I watched my friend, reputed West Philadelphia Drug Kingpin Chris Thompson sit across from me in the diner and slowly drink his coffee...He seemed more pensive lately than usual. I eyed him carefully. I had known him since we were in Kintergarden...The two of us had written many pages in the book of life when we were boys..then when we became young men, we took radically different paths...He into the world of crime and me into college and business. I knew and Chris knew that I owed my recent millionaire status and success in business to him. I knew , even though he had never said that he had a marker on me to call in...and sometimes I worried about that day when he'd call it in. My name is Chess...today is that day!
"Yo Chess, you believe in God?" asked Chris.
"Yeah Chris, as a matter of fact I do." I said. This was weird..I had never known Chris to ever walk inside a church and I had certainly never heard him talk about God before..I had assumed all these years that he was an Athiest...Guess I was wrong.
"Well....This Preacher told me that he'll forgive you, no matter what you done, if you confess your sins and you know, like stop doin what you used to do..you know what I'm sayin?" said Chris.
"Yeah..I heard the same thing." I said.
"Think he'll forgive me Chess?" he asked.
"Huh? You serious?" I asked.
"I'm just sayin Chess..I been sellin drugs since I was 14 or 15 out here on these corners...and I avoided ever gettin arrested...I avoided ever havin any beefs..and I moved up the ladder steadily until I became a street boss. Then I learned how to hide my money and invest my money and buy the right things you know? I did that till I got to a point where I just imported the product from the New York boys. I took myself off the street man...I sell my "product"to about five different drug organizations...but me, I'm not on the street, I don't touch the stuff and
I aint around no guns or no gangstas." explained Chris.
"So Chris..Why are you tellin me about your business?" I asked.
"Because I want to leave the business Chess...I'm sick of all of this, sick of the violence, sick of the
turf wars and sick of always havin to watch what I say on the phone.....all of it...I got a fortune stashed away in the Cayman Islands in an off shore account where the government can't touch it
and I got other money in banks here stateside...Chess, I got more than I'll ever spend...I don't need this life anymore...I don't like who I am...I want absolution...That's why I need you to do me this solid..." he asked.
And there it was, I knew Chris wanted me to do something...I had dreaded this moment all the time I was establishing my apartments and setting up two gyms..dreaded the moment he'd ask
me to do something I couldn't do and have to give all of this up.
"Chess..I got a list here of five guys...They head up the five major drug organizations in West,South and North Philadelphia...I want you to contact them....Tell em I want to meet..tell em that I'm going to sell them my connection...." he said.
"That's it? That's all I gotta do?" I asked Chris..
"That's it...You find us a nice place to have this meeting, get a caterer and shit , spare no expense
and then you call me..Then , you go on about your business Chess, I don't want you nowhere around, you hear me?" said Chris.
"You don't have to tell me twice Chris..I'm on it..but uh...what about your boy Slackjaw?" I asked.
"What about him? " asked Chris
"He wasn't too cool about you not makin a move on Greasy Jake and he uh kinda was makin noise about takin matters in his own hands.." I said.
"Yeah, I know....He's a dinosaur...could never get him to see the need to do things a new way.
Greasy Jake talked to me yesterday...uhhh, You know what happens to dinosaurs Chess?...They
become extinct...feel me? That's all we need to say about Slackjaw." said Chris with a sigh.
Within a week....There was a clandestine meeting at a major hotel that I can't name down near
Deleware Avenue...If The FBI had known about it...they could have rid the streets of Philadelphia of drugs forever...Well at least for about a year.. From what Chris would later tell me... He met with Greasy Jake, Fathead Newton, Panama Jack, The Playa President and Bossman Jones...Stone Gangsters all and offered them his New York Connection to split five ways between them. They had to each pony up two million dollars a peice to pay to him for it.
This was nothing for these very successful bosses and it effectively took Chris Thompson out of the game. He was ten million dollars richer, but no longer a kingpin of anything..They were essentially the big bosses now and they were free to carve his former territory up anyway they
pleased. Slackjaw balked, refused to go along and vowed to hold on to his peice of Southwest Philadelphia. Which is why Chris didn't make him an offer..He knew that Slackjaw would never work with the others...The man just wasn't a team player. Slackjaw told Greasy Jake not to even think about setting foot in Southwest Philly. Told Panama Jack and Fathead Newton the same thing.
Chris felt relieved. He was no longer in the drug business..He was..as he said a normal citizen now. Whatever happened between those guys was between them and no longer his headache.
He was out of the game. Free!
A Week Later, I met Chris in Josie's Bar...He was sitting in his usual spot...a booth in the back.
"What will you do now Chris?" I asked.
He passed me an envelope... I looked in it...It was more money than I had time to count..
"Chess..I'm gonna do anything I want to do.. You don't know how free it feels to be away from all of that..To not be involved...How long do you think I could have ducked the cops? Law of averages says that I would have either gone to jail and I'm too fine a nigger to be in the slams or somebody would've put a bullet in me...I aint trying to go out yet...Not til I have a talk wit God.
Now you take that money..put it in an account for your son's college or something..that's for helpin me out and being a stand up guy throughout this." said Chris.
"Man, you keep talkin about God...What's up with that?" I asked.
"Man, I don't know..things just been on my mind..who knows? I just knew I had to get out of that life. I'm still young..I can do anything I want, maybe go to school learn how to do somethin
useful." laughed Chris.
I looked at my friend, he looked at me and we both said - "Nahhhhhh" and we laughed and laughed....
On a nearby table was a Daily News and a story on page one that read:
REPUTED DRUG BOSS, JUSTIN "SLACKJAW" ARTIS FOUND SHOT TO DEATH IN HIS CAR OUTSIDE OF HIS HOME YESTERDAY!!!
(To Be Continued.....)