“Your fries hot, man?” I heard him say as I retreated to a booth. “I ain’t buyin’ no cold fries.”

I sat in the booth and watched a woman stroll casually up and down Hennepin through the window. She could have been a working girl, but in Uptown you never know. Maybe she was just waiting for her boyfriend. Or girlfriend.


“Sex is easy,” I said aloud. “It’s affection that’s hard to come by.”

“Huh?” Chopper asked.

He wheeled himself to the front of the booth. The red plastic tray balanced on the arms of his chair was loaded with two Quarter-pounders, two large fries, some kind of apple turnover, four cartons of milk, and a small Cherry Coke. I took the drink.

“Want some fries?”

I shook my head.

He kept the change.

“McKenzie, you look gooder than shit.”

“High praise, indeed.” Ever since I saved his life, Chopper and I have been pals.

“So how you doin’? Still drivin’ that piece of crap SUV?”

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“Are you kidding? It’s a chick magnet. Soccer moms love it.”

“I’ll tell ya what them soccer moms love.” He was pointing toward his lap but the tray was in the way.

“Are you talking about that Quarter-pounder? You get cheese with that?”

Minute chunks of potato flew from his mouth as he laughed. “You’re bad,” he told me. “You are soooo bad.” Chopper washed the contents of his mouth down with a carton of milk and asked, “So, whaddaya need?”

Most of the informers on television and in the movies are skinny black dudes with an encyclopedic knowledge of the streets and a mortal fear of the cops. I know no such people. Nearly all of the informers I know fall into two categories. There’s the professional who trades information for money or favors and there’s the perp looking to score a deal. “Hey, man, get the charge reduced to third degree and maybe we can do some business, whaddaya say?” All of them are more terrified of getting caught by the individuals they inform on than they are of us.

Then there’s Chopper, who just likes to show off.

“What can you tell me about the Family Boyz?”

“The Boyz on your ass, McKenzie? Cuz if they are, you got trouble.”

“You know them?”

Chopper smiled and shook his head like I had just asked who was Michael Jordan. “Everyone knows ’em.”

“The authorities don’t.”

“Authorities.” He said the word like it was a punchline.

Chopper set down his sandwich and wiped his fingernails with a napkin. He took another sip of milk and started talking before he swallowed it all.

“Family Boyz, they weird, man. Blew in from Detroit City, dealin’ shit all over the place, good shit, too, Acapulco Gold just like the old days, straight from Mexico they say, undercuttin’ the competition with lower prices. There was some dust-ups with the Bloods and El Rukns, but that went away cuz the Boyz, all they doin’ is dealin’ grass and ain’t no one wants to go to war over that. Then all a sudden it’s like one of them stealth bombers, man, they off the radar, still dealin’ MJ but the volume way down, like they was runnin’ one of them hobby farms, you know, doin’ it for the fun. Last couple of years you hardly know they’re there, keepin’ a low profile, just goin’ about their business.”

“What business is that if not drugs?”

“I don’t know.”


“I don’t know.”

“I thought you knew everything.”

“I know enough not t’ go messin’ with the Boyz. A Disciple tried to put down a Family member a few months ago, somethin’ t’ do with some pussy—shit, these guys fightin’ over pussy, you believe that?—and the Boyz blew the flag right off his head, blue bandanna, all fuckin’ red now. I’m figurin’ it’s war, we’re gonna have a war, no fuckin’ shit, only it don’t happen.”

“Why not?”

“’Cause the Boyz, man, they pack some heavy ordnance, that’s why. They got machine guns. M-60s. German MG-42s. The Disciples are totally whacked, but they ain’t so stupid t’ go against that kind of firepower.”

The weapons might explain the ATF’s interest, I figured. Chopper ate some more of his sandwich. I thought of Good Deal Dave and took a shot.

“Know of any white guys running with the Boyz?”

“Fuck, McKenzie. You think the Boyz is like some kinda equal opportunity employer? Man, with the Boyz you gotta be family, man, real family, that’s how they git their name. You look at a guy you say, ‘that’s my bro, that’s my cousin, that’s my blood.’ That’s how you git to be in the Family Boyz, man.”

“Know where I can find them?”

“You’re shittin’ me, right? You ain’t lookin’ for no Boyz, right?”

“You don’t have to go with me, Chopper.”

“Damn right I ain’t goin’ with you.”

“So where are they?”

Chopper gave me an address of an apartment building in Richfield near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

I thanked him.

“So you got any next a kin, Mac? Got an address? I want t’ know where to send flowers.”

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