Two young adolescent males from the ghetto encounter danger and self-actualization in their quest for hardihood, glory, and fortune.
The storm had partly quieted down yet one could still hear bellows of thunder off in the horizon. A reddish pink emblazoned the skyline illuminating in patches the evening aura. The revolt, the anarchy of armies of clashing clouds and thunderous booms had subsided, subdued untimely by its masters in the heavens. Rain still sprinkled the ground in small drizzles. There seemed to be peace at last but for how long.
Thomas ran outside to greet as if he himself was the earth’s appointed ambassador to the heavens the long awaited peace. Slowly the streets filled again with dark and copper tone bodies and roaring laughter and discourse lifted into the air. Thomas did an impromptu zig zag across the yard and raced across the street to Zion’s house. He anxiously rung his neighbor and good friend’s doorbell awaiting confirmation of his arrival. Fumbling a circle of keys in his two hands Zion finally located the right one and unlocked the burglar bars stepping out onto the wet lawn. He gave Thomas an innocuous look and then quickly and ceremoniously banged fist over fist with his longtime associate. His juvenile eyes took in the panorama of houses and bodies which lined and filled his block and seemed to extend like a procession of church pews indefinitely backward and forward. His chest heaved a sigh of relief and his eye’s peeked up as he contemplated with infectious joy the limitless possibilities for mischief he and his good friend could find. Each boy had long transcended the days of frog beating and stomping snapping turtles in the street until blood and guts oozed from their martyred corpses, specimens specially selected, dissected (or rather mutilated) and murdered for the sanctimonious cause of edifying and enriching the minds of young ghetto children. Their teenage minds, aside obviously from its preoccupation with its new charter to find and take as much pussy as possible, of course within the proscribed parameters of law and order (their friend whom they called in the streets Ajazz had learned defying such norms could mean a lot of trouble the hard way), centered powerfully on the notion of danger, hardihood, and the glory it brought one in the streets or so it was believed. A week earlier under the urging of Zion both boys had burglarized a neighbors house coming away with tennis shoes, video games, as well as much more treasure endearing to the juvenile eye.
A spry smile spread across Zion’s face as he inquired of his friend “Waddup homie?….Where the bread at?”
“Nigga I don’t know” was Thomas’s frank reply
“Man, homie the world is ya cherry and you sitting around twittling your thumbs not even tryin to get it,” rejoined Zion
“And speaking of cherries I popped that bitch Veronica’s cherry last night…. The bitch was bleedin on me and shit, talkin about how much she loved me, but couldn’t take my dick. This was only halfway through the whole thing. My nigga I was amped to slap that bitch for stopping me halfway knowing a nigga needed his daily nut.”
“Veronica who,” Thomas piped up….”not Veronica Turner”…..”nigga stop lyin on ya dick…u know that chick way outta ya league…..aint she a junior….we just barely made it to high school.“
A slightly crestfallen look sunk into Thomas’s face as his feat retreated a few steps backward as if to signify his astonishment.
“Man, nigga wazup u about to cry ain’t u….u really liked that bitch, huh….u always mentioning her name…..tell u what u can have them bloody knickers the bitch left me as a token of our love.”
“Man, I don’t want that shit and you know damn well I ain’t about to cry Zion.” I’m just shocked, u know. Plus, I didn’t like the bitch like that…thought she was too cute for her own good.”
“Yeh, plus I heard she didn’t like cats wit tiny tims so u aint stand a chance wit that chick anyway Tom Tom.”
“Say fuck you dawg I ain’t got no tiny tim.”
“O, Im just sayin bro mad chicks be sweatin you in them freshman hallways and you aint knocked down one of em yet.”
“Sooooo…..I aint like u Zion. I ain’t the type to hit and quit em. Im not into breaking bitch’s hearts.
“Why u call em bitches then?”
“O, bullshit nigga u know what the fuck I mean. I don’t call em bitches to they face.”
“So u sayin u two faced then nigga…..thatz what u telling me huh.”
“Nevamind, nigga u stupid….I don’t know why I even fuck wit you sometimes.”
Both boys couldn’t help but laugh. A long foreboding silence then hung over them. A rain drop fell on Zion’s nose and then another. And then quickly another. All of a sudden a torrent of rainfall began to pour down on both boy’s heads.
“Say nigga its rainin again like motherfuckin cats and dawgs shouted Zion over the thunderous downpour….Imma about to take my blackass back into this house and finish off yesterday’s box of Popeye’s chicken.
“You chicken eatin ass nigga,” mused Thomas with a half cocked smile.
“Yeh, nigga whateva.” rejoined Zion…..”All I know is that bitch ass nigga who we call God betta be servin Popeye’s when I get up there or Im settin it off right in that motherfucka nigga.”
“Man, nigga u corny shut yo stupid ass up…” “Anyway Im takin my ass back across the street and into that house too.”
Both boys once again banged fist over fist and parted their separate ways. Again Thomas made an impromptu zig zag across the yard while at the same time fumbling for his keys to open the burglar bars. Before ducking his head through the door he noticed suddenly that the throng of black and copper tone bodies and loud voices had once more disappeared from the streets and everything was again quiet except for the hollering thunder that now seemed to be approaching at a speed tantamount to lightening. It seemed as if the insurrection was on again. Clouds clashed like legions of roman solders into one another and raced fiercely across the sky. Lightening lit up dark places within the city’s skyline. Thomas could not help but muse to himself that the lightening bolts were somehow in fact instruments of warfare used by God to squelch and pacify the rebellious skies. According to his juvenile calculations the skies had wanted for some time now to be at a level higher than they were. They wanted to make their home in the heavens, the apex of all universal creation. He wondered if there could ever be an enduring peace between the skies and the masters of the heavens. A sly grin appeared across his face as if he had stumbled on to some ancient secret, indeed some ancient contest of irreconcilable wills. Thomas walked this time entirely into the house and took a seat on a lounge chair in the den’s living room.
The sky now hung from its armature in the heavens displaying a deep radiant blue. The sun played a game of peek a boo between the clouds, appearing in glimpses, beaming down onto the ghetto streets, sidewalks, and burglar bar entrapped houses brightly illuminating the shadows of bodies that had once again overtaken the streets. Riotous laughter ruptured the stillness of the air in sporadic moments giving off a deep sense of jubilance and buoyant merriment. Morning dew dripped from tree limbs, collected in translucent pools of water on the tops of bushes, and sprinkled the ground in uneven splotches. Young children splashed in puddles of mud and rain while others bounced basketballs down the street. The sun rose increasingly to its apex in the sky simultaneously bearing down, almost in a lordly fashion, on the backs of brown and black bodies. Thomas appeared from behind his rusted burglar bars and took in slowly the panorama of homes and bodies. He welcomed the newfound calm with a smile that spread from ear to ear across his heavy face as his chest heaved a deep sigh of relief. Again he wondered how long the peace would last. He then saw Zion cross the street and walk through his yard towards his front door.
“So we gonna jack this nigga or what,” hollered Zion with his typical spry smile spread across his face.”
“I don’t know dawg,” Thomas croaked….and shhhhh nigga keep it down….I mean I need that bread just like you,” he whispered,” dawg but what if the cat don’t come up off his shit and we gotta bust him….You know I aint afraid to kill but this is Texas and we niggas get the chamber for shit like that….try our motherfucker black asses as adults and then inject our motherfuckin asses.”
“Say nigga u worried about the wrong motherfuckin shit…the what ifs….what u a detective now….We need that bread bro and you actin straight pussy right about now.”
“Who u callin a pussy nigga?”…..”What cause I use my motherfuckin brain for more than a hat rack”….you trippin Zion.
“Look nigga I told you it aint that hard. Imma bust the nigga do down….we gone find him and make him come off his shit….its that motherfuckin simple…no ifs ands or buts about it…
“Say, what if he got a bitch or kids in the house too….” whaaaat, we gonna bust dem too.”
Man, that nigga ain’t got no kids and if a bitch stupid enough to be with that trashy nigga then she deserve to die too…..”Plus nigga Im tired of stealing shit like video games and tennis shoes….we need some real bread that’s gonna put us on our feet so we can come up…..”Im tired of dis shit…..”Imma end up going bezerk and raping a bitch like that nigga whatchma call it.”
“Ajazz,” Thomas piped up.
“Yeh, that stupid nigga.”
A long silence then suddenly hung in the air. Both boys intuitively understood the highly precarious and demoralizing nature of hood life. Somehow both understood equally well the inherent fallacy of calling Ajazz stupid. It rubbed both on some deeply fundamental gut level the wrong way. Although neither of the boys could yet give some highly elaborate, scientific, or profound explanation validating or vindicating the correctness of their peer’s latest antic they perceived in him, his swagger, and chronic rage a bit of their own selves. They shared together, the three of them, an inexplicable rage and hunger (inexplicable it was to them) that boomed within them like the thundering sky from the night before, an insatiable thirst for pussy, glory, and ends (fuck friends). Although likely chastised by mainstream America and its underlings as born sinners they were hard-pressed to conceive of themselves in such a way. Their world and theirs seemed to be planet’s apart. They believed as the late Tupac most eloquently professed Fuck the world (or at least the otherside). Both boys felt as well that if there was indeed a God he was probably po like them and most of the world and neither judged nor belittled them for their thought and actions for he instinctively thought and behaved like them. Evidently he ate popeyes and fucked bad bitches whenever the opportunity presented itself. This seemed only right to their juvenile minds.
“Say homie here’s the plan,” explained Zion….”Imma ring the doorbell….”if the nigga Johhnny not there he not gonna answer. If he do pop that nigga ova the head wit da back of da pump….We then gone go in and search for dem pounds……”We need to get in and get out…”u feel me nigga.”
Thomas gave a stoic nod and waited on more instructions.
“And nigga be quick…I’mma hit the kitchen and den and you gone hit the bedrooms…..”I mean tear them motherfuckers apart like you were the motherfuckin police.”
“Aight nigga I got you….what else.”
“And don’t tell a motherfuckin soul about our plans not even that bitch Wendy who you fuckin wit…..”I mean it my nigga….I come kill yo ass myself….you aint gotta worry about no death chamber.”
Both boys smiled, each ear to ear. The sun had reached its high noon zenith. Its rays bore down on each boy’s back like the crack of a slave whip. Sweat soaked through their black shirts and beads of it ran down their foreheads. Each boy in typical routine banged fist over fist and Zion raced back across the yard yellin
“Don’t forget about tonight nigga and be on time.”
“Alright fool but keep it down….Thomas yelled back at his associate.
As the sun steadily rose in the sky Thomas half-wondered if the sun too envied the heavens. He sensed in the steady progression of the sun’s path upward a desire to one day enter the heavens. Would the master’s ever allow this or was it they indeed who pre-empted this daily coup deta of sorts and mandated that he like the racing clouds too settle downward. His mind whirled as it chewed over its newfound epiphany. After a moment of deep thought he jettisoned the notion along with the thought of further inquiry. He consigned the whole matter to the bins of nonsense and futile projection of perhaps his own inner desire to leave behind his world and enter that of the other. Would God ordain such an act or would he dismiss it as vain blasphemy? The mutterings of unholy ingratitude. But if he was indeed po as he and Zion suspected then perhaps he might just understand and someday grant this wish. A poor man’s God. It struck him dually with a profound sense of amazement and hope.
Stars blanketed the darkened sky giving off the effect of lit charcoal, the kind that sparkled when set ablaze. The moon sat smugly at the highest point in the sky and stared forebodingly back at Zion and Thomas as both boys made block to block, corner to corner, looking up from time to time. It seemed to follow them. While Zion did not seem to take much notice to the phenomenon, it filled Thomas with a deep sense of apprehension. To Thomas the moon gave a deeply dreadful and mysterious look that seemed to foretell great misfortune, even death. As much as he struggled to reconcile his juvenile apprehensions and projections to the realm of rubbish, reiterating to himself that the latter were simply born of butterflies, the normal give and take when one submitted himself to a life of danger and hardihood, he could not simply shake himself free of this deep fear that cut through his stomach like a knife through hot butter. In desperation Thomas gripped his stomach.
“Say nigga walk faster,” hollered Zion to Thomas as the two made their way off Crane Street to Willow Oaks…..Johhny aint but only two blocks away but at the rate you movin nigga it’ll be daylight before we get to his house….whaaat, you scared.”
“Say fool I ain’t scared,” Thomas piped up still gripping his stomach.
“Yeh, nigga whateva let’s go we almost to the house.”
The two boys crossed over from Willow Oaks to Saints Boulevard. Their juvenile eyes settled onto a brick home, perhaps two to three bedrooms that hung furthest back in the middle of a cuddle sack.
“That’s it…..that’s Johnny’s house,” squealed Zion in an unusually zealous tone….”Alright nigga remember the plan imma ring the doorbell…if nobody come to the do Imma kick it down but if that nigga show up (a mischievous grin appeared across Zion’s slender face) I want you to hit him over the head with the butt of this pump.”
Zion then proceeded to untie a rather cumbersome burlap bag and removed a twelve gauge shotgun from its interior.
“Here you go my nigga….u betta be ready….don’t nut up on this one Tom Tom….our future depend on it.
Thomas removed his hand from his gut and took the pump from Zion’s right hand. He examined the specimen with care flipping it across and through his heavy hands several times like an adept drill sergeant before securing it in the clutch of his right palm, the but off the gun facing upward into the night air. He held it over his shoulders as if it was a baseball bat ready to swing. Both boys walked into the driveway and unlatched Johnny’s front gate. They then proceeded down a set of cobblestone steps and walked near the entrance. Zion instructed Thomas to take several steps back away from the front door entrance. Thomas complied and then almost as if without a moment of hesitation Zion rang the doorbell. A heavy silence hung like a dark storm cloud over the heads of both boys.
“Hello, who is it,” a feminine sounding voice echoed back across the door.”
“Damn, I knew it….he got a bitch wit him,” Zion whispered to Thomas who stood like a heavy statue, gun in the air, poised, ready to strike.
“Shiiiiit, what we gonna do,” Thomas whispered back.
“Just wait nigga I gotta tell da bitch something.
“Ummm, maam, tell Big Johnny it’s lil Zion at the door and that I need a dub sack (or twenty dollars worth of marijuana) cause I’m dry than a motherfucker.
Both boys heard a chuckle across the door and then a sweet, almost angelic voice say
“Ok, sweetheart I’ll be right back.”
One could hear the shuffling of bare feet as the unknown guest made her way into the back of the house.
Zion then whispered to Thomas, “give me that gun nigga.”
“Why, what you gonna do wit it?” Zion piped up apprehensively, knowing intuitively what his long time friend had in mind.
“Nigga I don’t know about you but I’m hungry and I’m fed up with this nickel and dime shit…..as soon as the bitch open up them bars Imma knock her over the head with the butt of this pump….then we gone run up in that ho, tear the house apart, and find them birds.”
“Nah, dawg I ain’t down wit hurtin no innocent people,” Thomas whispered
“Nigga, just shut the fuck up it’ll be aight….it ain’t like Imma kill the bitch….just give me that gun.”
“Nah, fool,” Thomas again protested.
With a fierce stare Zion fixed his slender mouth as if to utter a few more words of protest when suddenly the burglar bars swung open and a young slender, red bone woman stepped outside holding a zip lock bag with marijuana in its possession.
“Here you go suga,” the petite figure whispered to Zion but rather than extend his right hand forward and take the bag, Zion lurched forward rightward, snatched the gun out of the hands of Thomas, and swung it with Herculean strength at the young, frail’s woman’s forehead.
The butt of the gun connected viscerally with the object of its target.”
A rather loud and shrill scream ruptured the silence of the night air as the young woman fell to hear knees screaming, “Johnny, baby, Zion gonna kill us….he gone kill us.”
“Bitch shut the fuck up or Imma kill you,” screamed Zion as his slender frame hung dreadfully over that of the woman. He cocked the gauge once sending a bullet into the chamber.
“Ok, ok, please don’t hurt me,” the frail woman yelped.
“Bitch, just shut the fuck up….you gonna wake up the neighbors.”
“But Zion baby Im bleedin….baby I’m bleedin bad.”
Ostensibly ignoring the young woman’s entreaties for help Zion turned his attention to Thomas, ordering that he get his ass over there and run in the house asap, tear that bitch apart and find them birds.
“Hell naaa, fool….u crazy just like, like that nigga Ajazz….not only is this innocent bitch bleedin to death but that nigga Johnny prolly already strapped and ready to kill us.”
“Say, my nigga I don’t give a fuck….I don’t fear shit,” hollered Zion and then quickly muffled his tone. One hundred percent gangsta ova here in case yo mork ass aint noticed.”
All of a sudden both boys heard the blast of what seemed to be a double barrel shot gun.
“Zion, nigga Imma kill you a voice boomed from inside the dimly lit house.
“Shit, Zion,” Thomas protested in a half scream, half whisper thatz that nigga Johhny…we betta get the fuck outta here….he strapped.”
Another blast boomed from inside the house as a dark, hulking figure appeared within plain sight of both boys. A buckshot evidently had struck Zion in the leg as he stood in the front doorway and yelped, “Damn, nigga I been shot….let’s get the fuck outta here.
Zion quickly dropped the pump and both boys ducked tail to run. It seemed as if paradise was nearby as each boy took long strides, reaching the gate, and collectively throwing it open with the ostensible fury of a typhoon.
Suddenly another shot rang out this time striking Zion in the right side of his chest. Two bullet holes appeared across his right chest plate and Zion almost collapsed. Camouflaged by the cover of night Thomas scooped slender Zion into his heavy hands, threw him over his shoulder, and ran like hells fury three houses down and hid behind a neighbor’s bush.
Zion was breathing heavily. “Damn, that sonofabitch shot, me” he muttered. Imma die…dawg Imma die, he whispered to Thomas.
“Shhhhh, no you aint dawg I got you…..we gonna get you to a hospital,” Thomas consoled.
“Yea, in what car dumb ass nigga…it ain’t like we can call the cops either nigga…..we thieves.”
All of a sudden a loud voice boomed from down the street, “Zion nigga Imma finish yo lil punk ass off….my baby bleedin to death….nigga u gone die for that shit. Yous a bitch ass nigga. You dead……Im sick of you lil niggas thinking yall can come ova here and pull dis type of shit….I been too real to yall boys in these streets….you know what…. I feed these niggas around here….I put food on nigga’s tables…..niggas don’t eat, get high, or shit without big Johnny. Yous a dumb ass nigga Zion. Imma find yo snake ass and kill you myself….Nah, fuck that Imma call my niggas….Imma be right back motherfucker.”
“Man, fuck that nigga,” Zion piped up as blood gushed up like a wellspring from his mouth….”I hate that nigga…..fat, greedy motherfucker.”
“Shhhh, he gone hear us,” lamented Thomas as he applied his big, heavy hands over Zion’s right chest plate covering the smoldering wound.
“I don’t give a fuck nigga….Imma die in this bitch. I’m only fourteen….what the fuck?”
A tear rolled down the side of Thomas’s heavy face as blood oozed from under his heavy hands and more of it drained out of Zion’s mouth.
Camouflaged by the night’s heavy darkness and emboldened by Big Johnny’s retreat back into the house he once again collected Zion into his hands, swooped him over his back, “whispering we gotta go dawg.” and ran to a neighbor’s gate, which he painstakingly unlatched, ran a bit further, dropped his friend gently over the back gate into the beginnings of what seemed to be a bayou, then jumped the gate himself.
Thomas then gathered a knee to take a closer look at the condition of his long time friend and noticed that Zion had stopped breathing. To be sure Thomas put his right ear to Zion’s left chest to listen for a heartbeat. There was none. His friend was gone.
Tears now poured down Thomas’s face like waterfalls. He lifted his black shirt to wipe them away but only to find more fall. They poured intensely as his chest heaved and sobbed. He felt inexorably that his demise too was imminent. Nevertheless he did not care. He had lost his best friend in the whole wide world. Nothing in this world or in the heavens he believed could console him. He whispered aloud “God, how could you….he was only fourteen.” “You should have warned us.” He then looked up at the moon. The moon seemed to glare back at him as if to say dawg u knew. Thomas averted his eyes. He again wondered if God was po and if he indeed was why he did not intervene to prevent his friend’s untimely murder. Was God po like the rest of us he wondered, or was it just naïve bullshit and juvenile conjecture? In one last act of defense he rationalized that perhaps God, like he had done previously to the rebellious skies and to the insurgent sun, was perhaps teaching him and his now deceased friend a lesson. They were ingrates who wanted more than they needed, to be higher than that station of life to which he had fixed and designated them. In a way they wanted equivalency with the heavens. They wanted it treasures, its authority, its glory, but on earth of course. If this was indeed true (and it was Thomas halfway conceded in his own mind) was that such a bad thing? A rebellious spirit suddenly sprang up in Thomas’s gut and he reached for a rather large rock and catapulted it toward the heavens. It landed instead in the bayou and made a layer of ripples upon impact. “Fuck you God,” he screamed. He concluded at last that there was no poor man’s God. He stood up, gathered himself together, and grudgingly made his way back to the house. What was to become of the corpse of his belated friend? He conjectured that neither he nor this so-called poor man’s God cared, not in the greatest or least bit.
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|Reviewed by Amber Moonstone
|Brook, this was such an intense read, as I read, I could totally envision what was happening. Your imagery and talent shine in this story of two boys losing their way. Intense, Intense, Intense..
Amazing story, captivating imagery making the pulse of this reader quicken.
Much peace, love and light,