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© Amir Bey, 2007
Readers may remember THE NEW TIMES HOLLER!íS feature article on the Mount River Valley Cultural Center recently. That article focused on reductions of city and state funding will have devastating effects on the center and the surrounding community.

There is another kind of reduction that is being suffered by this community stemming from a similar indifference to its needs. This one is almost imperceptible, yet more severe, more sinister.

Five years ago there was a group of young men and women who were bonded by their interests in wine and drugs, joined together by unemployment, who maintained a family-like relationship with each other.

During the last two years it has become apparent that much of this group is no longer on the scene. THE NEW TIMES HOLLER! began enquiring about them, receiving startling revelations from 10-4, an observant veteran of these mean streets.

HOLLER!: Yo, 10-4! Whereís R.L., Brenda and Toodie?

10-4: Same thing. They all dead. R.L. had the virus, but that cheap wine he was always drinking did his liver in. Brenda died of a heart attackÖ

HOLLER!: At 34?

10-4: Yeah, alcohol and pills. Toodie was rushed to the hospital , said he was having stomach pains. That same night he died, and the doctors said they didnít know why, but we all think they must a let it happen. I mean, he was healthy before that.

HOLLER!: There are a lot of folks I donít see anymore that used to be out here.

10-4: Some folks is in jail, too. Marsha, Johnny and Roberto all got busted last week!

HOLLER!: Why do yíall hang out day in, day out, year after year?

10-4: Ainít no jobs, most of us donít have families and there ainít nothiní to do at home besides eat and sleep.

HOLLER!: What do you do together?

10-4: Get high! Hey, there ainít nothiní out there for us!

HOLLER!: Now 10-4, youíve got to look at how many of you are dying. Youíre alive now, but you could wind up like Toodie. When youíre abusing yourself, things happen.

10-4: Thatís why Iím gonna de-tox next month.

HOLLER!: Why not this month?

10-4: Too many things to do this month. Hey, I know itís only a matter of time before my liver goes. I donít expect to make 50!

HOLLER!: Donít you think you have a choice?

10-4: Look, I was in Viet Nam, was a cop, been married twice. The fat boys got it all anywayÖ

HOLLER!: Those sound more like excuses than reasons. The fat boys knocked you down, but they canít keep you there.

10-4: Thatís easy for you to say! You work at the newspaper!

HOLLER!: Iím not too far removed from you, bro! Iím only saying you have choices, and you can be in control, defining and satisfying your needs differently.

10-4: Yeah, I hear you. Hey, I gotta go!

HOLLER!: O.K., take care of yourself 10-4!

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