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The gangster who was
Bloods’ never moved from the little house where they had gone when his father left. One by one his siblings fled to greener, more respectable, pastures as soon as they left school because the neighbourhood was deteriorating visibly day by day. Bloods himself had abandoned the whole education enterprise by age fifteen. Doing exams seemed pointless by then because the subjects really had nothing to do with his life. He had managed to feed them all and keep a roof over their heads all this time and that was what was important. Still, he was rather hurt by his siblings’ haste to leave their home – and him – behind. He didn’t notice what had happened to the neighbourhood – the proliferation of small-time dealers like him, the increase in petty crime – and if he had, he would never have admitted his part in it. Life was just like that, things changed, times were worse now. He himself was hustling all the time to get by. Part of him remembered with bitter amusement his dreams of big money and the easy life when he started selling drugs. He had expected to rocket to the top all at once. But he still had a lot to learn. He had to defend his turf against encroaching dealers and constantly assert himself as the chief man of business in the area. He had to make new contacts when his regular supplier was shot and killed by police. And he had to do all kinds of things to survive while he was trying to establish some credibility with a new supplier. He also found himself drawn into various activities with the other unemployed would-be millionaires of the area. After all, drug dealing was hardly a nine-to-five and there were long stretches of time when there was nothing to do. By habit, he didn’t go home unless he had to, avoiding his mother, who, like the neighbourhood, was deteriorating. And part of him still wanted to be known as the big tough man of the district. So he did reckless things and associated with dangerous people, although he never quite managed to become the leader he wanted to be. For one, what he really wanted was the glamour, not the reality. So it was enough for him to be associated with criminal people and events, even if he was never the star of the story. Bloods’ remedy for the many disappointments of his life was wild spending sprees whenever he got his hands on extra money. He had lived so long hand-to-mouth that he couldn’t resist giving himself luxuries whenever he could. Besides, who ever heard of a drug dealer saving? His old weakness, wanting to look big, led him to be foolishly lavish. He never understood that this was why he couldn’t lift himself out of his circumstances.
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