Boom! My pops had opened the door, and there I sat doing evil things with intentions to increase my profit. My hands were preparing things to sell to whoever wanted them. I had the product to sell and it was an open market for my product. There was never a time when demand wasn’t there for supply. If you had the product to sell you made money for-sure—very quickly too.

Sometimes it was slower days but for the most part it sold pretty easy. I think of it as a ghetto stock market constantly going up and down. That night when I got caught by my pops, his face was in disbelief. He couldn’t believe what I was doing; matter of fact I couldn’t believe it either.

I could tell this was one thing that would stick in his mind forever; it broke his heart and my mother’s. My mother took it pretty hard, but not as hard as my father. My mother was a little more understanding about it, because I could tell her the whole reason why this had happened and why I was doing what I was doing. My mother and I had that very close relationship. It was one of those mother and only son things.

I could always tell my mother anything about me and she would understand.

My neighborhood is a suburban type hood, not the slums, so don’t think of it as the ghetto-hood but a hood. My hood and I, we’re the outskirts. Not poverty stricken at all, but not rich either. We’re parts of it just not in the heart of it.

By the time I reached 12, all around me I saw a certain type of crowd, or maybe I just wanted to only see this crowd. People with totally different lifestyles, a different system as far as norms of life and money go. People who will do the most terrible things to increase their profit. My family was more of the class of straight, regular working people who respected everybody equally, but these people were the total opposite. The way they moved was way different than basic rules and laws that were made for a so-called regular society. These rules were actual street rules that were never written down for just anybody to read and follow. I learned rules of this lifestyle from older dudes in my neighborhood. This secret society existed way before the first slave even stepped foot on American soil. It even existed before the Roman Empire ruled most of the world. It dates back probably before the beginning of time. It just so happens in this day and time it exists real badly in the lower-class community.

My father didn’t give a damn why. All that mattered to him was that he caught me and that was it. I got put out the house for a while and lived with my sister. My sisters were shocked but they had already gotten news from people in my neighborhood that I was hanging with a certain crowd so they pretty much expected it. They understood the meaning of birds of a feather flock together. That whole time I was put out it made me go through a very depressing point at a very young age of 14. I knew I had to change a lot about me and I had to change it quick.

The change didn’t come quick as I thought it would. It took a lot more bad things to happen to me for me to finally understand the lifestyle wasn’t worth it. It actually took me getting my two door coupe on 19-inch rims with a very high cost sound system stolen from me. Before that crazy accident happened, I had gotten robbed in the same car a few months before. I wasn’t living a little guy lifestyle, I was for-real getting money in the streets. I was putting out shining light that was shining too bright. I had a big plate and I was showing it off carelessly and when you do things like that, somebody that’s hungry will definitely take off of it. And they will get it any way they have to, from using guns and violence, or just swindling it out of you. The lifestyle and money is so addicting these accidents only made me think of slowing down a little and being more careful about myself not actually stopping. I didn’t know it would take three more years to make the actual change.

This fact of understanding two different worlds pretty much interested me as a young dude coming up. It wasn’t just what I saw anymore; it was me actually being involved with it. I think what kind of got me on this road of being in a whole new dangerous world was the fact that as a kid, maybe ages between 5-10 years old, my mother and father had light arguments. I can remember one night, my mother and father had an argument. I was in the room so pissed at my pops because it was my mom he was arguing with. Then in the midst of me being pissed, my mother came in the room and grabbed my hand and was like “We’re leaving.” I instantly got my clothes on and was like “Let’s go.” I didn’t care where we went, as long as it was away from my pops, so my moms could relax. I really didn’t like when they had arguments. It did something to me that made me think differently about my dad. It basically pushed me away from him and made me try to find comfort in the street life.

He wasn’t abusing my moms or anything like that. I just felt like nobody should and could raise their voice and talk to her like that. My family had problems just like any other family, but the problems are different for different types of families. Having problems doesn’t necessarily lessen family values but in some cases it increases a family value—makes it stronger and in my case, from what I saw as a kid up to now, it ultimately made my family very strong. From my sister and me all the way down to my teenage nephew and my so-so adorable niece, we all have thinking minds and potential to carry on the family to a higher level.

But back then, me being a kid, I didn’t and couldn’t understand what was going on, and the fact that coming up I guess I was what you called “a mother’s boy” made me stray away from my pops as far as learning certain essential rules of right and wrong.

When I strayed away I somehow got drawn into life based on street rules. Things work a lot differently when you’re dealing with life that is really based on crime.

There is a saying that if you’re involved in this lifestyle you got to keep the grass cut low in order see the snakes when they’re coming. If you’re involved, it’s essential to understand and know these rules, because if you didn’t it could really mean disaster and a screwed up life forever.

Far as my pops and I went, it wasn’t as ugly and deep. It wasn’t like I showed no love for my pops and learned nothing from him growing up. That was my father, and I respected that, but the rules he posted were too hard for me. I’m a freedom type person with an exploring mind. Everything— school or not— seemed educational to me, and me being me, conflicted with his rules a lot. Often my pops tell me if I would have had an older bother that I might not have been so willing to get involved in that type of lifestyle. You know the older brother figure being around, might have taught me the things that I can’t really get taught by my parents when it comes to growing up in a world that’s not all good, and probably would have gave me the insight on how to balance my pops’ rules with my exploring mind. I don’t know and really don’t care, but thinking about it seems like it probably would have been nice. In the process of hanging with older dudes who were living the lifestyle, I started to understand a totally different world compared to the world I had.


I was shocked when I saw my closest older partner coming through the door of my other partner’s house. All I remember is that the gray and baby blue Nautica jogging suit he had on. I asked “what happen to you?”

He replied with his face swollen and whipped up, “I just ran from the FEDS.” Men In Black type figures policing the streets for aliens of illegal business.

This life is for real I thought.

I instantly saw the light, and it hit me like a locomotive striking something on the track. This was a guy who took me under his wing, showed me things about the life he lived. He always looked out for me no matter what—from money issues to advice about girls. This was like the brother I needed at the time. When I looked at his face, I could see he didn’t know what he was going to do.

After that shock I knew this isn’t a life I really wanted to stay involved in. I knew it was time for me to do something else.

My partner gave me his gold chain with the bling-bling piece to go with it before he turned himself in. It was a very beautiful necklace. He told me I had potential beyond this and I should look into doing something else before I got in too deep.

At that point I knew that a true friend knows and tells you things in your best interest. I saw him in the courtroom and it put something in the back of my head that was weird.

I was 17 years old sitting in a courtroom when I was supposed to be in class.

Then it hit me: class, school, I got to stay in school and better myself. They gave him the verdict: 10 years for selling numerous amounts of ounces to an undercover federal agent. My partner had been getting it on when it came to hustling.

He wasn’t shortchanging it at all, but all that money couldn’t stop him from going to prison. I learned that if you’re not wise about the choices you make, the choices you make can stop your life no matter if its years behind bars or six-feet-deep.

Today I can look at myself and be very proud of the path I took. I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a pre-engineer degree. I started taking classes at University of Kentucky to finish up my mechanical engineer degree. I’m not living life on the run, and my moms is not worried about the things I’m doing while I’m not at home.

Post Script

It was about 4-5 years since my friend had turned himself in. He wasn’t supposed to get out of federal prison until 85 percent of his time was served, but the lawyer he had handling his case helped him to get out sooner. I heard he was out but I didn’t know where. He didn’t just get released back to society. He had to serve some time in a halfway house. In a halfway, inmates get released for work and good behavior for a period of time in society. I didn’t know where he was.

I was with his brother one day, and we was riding listen to a song his brother did with Juvenile.

He was explaining to me that he was taking rap serious so his partners and brother won’t have to deal and get caught up in the game like his brother did. I was listening like “Damn you right.” There are so many other ways in the world to make money. Now I’m on that type of page, there are other ways to make money.

While we were riding, discussing future plans, I happened to look at the corner on Broadway and 2nd St. I saw my partner standing outside looking confused, the look that was on his face was a glad to be home but so much changed since I been here look. I instantly did a U-turn on Broadway. My partner muscle was so built I couldn’t believe it. We started to talk about my life.

As we were doing so I pretty much explained to him the type of effect his life had on my life and how it contributed to where I’m at now, and where I want to be in the future. He couldn’t believe that I was really on the school tip seriously.

It made him relaxed about the future because the younger generation is thinking more and doing less. He knows that these thoughts have him in them. I know for a fact a person like my nephew and kids around his age are not going to look up to me and want to do something just to get more money in their pocket. A person around my nephew’s age is going to see me and know it’s better out there than living a street lifestyle; they will know an education and a good strong mind will pay off in the end. Since my older partner is out, I’m trying to ensure that he will not have to get back into the life that got him doing time in the first place.

From this I got to increase my profit margin by using my mind and not a certain product. But not just for my friends and me, but for a world that is very behind when it comes to society, that world of the unexplainable. I don’t just want to have a lot of money. I want to have money with an impact to show a lot of people in lower class, and middle-class its different ways to live. Just because you see everyday crime doesn’t mean that you got to embrace the same crime life to get out of the position you’re at.

I want to show that it takes more hard work and determination than that. Crime is the more dangerous but easier lifestyle. I read in a book once in order to have it all you got to do it all. n

Montez Malone is from Louisville and grew up there. He went to high school in Louisville at Central High School magnet program. He attended Eastern Kentucky for four years and graduated from there with an associate degree in pre-engineering (an associate in Science). He now attends the University of Kentucky to finish his Mechanical Engineering degree.