I was both a leader and a follower. Most of the time I followed was to fit in. I followed a good friend into a department store and less than an hour later was arrested as a juvenile for shoplifting. That was my first and only encounter with law enforcement and later my record was expunged. Well it was not my first encounter, other times I was on the outside looking in as others close to me took their various turns with the penal system.
My brother John was a true King in the streets of our hood. He was revered by everyone. He was the first person I recognized as being larger than life. If there was anything, and I mean anything that you wanted, my brother John could get it. Sometimes you learned not to ask how but he got it. When I went away to college I unwrapped my first computer. I nearly fainted when I unwrapped it. Not because it was a computer but because it came with a real receipt. Yes. It was bought from a store with money with a salesperson. I kept the receipt longer than the computer.
I followed my brother into drugs too. I should say I have never done drugs myself. But I was so affected by my environment that I once thought I was missing something. I don't mean the high but the connection to the edge of something edgy. I felt outside and I wanted inside. I wanted a connection to him and his environment for no other reason than to be closer to him. He was big time in my heart. The male figure in my household growing up.
I talked a friend into mimicking a high. We took the outside lining of cardboard and dry grass/straw from the front yard, a lighter I snuck from my oldest brother's nightstand and we commenced to getting high in the front yard under a tree. Well dang. The cherry on our joint was so pronounced it did go unnoticed by passers by. Somebody ratted me out and all I can remember is my brother darting toward me jumping bushes to get to me. The only thing he said through what looked like MAN TEARS was "hold your arm out." He put the cherry of the joint out on my inside forearm. I felt it and I smelled it. He turned and walked away.
The only thing I could think of was momma not finding out. And she never did. And how much I had disappointed my big brother. I was his way out. I was the one thing he could look to and say I helped create that. I was his reason for tapping into the good he had inside himself. And I stepped all over it.
I still have the scar. My brother passed away at age 45 from cancer. We never once spoke about that night under the tree. We did not have to. He lived long enough to see what I did with his computer and to know that the only cherry I would see again was atop of the sundae I made with my life. The life he helped me get to.