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Lenard M Pugh

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By Lenard M Pugh
Friday, August 03, 2007

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Latrell, fresh out of high school, broke, jobless and living at home, takes a trip to Cabrini Green Projects a few weeks after unprotected sex with Quonda, a fast, aggressive short-con artist.
On his way to see her, he is offered a ride by “Mr. Smoove Brotha” , a creepy acting pretty yellow skinned man in a Lexus. A bad gut feeling makes Latrell decline the offer.
Later, he finds out from Quonda’s mother that she is missing. When one of her friends, last seen with “Mr.Smoove Brotha”, comes up missing, as well, Latrell’s instinct kicks in leading him on an eerie journey with a shocking conclusion.

EXCERPT: Chapter 1: No Money, Mo’ Problems ‘-Broke again,’ Latrell finally accepted, giving up on his frantic search for the five dollar bill he thought he had on him somewhere. He straightened his gear back out, sucked at his back tooth. ‘Man, this shit is really played out.’ …Started his walk away from the near empty North and Clybourne subway station he had just exited, towards building 714 of Cabrini Green. His stomach danced a little, made some muffled fart noises. He could smell everything that was cooking within a five block radius… hot dogs, polish sausages, barbeque chicken and ribs, fish and chips, chocolate from a Hershey’s factory nearby… Last thing he had put on his stomach was some chicken wings with mild sauce from Harold’s a day and a half prior. He passed a small greasy sandwich joint. Fries were cooking. ‘-Fuck.’ Emptiness flopped around in his belly. Remembering a little tore down looking food and liquor store he had hit up for some Hostess Honeybuns and Strawberry Quick the last time he was in the area, he smirked. There was hope. It was an easy ‘vic’, small, no cameras, stupid ghetto fabulous hood rat ass girl with too much weave behind an old beat up register running her mouth a hundred miles a minute. He spat at the ground darting his eyes about at the same time to see if anybody was clocking him. Wished like hell he had a Newport. The saliva in his mouth was thick, heavy and nasty from withdrawal. It had been six hours since he smoked his last one. He ain’t like asking niggas on the street for squares either, not away from his side of the city. Might be dipped in sherm or have something sprinkled on it. He had heard a lot of stories about crazy street niggas on the north side doing bogus shit like that just to get laughs. ‘…, but don’t forget, you a player, right? Lookin’ fly?’ …Might find some thirsty little hood rat trick to hook him up with a few squares, a drink or a meal though, some pussy maybe…bomb ass head even better… ‘…See, that’s why you in this mess in the first place fool’, he caught himself thinking after that thought. He giggled at his own ignorance while rubbing at one of his braids. Didn’t like what he saw around him as he got closer to Cabrini. Damn shame. Made him want to look back down at the pavement like everybody else, but he caught himself. Being from out in ‘Tha 100s’ he had never seen the lower part of the north side during the day time. He had been told there were bad areas by some of his boys, and that it was very classy looking by others. He’d seen some nice areas when looking for jobs in different spots, Evanston, Lincoln Park, Rush Street…, but where he was looked nowhere near that nice. Worse than some streets in the worst parts of where he lived. The sky seemed darker too. He shook his head pitifully. The whole area of Clybourne leading up to the projects and beyond that looked like God bitch smacked it two or three times for not listening. The remnants of drama were everywhere: jagged looking question mark buildings, abandoned store fronts, an old tavern, a big tore up looking vacant lot, a walled in YMCA painted loud colors. Two stank looking crack heads were arguing in the street near six winos huddled up in a circle on a corner ahead, passing around a forty ounce wrapped in a brown bag. A handful of nasty, used looking hos were sprinkled about too, still out trying to get tricks for their pimps. Various working folk, some in fast food uniforms, some in maintenance or public service uniforms, walked with their heads low, rings under their eyes, smoking a square, munching or sipping on something. Latrell crept his sweaty hands deep into the front pockets of his crisp denims. His fingers played, juggling lint balls, tossing about Jolly Rancher and Now and Later wrappers, a bent up bus card, two pennies and a nickel… hadn’t been this bad for a while. ‘Shit. I’m broke like a mothafucka.’ He had let himself get real trifling in the last few months and knew it. No one watching his broke ass would have been able to tell though. His gear was on point. He had turned heads and caught winks, all the way from the 95th Street to Belmont, leaning back in the window seat nearest to the center of the train sucking away at his last Cherry Charm’s Blow Pop. ‘Poppi Suave,’ he complimented himself, reminiscing. There was a fine ass dark skinned girl named Keisha on the train that stepped to him all aggressive, like a thug nigga: “Scoot over baby. My name Keisha, a.k.a Baby Girl. Who you?” He liked that shit. Baby Girl had a firm ba-donk-a-donk, nice sized breasts, not too much of a stomach, nice succulent lips, and seductive, deep brown almond shaped eyes. Latrell was feeling her for a minute too, how she was looking, anyway. Then the game came. Baby Girl somehow eased out of talking about what people were wearing around them into talking about how she just loved a real nigga that took her out places and got her, and her three year old baby, Shalonda,‘the finer thangs in life on a constant basis’. ‘ …Then yo dumb ass don’t need to be on this train’, he had felt like saying. Instead, he tuned her ass out like a song on the radio that he wasn’t feeling. Started humming the melody to ‘Gin and Juice’ by Snoop over her talking, looking away. Baby Girl caught an attitude, sat stewing, then finally moved back to where she was sitting before, calling him a ‘stuck up ass nigga’ under her breath on the way. At least he was looking good enough to get her to peek though. Latrell went all the way out when it came to getting his style on-had to stay fly. Bills could fall behind. Somebody in the fam or a homey’s birthday could go on fine minus his gifts and cards. Whatever girl that chose him to sex could do fast food, a cheap movie, a cheap hotel and not ask for anything out of his budget or she could step. He wasn’t doing no hair, no nails, no spas, no diamonds, none of that shit…straight like that. …Wasn’t going to look fucked up for trying to do the next nigga a favor either, hell to the no. M.O.B: Money Over Bitches, or Maintaining Over Brokeness. That’s the ideology he was feeling. He got off of all that Mr. Nice Guy shit, right after he graduated from high school in 92, broke as hell. At graduation, while most students, especially the athletes, high academic achievers, or kids with parents who had dough ( …,or anyone else who had a more definite future waiting), cheered, laughed, yelled and whistled their asses off, Latrell sat quietly, wearing a poker face, still tired from doing more overtime to help his mother with a car note, again. Shit just wasn’t that exciting to him. He was happy to be done and everything, no doubt, but he still couldn’t stop wondering how the hell he had worked all four years at Mc Donald’s, Burger King, White Castle, etc. …flipping burgers, sweeping, cleaning up and pouring hot grease, prepping veggies, cutting and washing meat and working the register -and had not even three hundred dollars in his savings account. Other niggas his age, some his close friends -most of them not present at graduation because they were hardly ever present at school- were driving, not walking around, with big fat rolls of fetti in their pockets, gators, velour, all shiny, owning buildings and shit, already. ‘What the fuck I got to be happy ‘bout? More years of this type of shit!?’, he had thought bitterly, realizing he’d have to work even more, so he could help pay more bills. And it was either that or more school, but then even if he went to school he’d have to work his way through plus probably help his momma take care of herself and his two little sisters ‘cause she hadn’t found a “good man” yet. And he had no type of scholarship or trust fund, or even a locatable daddy that was willing to toss some chips his way. ‘Fuck school’, was Latrell’s final thought after taking a look at his diploma later that day before going into work. Felt like he already trained and worked for a fucking degree, shit, two; a Master’s in Fast Food and a PH.D in Shoplifting, two minors: Cleaning and Cooking. He had already went through multiple trainings, punched clocks, signed and cashed checks, and made countless withdrawals and deposits. Did overtime to death. Been fired…re-hired. Got raises too. Unfortunately, most of the money he did make went to his momma, his siblings, a few good clothes, and into the pocket, on the ass, or around the neck of whatever girlfriend he was with at the time. Rain or shine, every Saturday after payday was like a holiday. Moms would get up early, get fly and pretty, make sure everybody got clean and dressed up, take the fam out for breakfast, usually IHOP, then hit the stores, hard. Most times they all went to The Evergreen Mall because it was close and she didn’t have to spend a lot of money on gas to get there. But sometimes, those times being when either her or Latrell got a fatter than usual check-or around tax time, more exclusive places downtown and outside the city. Places with those fly ass soap opera type rich white people names… Neiman Marcus, Lord and Taylor, Marshall Field’s. His momma would help him pick out fly shit for his girlfriend(s)and find all the ‘sexy’ colognes for men, showed him how to find the marked down racks of goodies so he could get more for his money. He hooked his girls up too. All four years of high school. Never got shit from them though. Nothing material anyway, barely got pussy. Not because his girlfriends didn’t want to give it to him, but because he was always working. When he was able to get sex, it was from older women he met on whatever job he was working at the time, working women with no curfew. Even better, women that had their own cribs and weren’t trying to depend on him for anything. Some even had kids or husbands they were separated from. Latrell didn’t care. After dating and sleeping with various older women, the girls in his hood or at his school seemed silly, ignorant, and greedy. He lost a lot of girls to drug dealers. The ones it hurt the most to lose too, the smart, pretty ones. It took way too much money to impress them. There was no way on earth he could compete with the gifts a nigga getting drug money could get them. Couldn’t even get the kind he wanted that were his age to go out with him after a while, couldn’t blame them either. They were getting diamonds, fly cars, and shrimp and lobsters from dudes. All he could cop on his budget was candy, teddy bears, maybe a 14k gold chain with a dinky charm on it, and some cheeseburgers and fries. On top of that, he had grown man responsibilities. Pops had left when he was in fifth grade without a word or a clue. No one in the family ever saw or heard from him again. He was the man of the house. He paid half the rent, helped buy groceries, and helped his momma with her car payments when she was short. Hardly anything left for himself after all that. Couldn’t hang out looking like a bum, looking bummy got no play whatsoever. A nigga had to at least be in some Guess or Girbauds, any jeans or T-shirts below the quality of those two name brands and you were an outcast, you got no play. Levi’s ? Please. Even GAP clothes got clowned. Latrell feeling himself that day though, rocking his straight from the bootlegger XXL orange and black denim FUBU outfit. Three semi-trunk frilly looking chains shimmered about on his neck, white gold (fake platinum), each one holding a supposedly iced out charm: a money sign, a pair of dice and a playboy bunny. His Nikes matched his FUBU, low tops laced up loose. His cousin Belinda had his hair laid, nine crucial ass braids laced to the back, criss-crossing across each other, scalp coconut oiled up. The exotic style fit his small round brown head perfectly. White gold earrings with specs of fake ice sparkled in both ears, and his denims were stiff too, creased precisely down the middle of both legs. Extra stiff, like a dinosaur slept on them sideways. Unh. Nigga had his smells doing lovely too. Not too much and not too little, spritzed about him evenly. Some exotic shit, Joop cologne-well, almost Joop: dollar store Joop. But still… -skissst -skisssst …smelling delicious. Everything else in his life was fucked up though, smelling shitty... First off, it had been 2 months since he had a real job. Second, he was still living at his mother’s house at 22 with no money saved. And third, he still hadn’t started taking the steps he needed to take to get some college courses or get into a trade school of some kind. Instead, Latrell spent most of his unemployed days hanging out with his homies from high school, the ones who were still alive or not in jail. Still, they were some of the ones who had dropped out of high school to chase that fast money. Some of them served, some of them robbed, a few of them ran long cons. They got down and dirty to keep up they shine. Latrell’s hungry ass would do a little dirt here and there too,just enough to keep some kind of scratch in his pocket though. Never as big as they did it. Real talk, he loved money but didn’t have the cold heart it took to do some of the shit they did. Not long term anyway. He knew he wasn’t the super hard type of nigga that could do felony time with no problemo, hell to the no. Jail fucked up his flow. It took a petty theft charge he got caught up with to teach him that lesson. He was drunk and out in the burbs with his boys chasing some white na-na, tried to steal a pack of Trojan condoms from a grocery store, and got caught. A big security guard with a huge round gut and a salt and pepper jheri curl snatched him up from behind as he tried to walk casually out the front door. The store got him on camera too. Stupid ass got thrown in Cook County. He was only in a few days. It was still fucked up though. Fights broke out almost every few hours between rival gang members, or some other type of thug jacking somebody for shoes, chains, rings, etc. Some poor soul got raped, beat bloody and left for dead in a bathroom stall. Wasn’t nothing pretty about that shit. Seemed like he was there forever too, sick to the stomach with fear and depression. Couldn’t even eat. And the thought of having to be in a place like that for X=? amount of years was horrifying. Luckily, he only got a slap on the wrist, a few community service hours and a fine. And though the experience curved his desire to be a full-time criminal, it did not stop him from hanging around his criminal ass friends and doing some stupid shit from time to time. His momma, who worked two jobs, one as a nurse the other as a substitute teacher, warned him constantly, ’…its only a matter of time before one of yo ignorant ass so-called friends get you caught up in some shit you can’t undo.’ He ain’t listen though. And now here he was in some shit too. On his way to see some shady acting, big bootied, hood rat in Cabrini Green named Quonda. The crazy girl had been claiming for the past three weeks that she was pregnant by him. First, she started blowing up his pager five to ten times a day, then later, his momma’s phone. He couldn’t let his momma find out shit. She’d put the fire under his ass most definitely. No more free rent, a move out deadline-all kinds of shit he wasn’t prepared to deal with. She had been seeing what she called a “good man” for about half a year. The nigga paid half her bills and didn’t even live there. Latrell sure appreciated it too. Gave him a chance to rest and spend some of his hard earned money on himself…take a vacation…got her out his face and his business too. Due to the fact that she was gone most of the day and a good part of the night, she had yet to answer the phone when Quonda’s loud ass called. Far as she knew, Latrell lived by himself. But his Momma had a few days off coming up. He had to handle her before that happened. TO BE CONTINUED.... Peace I will replace this chapter next week with chapter two. Pls also do the knowledge on excerpt below from later in the novella. Thanks 4 your Support “Oooh. That car is fly!” Shay half-hissed, half-shouted, squeezing the bottle of liquor so hard it was vibrating,’…and that fine ass nigga in it too.” “ Awwrighhht…,’ her girls sang in agreement as it passed by them slowly, biting their bottom lips and daydreaming full blown day dreams; all of them painted their finest pictures of themselves in their heads then pasted them to the passenger seat. ‘Yup. I’d look bad as hell in that. Crucial’, Shay thought hard, zoning out. Wished she had had one of her little trick niggas do her up for the day; get her hair done, buy her an outfit…something. ‘ Bet if I wuz sharp that nigga’d be honkin’ all at this fine bitch here. Hmph. Yup, he’d be wantin’ sum of dis pussy hurr.’ She fantasized about what outfit, what hairdo and what nail color would make his neck snap in her direction. Then he honked. ‘-Hunh.’ He honked, smiled, winked and motioned her to the car with his pointing finger seductively. “ Ooo. That nigga want’chu Shay!” the dark skinned girl yelled, nudging her with her elbow and snatching away the liquor bottle she had been gripping. Her other girl pushed her from behind, in the direction of the car, she stumbled forward hesitantly, fighting the urge to burp. “ Can I holler at you a minute baby?”, the fly nigga yelled properly and sweetly, leaning out the window of his Lexus-‘…lookin’ good.’ “ Come on baby. Don’t front.” * * * * * * Latrell’s eyes searched the inside of Mr. Smoove Brotha’s ride quickly while he was still a little shaken up. He was trying to hide something in his lap. Eyes wild. Sweating like he had just ran a marathon, got chased, or…just got through fucking-in his clothes…chest heaving. ‘-Naw,…” Latrell’s arms and fingers started moving unconsciously, looking for something they knew he would soon be needing, his .25. Then he saw the blood on Mr. Smoove Brotha’s fingers, under his nails and in his lap, staining the crotch of his pants. A small puddle, growing. Latrell’s right hand found the handle of his steel. “ Ey dawg, where dat female you picked up a minute ago-hunh?” * * * * * * “…Ooh. Gon’ head girl. Shit, if you don’t I will.’ “Mm-mm. Not if I beat yo ass to it.’ Shay hesitated, touching her hair and checking her clothes. Stains all on her shit. French roll on ‘ulll’ and nails on ‘damn’. Knew she was looking whooped. ‘ …this nigga gots to be jokin’. I look fucked up right now…but damn…damn. He fine as a mothafucka…an’ that Lexus…ooo…that Lexus is bangin’!’ Mr. Smoove Brotha smiled, his eyes lighting up invitingly as it spread across his face. Making Shay and the rest of her girls melt…weak with wishing. ‘-Fuck it.’ Shay sprint-walked over to the passenger side , giggling inside herself like a little girl about to jump in the car with her daddy to go to an amusement park, a carnival, or the movies; all things she never had a daddy to do with. ‘Weeee…’ * * * * * * “Uh…girl?”, he said looking up at Latrell shakily, eyes twitching. Looking around for an escape. Latrell squeezed the handle of his .25-hard. * * * * * * “ So pretty lady, you eat today?”, Mr. Smoove Brotha asked Shay musically as he sped off. “ I’m cool. I ain’t hungry.’ Shay loved the way he kind of bounced around in his seat with ‘ excitement?’. She couldn’t believe that this ‘supah-jiggy-white-soundin’-GQ ass nigga’ was actually happy to be with her. * * * * * * Latrell’s blood turned hot. He could hear his own deep breaths and his heartbeat…like they were playing on the sound system inside the Lexus. More pictures raced through his head. “-Nigga,”, he clenched his teeth and squeezed through a half-bitten lip, fighting the urge not to yell,”…you know what fuckin’ female I’m talkin’ ‘bout mothafucka. Nah where she go?” His gun slid out the back of his pants and swung forward towards the car-its nose landing dead in the center of Mr. Smoove Brotha’s face. What little color was left in his pretty yellow grill ran somewhere else. Quick. “ Oh my God!, some elderly black woman in a shabby overcoat, a bad wig, and a lopsided pair of bi-focals at a bus stop not to far away from them half-screamed in a froggy voice. Every pedestrian from one corner to the next shot their heads in Latrell’s direction. ‘I’ve got to hurry the fuck up. Can’t believe this shit.’ The silly dark skinned girl from the party’s voice erupted in to all the madness from across the street. “The polices is on they way Latrell. Oh damn. That nigga done pulled his strap. It’s finna be some shit ch’all…” Mr. Smoove Brotha smirked through his pain…like he just knew he was going to get away clean… ‘Who does this dumb ass boy think he is -the police?’, Mr. Smoove Brotha thought humorously, wincing, squeezing his thighs together tightly. His jaws tightened. ‘...Go away.’ ‘Unh-unh.’ Latrell started hearing something. Something deep in his head. His stomach buzzed. He firmed up his aim. “ Get the fuck up out of that car dawg. You ain’t goin’ nowhere ‘til I find out what you did with that sista. Hear? I said get tha fuck out!” Police sirens echoed faintly from somewhere near but not yet close enough. Sweat basted Latrell’s body and face, stinging his eyes. He fought the urge to blink. He scanned the inside of the Lexus again more thoroughly. Looking for a murder weapon. Latrell winced when he saw that the tiny red pool of a stain in his lap was getting bigger and bigger. Mr. Smoove Brotha was grabbing at his nuts, squeezing his thighs together tightly, shaking.  Pls contact me . for full story or visit my other pgs. myspace.cim/pucaliraw2006    



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