Ramone had just sat down in Mr. Gene’s math class when the door swung open. The usual chit chat amongst the students while Mr. Gene wrote the days assignment on the board, was suddenly interrupted by the appearance of Principal Morgan walking in the classroom with two uniformed police officers. After a brief whispered conversation with Mr. Gene, Principal Morgan turned toward the class and said, “Ramone, please grab your stuff and come with me please.” “Who me?” Ramone replied slightly panicked. “Yes Sir,” Principal Morgan responded quickly as he motioned for him to hurry. Ramone could feel the eyes of all of his classmates staring at him; wondering what was going on. Little did they know, Ramone was wondering the exact same thing. For a second Ramone debated whether or not he should comply or put up a fight; but the look on Principal Morgan’s face and the no nonsense stance of the two officers quickly convinced him that a showdown wasn’t in his best interest. Instinctively, he knew this was neither the time nor place for him to flex.
Ramone placed both his math book and notebook in his book bag and stood up to leave the classroom as he’d been instructed. Although, he was afraid, it was against the sacred man code for him to allow anyone to see him sweat. After all he had an image to uphold. Sheepishly, he smiled at his classmates; threw up the peace sign and casually sauntered out the door. Silently, they all walked what felt like miles to the principal’s office, where Ramone was asked to have a seat. He’d been in this seat before but never for anything serious. In the past, he’d been called to his office at least once a month. It was an opportunity for Principal Morgan to check in with Ramone and to encourage him to keep up the good work. He’d end every one of their meetings with a reminder for Ramone to shoot for the moon. Stating, even if he didn’t reach the moon he’d at least be amongst the stars. As cliché as it sounded, those words seem to resonate with Ramone and he slowly began to change. His grades improved and he started taking school a lot more seriously. At Principal Morgan’s request, he also joined Character Club and Young Kings Rising mentoring programs. His second year of attending Carver Middle School, Ramone began to believe that not only was he capable of achieving great things but it was his destiny. Although, he would never admit it openly, he looked forward to his meetings with Principal Morgan but somehow he knew this meeting was going to be a little different. The normal pleasantries between the two of them was nonexistent. There was no smile; no dap, no pat on the back or good job buddy. This was strictly business and there was no room for personal exchanges or anything else for that matter.
Principal Morgan began to explain why he’d been summoned to the office. Ramone couldn’t believe what he was hearing. From what he gathered, there’d been rumors going around that someone at the school was distributing drugs. As a result of the rumors, Principal Morgan scheduled a random hall sweep, which included three drug sniffing dogs who happened to give the alert when they came upon his locker. As Ramone listened more intently, he began to panic even more as he remembered that he’d said yes when Johnathan asked him to hold some product for him until after school. Without even thinking about it, Ramone had agreed to do it for his best friend. There wasn’t anything they wouldn’t do for each other. Their friendship went back ten years when they both began playing pee wee football for the Junior Titans. Although they were different, they’d become inseparable and had developed a friendship bound by loyalty. They were boys. Yet, Ramone couldn’t help but wonder why Jonathan had asked such a request of him; he’d never asked him that before. Deep in his gut, something didn’t feel right but Ramone refused to entertain any doubts that would require him to question why Jonathan would put him in such a horrible position to begin with. Jonathan couldn’t have known, Ramone reasoned. Or could he?
Principal Morgan turned to the officers and asked if he could have a moment alone with Ramone to which they both agreed. As Ramone watched them leave the room, he could feel Principal Morgan’s eyes peering at him. When he finally mustered up the courage to look him in the eyes, the disappointment was evident and more than Ramone could bare. The silence between them was deafening. He stared in disbelief as he watched Principal Morgan choking back tears. It was a sight he’d never seen. A grown man fighting back tears unashamed and what was even more significant to Ramone was knowing that he was the cause. He lowered his head; trying desperately not to care and not to feel the uncomfortable feeling building up in his chest. Because in order for him to do what blind loyalty demanded of him, he needed to stop those feelings from rising to the surface.
With his head still down, Ramone could hear Principal Morgan clearing his throat. He braced himself for the sermon he was certain he was going to get. But much to his surprise, Principal Morgan asked a soft simple question, “Is it yours?” Ramone sat motionless, unable to respond right away. The magnitude of what he’d been asked had implications far beyond anything Principal Morgan could ever imagine. He rubbed his head and began wondering whether or not he should risk being labeled disloyal or even worse a snitch. Hadn’t Principal Morgan heard the saying snitches get stiches? Even though he was facing felony charges and possible jail time, the thought of ratting out his brother seemed harsher than living his life behind steel bars; hearing hushed screams in the middle of the night and praying to God for the screams not to be his own. Loyalty was something that couldn’t be explained to those who didn’t understand it. And if Principal Morgan understood it, he would’ve never asked him the one question he couldn’t answer honestly. Ramone lifted his head; looked Principal Morgan in the eye and said, “Yes, it’s mine.” Principal Morgan looked away briefly. His shoulders dropped slightly as he finally looked at Ramone and said, “Well, I wanted to give you the opportunity to tell me your side of the story. I can’t say that I’m not disappointed Ramone”, Principal Morgan continued. “I thought for sure it belonged to Jonathan but I guess he was telling me the truth when he said the drugs belonged to you.”