Billy: dead. Felicia: missing.
None of the words made sense together, but the doom I'd expected announced itself. I felt iron in my mouth, like I'd gargled with pennies, a taste like blood, a bitter taste that always followed bad news.
The setting is Oakland, 1989; the crack epidemic is at its height and turf wars are brewing. Maceo Redfield, currently on hiatus from college, is walking a fine line between respectability and involvement in Oakland's drug underworld. As he waits in the neighborhood barbershop, one of his closest childhood friends, Holly Ford, brings him the news of the murder of Billy Crane, the third member of their childhood trio and a successful drug dealer. Felicia, Billy's girlfriend and Maceo's true love, is on the run and suspected of setting up the hit. As he searches for Felicia and the answer to the mystery of Billy's murder, Maceo is drawn deeper into a world in which dealers, players, and interlopers, obeying a code of honor all their own, engage in a deadly game to capture the heart of Oakland. When Maceo uncovers the truth about Billy, the story builds to a terrifying and painful climax.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Dying Ground|
|Release Date: 03-10-2001|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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The Dying Ground
The crowded barbershop broke into laughter as Cutty greeted me with a variation of the same put-down he'd been using for over sixteen years. The fact is that at five feet five inches I barely reach the first letter of my six-foot-tall name.
"How short are you exactly, Maceo?" This came from a balding contemporary of my Grandfather Albert.
"I'm tall as I need to be," I answered.
I eased into the shop, taking note of the old and young faces waiting in the unusually relentless heat of October.
"And how tall is 'need to be'?" Cutty grinned my way.
Cutty had been my barber since my seventh birthday, and habit kept me a customer despite the insulting words. The barbershop was one place in Oakland that provided shelter if needed and contributed order to an often chaotic life.
More simply, it was home.
Cutty was as invested in me as a blood relative. Alongside his prized Oakland A's paraphernalia, snapshots of local celebrities, and barber's license was a photographic history of my baseball career from Pee Wee League through high school. Up until the ninth grade, all my uniforms bore the red-and-white logo of Cutty's salon, Crowning Glory. The pictures were his way of staking a claim before I hit the majors.
"You didn't answer my question. How tall is 'need to be'?"
A waiting customer piped up with his opinion. "I say he's four ten and a half on a good day." The ensuing laughter reminded me that people often see my height as a flaw....