Authors: Anna J.
His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own plate.
“Damn, Stone. How you let yourself go like that, man? This ain’t you, man!” Wise said as he and Stone stood on the corner of Rockaway Avenue and Dumont in Tilden Projects.
It was a hot, sunny day. There were people barbecuing all around the projects. Hustlers in fancy cars drove up and down Rockaway Avenue while corner hustlers stared in envy. Women in Daisy Dukes and T-shirts tied in knots exposing belly buttons with large, gold earrings in their ears waved to the hustlers, looking for attention from them and hopefully a chance to ride in their car.
Kids played in fire hydrants while some kids pointed at passing cars screaming to each other, “That’s my car!” and “Punch buggy got my license!”
Stone, dressed in a dirty, blue suede–front jacket with holes in it and ripped-up jeans and dirty, red suede Pumas, looked down while his mouth twitched, looking for an answer to Wise’s question.
“I’ll be back on my feet in no time, kid! Watch, ain’t nothing change, baby.” Stone smiled, showing yellow-stained teeth with some missing. His skin was ashy and dull, and though he was in his late thirties he looked to be in his fifties.
Wise looked at Stone, disgusted. This was a man Wise had looked up to when he was younger. This was his idol. Stone had it all. The women. The big caddies. Diamond-studded jewels and name belts. He wore the flyest clothes money could buy. Minks, silk suits, gators, crocs, and other reptiles on his feet. He was a legend. He was a stone cold killer everyone looked up to. Now, look at him.
“So what’s going on around here, Stone? Who’s doing what?”
Wise wore a bright red BVD nylon T-shirt, showing his muscular build from years of working out in prison. His black Calvin Klein jeans matched his black Reebok Classics. His once curly hair was now cut low with 360 waves.
“You know Darnell from the projects got things sowed up over there. Boy blew up something decent,” Stone said in admiration.
“Word?” Wise asked, nodding his head.
“The only person besides Darnell getting some money is your girl Ruby. She doing okay for herself.” Stone continued rocking back and forth on one leg at a time.
The mention of Ruby’s name brought back memories for Wise. He also still felt the same guilt he felt for years after being caught on the visiting floor with a girl who was actually a mule bringing up weed and dope for him to sell. The kiss was the girl passing him dope. He led the girl on to thinking they were in a relationship because she wouldn’t do what she was asked if he didn’t give her the attention she wanted.
He didn’t need her to do it because Ruby was doing it for him. His greed got the best of him, though. He never stopped loving Ruby; he dreamed of her every night for the four years he did time. He secretly cried in his cell when he didn’t hear from her. When she wrote her last letter, it tore Wise up inside. The letter was stamped in his mind forever.
Dear backstabbing motherfucker,
I guess you wanted your cake and you wanted to eat it, too. I hope that bitch is worth losing someone who would have walked through hell with you. All the risk I took to make your bid comfortable and this is what I get? You a selfish bastard and you know what? I don’t hate you for this. I’m bigger than that. It’s a learning experience for me. I learned you ain’t shit and you never gonna be shit. I hope you have a happy marriage. From someone who used to worship the ground you walked on.
Wise vowed to prove to Ruby that he was a better person than she thought he was. He vowed that he would make it up to her and try to win her heart back. When he began studying under the teaching of the Five Percent Nation, he had a different outlook on women. They were queens of civilization, goddesses of the universe. A man couldn’t be a complete man without a woman who represented wisdom. The man represented knowledge and with knowledge and wisdom comes understanding, which represents the child. Wise needed a queen and he wanted that queen to be Ruby. What Wise didn’t understand was a woman. He didn’t understand a woman scorned. When she’s done with you, she’s done.
“That girl ain’t nothing to fuck with, baby bro. She got her thing mapped out. She takes care of business, you hear me?” Stone said, while Wise was in deep thought on how he would win Ruby’s heart back.
“I hear you, man,” Wise replied.
“Speaking of the devil,” Stone said excitedly, pointing toward Ruby walking toward them. “There she goes now!”
Both Ruby’s and Wise’s hearts beat fast as they caught eye contact with each other. It was like Ruby was walking in slow motion when he looked at her. Dressed in a tight, blue Calvin Klein jeans set that showed her thick thighs and bulging hips, which left no doubt about the size of her ass, her bootie socks had a black stripe on the rim matching her black and white Diadoras. Her rope chain was the size of a small child’s arm. As usual, she wore her hair in a black bandanna scarf, this time with thick “baby hair” showing out of the front of it.
Ruby had to make a stop in the building Stone and Wise stood in front of. It was just a coincidence that she would run into him in another project only a few blocks from Langston Hughes. Ruby had customers in Tilden projects so her face was a regular around there.
Noticing him, Ruby became nervous, with perspiration beginning to cover her palms. It was just the way she imagined. He would come home buffed and beautiful and ready to fuck some woman’s brains out with all those years backed up in him. He had the glow guys have when they come home from the penitentiary. His hair was sharply shaped up and his waves did a perfect circle around his head. His arms bulged and his chest muscles showed through his shirt. Ruby’s mouth turned dry and she felt her body shaking as she came face to face with him. Wise smiled, showing pearly white teeth.
“Ruby, what’s up, girl?” he asked while reaching out to hug her.
Ruby didn’t hug him, but she let him embrace her. She felt the hardness of his body and her pussy began to throb. When she didn’t return the hug, Wise backed up and looked at her with a questionable look.
“It’s like that?”
“How you doing, Ron?” Ruby asked, using his birth name purposely.
“My name is Wise now. Please don’t use my government name.”
Ruby already knew he was calling himself Wise. She purposely called him that to irritate him. She held her grudge, something he would find out the hard way.
“What’s up, Stone?” she asked, smiling at Stone, then returning to the serious look when she looked back at Wise. “It was nice seeing you, Ron, I mean, Wise. Welcome home,” Ruby said, walking toward the entrance of the high-rise building.
Wise grabbed her hand and tried to pull her toward him. “Ruby, can I talk to you for a minute?”
Ruby, rolled her eyes. “I got something important to take care of. Time is money and my time is valuable, something you didn’t realize a few years ago.”
“Ruby, how many times do I have to apologize for what I did? I told you she was a mule. I had to act like I liked her so she would keep bringing my shit up north,” he pleaded.
“I wasn’t mule enough for you?” Ruby asked. “Listen, Wise, that’s old shit. Like our relationship is. Good to see you home, have a good life. I’m too old to be carrying on about this. So what is it that you want to say to me?”
Stone was right
, Wise thought. She definitely changed.
She’s colder than she was before.
Ruby always had a good heart and she was loyal to those she loved. Her heart was no longer warm, and she had a look in her eyes that said, “Don’t fuck with me.”
“I heard you getting money pushing rock,” Wise said. Ruby cut her eyes at Stone who was still rocking his body, acting as if he wasn’t paying attention to the conversation. “I wanna help you expand, lock all this shit down around here.”
“And how do you plan on doing that?” she asked skeptically. Ruby faced him with her arms folded.
Wise looked at Stone from the corner of his eye then back at Ruby. “I can’t discuss that here. Can I take you to get something to eat later on?” he asked.
I can’t let him do this to me. He’s trying to sneak back into my life. Once a dog, always a dog. He’ll only hurt me and I won’t let another man do this to me
, Ruby thought.
Ruby’s dealing with men had drastically changed since the day she found Wise kissing another woman on the prison visiting floor. It took her a year to even entertain her desire to have sex with a man, and when she did, it was hit and run. Mecca found out how drastic the change was on one of her numerous suspensions from school; she walked in on Monique’s face deep between Ruby’s legs. Monique was doing such a good job that Ruby didn’t even notice Mecca walk in the house. Ruby lay on the couch with her eyes closed, holding Monique’s head. Both women were stark naked.
“Meet me in Langston Hughes at seven-thirty,” Ruby said to Wise.
She walked away thinking,
I won’t let him back in my heart, but he could be of good use for the plan I got. When I’m done with what I got to do, then I’ll be rid of his no-good ass. Let another woman go through the heartache that these niggas come with
Wise turned to Stone, who looked at him with a look that spelled pitiful.
“Never let a once a month–bleeding bitch think that you need her. She’ll do nothing but play on it,” Stone said.
Wise shook his head. “See, that’s why you’re in the position you’re in. You can’t see ahead. You can’t see the big picture. Sometimes, you gotta fake it to make it, baby.” Wise grinned.
Wise knocked on Monique’s door at seven-thirty on the dot. Ruby answered the door and thought,
Damn, this nigga really look good.
Inside the apartment, Rakim’s “I Ain’t No Joke” blasted out of the speakers. Ruby wore a pair of acid wash jeans by Calvin Klein with the matching jean jacket. She had gotten rid of the low cut years ago and wore her hair in a ponytail with bangs in the front. On her feet she had a pair of white and green Gucci sneakers. Wise took Ruby to Juniors restaurant in downtown Brooklyn before this meeting. He told her his plan to take over Brownsville.
“What you going to do about Darnell? He got things locked,” Ruby asked as they sat at a table in the crowded restaurant.
“Once I get Tilden locked, I’ma move on Van Dyke projects. By then I’ll be ready for Darnell,” Wise replied. “For now I need to get product. I need a connect, and I heard your shit is good shit.”
Ruby knew Wise had something up his sleeve. He wanted her connect. He didn’t even have any soldiers to set up in Tilden and Van Dyke. Those niggas over there wouldn’t be trying to hear that shit. Wise just came home thinking this was 1982.
These niggas is playing with guns now.
Ruby listened to Wise ramble on and on. Ruby leaned over the table to get close to Wise’s face. He leaned in, thinking she wanted to kiss him.
“Nigga, you got toast?” she asked, trying to call his bluff. Wise leaned back, surprised that Ruby was on top of her game like that.
“Not yet. You know anybody who got some?”
Ruby sighed, then answered, “I got a better plan. You can get rid of Darnell quicker than your plan. Come see me tomorrow.”
Wise walked Ruby to Monique’s door. Ruby knew he hadn’t asked her out to try to start over. He wanted to use her to get to her connect.
That nigga ain’t change. He’s even worse than he was before he went in, a selfish nigga with plans to get rich by stepping on toes. What niggas in jail don’t realize is that times change and people do too. They think things are supposed to be the way they were before they went in. This is why a lot of cats come home and get killed.
Wise set up a meeting with Darnell on the pretense that Wise knew of a heist where the score would be twenty or more kilos of cocaine. Even though Darnell was doing good pushing dope and crack, grossing ten kilos of cocaine and three of heroin, he would still participate in a heist. It was in him. That’s how he got in the position he was in now. Selling drugs made him hood rich, but robbery was his first love. It’s the Brownsville way.
Wise had Darnell meet him at Monique’s apartment. He showed up in style just to show Wise that he was the man in Brownsville. Darnell loved to show off. He always wanted to be like Stone. Darnell wore a four-finger ring with his name in diamonds. He wore diamond-flooded name buckles with a large diamond in one ear. He entered Monique’s apartment wearing a leather blazer with a black turtleneck, and a big rope chain with a medallion the size of a small china plate. His name was on the medallion flooded with diamonds, and he had on black Levi jeans and black-on-white Nike Cortezas.
“Peace, God,” Wise said to Darnell. Darnell was also a Five Percenter, which made him willing to meet with Wise without being skeptical about it. Wise told him of the heist in the lingo of the Five Percenters.
“Yo, God. One of the gods I was in Comstock with built with me about this eighty-fiver who’s making a lot of Divine Cipher Equality. He said this cat is sex. He lives in Mecca in Grant projects. We can get era,” Wise said to Darnell, telling him that a non-believer he met in prison was getting mad dough but he was soft. He wanted Darnell to know that getting his money would be a piece of cake. Darnell agreed to meet with Wise to plan it.
“You want something to drink, God?” Wise asked. “I just got some Old E.”
“Yeah. It’s cold?” Darnell asked, sitting at the kitchen table, taking his blazer off and placing it on the back of the chair.
Wise got up from the table. “Why equal self?” he said, meaning “yes” in the coded language of Five Percenters. He went to the refrigerator and poured beer in milk glasses. After giving Darnell his drink, Wise sat down at the table across from Darnell.
“How much this cat got in the crib?” Darnell asked.
“The bitch said wisdom cipher or more,” Wise answered, meaning twenty or more.
“She supposed to call you in an hour, right?” Darnell asked, drinking the beer.
“Yeah, she said as soon as this cat call and tell her he on the way. That’s how he do, so the broad could tell him if it’s clear for him to come through. Real cautious nigga.”