The takeover did not end happily. In the middle of being dressed down by Busta, the university chancellor suffered chest pains. Paramedics arrived three minutes later. Thirty seconds after they left, police stormed the room arresting Busta, Steve, Sam and a couple of other brothers who were armed. A black and white photograph, capturing the pale and disheveled chancellor being carried out on a stretcher as stem-faced Black students looked on, ran in newspapers around the world.
An hour after the siege was over, I sat wearily at my desk in the PSUIA News Center, pounding out a press release. Putting the university in the best light. Bob was busy fielding calls from the major newspapers and magazines, television networks and radio stations. Just after I turned in my two-page press release, I noticed the young Black cameraman; his news crew and this young white reporter were still there. While they camped outside Bob’s office, waiting to get details on the student takeover and talk to him about setting up interviews on the story they had originally been assigned to do, the cameraman strolled back towards my desk and introduced himself.
“What hap, Brother? I’m Bakman, the Black man. And you are?"
“I’m Pierce Trotter. Writer and lover.”"I heard that," Bakman laughed. "And I'm gonna keep my ladies away from you."
We went through a four-stage Black Power handshake. He told me they were working on a piece about the drug scene on campus. He wanted to know what I knew. I answered his questions only to find myself being attacked for being so upfront. We argued, first philosophically, then on principle and finally just to be arguing. Was I helping him out? Or betraying my friends to someone who could have been out to do them harm. Was he asking me to be as paranoid as he was? Or be less trusting in a duplicitous world? By the time the argument was over, we agreed that we needed to hang out so that we could continue to straighten each other out.
* * * *
“What time is it?" Bakman asked, grabbing his Marley tape and one of the joints I’d rolled earlier before abruptly making his way out the door. "Shit. I got a seven o’clock plane to catch. I got to go.”
I wondered how he was going to be up and out by 5:45 in the morning. Between the smoke and the wine, he was wasted. “Think you can make it home okay?” I asked as he stumbled and staggered down the hallway, brushing against the walls.“I don’t know. Six stories down is a long way to go. But I figure I’ll make it if the creek don’t rise and the elevator don’t crash.”
“As-salaam Aleikum, my brother,” Bakman said, giving me a Black Power salute. “Islam for ‘May peace be with you.’”
“Wa aliekum Salaam, my great Black teacher,” I said, gesturing in an exaggerated bow. “How many times are you going to tell me that?”
Bakman smiled. His raised fist flipped out its middle finger.
“Thanks. But no thanks. I’m saving myself for Allison.”
“You ain’t nothin’ but a fool,” he laughed, lunging into the elevator.
Bakman was gone less than 10 minutes before Allison and I were in the sack, getting down with her on top with the soundtrack to Shaft as our background music. An hour later, I opened a fresh pack of Marlboros and enjoyed a post-lovemaking smoke. Then I set the alarm on the radio on my bedside table to go off at 7:15 and called it a night.
Tomorrow was going to be another bad day at the office.