I made my annual trip to Griffith Observatory this weekend. I saw a show that wasn’t playing on my last trip, and as usual I marveled at how big the Universe is, and how small we are, and how much we still don’t know.
I walked outside; darkness had fallen. I looked out over Los Angeles. My city. My home. And I felt…frustrated.
At this point, I was supposed to be putting the finishing touches on my rise to the Crown. Kobe would be closing in on ring 6, and I’d be courtside with Jack, who’d be grooming me to be the next ‘Laker Fan Number One’ when he’s eventually gone. That was the plan anyway.
But the best laid plans…
As I’m thinking this, I feel his presence. Dressed in a dark jacket not that much different my own. He’s sharp, but in such a public, touristy place like this, nobody really notice us. We look at most like two extras out of a Michael Mann film; maybe people glance for a second, but then they immediately go back to their own business.
The Devil’s voice is charming and playful. Like the voice of VD in that Chappelle skit with the puppets:
‘Why hello Malik Aziz! Haven’t seen you in a while!’
‘It’s not too late for you, my old friend.’
‘Not too late for what?’
‘The courtside seats. The customized black Maserati GranTurismo Sport with gold trim. You know, the Devil is not one to spread gossip, but you give me a year to build up your profile and status, and Beyonce might be back on the market…’
‘Uh huh. Yeah, well, I’m not Michael anymore.’
‘Oh please! You were posting MJ songs on Facebook three days ago!’
‘How do you know that?’
‘I’m one of your Facebook stalkers.’
‘I guess. Anyway, not MJ. I’m not Michael Corleone anymore. I don’t daydream about that kind of stuff like I used to.’
‘And what do you dream about?’
‘I have visions of my woman admiring me for making peace with climbing as high up this mountain as I can without completely selling out what I stand for and what I believe in. I see my children looking at my actions and seeing all the major decisions I made: who I married, where I lived, what I prioritized; and appreciating that it all started with love. And hopefully no matter what I try to teach them, when it’s their time to make those life choices, they’ll start from the same place.’
We’re quiet in each other’s presence for awhile. The moon is out tonight.
‘The world is not kind to honest men, Malik. And this thing you’re passionate about, even less so.’
‘Man, I learned all that before I left Kansas. I guess now I’m just really starting to accept it. I told you, my ego is content now with who and what I attract through my natural abilities and personality. You have nothing else to offer me.’
‘So be it. Jedi.’
The Devil slinks away to make a deal with some other insecure, tortured soul. This is Hollywood. I’m pretty sure he got that done before he got to the parking lot.
I take a deep breath, and I look out over my city.
I turn my phone on and send a sarcastic text to one of my aces.
I jump back in the Matrix and like my people’s posts and updates to let them know I’m thinking about them and I’m glad they’re doing well.
I walk back down the hill to my car and put on the Easy Star.
I feel at peace. It’s been a good night.