Ain’t Making Friends

Don’t know nothing about this. If you a girl. If you just some made up way to get my skin hot. If you even got a name.

My name’s Troble. Has been long as I remember. Manny and Cobalt and RJ call me T.

Badass, that’s his name, he’s this big bald Mexican dude always got them black needles on his face. Long time ago, somebody tried to cut the ugly off him from his left eye all the way cross that big mouth. Bet that fool’s dead, whoever done that. Badass always talking about consekwences like I the only one who messes up, except he got killer tagged on the walls behind his eyes. You can see it sometimes when he ain’t looking at you.

Badass sat me down with this paper so long ago I ain’t even sure if we still on the same day. Told me I ain’t leaving less I write you something. Told me I gotta write you every time. You ain’t thinking right, I told him. I gotta come here every Monday for six months. That’s like fifty times. Told him, I ain’t writing no fifty times.

I’m well aware of your schedule, Trebon, he said the way he does. Like he somebody with that big desk. Comes from the same place as me though. And, just so you know, twenty-four isn’t quite half of fifty, he said like he just gotta keep moving that mouth. Ain’t got that many words, I told him straight. I guess you’d better start looking for them, he told me back. Then he locked me in this other room that ain’t got nothing in it except this table and this chair. Knew I was locked down cuz I checked that door soon as he was gone.

Badass is crazy for sure if he thinks you and me gonna make friends with all this writing. He says you ain’t making friends. So, what’d you do to get stuck like this?

I didn’t do nothing. Never done nothing. Nothing nobody can prove anyway. Except somebody always saying it’s me who done whatever got done. Judge ain’t been able to lock me up with just them people saying so, since I only fifteen. Except now he saying I ain’t got no more chances. They gonna take me and Shae away if I don’t stop messing up. Ain’t nobody taking Shae nowhere. Told that judge that too. Told him I’ll find him if they take her and he’ll know Troble like he ain’t ever known, if he do Shae that way. He give me more time with Badass for mouthing to him. Like I care. Told him straight up and that’s all I gonna say on that.

If I find who say I done what they think I done this time, they be putting up tape for sure. Only two of us was even there, far as I could tell.

Anyway, I ain’t gonna be no friend to nobody who’s gotta have Badass make him be wrote to. And you might be stuck like me. Stuck in your bones. Stuck in some half-dead city in some neighborhood you don’t even tell nobody you from cuz it’s a joke’ll get your skull cracked. You don’t even go in, like most of them do, working corners and out back of places. You go out. You spend your time spiking cars on 75 and working the girl at the ice cream just off Gratiot near that exit. Two weeks ago she shows up out of thin air, that’s how Manny says it, with her pops who ain’t ever one time not looked at you from the side of his face.

But her smile’s like the sun that time you partied with your boys on that roof and you woke up wet with the morning on you and that light just cracking over the top of everything bright and beautiful. Her name’s Reece like them candies. You got them candies where you at? Next time you get some, hold a bunch in your mouth and close your eyes. That’s what it feels like when she touch you handing back change. And it don’t matter where you got that money from to start with when she touch you like that. All the heavy leaves your bones. Those fingers all warm and soft and that sun rising on her face.

I ain’t never wrote this much and I ain’t writing no more. Badass can wipe his self with this paper if it ain’t good enough. And if you can’t make out all the words, you just have to keep what you can and leave the rest be.

(excerpt from YA novel Troble)