Julio is a grown man now, probably about 32. I have not spoken to him in years. The very last time we were within earshot of each other was when I was college. I had come home on a break and run into him while I was out.
"Oh shit," I said. "Julio! How have you been? What are you up to?" He responded that he wasn't up to much, just "pimpin'." I laughed and asked him where he worked. "I just told you. I'm pimpin' now." Shortly thereafter he introduced me to one of his females, a bitter woman with an uncharming overbite that he said would do whatever I wanted for $40.
Last I heard, he had a couple of kids and had just gotten out of prison.
When I knew Julio -- when I really knew him -- he was this wiry, hyperathletic middle school kid.
His father abandoned the family when Julio was just a tiny thing. One of his sisters had a severe learning disability and several physical impairments. Another of his sisters accidentally shot and killed a girl at a slumber party. The mom was never around. His grandparents tried to raise him, but he had too much anger in his cells.
He occasionally smoked and drank, always fought and never listened to anyone.
One time, at 14, he got into a fistfight with a grown man at a convenience store over some perceived slight. Another time, he convinced some girls to steal some fashionable jeans from the mall for him. Another another time, he threw a stink bomb AT a teacher.
A coach spotted him playing basketball outside once during lunch and actively recruited him. He'd never practiced organized basketball a day in his life. He was still the best player on both ends of the court. He played two games, dominating both of them. Then he got kicked off the team for stealing some kid's shoes from the locker room.
At the time, I thought he lived just about the coolest life, a rockstar without a microphone, a hefty personality tucked into a pair of size 30 Dickies. I realize now that he just had a really unstable home.
We hung out a lot, mostly at my house. We had a symbiotic relationship. I, a skinny, brainy, large-headed pocket person, offered him an existence that wasn't entirely rooted in the counterculture. He made sure nobody beat me up.
I heard a rumor once that he'd punched a kid in both eyeballs at the park because he was talking about me. When I asked Julio about it, he cheerfully confirmed. We found out later that it wasn't even the right kid. And that shit was hilarious.
He was always a good friend.
Julio was the person that introduced me to UGK.
I still remember him showing up to my house, cassette tape in hand. He played it loudly and confidently, right there in my bedroom, on a radio that my father might've built by hand.
My initial response: Dude, this sucks.
Bun's rat-a-tat, Pimp C's gorgeous twang, the acerbic yet absolutely astute commentary on modern America's rotting inner core; that shit was way over my head.
I was 13. My biggest, most pressing concern was whether or not a girl named Jackie had found the letter I'd slid into her locker through those tiny slits.
Julio was dumbfounded, even though it'd have been impossible for him to describe himself as such.
"What's so great about this?"
"Just listen to it, guey. Listen."
"I guess it's okay."
"I guess it's okay?!"
He felt that shit in his bones.
It meant something to him, in a way that only kids from equally awful upbringings could understand.
Fuckin' Julio, man.
He asked me to borrow my Sega Genesis once. I let him. And I never saw it again.
You know how that goes.
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