Prisoner of Dreams: Confessions of a Harlem Drug Dealer is the true story of Rick Talley, a black man who returned from Vietnam with a dream that he made a reality and who then had to deal with the consequences of his actions. Talley returned to New York City from the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, a time of turbulence and change. Race relations in America were changing, thanks to the Civil Rights movement. Still, racism was very much alive in America.
Times were tough for a young black man in America, especially one who has fought in an unpopular war. Rick Talley took what he believed to be the only economic road open to him: drug dealing. In the late 1960s and early 70s, America was awash in drugs, and an entrepreneurial black man bent on a criminal lifestyle could make millions of dollars.
Prisoner of Dreams presents a large cast of characters, from small time street hustlers and pimps to Hollywood and Las Vegas celebrities to organized crime figures. It was a time of the French Connection and of Superfly and Black Caesar and Talley was there to interact and observe. In a poignant, eye-opening memoir, the author describes his life and the times, the good and the bad, in New York City and Harlem, during one of the most seminal periods in America history.
Prisoner of Dreams is more than just a story about the world of drugs. Once a prisoner of his own dreams Mr. Talley is no longer a prisoner of any kind but the master of his life and dreams. The hard times he once lived helped him rise above the problems and to understand their true meaning.
The author dares to speak out loud about real issues of which for years were only whispered about in dark rooms. He tells his story and not for a moment thought to hide from it, forget it, and this way he manages to turn what could have been a failure into a great success. He is one of the few who dares to dream and live his dreams.
This is an excerpt from Prisoner of Dreams: Confessions of a Harlem Drug Dealer by Rick Talley. The book is published by www.strategicmediabooks.com
Making Money for the Man
Rick and Jesse sat in the Lincoln Town car parked just off 145th street St. Nicholas Avenue. The weather was pleasant for this time of year. Willie pulled in behind them, got out of his car and climbed in the back seat of the Lincoln.
“Yo, what’s up Jesse, Rick,” Willie greeted them.
“It’s alright,” they both replied. Jesse pulled off, turning left headed north on St. Nicholas Avenue.
“So what’s it going to be?” Willie asked Jesse.
“I’m going to drop you off on the corner and drive around the block. I want you to bring me the two Macy’s shopping bags with the money in them. They’re in the bedroom closet. I’ll pull in, in front of the building when I see you coming out. I don’t want to park this car in front because it may draw attention on us,” Jesse explained.
Rick and Jesse sat quietly. They had parked near the corner. They were alerted, looking for any sign of trouble. Their pistols were tucked neatly a way and could be reached in a split second.
“That’s cool with me,” Willie said.
“Yo, Willie, make sure you meet those people for me and collect that money.”
“Okay, my brother.”
“I’ll meet you at the Shalimar around 12:30 tonight.”
“Do you want me to bring that money too?”
“Yeah,” Jesse replied. “Yeah, that will work,” Jesse said more to himself thinking out loud.
The black machine kept a steady pace going down the East River Drive, across the Brooklyn Bridge and along the quiet back streets of downtown Brooklyn. Jesse pulled over at a corner phone and got out. When he returned to the car he opened the passenger door and told Rick to move over and drive.
“Ricky, stay on this street for the next three blocks,” Jesse instructed.
“Drive slow. I don’t want to miss him. Okay, I see him, pull over here.”
Jesse stood in the shadows of the building talking with the middle-aged white man for 15 minutes or so. They both came to the car, Jesse got in the back, and his guest got in the front with Rick.
“Yo, Ricky, make a right turn at the corner and just drive. We’re going to ride for a minute.”
The middle-aged white man was dressed casually and had what must have been a three karat diamond pinky ring on his left hand. He did not speak to Rick, he sat sideways in the seat speaking with Jesse. The graying of his temples gave his strong facial features a rather distinguished look.
Jesse passed the shopping bags over the front seat and they were received as though they were simply groceries. Rick kept a watchful eye on a car in the review mirror. It appeared to be following them, he said nothing to Jesse.
“There he is,” Rick said. Willie stepped between two cars parked in front of the building. The Lincoln was there to meet him.
“Check this out, Willie. I’m going to drop you off on the corner. You can take a cab back to your car, okay? That way I can get right on the East river Drive,” Jesse informed him. “I don’t want to drive through the streets with two million in the car.”
“Okay, that takes care of my bill with you,” Jesse said.
“You can pull over here,” the white man said, speaking to Rick for the first time.
“You can give me a call sometime during the middle of the week,” the white man informed Jesse. “I should have what you want by then.” Jesse and the connection both stepped out of the car at the same time. Jesse got in the front with Rick and the connection got in the car Rick had seen following them in the review mirror.
Once back in Manhattan, they dropped the pistols off. They both breathed a sigh of relief. Their mood lightens, the car stereo pumped the music out and they began to feel more like themselves.
“Yo, Jesse, you know carrying a gun and doing this shit some times reminds me of being in Vietnam,” Rick said.
“Damn, that’s right. I keep forgetting you were in Vietnam.”
“Check this out Jesse, when we were in Brooklyn. The car that picked up the connection, I spotted it in the review mirror when we pulled off after the connection got in with us. I didn’t say anything because I was waiting to see what was going to jump off.”
“You’ve got good instincts,” Jesse smiled. “That’s one reason I trust you with my life. But that Vietnam shit you went through, I don’t think I could fuck with it.”
“You could handle it, it’s all in what you tell yourself it is,” Rick said.
“Check this bullshit out, Jesse. I’ve listened to a few people who came home and told their war stories. They’d be kickin’ it to people who didn’t know shit about Vietnam, they’d be making themselves up to be something they ain’t. Then when I get to kickin it with them and they know I knew the deal. Shit, it became a whole another story. Especially when I wouldn’t co-sign that bullshit they be running. When I was in training, before I went over I heard all the war stories from the career sergeants that were supposed to get us ready to do battle. I found out later that those stories were all real bullshit. I met one brother when I was stationed in Maryland, he had just come home from the Nam. He was the only one who told me the real deal.
He said I would have some good times and that I would have some real bad times. He also told me that the bad times would be the hell I could never imagine. He said the good times would be like heaven because of all the deaths and destructions going on around me. But one thing out of all he had told me that really stuck; he said to count myself lucky if I made it back alive.”
“Yo, Ricky, did you kill anyone while you were over there? I don’t mean if you just shot out in the field and then went out there and found bodies.
Can you actually say you saw someone you shot and killed?”
“Yeah, I can say that a hundred times over.”
“What was that shit really like Ricky?”
“The best way I can tell you is like this.”
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