We Were Trigger Happy, Baby
Got those 8 balls...Got those nicks...
I moved to San Francisco in August of 1992. In the aftermath of the L.A. riots, my city was burned down, burnt up, burned out and burnt. I left behind a lifestyle where I juggled books and bangers, intelligence and street smarts. Or so I thought. I made friends with a few girls in the SFSU dorms, and one night we all went to a party up the street at one of the Black frat houses right off campus. While my girls and their girls schemed on the “brothers” inside, I noticed a small group of cats in the backyard who didn’t seem like they were into anything Greek. One of them stuck out. Tall, light-skinned, with that good black wavy hair slicked back into a ponytail. He was fine, but rough around the edges. I stepped up the hill, got in between him and his boys, and started kicking it to him.
“Hey, how you doin? My name’s Miranda. I just moved here from L.A. and I’m going to school at State. I wasn’t really gon’ come to this party but now that I see you here, I’m glad I did. So what’s up?” I hit him with a barrage of slick talk, and he was pretty much floored. But we exchanged numbers, and we started dating. Turns out he was from the hood right up the street from the frat house, a hilly yet gully area called Lakeview. Replete with a ghetto liquor store and a local bar, he had his own “gate” right up the street from my school, about 10 minutes from my dorm. We’ll call him K-Swiss.
His pops was a Black Panther, doing life plus in Vacaville for some type of murder beef. His moms was white, and she definitely wasn’t in the picture. He had a lot of pain in his blood, and outside he wore his street soldier badge for all to see, but as I got to know him I saw a different side, where he wore his heart on his sleeve. I used to go downstairs to the back of the dorms, and leave one of my Nikes holding the door open. He’d show up every night-slash-morning around 4, 5, or maybe 6 am. Swiss was a young D-Boy. A dope boy. He kept different hours than any of my ex’s who were bangers. But I didn’t really question his shit. My dorm room was the perfect cover. He could keep dope, a scale, a stack of bills, and a chrome 380 in my closet and no one would ever think to look for him there. When the rollers hit up his gate, he could jump in his bucket, and in five minutes take the Nike from the door, run upstairs, and jump right in my little twin bed.
He said I wasn’t his type, but that I got him open by stepping to him so wild and bold. I told him he reminded me of someone from the past who broke my heart, but that I wouldn’t hold that against him. I wanted to do well in school, but I also wanted to spend time and be available to him on his schedule. As usual, mine was secondary. I guess we kinda fell in love.
One night, he took me to his gate. I sat outside with him all night, in the car on the hill, while we listened to the radio and chopped it up about our families, our lives, ourselves. When “his” customers ran up to the gate, he’d hop out, serve ‘em, and hop back in. It didn’t feel hot to me, even with the dirty looks his fellow gatekeepers kept shooting me whenever he was out of the car serving.
Another night, he didn’t come home. He got popped. He bailed out. He told me he tricked the judge into giving him drug diversion, that he said he was a smoker and what he had was for his personal use. He was so skinny, and so grimy from grindin in the same clothes for days in a row, they bought his drag hook, line and sinker. He told me he’d have to turn himself in. He said he was real worried about losing his regulars, the customers in the outer suburbs who’d hit him on the pager when they needed some dope. He told me he’d never ask me to curb serve on the gate, or be out in the streets like that. Then he asked me if I’d serve his customers while he was locked up in the program. He bought me an old-school Cadillac, plus left me his Mustang to get around in. So now I’m going to class during the day, and answering the pager all night, driving up into the hills and out by the ocean to serve knocks. Plus worrying about whether the cars were cool, parked in the right place. Carrying a pistol with me just in case.
He had a crazy white bitch with a gang of kids who always wanted to pay me in change. An older couple, Black husband, Filipino wife; both crazier than a rabid dog. The wife had breast cancer, and she’d had a full masectomy. One time she dragged me into the bathroom, pulled out her fake titty, took a c-note out of it, and asked me to serve her on the low so she could smoke for dolo and not share with her husband. A mother and daughter who both worked government jobs, had nice apartments, and each thought the other didn’t know she was basing. They were the only ones who could get credit, ‘cause they got paid once a month and had fat checks coming in from the city. I swear I was taking most of they check, every time.
Long story short, he came out of the program, kept grinding, and eventually got caught up. He got locked, went on the run, and ended up out of state. I went to East L.A. and got him a social security number and a birth certificate. I’d done some foul shit to him over the course of our relationship, I fucked one of his homeboys. And I don’t know why. But I always kept it thorough with him and trooped on visits to all kinds of far-off county jails and prisons. I even went to see his father because they weren’t allowed contact as felons. And no matter what we went through, I loved him and I respected him. He was a good dude.
It’s been 12 years. Last I was in touch with Swiss he was in the most notorious prison in California. He was still single. So was I. I tried to look for him a while back, found a listed number, but it was disconnected. I can picture him putting himself through school and turning his life around. He used to tell me he wanted to be a psychologist. So I hope he made it through the wilderness, and he’s somewhere living that dream. As I round another bend in my life, not knowing where the next check is coming from or when; not knowing where the next roof over my head is going to be after I leave Minneapolis next month, I’m thinking about him. Because he taught me a lot. He’s one of the reasons I’ve never turned to drugs myself. And he’s one of the ones who taught me about a cold heart, and a bulletproof soul. Swiss Daddy, this one’s for you.
Love is Love.