|Posted on January 26, 2009 at 10:04 PM|
I don’t know how I missed the disclaimer on the copyright page but Born In The Streets is so gritty and authentic I honestly thought this was a true story. Trust and Believe this is a testament to Verdejo’s writing ability. Not only that: some of the events were eerily familiar. Real recognizes Real, and as the child of a drug dealer I’ve known/witnessed enough of the game to pronounce this story Certified. The word “Nietas” on page six alone made me smile with pleasure, something only an NY street kid with Puerto Rican roots can understand. No doubt Verdejo has seen his own fair share of the drug trade to weave this startlingly true-to-life cautionary tale.
Victor Davila bypassed the usual Nic’ & Dime petty hustle to become czar of a cold blooded million dollar multi state drug operation before his eighteenth birthday. Born in 1968 to heroin-addicted parents who died early in his life, Victor knew the streets were the only place he belonged. He and his siblings spent most of their early years with an elderly grandmother who was constantly harassed by child welfare workers because of her advanced age. When Victor’s role model, his older brother Carlos, is murdered on the train for his leather bomber (a common NY occurrence in the late 70‘s) , Child Welfare places the children in three different group homes. Six months later Victor quietly walks away from the group home and runs into Felix, the Cat Carlos used to work for. The next day Felix is carted off to prison but Victor escapes with a duffle bag full of Carlos’ money. He goes back to his grandmother’s, shocked that no one from the BCW even bothered to look for him.
More shocking is what’s in the bag: twenty “keys” of cocaine. His friend CPR (Crazy Puerto Rican) arranges for his uncle to buy two “keys” but the deal goes horribly wrong. Better off on his own, Victor recruits a few Ride Or Die ni99as including CPR and Cabeza, which means Big Head in Spanish, and starts peddling the stuff on his own. Five short years later Victor is head of the Young Kingpins; trafficking cocaine, weed and heroin citywide, upstate and in Virginia.
Having so much money you can’t fit it all in the safe (over a mil in one garbage bag alone) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For one thing, it won’t buy Victor (or Jefe as he is called, which means Boss or Chief in English) the name of the person who killed his brother. Victor’s been stabbed and shot. The love of his life, Carmen, is pregnant and wants to settle down, something Victor is vehemently against (he insists he‘d be a terrible role model because he‘ll never give up a lifestyle that only ends two ways: in jail or in the morgue), and his youngest sister Lisa wants to be Just Like Him. One of his people gets killed and another arrested in Virginia. His organization is embroiled in a gang war with the crew who shot him. And all this before the age of eighteen.
Victor’s well ordered world begins to crumble from the strain. Will Jefe give in to Carmen’s demands and decide to go legit or will the police catch up to him first? And what will become of Carmen and the baby if Victor doesn’t?
This thrilling roller coaster ride through the mind of a man convinced he was born to sell drugs is a must read for all lovers of street lit. Finally someone has done the genre right. There were only two places I thought strained credulity: one was how a twelve year old Victor sold drugs so easily without being harassed by other grown dealers and the other was where their upstate connect had two crackheads for runners.
Who the heck is gonna put drugs and/or money in a crackhead’s hands?
Who does that?
My What The Eff Sense was tingling off the meter. Every drug dealer’s tale is larded with grandiose overstatements of their accomplishments, so I thought that was the case here. Other than that, this was a surprisingly well crafted story that read like it was transcribed directly from interview tapes. Tra Verdejo earns a well deserved Playa’s Salute from Darkchild.