Grains Of Sand
Crackerjack parted the strands of beads strung across the doorway.
Same wisps of strawberry incense. Same black velvet murals, New York and Paris skylines, painted in deep, setting sun oranges and Crayola blues.
Same old Reefer, chillin’ in his boxers and silk bathrobe, a knit Rasta hat skewed sideways over his shoulder length dreads. Pump action shotty on his lap.
Reefer’s “office” was in front of his recliner. What you saw was what he sold. His merchandise was neatly displayed inside a glass-topped coffee table that also functioned as Reefer’s footstool.
Reefer blew a chain of smoke o-rings out of his mouth. “Look who’s back. Crackerjack Jones. Sup, Crack?”
Crackerjack jammed his balled fists into his hoodie’s pockets and sat down on the sofa, unsure where to begin.
The beginning seemed as good a place as any.
“He had a gun, Reef.”
“Everbody and they ho packs party favors with rounds in the chamber. You know that.”
“Said you owed ’em money. Said you’d reneged. Mackie-“
“Mackie run when he should’ve ducked. Mackie wasn’t smart. Now Mackie dead.”
“I died too, Reef...for three minutes. ’Least that’s what the docs told my Pop.”
“I heard. Three minutes...Now that’s some serious shit, but it ain’t miraculous shit. You want some real mind blowin’, Jesus Hallelujah shit, wake up in a morgue, two hours after your ass is pronounced dead.”
Reefer set his blunt on the lip of an ashtray, popped the lid on a tin, reached inside, and pulled out a handful of shotgun shells. “Don’t you worry ‘bout what happened. A whole lotta brothers is lookin’ for that fool’s trigger happy, sorry ass. Motherfucker better be fuckin’ Casper, best know how to vanish if he wants to keep his hide. We gonna put a cherry on some ice cream. I promise you that.”
Reefer knew as much about thuggin’ as he did about death. He always talked mad smack about payback. Earning respect. Gettin’ revenge. He also bragged about ghosting “The Other Side”. Shot seven times, he’d died four. Or, was it six? The number varied, depending on which member of Reefer’s crew was asked.
“Anything fucked up ever happen after you died, Reef?”
“On what?” Crackerjack said.
“What you mean by ‘fucked up’.”
“Fucked up shit happenin’ when...after you come back?”
“You tryin’ to say you been to the beach, Crack.”
“I ain’t never left The Loop.”
“Sho did, for three minutes.”
“C’mon, Reef. Stop being all Gandalf and shit. Just answer the question.”
“Look, it ain’t hard to comprehend.” Reefer set the butt of the shotgun’s stock on his thigh and grabbed a shell. “See, sometimes dyin’ is like goin’ to the beach.” He pushed the shell up and past the shotgun’s loading flap until there was a click, and then reached for another shell. “And beaches is made of sand, and sand, well, it looks all the same, except it ain’t. Each grain is different, jus’ like snowflakes. You jus’ can’t tell ’cause it’s all microscopic and shit.”
“I didn’t see any beaches, Reef, but something ain’t right. I been seein’ other shit. I get this tingly feeling when I’m near-“
“Motherfucker goes to the beach and comes back motherfuckin’ Spiderman.”
“When I walk past folks, stand next to ’em, bump shoulders on the subway, fucked up shit flashes inside my head. I see ’em older, younger, dyi-”
“You know the worst thing about going to the beach, Crack?”
“Man, I told you, I ain’t never left-“
“The worst thing ‘bout going to the beach happens when you leave. See, that sand gets all attached, finds crevices...Places to hide. Bad thing is though, it ain’t supposed to leave with you. Them grains is supposed to stay behind. Jus’ like you and me.”
“Stop messin’. I’m bein’ serious. I ain’t slept in days. Whadda I do?”
“I ain’t playin’. What you seein’ is some real Star Trek, time glimpse shit. Folks’ future, past, present, all rolled into one freaky, mind-fuck blunt. I know because I seen it too.” Reefer racked the shotgun’s slide. “We ain’t supposed to be here, and there’s only one thing you can do to try and set shit right. Take the grains back.”
Reefer aimed the shotgun at Crackerjack. “Ya gots to die to get to the beach.”
Crackerjack bolted to his feet. His heartbeat thudded in his ears. Stay, run, death was certain either way. Pussy out? Sac up, take the bullet like a man? Dying the first time hadn’t been so bad, just like going to sleep. Reefer never’d lied. His opinions were Gospel truth.
“You ready, Crack?”
Crackerjack squeezed his eyelids closed. “Whadda I do if this don’t work?”
Reefer pulled the trigger. “Keep tryin’ till it do.”