CROOKED

Chapter 1-3

 The year was 1981.The disco era had just passed. It had stormed its way through the country, leaving its mark on Afro Americans who partied hard wearing towering Afros, enormous bellbottom pants, and driving brand new, sparkling Cadillac’s with fat, whitewalls. These sights were the every-day highlights for me, growing up in the city of East Cleveland off Page Avenue and Euclid. For those who weren’t hip, this was an undersized black city that sat in the middle of Cleveland. This bankrupt city had its own dishonest mayor, crooked, racist-ass cops, and a serious crime rate as high as bigger cities across America. This undersized black city of twenty-four thousand had niggas running the streets not afraid to get that money by any means necessary. This city was known for pumping out major players in the pimp game, major dope dealers in the dope game, and major stick-up kids who would kill for major paper. I grew up in this city. I had the impressions that head busting, pussy advertising, and whipping fly big cars with the diamond in the back, sunroof top. Digging in the scene with the gangster lean ruled everything around a young nigga. I observed with a watchful eye, as my father and his boys ran the streets smacking the shit out of their whores if they came up short with their bread. Not that Wonder Bread for a fancy dynamic peanut butter and jelly sandwich that sat in your mother’s breadbox! But that real bread that kept those silky suits close to their athletic frames. That real bread kept that mean in those nigga’s steps, and that real bread that could get a nigga’s shit splattered in a pissy, dim-lit hallway from a wide boy stick up. I remember, when I was younger, I use to get wakened in the middle of the night by my father’s fucking the shit out of some new female he was trying to break in to traffic that pussy for a small profit. If the loud moans, groans, and bed boards weren’t waking me up, then it would be the gun shots buzzing loudly outside my bedroom window. My father did not actually have the time to spend with a little kid and my moms wasn’t in the picture at all. So, I found myself being raised by those harsh streets that cared for no one. I wasn’t one of those lucky kids blessed enough to have someone take the time out to make sure that I had a decent education or to have my head on straight. I also wasn’t fortunate enough to have the few peers who were in my life whisper to me that I could be the next black surgeon or black mayor to run a major black city. The only things that those old men pushed into my waxed eardrums was never to pull a gun out unless I was geared up to blow a hole in nigga’s leather; never switch out no muthafuckas no matter the case. They told me to run this package across the street and promise to never look inside it. Other than that, the only positive influence I received from anyone came from Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood, and Sesame Street on PBS. On the other hand, I did have some other young cats running the streets with me who were feeling the identical sting that I endured every day. We all were living in a one- parent household, where the other parent was either lost to the adversities of the street or the prison system that housed a horde of black males and females like a parking lot full of used cars. Growing up, me and my friends had all experienced nights without a hot meal in our small bellies resulting from the absence of our parents or the nodding off of the babysitter who was high as a kite from cans of Colt 45 brew or  heroin. So, taking matters into our own gritty hands, me and my boys began to steal from neighbors who had the nerve (or stupidity) to leave their doors cracked open enough for us to slither through them like the snakes that we were becoming. Occasionally a mothafucka would catch all of us up in a corner store, snatching and grabbing whatever we could get our filthy hands on. We would take our chances with any mothafuckas who chose to turn their heads for one split second too long. Countless days and nights when my father would be running the streets laying his pimp down, I would be chillin’ on the front stoop of my apartment building, watching the older cats push mad yellow envelopes of dope and marijuana to those whose money wasn’t funny. This was my only way of learning how to approach the game head on, not allowing for the game to sneak me from behind in one of the pissy, dimly-lit hallways like a thief in the night. I wasn’t going to be one of the many who got swallowed up by the boulevards because I was just in the way. Fuck dat! At the age of twelve, me, and my best friends Cool, and Suki, were out in the streets trying to get it the best way that we could. We wanted those fresh, new Nikes  and those fresh, crisp Levis that everyone was rocking. So, we started slinging nickel bags of weed in small plastic sandwich bags at school, pool halls, jumping-ass house parties, and to the older cats that held the corners up promising not to run their mouths to our parents. Damn! Thinking back that far, I wonder how in the world I could forget the summer of 1994? It was a scorching-hot summer. It was also the first time that I  saw a nigga getting his shit splashed all over the ground. I learned that a revolver could solve any problems that flared up like a bad case of hemorrhoids. Tonto was my big, Indian homie. He was more than off the hook. This nigga was straight up disconnected. I mean, I respected him, because he ran around the ‘hood  bringing mad havoc to all those who got in his way. He didn’t give a fuck about who you was or what kind of weight you brung to the table. He just wanted to bring niggas mad doses of pain and put fear into their hearts. On this one calm summer night, Tonto and some other cats was out in front of the building shooting dice like they did all the time. While they were gulping down a forty-ounce bottle of Old English and calling out points and bets, a tiny uproar started to fizz up. Tonto pushed his long hair to the other side of his huge, red face after the dice had stopped bouncing around on the calm concrete. Reaching over the dice and some nigga named Space Cowboy, Tonto began to pick up the crumpled bills that 

sat in the grass. “Hold up, nigga. What the fuck wrong with you?” Boo Boo spoke strongly. He was the one that seen the move being shuffled on all of them. Word is, Tonto forgot his point and just tried to pick up the pot on his next roll. This crazy-ass nigga was known throughout the ‘hood for pulling some wild bullshit like this. And sometimes he even got away with it because some didn’t have the balls to say shit about it. However, Boo Boo had those balls that others craved Tonto said, “Nigga, that was my point and if it wasn’t, it is now. As a matter of fact, get the fuck out my face, clown-ass nigga.” Tonto had the crumpled up bills in his big hands, and was stuffing them into his loose-fitting black Levi pockets. He stared at the other dudes who dared not look back at him. He then smiled at Boo Boo, while pushing his long shiny hair over his huge back, hoping and praying Boo Boo would confront him one more time so he could knock Boo Boo’s teeth out his face. Not getting the static that he had hoped he would get for taking the money, Tonto then turned around and started to make his way up the block, never casting a single look behind him. Not taking it on the chin like a bitch-ass nigga would, Boo Boo galloped up the street to face up to the Indian giant who had pocketed his bread. Boo Boo didn’t care how the others wanted to play their hand. He knew, as a man, he couldn’t accept that shit win, lose, or draw. Boo Boo called out, “Tonto. Hey! Tonto.” As Tonto turned around, Boo Boo threw a forceful punch to the square jaw of the big giant. It had no effect on the stunned Indian.  In return, Boo Boo got a look that told him that Tonto had been waiting for this for a long-ass time. As Tonto grabbed his jaw and shook off the light sting, he started to march towards the man with the little scrawny punch. Realizing that the punch had no effect on the Indian, Boo Boo knew that some adjustments needed to be made. What happened next would change Tonto’s life and mine too. Boo Boo heaved out the snub-nosed .38 with a practiced ease that indicated he had executed this maneuver plenty of times in front of his bedroom mirror while his moms was at work. Before Tonto could comprehend that the game had changed dramatically, it was too late. The last sound Tonto heard was the sound of the gun. BANG! The sizzling bullets pierced Tonto’s reddish skin, forcing the blistering slugs into his forehead like a termite burrowing into some aged dry wood. Before Tonto realized what had taken place, part of his brain was sitting on top of a blue Chevy Impala’s windshield. His big body staggered forward then backwards before plummeting to the warm concrete.  I gaped in astonishment. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed. Everyone else who witnessed this mind-boggling moment jetted off running in all directions away from the fallen corpse. Didn’t nobody want to be a witness to a nigga who had just got his shit split open like a watermelon! I decided to run as well—right towards the twitching body of the fallen Indian. I glanced at the giant chunk missing from  back of Tonto’s head. The nearer I got, the more I could see that he had pissed on himself and that his bowels had moved. I smelled a strong stench. See, I only got to see this type of shit on television or by someone telling a story while drinking on a bottle of warm cheap wine in the court yard of my building. I kicked at the motionless body a few times, and then kicked a bit harder, noticing I wasn’t getting the response I would normally get from a live man. Looking around one more time to see who was watching me, I rushed his pockets and took the earnings from the game, plus the big hunting knife he wore at his side. Where he was going, Tonto sure as hell wouldn’t need these things. That one saying I always heard rung true to my ears: Never bring a knife to a damned gun fight. That’s why I always stayed geared up for slip ups. I wasn’t going to get caught with my pants down. 

 

Chapter 2 

 Me and Cool was chillin’ in the backseat of the Acura truck with Nickels and the cat, Pete. The Nickels was getting a little bit of bread out here and he figured he knew the streets well enough to roam these dangerous mothafuckas. Yet, he had no idea what fatality was in his near future. He was about to become the victim of a wicked crime—a wicked crime that was sure to bring crocodile tears to his mother’s big brown eyes. I sat behind Nickels, bouncing the soft powder in my hands loving its pliable touch. “It feels like the weight is right. Where the other one at?” I asked. Nickels reached under the driver’s seat and pulled out the other thousand grams of coke and tossed it to me. He said, “Yo! What you going to do, playa? You going to cop this work or what? I don’t feel safe sitting in the dark like this. As a matter of fact, why y’all keep shooting out the street lights over here?” Cool started laughing because he could smell the bitch oozing off this nigga. “You ain’t got to worry. You in good hands around here, playboy.” Pete wasn’t trying to hear none of that shit because he had heard plenty scanless stories about Page niggas and how we got down. Pete said urgently, “Yeah, that’s all good. But where the money at? Let’s get this shit over with before we all end up in jail tonight.” Well, this nigga was right about getting this shit over with. But, he was dreadfully wrong about niggas going to jail. Mothafuckas wasn’t going to jail. They was on their way to the county morgue tonight. Hell yeah! Those niggas was about to get splashed up in this mothafucka. I was about to make it rain on a nigga’s ass tonight. I reached inside my leather and grabbing the butt of the .357 long barrel so tightly that, if the gun had had a pair of lungs, I would’ve choked the life out of it. I then looked at Cool and gave him a Joker’s smile. Play time was in full effect, baby. I positioned the tip of the chrome barrel up against the back of Nickels’ leather seat and pulled the trigger twice. BOOM! BOOM! The bullets blew through the leather seats. The two scorching slugs ripped Nickels’ small chest open like a fat mothafucka on a small bag of Lay’s Sour Cream chips. Blood leaped out of the huge smoking holes in his chest cavity, splashing hard against the steering wheel and dashboard of the flashy truck. Nickels’ floppy, lifeless body fell up against the horn of the steering wheel causing a loud, unwanted blare. The stage was already set as I pointed the pistol at Pete’s ass that was now opening the passenger’s side of the truck trying to get away from the madness I was bringing. “Bitch, where you trying to go?” I shouted at him. Cool’s Tech .9 jammed on him as he tried to push the seat up on Pete who was trying to get away. However, fright had kicked in overtime giving Pete the strength to push the seat up off him so he could get away.  BOOM! I fired the baby cannon at Pete and watched the sizzling bullet destroy the top of the passenger’s leather seat. The punk ass had made it out the truck and was running up the street. I fired a couple more shots through the windshield, missing him. “Damn! This nigga got away with witnessing a murder.” I was lying on the couch watching LeBron James give up on me and the Cleveland fans as we played Boston in the playoffs when my phone started screaming.  It was my homie, Dave. He’s was an older cat who taught me most of the shit that I knew about when it came to those streets. When it came to packing that shit, cocking that shit, and rocking that shit, Dave was the one that schooled me. I spoke into the phone and said, “What up, baby?” Dave said with no hesitation, “Check this out! I got something real sweet for us. I mean so damned sweet that all ya damned teeth will fall out ya mouth. That type of sweet, nigga. Now, meet me at the Best Steak House. Yo, for real. Don’t be late, cuz.” I rose from the malleable couch with the quickness of a hungry mountain lion. Dave had got my attention loud and clear and in return, I said, “Alright, I’ll meet you down there in half an hour. It better be good.” It felt good to be back in East Cleveland where it all began for me. That Page life I breathed, lived, and loved paved a road for my physical structure and mental stress that the ‘hood could put on a man’s brain. Shit was just inflexible for a young black man trying to make it in these uneasy times. I pulled into the small plaza off Euclid and parked my silver Dodge Challenger in front of the restaurant that was being run by some Arabs. They had most of the stores in my neighborhood on lock. These turban-wearing, strap-a-bomb-toyour-chest muthafuckas was getting all the black man’s hardearned money, while we sat around plotting on each other’s pockets instead of theirs. Before jumping out the side, I took a quick look to my left then right to search for the jack boys who played shit tight around here. Plus, I seen Dave’s Ford Fusion was nowhere in sight. After not seeing either, I got out and walked into the spot, grabbing me a table in the back where I could keep an eye on the front door. Smelling the pleasant food in the air, I decided to order something to eat. I was picking up a little appetite from the Gran Daddy Kush I smoked earlier in the day. The restaurant wasn’t full to capacity, but there were enough famished people up in the spot for the owner to turn a nice profit. After ordering a steak and egg platter, I heard the bell that sat over the entrance door rattle. DING! DING! I looked up, hoping it was Dave. Instead, it was the prettiest female I’ve ever seen in my life. Megan Good, who? This beautiful specimen came in with another female that was tight but nothing like the elegant one that had caught my eye and attention. “Damn!” She looked like she had some type of Indian decent flowing through her veins with that appealing long, black, silky hair surging over her shoulders. Her skin was as flawless as a newborn baby’s. Her hazel eyes told a story of their own and had a way of speaking to me without her pretty mouth parting like the Red Sea. The outfit she wore was a tight but respectful Prada black skirt with a white flimsy blouse that sat loose on top of her perfect breasts. The open Prada sandals she wore showed off her pretty toes and pedicure that I just couldn’t take. Me being a straight up freak for a cute small foot, I swear I couldn’t take the agony anymore. I was stuck like Chuck, gazing at her. The only reason that my gaze had to be released was because she caught me gaping her down. I ain’t never been scared of nothing in my life. But, it took me a minute to gather myself. When I was finally getting my shit together to run over to her table, I heard the bell ring once again. DING! DING! I glanced up to a wondering Dave who was looking all over for me. I tossed my hands up in the air signaling my location. “What up, baby? My fault for taking so long, but I was caught up in a little something and no, it wasn’t no pussy this time.” He laughed loudly and was ready to spit his guts up on why he called me down here, ‘til he seen my plate finally arriving. I pulled my plate close to me as if I was protecting it from a perpetrator and said, “What you got to tell me that’s so important to get me down here?”  Staring steadily at my plate, Dave finally looked up at me with a grin and said, “That bitch Nikki done hit the damned jack pot, baby. I mean she really hit the jack pot.” I tore a piece of the steak off and pushed it into my mouth while listening intensely. “She told me that there was going to be more than fifteen bricks about to be moved between some Detroit niggas and Marcus’ fat ass.” I stopped eating and place my fork down not believing what I had just heard. I’d been wanting to get that fat mothafucka for a long time. I just couldn’t catch the nigga slipping like I needed to. But if this was true, then it was on. I said, “You sure, Dave? That bitch Nikki ain’t playing no games is she?”  Dave slid his chair up to the table some more and said in a serious tone, “Do I play games, nigga? Hell yeah I’m sure! If I’m willing to put my own damned life on the line for this shit, you best believe that it’s real. Now, what you want to do?” His girl was good at what she did. I can’t front about that. Turning us on to licks was what she did. I knew for a fact that Nikki would suck a muthafucka’s dick and ass to find out where that currency was stashed at. I watched as Dave slid my plate towards him to take a piece of my steak and stick it in his greedy face as I thought. I knew for a fact that this fat nigga wasn’t going to just let some cats run up in his spot like it was sweet. That  would be just too easy. We was going to have to come heavy. And heavy we was going to come if it was up to me. Shrugging my shoulders, I said, “Let’s do this, nigga. Get all the information down and I’ll take care of getting the straps together.”  With a mouth full of my steak and eggs, Dave said, “That’s what I’m talking ‘bout. Where Suki and Cool? We got to let these niggas know what’s up.” I told him that Suki had gone back to Chicago to see his family and that Cool was laying up with that nothing-ass bitch of his. Dave just shook his head. Cool’s girl couldn’t keep it real with him that she was feeling another cat while he was behind bars doing an eighteen-month sentence. Me and Dave said our good-byes. Before I left the restaurant, I needed to say something to the pretty, young lady. She was sitting at the table by herself now. Her girl had stepped into the powder room. I knew this was my chance to make my move. And I had to make it count. Damn! She was fine as wine. “Excuse me, I don’t tend to be rude or disrespectful, but you are sooo fuckin’ beautiful.” I couldn’t believe that my lips had just said that. But the cat was out of the bag now and I had to roll with the punches I just dished out. She looked me up and down with a smile then said, “Well, thank you very much. You’re not bad looking yourself.” I knew that I had to hurry up and shoot my shot before her girl came out of the bathroom hating and spitting salt on my game because I wasn’t hollering at her.  “What’s your name, baby—if you don’t mind me asking?”  With no hesitation, she replied, “My name is Jasmine. What’s yours?”  Keeping up the pace that we had flowing, I said, “My name is Anthony. However, my friends call me Hectic.”  She giggled a child’s giggle then said, “Hectic!”  Mad that I even told her that shit, I said, “Well there’s a long story to that name, but maybe one day I’ll be able to tell you how I got it.”  I watched her go into her Prada bag. She pulled out a black card and handed it to me. “Here’s my number, cutie. Maybe you’ll get the chance to tell me how you got that name, Hectic.” Before I could leak another word out, I saw her friend coming out of the bathroom beaming down on us like a big sister looking after her little sister. I wanted to bounce before she made it over to us, so I said, “Well, it’s been an honor talking to you and you can best believe I’ll be using this number.” I reached inside my pocket and pulled out a respectful size knot of money to let her know that I had a little bit of green. I placed a fifty on the table and sauntered away. Outside, I took a nippy gaze to my left, then a nippy gaze to my right to make sure the jack boys wasn’t scheming on a lick they felt was something sweet. Blowing a few holes in a nigga’s Parker was straight up my alley for those who didn’t believe, trust, or feel I was capable of making a nigga disappear. Feeling relieved from the quick date, I jumped in the car. I can’t front one bit. I felt kinda good because I’d met a fine-ass bitch. Then, on top of that, I was about to put that nigga Marcus’ fat ass in a choke hold. Yeah! So far the day was glowing. Now all I had to do was holla at old man George. 

 Old man George was my man when it came to that heavy weaponry. You know what I’m saying? When it came to laying the heat down on lames, old man George had the tools to take care of it—from .22’s to rocket launchers. Yeah, my nigga had enough blistering shit to take down a small county. The time was now seven in the evening. My phone screamed that familiar scream as I pulled up to old man George’s junkyard. “What’s the deal?” An unfamiliar voice spoke into my phone stating, “Baby, I need you. Baby, I need you to come over here and stroke this kitty cat.”  Puzzled, I asked, “Who in the hell is this?” All I heard after that was, “See, nigga? You ain’t shit. You got all those bitches in your face. You don’t even know the voice of your real bitch.”  It was Shantel, my damned ex, and she was mad-crazy for real. I mean some of that, thin line between love and hate crazy. I don’t know why she couldn’t take it that I didn’t want to fuck her no more, because she wasn’t trying to hear none of that. So, maybe she would hear this! I hung the phone up while she was still talking. I wasn’t on it. Sitting in front of the Junkyard, I blew the horn and within seconds four big-ass Dobermans ran to the gate showing how they enjoyed greeting people they didn’t know. The fuming mutts was bouncing and jumping off the gate, while barking and slobbering all over their shiny coats. Within seconds, old man George came to the gate and with a sleight of the hand like a magician, the dogs had stopped barking. Old man George stood looking at me with these thickass glasses he wore tight to his face ‘til he finally recognized who I was. He then started to unchain the big gate that surrounded his fortress of junk. I pulled my car in and waited for him to hook it back up. Meanwhile, his dogs kept their eyes on my black ass and any sudden moves I tried to make that they didn’t agree with. Old man George was an old-school car “mechanic” whose smile would let you know his true age because of the limited teeth he rocked in his vacant mouth. But he was good people, just trying to get that paper like everyone else in this free world struggling with this hard economy President Bush’s bitch-ass put us all in. After wrapping the fat heavy chain back around the gate, old man George then jumped into the passenger’s seat, yelling. “Hey, boy! You still staying razor-blade sharp?” Although talking to me, old man George was looking all around the car making sure I was the only other person beside him in the car. His behavior was understandable. Sensing that everything was cool, he finished, “What brings you around here, young’un?”  I let off a large smile as I drove by all the junk he had surrounding his house like an art gallery full of sculptures. “I want to check out a few engines you got stashed up in here. Is that cool with you?”  The old man looked me up and down a few times letting me see the Smith-‘n-Wesson he had tucked in his overalls, and then gave me a toothless smile. “Yeah, you alright with me. Come on and I’ll show you something real nice.” I got out of the car and walked with the old man and the four Dobermans that prayed I fucked up so they could sink their lengthy teeth into my young, black flesh. I kept my eyes on the hungry dogs as we walked into a dense garage where two men were working on a truck. Mountains of sparks were shooting over the garage like shooting stars. We turned into another room on the left, then another room on the right. I was now in the office I wanted to be in. This room looked like some shit you would see in an executive’s office building downtown. It was clean and polished with nothing but Italian leather and marble. The old man walked around his mahogany desk. Taking off those thick-ass glasses he said, “What you want, bro?” All that old-boy talk and young’un shit went flying out the window when it came to taking care of business and getting that money. 

 “I need some of that hot shit, George. Not no rockets or shit like that, but something that will lay a few muthfuckas down.”  The old man lit up the half cigar that sat in the crystal ashtray, then walked over to the far wall and tilted a picture frame that held a picture of a black nigga and woman rocking afros in the doggy style position. In seconds, the wall began move in  a mechanical, robotic manner. At the back this rotating wall rained showers of artillery—everything a cat would love to get his hands on. There was everything from small handguns, big handguns, assault rifles, to sub machines guns, rockets, and hand grenades that would leave a psychotic killer’s tongue hanging out of this mouth. The old man said, “Here!” With that, he tossed me a long black duffle bag. “Get what your money can pay for.” I ended up grabbing an AK-47 choppa, one M-16 with a hundred round drum, two P-89 Rugers, one AR-15, one Mac11, and two chrome pistol grip pumps. We couldn’t leave no witnesses to the violence we was about to mix up with these clown-ass niggas. Shit! Playtime was now in session.

 

Chapter 3 

Jasmine:

 I live in a moderately even-tempered suburb outside of Cleveland called, Westlake. Here, you would find your white soccer moms who drove the Caravans full of white soccer kids who loved to drink Sunny Delight and talk back to their laidback parents. In this community, you didn’t have to worry about cars riding around pumping loud music or seeing kids standing on every corner you passed trying to sell you something illegal. Here, you could sit back, relax, and love life as it breezed by like an easy-going summer’s day. Originally, I was from the Washington D.C. area raised on the southeast side of the chocolate city. I had one brother and two sisters, who were much older than I. Yet, we still continued to stay in touch as much as possible. Family truly mattered to me—especially after my parents were killed when I was sixteen years old in a brutal robbery. As I can remember, my parents were inside the corner store, purchasing a pack of Kool’s and some other small items when two thugs rushed the show and robbed the place leaving not one eyewitness to their bloody madness. That unpleasant incident changed my life forever making me want to finish high school and get into law-enforcement. I wanted to do my part in helping keep the streets safe and put those in jail who chose not to follow the rules. Those animals that killed my parents were never caught and I promised my parents up in heaven that I would do everything in my power to prevent that happening to another family.  I’ve been a police officer for over twelve years. I was now working undercover for the Feds in Cleveland, where I had to investigate a major drug supplier in this area. Just a few years ago, I had been involved in another drug investigation in Landover, Maryland, where I helped drag down some very dangerous Jamaican boys. In the process, I caught one bullet in my right thigh and two more hot ones in my back that the Jamaicans had hoped and prayed would’ve killed my ass. God was on my side that night, leaving me to count my blessings every day for sparing my life. I took on the job of working undercover once more because I loved the thrill of being in the middle of that underworld lifestyle of drug dealers and murders. Plus, in the end, I got to see their drug empires crumble beneath them when we knocked that ass. As I sat on my porch, sipping a cup of coffee, I checked out the updates on a suspect named, Stanley Marcus. He 

was a huge drug dealer and murderer from the southeast side of Cleveland. As I could tell, he was certified as a real street criminal. Now, my job was to get the proof that the Feds needed to nail this scumbag to the wall. Luckily, I had met a very strange, but interesting woman who was familiar with Marcus and his crew. I knew for a fact that I had to put a plan together and work this young woman to get in alone with the suspect. Glancing up at the stars on this pretty, hushed night, my thoughts took me back to the guy I had met at the restaurant during my lunch with Gina. I won’t lie. I did find him very attractive with that curly hair and light brown complexion. Yet, I never had time to do no hooking up with my girlfriends or even a man that I found stimulating to my soul. However, I was a woman and I had my needs just as a man has his. I won’t lie. I do get tired of being alone and living life with no one by my side to give me the affection and loving that I knew I deserved. I prayed that this mysterious man would pick up that phone and call me to keep me company on this warm night. But ‘til then, I would have to please myself as I found myself doing almost every night. Gina:

 I stood at 5’6” and weighed in at 120 pounds with my clean, chalkboard black, pretty ass. I was raised in the King Kennedy projects and was trying to do anything to make it out of these raggedy muthafuckas. I had a healthy, six-year-old boy by some nigga who had admitted to beating up on the pussy, but claimed to never put no seed in the pussy. Shit, I had thought about calling the Maury Show to get a paternity test done on this nigga, plus to take a free trip to New York City to get my shopping on, but I changed my mind because I, too, knew 99.9999 percent that he wasn’t the father. I lived with my moms. She was slowly but surely killing herself with all the alcohol she consumed day and night. Not only was she a heavy drinker, but she was also a sleaze bucket for these neighborhood cluckers that use our small home as a trap house for the younger drug dealers in these projects. There was always serious traffic coming and going through the apartment like the inner belt coming downtown. I was tired of the shit. I had a son who didn’t need to see all this negative behavior that took place here. It wasn’t something I wanted to continue to see either. I dropped out of high school in the tenth grade because of my pregnancy. I didn’t have a damned job, and to be honest, I wasn’t trying to find none. I did want to go back to school and get my G.E.D. But, I had bills to pay and I had things that I wanted and needed. Why should I go back to school when all these balling-ass niggas wanted to taste my milkshake?  “Mom, hurry up out of the bathroom so I can get Jordan cleaned up.” Finally, the door burst opened. My moms scooted by as I rushed in with Jordan in my hands like a football. I was soon stopped cold by what I observed. A fiend-ass nigga was standing in the middle of the bathroom with his dick still in his ashy-ass hands. “Nigga, if you don’t get the fuck out my bathroom, I swear.” The fiend’s smile faded as he rushed his penis into his trousers and got out of the bathroom as quickly as he could. I cursed to myself because I hated the situation that I was in. That’s why I had to do what I did to try to make it out of the projects. On the bright side of things, I ran into a pretty nice lady a couple of weeks ago at the Laundromat. Her name was Jasmine. I did like the bitch’s style and I needed to see who she was rubbing elbows with because she had a style about her that I was feeling. I figured she had to be about her business for the simple fact of the designer gear she was always parading around in. I ain’t talking about no urban shit either. Her whole style and attitude wasn’t from around here. With me being so damned nosey, I had to see what her angle was and if I could get in where I needed to fit in. 

Suki:

 I stood in the middle of my motel room, out of breath and sweating as if I had just  finished first in the running of a city marathon. I paced back and forth from the tinted motel windows back to the thin aluminum door. I was incredibly nervous—so nervous that I couldn’t see or think straight anymore. I was gripping the .44 Desert Eagle so tightly that my knuckles began to turn white. I didn’t know whether to call my boys back in Cleveland or just go out of the game in a blaze of glory. I knew that I had to make up my mind and make up my mind quickly. Time was running out like minutes on a cheap cell phone. Spinning my head towards the lumpy, plague-ridden bed that the motel expected me to sleep on, I looked at the two, full-size bags waiting for me to open them up. Their contained treasures had me in the bind that I was in now. See, I was happy to be back in Chicago, no doubt. This is where I was from and grew up for a short time in my life. It felt good to be back around family members I hadn’t seen in years. Yet, Chicago wasn’t too happy to see me or any other muthafucka, in fact. Most of the people I knew and all my favorite places to be at had changed since I had moved away. Nothing remained of all that was good back then. It was now all bad. The whole set up was just like it was back in Cleveland. Crack and gangs had run their course in yet another one of my neighborhoods and had sucked the life and love out of one more black community. This crack and gang epidemic was just like the AIDS virus on the tip of a nasty nigga’s dick—contagious. Walking around my old neighborhood on the south side, I didn’t notice one damned person ‘til I made my way into the Washington playgrounds. Right here is where I used to play as a youngster. It was here that my father use to do his handto-hand exchanges with his friends. They called me their young G.D. All the green grass and swings that once covered this park were now missing in action like a nigga’s hairline who fucked with a prison barber. Some people just didn’t change in appearance no matter how much they aged. June still looked the same as when he was ten years old. Looking him up and down, I finally said, “Long time no see, nigga.”  With a large grin covering his yellow face, June stared at me for a few seconds. Then, he said, “Suki, is that’s you? Damn! It’s been a long time, baby. How you doing, man?” Not allowing for me to speak, he continued on, “How your moms and that pretty sister of yours? How long you back?”  Shit, I had to put my hand up in the air as if I was back in school trying to get the teacher’s attention. “Damn, boy! Let me get a word or two in. I’m glad to see you too--but damn!” We both laughed and hugged each other like lost brothers seeing each other for the first time in twenty years. After our small greetings, we both sat on a bench trying to catch up on the past “Where everybody at?” I asked. In response, June explained to me how drugs and gang banging had changed everyone we grew up with. They were turned out on dope, serving time for dope, or out in the streets slinging dope. He told me ‘bout the ones that caught bullets to the chest and skulls for claiming Folks, Vice Lords, Latin Kings, Black Disciplines, or P-Stones. He also told me ‘bout the problem he was going through trying to take care of his two small children. “I tried the job thing,” he said earnestly. “I mean, I left the streets alone to take care of my seeds, man. My baby momma out in streets turning tricks, while popping those damned blue and red dolphin pills. It’s been hard on me.”  I sat listening. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from my childhood friend. He used to sleep over at my crib on the weekends, and sometimes on the weekdays when his mother was out in the streets drunk as a skunk to the point she couldn’t find her way home. I knew my boy was struggling out on these cold boulevards and so was I to be honest. I was requesting and praying to catch me a nigga up here slipping. To be frank, that 

was my main reason for coming back up here. I never had a problem taking my show on the road and cracking a few heads open like coconuts. I needed some dead presidents in these fruitless pockets of mine. With all the niggas rolling around here with pockets full of cash, I refused to not be a part of it. “I ain’t trying to be funny or nothing. But, why you ain’t hit none of these niggas up yet? These nigga’s out here living good, while you sitting around here broke as hell. You complain about having no paper, but the shit sitting right in front of your mug!”  June was about to put a cigarette between his lips when he said, “I’ve thought about taking some of these niggas up top, but I never did it. I just been scared, man. I ain’t gon’ lie. I ain’t never done no shit like that before.”  As I sat listening to this man complain, my eyes shifted to a pack of young niggas strolling through the park looking up to no good. I could tell the young cats was Gangster Discipline by the way their hats twisted on their peanut-shaped heads.  June pulled the cigarette back out of his mouth and said, “I know this nigga on the Westside getting it. I believe he lives with his moms. But I know for a fact that he got that spread. I just never had the balls to get the nigga.”  That was all I needed to hear. This was my cup of tea down in Cleveland. Why hustle when I can take yo shit? For a couple of days, me and June followed this young kid around the city as he picked up and dropped bags off at a house on the Westside in large doses. Not having the patience to continue to sit and watch this action for one more day, I decided it was time to get paid, “Hey, we getting this clown tonight. Soon as this nigga drop that shit off, we busting up in the back door.”  June said, “You sure your plan going to work? I mean, I don’t want shit to go wrong.”  I sat back looking at June and had second thoughts on taking this lame with me. A nigga had to have a cold heart to get down the way that I did and this one sure in the hell gave off a funky vibe that his heart was lukewarm.  I questioned him, “You scare or something?”  June tried his hardest to harden his face and voice, “Hell naw! I ain’t scared. I was just thinking.”  I gave him a stare one more time, then put the car in gear and pulled out into the street saying, “Then stop just thinking and get ready to get this cream.” It was six in the evening. The sun was still beaming down on the city of Chicago and the people who chose to sit in the eighty-degree weather. Me and June sat in the rusted-out Nova waiting for the final drop off while listening to DJ Timbuck 2 mix some of the hottest hip hop together like a hot pot of New Orleans gumbo. I knew no one was in the house other than some old lady and I hoped I wouldn’t have to unleash no slugs on this old hag. Didn’t no one want to shoot an old black woman, for real. But, let it be known: I would if it came down to her old ass and that money. I’d scalp her old shit back with no second thoughts. I swear I would. Hopefully, things would go smoothly and unnoticed to the neighbors sitting on their porches and kids playing tag football in the middle of the street. I looked over to June and I could tell that this nigga was scared. “You cool, nigga?” I asked him. June responded, “Yeah, I’m slick. Let’s just get this shit over with because the nigga just pulled up.” I looked over.  There was that white Ford Temple with the passenger’s window taped up with plastic. He was just pulling up. We both sat watching him doing his ritual grabbing a few bags from the car and whisking them into the house.  A few minutes later, he reappeared toting one large bag. He jumped back into the smug he was pushing. After the Ford Temple pulled off, I pulled my car out into the alley and jumped out. I took the safety off the meaty .44 and said, “Let’s go get this paper.”  We both made it to the back porch and with no hesitation. I gave the door a hard kick, knocking the wooden door off its hinges. BOOM! We busted straight in, waving the pistol around like a madman ready to lay something down. I caught a glimpse of the old lady scampering into the livingroom. Giving a small chase, I screamed out, “Where you trying to go, grandma? Get your old ass over here.”  She started screaming at me, “What the fuck you want? Who the hell is y’alls?”  I calmly told her, “Grandma, on some real shit. Sit your old ass down on this couch. Be still and won’t nothing happen to you. But if you keep screaming like you lost your damned mind, then I’m going to lose my damned mind too and blow your brains across this room. Now, how you want to do this?” That old lady understood me loud and clear. I took a peek into the dining-room. I saw the two bags sitting next to the dining-room table. “Watch the old lady and if she moves pop her old ass,” I told June. Before marching into the other room to grab hold of the black bags, I looked at the old lady and gave her a nice wink and smile. While watching over the old lady, who looked to be in her early seventies, June started quavering with the chunky blue steel .38 in his sweaty palms. The old lady sat looking at June. Realizing that there was a tab of bitch flowing in his veins like white blood cells she said, “You know what? You ain’t nothing but a bitch boy and when my grandson finds out you took his money, he gon’ cut your little dick off and stick that little muthafucka in your mouth.” She then gagged up something foul from deep in her throat and spit it at June’s feet in disgust. Watching the slimy green slob splash next to his retro Jordan’s, June got irritated and jumpy at the same time, forcing him to lose his cool as if the old lady was the one holding him at gunpoint.  From where I was at, I could hear all the commotion. But, before I could make it back into the living-room to calm shit down, the damage was already done. POP! POP! POP! “Oh shit. What the fuck?” I gasped. Rushing into the living-room as quickly as I could, I was brung to a halt by the sight of the old lady stretched out across the couch with three smoking holes in her plump but fragile frame. Two bullets had caught t old lady in the chest right above her long and sagging breast, while the other bullet she took to the side of her wrinkled face. It ripped a piece of her jaw off. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. “What the fuck you doing? Why you shoot her?”  June stood looking dumb, the smoking gun in his hands, and said, “She spit on me and on top of that, she said her son was going to cut my dick off and shove the shit in my mouth. So I shot the old bitch.” I swear I wanted to shoot my lifelong friend right in his head and leave his dumb ass next to the old lady. But, instead, I ran to the living-room front window and noticed people looking back up at the house. “Fuck.” Grabbing both bags with one swift move, I found myself in the backyard racing towards the old Nova at top speed. As I got to the car, I could hear a pair of sirens in the background, getting closer with every second I waited for June to get into the car. I wanted to waste June’s blood the same damned way he did that old lady. But time wouldn’t permit me to. I knew I had to get the fuck away from this murder scene. As I turned out of the alley to hit in the side streets, I observed a patrol car turning down the street the house was on. Living in these types of conditions everyday in the city of Cleveland, I knew how to keep my cool the whole time others would’ve been jerky—jerky like this bitch-ass nigga June was. I told him, “Shut the fuck up!”  I continued to roll ‘til we got three city blocks away from the robbery-turned-homicide. As I pulled up behind a Caravan with some little, ugly, fat, white kid making all these dumb-ass, funny faces at me, I noticed a police car sitting right behind me. The patrol car didn’t have its bubble lights flashing. But, my survival wits told me that this image wasn’t right at all.  June had noticed my discomfort and spun around to see the cops on our asses. This sent him into a frenzied mode. “Oh shit, we going to jail!” he ranted. “I knew I shouldn’t have fucked with you, man. Shit!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from my homeboy. But, before I could speak up or confront this ho-ass nigga, the light turned green on me. Right when my foot hit the gas pedal to make a smooth getaway, the cops’ sirens started blaring and roaring like a full-grown lion. Mashing on the gas while jumping in and out of traffic like a maniac, I was fully aware that June had frozen up on me. This forced me to grab my hammer. Without shilly-shallying, I pulled the trigger. POW! The stray shot hit June in his side just missing his kidney. While keeping my eyes on the road, I said, “Nigga, jump yo punk ass out the car or I’ll pop yo ass again.” June was clasping the smoking hole in his side trying to hold all the blood seeping out. He wailed, “Suki, you shot me. Why you shot me, man?”  I guess this nigga thought I was playing. So, I pulled the trigger again to aim for his head this time. POW! The first bullet whizzed past him, taking out the passenger’s window. So, I tried again. POW! The second bullet caught him in the top of his left shoulder and not his damned head that I was aiming for. His eyes grew big as twenty-fourinch rims as he sat screaming and crying. He knew that death was around the corner and it was coming for dat ass. However, he did get the message because he cracked open the car door while I was doing about forty, and leaped out smacking hard against an F150 parked in front of a furniture store. THUMP! The car door stood wide open as I came to a four-way intersection packed with vehicles. Deciding to bust a quick right, I hit the brakes and watched the car fishtail to the left forcing the passenger’s door to close on its own and push the rest of the loose-fitting glass into the car with me. I mashed the gas down a side street. The police car was still on me like a big fat fly on top of a steaming pile of shit.  I knew I had to get away or I was going down for two homicides I wasn’t trying to catch. Looking back into the rearview mirror, I noticed another police car and I knew soon there would be many more joining the pack. I busted a quick left, scarping the old Nova against a parked Navigator. Not one bit did it keep me from easing off the gas. I peeped out at the railroad tracks up in front of me. I heard the train’s horn blaring in the background over the sirens and hot engine inside the Nova. It was about fifty yards away. As I got closer to the tracks, I could see the muzzle of the train coming up on my right. I punched the gas more and thought if I could beat this train then I might have a chance of getting away. If not, then going to jail for life would be the least of my worries. I took one more glance out the rearview and seen the cops still on my ass. I knew I had no choice but to do what my crazy ass was thinking about doing. I looked to my right and seen the engine of the machine moving fast, daring anything to get in its way. I hit the tracks, busted through the crossing rails and witnessed the Nova flying through the air. The Nova landed with such a force that I hit my head on the roof of the car and cracked my neck. I held my breath and closed my eyes and prayed that I wouldn’t get smashed to pieces by the heavy, irritated train. The car smashed hard to the earth on the other side of the tracks, leaving me feeling lucky and alive. It was all good ‘til I started to lose control of the rusty, ass car. The Nova jumped and bounced around on the hot pavement like a child bouncing a ball. It smacked hard into a parked car then a light pole. I thumped my head hard against the steering wheel and made a deep gash over my left eye. But, I knew I had to suck up the pain and get out of the car before the police got over the tracks. Reaching into the backseat, snatching up the bags, I turned around and took my chances with this alley right in front of me.

 

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