Cream City Hustle. A Personal Finance Thriller. Available at Amazon
A listing of released installments can be found at the end of each installment
Getting back to the house Drake hustled past the new guard, Ricky, stopping at the kitchen – transformed into a packaging area – and spoke briefly with Tanisha, head of packaging. “Got everything you need?” he asked. “How ya looking on supplies?”
“We got everything we need for now. Probably gonna need more baggies in a few days and it probably wouldn’t hurt if we had another scale. Maybe pick up an Ohaus. They’re good scales.” He added the items to his mental shopping list.
“Gotcha,” he assured her. Lowering his voice, he asked, “How the new people working out? You see any potential issues?”
“Nope. Everything and everybody looks real cool so far.”
“Good. We don’t have time for personality conflicts or some other Mickey Mouse bullshit.”
This shit is crazy, just like something out of New Jack City or a number of other gangster movies, Drake thought to himself as he made his way to the back room where Michael spent most of his time. An enterprise looking at potentially $3M annually and naked bitches preparing drugs for distribution in a converted kitchen. Crazy. This life was damn crazy. He had to give it to his cousin, he had a way with numbers and he knew what he was doing. He was just along for the ride.
Cousins that grew up together, Drake and Michael were as close as brothers. That’s why he was the only one that called him by his given name, or Mike, when they were alone. He typically resorted to using his street name, Caine, when around the staff. Those occasions were rare, however, as Drake was typically the one they dealt with and he was definitely the face of the enterprise to their suppliers and the dealer base they were putting into place. Earned in Chicago – where he cut his teeth in the drug game – Caine was proud of the name bestowed upon him, and the fact that in a mere four years, he had become the largest dealer of Cocaine in the city.
His interest in expanding beyond the drug from which his name was derived is what had brought him to Milwaukee. That would have been hard to do in the City of Bullets. On the other hand, Milwaukee, the so-called Cream City, would be a much easier mountain to climb. He had thoroughly researched the Cream City prior to making his move. The city was dominated by three groups of distributors and two primary drugs, crack and marijuana.
African-American gangs on the north side converted powder cocaine to crack in selected cook houses. When the cocaine supply ran low, they often bought from the Hispanic gangs who controlled the south side of the city. In various pockets throughout the city, Caucasian males were the typical distributors of weed, which they often grew in grow closets, which resembled stand-alone refrigerators but were actually self-contained cannabis grow sites. For Caine, the answer was to go west. West of the city. Bordered by I-43 on the east, 27th Street on the west, I-94 on the south, and by Highland Avenue to the north, Avenues West was his new home. His new playground. This is where he would make his money.
After decades of low-income levels, stagnation and neglect, compounded by the housing crisis and economic downturn in 2008, Avenues West was one of Milwaukee’s down-and-out neighborhoods that was on the rise. Slowly. Like many of the other residential districts ringing downtown, it was home to Milwaukee’s predominantly working class, poor and minorities. These neighborhoods were home to thousands of blighted structures and abandoned lots; and where the oppressive weight of violent crime and poverty held its citizens down.
While income levels were still relatively low, they had risen a little and the area had seen some signs of redevelopment recently. Avenues West was fighting back. The old Ambassador Hotel over on West Wisconsin Avenue was a good example of that. It wasn’t that long ago that prostitution and drug dealing were rampant in the run down place. Pimps and hoes everywhere. The restoration had started to change all that. Caine didn’t have a problem with it being more of an upscale place after the renovation, he just wanted to do his part to bring some drugs to the people. After all, grown people should be able to do what grown people wanted to do.
Using Coke as his foundation, the plan was simple. Add meth, crack, weed, ecstasy and heroin to his portfolio and overtake one neighborhood at a time. His research indicated Avenues West was a good place to start and weed was the market he would corner first. They had bought this nondescript house on a nondescript, relatively quiet, block a few months ago. After getting the packaging area prepared and an adequate staff in place they were just about ready to put their plan into action.
As he stepped into the room, his cousin cut right to the chase. He was never much for small talk.
“What up, Cuz?” What can you tell me about the tall brotha that appears to be dealing most of the weed in Avenues West? You been watchin’ him a little while now.”
“His name is Marcus. Marcus Williams. He lives in that apartment complex over on West Wells and deals from three or four spots in the neighborhood. He plays it smart. Doesn’t hang out at any one location for long, rotates his movements between the different spots and he doesn’t deal out of his apartment.”
“Anything else?” Caine asked.
“Yep. It also appears as if the street customers are just one part of his client base. He has in hands in multiple pots so to speak. He also makes home deliveries over in the Marquette and Medical Center area.”
“Oh, really?” said Caine, more to himself and not really as a question for his cousin. “That’s interesting.”
“One more thing,” Drake offered. His runnin’ partner is a dude named Train. Apparently they go way back.”
“Bring Mr. Williams to me. I want to talk to him, get a feel for him and see where his head’s at.”
Finishing up their burritos, Marcus and Train made a beeline for the exit. Although it was snowing lightly, it didn’t feel too cold outside. It wasn’t that bone chilling kind of cold, the kind you felt every time you took a step. The two friends headed towards Marcus’ apartment. Marcus had to pick up some more product and he wanted to take care of a few local clients before they went to a movie. He had told them he would be around later that night. They weren’t sure what they were gonna see yet, but it didn’t really matter. It was just a good reason to grab some overpriced popcorn and chocolate covered raisins, kick their feet back and relax.
“What was Renee fussin’ about earlier?”
“Not a lot, man. She was just a little upset that we haven’t seen a lot of each other lately. As I tried to explain to her, sometimes it’s hard when we’re both working. The schedules don’t always line up. So I just had to put in a little time.”
Getting back to the Square, Marcus grabbed 10 baggies from his apartment and headed out to one of his spots. Within 45 minutes he had taken care of those he needed to and they were ready to go. “Anything?” he asked.
“Nope,” replied Train who had been standing back at a distance, keeping an eye out for danger in general and the stranger Marcus described, specifically. All his baggies gone and with the movie starting in 30 minutes, they headed out. “You treatin’ tonight?” Train asked. “I’m a little light on this fine evening.”
“Hell boy, you’re always light,” Marcus chided him.
I will be sharing a half chapter or so of my first personal finance thriller each Sunday. Check back on Sunday, June 5th for the next installment.