I read somewhere people are born into this world with the burden of a sinful nature. That’s why when we’re young and our siblings get more attention, we tend to feel some type of way. At least I know how I used to feel. And, I know that it was not the feeling that was the sin, but the jealous, vengeful stir of emotions which stemmed from such feelings. The crying, the temper tantrums, and the immediate hate which led to outbursts, which then led to an ass whooping or getting yelled at and sent to your room. I could hear my mother now.
“Get your bad ass in that room and I don’t want to see your face until you know how to act!”
I do know how to act, always have. It was never me not knowing right from wrong, it was me wanting more goddamned attention.
My mother named me Sincere. I hated it because it felt like a curse, ‘Sin’. But my mother told me that it was a strong name that should be honored with hard work and honesty. She just wanted me to be what she expected my father to be, what he must have pretended to be before he left her ass before I was born. In his absence, she wanted me to live up to everything that he didn’t. Fuck that! The only blueprint I needed to follow was mine. More was my mission, and more was what I planned to get.
I grew up in Yonkers, New York, a place quite different, with a different kind of experience that you wouldn’t actually get if you lived in the five boroughs. See, Yonkers offered the fringe benefits of the fast city life, with all the new trends, the clubs, the food, the sporting events, and the night life that never slept. You had all that at the tip of your fingers, and then you had Yonkers, a little grimier section, a little more politically charged with racism, you know, red neck cops and judges who didn’t need trees to hang a motherfucker. A smaller sized melting pot that snuggly fit in between New York City and upstate New York. That, with the poverty and addiction, and thugs out for murder to make a name in the drug game, Yonkers definitely bred the hardest streets. When you were living and suffering at the same time, you had to go hard. And, that’s where my story starts, in a part of town that is a unique entity within itself.
My hood, Slobaum Projects, A.K.A. the Hole, was one of the toughest projects to rep my end, with a creek to cater to its gully running through my projects with its steady flow. It was the trash dump, and I don’t mean kitchen trash. I remember times as a youngster playing with my little homies, seeing all the traumatizing shit a kid shouldn’t see flowing through that creek. As I came of age, I learned the law of “ain’t see nothing, don’t know nothing, and you bet not say nothing” or somebody might come across you in that creek.
I had a small family compared to the average family in my hood. There was me, my brother, and my mother, and for a moment, she went through the phase of having any scumbag that was willing to play the role of her man. Now, don’t get it twisted, she wasn’t feeling most cats, and the ones she did bring around, she did just to provoke my brother and show him that she was the mother and he was the son. He always bumped heads with the men she was seeing. If my mother were a car, my brother would be that funny shaped apparatus on the steering wheel. She wouldn’t be going anywhere. But, she wasn’t, so there was always drama between them. What could my brother really do? Them cats my mother chose to see just didn’t know how lucky they really were.
See, my brother was hard-body. A well-respected and highly feared drug lord in the streets. He never took shit from nobody, especially when it came to his money. Everybody gonna try a motherfucker once, at least until examples were made, and that was how my brother gave it up. A vicious muthafuckin’ disciplinarian. I remember walking into my building right when my brother was putting in work. You know every now and then you got a dickhead that didn’t heed warning, who didn’t recognize that a boss about his money gone know when his packages get tampered. It was a hard lesson.
Nobody noticed me ease into the building. They didn’t realize that I was standing there, watching. Homeboy was on his knees and back against the wall while my brother was in front of him, blood spray spread out along the wall, at my brother’s feet, glazed around the table leg he held in his hand. The man’s face looked chewed, bloodied, and swollen. A hard sight. I mean, I knew my brother wasn’t a good guy, but now I knew that he was a beast.
“Oh shit!” The words slipped out of my mouth.
My brother turned, and then shouted, “Spike! How the fuck he get in here? You ‘pose to be watching the door!” But, my brother didn’t wait for a response. “Sin, take your little ass upstairs…NOW!”
My eyes stayed on homeboy for a few seconds, watching the blood ooze from the bashed wounds. It wasn’t until he fell to the side that I snapped out of my trance. By then, my brother had spun on his heels and was facing me with that table leg. I saw the screws protruding from the tip still dripping. When I looked up at his eyes, I knew I had to obey. I started past the man who was laid out. I tensed when he grabbed my leg. He was on his side, one arm stretched out, begging for help I couldn’t give him. I remember feeling nothing at all, no remorse as I watched the constant flow of blood begin to form a pool under his chin. I snatched from his grip.
“Get the fuck off me!” I tried to play hard, but the truth was, the scene alone had me jittery. Then, my brother dropped the table leg and pulled a gun from his waist. With a brutal shove, he pushed the barrel of the gun into the man’s mouth as I continued my shrug toward the elevator. My hands were all of a sudden trembling, fuck it, I was shook. I couldn’t even push the damn button without concentrating. Those types of memories stick with you forever. It remaines as a tactic lesson long after the sight stopped turning your stomach.
I was well known throughout the hood because of my brother. His name was Terrell, but the streets knew him as Pharaoh. He had the drug game on lock and was one of the most paid niggas in New York. Everybody knew Pharaoh. He stayed dripping in shines like the pharaohs wore in the ancient Egyptian days. But, Pharaoh had style. Always fresh to death since the beginning with the fly Fila sweat suit and matching Kangol tilted over the Gazelle frames. But, it was his smooth chocolate skin, chinky eyes, and deep voice that won over the ladies. Ladies who used to call the house all night bugging my mother trying to holla at my brother.
“You bitches need to stop calling my house! I keep telling y’all, Terrell doesn’t live here anymore, so get a life!” That would come after about the tenth call from as many different women. Then, the verbal assassinations would get worse. Ironically, my mother said all the time that he was just like our uncle who died before I was born. Uncle Terrell, the one who she named my brother after.
Growing up in the hood was like having a full time job and being a full time student. The job part of it was to keep yourself from being killed or hurt. Once you became of age, you had to stay on the grind to survive, and learn from your everyday experiences and the experiences of everybody around you all at the same time. For those of us that were exposed to the game at an early age, the game was all you knew and all you tried to learn was more about the game. And, being that we all ran with the same crowd, we all learned the same rules. We all knew who was who, and those who could be trusted and those who couldn’t. Everybody had a brother or another family member that was married to the game, and being that my brother ran things in the hood, I had the advantage over every other little nigga trying to come up. It was just natural for me to expect that one day all the shit would be mine.
Most of my little homies’ older brothers worked for Pharaoh and were all a part of his squad. After school, we would gather where they was hustling and post up, taking it all in. I guess you could say, taking lessons. It seemed mandatory that we picked up everything, especially the style. We would act out in school on the lames, because in our minds we were already the Players. It was a truth that was inevitable so we never missed an opportunity to watch how they walked, how they talked, how they dressed, how they conducted business, and most importantly, how they made moves on females We learned the game and we learned it well, from seasoned thoroughbreds, and nothing went unnoticed. If we were lucky, we might have gotten to make a store run and get hit off with a few dollars. The corner huggers might have even holla’d at us if the flow was right and the cops stayed out of sight. When we had their attention, it was the perfect time to rep for the coolest little Gs. We showed off everything we knew. We wrestled, slap boxed, and anything else we knew how to do. For instance, Tadahead could flip backwards off damn near anything. Mert was the artist of the crew; his graffiti was all over the projects. Tipsy was the only real clumsy motherfucker who couldn’t get shit right. Me, I could rap and them corner hustlers loved to hear me spit some shit. Plus, I was Pharaoh’s little brother, so that got me even more props. But, they always got a laugh out of Tipsy.
Sometimes, they would send him to the store just to see how bad he would fuck up. Like if he lost money, forgot shit, or just didn’t come back at all. See, Tipsy’s mother was a crack head and he stayed out all times of the night, so everybody just assumed he was doing some type of drugs, too. That was why they gave him the nickname, Lil’ Tipsy.
Pharaoh warned his crew about letting us hang around when they were hustling, so they were always on their P’s and Q’s because they knew if Pharaoh caught us out there with them, especially me, some shit was definitely about to pop off. Sometimes, they would just toss me money and tell me to break bread with my little crew just so I could keep it moving, but we would end up hanging around them niggas anyway. Me splitting the money with my crew gave me a little taste of what power felt like. And, it felt good to know that Pharaoh’s soldiers knew what my name was and recognized me as one of them.
I remember the night Pharaoh first gave me my street name. I’ll never forget it. It was a Friday night and my crew was over at my house to spend the night. My moms went out to play cards like she always did on Fridays, so we were chilling in the house, doing what young, little G’s do. Calling girls on the phone, playing video games, and burning shit up trying to cook.
Then, Pharaoh stormed in barking orders for my crew to bounce. He got tight when he caught me goofing off or playing video games. He would always say, “If y’all wanna play, play in the park, not here.”
We all knew his mood swings, so we had a routine. Everybody would leave and chill on another floor, and when he was gone, everybody would come back. This time, he did something unexpected. He told me to go and get dressed.
It always excited me to spend time with my brother. I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to ride in that all black Mercedes, with custom-made interior and that custom bass box that will make your heart skip a beat when them sounds blasted to the max. But, that night something was different about him, his swag seemed a little off. He was speeding like he was late for something and his eyes were wide open like a window in the summertime. Despite all that, I still got dressed with the quickness. I broke the news to my crew that I was out and they tried to convince me to ask Pharaoh could they tag along, but I knew that he would say no, so that was what I said.
My brother was out in front of the building waiting on me. As we pulled off, I watched my little homies through the side view mirror and I couldn’t help but feel that maybe I shouldn’t have left them behind then again, fuck it, there would be other times to chill, this time I was chilling with my brother. My sympathy quickly began to fade as we bopped our heads to Slick Rick’s Hey, Young World. Pharaoh turned down the music.
“Yo, listen, Sin. You see how you left your little homies back there?”
“Yeah,” I said. “They was trying to get me to ask you to let ’em come, but I shut that down.”
He shook his head. “See, that’s some foul shit, lil’ bro. Those are your boys, your road dawgs, the ones who you gonna count on whenever the shit gets crazy. And, I know you wanted them to come, but you didn’t even speak on it.”
“But, you would’a said no, right?” I was confused, my brother always shut them little niggas down.
“That don’t matter. Fuck how I feel, never bite your tongue for nobody. Had you spoke for them, sure I would’a shut them little niggas down, but I would’a respected your loyalty to them, and had you said, ‘Fuck it, I’m not going then,’ I would’a respected that, too, and you would still be with them right now. You was thinking of yourself, and you chose, now where ever you go, you goin’ by yourself. See, your power is in your heart, but your strength is in your people, and loyalty is everything amongst friends. No matter what or where you go in life, you never leave your men behind, no matter what. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Pharaoh,” I uttered. “But, I wanted to be with you more,” I added.
“I know, lil’ player. You probably don’t even recognize why I’m hittin’ you with this like that.” He turned a corner eye in my direction and I saw something in his stare that I couldn’t relate to, but it was a memory that stuck. “I want to be with you, too, baby bro.” Then, he reached over and pressed a consoling hand on my shoulder before pumping up the volume and letting them fifteens knock.
As we rolled, I watched out the window at the movement of the fast nightlife. Blood pumped through my veins and my heart began to race at the thought of being a part of it all. The scene’s tune was the bass-drop while the silent movie played through the car glass. On one corner, I saw thugs huddled together shooting dice, homeboy with the bank held a grip full of green and his other hand was raised in the air shaking them bones. Further down, I saw a small group of girls all wearing the same style pink color shirts, all tight around the breasts. Hustlers were scattered while their reasons came to and fro, here and there, eyes searching for their pusha man. I was attracted to it all, excited just to be in its realm. The ‘Hood’, they may have them everywhere, but there is nothing like your own.
The night air seemed to electrify everything that was going on, and I felt like the center of attention riding through the streets, shotgun next to #1. We caught the stares of everybody as we crept through the scene. That bass drop attracted the attention and recognition brought respectful salutes from those who claimed the night. Looking at the New York City skyline while we were driving on the highway was even a better treat. Nothing complimented the night better than the colorful lights of the George Washington Bridge riding on the west side highway. And, the string of red and white from fast cars on the road gave me a rush and made me feel as if I was about to do something big, me and my brother, just like I’d always imagined it would be. We finally pulled up in front of a house that looked like a castle. It had huge windows that opened up like doors, and the entire house was made of fine masonry brick and stucco. The entrance had security doors with a black security gate. I hopped out the jeep wondering where we were and who we were going to see at this huge castle that seemed to be separate from the rest of the world.
Pharaoh was on his cell phone while I waited outside, being nosy. I heard him say, “Open the door, boo.”
It was immediately followed by the heavy wrought, spear tipped bars as they slowly began to retract. Then, from a distance, I saw the front door open and a familiar voice greeted us as we walked on to the property. It was Pasha, Pharaoh’s girl. She was at the doorway wearing a sky-blue nightie that was cut revealingly short, exposing a perfect pair of thighs. Her silky, jet-black hair complemented her caramel skin. Her seductive stare fell on her man then on me and the way she smiled at me always made me feel like a small part of her belonged to me. Pasha rarely ever came to my projects, but whenever she did, she always made it a point of making me feel real special, and she always made my day by bringing her little sister, Laura.
“Well, if it isn’t Sincere.” The way she bit her bottom lip was all part of her natural allure, but it made me blush. “Hey, baby, it looks like I got two men coming home to me tonight. You hungry? I got some pizza in the kitchen. Come inside and help yourself.”
I followed her toward the kitchen while Pharaoh headed in the other direction, disappearing somewhere in the house. The layout to the kitchen was tight; it had a restaurant look with a big table in the middle of the floor surrounded with high backed chairs that looked like thrones suited for royalty. The center of the table held a basket filled with fresh fruit. I slid right into a chair reached over and grabbed a peach. I sunk my teeth into it as Pasha served me a couple slices.
“Sin, you know Laura been asking about you.”
My eyes brightened at the sound of her name. “For real?” I tried to compose myself. “Is she here?”
“No, sorry.” I waved it off as I took a bite into a slice loaded with toppings. Pasha smiled, giving me that look. Don’t worry, you will be seeing her more often now that I’m living a little closer to New York.”
Pharaoh walked in with a splif hung from his lips, the aroma of orange peels filled the room from that exotic potent. After a couple more drags he passed the blunt to Pasha, then pulled her close. She held the blunt to the side as he leaned they locked lips while he slid his hand down, cupping and squeezing her ass. Her exhale held that allure that excited me as I watched. Damn, my brother was lucky.
Pharaoh motioned for me to follow him and he led me down a short hallway and into another spacious room with walls painted a strawberry red. Gold-trimmed mirrors lined a wall and matched the gold trimmed glass table that sat in the middle of the room surrounded with a plush butter soft leather three piece sofa set. At the other end of the room was a lit fireplace which burned a low, crackled, blue flame. Above hung a detailed portrait of Pharaoh and Pasha posed and elegantly attired. The place had the feel of old money with its all white carpet, unused candelabra, and huge hung chandelier. I found myself ready to strip off my shoes, but Pharaoh raised a hand.
“Be easy, lil’ bro, the carpet is stain resistant, and Pasha takes good care of the place. Go ahead and lamp on the sofa, I got something I want to show you.”
When he left the room, I sat there with a hundred questions I knew I wouldn’t ask. To me, it was all self explanatory. The hood made this happen. In the back of my mind, I knew that the more of that poisonous seed you sow throughout any hood you claimed, the more riches you reaped within whatever location you choose to for escape. I thought about Tipsy’s mother. The good in me felt for the destroyed families, but my majority craved for my own name, to stake my claim.
Pharaoh walked back in the room with a suitcase in his hand. I was still in a daydream when I heard that zipper and saw that case unfold, and then my eyes went wide. That suitcase was filled with more money than I’d ever seen in my life. When I looked up, my brother eyed me as if his point was proven, and now it had to be explained, and that’s exactly what he did.
“See all this, Sin?” He waved a hand regarding the house. “This is all for ol’ girl. I mean, it’s comfortable living and a nigga could get his peace of mind out here in these woods, but an apartment in Queens would’a been sufficient for me. See, you don’t get in the game to buy cars and clothes and houses to live in. And, you don’t get in the game to attract a bunch of greedy money hungry bitches that’s there one day and gone the next, either And, one breeds the other. You need security in this game, ‘cause ain’t nothing permanent. You get in this game for one thing and one thing only…Money. As much money as you could get out this shit business. Prepare. Prepare for when it ends. Take care of those who mean something to you, family. This here money is so you and momma could get out that slum ass ghetto that we used to call home. It’s something Pop never did. Fuck that nigga anyway, I’m Pop, I’ma do it all for us. It’s what the fuck I’m ‘pose ta do.”
“She will, soon enough. She may be a little hesitant at first, but she ain’t no fool, she know what goes on out there.” Pharaoh paused. “Look, Sin, my business is getting bigger now. I’m making more money than I ever imagined I would. I bought this house because I can now. I can stop now and have more money than I could ever dream of spending.”
I cocked my head. “So, why don’t you stop?”
“It’s not that easy. See, you gotta want that, and right now I’m at my prime. I intend to shut this muthafuka down, pass the hood, maybe into the boroughs, further upstate, out of state.” The hint of arrogance was thick in his next statement. “Nigga, I’m built to run the world, and it’s exactly what I intend. But, you and momma are my only vulnerabilities, so there ain’t gonna be no refusals, feel me?” I did. And, I wanted in, but I knew then that me getting in on the street action wasn’t the reason for my being there that night. Pharaoh stood and walked to the fireplace. He grabbed a poker and stabbed at the burning embers, creating an orange rise in the flame, “Sin, I never imagined I could achieve all this, but I did, and it’s all because I don’t bullshit in them streets. I’m true to my name. It wasn’t until I took myself seriously that I stepped my game up, and that’s why from now on I’m calling you Serious. I want you to take everything in life seriously, whatever you do, good or bad, be serious about it. Now, I know you will respect that name and represent yourself accordingly. If you don’t respect that name, then no one else will, you hear me?”
“Yeah, I hear you.”
He reached in his pocket and pulled out a neatly folded bill. When he saw me look curiously at it, he lowered his head so that he could catch my eyes. “What? A little curious?”
“What is that?”
When he opened the bill, I saw the cocaine and I drew my head back. Was my brother a junky? Or, was that the shit hustlers did? Then, I saw him bury his nose in it and take a long, deep snort. With the other hand, he wiped his nose and said, “It’s too late for me, but if I ever catch this shit on you, or in you, look at me.” I avoided his eyes. “Nigga, look at me.” I did. “If I ever find out that you do any of this shit, I’ll kill you.” I furrowed my brow knowing that he was just talking until he said, “This shit will steal your soul, Sin,” he looked me in the eyes with an intense seriousness that I knew was real. My face dropped serious, as serious as my new name. “Without your soul, you’re worthless anyway, a waste of a life, and I’ll make it right because I’ll take it.”
I was hurt, I felt betrayed. My own brother said that he would kill me and I believed him. I had to ask, “Then, why do you do it?”
“Because I’m a product of the hood, Sin. My only purpose in life is the hustle, the money, the rule of family. I don’t even want a soul, I’d rather let my heart stay cold.” Then, he tensed and spread his arms and hands wide, “I’m built for this shit, all of me. My flesh, my blood, my heart, my thug.” He turned and walked away. As he moved, he said, “Chill out, ‘lil bro, enjoy the house.” He stopped. “Here,” he turned and took off his watch, “put that on. You don’t need to earn it to get it. You’re my little brother, and any family of mine will never need for nothing. That suitcase will take care of you and mom, you hear me? Now do you, I’ma holla.”
That night, I watched movies on the big screen T.V., thinking about the conversation I had with my brother. I respected him for what he was doing, what he was about to do, what he was capable of. My brother was like a super hero to me, the best who did whatever he did. I knew that he was trying to let me know that there was more out there than the game, but I wanted nothing else than to be like him, in every aspect of the term. Except for that powder. Though a part of me wanted to feel that intensity that he was feeling, I trusted my brother, and he always kept it real, good or bad, and I knew that he wouldn’t steer me wrong, not ever. But, a little part of what he knew, he didn’t want for me. And, as bad as he said losing your soul was, why didn’t he need his? Or, was that just the soulless justification of a man who lost his. It was a new level and I wasn’t afraid to run into it head first. I would learn from lessons taught as well as from the mistakes of others who didn’t follow those lessons. I intended to get my time. I didn’t know when or how, but I knew that when my time came I would take it, all of it, and I would do it the right way.
I relaxed and grabbed the remote when I realized that my mother didn’t know where the fuck I was. I looked at the time and knew she had come back from her card game, I also knew that I had to call her ASAP. I headed toward my brother’s room so I could tell him to call her. I knew that she would be mad, but she wouldn’t go as hard on him as she would on me. It took me a minute to find the bedrooms in that big ass house that I had never been to before, but I found it. Boy, did I find it.
It started with moans, and ‘Oh yes’, then it was little nigga that couldn’t turn and walk away. The door was open a crack and there was Pharaoh and Pasha getting it on. I mean, they were going in and I could see both moving in sync with the other, the extra thick goose down quilt over the plush carpet was where they were as I watched, eyes unblinking. Then, they moved on to an overstuffed chair that sat at an angle, with perfect view from where I watched. Pasha was doggy-style, face in the couch, back arched to take all of Pharaoh had to give. Her short breathes and hisses, her moans of ecstasy motivating him to stroke harder, faster, the way Pasha wanted it. I mean, the way she looked back over her shoulder, I could tell she liked it rough, her moans getting louder, Pharaoh pushing deeper, harder, at times taming her with a smack on that perfect ass, watching it wiggle. She chanted, “Oh, baby, that’s right, that’s right, yes, that’s how I like it, daddy, come on, harder,” until they both fell back on the floor, sweat drenched and exhausted. But, their rest lasted but a minute. As I watched her lay caressing Pharaoh’s chest, I was about to leave, feeling awkward about seeing my brother naked and stiff. I saw Pasha roll over and disappear half of him in her mouth. She wasn’t done, and by the look of my brother, neither was he. I saw those lips of hers and imagined me being in her mouth. It was almost like I could feel it as she gave every part of him salivating attention, up and down, side to side. At their angle, I could see her hands cupped from underneath her fingering her already wet clit. Then, she jumped up and sat on the chair, opened her legs wide, letting both hang over each arm. Her pussy glowed from the light’s reflection, more than wet, she oozed and begged Pharaoh to lick and he gladly obliged, burying his head between her legs. Her gyrations were circular, she grabbed the back of his head riding his face, tensing with every slurp.
“Ohh, baby! Eat this pussy!” That was when her eyes opened and she looked directly at me. It hadn’t even registered until we caught eye to eye. My mouth dropped open and I tensed, but her wink and mischievous half smirk kept me there, continuing to watch as she really began to perform. And, when Pharaoh snatched her up and she straddled him, I watched as she rode him with perfect grinding, forward and back motions.
I had to back away. I had to get out of there, I couldn’t take it. It was like I had just finished fucking her myself. I was in total shock as I went back to the living room, the movie on the big screen just a colorful blur as I sat there trying to process what I’d just seen. It was crazy. I had never seen anything like that in real life before. Some real porno shit and I couldn’t wait till I was older so that I could try some of those moves, so I could tear into some pussy like that.
I told my crew what happened that night. It was our first secret, and since it was about my brother, I made sure they understood that it had to stay a secret, just between us. I told them with a straight face, no games, and I was serious for the first time.