Treading the Waters, Part 32

Skyline of New Orleans


When we were last with Gerald on the streets of New Orleans he was telling his long-time friend, Greg, who was fresh out of prison for the first time in a while, about his last few years running the streets with Minew, who had just been busted.

“I don’t know when Minew go to court or nothin’. I be trying to give his aunt and his mother some change to put on the book for him and shit, man. But like I say, man, you’ll love the dude if you ever meet him, man. He like to play with that trigger. He like to play with the gun and stuff.”

I said, “Greg, man, I’mma tell you, man, this whole world is tripped out, man, I’m telling you. It’s a totally different breed as we gettin’ older, man. We gotta find some way to get in, to fit in.”

We were like 27, 28, 29. Sometime we think if we gonna go, go hard. No sense playin’ around out here.

I said, “I don’t know, man. But it’s like, I ain’t finished school. Least you got a GED while you was in prison.”

They’d all been cheating off the California Achievement Test. Everybody had a copy of the test. They’d show you the answers and everything. Everybody in the prison had a copy of that. It was like, they give the test, everybody coming up with good grades. Some of them might miss one, two, but that’s it.

I’ll never forget that day we was up in the GED class and they pulled out the copy and cheated to get a passing score. And I was like, “Damn.” 

Mrs. Weaver was like, “Oh, everybody passed! Gerald, you failed.”

Shit, I could’ve got a GED myself too, but I didn’t want to cheat. They knew I wasn’t especially educated, so how could I get that B average like that? 

I told Greg, “I ain’t finish school, but I am what I am. Shit, but y’all cheated, man.”

“Greg, I tell you, man, this world… Like I say, man, nah man, it’s like totally different. We been hustlin’ so long, man. Sometime I just want to get out of the street. Not just ‘cause of the urban environment we in, man. It’s just… If you look around, it’s a lot we can be doin’. You from a good family, your mother work at Charity Hospital.”

Charity Hospital is something like what we call here in D.C. St. Elizabeths. Most of us from New Orleans, born and raised, knew it was a good hospital.

“But we chose these streets, Greg.”

To be continued. Anderson’s first book, “Still Standing: How an Ex-Con Found Salvation in the Floodwaters of Katrina,” is available on 

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