The Day The Murph Died (Or Pimps for a Day …or Three)

The Murph was one of the last of the old school pimps. He lived in a house on Grant Ave. in Schenectady, with his old lady and a bunch of his hoes. He was the stereotypical, 1970s “Willie Dynamite”-style pimp; he wore the hat, the fur coat, the gold chains, walked with the cane and drove the pimped-out Lincoln Continental with tinted windows and fur on the dash.

His old lady, I forget her name, sold crack. My cousin was one of her customers.

I remember, I was like 16 or 17, my cousin called me from a payphone one night — a payphone is an ancient telephonic device that operated much like a vending machine, you put money in and it let you make a phone call — “Philly, you gotta come get me at The Murph’s!”

“What’s going on?”

“I’ll tell you when you get there.”

It was obviously an emergency, I figured he was in some kind of trouble or gonna get his head busted-in again because he couldn’t pay for his crack, so I borrowed dad’s car and drove over there fast as I could. As I rolled up, I saw a bunch of women running out of The Murph’s house with clothes and TVs and VCRs, stuffing shit in cars and running down the street. My cousin waved me down.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“The Murph is dead.”


“So??” he looked at me like I was stupid. “So, his old lady said we could take whatever we wanted before she calls 9-1-1.”

“Oh fuck!” I yelled, “Go get the keys to the Lincoln!”

He ran inside to find the keys. I parked and followed right behind. Inside, it was like Walmart on Black Friday, women everywhere, grabbing all they could. I walked to the back of the house, peeked into the back bedroom and saw the Murph’s old lady cracking his rigor mortised knuckles to slide the gold rings off his cold, dead fingers.

“Hey boy, help me lift this mattress,” she asked.

I helped her raise the mattress with the Murph’s cold, rigamorted body still on it. He looked like Weekend at Bernie Mack’s. Underneath, the box spring was hollowed out to hold stacks of cash. I held the mattress up best I could, trying to keep the Murph from rolling off, while she stuffed cash into black garbage bags.

“Throw me a stack!” I begged.

She tossed two stacks of hundreds to the side for me — $20,000.

Once she bagged the cash, I let the mattress back down and she yelled “Five minutes!” to alert everyone in the house they had five minutes to get what they could and get the fuck out because she had to call 911. She then told me to leave the room while she said a prayer.

I grabbed my two stacks and met my cousin outside. He already had the Lincoln in the street fired-up and ready to go, wearing one of The Murph’s fur hats. I jumped in and we took off straight to New York City, where we spent the next three days blowing the 20 G’s on booze and coke and crack (for him) and whores and a hotel suite and food and clothes and jewelry.

I don’t remember much about those three days but I do remember buying bottles of Night Train and Mad Dog 20/20 off homeless people on the street for $100 a pop because we were too young to buy it. We also made a game of slipping $100s into the pockets of homeless people sleeping on benches and in doorways, undetected.


Everything was fine until we got back to Schenectady. As we turned off at the Brandywine Avenue exit, a cop pulled us over. He knew the Murph’s car — everyone did — and made some joke about thinking there was a ghost driving it. He asked if we knew The Murph had died and we played stupid and said no, that we had borrowed the car from him a few days ago and acted surprised that he “must have died since.”

Being that it was The Murph’s car, a few other cops rolled up and they made us get out while they searched it…

Flashback to about four hours earlier…

We checked out of our hotel with a bunch of shopping bags, carried it all down the elevator to the Lincoln in the parking garage. We didn’t have the trunk key and couldn’t find a button to open the trunk so we just threw everything in the backseat.

Back to the cops…

They asked for the key to the trunk, we didn’t have it, but the one cop knew where the button was. The trunk popped and there inside were about ten shoe boxes full of hundreds! If I had to guess, there was another $250K there.


We looked at each other like, damn, we should’ve opened the trunk.

(Well, at least it wasn’t a dead body or kilos of coke.)

Anyway, the Schenectady Police made us grab our shit and walk home while they “towed” the car and “logged the cash in as evidence” in their investigation of our “suspicious activity.” Yeah, OK. Whatever. We never heard back from the police, or anyone else, ever, about any of it. I can only imagine them cops benefited from The Murph’s death as much as we did.

Hopefully, they were smarter with their share.

But that wasn’t the end of it. When I finally got home I got my ass beat for leaving dad’s car in the ghetto for three days.

— P.

Featured Image: Willie Dynamite (1974)

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