The story takes place in the early 1970s. Davy lives with his father and grandmother, Ada Chase, deep down in the heart of the slums of Chicago. His father works as a custodian in an office building, cleaning at night. They live in a row house style apartment with two levels. There is plenty of room for the three of them. Ada receives a retirement check, but the benefits will run out soon because all her life she has worked only as a housekeeper, and she is worried they may have to move soon.
It is a Monday morning, and she is trying to wake Davy for school; his father is in the next room sleeping soundly, but she does not attempt to wake him. Maybe later after Davy is gone she will. “Davy, get up’ it’s almost time for the School bus. Davy! Do you hear me’ talking to you boy?
Okay Grandma’ he jumps out of bed and takes a quick shower and puts on his cloths. His cloths are not what the brothers would call in style’ just some old cloths from the Goodwill store, but they are clean. But he is not complaining. He is a very understanding young man. He has dreams of finishing school and becoming an engineer’ he’s a wiz with numbers. Hurry up now and eat your breakfast. The bus will be here soon, but knowing you, you probably would rather walk than ride.” I would grandma.” He says smiling’ Yes you’re just like your mother. She liked to be by herself too sometimes, God rest her soul,” Ada is in her early seventies but still strong as a bull, and she is determined to see that Davy finishes school. “Grandma, how long has momma been gone? Ada stares at the walls and answers slowly, seven years son, seven long years. “How come Daddy never talks about her? “ Suddenly Ada becomes very angry. “Because that good-for nothing-Ni “She then calms down’ I don’t know Davy’ he has been though a lot since your mother died.”
She was very pretty, wasn’t she, Grandma? “Yes son, all the young bucks wanted to date your mother, but she choose daddy didn’t she? That’s right said Ada she did. One time years ago you was about one year old, your mother and father was at the movies, and some man came up to her and tried to pick her up. William was in the restroom, and when he came out, ‘child’ he almost killed that man. Yes they loved each other very much.”
Davy takes her hand’ deep down inside he thinks he knows why William never talks about her. Just then His father walks into the room. William Jones is his name, and he is in his late thirties. A tall man, about six fee five inches tall, with a few gray hairs, in his prime he might have been considered a handsome man, but because of drugs and liquor he looks much older than he really is.
“Good morning Daddy,” says Davy. William does not answer, he just sits down. “ And snaps at Ada’ “Why didn’t you wake me Ada’ he shouts’ “I thought you might want to sleep some more.” “No, I want something to eat! He still has not spoken to Davy; Ada place some eggs and bacon in front of him and he starts to eat. He is still half asleep, after he is almost done eating he looks up and speaks to Davy, “Good morning son, and how you doing this fine morning? .he speaks with little concern. I’m doing fine, Daddy says Davy. “Hey son you going to school?” “ yes’ says Davy. “Here comes the bus now. Good-bye Daddy, bye Grandma.” Fine boy. He is going to be somebody someday, as if you care’ says Ada. William smiles and says’ why didn’t you tell him why I never talk about his mother? “ I think he knows, he is a smart boy, smarter than you think. I think he knows why you can’t speak her name, knowing she worried herself to death, worrying about you and your problems, never thinking about herself.” Just then Ada loses control and picks up a knife, but William catches her hand and takes it from her.
“Careful, mother-in-law, ”He says’ with a smile” if you lose me, you lose all your hope of Davy finishing school.” “You know William sometimes I think he would be better off it you were dead. But he loves you so much, and you don’t even care. I feel so sorry for you. You have a fine son, and you don’t even realize it. You’re nothing but a no-good drug addict, and drugs will probably be the cause of your death someday. You are all alone. And you don’t even know it. Davy will make it” “She says with confidence, “Because he’s got courage and determination, something you will never have. You had it once, but somewhere along the way you lost it. “Then she leaves the room with tears in her eyes.
For a long time William looks at the knife in his hand. Then the throws it down and hurries out of the room. At the bus stop Davy gets on board. The school is located just outside of the boundaries of the city. He could ride his bike, but sometimes he rides the bus. When he gets to his seat he sits by a very lovely black girl but does not speak. He pulls out a book and starts reading, all the way to school. It is about a thirty minute ride.
During the lunch break, one of the city drug pushers is trying to sell some drugs to one of the white kids, but a police patrol car comes by, and he leaves. As the drug dealer is leaving, a black kid runs up and jumps into his car. “How much you got?” “Nothing said the Kid’ I couldn’t make any deals, Smitty ,” What!” “It’s the cops you saw; they keep coming around, so I can’t make any sales.”
“What about inside? The cops don’t come inside do they? “Sometimes they do! Replied the kid. ”Well you just need to try a little harder. I’ll take you back, the cops should be gone by now. They arrive back at the school, where the young man gets out of the car and goes to his next class. On his way he runs into another student, a white kid by the name of Johnny. He is the schools star football player, the quarterback. “Hey, you got anything for me? “I always have something for the star quarterback.” Johnny gives the kid six dollars, and in return the kid gives him a bag containing marijuana. Johnny is just one of many kids who are experimenting with drugs. Black and white, it is becoming an everyday thing, at the schools as well as on the streets.
Later on Smitty is driving along when a police car pulls up behind him, follows for a few blocks, than pulls him over to stop. The policeman gets out of his car and approaches Smitty’s ride. “ Smitty is as smooth as ever” Yes, officer was I driving too slow?” The officer smiles and says come to think of it’ you where, but that’s not why a stopped you. You made an illegal turn a few blocks back, a right turn with no signal. May I see your driver’s license and registration please?” “Why, yes Officer, here they are. “He hands them to the Officer, who takes them back to his car to check. After about twenty minutes he comes back to Smitty’s car. “Okay, sir we’ll just call this a warning this time.
“Right says Smitty’ thanks Officer’ You have a good day says the officer smiling.
“Tommy Smith is the number one dope pusher of Heroin on the south side of Chicago. He also rubs the number games. The Police know about him, but have been unable to pin anything on him for years. After the incident with the police he goes to see his boss, James Newhouse his supplier who lives in a luxury penthouse Appartment on the north side and happens to be white.
“What is the problem, Smitty?” “It’s the cops they keep stopping me.’ “Don’t worry about it. They don’t have anything on you, so they’re just fucking with you. Let me give you” your shipment.” He goes into his bedroom and comes back with a suitcase full of cocaine. “Its all been checked, one Hundred percent Columbian coke”
As Smitty is leaving, Newhouse asks him, “Where did you get stopped? On the North or south side? I was just a few blocks from you, near the fifty-7th precent.” “Well that’s your problem’ just keep away from the 57th’ My cops are on the south side, so stay on the south side.” Very funny says Smitty’ if I did that I could never pick up the shit! I’ll see you later. Smitty goes to the lobby of the Apartment, and there he makes a phone call. After about ten minutes one of his Lieutenants shows up, and Smitty gives him the suitcase. He then leaves about five minutes later. Soon after he is on the streets a police car starts to fellow him. They tail him for a few blocks but does not stop him. Smitty smiles to himself and heads to a location where he and his gang break down the coke for distribution. It should be worth half a-million on the streets. He has young black kids and older men running his dope. It cost twelve dollars for a half-spoon, and it’s the best on the street. Later that day after school, Davy is playing basketball with some of his friends. He is pretty good player, really big and strong for just fifteen years of age. As he is playing his father comes by, high on booze. He stumbles over to where Davy and his friends are playing, he is so messed up he can hardly walk straight. He is screaming for Davy to give him the ball’ so he can take a shot.” Give me the ball Davy’ he yells’ Do you hear me talking to you boy? ’You know I use to be pretty good.”
“In what?’ shouts Willie’ one of the boys playing. “You’re so old they didn’t play ball in the stone- Age.” “Some of the other kids laugh, and they all watch as William tries to dribble and shoot the ball. Then Willie makes another crack’. ”Hey Davy why don’t you give him another shot in his arm. Then maybe he can shoot better. There he is boys, the neighborhood junkie.” Come on boys give me the ball’ let me have a shot’ give me a shot’ Davy” They all watch as William tries to dribble and shoot the ball. Again and again he tries to dribble and shoot. Then Willie begins to tease William, He has the ball but instead of giving it to him, he dribbles around William and continues to play and tease him.
Willie is a little shorter than Davy; he is about five-foot 9’ and the same age. Some would say they could be brothers. Suddenly Davy had had enough he hits Willie twice in the face. It happened so fast Willie dosen’t know what happen. All he knows is that it felt like two solid bricks hitting him dead in the mouth. Davy goes over to his father, “come on Dad, lets go home…” No’ Davy!” yells William. I want to shoot the ball. William is so high he dosen’t realize what’s going on. Davy talks softly in his Fathers ear’ Come on Daddy, you know you have to go to work tonight, and the man said if you are late one more night, you will be fired. Now you don’t want that do you? “Yeah’ you right lets go home. But first just let me get one more shot. “Okay daddy, one more” William dribbles the ball once’ then shoots, “the ball sails high and drops right into the net’ “you see! See that! I told you I could shoot!”. “That was great Daddy, let’s go.” I told you young pups I could shoot. As they are leaving some of Davy’s friends get on Willies case. “Hey man, why you want to go and make fun of Davy’s old man? You know Davy’s okay.” Willie hangs his head. I didn’t means it, I don’t know why I did it… Come on, let’s go guys.” Some of the boys go their separate ways.
George and Willie stay, George is a little shorter then Willie and the rest of the guys, (that's why call him shorty) because of his height. He is also a year older, : You know Willie you talk about Davy’s old man being a junkie, but what about you? “ What you talking about, man….” “Don’t play dumb with me man, I have seen you running around with that Pusherman.” Look shorty’ I don’t have a Jones’ or anything like that’ (A Jones is a street term for someone who is hooked on drugs). I don’t care’ says shorty ‘ call it what you want!....and I don’t care, Just don’t let me hear you coming down on Davy’s old man again… understand.” “Yeah shorty’, I got it. I understand. “Willie then jumps on his bike and rides down the street. He keeps riding until he comes to a place where his Boss Smitty is collecting and distributing his dope to all his runners. Willie is the last to arrive. “Here you go kid,” Says Smitty handing him a supply of heroin. “Go get my money. “Willie then goes back on the streets.