I returned to Chicago in 1987 after fifteen years of living on the road. I was hustling and living the life of a carefree rebel. In those years, I lived in Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Boston, Louisville, Nashville, Indianapolis, and Dallas - those are the big ones - there were numerous small towns along the way.
During this time the highs were high and the lows were very low. However, it became a way of life. Through drifting around I learned the "hustlers code" and I still live by it today!
As time went on I would be joined for short periods of time by my brother, Micheal. We were quite the team - following in the footsteps of the two other infamous James brothers, Frank and Jesse. My brother and I had always been close and I wonder if he was alive today what he would think about this whole book thing. I hope wherever he is, he's proud and laughing. He was a great brother but never understood you can't keep the gas pedal of life pushed to the floor 24/7 cuz that will shorten your life...and it did.
I began to develop my own laws that I would follow. If there were laws written by other people, the government or even God - I didn't care. If those laws conflicted with mine I didn't follow them and certainly did not obey! There wasn't many laws I made. I focused only on making those that involved good karma. I strived to be fair, loyal, and respectful to those who earned it and my elders. I believed that being a hustler was a way of life. I realized that it didn't matter what the size of the hustle or the stakes involved; the rules of the hustler were the same!
I was in Boston in February of 1987. It was an especially shitty winter and I was suffering through one of the lows - just hanging out. My mother called me and asked me (as she had done numerous times over the previous fifteen years) to come home because some relative had found me a job. In the past, I had always politely refused but this time I asked her where this job would take me and she told me my cousin Pete had a job opening where he worked. I told her I would take the job. She was elated and I was anxious because I knew it was time to go to Chicago to make a dream come true.
It was then I realized alea iacta est (the dice are cast)...