Everyday Hustlin'

Taxey kisses Shardonae, tucks the sheet around her, and creeps out the door without waking the baby. He's getting good at that, finally. Outside the shack he slides the Bounty cards into the rent slot, and just like every month, thinks about how easy it would be to pop the lock off (but they'd know it was him, better wait on that shit 'til it's time to leave this enclave anyway). He climbs the cliff ladder up to the streets that ring the Split Rock lighthouse.

Then he puts the earbud in, hits play on the worklist. Same first track as always - M.O.P. feat. Busta Rhymes, Teflon, Remy Martin - Ante Up (Remix).

"Attention please, attention please...this shit here feels like a whole entire world collapsed...motherfuckaaaaaaa..."

Just 15 seconds, then switch it off to save battery. That's all he needs, the rest plays in his head. Soundtrack to the everyday hustle.

Today's hustle: debt collection. Yesterday a kid named Alex showed up here in Split Rock flashing around a shiny new AK -- and a stack of Bounty cards that looked way too thick for somebody who'd just made that kind of purchase. Sure enough, a quick check on Ubiq of the New Hamar gun market shitlist showed Alex as a credit customer in arrears. Nice little contract for anybody who could settle him up.

Second track. Gang Starr - Just to Get a Rep.

"Stick up kids is out to tax -- and this is how the story goes..."

One Bounty to the morning fenceman gets Taxey the Alex’s location: the Bassboat Brothel. Two Bounty to the desk girl gets him Alex's room number and a key. Third floor, too high to jump out the window, nice. Climb up the steps, check the clock. 7:30 am, perfect timing to do this Pulp Fiction-style.

Play track three. Notorious B.I.G. - Gimme the Loot.

"You ain't got to explain shit,
I been robbin' motherfuckers since the slave ships
With the same clip, and the same .45
Two point blank, a motherfucker sure to die..."

Take off the shirt, the tats help for this kind of job. Pull the Glock 18, turn the key, kick the door, find Alex sprawled naked in bed next to last night's lady friend.

"Wake up call for Alex! Rise and shine, motherfucker." Taxey jerks the sheet off the bed and dumps Alex on the floor. He turns to the girl. "Hey, Carallina, sorry you ain't gonna get to serve him breakfast this morning. Here's something for your troubles." Taxey flips her a Bounty and she bolts out the door.

Alex is not coming around very fast, understandable after what must have been a long night. His eyes sweep blearily between the pistol in Taxey's hand and the darkness underneath the bed. Taxey kicks him in the face, flips the bed over, and grabs up the AK.

"Alex, this ain't ya gun, son. My boy T-Crit up in Somaliland says you ain't paid the bill on this chopper. So they gonna have to repossess it."

Alex mumbles something through the blood in his mouth.

"And also you gotta pay some penalty fees."

Alex inches toward the door. Taxey puts the Glock away and levels the assault rifle on him.

"Now A-Lay, I don't wanna have to test this chopper out, make sure it's still in working condition. So you just sit right there and we'll talk this through. New Hamar wants five Bounty for the trouble you gave 'em, and then I'm gonna need five more to cover my expenses in hunting your punk ass down. So that's ten Bounty. Ante that up, and you can bounce up on out of here, all square."

Alex indicates that he does not have ten Bounty.

"But you had it yesterday, I saw you flashing the stack around down by the pier. You had twenty, easy. You gotta learn to keep that shit on the downlow, bruh. Now the Bassboat's a nice place, and Carallina's a nice girl, but they ain't ten Bounty worth of nice. Now are you gonna pay up, motherfucker, or am I gonna be putting another dot on my knuckles?"

Alex eventually manages to explain that last night at some yacht party he bought some pre-crash molly and bottle service, besides the bed with Carallina. There’s only five left over. Taxey fishes them out of the pocket of the crumpled up pants on the floor.

"Five, okay, that's enough for the Muslims, but we got a little problem with my end still. That's bad news for Mister Alex. I'ma have to tax ya son, old school style. Take off that fuckin' watch."

As Alex shakily removes a cheap-looking fake gold watch, Taxey drops the rifle on the upturned mattress and pulls the pistol back out. It's tricky to toss a room one-handed while keeping a gun on a guy, but Taxey has had some practice. And Alex's stuff isn't too hard to collect. Find his backpack, throw the watch and the five Bounty in it, a half-smoked blunt, an unused DHQS-issued condom, and the clothes on the floor -- everything, shirt, pants, underwear, socks, boots.

"No hat, man? Thought you had a hat. Stylish kid like you should have a hat. Oh wait, there it is on the door hanger. Stand up and toss me that hat, homie."

The ballcap goes on Taxey's head with a jaunty tilt. The backpack goes over one shoulder. Alex, awkwardly standing naked, seems to suddenly realize the implication of Taxey packing up all of his clothes.

"Oh shit is right, Alex my boy. Next time maybe trying living within your means when the Tax Man's in town. Ayo, talk nice to Carallina, maybe she'll let ya borrow one of her see-through dresses or something. Now if you'll kindly step aside...oh wait, don't wanna forget this thing."

Taxey slings the AK over his other shoulder and saunters out the door past the cowering Alex, snatches up his own shirt from the banister and walks back down the stairs.

Track four. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg - Nuthin' But a G Thang.

"One, two, three and to tha four
Snoop Doggy Dog and Dr. Dre is at tha door..."

Blow a kiss to Carallina and the desk girl, and stroll out into the morning sunshine.

Taxey messages T-Crit in New Hamar with a photo of the gun and a photo of Alex naked on the floor. He sits on a bench by the lighthouse, checks his new watch -- 8:00 am, good work for half an hour. Might have some time to kill. Put on Run the Jewels 2, the full album, and light up the blunt.

His Ubiq rings four minutes later. The Muslims must be early risers, too.

"Ayo T-Crit, I found ya boy Alex. And as you can see, your property has been repossessed."

"Good morning, Taxey. Please, once again, call me Abdullahi now. But thank you for fulfilling our contract. Did you also secure the Bounty that Alex owes us?"

"Sure did, bruh. Five B for you. It was close, though, that shit was all he had left. Motherfucker was livin' large. I always told ya, man, never sell guns or drugs on credit."

"Yes, I recall. And I also recall that you personally demonstrated to us why that is. Your payment for this contract covers the remainder of your debt to New Hamar."

"Plus what?"

"Plus nothing. A drone will come for the rifle and Bounty this afternoon. Meet it at the lighthouse. When it returns, we'll take your name off the repayment list. You're welcome."

"Come on, T-Crit, I told you that shit wasn't me."

"Right, you just found that Glock 18 you're always waving around. You should really learn to keep that stuff on the downlow."

"Fuck you, T-Crit."

"Assalamu alaykum, Mike. Hey, congratulations on the baby."

Click. Motherfucker.

It'll be good to be off the New Hamar shitlist before he ends up like Alex, but Taxey is still down four Bounty from this morning, and all of Alex's stuff put together isn't going to be worth more than two. And baby Shampane needs diapers and bottles.

Still no Freelance jobs on the Lifelines group either. It’s been like four weeks now, did the whole crew just fall off? Lazy-ass fucking Takers.

Fuck it, it's not even 9:00 am yet. He's got at least three hours before the drone arrives. That's time enough to put in work. And shit, all of Alex's money ended up somewhere in this town. Maybe his molly dealer is still slipping after that crazy yacht party. Might as well find out.

Finish the blunt and put on the next track. Wiz Khalifa, Big Bang & Big Bake  - Hustlin' Everyday.

"I’ve been hustling like everyday
Doin' time on my grind tryna make a pay.
Hey, I’m still postin’ on the same block,
The same hood, still duckin' from the same cops.
I try hard, but the life that I live, man, ain't all it's seemin',
Sometimes I pray to God I’m dreamin’,
But I ain’t. Try to get out, but I can’t. Damn."