That first night, at The Rooftop, was also the night I met a girl named Reika. One thing I have come to recognize about myself is that I can pick the movers and shakers out of a crowd. That was only one of the reasons I honed in on Reika. She was one of the prettiest and most popular girls in the place. I noticed her within minutes of arriving, but it was when I saw her alone by the cafeteria that I got up the courage to approach her. She still had her skates on and was a bit sweaty, so I offered to buy her something to drink. She gave me the twice over before accepting my offer. We were only able to talk for a few minutes before her friends made it clear that her social obligations were more pressing than the new guy.
That night I, declared to myself I had to have her. We didn’t get a chance to exchange numbers, but even in our brief interaction, I got enough information to figure out where I might run into her again other than The Rooftop.
Reika lived in the Polo Ground projects with an aunt. She often hung out and around 152nd Street and 8th Avenue with her girlfriends. She wasn’t exactly hard to get to or out of the way, and I made it a point to run into her. After I did, I gave her my beeper number, and she said she would use code 155.
Another night after The Rooftop had let out, we were talking on 152nd Street just getting to know each other. I had to drop someone off, so our conversation was brief. I told her to beep me next time she was free. I said my goodbyes and headed further down 8th Avenue. On my way back uptown, I decided to double back the same way, hoping I might run into her again. I didn’t expect I would since it was already past 3:00 AM. To my surprise, she was still outside with another girl named Kim talking. I pulled up, asking why she was still out there. Reika said she was waiting on her girlfriend, Lisa, who had gone off with some dude to get back. I was sensing there wasn’t something right about her story as if perhaps she was avoiding going home, so I asked her and Kim if they wanted to come to hang out. They both jumped in the car, and we headed back to the Bronx.
Excerpt – The Crack Era: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Kevin Chiles