Blake stands before us and gathers all of our attention. We do not pull away from his gaze. He talks to all of us.
“Yes people, we had a successful deal tonight, but this doesn’t mean our hustle is over. We will continue to sell and hustle. And on top of that, I want each and every one of you to stop worrying about me as well. I’m sure ya’ll have probably pieced two and two together of what I did to get all these drugs without paying for it.”
I look to see the other’s reactions. They are just as puzzled as me.
“You do what you gotta do sometimes,” Blake preaches, voice clear and sturdy. “I ain’t never let a problem stop me from doing what I gotta do. It’s to take care of myself and you guys.”
The ski mask, the blood, the look of horror on Blake’s face. One minute, Blake forgets he has to get drugs to sell to the rich kid, the next minute, he turns up with ten grand worth of drugs without spending any money for it.
And that’s when it hits me. That’s when I figure out the “terrible” deed Blake had to do last night.
As Blake is still preaching to us, I can’t take my eyes off of his face. I look for clues, any sign that Blake isn’t so stable and in fact, has the ability to be a tad bit scared just like us. I read into every eyebrow raise, eyeball movement, and try to figure out how he’s feeling beyond his sugar-coated words.
But I’m cut short when all of sudden Barbara scream-gasps again and Blake is going around handing out stacks of money.
“This is a cut for all of us,” he says, smiling as Barbara can’t seem to take the money.
“Blake, no,” her eyes start welling up.
Antonio reiterates that due to our successful deal and the fact that Blake acknowledges he has stolen from the inventory countless times, we will all get two thousand dollars each. My heart drops to my ass as I have never encountered that kind of money in person before, especially in paper form at its best.
“Blake, keep it,” Valerie rejects the money, eyes locked to the floor. “put it towards the inventory or put it all in our safe.”
“Ya’ll tripping,” Antonio says, happily taking his cut.
I feel the need to not take my cut at all, to maybe distribute it evenly among the others. I come from a financially stable household, and although I’ve never personally had two thousand dollars to myself, I can guarantee that that kind of money plus some has been spent on me over the years.
My gang member family don’t even have homes they can run to. Period.
When Blake steps in front of me to offer my money, I decline.
“No thanks, Blake. You guys are way more deserving of it than me.”
“Can you guys stop being a bunch of coños and just take your cut?” Antonio laughs, flaunting his bills in our faces.
Blake lingers in front of me, eyes taunting and mischievous. It takes all of my willpower not to break down under his fiery gaze.
“Well, if ya’ll insist,” Blake shrugs, putting our money back in the bag.
Barbara’s expression looks as if she may change her mind and Valerie has this cold, far away demeanor that’s causing her to anxiously bite her nails. We all look a little clueless right now.
Blake notices all of the dull statures in the room and lightly chuckles. I grin, loving the way he naturally sounds.
“We’re allowed to act like normal teens you know?” he asks, face animated and voice bright. “We don’t have to be drug dealing introverts all the time. In fact, let’s all do something fun tonight. It’s Friday, the night is still young, and we have nothing to worry about.”
He looks so promising, relaxed, and youthful. There is no blood on him tonight. Just him.
Antonio chimes in on Blake’s idea.
“Our leader is right. Let’s stop worrying and start living.”
Barbara’s smile gives way and she bursts with joy.
“You’re right Blake. I’ll take my two grand back. I want to treat everyone to a fun night out in the city.”
“Barbara’s getting it,” Blake smiles, tiny dimples denting his cheeks.
An arrangement happens and Barbara agrees to take all of us out to eat at a fancy restaraunt and then hit up a popular roller rink after. I actually perk up at how fun and exciting the idea sounds. But Blake arranges something different for me.
“No offense Barbara, but I want to do something a little different tonight,” Blake states, making eye contact with me. I unknowingly gulp, my flesh growing hotter the longer he stares at me.
“I want to hang out with Ron tonight,” Blake says, drawing all eyes on me.
With the conversation that Barbara and I just had, it’s no wonder why she giggles and pats Blake on the back.
“No problem. He is our newest prospect,” Barbara cannot contain her teasing.
Valerie has her eyes glued to Blake but he is not looking at her. I kind of feel bad, knowing her feelings for him are pure but he is not paying any attention to them. But then the more petty side of me that still wants Valerie to pay for her actions is delighted by the fact that Blake has his eyes on me and not her.
So tonight isn’t as gloomy and depressing as I thought it’d be. There is no blood and no ski mask and no stolen car this time. Blake and Antonio made a notable drug trade that benefitted in ten grand, and I get the pleasure of hanging out with Blake one-on-one again, just like we had in Chicago.
I temporarily let all of my stressors fade to the background of my head. Besides, I think I have more important things to stress about...
...such as Blake and I hanging out one-on-one again.