Monday, March 05, 2007

The "Old Man" & "Touchdown"

"Touchdown" was a young boy born in Memphis, TN, raised in theScutterfield District. A young boy of 8 or 9 years of age, growing up in the projects and being raised by his grandparents. Like many young boys at this age, he was extremely impressionable, his eyes full of wonder within his dysfunctional environment, an adventurous young boy to say the least. His area of Memphis was like many hoods, impoverished, riddled with crime and street games. Individuals involved in life's struggle, just trying to survive the times.

Growing up with two older Uncles in their late teens involved in "street life", "Touchdown" became enamored at a very young age with the "street games" and "preying" on those weaker within life. He would often listen late at night to the older teens and young males talk of their endeavors within "drugs, pimping, robbing and gang banging". Late in elementary school, he was excelling in sports and had many friends due to his Uncle's position in the neighborhood. He soon followed in his Uncle's shoes and portraits of negativity, turning his small "click" into his crew of "neutral"followers. Not yet "plugged" into a gang, "Touchdown" looked for "youthful" ways to attain money for himself and "crew". They played arcade games, ate pizza and hung out with the older teens and male individuals within their "hood". Often they would make "beer runs" for the older gang members and this seemed like an honor to them. But they all wanted to be like the individuals around them who sported new cars, jewelry, girls, smoked dope and partied.

There was this "Old Man" who lived down the street from the projects who had two dogs. He had a fence around his yard and often left the dogs in the yard to take fresh air. This "Old Man" was a centurion in his neighborhood. He had survived time and was filled with life's knowledge, pain and suffering. He would watch all of the coming and goings on his street. One day the "Old Man's" two dogs got out. "Touchdown" and his "crew" walked by and the "Old Man" asked them if they had seen his dogs? If he found them for him, he would reward them."Touchdown" knew where the dogs had gone.

Everyday the "Old Man"would take the dogs for a walk to the park. "Touchdown" knew this was where the dogs probably were. So he and his friends went to the park in search of the dogs. Sure enough, they found them running and playing in the park. They took the dogs back to the "Old Man". Grateful and true to his word, he rewarded the boys. He gave them enough money to get a pizza and play a couple of arcade games.

It wasn't long before "Touchdown" turned this event in life into a money making game. He and his "crew" would go by the "Old Man's" house and let the dogs out. Then go and hang out with older gang members for a while before walking past the "Old Man's" house once again. They knew there was only one place the dogs would go, to the park, the only place the "Old Man" would take them. They'd come by and the "Old Man" would ask them to find his dogs again. This left the young "crew" with inflated egos, because now they had a money making game too, just like the older gang members in the neighborhood.

At 40, "Touchdown" is now doing a heavy sentence for gang related offenses and organized crime. Being "plugged" into the "GangsterDisciples" in his young teens by his "Uncle", he soon rose through the ranks of the organization. He had his own crew and set. He was also a star athlete. Many within his neighborhood protected "Touchdown" hoping that he would be one of the "lucky" survivors who made it out of their hood. True to their dreams and hopes, "Touchdown" excelled in sports in High School. He became a protected fixture in the neighborhood. He was left out of the harsher side of "gang banging". He became a State All-Around Athlete and attained a Football Scholarship to a University where he played Quarterback. In his sophomore year of College in one game he blew out his knee. His dreams and desires came to an end. He returned to his "hood" and those in his "crew".

All of this time he had been protected, family and individuals within the community were counting on him. Once again "Touchdown" picked up the "street life" within the GD Organization and excelled. After all, in his heart he owed many of those around him who had protected him from the darkest chapters within life.

At age 40, one-third of his life spent behind bars, "Touchdown" is one of a handful from his set that has reached 40. This is only due to the fact that he has been incarcerated within State and Federal Penal Facilities. As he sits now in his cell, buried within time, many of those he shared life with taken by the "games" and "plays" of the streets. He sits back and thinks about that "Old Man". Was he as stupid as they all thought, or was he truly one of life's Angels? He knew everything that went on in his neighborhood, he had nothing better to do, then sit and watch time pass him by. Did he give the young boys money, hoping that they wouldn't follow in the footsteps of others in his neighborhood? Was he hoping as he saw these young boys open his gate and pass by his house, that they would be the future and the real "warriors" in life? Could they possibly by the ones who wouldn't fall into life's traps and pick up the "struggle" where he left off.

The "Old Man" now gone with the passage of time. "Touchdown" sees life through his eyes a little late and the hard way. He lies in his cell and thinks about these younger days in his life. The "Old Man"didn't look so stupid anymore…for "Touchdown's" only desire now, was to take up life where the "Old Man" had left off. Sitting in a small house, in front of a window in his neighborhood, watching the "struggle" and "the life" claiming its victims. Maybe, just maybe, he will be able to finish what the "Old Man" had started and find the new "Warriors" to fight the "struggle" before "life" claims them.

I leave you as I came with a great deal of love and respect for life.
Lady Gray
This article is dedicated to "Touchdown" presently incarcerated in a Federal Penal Facility in the State of TN


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