True to the game i, p.1
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       True to the Game I, p.1

           Teri Woods
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True to the Game I

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

  Copyright © 1994 by Teri Woods

  Discussion Questions copyright © 2007 by Hachette Book Group USA

  A Letter to Readers and excerpt from True to the Game II copyright © 2007 by Teri Woods

  All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

  This Warner Books edition is published by arrangement with Meow Meow Productions, P. O. Box 866, Havertown, PA 19083.

  Warner Books

  Hachette Book Group USA

  237 Park Avenue

  New York, NY 10169

  Visit our website at

  First eBook Edition: May 2007

  Warner Books and the “W” logo are trademarks of Time Warner Inc. or an affiliated company. Used under license by Hachette Book Group USA, which is not affiliated with Time Warner Inc.

  ISBN: 978-0-446-19566-9






























  This book is dedicated

  in loving memory

  of my father, Clinton “Brother” Woods,

  and to

  my mom and my stepdad.

  Thank you for being there.

  You are always there and You are always right.

  I love you.


  you are what life

  is all about.

  I love you.



  Meow Meow Productions would like to thank the following for all their past support, time, efforts, concern, and moments shared, which have helped MMP in all its endeavors as an independent publishing house:

  Phyllis and Corel the financial institution for MMP, thanks for the dough mom! Leon Blue (how did you do so much for me? You are truly that legendary nigga and that’s why I fuck with you. One, nigga, always), Sheena Lester (I try to be nice to people, you just are. Thank you for being so nice to me and for being my editor), Brian Murray, Shirley MacIntosh, my brothers Chucky and Dexter, Ms. Hughes and Radio One (You are a magnificent lady and a true role model. Thank you for helping me), Queen Latifah and the Queen Latifah Show (How can I thank you? Thank you!), Robert Morales and Ayanna Byrd, Leah Rose, Mia X (your story is next; you are amazing), Amil (if you need the shirt off my back nigga, Wha? I got you!), Queen Pen, Nelly and Camp QP (for opening up your door and always keeping it real, One), Method Man, Red Man, James Ellis, Shauna Garr (I love you both and even though it’s been a battle this last year, I truly and sincerely appreciate your various efforts on this project. I really do! You two just don’t know how much — with or without the deals—thank you for everything), Tariq and Uniquest Designs (thank you for everything you do for my Web site and for me personally, thank you for the past year), Darryl Miller, Esquire (you understand shit I can’t even read; you are that nigga. Thank you!), Michael Jackson, Esquire, Milligan and Company, Anslem Samuels, Carlito, Tone Boots and Lamont Henchman, Branson and Eddie (thank you for holdin’ me down Uptown), Don Diva Magazine, Tiffany Maughn and Cavario (fire escape nigga 4th Fl.), the FEDS Magazine, Dave and Antoine (Smokey) Clark and Monique, Niki Turner, the many individuals locked down and still holding me down and of course the Streets. You held me down, you helped take True to a level I wouldn’t have been able to by myself. Thank you so much.

  I can’t go without saying to the various distributors and many bookstores and individuals who sold my book published under my company, MMP, to the people across the country—thank you for giving my book the chance to be read! It is a pleasure doing business with you all. Thank you.


  As you struggle to hustle, taking gain after loss, don’t get discouraged. Just remember who’s boss. Handle your business, and always watch your back. Don’t sleep on the stick-up boys waiting to attack. As you creep through the streets, the crack fiends holler. They’ve done any and everything just to give you those dollars. I hope it will last. I hope you make something of it. Time will tell if something good can come from it. But as you count the highs, count the lows too, and whatever you do, forever remain true. What choice do you have? It’s in you by nature. Your only fault is . . .

  Being a player.



  Harlem, New York. It was the summer of 1988, and it was hot. Too hot. Harlem had to be the hottest place on the planet in the summertime. Exiting the West Riverside Drive on 125th Street, Gena was amazed to see so many people standing outside a nightclub. “Damn, look at that limousine, girl. We need to be with them!” Laughing out loud, she was now suddenly anxious to get uptown.

  “We damn sure do,” said Sahirah, looking smug. It was amazing; there was nothing like it: 125th was a mini Greek playland in the middle of Harlem. Gena had no understanding. It wasn’t like Philly. It was larger, and the niggas looked like Eric B and Rakim, with humongous gold chains and diamond medallions the size of bread plates. If it was meant to represent wealth, that shit did its job. And Gena liked it. She looked at the girls and could not help staring at them. They had no clothes on. They were sexy and revealing, and Gena wanted to be among them, fucking with niggas, getting her life on. New York was the shit. There was no way she could live there, though. It was so fast, too fast. Fast niggas, fast cars, and fast lifestyles. The magnitude was large, as was the amount of men. Even the cars in New York looked different. Gena didn’t know if it was the rims or the tires or what was going on. The dashboards were customized, leather MCM and Louis Vuitton seats, not to mention the detailed piping and thousand-dollar sound systems. That shit turned her the fuck on. Everything about New York turned her on, especially the guys. And to think, this was all so normal for them.

  Suddenly, Sahirah did an about-face and shouted, “No! Look at that BMW. Is he the man of life or what?” Riding by, there he was with a squad of brothers deep in his Beemer. She couldn’t contain herself. Leaning out the window, she called, “Hi!” Turning back to Gena, she grabbed her arm.

  “Girl, don’t he look good?”

  “Sahirah! Bitch, is you crazy? This is Harlem! You just can’t wave at these people up here!” Gena tried to pull the top of her friend’s body back into the car.

  “Oh, shit, Gena. He’s pullin’ over.”

  “Yeah, but he’s all way on the opposite side of the street.”

  Against Gena’s protests, Sahirah made a U-turn into traffic, causing every moving vehicle to screech to a standstill just so she could meet the guy driving the BMW. She greeted them even as she double-parked just behind the Beemer, waving and calling to the driver.

stepped out of the car, fine as wine, and walked toward the girls. “What’s up?”

  “What’s up?” Sahirah repeated.

  “What’s your name?” he asked, walking up on them.

  Getting out of the car, she replied, “I’m Sahirah. What’s yours?”


  “I see you have Pennsylvania tags. You from Philly?” Sahirah asked.

  “Yeah. Tell your girlfriend to get out of the car.”

  Gena insinuated herself out of the car and chimed, “I’m Gena.”

  Rasun openly admired what he saw.

  “What’s up, Gena? I’m Rasun. That’s my homey Quadir in the car. Why don’t you go over there and talk to him?”

  “What does he look like?”

  Smiling, he told her, “Go and see.”

  How convenient, she thought, Sahirah got the driver, and I got the passenger. When she reached the other car, she announced, “Hi. I’m Gena. Your friend Rasun told me I should come over here and talk to you.”

  Quadir studied Gena as though he’d just been introduced to a goddess.

  “My name is Quadir.”

  After another minute, he thought he should say something and stop staring. “So. Do you live in New York?”

  “No. I live in Philly. What about you?”

  “I live in North Philly.”

  “Oh. I live out West.”

  “What are you doing up here?”

  Gena thought quickly how to cover her and Sahirah’s man-hunting designs on this side of the Lincoln Tunnel. “Well, my aunt is sick, and I just came up here to spend the day with her.” It’s just a little white lie, she told herself. It can’t hurt. “What about you?”

  “Business, had to take care of some business,” he told her, thinking about the kilos of cocaine in his trunk. “What’s a pretty girl like you doing out here in this big city all alone?”

  “I’m not alone.” Gena’s head was reeling from Quadir’s blatant adoration, and every square inch of her body sported a blush. “I’m with my girlfriend, Sahirah.”

  “Oh,” he said, looking at Sahirah as if to say, ‘How the hell will she save you?’ Shifting back to reality, remembering the kilos of cocaine in the trunk of the Beemer, he said, “We got to go, but I want to see you tomorrow. Will you be in Philly tomorrow?”

  “Yes. Wanna switch numbers?”

  “Most definitely.”

  She said good-bye to Quadir and pocketed his number. Even though he wasn’t driving, he was nice and he was dark-skinned, and that was definitely a plus. Not to mention the diamond bezel Rolex watch he had on. Damn, she thought, the man is dark as night, but his beard and his moustache was so sexy. She would definitely be trying to see him tomorrow, which for her was a lifetime away.

  Gena and Sahirah partied hard and met many guys that night, but, like a magnet, Quadir kept turning up in her thoughts. Before Gena got on the Turnpike, she went uptown to 145th Street to get a Willie burger. She loved Willie burgers. Nothing could fuck with them in the middle of the night. No lie, like 125th Street, the saga continued; mad money niggas were everywhere.

  She got some gas from the station down the street and was ready to make her journey back home. Crossing the George Washington Bridge, she couldn’t help but look over at New York City’s skyline. New York was the most happening town she knew of. She always hated leaving.

  Finally reaching Exit 6 Gena thought, Home sweet home. It was about 5:30 AM when they reached Sahirah’s mother’s house. Gena parked the rental car and looked at her best friend and the slobber and spit dribbling out of her mouth.

  “Sahirah, wake up. We’re home.” She nudged her leg and called her to wake up after she parked the car. Sahirah was out, and Gena knew it would be a struggle to get her back to life. Another few minutes of calling out to her friend and Sahirah finally wiped her mouth and opened her eyes.

  “Come on, let’s go. I’m tired. You’ve been sleeping. I haven’t.”

  “Oh, did you see the EPMD guy, Erick?”

  “How could I have missed him? He almost hit your simple ass when you jumped in front of his Benz! You really have some serious issues to deal with.”

  “Don’t even try it. You got nerve. You’re jealous ’cause I got Kendu’s number. Don’t be mad. Besides, I saw you talking to what’s his name? Quadir. Yeah, him.”

  Sahirah talked as if Gena had behaved as poorly as she did. “What about this guy? Look at our picture. Now tell me he isn’t all that. I could have sucked his dick right out there on 125th Street.”

  “I just know you could have, and I’m sure you will,” stated Gena with more sarcasm as she shook her head.

  “And that motherfucker in the Range Rover? If it wasn’t for you, I would have really got my young life on.”

  “I just know you would have.”

  “Well, what did you think of him?” Sahirah insisted. “Do you think he was cute, or what?”

  “Sahirah! Think the fuck of who? I don’t know who you are talking about.”

  Sahirah paid her no mind. Once they were inside the house, Sahirah started counting the telephone numbers, which she had collected over the course of the evening.

  “Seven numbers!” she hollered.

  Gena couldn’t help but to look at her friend in disbelief. “I’m going to sleep.”

  Gena and Sahirah had been friends since they were five years old. Both grew up down in Richard Allen, the projects niggas wouldn’t go to if they wasn’t from there. When Sahirah was twelve, her family moved out to West Philly on 54th and Race Street. Even though they didn’t go to school together after Sahirah moved, she and Gena always kept in touch.

  When Gena turned seventeen, her Uncle Michael got her an apartment on Chancellor Street. He paid all her bills. No one in her family knew. Gena had pleaded with her uncle for years to move her out of the projects. He had really been there for her, and whenever she wanted something, he would help her. He kept her in a rental car and gave her money whenever she asked for it. She was fortunate to have someone in her family who made it and could show her the way. She knew plenty of people her age who had no one they could turn to in time of need.

  That was one thing Gena could say for herself. Even though she was raised in the projects, she had family who believed in taking care of the kids. Some people didn’t have family like that, and Gena knew it. Some parents didn’t give a fuck one way or the other. Do what you gonna do, ’cause you gonna fuck something up anyway. That was the attitude. Half of Gena’s friends had parents who said, “Hey, we got a party to go to,” and that’s where they were, at the party partying. Or if they weren’t at the party, they were too busy getting high. Then you had the motherfuckers sitting right there in the house not giving a damn whether the kids were in the house, in the street, hungry or safe. A whole generation sat back, and said, “Fuck it. I’m not gonna raise my kids.” Hence, the saga began.

  Shit was rough as hell in Philly. That’s why Gena liked her little trips to other cities. Gena and Sahirah had done their share of city hopping, too. Seeing that there was other people out there, not just West Philly or the projects, was positive reinforcement for them. They went to the Harbor in Baltimore and met niggas with boats. They went to D.C., liked the guys but couldn’t take the go-go scene. They traveled to Atlanta and met brothers with pets. From Miami to New York, they were there. They constantly received flyers for out-of-town parties in the mail. Life was just one big party. Gena was into the party scene. The same faces, the same places, and the same circles.

  When the Junior Mafia began spreading cocaine throughout the city, money was flowing like water from a faucet, and niggas were givin’ it up as if it were leaves on trees. Gena’s whole entourage of male companions were young, handsome, and very wealthy drug dealers. Hustlers who loved to come on a set and just break a nigga off. It was too good to be true, and don’t talk about sex. You were definitely getting broke down for dropping down, wasn’t no questions asked. Gena and Sahirah dropped down, way down,
for the lifestyle they were living. The only way not to give the sisters their props was if they weren’t getting paper. Thoroughbreds of the streets, getting money was what it was all about, and any way you could get it, you was supposed to.

  Across town on a little side street, sat a burgundy Cadillac. The driver was eagerly and carefully aware of the sound of the street. He had been sitting in the car for three hours waiting in anticipation. The movement of a tree branch blowing in the wind grasped his attention. He turned back to the gray screen door across the street; 3601, he thought to himself. Deciding that would be a good number to play, he reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a small bag of cocaine. He dumped a tiny pile between his thumb and his pointer finger and held his hand up to his nose. After he fed his nostrils, he took his tongue and licked his hand clean. On the seat beside him laid an Uzi semiautomatic. He picked up the gun and took out the clip. Restlessly he threw it back in already knowing it was loaded. The gray screen door flew open and four guys emerged. They hopped into an MPV, never noticing the burgundy Cadillac following them.

  The next morning, Gena woke up to the sound of Sahirah’s four brothers and sisters acting like they were out of their minds. “What time is it?” she asked as Mrs. Bowden walked by the doorway.

  “Oh, good morning, Gena. It’s nine thirty, baby. You want some breakfast?”

  Hell no, thought Gena. I want some sleep. “No, ma’am,” she replied. “I have to go. Tell Sahirah to call me.” Gena was out of there with the quickness.

  On the way to her house, she stopped to get her favorite pancakes. At the intercom, she hollered, “No pork! Do not put pork anywhere near my food. Do you understand? No pork. I don’t want to see it.”

  The poor girl at the window looked as if she had something to say but didn’t. Gena gave her the money and waited for her food and change.

  A burgundy Cadillac with black tinted windows sped across the parking lot. All of a sudden and out of nowhere, thunderous gunfire jolted Gena out of her reverie and continued to echo through her body. The bullets sent a screeching sound through her body as the gunman met his target aimed for the four guys in the MPV. Gena’s mind yelled run, duck down, hide, get the fuck away, settling on none until her survival instincts took her through the natural progression of ducking down and getting her ass out of there. She sped away from the takeout window and tried to exit from the parking lot when the burgundy Cadillac Sedan Deville with gold trim, tinted windows, and spoked rims cut her off. She slammed on the brakes and missed hitting the driver’s door panel by inches. For one long moment, she looked right at the driver. He had an Uzi semiautomatic in his left hand and had his right hand on the steering wheel. In that one moment, he looked at her, and their eyes locked. Gena knew him from somewhere, but did not remember from where. Wondering whether she should say hi, she just sat still as a stop sign and stared at him.

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