This is the sixth in a series of short stories written to music. Empty Wrapping was written while listening to Public Enemy’s album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back
Come on, turn it up
Can I get a crowd to turn up
Making the music for none
Rocking and rolling my way through the slums
The way I act you could say I ain’t a nun
Fucking bitches making um want more of um
That’s what they see
When their heart goes flutter
Sticky sticky in my butter
Yeah they all know me but her
friends are all lauging bout it though
wanna make um wait until they see my show
maybe then they won’t boo no more
Jared’s felt something on his arm, and he swiveled his body around. There was this guy with his hand out. Jared took one of his earbuds out playing the Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe instrumental that he’d been rhyming with.
“You’re good,” said the man. Deep lines in his brow showed age.
Jared looked up and down the alley. He didn’t think anyone else hung around here. He didn’t like other people listening to his unfinished… whatever, he just had to get out of here.
“Do you have any change?”
Jared shook his head. God this was really bringing him down. This what fiends look like?
“No, course not. You’re all rapping about money and women so fleetingly, and none of ya’ll got a piece for Al.”
“Whatever, man,” said Jared. Just looking at the guy made Jared squirm. He was ready to get out of here.
“Why don’t you take a hand at talking about something else for once? Why don’t you,” he said sticking his finger into Jared’s chest, “say something decent.”
“The hell you talking to me anyway?”
“Who else am I gonna talk to. I figured I might as well try and help someone out before I go.”
“What you got the bug or something?”
“Maybe. Listen, all I’m trying to say is that if you want your work to mean something you gotta put something real in it. You feel me? It’s gotta be one hundred percent you.”
He rammed his finger into Jared again.
“And,” he continued, “if you ain’t real enough to put yourself out there, then who’s gonna fuck with you?”
“Yeah, cool man. Whatever.”
Jared shook his head and popped his earbud back in. He bobbed his head and tried to get back into the rhythm.
“Naw, man,” said Carlos laughing. “Naw, naw it’s like he’s just sitting there with this like mound of coke just staring into the camera. It’s whack.”
“Yeah, yeah. Hey did you see Nikki’s new video. It’s, Jesus man, you see the way Drake was looking at that booty! Ooooh, boy looking like he praying to god.”
The room bust into laughter. This place was their sanctuary. A red walled room filled with junk, empty wrappers, and comfy enough chairs.
“Anyway, you brought a new beat right Chris?” said Jared.
“Yeah, yeah,” said Chris. “You know I got some new synth kinda work I got in there.”
Chris jacked his laptop into the sound system. Then the beat started. Bass rumbled through Jared’s system. He closed his eyes and listened for the boom bap. Feel it. He tapped his foot along. He found the beats groove. It was alright. He could jam to it, but he wasn’t sure it was good enough. It was kind of flat. It didn’t have that kick that the best beats brought.
“Dude, this is awesome!” said Carlos slapping the arms of his recliner.
“Um,” said Jared.
“Yeah, we’re def using this,” said Jay.
Chris grinned and bobbed along with the song.
“So Chris, you still got that connect right?” said Carlos.
“It ain’t no fucking connect, just a fucking dealer dumbass,” said Chris.
“Yeah, I know you know but it sounds real cool when we call it a connect. Like all Reasonable Doubt or whatever.”
“I’m reloaded!” yelled Jay.
The room bust in to laughter. Jared smiled and shook his head.
“Whatever motherfucker, yeah I got your ‘connect’,” said Chris waving his hands in the air. “Hungry motherfuckers.” He chuckled.
As Chris handed a package out to Carlos and Jay, Jared thought about their set. What the hell were they doing.
“Hey, what do you guys think about rewriting some shit.”
“Huh?” said Carlos.
“Like all our songs are about the same shit. I’m thinking we should like just change it up a bit.”
“What are you talking about?” said Jay.
“I mean, like how we gonna get noticed if we’re just like everybody else.”
“Listen motherfucker you wanna write some new shit do it some other time,” said Jay. “I got us a show tonight, not next fucking week. We on stage tonight baby!”
“Yeah, yeah,” said Jared. “Just an idea I guess.”
The Chronic wound down and Jared stuck his earbuds in his pocket. This was the place. The stone here in the alley was old. Jared really didn’t know anything about the history of the city.
Jared looked around. He didn’t know why he thought that old dude would be here again. He probably didn’t live around here anyway. Jared kept his head down and went on down the alley.
“Yo motherfucker give it up!”
Jared froze. He heard the sound of a beat down. A scream. He turned his head to look. Two guys were beating on somebody.
“Come on motherfucker! Think you can put one over on us!”
Jared’s heart was on overdrive. Every scream put him on edge. He couldn’t take his eyes away. The old dude was here. He was on the ground. Getting pulped. Jared swallowed hard. His body was telling him a million things at once. Run. Fight. Everything in between.
Jared wished he could do something, but he knew that wasn’t him. He’d never been in a fight in his life, and he wasn’t going to start like this. Jared’s feet won out. His heart clenched. He dashed out through the alley. He didn’t look back, but his mind wouldn’t stop going over it. He didn’t stop running.
“Yo motherfucker where you been at?” said Carlos.
“Shit look at this motherfucker thinking he so cool he can show up whenever,” laughed Jay.
Jared kept his head down, his hands in the front pocket of his hood.
“Yo… what’s up,” said Carlos.
“Nothing,” said Jared.
“You ready to tear it up out there, hey! I seen plenty fine bitches out there you know?” said Carlos.
“Yeah boy!” said Jay dropping into a stance and throwing a few punches.
“Nah,” said Jared. “You guys go on. I just came by to tell you guys, I’m out.”
“What?” said Jay.
“The fuck you talking about?” said Carlos. “You the best rhymer in the group. I got this gig showing um your cut you pussy bitch.”
“I can’t rap those fucking lines,” said Jared. “their fucking shit. I don’t know about you but I never been in a fight. I’ve never held a gun motherfucker. Those rhymes aren’t me, you feel me.”
“Their lies? Whatever fucker it’s what they want to hear,” said Carlos.
“Hey, yo, you guys have a good show.”
Jared turned around and smiled. He through up his hood and walked out.
Now he just had to figure out who he was.