He tells me I wouldn’t survive on the East Side. He tells me I wouldn’t survive on the West Side.
He’s talking about Detroit. I tell him back, You got it all wrong, the reason I’m not locked up is because I’m surviving out there. I point toward the classroom window, beyond the gun towers and concertina wire.
He says, “You think you’re better than me.”
I tell him, “Look, I’m one mistake away from being where you are now.”
He tells me, “You grew up privileged and never had to fight for survival.”
I tell him, “I had it rough, I almost choked on the silver spoon.”
He laughs and calls me a square, a nerd, a smart-ass, (just to mention a few of the less abrasive names).
I tell him, “Put the word ‘free‘ in front of it. Free square. Free nerd. Free smart-ass.”
He tells me, “You think you’re tough.”
I tell him, “If I were locked up, you’d be buying me store items every day.” He laughs. I laugh.
He brings me butterscotch candy. He places it on my desk as everyone files out. I tell him, “No thanks, it’s against prison policy.“ I pick up the candy and aim for the wastepaper basket. I tell him, “Everyone has a price but you can’t afford me.“
He grabs my wrist, and before I can make my pitch, he makes one of his own.