excerpt from Five Days of Bleeding
by Ricardo Cortez Cruz
© 1995

Giant Steps
Making impressions. Monk improvised his ascension. He was live at the Village Vanguard. He was Soultrane. Meditations. Africa/Brass. "One of my favorite things," said Love, Supreme Monk climbed a steep hill, yelling for the new DJ, Shep Pettibone, to remix his life. On what was becoming just another partly sunny but hazy day in the hood, Pettibone started scratching Blue Magic and "(I'm a) Dreamer" into Smoke City's "Dreams" and "(We're Living) In The World of Fantasy." That's how bad he was. The nigga could cut-up. He was like C & C Music Factory. He could jam on vinyl like Michael Jackson or Guy. With a drink in his hand, he could take four Gemini 1200 turntables and mix them all at once, without using slip discs or scratch pads. He frequently did Island mixes, like DJ Kool Herc fresh from Jamaica. And if you couldn't understand his concept, he'd do toasting and tell you point blank, "It ain't fo' you."

"Let's go," Monk said. He wanted to see his boy spin. Off in the distance, Shep sounded like he had broke out with a bottle of alcohol in each hand and was splashing together rhythms for a megamix .

Living In The Bottle
Sloshing alcohol over the tables proved to be Shep's calling card. With probably two cross-faders and an echo control, he mixed extended versions of "Pray" and "Like A Prayer" with "Erotic City" and "Feels Good." Me and Chops could hear him scratching the black grooves, not missing on anything.

Just A Touch Of Love
"All I want to do before we leave is feel her, see where's she's been," said Nat Love.

All Around The World
"Why don't we just give up?" Chops asked. He had something else in mind, but I could tell he was keeping it a secret.

No One' s Gonna Love You
Zu-Zu spat in Love's face. "I'm just sittin' away, gettin' lonely," she said.

Heavily strapped, Pickett slogged over to her and slumped. "When did you first spit on a nigga?" he asked. "Do you remember the time?"
"Send me forget-me-nots," said Zu-Zu, "to help me to remember."

Pump It
A brother cheered as we raced past him, Chops producing bite-size Snickers and beginning to die.

O Can't Touch This
Zu-Zu spat in Pickett's face. "To Sir with Love," she said.

"I need her alive, and kicking," said Monk.

Can't Stop
I told Chops, "Forget about your chocolate-covered peanuts." We stared at an old "dog" dressed in drag and trying to turn tricks out on the street. "I'm looking at you, you're looking at me," I said to the man, who I had seen staring at me many times before in the cheese line.

He chuckled. "I'm walking down the street watching ladies go by, watching you."
"Keep on walkin' then," I said while Chops was singing "I See Love."
"Time out," said Chops, like he was trying to sit down a kid.
"This is no ordinary love," I said. I broke out with some hip-hop. Chops must have felt that he had no choice but to follow.
Observers tried to jump bad, asking us why we was running so goofy.
"I got ants in my pants," I replied. I stopped and shook 'em out. About eight greedy little niggas and an albino cockroach dropped out of my drawers. Three of them still had food and Nutrament in their mouths; their jaws were tight.
"Can't you see we're trying to party?" they asked. "What's yo' problem?"
An ant who seemed immuned to the Raid stuff let go of the barbecue pork in his mouth and looked up at me, tripping. "Look, My Brother, I hate to break it to you, but this ain't Beale Street," he said. "Get yo' program together. Dig?"
I smashed the ant with my foot and crushed his black ribs. He flagged me and then died, but not before a joint came out of his mouth.
"This ain't Hill Street Blues either," I said. "Move the crowd. And take your roaches with you."

"We don't need a crowd to have a party," another ant said. He was dragging a roach like it was nothing, the dope making him stagger."
I put my foot in his ass. "You're buggin' out," I said. I shook my foot, but he wouldn't get off.
"Gett off!" I shouted.
"When doves cry," the mug said. His booty was hanging out, and, like a trained army ant, he attempted to fall into the trenches in the sole of my muddy boot. I rubbed him off with the spur of my other boot.
The ant pulled out Flash photos of me and ripped them like he was Sinead O'Connor. "You've got a split personality, Sybil," he said.
"Don't make me over," I told the black ant. Then I finished him in front of Chops standing there. Witnessing the whole thing, he was breathing badly with melted nougat running down his chin.
The last ant started backing up; 187 proof was all he needed. With a little alchohol squirting through his big lips, he stuck his middle finger in a glass bottle with a brown paper bag around it. "That's yo' momma!" he said. Obviously, he and his band had decided to go down like Prince and the Revolution.
"Good night, sweet Prince," I said, "now cracks a noble heart." I stepped on him and kept going, blood all over my big toe.
He flipped over several times before landing on his side. "Te quiero," he said, his fingers begging me to come on, but his other arm crushed underneath his body.
I did the Spanish hustle trying to get away from this wild gang of ants, probably from Sugar Hill. Chops fled with me, protecting his candy bars.
"You go boy!" shouted a black boy clinging to a can of Nutrament and an almost empty bottle of coke.
I turned around and blew dust in his face like it was clouds from God's feet and like I was Michael Jackson dancing, doing a Pepsi commercial.
"Beat it," I told him.
"Don't even think about it," he said. "My name is Calvin. You know, Calvin from the corner. I know you know me. I work at McDonalds parttime to please my mother, but I deal drugs and bootlegged wax at school to make real money. Soon, I'll be managing my own store, sellin' dope beats, dope rhymes, dope cuts. I'll be yo' pusher." He flashed a couple of folded hundred dollar bills. "May I take yo' order?"
"What would the white people in Head Start say if they could see you now?" I asked.
"They'd say that I had too much apple pie."
"The American Dream might be nasty sometimes, but it works," said Chops, eyeing the boy to check if he had any McDonalds food on him, a fat burger or fun meal.
"Don't encourage him," I told Chops. "We've got enough mad characters out on the street already. We need to stay positive, upbeat."
The boy pointed at a long line of colored women soliciting near the clusters of sidewalk talk. "Wild women don't worry, wild women don't get the blues," he said.
"Shut up!" I told the kid. "This ain't Africana or women's studies. Take yo' little black ass home."
The boy showed me two keys, including one for valet parking at Small's nightclub and resturant, and shook them, fish on his breath. "I got a mixed lady who drives a black Maxima in a black neighborhood."
"I hope you doing safe sex."
"Got to go get ready," he said. Next thing we knew, he ran like eyeliner, his big feet leaving black streaks and dark shadows on the pavement where his high-class basketball shoes had rubbed it the wrong way.
We continued the chase, my feet singin' "Settin' the Pace I and II" by Dexter Gordon, Chops bragging about how "nowadays babies get up and walk soon's you drop 'em."
I told Chops to leave me alone. Shaw Nuff He finally got quiet.
"Thank you," I said, real seddity-like. I could hear ZuZu clapping. She always applauded performances that were strong. When confronted about anything, she would sing. And whenever Zu-Zu was without a song, she talked about "Mind Over Matter."