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‘No One Man’
The Strongest Dude in the Hood #1 of 2

Big C. stands 6’ 4” and tips the scales at 340 pounds. He has a square, athletic frame with hips wider than most sets of shoulders and his shoulders wider yet. His mechanical recall is of a high order, similar to prize fighters I have interviewed. His diction starts clean, gets more heavily accented and then gets sharper when making certain key points. The interview was conducted at an old table over a pint of rum and a few beers with Nero the Pict, in Baltimore County, all three of us Baltimore City refugees.

My father was a Marine, a deer hunter from Norf Carolina who was a mechanic at the GM plant. He wasn’t my real fatha. My real fatha died. So he married my mutha en gave me his name, showed me how to fight: wrestle, box, undastan weapons—know when a gun is loaded, know ta ged close when a man swing a stick. My fatha en one other father in the hood fixed all the bikes and all the cars down where we lived on the eastside, right off Linwood.

I always have five six options floating through my head when shit goes down en I tend ta be lucky with selectin’ the right one. I had one friend, Curtis, with this ridiculous build—like a bodybuilder almost as strong as me, but smaller. This other dude—who was tighter with him than me, was holla’in’ at the same fast-ass shorty I had previously been holla’in’ at en started beefin’ with me and Curtis steps with him, ‘cause dey tighta, and this otha’ dude could crack, was thin en had the real hard hittin’ hands. I was the strongest dude in da hood, could lift up the back of cars, even old cars.

Well, I ran. I wasn’t tusslin’ with both a dem. I was twenty, jus’ befo’ my fatha en motha have a fallin’ out en he leave. I get back to da house and dare my fatha, arms crossed, on the stoop, sayin, “What you runnin’ from?”

I told ‘im en he say, “What, you big fo nuffin’? Ain’t no one man whoop anotha man’s ass unless he led it happen. You not comin’ in hea. You fightin’ you way clear a dis.”

Curtis come runnin’ en I push him aside and da otha dude measurin’ and swingin en I slipped en checked while talkin’ I’m down, about how I had shouted at her first en I was done wit her and I pushed dem off until they cooled down en run off.

Den ma old man says, “It was dat fast-ass lille bitch weren’t it? I told she was trouble.”

En she was dat. Women is always a situation. Den, when you got so many mens who is growin’ a split between deir legs en becomin’ feminized, den women become a worse situation. I was raised old school by my fatha en my uncle, who was a navy Seal, hunted, did things in da old way. Unless you was born wit a split between you legs you sposed ta be how John Wayne was, a man who know how ta do shit, ta handle his bidness.

Like, I work wit dese dudes at Walmart, one fine ass girl on da crew en dey all tryin’ ta ged wit her. Dey like, “whad, you don’ like dat?”

But da way I see it, “You a dumb muvafuca,” sendin’ her straight ta me, en dat da way it went, she huntin’ me up fo a conversation.

Also, I ain’ gonna lie, I had my loyal friends en we promised ta never led the game ged between us and we didn’—we stayed true. Bud dis guy, den dat guy go away, da other guy ged locked up, en eventually—dough I might have five thousand dollars in my pocket, I’m out dere wit dat new element dat got no respect. I’m clean out da game fo three-en-a-half/fo years now, clean out, en I ged the late shift ‘cuase I’m big an dem sissy boys all afraid ta walk home at night, like I the only man in the building—en sure ‘nuff dere a woman in charge en dem boys all growin’ splits between deir legs.

It’s a situation.

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