Str8 Till Dark: GangmatesBy: Marcus Greene
A part of Wyatt wondered if he should have just turned himself in. He would have ended up serving twelve to fifteen years in prison, but he could have gotten through that; he would have been treated like a king because he refused to snitch. Instead, he ran. Wyatt had always been fast, so he got away from the cops that night in downtown Baltimore.
But then what? He was going to be a fugitive for the rest of his life. They had his fingerprints. He even considered burning them off, but he figured that would be suspicious — who but a fugitive would be walking around with burned-up fingertips? Besides that, they had a picture of his face too, and they could probably find a DNA sample without too much difficulty.
Was this going to be the rest of his life? He was staying in a barn — an actual barn — behind Eddie Winthrop’s house. Eddie was brother to Chuckie Dubs, Baltimore’s most powerful Nine Tat. It was Chuckie who had arranged this and figured out way for Wyatt to sneak out of the city in the trunk of some white bitch’s car.
He didn’t understand how an urban, sophisticated thug like Chuckie Dubs had a brother who was some rural black redneck living in a dilapidated shack. Hadn’t they grown up together? With the same parents? Why’d did they live and talk differently as though they had nothing in common?
The only mitigating quality that made Eddie’s run-down old house reasonable was that it sat on several acres of former farmland, which was dotted by barns and unused stables. There was plenty of room for someone like Wyatt to hide out in.
So that was where Wyatt stayed for now. Eddie had told him he’d be able to move into the house once things quieted down, but for now they needed him to be well away from the road, away from any prying eyes that might happen by.
It all seemed reasonable until that first night, when Wyatt tried to sleep on the air mattress Eddie had given him. He was grateful for all the help he got from the Winthrop brothers, but he was nervous about how sustainable it was — would he be living like this for the rest of his life? What would be the point? He wondered how much extra time he’d get for running away if he turned himself in now.
Footfalls resonated in the rickety barn. Someone was coming in. Wyatt sat up, heart pounding. What if it was a SWAT team? Maybe Eddie had sold him out? Maybe Chuckie Dubs had sold him, and his brother, out? Sweat beaded on Eddie’s shoulders.
But it was just Eddie himself. He carried a flashlight, though he didn’t turn it on, instead using the ample moonlight to illuminate his way. He stumbled through the disused rakes and wheelbarrows, his lazy step making it clear he was drunk. He had been drinking when Wyatt “went to bed” (or actually go lay down on the air mattress in the barn), so that much wasn’t surprising.
“Oh good, you’s up, huh, nigga?” Eddie said, his thick Virginia drawl echoing in the drafty barn. He sat down on the edge of the bunk. While Eddie’s brother, Chuckie Dubs, was the gangbanger, Eddie was the big muscular one. Chuckie Dubs was a lean, rat-faced gangster with a copstache — he never looked like a thug, Wyatt had always thought — but Eddie had thick muscles toned by his own time behind bars, tattoos decorating his densely-scarred brown skin. He seemed even larger and more menacing now, wearing only his plain white boxers in the humid Virginia summer-night air.
“Yeah, I, uh… I guess I’m havin’ trouble sleepin’ tonight,” Wyatt said. He felt young and stupid. He was almost nineteen, but he felt like a child again, like he was asking Eddie for a glass of warm milk.
“Reckon you just need to make this barn yer own,” Eddie said. “Make it into a home ‘stead of a place to lay yo’ head.”
“Yeah.” Wyatt was too nervous to think about this right now. Besides, the best way to feel like this place was his home would be to maintain control over it, and that meant scolding Eddie for coming in without knocking. But he couldn’t very well get angry with Eddie his first night, for coming into his own barn.
“That’s how I got through Brutewood. When I first got there, I thought I’d never sleep in that tiny, scratchy-ass bunk,” he said. He placed one hand on Wyatt’s smooth shoulder, and left it there. “But once I hung up some pictures and y’know… jacked off in those sheets a couple times, it felt like me. You pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down?”