Contraband.

We all thought it was going to be thrown away, and by we, I mean Andrew and I. We never thought it would turn into… this. On a nightly combination McDonalds/Target/Seven-Eleven run, we came across it: a giant brown something sitting on the side of the road. Like most things sitting on the side of the road, we assumed it was free. So in the middle of the night, we meandered across the street, lifted the large wardrobe off the ground and hauled it into our apartment. Done and done. It was supposed to end there, but it didn’t. It had only begun.
Proudly, we sat it inside of the apartment, taking in all that it had to offer. The slightly lopsided door, the obscure coat hanger inside, the used tissue neatly stuffed in the corner, and the small baggy that very possibly once had cocaine stored inside of it. Sure, it wasn’t the nicest thing in the world, but it was ours. It was our somewhat infectious, possibly diseased bureau. We carried it around, placing it in multiple locations deciding that something so reminiscent of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe obviously belonged in the living room. It wasn’t until the next day when I was leaving for work that I noticed a man outside that apartment cleaning the rest of the furniture that we had deemed “unworthy” of our living space. This man was obviously not giving this bureau away… he was just cleaning all the old hankies and dime bags out of it. I ran back into the apartment to tell Andrew what was going on and all that he could say, with a spaced out look on his face was Contraband. What had we done? Once upon a time, we were just these grad students going to one of the most prestigious universities in the country and then, we had become this form of Jada Pinkett and Queen Latifah in Set it Off. He didn’t look the same to me. Andrew had assumed this look about him… this F— the man kind of face, and I knew that I wasn’t living with the same person anymore. I mean, shoot… I guess that I wasn’t the same person anymore either.
The days dragged on, and we did what we could to ignore our wrong doings, but it was no use. It was haunting us… an uncleaned reminder of our sins just lying there in the middle of the room like a dead body or a leopard print snuggie: something you couldn’t miss if you wanted to. We had learned to live with it, no matter how shameful we had become, but it all came to a head when Ray, the Comcast guy came. Ray, upon entering our apartment, announced, F—, how big is this place? This shit is nice. We obviously realized that we had entered into a life of thug-like company. Ray inspected our apartment, dropping words that should never come out of a Comcast man’s mouth. When faced with the challenge of actually connecting our cable, he became weary. He didn’t want to drill into the wall and asked us to get the apartment manager. When directed toward his office, I realized where exactly the apartment manager lived… at the homesite of the contraband. I ran back into the apartment and immediately enlisted Andrew’s help in moving the stolen good elsewhere. We agreed on our roommate’s room that hadn’t moved in yet. An excellently developed plan if I had ever heard one. As I pushed it down the hallway, I began to reevaluate: who had I become? Would I even recognize this hoodlum if I looked at him in the mirror?
Soon, our apartment was full of people: some woman named Janet, her unnamed Hispanic friend, our apartment manager George, and Ray. After some initial confusion about the drilling, the healthy conversation turned into a trilingual death match: some odd combination of ebonics, slurred English, and Spanish. Andrew and I had no idea what was going on, and the last thing Ray said before leaving was This shit is shady, and when shit gets shady, I get out. A good life philosophy if I’ve ever heard one. I stood in the doorway, one leg propped behind the other as George announced to himself Surely, there’s a cable hook up. Peter, the guy who lived here before was Asian… and he had all them Asian channels, and I know that shit doesn’t come through on basic cable. I wondered to myself if this is what city life is like. Maybe, somewhere along the way, we had made the transformation. We were no longer wholesome boys from Tennessee and Wisconsin. We were hood rats, and we liked doing hood rat stuff with our friends, like that little boy who stole the car on YouTube. We had become just like Latarian; just boys caught in the magic of what the big city could have been, had we not been so foolish to get wrapped up in theft, which would inevitably lead to robbery, gang violence, and homemade tattoos.
As I finish this, Andrew is dropping some gangsta remix of “Just the Two of Us,” and I know he’s changed; I suppose we all have, and I remember the vague memory of who I used to be so long ago… or a week… whatever. And as I’m washing the dishes tonight and reaching behind the feta cheese to get one last glass of Sauvignon Blanc before I got to bed tonight, I’ll remember the time I had a chance to be a productive member of society. It changes too fast; I’m sorry Momma.

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