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Criminal minded was young Mitchell and hazardous company he kept; people’s whom aspiration in life consisted of nothing more than to do harm, stay high and get money. Mitchell was never shown the same respect as his older peers in crime; “Mitch the bitch” he had often been called by his so called homies in his clique. He was often tormented but always came back for more. Mitch was ordered torun into a light poll with arms stretched outward sideways and chest exposed in order to become a member. The Ritz is what they called themselves. “From the Bricks to the Ritz baby” is what they’re leader Ace would yell to his crew daily. Ace born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, came down to Pine Hills to escape trouble six years prior. Most of the group came from somewhere up north except for Mitchell. He was down wit the east coast and all but he was born and raised in Pine Hills; for this he was looked down upon and ridiculed. They held guns, even Mitchell one Saturday night at Paco’s house where they played cards. Tap, the weakest of the rest of the crew, who would pick on Mitchell the most to build him self up was there initiating a verbal confrontation with him as usual. As Mitchell sat and thought about it at the party, Tap was always the one who started it and then everyone else would join in. Mitchell, in a fit of rage jumped up and started trying to cock his pistol; he struggled with it to Tap’s delight, he laughed and laughed. They all did. Then Tap pulled his 9mm out and cocked it pointed at Mitchell and then they all did.

“Yo, don’t play wit guns son; you still got your shit on safety, you lucky Ace like you so much or I’d smoke your ass right now bitch.”

Tap said with a smirk and then laughed until Ace walked into the room and intervened. Everyone put away their weapons after being ordered to do so by their leader and Mitchell left quietly a short time later.

Mitchell returned to the group some three days later; he just couldn’t stay away. He went to the store as he was ordered to and returned in a timely manner. As soon as he got back, Poppo demanded that he take him to the store as well; Mitchell refused, stating that he had just come from the store. Poppo punched Mitchell in the chest catching him off guard and causing him to drop his keys. Poppo picked up the keys and drove Mitchell’s car to the store as well a few other places. Mitchell just rocked in the spot where he sat looking serious, waiting for his opportunity, around him sat laughing antagonist. Immediately upon Poppo’s return, Mitchell stood up and rushed Poppo scooping him up and slamming him to the floor. He snatched his keys from Poppo’s hand placed his palm on the bridge of Poppo’s nose and pushed himself up simultaneously breaking Poppo’s nose. Mitchell then exited the house, got in his car and drove home. The rest of the group was too surprised and amused at Mitchell’s actions to do him any harm; he actually garnered some respect for his retaliation.

Mitchell returned again; three days later to applause and congratulations. He was offered beer and marijuana to the chagrin of both the broken nosed Poppo and his closest homeboy, Tap. Tap decided that he would start with Mitchell. He knew that he could beat him in a fight straight up since he was three years Mitchell’s senior, three inches taller and forty pounds heavier. Tap tried to bait Mitchell into a fight by pushing him in the head. Mitchell wasted no time in obliging by punching Tap in the eye, dropping him to the floor. Tap rose in a rage and Mitchell took off out the door and down the road. Tap was in quick pursuit with eye already beginning to swell. Mitchell slowed to an easy pace as he allowed Tap to gain on him; suddenly Mitchell stopped and turned on Tap. He swung a hard punch towards Tap’s head which Tap blocked with is forearm, shattering his ulna and radius bones. Tap screamed in extreme pain and cursed Mitchell; everyone else howled with laughter from the porch, even Poppo.

“Yo Mitch the bitch broke ‘yo shit.”

Shorty Do Wop yelled out from the front yard of the house.

“Shut up you little shit.”

That was all that Tap could muster while enduring such intense pain. Mitchell simply trotted to his car and drove off, not to return for three days. Within that three day span their fearless leader, Ace was incarcerated. Before getting locked up, he planned a heist for his crew to carryout. He left word that he wanted Mitchell to be the wheel man since they needed to use more men due to casualties, he said with a chuckle. Big Jim, the acting boss told Mitchell of the plan and how it was supposed to go down; ironically the next day Jim got busted so they were now down one more man and without a sound leader. Tap and Poppo took it upon themselves to control the action in an attempt to secure larger shares of the bounty and settle a score at the same time. Mitchell drove the ’95 Astrovan the night of the robbery as the other members of The Ritz packed into the van. Poppo and Tap had no intention of sharing the loot from the robbery with Mitchell; so they were going to shoot him and leave him at the scene to occupy the police with trying to identify the body for a couple of hours after the robbery. When they arrived, Tap turned to Mitchell and said…

”Let me get the keys.”
“I thought that I was driving”

Mitchell said with a quizzical look on his face.

“Just give up the keys and stay here.”

Tap demanded. The four men jumped out of the van and ran into the establishment with dreams of leaving rich. The robbery went off without a hitch except for one thing; when they returned to the van Tap discovered that he had left the keys somewhere inside at the scene of the crime. They decided that they would all go in so it wouldn’t take as long to find the keys and they needed some men for crowd control. They left the four cases of money in the vehicle so that it wouldn’t slow them down. The people inside were terrified to see the robbers running back into the establishment. Mitchell suddenly remembered taking a key off of the ring when he first got them; he reached down into the side pocket of his jeans shorts and retrieved the key. Suddenly, he heard sirens but didn’t see lights yet; he had to make a split decision. Go inside and get his friends or get the hell out of dodge and save his own tail. They weren’t his friends, they always meant him harm; he would never betray anyone who was down with him. He had his partners’ backs to the death. But, he now realized that these knuckleheads were not his partners and never were. All of these thoughts raced through his mind as he sped away from the scene and over the hill out of the sight of the authorities. The police arrived just as the four foolish crooks exited the building with masks on and arrested them without resistance. Now locked up was the Ritz leaving Mitch the Bitch quite filthy rich? There are rules in everything you do in life, even crime. If you betray and mistreat people who believe to be your comrades, they may desert you when you need them most. Just ask the Ritz.


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