“That nigga sleeping. You understand me? That’s what we do to snakes,” Seven said.
“If he was a cop, that’s good. I never knew. I wish that nigga a thousand deaths!” Ball screamed.
Seven looked at Lola and then back at Ball. Something was telling him that he made a mistake. There was something about Ball that was authentic and Seven took notice to it. So much tension was in the air, you could cut it with a knife. Lola stood behind Ball ready to shoot on command, and Seven went back and forth in his mind. Ball sat there with his teeth clenched, awaiting his destiny. Lola glanced over at Seven and then shook her head, signaling that they shouldn’t kill him. She believed that he was telling the truth. Seven valued Lola’s opinion, so he nodded, signaling her to take the gun off of him.
“We just had to be sure,” Seven said as he walked around to his desk chair and sat down. He picked up his cigar and took a pull. Ball didn’t want to show it, but he was nervous as ever. He thought for sure he was a goner.
“There is nothing fake about me. I’m just trying to get to the money. Nothing more, nothing less. And if you put a gun to my head again ... you better kill me.” Ball said in a threat. Seven respected Ball’s gangster.
“I respect that. But I had to make sure. It was too much smoke around the situation.” Seven said.
“Come on. Let’s get to the money,” Lola said as she smiled and patted him on the shoulder.
Ball smiled back, but deep inside he was nervous as hell. He played it off as he took a sip of his drink, knowing that he had just dodged a bullet.
Seven flipped through the pages of the paper and pointed to another article. “This is what we’re about. Family over everything. Nobody goes against the family,” Seven said as he tapped the headline which read, “Two men and a woman found slain on the northside of Columbus.” Ball instantly knew that Seven had cleaned up the robbers that had tried him the other night. At that moment, Ball realized how treacherous Seven was. He ran the streets with an iron fist and Ball just witnessed that first hand. Ball was about to get in deep with a real life gangster. Seven spun in his chair, signaling that he was done talking to Ball. The smoke circles seemed to come out of thin air as Seven puffed his cigar and thoughts of accepting a new member on his team danced around on his brain.
“See you guys tonight at dinner,” Seven said. With that, Lola motioned for Ball to follow her out the back door. She was about to take him to the trap.
The halls reeked of piss and the busted lights vaguely illuminated the long hallway inside the project housing. Ball followed Lola as they headed to the fifth floor, taking the stairs. Three members from the Goon Squad trailed them as Lola prepared to give Ball a tour of the main money spot. They reached the fifth floor and Lola knocked on door number 552 in a rhythmic pattern. Moments later, the sound of deadbolts clicking echoed throughout the hallway and seconds later Ball was welcomed to the trap.
Ball couldn’t believe his eyes as he walked into the door. The open spaced looked like a studio rather than an apartment. Five walls had been knocked down, connecting all of the apartments together. Rows of tables were lined up as females weighed and carefully bagged up heroin. A goon stood guard by the door with a loaded shotgun for security. Every single person in the room acknowledged Lola as she walked the floor. Ball could sense the power that Lola possessed. Her direct affiliation with Seven gave her a status in the streets. Ball scanned the room in awe as he took in the fully functioning trap spot. Everyone was busy either cutting, weighing, or bagging the raw. He couldn’t believe his eyes. The strong odor hit him like a tons of bricks. The air conditioner was blaring so the temperature would stay low. The dope had to stay in a cool place so it wouldn’t go bad and also to give it a longer life.
“So this is where the magic happens.” Lola said as she walked through the spacious spot. Ball looked around at the naked girls and soaked it all in. “This is where they cut it. Bossman doesn’t let them cut it more than twice. Our shit isn’t stepped on. We want to give the streets the strongest product possible. The difference between good heroin and bad heroin is in the mix. We’ve got the best mix.” Lola explained to him the orders of actions and then led him to the back of the room were two older men sat. They were the testers of the heroin. This position usually didn’t stay filled long. If the product was too strong, it usually ended in a drug overdose. Fiends were in line to grab the position as a tester. Even though their lives were at stake, users didn’t care. They just saw the opportunity to receive free dope and took the risk. Ball laughed as he saw one of the men in a dope-fiend lean while sitting in a fold up chair. His head was dropping down to his knees in a nod and he would then bounce back up and do the same routine again.
“After the product is packaged up, we drop the packages out this window,” Lola said as she waved Ball over and encouraged him to look down. Ball peeked down five stories and saw a couple of goons sitting on the steps. “Once they get the packages they take it to the runner. The runner takes it to another spot and that’s where distribution starts.”
Ball was impressed. They had the hustling game down to a science.
“Damn,” Ball said in amazement as he looked down and around.
“We are going to set you up on the other side of town in our less active areas and see what you can do.” Lola said as she crossed her arms and looked Ball intensely in his eyes. Her piercing stare was rough and sexy all at once and Ball took notice.
She sexy than a mu’fucka,
Ball thought as he took in all the information. “Yo, put together a four piece for my man and take it to the spot,” Lola ordered as she headed toward the exit. “Your bag will be waiting for you at your new spot.” Lola said as she nodded at the goon by the door so he could let them back out.
“This is the main spot. Seven rarely comes up here. That’s why the feds can’t touch him. He never deals with the dope directly; always through me or a henchman,” Lola explained to Ball.
“So everyone is working for a man they never see?” Ball asked trying to get a better understanding.
“That’s right. If nobody can point him out as the head of the operation, the feds have no case. Of course the feds know Seven moves weight in this city. But the question is ... can they prove it?” Lola said as she broke the game down to him. Ball then realized why Dame needed an inside informant for Seven. He had a flawless operation and the only way he could be taken down was by a snitch. The city embraced him so it would have to be an outsider that took him down. Ball just hated that he would have to be the outsider to do it.
They walked back outside and headed out of the projects. Now it was time for Ball to show and prove what he could do with the plug. As Ball staggered back so he could catch a glimpse of Lola’s juicy behind, he wondered what made her so gangster, so cold, and so mysterious. It was like she came from a different planet. But like everyone, she had a story.
“So how did you hook up with Seven?” Ball asked trying to get to know more about the intriguing woman that was introducing him to the top shelf of hustling. They got into the car and Lola closed her eyes and threw her head back, digging deep into her memory.
1994: Bunkie Green’s Daughter
“Momma wake up!” Lola said as she smacked her mother’s face. The small bathroom was tight as Lola tried to maneuver her mother off the toilet and into the tub so she could spray her with water. Her young ten year old eyes had witnessed a lot of pain and trying to wake her mother from a dope fiend lean seemed to be an everyday ritual. Lola came home from school and once again found her mother in the same position on the toilet with a syringe hanging out of her arm. ‘”Come on ma. Let’s get in the shower,” Lola said as she pulled the needle out of her and threw her mother’s arm around her shoulder. Her mother, Teri, was a small framed woman. She had to be 120 pounds and that was soaking wet. Lola struggled as she placed her mother in the tub and positioned her upright where her face could catch the water from the shower head.
“Come on girl. Wake up,” a young Lola said as she reached over and turned on the cold water. Her heart beat in anticipation as the water began to hit her mother’s face. She hoped that her mother did not overdose and would come to. Every night the thought of her mother not waking up when the cold water hit her, darkened her soul. Lola and her mother had a strong bond. Teri, when she wasn’t high, was the most caring, fun-loving person. It was only after drugs entered her life that it seemed like the bond with her daughter began to slip out. As the water bounced against Teri’s face, Lola’s heart raced and she began to get teary-eyed.
“I told you to use warm water. Shit!” Teri mumbled as she finally began to move. Although Teri was coming out of a nod, she still had a sense of humor. Teri slightly grinned and Lola quickly turned off the water.
“You scared me, mommy.” Lola said as she got in the tub and hugged Teri tightly. Lola loved her mother dearly and although she was young she understood the magnitude of her mother’s addiction. Lola prayed every night that her mother would get off the drug that the streets called heroin. However, she knew that every time Bunkie Green walked through the door, the drug did also.
Bunkie Green was a well-known dope dealer throughout the city and he was well respected. Teri was his side piece and Lola was a result of their lust rather than love. Bunkie had a wife and kids on the other side of town, but frequently visited Lola and Teri. He actually gave Teri the habit of doing heroin. It was funny because, he didn’t care about Teri but he adored his daughter. Lola was his everything and he would come in once a week and shower her with gifts. The bad part about it was, he would shower Teri with product. They had an agreement. Bunkie kept her supplied and Teri wouldn’t tell his wife about their ten year old secret. Bunkie also footed the bills and made sure that they needed for nothing. Lola loved her father, but at the same time she hated him for what he made of her mother; a junkie. Bunkie had so much respect in the streets, but his legacy had been lightly dampened because of his gambling habits. Bunkie was notorious for blowing large sums of money on the crap tables.
Lola dried her mother off with a towel and helped her get out of the tub. Teri was groggy but she was slowly coming to as she leaned on her daughter and made her way to the backroom. Lola made sure that her mother was tucked in, when a knock on the door startled her. She quickly looked out of the window and saw the long black Cadillac parked outside. She knew then that it was her father. She rushed to the door and she opened it. The tall, lean man hovered over her with his charming smile and cool smelling cologne. He had a teddy bear in his hand as he smiled down at Lola.
“Hey babygirl,” he said as he bent down and kissed her on her forehead. Lola smiled as she felt her father’s lips on her forehead. He handed her the teddy bear and watched as she admired it. He never came empty handed.
“Hey daddy,” Lola said. She stepped to the side and let him in, before closing the door behind him.
“Where’s your mama?” he asked as he looked around and slid his hands in his pockets.
“She’s in the back sleeping.” Lola answered as she helped Bunkie with his coat and then plopped down on the couch.
“Good.” He said as he walked over to the kitchen cabinets and grabbed the coffee jar that had a false bottom. Lola instantly went under the sink to grab his scale and plastic gloves. She already knew the routine. He was about to cut his dope with lactose and package it up. He would always come at random times of the day to bag and weigh his dope. He was a one man show, so he did everything himself.
Bunkie pulled the bag of dope from inside his coat pocket and placed it on the table. Lola stood by the door entrance and watched as she always did. Lola had watched him so many times, she was sure that she could cut the dope with a hustler’s precision.
“Go get daddy his magic powder.” He said to Lola, referring to the lactose that the cut his dope with. He told her it was magic powder because it could make one ounce turn into two ounces. Lola smiled and ran to the spot where she kept it for him. It was in a jar under the bathroom sink. Lola’s naïve mind was telling her that by helping her father with his drug process, she was somehow bonding with him. Lola returned within seconds, gripping the small medicine jar which she eagerly handed to her father.
Lola watched as her father mixed and bagged up an entire ounce of heroin. Just as he was putting together his last package, Teri emerged from the back room. She was naked and scratching her head. Her hair was all over the place and she smiled as she saw Lola and Bunkie in the kitchen. Bunkie looked at Lola and smiled.
“After this flip, I’m going to take you to Cedar Point. Just me and you, babygirl.” Lola smiled and loved the sound of going to an amusement park with her father.
“Can Momma come too?” Lola asked, wishing that Bunkie would show her mother more attention. Then maybe he would stop feeding her the poison that ran through her veins on a nightly basis.
“Hey Bunkie,” Teri said as her eyes went straight to the packs that were made up on the table. She was like a kid in the candy store in the midst of the drugs. She couldn’t hide her excitement as she swayed back and forth while twiddling with her fingers.
“Hey Teri,” he said unenthusiastically. He began to put his packs in a brown paper bag and out of the sight of the thirsty Teri.
“Get me well Bunkie. I’m sick as hell.” Teri said as she wrapped her arms around her stomach.
“Teri, I’m not trying to hear that bullshit today. I just left you a tenth last night.” Bunkie said as he got up and slid on his coat. Teri rushed over to him and instantly dropped to her knees. She was in pure desperation. “Do not do this Teri,” Bunkie said as he shook his head in disgust, “Not in front of the baby.”
“I need it so bad. I’m sick!” Teri said as she began to kiss Bunkie’s gator shoes. Bunkie quickly snatched his foot back and looked over at Lola who was watching her mother’s actions. Lola had tears in her eyes and hated to see her mother begging like she was. Lola shook her head from side to side, hoping that her father would not give her any of the dope. Lola was too young to understand the withdrawal phase of being a junkie. She didn’t understand that if Teri didn’t get her fix, she would be in excruciating pain that only heroin could subside.
“Get up Teri,” Bunkie said as he reached down and stood Teri up by her shoulders. He looked at Lola and it hurt his heart that she was witnessing her mother jone-sin’ like she was. He quickly looked away, not being able to take the stare of his young daughter. He walked Teri to the back and slipped her a tenth pack.
“Thank you. Thank you!” Teri said as she rushed to the bathroom and locked the door. Bunkie walked back into the front room and toward the door. Lola stood there looking heartbroken. She knew what her mother was doing on the opposite side of the bathroom door and it cut her deep. Bunkie bent down and kissed Lola on the forehead and headed toward the exit. He had a lot of runs to make and wanted to get on the road.
“Love you. I will see you later,” he said as he reached the door.
“Can I please go with you daddy?” Lola asked as she put her hands together, begging him. Under normal circumstances, Bunkie would have said no. However, guilt altered his logic and he paused for a minute, just staring at his daughter who stood there teary-eyed. Lola didn’t want to hang around and see her mother high and leaning.
“Sure babygirl. Go get your coat.” Bunkie said as he smiled and gave in. He took a deep breath and knew that he was being a horrible parent but at that moment he couldn’t tell his baby girl no. Lola emerged from the back room with her coat on and a gigantic smile. It would be the first time she ever went somewhere with her father. After all those years, Bunkie didn’t realize that he never took her anywhere and it dawned on him at that very moment. Honestly, they were both happy to ride out with each other.
The sound of Rick James and Tina Marie’s classic hit, “Fire and Desire”, bumped through the speakers as they rode down Interstate 75. Bunkie sung Rick James’ part as he playfully held an invisible microphone to his mouth. Lola laughed out loud as her father hit the off-key notes from his favorite song. Lola knew the lyrics word for word because Teri would play the song over and over on nights when she wasn’t high on dope. Ironically, the song reminded Teri of Bunkie and it made her feel good every time she heard it. She always hoped that one day Bunkie would be hers.
When Tina Marie’s part came on, Lola held up her own microphone and sang
. “I wasn’t very, very nice I know ...”
Lola sang in her best Tina impression. Bunkie smiled from ear to ear as he watched his babygirl hit the high note and he could see the joy oozing off of her. They were both having a great time together.
Bunkie reached his first stop and he told Lola to stay in the car and he would be right back out. Lola looked around and she saw fiends roaming the dilapidated street as she sat alone on the curb of one of the most drug infested areas in the city. Bunkie left the car running and locked the doors before he jumped out. This was the first of many stops throughout the day as Lola rode shotgun with one of the biggest hustlers in the city. Bunkie would park on the curb and hit a trap spot. Lola noticed that his bag got smaller and smaller with each stop. It was the first of the month and that meant money in the ghetto was in heavy circulation. Every time he came back to the car, he gave the money to Lola to count for him. She would count it carefully and then put it in the glove compartment. Although Lola was young, being the daughter of Bunkie Green made her sharp. She had counted close to ten thousand dollars in that car. On days like this, there was no question that Bunkie was the head Dopeman. He only was under one man who went by the name of Larry J. A longtime friend that had a Miami dope connect. Bunkie got all his dope from Larry J and it was time to go see him again. Bunkie had sold his entire product in a matter of six hours.
“Ten thousand in one day,” Bunkie said as he turned the brown paper bag upside down, showing that it was empty. He then looked at Lola. He was smiling from ear to ear and shaking his head in disbelief. “You must be daddy’s good luck charm,” he said as he rubbed her head. He reached into the glove compartment and peeled off two hundred dollars. “This is your cut babygirl.” He said as he placed the two crispy bills onto her lap.
“I can get used to this!” Lola said as she scooped up the bills and held them in the air as if they were winning lottery tickets. Bunkie slyly turned up the radio and pulled off the block, heading back to Teri’s house. He and Lola had a wonderful day to say the least and Lola hadn’t been this happy in a very long time. Bunkie jumped back on the expressway heading toward Teri’s house. A few minutes into their drive, Bunkie noticed a big billboard on the side of the road which read, Spinners Casino:
NEXT EXIT RIGHT.
It seemed as though the billboard caught both of their attention at the same time. Bunkie’s hand began to itch and the urge to make his ten thousand double, created an insatiable hunger.
Bunkie quickly switched lanes and jumped off on the casino’s exit. He just needed ten minutes inside to put five thousand dollars on his favorite number; ten. That would double his money and make his day even better. He looked over at Lola and said, “I got my lucky charm with me today, right?”
“Right!” Lola answered as she looked at the lights coming from the casino that was just down the road. Lola didn’t understand nor could she even fathom, the chain events that were about to occur just because Bunkie had his “lucky charm”.
Bunkie pulled into the parking ramp and quickly parked his car. Lola noticed the look in his eyes. She knew that look all too well. It was the look of someone addicted. Lola’s happiness quickly began to slip away. She had never seen that look in her father’s eyes, only in her mother’s.
“You can’t go in here with me. I just need five minutes babygirl, and then we’ll go get some ice cream when I get back.” Bunkie said as he reached over her lap and pulled out the stacks of money. Lola nodded her head in agreement and just like that, Bunkie was gone. Lola turned up the radio and listened to the “Fire and Desire” track again.
Three hours had passed and Lola had fallen asleep inside of the car. Bunkie finally returned but his demeanor had totally done a one-eighty. He was tapped out. He had managed to lose every dime in his pocket. He got in the car and looked at his sleeping beauty. It hurt his heart that he would have to wake her up and ask for the money that he had given her.