch some more fxking TV, with your Blarney-the-Dinosaur-looking a$s.”
“You know what?” The young man said in response to Eggy, along with a sudden movement of his right arm.
“He’s reaching!” Early Boyd exclaimed as he punched the young man in the face as a reaction. The young man staggered and his gun slid five feet away from them all. Both Eggy and Early Boyd saw it, but kept on severely beating the young man down to the ground. The young man tried at first to deter their blows and fight back. Realizing this was futile, he soon opted for the fetal position trying to guard his head and stomach. “Dumb muthafxka! Grab him, grab him.”
Eggy grabbed the young man, who was already beat into submission, but not to the point of unconsciousness, and propped him up for Early Boyd to take a few more shots. Then, Eggy started dragging him by his arm and bandana into the privacy of the alleyway, the bandana cutting off just enough air flow to prevent any retaliation. Early Boyd went over to the gun to pick it up and examine it. It was a small .38 caliber revolver, which Early Boyd opened up to make sure it was loaded. Eggy threw the young man against the wall, and squatted down to make sure that the young man could hear every word he was saying.
“Now listen here, young’n,” Eggy started, slapping the young man to get his full attention. Early Boyd menacingly pointed the gun at his head, to reiterate their supremacy in this situation. “You really think that little trey-eight of yours was gonna do any damage? I’ve been messing with guns since you were on your mama’s tit. Now my man right behind me wants to put a cap right in that domepiece of yours, you know that right?” This sentence converted the young man’s expression from pain to fear, as he glanced quickly at Early Boyd, then back to Eggy. “You know what you’re only saving grace is? I JUST got out the pen. Now listen to this part real closely. If I didn’t just get out of the pen, your a$s would be leaking all over the place, I promise you that. But I don’t need any of that noise…right now. So don’t you EVER let me see you around here again, cuz tomorrow, you might not be so lucky.” Eggy got up, gave him one last kick. “And watch what you say to your elders.” He said for emphasis while pointing at the young man’s face.
Eggy started walking away, and then Early Boyd followed, waiting a few steps before lowering the gun and putting it under his waistband. They walked to Early Boyd’s car at the end of the block. Once they got in, they felt it was appropriate to discuss the situation.
“Families, Ballas, what the hell is wrong with this new generation? Is that what you were trying to tell me earlier?” Eggy asked.
“Not even. Really though, that clown a$s muthafxka was nothing. Wait til you see what these little home-bred terrors are like”