"Laydown" in Little Freeport
A Mother, chopping vegetables in the kitchen of her momentarily childless home...
Preparing dinner. The interior of the house is silent but for the sound of a blade dicing onions, and children outside. She is pretty, hair coiffured with a simple elegance, and almond eyes that were slightly tired. As you look at her, you realize she is approximately 35 to maybe a young-40 years of age. She works with only the quiet to accompany her, so she can monitor the kids while they play. But... The sound of children running around outside does not completely cover the new and rising (distant) sound of motorcycle engines, and then- machine-pistols...
She stops chopping- freezes, listening, hoping...
The hand wielding the knife is picture-perfect motionless-
1987 - Freeport, Long Island
Air rippled in heated waves rising above cracked pavement at the corner of Broadway and Graffing. Flies sunned themselves in the stench of a stained spot near a curb. The heat had people in various stages of undress. As reggae music blared over the street, there was an endless procession of hot mammas, old mammas, dealers, runners and retirees either walking or talking.
A smallish teenager rides through this crowd on a bicycle, and he stops at a payphone. He is short for his age, and so looks younger than he actually is. Unremarkable and unnoticed, the boy has assessed the street, and is pumping coinage into the phone and pressing buttons. There is no verbal message. When the boy finishes punching the status code of the street conditions, he simply hops on his bike and rides away.
Drug Lords collected -SO MUCH- Money, often- the $1's and $5's would be bagged and just given to someone who needed it in the neighborhood
Not -ALL- Drug Lords were seen as "Bad" - They kept order
On the street, heads turn - searching out the source of a rising angry mechanical sound. A whine like that of a mosquito can be heard faintly over the reggae. One mosquito's whine is joined by another, then another...
The whine explodes into a full scream of motorcycle engines and the first black Ninja rounds a corner, into sight. Leaning over hard, it's foot-peg touched down, sparking. Two other Ninjas were immediately behind it- just as fast. Other bikes followed these first three as backup, but these first three were hell-bent on pinning the corner down.
Ratty and his West Indian crew were coming, guns-out.
Every one of these cats was 'bad'. All wore fatigue pants and some form of black boot. Other than that, what they wore was individualized. Tank tops, chains, chopped sweatshirts, tatoos and piercings... Their helmets had painted fangs, horns, flames, or symbols and names, or nothing at all. Nearly all the warriors wore dreadlocks. One was bald under his helmet.
They all had uzi-pistols. Six bad-mothers, on six black Ninjas. They were all experienced killers with a list of bodies behind each individual. Everyone on the street knew it.
Electric Avenue... listen to the lyrics ... "Carribean AirWays"
Bearing down upon the corner almost supernaturally fast, Ratty aimed high on the buildings of Broadway and squeezed the trigger of his uzi. A window shattered. Holes were drilled in red brick or block structures. People began to hit the ground, and for a few brief seconds, six uzi-pistols opened up, filling the street with smoke, noise, and spent shell-casings.
There were too many wanna-be dealers on the street again. Time to thin things out. A little discouragement was called for.
Ratty came to an abrupt halt, locking brakes just before hitting Graffing. Only his uzi-pistol was still blazing. The five Ninjas behind him stopped in formation. He exchanged his empty clip, slapping in a full one. The rear-most rider, Bones, locked his front wheel and violently twisted the throttle lighting up his rear tire. Burnt rubber was pouring off that spinning wheel as Ratty continued firing into the sky.
A huge cloud from the smoking and sparking rubber joined the fog of gunpowder. The barrage of noise from the screaming engine and gunfire combined with the smoke to create a cauldron of mayhem. With that, everyone in the man-made canyon of Broadway was laid-down upon the ground.
The original Funk/R&B hit of "Word Up" by Cameo, was released in 1986. It was re-released by nuMetal band Korn, in 2004... where it was given a "Metal Edge".
"WORD" ..............up........... [Cameo - 1986]
Two soldiers dismounted their crotch-rockets. Each went separate directions. Curly went to one side, and Wolf-Mon, the other. They would snatch ropes from the necks of prone dealers. And then, to add injury to the insult, they'd pistol-whip them until they emptied their pockets.
Ones who gave up paper before being pistol-whipped still got a pistol butt to the bumbah-clot.
Not a word...
All this took place without a single word. Everyone knew the rules of this game. It was time to pay the piper. These guys would be allowed to live... this time. But they'd best not show their faces here again any time soon. They were not West Indian, so they were lucky today. Being new on the street, they knew they'd most likely get off with the warning. So, "this" was that warning.
Ratty also knew he could make no money if he got blood all over his streets. But next time, if there WAS a 'next-time'... one or more of the American kunckle-heads would disappear. Teach them a lesson for crapping all over his streets with their sloppy business.
As Bones lit his back tire again, Gemeni and Smiley simply sat and watched, guns in hand. They'd occasionally let one round off into the air- just to remind people they were there, watching. Gemeni's job was to watch Ratty's back.
Another clip went into Ratty's pistol.
As Ratty's soldiers returned to their bikes, he emptied his final clip skyward. He dropped his weapon, where it lay strapped, at his side. He grabbed the bar, twisted his throttle, revving, and instantly took off in a wheelie. Standing on his pegs, he rode right through the intersection, and led the way out of there.
Curly and Wolf-Mon were right behind him, carrying what they'd just snatched from the hapless dealers. Bones, holding the rearmost anchoring position, burned his rear tire doing a couple three-sixties as the other bikes blasted out of sight. Then Gemeni and Smiley pulled away, so Bones straightened out, aligning himself along the street, and rocketed forward, bringing up the rear.
They sped away, the sound of engines faded into distance, once again becoming a mosquito's diminishing whine. Then nothing. The whole thing took maybe one minute, two tops. Not even two. They were fast.
The scent of burnt rubber, gunpowder, and burnt gasoline dissipated slowly. Bullet casings laid about the entire corner.
Nobody bothered to call the Police... no point
Nobody bothered to even call the police. Actually, a police cruiser was probably in earshot of the lay-down, with a cop inside reading a newspaper. Even if called, the police would not arrive until after the incident finished. Standard procedure. They fully respected this area as a hotbed of illegal activity.
They would just oversee the collection of any bodies, if there were any, and fill out the usual lie-filled reports. Then go away till next time. Babylon just did not give a care about the people. They were on their own. Truly.
People on the ground looked at each other and began to rise from the hot sidewalks. Only the reggae, funk, & rap radio-station had continued uninterrupted through the entire event. And as people went about their day...
Her hand frozen in mid-air, first trembled slightly- Because-
The sneaker-clad feet of her children and their friends could be heard running through the backyards and streets of Freeport and were accompanied by sounds of distant gun-fire. A faint but audible backdrop to their games.
To their play...
And so, the children ran, and ran. NOT QUITE totally oblivious to reality. But not really noticing the remote gun-fire either. So that was "fine", or as fine as it could be.
As she re-entered her own body and space in that house... And before resuming the dicing operation, she listened to the children a moment. They had not even paused in their bliss.
So, she began chopping again. But SHE does pause now, rubbing the back of her hand at the corner of her eye...
It wasn't even the onions fault.
Before chopping more, she turns around, and punches "play" on the boombox plugged into the wall on the counter behind her. At a medium-Low-volume, a spiritually uplifting, yet poignant reggae melody begins, so she starts humming along with the lyrics...
"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion... they carried us away in captivity, requiring of us a song... Now how shall we... Sing the Lords song ...in a strange land?"
- [The Melodians-1970 / BoneyM-1978]
The camera POV-rises swinging slowly upward (while looking down) behind her shoulder- as the volume of the music rises...
The camera POV rises, above the mother, up- through the ceiling of the kitchen, the roof of the house comes into view, then also with the back yard and children playing. (The Mothers voice now stops humming and sings along) Up further & faster, the surrounding streets & blocks come into view, to then include the intersection of Graffing & Broadway, and then all of FreePort itself. ...The south-shore of Long-Island comes into view...as the scene begins to FADEOUT & Music continues But the Mothers singing also fades.
Now Just BonyM- "The Rivers of Babylon" plays & fades/Cut.
Ratty, Gemeni, Curly, Wolf-Mon, Smiley, Bones & "Little Mikey" or "Likle-Mikey" are real people and this is a true story. (True-ish) This is "The Story" people tell AFTER the real story. Little Mikey (Afro-American), ran away from an abusive home at the age of 13. And was "adopted" by the local West-Indian drug Lord. --In the end, when it all was shut down in a final drug raid-- Mike was too young & innocent to be arrested, yet old enough to witness events.
(based upon the real events and experiences of "Likle Mikey")
"Laydown" or "Laid-Down" = A ShakeDown on an area or person/people
"Paper" = Money
"Rope" = Gold Chain / Necklace, Bracelet, etc... Bling-Bling (et alia)
"Math" = Numbers associated with Bank Accounts or Credit Cards - "I need the Math to make a check and drain his account" - "I need the Math to make a card"
"Dealer" = A Street Sales-executor, sometimes also a Soldier
"Runner" (young OR old) = An assistant to a Drug Lord or any of his people
"Bumbah-Clot" = Jamaican slang for "Brain-Case" or Head
"Bottie-Boy" = A Gay Dude, usually derogatory
"Babylon" = Cops or "The Man" in any of the myriad "systemic organizations"
"Work" = Killing, Assasination, Selling, or Mayhem of SOME (illegal) kind
"Soldier"= One who works under a Drug-Boss as one of his men (or women)
"Ratchet" = Firearm (usually)
"Strapped" = Carrying a weapon
"Blazing" = The act of Firing the firearm- "Let's Blaze" / "I was Blazin' " - Also a reference to lighting up something to smoke
"Whip" = TOOL/Object "Where's My Whip?" or "Who Took My Whip" (flexible)
"Blunt" - "L" - "Spliff" - reference to some form of rolled-&-smoked drug
------------------"Spliff" - a FreePort NickName of Wanna-be/Dealer/Soldier I.R.L.
"Stax" = Reference to a persons Cash-stash "My Stax" - also- a NickName I.R.L.
"Likle" - "Likkle" = Little ...it's just the way West-Indians (Jamaicans) say it.
"Who is to blame, in what country? Never can get to The One." [Eddie Grant]
If you have not already done so, re-Listen to Grants "Electric Avenue" and try to understand where this man is coming from.
Electric Avenue - A Shopping Area of Brixton-London
This was a serious song, about real life. Life, drugs & money were somewhat similar in all western worlds, USA suffered in the same fashion as the U.K. But, Electric Avenue was in Brixton, and called "electric avenue" because it was the first region to get electricity back in the day. The song is about the futility of being poor, living poor. The streets of violence that Eddie refers to happened in a conflict in 1981 between police and protesters, in Brixton. Electric Avenue (the song) was a hit via MTV during the summer of 1983, right beside Michael Jacksons "Billy Jean". Eddie Grant had a recording studio in Barbados and is from Guyana -- (The author dated a Guyana-girl for a while) -"enlightened" and open-minded -individal- he is. Actually, your highly talented author just happens to -like- a lady with dark hair and dark eyes... ain't no thing at all, gentle reader, but a fortunate happenstance of life. Your blessed author simply had good fortune to meet and know good people who "know things". And he will fire up a grill, and pound-down burgers & brew, with anyone, and share any of lifes stories.
IN FREEPORT - LONG-ISLAND - In the mid, to late 80's there was a great deal of Jamaican gang activity surrounding the black market drug business of the day. There was a great deal of competition between various factions, Hispanic, Jamaican, Afro-American, and the Police. The white-factions were involved too. Jewish, Italian, Russian, and even more... They were ALL "in on it". The author has met and spoken to or interviewed, members of [a certain popular Italian-Family], who live in the "5-towns" area of Long-Island.
There were absolutely tremendous sums of money involved during these years. People, under the influence of cracked cocaine, would willingly empty their bank accounts for their dealers. And the police were not entirely innocent either. It would be difficult for even a "Good Cop" to resist the temptation of taking down a common street dealer with a bag of cash, and to be able to resist taking that cash for themselves. Or, even to resist the drugs. Often, cops were addicted due to their exposure to temptation. There were "local" cops that were infamous, and had their own street names. This, was an all too common occurrence, apparently. "Dealers" were shaken down, frequently. It was a popular activity to "hunt" dealers, and grab whatever they were carrying. Dealers couldn't exactly go to the police right? "Scores", were settled, "Mano a Mano", Gang to Gang, or Family to Family... in any possible combination. Innocents died as well, when accidentally caught in the middle of some ugly action. It was a busy and potentially brutal time period. There was a great deal of drama unfolding ... Everywhere.
In the drug-game, there was SO MUCH money... bags of Ones and Fives were simply thrown away, or GIVEN away to the neighborhoods by the overly successful drug lords.