THE STREET LIFE OR THE STRAIGHT LIFE? D.J.'s got an Ivy League diploma, the sexiest girl in the city, and the five best friends a dude could want. What he doesn't have is cash. When his boy, Dre, steals some ice from a thug after a fight, D.J. comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme worth thousands of dollars. But in this high-stakes game, you don't lie, cheat, and steal without paying the price, and after staring down the barrel of a handgun, D.J. learns a life lesson that college didn't teach him. Now which will he choose -- the straight and narrow or the streets?
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March 24, 2008
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Excerpt from The Diamond District by Derrick Pledger
As I hustled down the granite steps of Richardson Hall, it felt like the sun was shining brighter and the air smelled a little sweeter. My five-year stay at the University of Pennsylvania had finally come to a close.
College had always come easy to me, even though I wasn't really focused on what I should have been. I spent most of the time quenching my thirst for women instead of paying attention to my studies. I bet if you tested me on secrets to making a chick cum, I'd probably score a 99. As a result, my grades in college weren't stellar, but my experiences were priceless.
My mom was so excited that she almost swiped the curb as she pulled up. I knew that as soon as I hopped in the car, I'd be bombarded with the life questions. I'll be damned if that wasn't the first thing she brought up.
"Playtime is over now, honey...I hope you have a plan for what you are going to do with the rest of your life."
"How did I know that was going to be the first thing out of your mouth? Can I just enjoy the moment for once?" I asked.
Before she could respond, I decided to spill my intentions so she didn't start harassing me like some evil stepmother.
"My plan is to do the army thing for a few years and then head straight to law school so I can start making that Johnnie Cochran money."
"You would make a great lawyer, son," she said. "You have spent enough time talking those good girls out of their innocence. I'm sure you won't have too much trouble with a jury."
I guess she ignored the fact that I got my manipulative ways from her. We both thought that the world was one step behind us.
There was heavy traffic on the way home. The trip usually took about two hours, but it ended up being close to three and a half this time. I didn't mind because we got a chance to bond and reminisce about the good ol' days.
We drove up to the front of the infamous split-level home -- the nabe's party house -- on the corner and I was surprised to see that there were only a few cars outside. My whole family had left my graduation early, but I thought everybody was going back to our house afterward. I was disappointed because I was looking forward to spending time with my folks.
I reluctantly opened up the front door and about thirty people yelled, "Congratulations!" I had a smile on my face from ear to ear despite the fact that I hated surprises. I briefly glanced at the dining room table and spotted a vast assortment of my favorite liquors, so I knew that it was going to be a long night.
My girl greeted me with a kiss and handed me another hefty bag of graduation gifts. I remember thinking, Hell with the gifts, pass me a cold beer and a double shot. I had a lot of love for her because she always took care of me. It didn't hurt that she was a brown-skinned, model-looking broad with long black hair and an ass that would make you do a triple take. Plenty dudes tried to wife her up back in the day, including me, but she wouldn't holla at me because she claimed I was a whore. I used to tell her that whores get paid for their services. I was different because I knocked down chicks for free.
Then years later, I ran into her at the West Mall off of Paxton Boulevard. I told myself at that moment she'd be my number one. I had no problem pushing every other female I had on my roster to the bench. I was used to juggling three, four, and five women at a time, but none of them ever compared to Tara.
I waltzed to the dining room table and poured myself a healthy shot of Patr�n as I headed out back to the patio. I knew all my boys were out there because I heard them from outside, disturbing the peace as usual. As soon as I made my way out of the door, Dre staggered my way to give me a hug and almost stumbled to the ground. He was a real skinny dude who stood about six feet five inches, with arms that probably could reach his knees when he stood straight up. If you gave him just a few drinks, though, he'd be kissing the floor in no time.
The other goons I ran with growing up were there, too. My best friend Kevin, Fat Chris, and Joey, had all shown up. We called ourselves "the League" and that's how we were known around town. Harrisburg is a relatively small city nestled between Pittsburgh and Philly, but that didn't stop us planting our seeds from New York to Florida. I surely wouldn't be surprised if one or two of us had a few bastards running around somewhere. We prided ourselves on doing anything that we pleased, regardless of who it offended. That's probably why we were hated by many and loved by few -- unless you were female, of course. All of us had conflicting personalities, but we hung together because of the one thing we had in common -- chasing women. None of us ever discriminated, either.