“Yo! Let’s go it’s already after 7!”
Jinx voice echoed through the corridor of steps that led to the platform. Small Fry picked up his step and hurried down, recognizing the sound of the approaching subway. Ice and I continued to take our cool, sweet time, ensuring that a dub of sweet and sour sauce was poured on each Chicken McNugget. By the time we reached the platform, Jinx and Small Fry were already on the train, facing on a another by the doors. As the door chines begun, Jinx has both of us a stare that summed up his frustration with our lackluster effort in trying to get to Fear Fest on time.
“Duummm! Duummm! Dummmmmmm!”
We slid in just before the doors closed in behind us, and Ice and I chuckled over other commuters stuck waiting for the next train on the Eastbound Dundas West platform.
“Poosies not quick enough!”
I laughed again. Although Ice had this super-street swag in him, he could still tell a joke or two, or at least make you laugh just taking in his character. Jinx has always said he was a wilder youth, and now meeting him for the first time, he was everything I had pictured, just shorter. His nappy fro stuck out the sides of his faded, denim Blue Jays fitted and his Dickie’s cargo pants were two sizes too big. Still he pulled it off. He sat in the two-seat back row of the train and proceeded to finish his Golden Arches meal, grilling the three of us with his wide, bold eyes every time we said something about him and laughed.
“You poosies have something to say?” he uttered, mouth full of processed meat.
Small Fry quickly stopped his chuckle, but Jinx and I continued to laugh, not intimidated in the least by his menacing screwface.
“Ya. You look like Freddy Krueger with that hair, nigga” Jinx replied.
“Na. Na. He look like that ‘Nightmare on Elm Street nigga’ “ I countered with my own response.
Right then, Ice stood up, placing the ten-pack box on the seat beside him and began to walk towards us. Grabbing the poles attached to the roof of the train car with both hands, he lunged his feet at us, nearly knocking down the newspaper of an old man who happened to me the only passenger in our vicinity. Narrowly missing us both, Jinx countered with his own acrobatic lunge. Before I knew it, the two nineteen-year olds had turned the TTC into Mortal Combat, ready to face off in a battle that I knew real blood could be drawn from. No longer meeting the teenage criteria I deemed acceptable for this spontaneous type of action, I proceeded to seat a seat up on the ledge of one of the two-seat pairs of the train just like Small Fry, and watch the battle from a courtside view. All I needed was some popcorn.
“So wa pop? You likle TWAT!”
Jinx may have had a babyface with no facial hair, but he knew how to run the fuck up.
“Come touch me poosie!”
Ice replied in his most Egwest sounding voice. The two of them eventually gave up the physical confrontation, resorting to massive shit-talking from opposite seats. Ice stuck some earbuds in his ear to cool off and Jinx found a new use of the ceiling poles. No longer having to tie up his once afro puffed hair, he flicked down his hoodie, clenched the poles and pulled himself up in a repetition of chin ups.
“Now that’s something I can fuck with!” I responded and soon found myself doing my own set alongside his. Even Small Fry joined us for a few.
“Look at these wannabe gym buffs. Yo watch and learn doggies!”
Ice stood up, rolled up his sleeves, and joined the three of us in what was now a competition to see who could do the most chin ups on this moving vehicle.
“You’re not even doing it right,” Jinx commented on Ice’s attempt to shame us, “your feet touch the floor every time!”
“Yo shut up!” Ice snapped back.
I was about to throw myself into the argument this time, ready to take my turn against the wild, wild, westender until I noticed the opened train doors next to me. Reading the station name, it almost instantaneously spit out my mouth in the loudest tone anyone could possibly have on a Saturday evening.
“SPADINAAA!” I yelled and dashed out of the train car with a burst of energy that was infectious to my surrounding crew. The four of us ran through the platform alongside the accelerating train, up and stairs, past the streetcar concourse and into what we had come to know over the years as the “Tunnel”. The unusually long walkway connecting the Green and Yellow lines of our city’s insufficient transit network at Spadina Station was one that has seen many memories since Grade 9. It was often where me and G had faced off in a spontaneous game of one-on-one with his Spalding en route to Exhibition in the summer time. But tonight, basketball was not the sport on the agenda. It was track and field. People slowed their step to watch in amazement as four niggas jetted through the tunnel like no tomorrow. I could see a smirk on Jinx’s face, proud at the fact that we could show off our speed to a random audience at any given moment. However, it was the sound of the Northbound Yellow train entering the station that drove my cheetah-like movement. Reaching the escalator, we opted to run down the stairs, knowing what could potentially happen if one of us tripped on the escalator.
I flew in, followed by Jinx.
Ice’s feet landed inside.
Ice’s arm held the door while the Grade 9er Small Fry huffed and puffed his way in just before the doors pushed Ice’s arm resistance away.
“This train smells like shit dawg.”
Ice was quick to comment shorter its departure from Spadina. Consenusly agreeing, we voted to car hop until we found one we liked. Passing through the doors that specifically warned riders not to use, we opened and passed through to the next car where all took a seat near the back.
“Fuck. I want to go grab my Gold studs. There’s at my Moms.”
Unable to make the connection until the train entered the St. Clair West station, I gave Ice a look that told him in no uncertain terms that no ay in hell is this nigga cutting now. Even if his Mom lived 5 minutes form the station.
“NA. NO TIME FOR THAT DAWG.”
Ice snapped back with a screwface of mine as a cosign. The train doors closed as Jinx looked solemnly at the platform he would of been on had we agreed to his plan diversion. We continued on, but shortly after the train’s departure, we noticed a consistent cough coming from Small Fry.
“What’s wrong dawg? Ur Asthma?” Ice asked Fry in a tone we had yet to hear from him today. Concerned.
“Na,” Jinx replied for him, “its THIS guy,” pointing at a seemingly homeless man who’s attire looked like he hadn’t showered since I got back from New York since August.
“Oh my God. Again with the smell?? YO FUCK TTC GUY!”
Ice got up and proceeded to the doors leading to the next car. We all followed suit.
“Wait til we get to Eg West. The train turns here. Remember?”
Taking my advice, the four of us gather right by the door but agreed not to go through it until it reached the next station. However, it wasn’t until Lawrence West that we made a move to the next train car. We had gotten caught up in hood conversations about a bitch that both Jinx and Ice had sawt out.
“The next station is Yorkdale. Yorkdale Station.”
Holding on firmly to the door handle and being the last one to walk though, I took my time on purpose, allowing the fresh outdoor air to rejuvenate my nostrils from all the foul stenches it had incurred over the past ten minutes. Right then, a familiar aroma touched my nasel hairs which gave it an immediate stamp of approval.
“Kush…” I said to myself solemnly. Looking at the brownstone apartments that overlooked The Allen Expressway, I knew I could always count on Jungle to show me something. I rarely smoked weed and given my enjoyed reaction to the scent, I didn’t know why. Eventually joining my niggas in the next car, I sat back and enjoyed what was left of the view of one of Toronto’s realest hoods. Looking at my cell phone, it wasn’t even eight o’clock before we arrived at Downsview. Hoping on the first bus we saw that went to York U, our frustration grew as we all became anxious to get to Fear Fest. I had never gone, but I had heard. And from what I had heard, I definitely wanted to go. I had made that abundantly clear a few hours ago when the four of us all met up and Keele/Egs. All of our pockets had golden rubbers because we knew it could all go down. I thought back to this time last year when my nigga Chucks had texted me a pic of the roundest bubble bent over a park bench with her draws half ay down her legs. The pic came with one word of text attached to it. “Fearfest.” I wasn’t missing out on that this time around. My phone read eight fifteen by the time the bus pulled into The Commons. Still bursting with energy, we eagerly looked around for the YRT bus that would take us to Canada’s Wonderland. Quick with his eyes, Jinx found the stop we needed to wait at in no time.
“Ya, OK. PROPER.” Ice replied, indicating he was in no mood to wait in the chilly October wind. In no time at all, the bus pulled up with passengers ready to exit out its back door. Knowing the drill, the four of us gathered near the back entrance and as soon as the doors opened, we darted inside, almost bumping into those people getting off through the same exit. We took our seats quietly, hoping not to bring attention to our fair-evading bodies. =
“Hey! YOu guys back there! You all have to pay or else I’m not going ANYWHERE!”
Looking amongst ourselves with a course of action for Plan B, we admitted capture in our plans but not defeat. Te four of us walked toward the front to engage in a friendly discussion with our public transit worker.
“Sir. We have no change. Only a twenty and that’s more than we need for the four of us.” Jinx explained.
“THAT’S NOT MY PROBLEM!” the driver snapped back. Now Ice was pissed.
“SO WHO ARE U YELLING AT DOGGIE? WHO ARE U REALLY YELLING AT?”
Ice’s voice continued to raise in volume, as did the bus drivers. By now, Jinx and Small Fry were off the bus, but Ice and I had remained on. I looked down to glance at my phone and as I looked up, all I could see was the bus driver’s arm extend in an attempt to grab Ice. Narrowly missing the driver’s grasp, Ice took a step back before knocking the driver in his jaw with a left hook.
“THAT’S IT! I’M CALLING COPS!“
Realizing the now, urgent matter, the two of us flew off the bus and joined Jinx and Small Fry in part two of this evening’s marathon dash. Only this time, our lives were at steak. Jetting through The Commons, we ran though the Student Centre Building and made our way towards the Parkette. Ice began to turn right but I knew that was the right direction to be running in. The Campus Security Office was that way.
“LEFT NIGGA! LEFT!”
Hearing the confidence and certainty in my voice, Ice made an immediate left onto Ottawa Road as the three of us followed in hot pursuit. Questioning my knowledge of the campus, Small Fry asked Jinx,
“How does he knew where to go?”
“Because he goes here,” Jinx replied for me, “this is his school.”
Recognizing the need to lead the escape, I ran ahead of Ice, passing the tennis courts directly adjacent to the West Office Building where I had worked at the York U call centre the year before. Dismissing thoughts of the final outcome of my supervisor to fire me after I put a fourth-year Sociology major bitch in her place for raising her voice at me, I ran even faster, flying across the Tait-McKenzie Centre. As I approached Ian McDonald Blvd, I could see a sign of hope. THe 35 Jane Bus was turning North on Murray Moss.
“One more block to freedom!” I thought, feeling an enlightened sense of hope for the first time since Ice and I slid into those train doors almost ninety minutes ago. I looked back to see Jinx almost standing alongside me, with Ice and Small Fry shortly behind.
“JANE!” I yelled mistakenly, not remembering the need to stay quiet in case of nearby security.
“SHUT UP DAWG!” Ice snapped back.
“My bad,” I replied. We mad ea last dash across the parking lot for the Canadian Ice Sports Arena nearby and waived down the bus driver of the 35 Jane Bus. It had appeared that he was waiting at the stop for another reason which was completely fine with us. Flying onto the bus, the four of us explained with just needed a lift to Steeles and upon there we would exit. He agreed to the free lift and drove away and what we all felt couldn’t have been more perfect timing. The soles of my Baby blue Air Max shoes were now filled with mud from trekking across the grass but I didn’t care. I was safe and so were my niggas. That’s all that was important to me at that moment. As the bus turned left onto Steeles, Jinx spoke.
“I’m going to Screamers down by the Ex. I don’t know about y’all niggas.”
“SO NOW YOU’RE SWITCHING UP ON US DAWG?” Ice, in his, what I had grown accustomed to, snappy voice replied back.
“It’s not that,” Jinx explained, “but its nine o’clock. By the time we get there the park’s basically gona close.”
“NOT EVEN DOGGY. PARK CLOSES MIDNIGHT!”
“Well you guys can do you. Shooks and all of them are down by the Ex and they just texted me saying its popping. Bare girls. So that’s where I’m going.”
“Call me what you want dawg. I’m not wasting anymore time today.”
It was a sentence that summarized how Jinx was feeling from the start of it all. Ice and I had procrastinated at Keele/Egs and at Dundas West, all while Jinx wanted us to hurry up. Right at that moment, the bus turned back onto Jane at the Steeles stop we had requested we be let off at. Ice flung open the door and with Small Fry, stepped out. Suddenly, I felt a tug on my arm.
“LET’S GO DAWG. LEAVE THIS PAMPER ASS NIGGA.”
Then my other arm began to tug.
“YO. Let go of my nigga!”
I had become the main object in a tug-o-war battle between Jinx and Ice. Jinx would soon let go, indicating I could do what I wanted, but Ice would not. I shook off his arm by flinging mine towards him and then pulling back, which spawned a “FUCK YOU GUYS THEN…” from the Eg West soldier.
The bus continued its journey down the strip, and Jinx and I lamented on the evening’s events.
“I would have been pissed if we got caught. good thing it was your school we ran from.”
“Yea nigga. Good thing.”
We talked and cracked jokes for the entire forty-five minute bus ride until we arrived at Jane Station. The time was nine thirty. Heading down into the station, we were able to break that twenty and actually pay for fare this time. Heading toward the Eastbound platform, Jinx turned back and asked,
“Are you reaching?”
“Na dawg. Ima cut back to yard. Fucking tired.”
I proceeded to the Westbound platform, eagerly awaiting knocking out on my mattress.
An excerpt from A$S: A $mart Story – Ch. 15: Streets Keep Calling Me