December 26, 2011
Good & Bad Influences

  I love lunch breaks especially when the only things in the cafeteria are your thoughts and the smooth music playing on the speaker box. For some it’s all fun to have co-workers eating together but in my case socializing kind of ruins my eating period. Don’t ask me why that’s just me on the real. The radio station was playing this tune called Broken Dreams by Shaman’s Harvest. Its lyrics unsuspectingly caught all of my attention;

"What’s that metronome I hear? Perhaps the end is drawing near, you never hear the shark that takes you down.. Out of time? So say goodbye. What is yours, now is mine."

When those words entered my ears, I stopped eating my lunch and begun reminiscing on a friendship that ended too young…

Marcus was the best friend a 16-year old like myself back then could have ask for. We had a lot in common such as; we were neighbors in the old apartment building, went to the same schools, we were video game junkies and we were vivid fans and players of the game of basketball. Although, he was a Sacramento Kings sympathizer I was and still is a Los Angeles Lakers fanatic. We would indulged ourselves in non-stop trash talking while those teams battled it out for the Western Conference supremacy. Marcus and I would always encourage each other to do our best in any challenges. Cliché as it may be, we had an unbreakable bond. Besides living with his very nice single mom, Marcus, had a baby sister and a trouble making cousin named Francois Unadis. When he’s with his crew he simply goes by FUS. which stands for “F*ck U Society.” 

Francois was a gang banger and a very violent one. Til this day, I still can’t put my finger on what sparked his hatred toward me. Was it my personality that was totally opposite to his? Lets face it he was rotten as it comes. Was it that his auntie would purposely gave me high praise just to make him feel bad about the life choices he took? It’s not like I was trying to impress everybody by being myself. Or maybe, it was that his blood related cousin hung out with me more than he did with him. That could probably explain the attitudes and harsh sarcasms he throws every time I’m around. Whatever it was I had an absolute dislike for him.

There was that one time all three of us plus a friend were playing a pick up game at the local park and well, he ended up elbowing me hard in the face. The cause was that I was playing him physical when we would battle for the rebound. Aren’t you suppose to box out your opponent for the ball? Funny thing about it was the plus one friend, my teammate played the exact same way and Francois was alright about it. Hell, he even give the dude some good props for his great plays. He did play like a superstar I admit. On the other hand, I remained stable because if I did retaliate to his flagrant hit, it wouldn’t have done any good. So like a sponge on water, I sucked it up and rinsed the blood off my lips at the water fountain.  

Fus’s nasty antics continued until I had to move in with my daddy who was an active personnel in the U.S. army. He was currently stationed in Great Britain and I had stay there for 2 years. I had no regrets joining dad and going from “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America" to "God save our gracious Queen" but still, I won’t get to see my homie Marcus. The night before I left, Marcus and I hung out at the park. We were sitting on the bleachers. "I don’t know with who I’ll be chilling with" he said. "You’ll be straight, you got a lot of friends." I confidently told him. "Yeah, but they don’t got what you got." he said. "Trust." For the next 10 minutes we remained silent and watched every single cars pass by on the street. Then, he pulls out something from his pocket and says "I want it back when you return." I grabbed it and took a look. A Shaquille O’Neal trading card was what he give me. “I hate the Lakers, but I never said I hated Shaq.” The card was in very poor shape, I’m not a collector so that didn’t faze me one bit. “Appreciated man, I’ll carry this with me always.” I promised him. “Cool” he said with a villain smirk on his face; “Don’t forget to get me those Mr. Bean videotapes. This guy is too funny yo.”                       

Not a lot can go down in a mere two years… can it? Oh Henry, why did you tell yourself that?

Two years went by and I had some great moments during that time; made some great friends, learned to play soccer, learned how to drive on the right side, had a first job, graduated from high school and enjoyed staying with my father, the G.I. Joe. However, all those cool events didn’t compare to the fact that along the way I lost contact with Marcus. The last time I’ve talked to him was three weeks after I arrived to England then after that he disappeared. The only news I was able to get on him were deteriorating at best. Every time I would speak with his mother and asked for him, she would immediately avoid the subject. Something wasn’t right. I guess now I’m on my own to figure out what went wrong with my friend.

His little sister told me he was at the Quick Mart hanging out with his cousin so I went there. My stomach was eating from the inside out, I probably have a good idea why it was doing that. “Just say it aint so” I told myself. And there he was totally different from the last time I’ve seen him. Baggy pants with a white tank top and a king crown tattoo on his right shoulder. Hopefully he’s still the same Marcus. I went over there and he greeted me with a big bear hug. “Henri, what’s going on man? Long time no see.” Of coarse he was happy to see me but the same cannot be said for Francois, who himself now looked like a bona fide thug. His look of disgusted said everything but I didn’t pay any attention to him.

While Marcus and I were talking about the old times, his cell phone would ring every minute and he would without hesitation send that call to voice mail. “Who’s calling you that much?” I curiously asked him. “Some annoying girl. She got nothing else better to do.” He coldly said. A fight broke out between Fus and one of his crew members, something about who had the baddest Nike snickers. Marcus quickly handed me his phone and rushed over there to break up the immature altercation. The phone rang once again, it was that same girl. I yelled at Marcus “Hey, this could be a emergency.” but he didn’t hear me. So I pressed the button and talked. The girl was very upset, she was using profane language but what really shocked me was what she said before hanging up.

"Be a man to your son."

At 19-years old my best friend was a father that didn’t want anything to do with his infant child. Never in a long stretch would I see him neglect something of that importance. However, I’ll give him credit where credit is due, he hooked up with a girl. When it came to girls, Marcus was light years ahead of me. I’ll would get frustrated when two or three females would chill with him while I would received the cold shoulder and be left alone. Any how, I was able to memorize his girl’s phone number and I called her. Cynthia was her name and with a good conversation she agreed to meet in person.

I knocked on her apartment door and it opened. “You’re Henri, right? Come in.” She said with a gentle voice. While feeding her child, Cynthia told me about herself, how her and Marcus first met. Among other thing she also talked about how Marcus’ behavior drastically changed after the pregnancy. In every argument, he would hit her and call her names. I knew for a fact someone put this damn idea in his head. Fortunately, she was brave enough to fight back. “I was fed up with his garbage so we pack up and left for good. Only God knows why he acted this violent, but I still want my son to know his dad” she said with tears in her eyes. Regardless of the hardships she’d faced, she still was determine to beat this. “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I want to be a mechanic and this misery will not torment me nor my child.” she emotionally said. I was caught off guard because from her very beautiful looks, she could had easily became a model.                                                

While walking down the street, I remembered a story Marcus told me a couple years ago about an incident that transpired. Francois took his step-sister at some house party and she was drinking excessively that entire night. Intoxicated as she was, she give herself easily to every single guy and for that Fus was being mocked by everybody. So out of rage, he grabbed his sister and slapped her in front of everyone. With that being explained, he’s the only one I know who’s capable of injecting that poison in Marcus’ head.

I had to do something even if that met confronting the cousins who were hanging out near a broken down fence. “So since when you liked beating on girls man?” I directly told Marcus. He was little surprised that I knew his secret but he remained calmed.”Actions speak louder than words Henry.” he said with a firm response. “Those actions are necessary for the child you neglect to see?” I replied. Fus, answered for him; “A dog has to be disciplined when its disobedient.” I had enough of Francois’s B.S. so out of anger, I knocked him down with some Krav Maga hand-to-hand combat. My buddy Trevor, taught me those methods while I was in England. “Yo, what’s your problem?” Marcus yelled. “What happened to you?” I replied. “Time change, people change get with the program. My cousin showed me all the good things life has in store, money and respect. I never had those when we hung out. I couldn’t get anything with you Henri.” His straightforward comment was really damaging, but I knew deep inside there was still a way to salvage the friendship.

"Here’s your Shaq card. You said you wanted it back."

He helped his cousin up, gently took the card and looked at it. “You and this card, aint worth jack sh*t anymore. Mind your own business next time.” While he walked away with Fus, he ripped the card in two and throws them on the ground like yesterday’s newspaper. That was the very last time I’ve heard from him.  

Just 5 months ago there was this huge massacre at this rough neighborhood across town and quite frankly, Marcus didn’t make it. However, his cousin did but he’s serving hard time for been involved. I cried when I heard of his death. Some nights I wander if I’ve done enough to save our friendship but then again, sometimes good influences aren’t enough to overcome the bad ones.

My lunch period is over, time to go back to work but before I do, I better call her back…

"Hey C… I know you hate being sent to voice mail, my bad I was in a important meeting… So how little Marcus? Really he has a new friend now" 

  1. sergepl posted this