"yo its derek how have you been? jus sendin this letter to let you know whats up... and to say thanks for havin our back. i been thinkin about them short stories you wrote, and i been tryin to write one myself but i cant think of anything to write about. anyway ima keep tryin and maybe ill send you something so you can tell me if its good or not. besides all that im guessin you heard about what happened to jamal, but if you didnt hear he got shot over some bullshit. it aint have nothin to do with the beef over that drug shit, spider said he died because he never listened. anyway jamal and the main guy here were tight so hes lookin after me i guess, he gave me a job but im smart enough to know that i cant be around these people because they will influence who i become. learned that from one of your stories. aight so ill probly send you another message sometime... ill be sure to send the story to. peace. ps: spider is the guy who came and got me forgot to mention that."

The line that continues to repeat itself in my head is "he got shot over some bullshit." Derek's demeanor seems to represent a person who has been around so long that death is just another part of life to them. Even if it's the death of a close one.

There is no return address on the envelope, so I assume he didn't want me to reply. Or maybe he didn't expect one. I also notice that the address on the envelope only has a street number and a street name. I put the letter back in the envelope and place the envelope next to a desk near my shelf of composition notebooks, and then I go outside, walk through the alley behind my apartment building, and turn the corner to see that Spider is still there.

I debate whether I should engage him or not, but seeing as my survival rate will dramatically increase if I know the details of what's going on, I decide to do so. I slowly walk up to his car and knock on the window of the passenger seat. It turns out he was sleeping.

He wakes up with all types of paranoia, and when he realizes who I am, he tells me to get in the car. After I get in he starts to drive away. He asks me how I knew he was watching me, but I tell him that I didn't. I tell him I was just walking home and happened to see him in the car. He makes a right turn.

He tells me that I need to be more careful, that there may be people watching me. I ask him who would be watching me, and he tells me that I don't really have to worry about that anymore. He says he's been sitting on my house for weeks waiting for the other crew to pop out, but they still haven't done so, and because they haven't done so they probably never knew that Jamal and Derek were hiding out here in the first place. He makes a left turn.

He takes a glance at the rear-view mirror and then says, "You still gotta be careful though." He tells me about how a few days into the sitting, two cops started to follow him. He makes another left turn, and shortly after I see what he means when an unmarked but obvious police vehicle makes the same left turn. Damn you Jamal.

Spider tells me that if the cops knew about Jamal, and if they were following him, then they might know about me as well. If they didn't know about me then, they certainly know about me now since I just got into the fucking car of someone who is probably a suspect in something. I ask him about Derek. "Derek? Derek's a strong kid. You don't gotta worry about him. We'll take care of him." That's what he tells me. I ask him about Jamal. The driver looks at the passenger, but the driver does not say anything.

I ask him if he's doing this for me because I helped out his friends, and he says he's doing it "because the main motherfucker has this thing about respect." I'm guessing he means something along the lines of if you show him decency, he will show you decency, and because I showed Jamal and Derek decency he is showing me that decency back. Then Spider tells me about how he isn't doing this because he believes in the same thing, he's doing it because he pissed off the main guy and the main guy is forcing him to do it. He tells me about how when the main dude tells you to do something, you have to do it, because if no one listens to the head, to the man who has the experience, there will be no order. Not exactly in those words.

After a few more left and right turns, we are back in my neighborhood and Spider decides to drop me off a few blocks from my apartment building. Before we depart, he tells me that if those cops decide to drop by, not to tell them shit. I tell him that I don't really know shit, and that I would like to keep it that way.

For the next three days, Spider continues to sit on my location and then on the fourth day he disappears, but that doesn't matter because by now I'm already in the system. Now I find myself turning on my television and putting it on my favorite channel. It's been almost a week and there is still coverage on the school shooting. One teacher killed, one student killed, one security guard injured and a jogger who seems to have had nothing to do with anything injured.

Now my phone is ringing, and when I pick it up I hear Kathleen's voice. Looks like she's back into my life. She talks about how they are going to do a massive prayer at church tomorrow for her son, and if I would like to come. I guess it's nice to know that the fact that he is her son comes before the fact that he is a homosexual. The next morning I find myself wearing clothes I haven't worn for so long around the type of people I haven't talked to in so long in a place I haven't been to in so long.