Grand Theft Auto. Two to Four years in prison, and most likely a hearty helping of probation. Felony. Fuckin’ Tae! Who steals a car to go to a business meeting? Granted, Tae was probably the best friend Charmayne had ever known- but random spurts of idiotism such as this made her realize that he had no business in her life, in any capacity. Something deep down inside her made her think that the judge would throw the book at her. After all, she flat out refused to tell authorities who was driving the car. She was prepared to go to the joint. As she stood before The Honorable Judge “Such-n-such”, she saw her future fading away. She saw visions of herself in cornrows, wearing an orange jump suit, and slapping a table- yelling “Dominoe, nigga” in a prison rec-room. Her heart felt like a brick.
The Honorable Judge “Such-n-such” gave her a passionate speech about life. He told her about how he too grew up on the East Side of Cleveland, and had a single mother raising him. He shared antedotes about how he got into all types of trouble because he eventually fell in with the wrong crowd. Charmayne barely listened. All she could think about was her upcoming trip to Marysville. As the speech rambled on, she just wanted it to be over. “Stop prolonging the agony,” she thought. “Just gimme my time and I’ll be on my way..” Then she heard the two most beautiful words she had ever heard in her life: House Arrest.
What a relief.
Charmayne spent the next 8 months in the house, and not in the “Hip Hop” sense. She was literally in the house. She spent most of the time writing in her journal, or writing raps. Either way she was writing a whole lot.
As bored as she was, deep down she saw it as a blessing. The idle time allowed her to refine her rap skills and expand her subject matter. She was writing about any and everything that crossed her mind. She wrote about men, sex, love, hate, shoes, war, peace, politics, she even wrote a song about her mood when she’s on her period…..
Charmayne could feel herself getting doper with every rhyme that she spit. Metaphors, similes, and double entendres all became weapons of choice as she became a bona fide lyrical assassin. She read The Source, Rap Pages, XXL, and Blaze. She watched BET, MTV, VH1, and The Box. Her entire life was centered around becoming as well versed (no pun intended) in the area of Hip Hop as she possibly could.
Reader: “Wait a second, a few pages back she was ready to quit rapping- after Shadow dissed her. How come she is all gung-ho about it now?”
Writer: “That’s the wonderful thing about Hip Hop. You could love it and hate it at the same exact time. You could vow to quit, but when you catch that bug (trust me), there is nothing you can do about it. You can stop writing raps. You can stop recording raps. You can stop performing raps. But it is virtually impossible for a true MC to stop having raps circulate through his/her mind. In the midst of this “circulation”, it will drive the MC absolutely insane to not jot those rhymes down, or at least spit them out in some form or fashion.
I say all that to say Charmayne had “the bug”. After 2 months of being a model citizen in the judicial system’s House Arrest Program, she convinced her probation officer to allow her to get a job. “Thank God,” was Ms. Alexander’s response. Charmayne echoed that sentiment. They were flat out getting on each other’s nerves. Long gone was that night of bonding, that brief glimpse into what mother/daughter relations were meant to be like. Ms. Alexander had since grown weary of Charmayne’s fascination with the “buffoonery” and “animalistic misogyny” that comes with the lifestyle she embraced. After the stolen car incident, there was nothing anybody could say to convince Ms. Alexander that Hip Hop had any redeeming societal value.
“You’d never been to jail before. Hell, You’d never been to detention. After one night of rapping, you have on an ankle bracelet like a damn zoo animal. Absolutely pitiful,” she often fussed.
She had a valid point.
Thankfully, Charmayne never told her what happened with Shadow. Can you imagine? Ms. Alexander would probably be somewhere steam rolling CD’s like those crazy ass church people on the news. (Shouts out to Calvin Butts, C. Delores Tucker, and Al Sharpton)
So where was I? Oh, Charmayne got a job. She was officially a server at Friedman’s, a mid-range bar and grill type restaurant downtown. She had never waited tables before, but she caught on quick. All she had to do was smile, be friendly, and not drop anybody’s food. The hourly compensation was anything but flattering, but her tip money was enough to keep a couple of dollars in her pocket and her mother off her back. Plus, the customers at Friedman’s were interesting. They always gave her something to write about. Like the older white couple who came in every Friday night, like clockwork. They obviously had money (judging from the size of her wedding ring, and the wide variety of credit cards they used to pay their tab). The weird thing about them was that they never talked to each other. It was absolutely amazing to Charmayne how they had zero interaction with one another, but they made a conscious effort to get dressed up and go out to eat together- every Friday night.
Another weird customer was this white guy. He came in one night, right before close. He looked to be about 25 or 26- young, but still much older than Charmayne. He spent the entire time he was there staring at her. While he ordered- staring. While he ate- staring. He looked as if he had something to say to her. He finally got up the balls to do so when she brought him his check.
“I know you.”
“Uhh,” Charmayne was trying to counter-act the weirdness, “I’m here working a lot. Maybe I served you before.”
“No, it’s not from here. It’s…,” he was really thinking hard. “YO!! You rap don’t you?” he was so excited that he damn near scared the shit out of the people at the next table.
At first Charmayne was a bit embarrassed, then she had a rush of pride, then all of that turned into confusion when it hit her… “How in the hell does he know that I rap? I’ve only been to the studio one time, and even then I didn’t get to record..”
She suddenly realized who he was.
“Im Matt Claxton, remember? People call me Cracker.”