Ashes to Ashes | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Some things you just remember
And I remember Tyler
And years go by like turning a page
Or like dropping a book on the hard wooden floor,
When you're just starting to fall asleep.
Pittsburgh was just flexing muscles back in the '70s
As the City of Champions,
And the drugs of choice were marijuana, called a "lid,"
Angel Dust
LSD and Heroin.
Magnetometers had just appeared at the Greater Pittsburgh International
And Buford Pusser was Walking Tall with a baseball bat.
We was all young Narcs and
The world was ours to conquer.
That's when I met Tyler who
Was detained at the airport.
Tyler was a tall, light-skin
Or black
Or white
Or brown man from Chicago. 
He was wearing a green shiny sharkskin suit
With a gold chain necklace
And fine Italian shoes.
I can still remember he carried himself like a smooth-talking preacher
Or a fast-talking pimp that would drive a pink Cadillac
Or maybe even a mule that would move a large quantity of illegal drugs.
Tyler was stopped by security
For carrying a Chicago Bulls gym bag with a 
Shoebox filled with a large amount of gray powder.
Every young badge with ambition 
Immediately thought ... French Connection
And Tyler was caught in the snare. 
He was advised of his rights
Taken and
Strip-searched with a Spread Your Cheeks authority
And put in a cage.
Tyler was wide-eyed scared and said,
"That's not heroin, 
It's my mother.
I'm coming from South Carolina.
It's her ashes."
Sergeant Manley who had a crew-cut to go with his flat head 
And went to FBI school and 
Knew just about everything about just about everything, 
Was in charge of the Narcotic and Vice.
Who also not to mention served in Japan after the big war
Who had the tattoos on his arms to prove his toughness.
On his right arm a panther with red eyes and a long black tail
On his left a tiger with green eyes also with a long orange tail
Which he got inked on R&R in Hong Kong at a house of ill need.
Sgt. Manley gets the box on his desk
Opens it and wets his index finger
Stuck the wet finger in the gray powder
And into his mouth.
"Black Skank, probably 98 percent pure."
Well, I got to tell you he made us just all puffed chest
And we started thinking front-page news above the fold
And movie rights,
And which Hollywood actor was going to play our parts.
Manley said, "Take it down to the crime lab and 
Run it through the magic machine."
Well I got to tell you tests like this take
Longer than you can read a Playboy magazine cover to cover.
So me and my partner goes to Big Boy and get a burger and a shake 
And strutted like all go to hell.
I can remember like it was yesterday
We even had a piece of hot apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream
And a third cup of coffee
And even left a big tip for the waitress
And told her,
"Make sure you watch the 11 o'clock news."
We went back and the Lab Tech
Handed us back the box:
"Give the man back his Mom."
I remember Sgt. Manley telling us,
"Heroin and ashes look the same."
And I being a smart-ass had to ask,
"Do they taste the same, Sarge?"
He said, "I'm going to get a whiskey.
Take Tyler back to the airport and see he gets on the plane
And that's an order."
We apologized to Tyler for the inconvenience
Because he missed his flight.
He said, "Just take me to the bus station,
City of Champions my ass and
I ain't never coming back to Pittsburgh."
We told him, 
"Don't worry Tyler about ever seeing us again either
Because we ain't coming to Chicago."
It's funny how the years pass,
And Pittsburgh went on to win four rings,
But then you turn a page,
And you're wide awake just like dropping a book.

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