738 words (2 minute read)

Ruining Boise - Big Black Marcus

As one of only about twenty black people in Boise, I sorta resent being referred to as ‘Big Black Marcus’. It’s not that I’m not big; I am – six four and about two-forty. And it’s not that I’m not black, because I am a proud Nubian god. And I’m certainly named Marcus, thanks to my Momma, may she rest in peace. No, I resent it because it just doesn’t seem necessary to differentiate me from anyone else I work with – there are no other Marcus’s, there are no other black men, and none of them are anywhere near as big as me.

The Monk tends to employ folks who are book smart, but not always that politically correct. Like many white folks who’ve grown up without people of color around them, they’re tacitly unable to see past race. They tend to overcompensate – the one time they slept with a black girl gets awkwardly remembered to me the way I would describe bedding down a unicorn. I’m asked questions for which I’m tasked to answer on behalf of black men everywhere, not just myself. At least the part that they get right is that I am definitely the guy in the room they need to be the most scared of.

For the most part, the Monk has me simply abducting thieves for a living. It’s a long story, but these are folks he doesn’t trust with seeing his office, so I have to truss these guys up with blindfolds and handcuffs then deliver them to his place. Just to be extra safe, I always stick ‘em with my iPod at high volume. White guys get hip-hop pummeling their minds almost exclusively.

I do what I can to enlighten them.

I run low-level errands that he doesn’t trust the other guys for – typically things involving money. It’s certainly not the worst or strangest thing I’ve ever done, this abduction gig. I’ve led a lurid career on the wrong side of the law for decades now, dating way back to my days bouncing in my hometown of Niagara Falls, NY.

Picture it: The Eighties are on their way out, The Cure and their ilk giving way to C+C Music Factory in the clubs. College kids are moving away from the high waists of J Cavaricci toward baggy, acid-washed jeans on their eventual way to the complete cultural appropriation of hip-hop. The shirts become untucked, baggier, whiter. The baseball caps – once verboten thanks to hat-head – are now everywhere. Buffalo Bills fans are now LA Raider fans. It was amazing and it was just sad. And there was Marcus, unfazed by the vicissitude of fashion or the pilferage of his people’s rhythms, standing Spartan and watchful in a tight red polo shirt emblazoned with the name of the club – in 1991 it was Last Exit – and a relatively tame high-top fade.

Bouncing at the club was easy money - just look intimidating and put the occasional college boy in a headlock on the way out the side door - but dealing with the ownership was dicey. I wouldn’t say the owner of Last Exit was necessarily a coke dealer, but he had enough blow in his office on a nightly basis to kill a charging rhino, and was constantly luring hot young co-eds up there two at a time for what seemed like hours. Occasionally he would have me hold a baggie of white powder to give to one of his ’friends,’ who I could easily identify as the only thirty-year-old in the whole place. One night - my last, actually - one of the other bouncers was acting as his mule and ended up handing a baggie to an undercover Niagara Falls police detective by accident. The party was over right then, and I didn’t stick around to fold chairs.

My time at the University of Buffalo came and went without my NFL dream coming true - I played second-string linebacker for all four years. I participated in walk-on training camps for the Bills a couple of non-consecutive years, but never caught on with them. After that, I drifted South, and then West, ending up in Phoenix by way of Houston, Texas.