It’s our third time here at this same time, so you’d think someone would have thought to bring an umbrella. To be honest with you, I hate these fools, but this kind of mission is not one you do alone. Trust me, I have tried. I tried two times last summer and failed. So, today, I’m back under the scorching summer sun, standing in front of Cuny Island’s only gas station with Ted and No-Limit as we wait for the man.
The man comes at different times, but whenever you see him, you feel like he has always come at that time. I think it’s because of the instant gratification his products bring; when he has sold them all – and he usually does within seven to ten minutes – the people here will pay any amount to lay their hands on some just so they don’t face reality for a few hours. No-Limit thinks the man shows up at 2 p.m., but, you see, No-Limit is a cocky idiot named “Michael” who started making everyone call him “No-Limit” two years ago because he thinks there’s no limit to his finesse. I think it’s because there’s no limit to his stupidity and arrogance.
We’ve been waiting for the man for about thirty minutes now. According to Ted, the time is 2:35 p.m. (like I already told you, No-Limit is an idiot). Anytime now, the lady who manages the gas station will start staring at us through the window. Then, she’ll walk up to us and threaten to call the police on us. We know this because that’s exactly what happened the last two times we were on this mission.
So, why are we waiting for the man here regardless? You see, we know the lady will never call the police on us. To survive in Cuny Island, you must learn that, here, things are never what they seem. There is a whorehouse in the basement of the gas station’s store. Only a few people know this. One of them is No-Limit’s drunk uncle who had mentioned to him one night that the whorehouse usually caters to truck drivers on their break, and right now, I can see two semi-trucks parked beside the gas station. You see, you can’t hate someone’s presence so much that you’ll jeopardize your business. That’s another thing you learn on the streets of Cuny Island.
To get into this business, you don’t necessarily need the man. Unfortunately, the three of us, like most folks in Cuny Island, don’t have a car. You see, Cuny Island is not really an island. People call this place an island only because outsiders don’t come here since our streets are the shadiest and most violent, especially in the summer. The man is the only supplier who has enough products and is bold enough to drive up here. So, we need the man. And so do Zion and Big T – the reason we have failed at this mission two times already.
Zion and Big T dominate every seasonal super-small business in this part of Cuny Island. They’re five years older than us, so they’ve had a good headstart. I’ll be honest with you and admit I admire Zion. He is a cool-headed smart dude, and that’s why I don’t understand why he is friends with someone as violent and whimsical as Big T. Every brain needs a muscle, I guess.
I’m not sure about many things, but I’m sure I can’t forget the first time I saw Big T because, after that day, anytime someone calls something ugly, I imagine Big T’s face. But that’s not why I hate the sight of the dude. You see, three summers ago, Ted and I got into a fight because I got word that he had been talking to my girl. So, when I saw him walking home alone that night, I walked up to him and told him to back off. The fool wouldn’t stop telling me that Maya was his girl, so, of course, I punched him in the face. He punched back. I gave him a one-two combo, and we started to really go at it. All of a sudden, something sturdy hit my right leg, and I was on the floor. Dumb Big T had saved his brother by attacking me from behind. Only cowards attack from behind.
Because the dumb sneaky giant got to the man before us, No-Limit, Ted and I have failed to secure the products twice. When I decided to join this business last summer, I planned to charge one hundred and fifty percent of the original price of a unit, and, as a result, push Zion and Big T out of the market since they charge double the original price of a unit. But I quickly discovered it was impossible to find the man before Zion and Big T had bought all his products, so I stopped trying. This May, I started to look around again, and since I had heard Big T almost beat Ted to death last Fall, I approached him with my idea and told him what I needed from him. So, because of Ted, I know where to wait for the man and meet him before Big T does. Unfortunately, because Ted always opens his big mouth when he’s mad, especially at Big T, Big T discovered my plan and told Zion who then told Big T to intercept the man in front of the gun store a block away from the gas station instead. Big T bragged about the finesse to Ted two nights ago, and No-Limit was so mad when Ted told us last night that he came up with the plan in play this afternoon.
You see, the reason I hate No-Limit is the same reason I have him around. He is cunning and full of himself. The first time I met him, he finessed a couple of bucks out of me, and he is yet to apologize. Trust me, I’m not holding my breath. Most people would be ashamed if their father was in prison for planning burglaries but not No-Limit. No-Limit wants to be his dad – and that’s his problem – I just want my products.
Here’s No-Limit’s plan. Around noon today, Ted went to Big T, appealed to his dumb ego, and apologized for helping me try to meet the man. Then, he gave Big T a bottle of Diet Coke – his favorite drink – which had been spiked with the nine pills of Benadryl I got from Maya’s mum’s medicine cabinet last night.
So, right now, Big T is snoring like the greedy giant he is – I made sure Ted confirmed this at 1 p.m. But this sun, this sun is killing me. Someone should have brought an umbrella.
“You’re sure I can’t sit on your cooler?”
That’s No-Limit talking. To be honest with you, I’ve been considering sitting on the cooler myself, but what kind of businessman would I be if I convert my storage into a stool? So, I ignore No-Limit’s pestering. He’ll find something else to whine about.
“Finally in business! Finally in business!”
It’s Ted this time. I glance at him, then, I look in the direction he’s staring at, and I see why he’s excited. How is it that I’m noticing it just now? The man’s truck has just passed the gun store. The man is only a few feet away from us, and Big T and Zion are nowhere to be found.
As I grab my cooler, and the boys and I run to the man, for the third time at this gas station this summer, everything I want to happen in the next two minutes plays in my head, and this time, I’m sure my dreams will come true. I’ll buy fifty units of ice cream from the man. I’ll give No-Limit and Ted the two ice creams I had promised them, and I’ll walk home as another proud twelve-year-old entrepreneur of Cuny Island while the ice cream man’s song plays behind me, and other neighborhood kids rush past me in the direction of the ice cream man’s truck. But this sun… I should have brought an umbrella.