Once upon a time, not too long ago, a young girl from the projects met Quadir, far from home, in the middle of Harlem. Now the story is told of how it all went down.
It’s the late 1980s, and Gena finds herself in true-blue love with Quadir, a millionaire associated with the cartel. Quadir is faced with combating the art of extortion and interception masterminded by the notorious Junior Mafia, which reigns from the inner-city streets of Philadelphia. Both Gena and Quadir find themselves caught up in the vicious yet seductive world of drugs and money, only to find that success in this game is no easy win. True to the Game represents life on the streets and is like no other story of its time.
There’s no way out once you’re in, and everyone stays in forever … True.
About the Author
Teri Woods is a native of Philadelphia where she worked as a legal secretary/paralegal for eight years. She started writing True to the Game in 1993 and began submitting it to publishers in 1994. After being turned down, the book sat dormant for several years. In 1998 she began selling handmade books on the street and out of the trunk of her car. Soon she started her own publishing and production company, Meow Meow Productions, now called Teri Woods Publishing.
Cary Hite has performed in several theaters across the country as a cast member in the longest-running African American play in history, The Diary of Black Men. He also appeared in Edward II, Fences, Macbeth, Good Boys, Side Effects May Vary, and the indie feature The City Is Mine. He has voiced several projects for AudibleKids, including Souls Look Back in Wonder, From Slave Ship to Freedom Road, and Papa, Do You Love Me?
Buck 50 Productions is a music/film development company distinguished in the production and marketing of commercially viable cinematic and audio products. The company is comprised of entertainment professionals whose combined career backgrounds incorporate twenty years of experience.
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True To The Game
By Teri Woods
Back Bay BooksCopyright © 1994 Teri Woods
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA NIGHT OUT
Harlem, New York. It was the summer of 1988, and it was hot. Too hot. Harlem had to be the hottest place on the planet in the summertime. Exiting the West Riverside Drive on 125th Street, Gena was amazed to see so many people standing outside a nightclub. "Damn, look at that limousine, girl. We need to be with them!" Laughing out loud, she was now suddenly anxious to get uptown.
"We damn sure do," said Sahirah, looking smug. It was amazing; there was nothing like it: 125th was a mini Greek playland in the middle of Harlem. Gena had no understanding. It wasn't like Philly. It was larger, and the niggas looked like Eric B and Rakim, with humongous gold chains and diamond medallions the size of bread plates. If it was meant to represent wealth, that shit did its job. And Gena liked it. She looked at the girls and could not help staring at them. They had no clothes on. They were sexy and revealing, and Gena wanted to be among them, fucking with niggas, getting her life on. New York was the shit. There was no way she could live there, though. It was so fast, too fast. Fast niggas, fast cars, and fast lifestyles. The magnitude was large, as was the amount of men. Even the cars in New York looked different. Gena didn't know if it was the rims or the tires or what was going on. The dashboards were customized, leather MCM and Louis Vuitton seats, not tomention the detailed piping and thousand-dollar sound systems. That shit turned her the fuck on. Everything about New York turned her on, especially the guys. And to think, this was all so normal for them.
Suddenly, Sahirah did an about-face and shouted, "No! Look at that BMW. Is he the man of life or what?" Riding by, there he was with a squad of brothers deep in his Beemer. She couldn't contain herself. Leaning out the window, she called, "Hi!" Turning back to Gena, she grabbed her arm.
"Girl, don't he look good?"
"Sahirah! Bitch, is you crazy? This is Harlem! You just can't wave at these people up here!" Gena tried to pull the top of her friend's body back into the car.
"Oh, shit, Gena. He's pullin' over."
"Yeah, but he's all way on the opposite side of the street."
Against Gena's protests, Sahirah made a U-turn into traffic, causing every moving vehicle to screech to a standstill just so she could meet the guy driving the BMW. She greeted them even as she double-parked just behind the Beemer, waving and calling to the driver.
He stepped out of the car, fine as wine, and walked toward the girls. "What's up?"
"What's up?" Sahirah repeated.
"What's your name?" he asked, walking up on them.
Getting out of the car, she replied, "I'm Sahirah. What's yours?"
"I see you have Pennsylvania tags. You from Philly?" Sahirah asked.
"Yeah. Tell your girlfriend to get out of the car."
Gena insinuated herself out of the car and chimed, "I'm Gena."
Rasun openly admired what he saw.
"What's up, Gena? I'm Rasun. That's my homey Quadir in the car. Why don't you go over there and talk to him?"
"What does he look like?"
Smiling, he told her, "Go and see."
How convenient, she thought, Sahirah got the driver, and I got the passenger. When she reached the other car, she announced, "Hi. I'm Gena. Your friend Rasun told me I should come over here and talk to you."
Quadir studied Gena as though he'd just been introduced to a goddess.
"My name is Quadir."
After another minute, he thought he should say something and stop staring. "So. Do you live in New York?"
"No. I live in Philly. What about you?"
"I live in North Philly."
"Oh. I live out West."
"What are you doing up here?"
Gena thought quickly how to cover her and Sahirah's man-hunting designs on this side of the Lincoln Tunnel. "Well, my aunt is sick, and I just came up here to spend the day with her." It's just a little white lie, she told herself. It can't hurt. "What about you?"
"Business, had to take care of some business," he told her, thinking about the kilos of cocaine in his trunk. "What's a pretty girl like you doing out here in this big city all alone?"
"I'm not alone." Gena's head was reeling from Quadir's blatant adoration, and every square inch of her body sported a blush. "I'm with my girlfriend, Sahirah."
"Oh," he said, looking at Sahirah as if to say, 'How the hell will she save you?' Shifting back to reality, remembering the kilos of cocaine in the trunk of the Beemer, he said, "We got to go, but I want to see you tomorrow. Will you be in Philly tomorrow?"
"Yes. Wanna switch numbers?"
She said good-bye to Quadir and pocketed his number. Even though he wasn't driving, he was nice and he was dark-skinned, and that was definitely a plus. Not to mention the diamond bezel Rolex watch he had on. Damn, she thought, the man is dark as night, but his beard and his moustache was so sexy. She would definitely be trying to see him tomorrow, which for her was a lifetime away.
Gena and Sahirah partied hard and met many guys that night, but, like a magnet, Quadir kept turning up in her thoughts. Before Gena got on the Turnpike, she went uptown to 145th Street to get a Willie burger. She loved Willie burgers. Nothing could fuck with them in the middle of the night. No lie, like 125th Street, the saga continued; mad money niggas were everywhere.
She got some gas from the station down the street and was ready to make her journey back home. Crossing the George Washington Bridge, she couldn't help but look over at New York City's skyline. New York was the most happening town she knew of. She always hated leaving.
Finally reaching Exit 6 Gena thought, Home sweet home. It was about 5:30 AM when they reached Sahirah's mother's house. Gena parked the rental car and looked at her best friend and the slobber and spit dribbling out of her mouth.
"Sahirah, wake up. We're home." She nudged her leg and called her to wake up after she parked the car. Sahirah was out, and Gena knew it would be a struggle to get her back to life. Another few minutes of calling out to her friend and Sahirah finally wiped her mouth and opened her eyes.
"Come on, let's go. I'm tired. You've been sleeping. I haven't."
"Oh, did you see the EPMD guy, Erick?"
"How could I have missed him? He almost hit your simple ass when you jumped in front of his Benz! You really have some serious issues to deal with."
"Don't even try it. You got nerve. You're jealous 'cause I got Kendu's number. Don't be mad. Besides, I saw you talking to what's his name? Quadir. Yeah, him."
Sahirah talked as if Gena had behaved as poorly as she did. "What about this guy? Look at our picture. Now tell me he isn't all that. I could have sucked his dick right out there on 125th Street."
"I just know you could have, and I'm sure you will," stated Gena with more sarcasm as she shook her head.
"And that motherfucker in the Range Rover? If it wasn't for you, I would have really got my young life on."
"I just know you would have."
"Well, what did you think of him?" Sahirah insisted. "Do you think he was cute, or what?"
"Sahirah! Think the fuck of who? I don't know who you are talking about."
Sahirah paid her no mind. Once they were inside the house, Sahirah started counting the telephone numbers, which she had collected over the course of the evening.
"Seven numbers!" she hollered.
Gena couldn't help but to look at her friend in disbelief. "I'm going to sleep."
Gena and Sahirah had been friends since they were five years old. Both grew up down in Richard Allen, the projects niggas wouldn't go to if they wasn't from there. When Sahirah was twelve, her family moved out to West Philly on 54th and Race Street. Even though they didn't go to school together after Sahirah moved, she and Gena always kept in touch.
When Gena turned seventeen, her Uncle Michael got her an apartment on Chancellor Street. He paid all her bills. No one in her family knew. Gena had pleaded with her uncle for years to move her out of the projects. He had really been there for her, and whenever she wanted something, he would help her. He kept her in a rental car and gave her money whenever she asked for it. She was fortunate to have someone in her family who made it and could show her the way. She knew plenty of people her age who had no one they could turn to in time of need.
That was one thing Gena could say for herself. Even though she was raised in the projects, she had family who believed in taking care of the kids. Some people didn't have family like that, and Gena knew it. Some parents didn't give a fuck one way or the other. Do what you gonna do, 'cause you gonna fuck something up anyway. That was the attitude. Half of Gena's friends had parents who said, "Hey, we got a party to go to," and that's where they were, at the party partying. Or if they weren't at the party, they were too busy getting high. Then you had the motherfuckers sitting right there in the house not giving a damn whether the kids were in the house, in the street, hungry or safe. A whole generation sat back, and said, "Fuck it. I'm not gonna raise my kids." Hence, the saga began.
Shit was rough as hell in Philly. That's why Gena liked her little trips to other cities. Gena and Sahirah had done their share of city hopping, too. Seeing that there was other people out there, not just West Philly or the projects, was positive reinforcement for them. They went to the Harbor in Baltimore and met niggas with boats. They went to D.C., liked the guys but couldn't take the go-go scene. They traveled to Atlanta and met brothers with pets. From Miami to New York, they were there. They constantly received flyers for out-of-town parties in the mail. Life was just one big party. Gena was into the party scene. The same faces, the same places, and the same circles.
When the Junior Mafia began spreading cocaine throughout the city, money was flowing like water from a faucet, and niggas were givin' it up as if it were leaves on trees. Gena's whole entourage of male companions were young, handsome, and very wealthy drug dealers. Hustlers who loved to come on a set and just break a nigga off. It was too good to be true, and don't talk about sex. You were definitely getting broke down for dropping down, wasn't no questions asked. Gena and Sahirah dropped down, way down, for the lifestyle they were living. The only way not to give the sisters their props was if they weren't getting paper. Thoroughbreds of the streets, getting money was what it was all about, and any way you could get it, you was supposed to.
Across town on a little side street, sat a burgundy Cadillac. The driver was eagerly and carefully aware of the sound of the street. He had been sitting in the car for three hours waiting in anticipation. The movement of a tree branch blowing in the wind grasped his attention. He turned back to the gray screen door across the street; 3601, he thought to himself. Deciding that would be a good number to play, he reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a small bag of cocaine. He dumped a tiny pile between his thumb and his pointer finger and held his hand up to his nose. After he fed his nostrils, he took his tongue and licked his hand clean. On the seat beside him laid an Uzi semiautomatic. He picked up the gun and took out the clip. Restlessly he threw it back in already knowing it was loaded. The gray screen door flew open and four guys emerged. They hopped into an MPV, never noticing the burgundy Cadillac following them.
The next morning, Gena woke up to the sound of Sahirah's four brothers and sisters acting like they were out of their minds. "What time is it?" she asked as Mrs. Bowden walked by the doorway.
"Oh, good morning, Gena. It's nine thirty, baby. You want some breakfast?"
Hell no, thought Gena. I want some sleep. "No, ma'am," she replied. "I have to go. Tell Sahirah to call me." Gena was out of there with the quickness.
On the way to her house, she stopped to get her favorite pancakes. At the intercom, she hollered, "No pork! Do not put pork anywhere near my food. Do you understand? No pork. I don't want to see it."
The poor girl at the window looked as if she had something to say but didn't. Gena gave her the money and waited for her food and change.
A burgundy Cadillac with black tinted windows sped across the parking lot. All of a sudden and out of nowhere, thunderous gunfire jolted Gena out of her reverie and continued to echo through her body. The bullets sent a screeching sound through her body as the gunman met his target aimed for the four guys in the MPV. Gena's mind yelled run, duck down, hide, get the fuck away, settling on none until her survival instincts took her through the natural progression of ducking down and getting her ass out of there. She sped away from the takeout window and tried to exit from the parking lot when the burgundy Cadillac Sedan Deville with gold trim, tinted windows, and spoked rims cut her off. She slammed on the brakes and missed hitting the driver's door panel by inches. For one long moment, she looked right at the driver. He had an Uzi semiautomatic in his left hand and had his right hand on the steering wheel. In that one moment, he looked at her, and their eyes locked. Gena knew him from somewhere, but did not remember from where. Wondering whether she should say hi, she just sat still as a stop sign and stared at him.
Wondering if he should drop her ass too, he pointed the Uzi straight at her head and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. He tried the shit again. The clip was empty. The thought went through him, Yeah, dis is her lucky day. He threw the gun on the floor of the caddy and sped away.
Gena sat there shaken and confused. She'd never had a gun pointed at her before. She just knew her beauty saved her. Little did the simpleton know, she had almost become a statistic. Her heart was pounding like drops of hail on a windowpane. Talking her hands into obedience, she wrapped her shaky fingers about the steering wheel and instructed her right foot to come back to life and ease up on the brake, moving slowly toward the exit. She carefully looked both ways before entering onto Fifty-second Street. She drove in silence, creeping down the street, not even listening to the radio.
She couldn't believe what had just happened, and she kept checking the rearview mirror to see if anyone was behind her. Man, her mind was playing tricks on her. The burgundy Cadillac was so clear in her mind and the license plate tag, Mafia-23, was even clearer.
Reaching her favorite parking spot between the two trees in front of her door, she noticed Jamal's-her boyfriend-Pathfinder parked down the street. She looked close and couldn't believe it. Jamal was sleeping in his jeep outside her door!
She walked over to the jeep and knocked on the glass window. Jamal jumped out of what looked like a very uncomfortable sleeping position.
"Where the fuck you been?"
Gena just looked at him, as if she didn't know what he was talking about.
"I spent the night over Sahirah's, Jamal."
"Oh, that gold-diggin' bitch with the matching hat and shovel?" Climbing out of the jeep, he continued, "I thought I told you I didn't want you hanging around her!"
"I know what you told me, Jamal, but this is a free country and I can do what I ..." The words were lost as her body made its way to the pavement with the force of Jamal's backhand. Then he picked her up and began his accusations.
"I know you been with another man, bitch. Ain't no way you was sleeping with Sahirah unless you and Sahirah is fucking each other. Shit, I been out this motherfucker all night, waiting for you!"
The tears had already begun. "I wasn't with nobody."
"You're a motherfucking liar! Why you got to lie?" The question was stressed with another pop upside her head, causing her to spin around and fall into some bushes.
Deciding it was best to remain in contact with the earth, she pleaded with him, "Jamal, I wasn't doin' nothing." She looked up and saw Ms. Gladys looking out her third floor window, watching everything. Rising to face him, she said, "Jamal, I'm sorry. I won't go out with her anymore."
"Where the fuck did you go?"
"I didn't go nowhere." Slap was the sound that could be heard as he hit her again.
"Gena, don't make me kill you out this motherfucker. Where you been? I said where the fuck you been all night long?"
Too scared to say she had gone to a party in Harlem, she just looked at him.
"I'm getting tired of your shit."
"Jamal, I don't want to fight with you. I'm hungry, and I'm tired."
"That's because your trick ass was out in the street all night."
The accusations gathered storm clouds to her eyes. "I'm not no trick, Jamal."
Focusing directly on his right eye, she realized at that moment any feeling she had for him was gone and she was ready to kick him in his nuts and run for safety, as usual. The nigga was crazy; it was in his eyes. If he walked away and she never saw him again, it would make no difference to her.
Excerpted from True To The Game by Teri Woods Copyright © 1994 by Teri Woods. Excerpted by permission.
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