The routine’s the same each month. JM sends word that his books are light and a trip to Publix goes on my agenda for the next day. Pick up the Western Union Quick Collect form, fill it out and then I usually have to explain to the sales clerk how to properly input the information so that he receives it.
“What state code is this?”
I respond with “FBOP” and the follow-up inquiry usually goes “You’re sending this to prison?”
“Yes, to my brother, in fact.”
Eventually, the transaction’s completed and I send word back to M that all is well.
I don’t always want to do it. There are days when I’m too busy trying to attend to my own business and family matters where I can’t drop everything to go do a Quick Collect. People in the pen tend to think the world moves at a snail’s pace because theirs does. Prisoners of life on the outside know that the shit’s always rolling downhill and finding a spare 15 or 30 minutes can be the equivalent of finding a virgin in the club. Other times, money might be funny and sending him bread puts me out there. Then, there are just those damn days when temperature’s too damn hot or extremely cold so getting out into the weather is a drag. But, no matter the excuses I can think of, it’s always done.
That’s my brother.
At one point, before my first kid was born, I wasn’t hustling like that. Then too, I was about to get my first degree. My shit was on the right path and I wasn’t going to jeopardize the win that late in the game, no Belichick. Cookiehead knew it and never tripped. We’d been scrambling together since early high school, all the way back to when we had to go half everything up to the point where money was good. Through it all, we always took care of each other.
I can’t remember why, but one night I hit him up while he was on the block because I was strapped like the average college student and in a jam. Right when you’re about to graduate, you have real life responsibilities and debt, but college pockets. The two don’t mix and financial pickles pop up pretty often.
“Yo, I need a couple of hundred by tomorrow.”
“Don’t trip, god. I got you.”
The next day came and I was good, as promised. That shit happened more than once. He never tripped, so I don’t trip about going to Publix.
Roughly 20 years after we first met, we still hold each other down. We have our own slang, set of shared experiences* and a bond that’s never been broken by a bitch, a dollar or bars. And the bond stands strong as as ever even though miles and prison bars separate us.
I imagine we’ll be like the two 80-year-olds in the video below. One today becomes many yesterdays, life passes and we grow older. The next time Cookiehead and I link with him outside the prison walls we’ll both be well into our 50s. But we’ll communicate and cut-up like we never missed a day. We already do.
Be thankful for people and friends.