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Jimmy L Holder

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Children of a Lesser Faith
By Jimmy L Holder
Tuesday, August 19, 2003

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Painted faces of girls in fright....
Hungry evil, mans delight.....
Shattered, torn, a frightening sight....
A spirit tattooed every night....

Children of a Lesser Faith






"Places near water give me an eerie feeling. Like a death by drowning, I feel overwhelmed by the sheer power of the water. Water is perfect, refreshing, and vital. I love water, its taste, its feeling when I lie in the tub with a glass of wine and some scented candles, but big bodies of water crush me. I act crazy around large bodies of water, my head spins and I feel dizzy -- sick dizzy like my head is detached from my body and the ground is moving. That's how I feel about my streets too, but without the dizziness."


Painted faces of girls in fright....
Hungry evil, mans delight.....
Shattered, torn, a frightening sight....
A spirit tattooed every night....


Shakura Mays was a second generation Black cop. Her partner, Dante Salvatore Martino was a fifth generation Italian cop. The real difference between Shakura, whose name means "woman of grace" and Dante was not color or age, it was view point.

Every night, starting at 10, 11, or 12 PM - Shakura and Dante walked their city night beat.  Occasionally, they drove.  Generally, it was a fairly safe patrol, but they varied their start times so that the "bad guys" would never know their schedules. They overlapped with the other patrols and beats so that the randomness of their work would be unpredictable. In this job, every little safety technique, helped. You can never be too cautious. Also, both policemen, always wore their bulletproof vest. Dante insisted on it. And there was something else, everywhere they went, they heard the music of the streets. Music was playing everywhere, and when it wasn't, that usually meant you were in a place you shouldn't be -- a dangerous and isolated place.


Mosquitoes and Vampires, sleep all day....
Burning eyes of sleep, they wake....
At night, they suck your life away...
And slither like charmed snakes....


People love this jungle: its food, its shops, its lure of sex, its danger, its entertainment and excitement. People hate this jungle: its nasty, junkie filled alleys, its car fumes and pollution, its drugs and cruelty, its death. Some people loved and hated this place, which Shakura affectionately called The Jungle. And a jungle it was, her jungle. In this part of The Jungle, loud grooving rap music blasted from everywhere and nowhere. Here, the streets can talk as well as bleed. Shakura and Dante were approaching Lennox Avenue and 39th Street.


Rats come out at night....
Even they have to fight....
No one here, can get it right....
Yes, They know these streets will bite....


They say, "Come to me and play. Some walk and run these streets all night. Some are addicted to them all right. And Street bugs stay in them every waking second." How else can you fight the boredom. They feel alive here, alive!


They live in a different world don't they?....
While normal children sleep their lives away ....
On this sick playground, they'll always stay....
Soon, their souls will be sucked away....


It was Shakura's rookie year. She was a track star in high school and college and could run like the wind -- Olympic gold, and maybe better. The truth was simple: Shakura hated running with a passion. It was just something she was good at. Olympic gold, who cares. The money would be great, but why spend every second of the next ten years doing something you hate? Why? Almost everyone disagreed with Shakura with a passion -- always saying, "You are wasting a tremendous talent."

Shakura was pretty. Athletic pretty like Venus Williams, the professional tennis star. Men everywhere lusted after her winning smile and chiseled muscular toned body. But, she was something of a tomboy, even now. Strong willed, 5'10" tall and 110 pounds, muscular and very strong willed like her father and her mother, whose clear freaky brown eyes she inherited. She was aggressive too, at times -- very aggressive. When the woman behind these eyes became angry, every one took notice. The glare behind these eyes, it cut straight into the core of your soul and you knew, anything was possible. At these times, there was no fear here, only danger.

Everybody on the force liked her a lot. These were the same streets her father Carl Williams walked. He was one of the most highly regarded Black cops of all times. Smart, clever, tough, honest and even deadly if he had to be. No one messed with him, even in the old days. He was the gentlest man you'll ever want to meet, unless, of course, you crossed him. It was from Carl Mays that Shakura acquired her love of the people here. But, Shakura "feels" all that she sees ... She feels the pain of the girls when they get beaten and raped. She feels the fear and pain of the 12, 13, and 14 year olds when they get pregnant. She feels the anguish and desperation of the homeless when they are hungry in dangerous places with no armour. And she feels her own pain, knowing there is only so much she can do to help them.

Dante was approaching 53 and mandatory retirement. He had been walking these street almost 10 years before Shakura was born. He grew up here. Dante had raised his two sons and daughter well. Both sons were very successful lawyers, and his daughter was a nurse. By the time he was 22, all three children were born. He had married his high school sweet heart right after high school. Now, they lived in a fine house in suburban America, far from this mess that had provided a roof for all of them. It was always that way. They all had lived on these cruel streets. Both parents had worked two jobs. Dante's wife almost worked herself to death, at least, in Dante's eyes. But, to her, the children were everything. And she wanted the best for them -- no sacrifice was too great. A few months more, and his escape would be complete. Now, these streets, and their filth, upset Dante more than ever. He could hardly stand them anymore. He and his wife had it all planned. He would retire and take some easy security guard job to supplement his retirement. She would continue selling real estate part time.


Shops all lined with brick....
Careful! Or reality will make you sick....
These streets, they'll kill you too quick....
They demand respect, but they never give it....


Its sad here (in The Jungle) -- very sad. The children, some babies really would get hooked on the excitement. Later, they would become trapped by their own desires and a vicious cycle of crime, drugs, and punishment.

As Shakura and Dante reached the St. Angels Cathedral at the corner of Elm Street and 45 Street, she spawned a wonderful idea. Why doesn't she write about these streets? If she can't conquer them, at least, she can mark them down in history. When they entered St. Angel's, they noticed all the beautifully lit candles. Some easy listening Christian contemporary music was playing. There was a beggar sitting in the next to last pew. He seemed to be concentrating deeply on his prayer. As they passed the beggar, Shakura noticed that the man's beard was graying slightly, but somehow, his face seemed young, and perhaps, even handsome. His eyes were draining, large glaring black orbs that made Shakura's blood boil. He was a fairly light skinned Black man, about 40 Shakura imagined. Dante, as always, spoke to Father Levy, said his prayers, and they left. Shakura, although not Catholic, had begun offering prayers also. She was raised a devout Baptist by her mother, but somehow, she felt safer after she prayed here.

Just past St. Angels, they approached Santino's Bar at the corner of 54 Street and Ryan Avenue. Ryan Avenue was also called Rainbow Avenue because this was where the hookers hung out. At first, Shakura never came here. Her parents would never allow it, and besides, Shakura loathed this place. Some of the girls here were 13 and 14, even younger, trying to make some fast money. Here sex was just a means to making some spending and survival money. Santino's was Dante's after work hangout. He had many friends here, some good and some very evil. No matter, Dante had earned their respect, and as always, their fear. Shakura imagined, Dante would never return here after his retirement. As always, they entered, and yes, Frank Sinatra soundtracks were playing on the jukebox ...


Stale cigarettes always smell....
The stench of beer and whiskey is Lucifer's tail....
Card games behind closed doors, means no jail....
Here you can start sliding to hell....


It was here the trouble started. Vinny, the bartender, directed them to the bar's back room. There sitting in the dark was Sal Bellino, the bar's owner, and Dante's best friend.

"Hey Sal what's up?" offered Dante concerned.

"Dante, it Marina, she's, she's ... doing Cocaine again!"

"That bastard, Mike "The Razor" Smith has her hooking again.

"He says she's his main girl again."

"She's a baby, only 17 years old."

"The Razor's out of prison already," said Dante amazed. "How did he get out so fast? He's out in four years on a 5 to 10 year dealing rap. What's that about?"

"Rumor has it, that he knows some important people in this town," said Sal weeping. "You know, he's probably blackmailing half the horny politician and businessmen. I just want to kill that bastard ..."

"And what good would that do," asked Shakura already very street wise. "She'll just run to another drug dealer, perhaps even, one more dangerous than The Razor."

"True, but while she is trying to find someone new, I may have a chance to save her," responded Sal. "Dante, go find her and make her go to rehab. She always listens to you. "

Dante looked at Shakura, and Shakura knew he would comply. For some strange reason, Dante always responded to Sal. One day Shakura would find out why. For now, Shakura would drop it and psych herself up to go to Rainbow Alley, an actual alley just off Ryan Street where the junkies hung out.


"She cries out to God in fear....
Does He or Anyone hear? "
She's drowning in Cocaine cheer....
Only faith can calm her alcoholic, shameful tear....


Soon, Dante and Shakura found the doorway that led to a den where the junkies shot up or snorted. It was just one of many. Shakura noticed a businessman wearing what appeared to be a $3,000 suit leaving in a hurry. She saw a baby, or at least what appeared to be a twelve year old girl begging for a fix. She was no baby and no child. The junkies here never ran -- there was no need. As long as they stayed here, away from the main stream America, they were left alone. No one cared. No one saw. And no one talked. Shakura, was no wimp, she was as tough as her father in some ways, but she would never come here alone. But, Dante never hesitated. They knew him here and knew he was here for a specific reason. As long as it wasn't them, they were fine. Dante asked about Marina. Everyone just pointed to a room. Shakura felt a little sick. After all, this was a sick place -- terribly sick and disgustingly nasty. Basically, it was a Crack house, but more.

Shakura knew these places, not so much from experience, but from the long list of dead and imprisoned friends, relatives, and schoolmates. Finally, they reached a spray painted door -- the door was painted brilliantly too. It's logo was the devil all dressed in red with two female junkies clutching both knees. The devil was Black and the girls were black, white, and oriental. Message received. In fact though, The Razor was Puerto Rican and white French mix. He was a handsome, dangerous scoundrel that the ladies loved and most men feared. There was music here, music and doors.

All doors led to one place, and one place only -- a place where every lost child was searching for ecstasy. Drugs, alcohol, sex, and several other wasteful substitutes compensated for loneliness, pain, and overwhelming fear. Ecstasy for a moment, and then it was gone. No one here, including Shakura, knew what Dante had learned over the years. Ecstasy comes from within, your own satisfaction with yourself, ... you own peace of mind.

"Dante, let's just leave, let's go ..." requested Shakura queasy.

Dante looked at Shakura surprised. He had never known her to be scared. Just the opposite, she was always gung-ho and, at first, he had to tone her way down. Dante was a veteran and knew that not listening to the sounds, rhythms, and music of the streets could get you killed. When a door was closed, Dante took respectful notice. He knew Shakura had great instincts, and he deeply respected them, but he had promised Sal. There was modern acid rock playing now in the background. It wasn't playing loud, but this particular sound was very irritating. If Shakura could find the music box, she would definitely shoot it.

"Get your weapon out," ordered Dante aggressively.

Shakura followed Dante's orders as he held his gun tight. He ordered Shakura to the side of the door. Dante kicked the door in and there, on the floor was Marina. Marina had been badly beaten, raped, but she wasn't robbed. Her nose was covered with Cocaine, and she was barely hanging onto her life. Dante wasted no time. He picked her up like a paper doll and carried her to the intersection of Ryan and 57th Street. While he was walking, he ordered Shakura to call an ambulance.

Marina was rushed to St. Mary's hospital. Dante and Shakura returned to their crack house. By the time they got there, most of the junkies had switched locations. Dante had recognized several of them and began his investigation. Soon, he and Shakura were visiting almost all of the junkie hangouts. They had determined that Marina had tried to rob a young businessman who had come for a snort and a fix during his lunch break. When the businessman reported this infraction to The Razor, he went crazy. He couldn't let this junkie hoe ruin his business. He beat Marina to make an example of her for the other girls, but she had fought back and he let the beating get out of hand. She might die, and even if she didn't, Sal would be looking for him. He would have to kill Sal, if he came looking. Maybe he should kill Sal anyway. Sal knew people -- very, very dangerous and scary people. He was connected.


Caught in a whirlpool, between love and hate....
Round n round, sad music is their fate....
Water is drowning them, like jail bait....
Slipping down the drain to Lucifer's fiery gate....


It had been a long night for Shakura. She went home to an empty house which used to be her father's rental house. She lived here for free with only utilities, food, and necessary bills. Besides, having her parents close was just fine with her. This was a fairly nice neighborhood and she had grown up here. Things happened here too, but a lot of cops lived here. Cops and cop's families. It was breakfast time and nothing was happening at home, so she went to her parents for something to eat.

Her parents and her oldest sister, Kiesha were watching The Bodyguard with Kevin Kostner and Whitney Houston. For a moment, it was like Shakura had entered the Twilight Zone, and then she realized Miss Whitney was just about to sing the theme song from the movie. Everyone in the room was frozen in anticipation. Shakura heard a door somewhere slam and sat down to listen to "I Have Nothing."



Chorus:
...
"Don't make me close one more door
I don't wanna hurt anymore
Stay in my arms if you dare
Must I imagine you there?
Don't walk away from me
I Have Nothing
Nothing
Nothing, if i don't have you

You see through
Right to the heart of me
You break down my walls
With the strength of your love
I never knew
Love like I known it's with you
Will the memories survive?
One I can hold on to"
...


Miss Whitney still had it. Shakura's soul was refreshed. Only her dad had noticed her distress when she entered. He said, "Let's go to the front porch and talk." Everyone just listened, while Carl Mays and his daughter left the room. On the front porch, all seemed peaceful. Shakura told her father what had happened. He immediately got his cell phone and called Dante who had not come home yet. Then he called Sal who he located at the hospital. Dante had told Sal about The Razor. Sal was just about to go home for some rest. It was still uncertain whether Marina would survive. It was clear to Carl that Dante and Shakura, or some of the other cops would have to find The Razor first if Marina died. Maybe sooner - Sal might not wait, but he had promised Dante that he would give him a week to make the arrest.

"Keep an eye on Sal, and Dante too," advised Carl Mays. "They were boyhood friends and rumor has it, that Sal saved Dante's life more than once. Once they were inseparable Cuz Sal may call on Dante to 'fix' this problem with The Razor permanently."

"Permanently?"

"Yes, I'd hate to see Dante lose everything so close to his retirement by trying to help a friend. Also, don't let Dante jeopardize you either. Chances are he won't, but this could get personal."

"I understand," assured Shakura. And she did, or so she thought.

That morning went well for Shakura. She was 23, and in between boyfriends. She usually spent considerable time with her parents and she was their youngest baby. She had loved and dismissed seven boyfriends in the years since her 14th birthday. The longest was a fellow track star in college. He was something, something pretty, and he knew it. Three of the seven years were spent with him. Once even, they were engaged. Her engagement ended quickly when she found her fiancee in bed with two sophomore debutantes -- one Black and the other Oriental. She slammed the door to him so quickly, he thought hurricane Shakura struck. Forgiveness was great, but he was just plain greedy.

She was home now and turned the boom box on. It was playing the theme song from Bad Boys II. She loved this song, and got into its rhythm. She was tired and it was almost 10:30 AM. Almost time to get ready for bed. Another 1 hours and 30 minutes, and it would be lights out. She lasted 30 minutes and it was 11 AM. It was perfect timing and she closed the door to her bedroom, and all other problems, and slept soundly.

The next night Shakura was psyched up. She had awaken at 7 PM and was excited because she would get to observe the real Dante work his magic. It would be no cruising today. Something would happen today. Something unusual. She knew it, she knew it. And she would be especially careful tonight.

Driving to work, Shakura noticed the teen girls were already cruising the streets in the downtown area. It was time to go to work. As she entered the squad room, her mouth hit the floor. There all dressed in a suit was the man from St. Angels. His beard was gone and he looked very handsome. He now appeared to be about 37 to Shakura. The night sergeant was talking to him as Shakura walked by and she realized he was a reporter. They were talking about Marina's case.

They exchanged glances, and smiles, and they both knew they were destined to be together. They had touched souls in just an instant. Dante was there waiting. He wasn't smiling and he looked very serious. She had never seen this look on his face. After their nightly briefing, the man came up to them and introduced himself. Shakura felt like a school girl in his presence, but didn't want Dante to see her like that:

"Hello, I'm Marcus Williams, an investigative reporter for the Star Reporter, one of the city's TV stations. Can you tell me all you know about the Marina Bellino case?"

"We don't know that much yet," lied Dante. "We believe we will have something concrete very soon."

"That's not what I heard," insinuated Marcus Williams. "I heard you already know who did it."

"We have some leads, which we can't discuss at this time," continue Dante. "You need to talk to our public affairs officer for more information."

"No thank you, I've already done that," insisted Marcus.

Marcus shifted his attention to Shakura: "Who are you lovely lady?"

Shakura was speechless. No words would come out and she looked down a little embarrassed. Dante quickly noticed.

"This is my partner, Shakura Mays, excuse us," insisted Dante forcefully, but politely as he walked away.

Shakura gave Marcus a sly smile and he lit up like a huge 4th of July rocket.

"Shakura, you coming," quizzed Dante in a father-like manner.

In the car, Dante looked at Shakura and smiled: "Pretty, aint he?"

Dante had caught Shakura totally by surprise.
"Seems like a nice guy," said Shakura casually.

"Yeah, right!" laughed Dante. "Did he ask you out yet?"

"No!" said Shakura.

"He will, he will ..." laughed Dante.

"What are we going to do about The Razor?" asked Shakura.

"Nothing," said Dante now as serious as death. "There's nothing to do! The Razor won't be bothering any more children."

"How do you know that?" insisted Shakura not catching on.

"I heard he left town and won't ever be coming back," said Dante. "I wouldn't ever bring his name up again if I were you ..."

At that moment, Shakura knew The Razor was dead. She was stunned.


Here, hearts cry out, dead alive, no fires....
Sadly, healing words are spoken by liars....
To children who should be singing in church choirs....
As they become food for some pervert's desires....


She knew this gentle bear of a man, her father on these sometimes mean streets, had killed The Razor. It couldn't be true . Dante was one of the best men she had ever met. He wouldn't. She knew it was though. She knew it. Her heart broke and died a little in that moment. After this, she would never again have heroes. Dante calmly stopped the car, got out, and slammed the door. He entered the little shop to buy them some coffee and donuts. While he was gone, Shakura's mind ran wild. She wondered what lies were hidden in the dream ...



Tragedy's Angels walk in disguise
With too many jesters, telling too many lies...
They surmise they are a valued prize
For guys with evil hearts and viler eyes



In the months that followed, Shakura began dating Marcus Williams. She learned Marcus was indeed 37, once divorced with two boys not much younger than she was, and that he held a good position at the TV station. He was in line for a promotion to assistant station manager. He was the bread and she was the water. She was the air and he was the lungs. He was the sea and she was the water. She was heaven, and he was her door. They were natural soul mates, and her parents, once they saw them together, never mentioned the age difference.

Dante retired and went to his comfortable life in the suburbs. There was no investigation into The Razor's disappearance. Dante seldom came to the city, but often called Shakura to make sure she was all right. Shakura still remembered his words on his last day on the job. It was morning and they were sitting in the parking lot and someone was playing: "Sitting on the dock of the bay ..." as Dante spoke:

"These are children of a lesser faith. Some are homeless, faithless, and an aberration to everything holy. Our job is not to judge them, but accept them for who they are. Help who you can, but never take the job home with you. It'll get done the next day. You may have to do something "hard" to make things all right, but don't let that destroy you. You will help a lot of people. Write all you can about these children so that others will know what is happening. It will make a difference."



Sometimes, it's hard to tell the good guys from bad....
Sometimes, life is really sad....
Sometimes, life will drive you mad....
Sometimes, you'll want to return to what you had....



Some time later, Shakura ran into Marina Bellino who was a changed woman. Marina quickly thanked her for her help and politely excused herself before Shakura could say a word. Shakura wondered what that was about, but she let sleeping dogs lie. All was well, and who was she to upset things.

With Marcus's help, Shakura became a wonderful, best selling writer and another door opened. Over the years, she wrote many books about her children and The Jungle.





-------------------------------------------------------------------
Children of a Lesser Faith



Painted faces of girls in fright....
Hungry evil, mans delight.....
Shattered, torn, a frightening sight....
A spirit tattooed every night....

Mosquitoes and Vampires, sleep all day....
Burning eyes of sleep, they wake....
At night, they suck your life away...
And slither like charmed snakes....

Rats come out at night....
Even they have to fight....
No one here, can get it right....
Yes, They know these streets will bite....

They live in a different world don't they?
While normal children sleep their lives away ....
On this sick playground, they'll always stay....
Soon, their souls will be sucked away....

Shops all lined with brick....
Careful! This reality will make you sick....
These streets, they'll kill you too quick....
They demand respect, but they never give it....

Stale cigarettes always smell....
The stench of beer and whiskey is Lucifer's tail....
Card games behind closed doors, means no jail.....
Here you can start sliding to hell...

"She cries out to God in fear....
Does He or Anyone hear? "
She's drowning in Cocaine's cheer....
Only faith can calm this alcoholic, shameful tear....

Caught in a whirlpool, between love and hate....
Round n round, sad music is their fate....
Water is drowning them, like fish bait....
Slipping down the drain to Lucifer's fiery gate....

Here, hearts cry out, dead alive, no fires....
Sadly, healing words are spoken by liars....
To children who should be singing in church choirs....
As they become food for some pervert's desires....

Tragedy's Angels walk in disguise
With too many jesters, telling too many lies...
They surmise they are a valued prize
For guys with evil hearts and viler eyes

Sometimes, it's hard to tell the good guys from bad....
Sometimes, life is really sad....
Sometimes, life will drive you mad....
Sometimes, you'll want to return to what you had....

Some see them and are ashamed....
Some see them and are inflamed....
Some see them tamed....
Some see them, and they are blamed....

Some see them with hate,
And cry, much, much too late....
Some open up their heart's gate....
Cuz it's never too late

For the Children of a Lesser Faith!

I hope those of you reading this story enjoyed it.
It was inspired by another author.

~ShyPoet1~

Approx. 4556 words.



 

Copyright .2004 ShyPoet1 and may not be used without written permission from the author..



























































 


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Reviewed by Mark Rockeymoore 11/6/2003
i loved the way that you mixed the poetry and the story, real life on the streets, i guess your experience is what made this so hauntingly real. music as a thread ran through this piece, as did water. both are soothing in this postmodern world you paint where meaning is as disparate as streets on the edge of nowhere. you've got a wonderful talent, writer. i will be back to read more of your work. write on!
Reviewed by Floria Kelderhouse 8/20/2003
BRAVO!!!
Fantastic work....don't ever let your quill dry....Floria
Reviewed by Elizabeth Taylor 8/19/2003
You know, Shy, I met you as a poet, and you are an exceptional one, but you are also, one fine writer. This is a fantastic work and enjoyable right up to the last sentence. Bravo, and I mean that sincerely.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 8/19/2003
incredible story; mesmerizing write! enjoyed this; thanks for posting! :D (((HUGS))) and love, your friend in texas, karen lynn. :)
Reviewed by Kate Clifford 8/19/2003
Enjoyed it? This is fantastic writing!


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