Book I just finished. Chapter 1-3
Spit filled with blood and a tooth fell out his mouth. “You bastard that was my tooth”! D said outraged, charging for me. I grinned, wiping the blood from his knuckles on his pants. D came running at him and Tyler hit with a left, spreading even more blood out D’s mouth. Evident pain was on D’s face, but before he could process that emotion, he was grabbed by the neck and slammed to the ground. Ooooh’s can be heard all around them. Their gang surrounded them. Pete the leader of their gang, stepped forward with his hand cuffed to his mouth, making a ooooh sound. They called him pistol Pete, because he was quick to whip out a gun on you. He didn’t care if you were a woman, elderly, child. Now that’s where I drew the line. Woman and children, were a no go. Pete was 5”9 to my 6”2, but he acted seven feet. Pete was dark-skinned with a low hair cut. Everyone scurries out his path when he comes through. Not me though, I’m only here because I owe a debt and I’m repaying it by being here. He slapped hands with Tyler
“did you have to do him like that?”
Tyler replied “this bloke was a few stubbies short of a six-pack.
“Right” said Pete, sometimes he didn’t understand anything Tyler said. Anyway, said Pete. “You down?”
“What is it?” I asked.
“There’s this chick named Danielle that works at Frankies Fast Food Corner”
“ I need you to grab her and bring her to me.”
“What for?”Asked Tyler.
“You asking questions now?” Pete got in his face.
Tyler looked Pete dead in his eyes and didn’t back down. Pete smiled after a few seconds, “just bring her here, aight”. Tyler just turned and walked away. He couldn’t stand Pete sometimes. He blew a breath out his mouth and tussled his dark black hair.
Boy if it wasn’t for the debt that wanker could bug off. I recalled that day, I got into this bloody hell. He ran around the school yard yelling “you can’t catch me”
“Yes, I can”
Was a retort from a little girl with caramel skin, black unruly hair, and big hazel eyes. Tyler use to wonder how she got hazel eyes. Hèr mom, who dropped her to school this morning had black eyes but he never asked. He felt a hand hit him as the bell rang that ends recess.
“Got you,” she yelled as she ran inside to her class.
“That’s cheating,” he yelled after her.
Tyler went to class still thinking of the new friend he made today. She was pretty and fast he thought wrinkling his eyebrows and crossing his arms. It was hard trying to tag her when he was it. The teacher gave his class homework and dismissed us for the end of school. A couple of kids who walked home gathered in front of the school. It was kind of a group, we always walked home together. We only lived a block from school. None of our parents had cars so we walked. It wasn’t far anyway. As Tyler greeted the group, he saw black unruly curls in the back. He walked to the back of the group. A girl biting her lips and twisting her hands was there this time. She had a barbie book bag and downcast eyes.
She looked up, her hazel eyes lit and her face split in a big smile, showing a prominent dimple.
“Hey” she answered back.
We went to the front of the group. Me and her chatted all the way home. Her mom just moved in our neighborhood. Three houses down. Today was her first day and I was her first friend. That bit of news made him smile all the way home. Our little group dwindled down as our houses came into view. It was just her and him as they continued home. She pulled a fruit roll-up from her book bag and shared it with him. Her house was next.
“See ya tomorrow” she yelled running up her steps to her front door.
A man opened the door and ushered a stiff little girl in and he had hazel eyes like her. He shrugged and continued to walk home. There was a green small car in the yard. With one raised brow he opened the door. At the table sat my mum and gran.
“Hey luv” said mum
Silence was her response. She squirmed in her seat as he continued to stare at her saying nothing.
His gran ushered him to a seat next to mum.
“Here baby, talk to your mum”
Gran disappeared into her room. Tyler looked at the women across the table who had the same blue eyes as him. She sat twisting her hands in her lap not meeting his eyes.
“I’m engaged now” she said sliding her hand on the table. I just looked at the ring. Still not saying anything. She went on as if she didn’t notice his silence.
“You like the car?”
“He got it for me”
She stands and comes by me. She gives me a hug, which I didn’t return.
“I missed you sweetheart.”
“You want to live with mum?”
Again she doesn’t wait for him to answer.
“I’ll be back to get him in a little.” She said past my head
She was talking to gran, who appeared in the kitchen. No idea how long she was there. Gran crouches down to look in my eyes.
Gran says, “she looks good.”
“Give her a chance luv”
He talks for the first time since coming home
Tyler gets up and throws his arms around gran.
“I want to stay with you”
She wraps her arms around him.
“Dearie, you gotta give her a chance.”
Gran calmed him down and helped him pack. Mum was back less than a hour. Mum had Tyler at a very young age so he often spent long periods of time with his gran. This stay was the longest, two years. He thought this time she wasn’t coming back. He was happy about that, he always wanted to stay with gran.
“Let me get this,” said mum as she grabbed his bag full of his stuff. Not all his stuff cause gran said to leave some stuff there, for when I visit.
“Ready to go?” said mum
Mum held her hand out to him. His tiny hand was now engulfed by hers. They walk to the door leading to outside and his personal hell begin. He looked back at gran with teary eyes. Tears shine in her eyes too. He let’s go of mums hand and run to gran. Trying to hold onto her waist as tight as possible.
“Don’t make me go!”
“Please, I’ll do better in school. I promise”
He yelled, looking up at her with a soaked shirt and a face of tears.
“Oh, sweetheart, this isn’t punishment.”
She got to her knees, oblivious of the dirt underneath our feet. Gran puts her wrinkled, milky white, and soft hands encompassing his face.
“I love you and you’re a very good boy”
“I will always be here for you, ok?”
He wipes his face with his sleeve and nods yes. She hugs me. He loves gran hugs. Its like being wrapped up in a warm blanket. He closes his eyes and try to memorize her smell. He would miss that. Gran walked him back over to mum, who waited patiently for him. Mum strapped him in his seatbelt.
“Thank you mum.” She said and got in the car. As she drove off he got out his seatbelt and looked at gran. Her body got further and further away. I saw the hazel-eyed girl sitting on her porch crying. But why would she be crying? I’ll ask tomorrow at school. But that was the last day he would see either of them.
Two months went by and they never went back. He changed schools. So he never saw the green-eyed girl again. He tried so hard but couldn’t recall her name. His gran lived in Goose creek SC. His mum was in North Carolina. Gran was just a few hours away but everytime he asked to go visit mum’s fiancée would say.
“Don’t ask me for gas. She worked at this gas station. Which is like her fourth job in two months. So she never kept money. If he said no then we couldn’t go. Six months later gran died. Some kind of complication during heart surgery. Mum said she was having a pacer put in. He took us down there this time.
Everyone was in black. As drops of water ran down my face I saw her. Holding onto her mums hand. Her face was sad. Tyler tried to go to her but his mum hurried him off to the car. Mum cried silently all the way home. My heart hurt for gran I couldn’t stop thinking of her. He wished he could just talk to her again. Tyler couldn’t help wondering what will happen to him now? If his mum messes up now there’s no gran. Drops of water fell from his eyes wetting his white shirt.
His days got worse from there. Mum and her fiancée argued constantly. Neighbors came by to see if they were ok. That’s how loud they were. Weeks later they broke up. She couldn’t keep up with the bills, so we moved to a worse part of the city. The building we lived in smelled like dirty clothes. There was so many bugs.
Eventually I did get use to it though. I went to the nearby elementary, middle, and then high school. Tyler had to grow up quick. He was teased at first because of where he lived and because his dingy clothes. Needless to say he learned how to fight quick. He never had to worry about another person teasing him. They were scared of him. Tyler fought like a mad man. No one could knock him out.
He came into the house from school one day and threw his bookbag on the kitchen counter. It smelled weird in there. Tyler called for his mum, no answer. The smell gets more intense the closer he gets to mum’s room. A boy that look a little older than me at seventeen runs from mum’s room holding his pants up. He doesn’t even look at me as he walks fast to the front door. Tyler opens his mum’s door and sees her wiping her mouth. These days she looks like a hollow image of her old self.
Baggy clothes cause she is losing so much weight. Her hair looks dry and brittle. Tyler turns around and head for the living room. He wish he could say this was his first time catching her in the act but it’s not. The boy scurried out of here because the first time he caught her, he beat a man almost to death. She swore it was just once but it happened several times after that. He stop fighting the guys or boys because it just wasn’t worth it.
Kids at school knew better than to bring it up and risk a beatdown. Tyler barely made it out high school. He started working at this car wash place. It wasn’t great but the tips added up. His mum always asked for money. Now he knew it was for drugs, even though she swore it was for a Uber. The car she had was gone since middle school. She couldn’t keep up with the payments. Her money went to drugs. Plenty of times he came home to find her unconscious on her bed. A needle and spoon on her bed by the lighter. Band still around her arm. He would just walk back out to go to his room.
Year’s go by of me at the car wash. One day Tyler heads home. Taking the bus to by their apartment. I get to the door but it’s cracked and there are voices coming from inside. The door was opened. Like no one cared to close it. They weren’t worried about privacy. They were surrounded by people who didn’t meddle in your business. The half open door revealed mum sitting at our little round table talking to a dark skin man. Before he makes his presence known he wants to survey the man in his house. The man has baggy jeans on that show his underwear. A white tank top and the new Jordans. He knew they were the new ones because he wanted them.
He is saying something about money. Mum has her hand clasped as if praying to him. Tyler clears his throat making his presence known. The man spins around and before I know it, a gun is in my face. Mum jumps up screaming,”it’s my son.”
“Just my son Pete”
The guy named Pete lowers his gun.
“What is going on mum?”
She ignores him and talks to Pete.
“Just give me some time”
Pete puts away his gun.
“No more time, pay or die” he says
“Come on Pete, you know I’m good for it” she says
“I know your not” says Pete pulling out his gun again and aiming it at mum. She immediately drops to her knees with her hand in a praying position.
Tyler tries to rack his brain, what he could do to save her. She was a shitty mum but she was still mum.
“I can work” Tyler says
“What?” says Pete
“I can work off what she owes you” I say again with more conviction in my voice
“What can you do?”
“Whatever you need me too”
Look like he was mowing the idea over in his head.
“I could use another soldier”
He told me where to meet him and what time. Then he left. Mum immediately rushes to Tyler and hugs him.
“Thank you luv”
He silently disentangles himself and heads to his room. Slamming the door behind him.
The next day he woke up and met up with Pete under a speedway right by the apartments we lived in. He was surrounded by other dudes I assumed was with him. Pete walks up to him and pats him on the back.
“Early bird gets the worm”
“I need you to collect for me today”
“You will be with Rick”
A young boy with pale skin and short black hair steps up. We shake hands and walk off. He leads us to a laundry mat first. Rick talks to the owner. In which the owners hands Rick a envelope. We stop by eight places. Much like the previous owners, they hand an envelope over with cash in it. The next place we stop at was a gym. The owner was an old guy who had a frown on his face.
“I’m not paying” he said with wrinkled eyes. His hands made fists at his side.
Two guys around 6ft show up next to the old guy. Their faces turned down and their eyes locked on us. Finally something to do I think. The end of my mouth goes up and i rub my hands together. As if I was just given a gift. They both were 6ft 2 so they were a good match. The first guy runs at me full speed. Tyler hits him in the throat hard. Before the man has a chance to recuperate from the throat punch. Tyler hits him with a left punch to the gut.
Then a right hook to his jaw that makes him hit the gym floor with a thud. Tyler charges the other man. Knocking the air out of him. Then pounding on his face until a tooth falls out. He feels hands grab him off the man. He turns around to face Rick holding his hands up saying
Tyler blows out a calming breath. It’s hard to stop the rage when it comes. It’s like taking the lid off a cup filled to the brim. It just spills from the lightest push. He looks down to see bloody knuckles. A red stained shirt and jeans.
“You good?” Rick asks
“Yeah,” I said breathing erratically
The old man stuffs money in a envelope with shaky hands and gives it to Rick.
“Go, p l e a s e” he stutters
Rick gives him a lopsided smile. He slaps me on the back and says
“Let’s go” chuckling
I follow him back to meet up with Pete. He hands over the envelopes.
“How is today?” asked Pete
“Ran into some resistance at the gym but ya boy took care of that.” He laughs slapping me on the back.
Pete cocks his head at Rick and raises an eyebrow. Rick tells him what happened. Not leaving out a detail. Pete looks at me with a crooked grin.
“It’s that so?”
I just shrug
He rubs his hands together smiling like he just struck gold.
“I think I just found out what you can do for me”
From then on I was Pete’s shadow. Putting my fist in someone’s face. I went with different people of the gang to collect from those that gave opposition. It went on like that for year’s. I didn’t mind, I liked being an enforcer. It feels like a small ball of fire that kept growing whenever something happened out of my control. The older I got the bigger, brighter, and hotter it burned. When I fought that man is left in ashes.
If I was honest with myself there is a big gaping hole that my gran use to occupy some space. So I was content. Since the day my mum came and got me there is that ever-growing and always-lit fireball. I expel some of it fighting but I’m close to giving up hope that there is better for me and mum. Mum peeked in my room. She scratched at a invisible rash on her neck. She was so thin with sunken cheeks and big gray shadows around her eyes. Her voice was barely audible when she asked
“Let me borrow something”
“I’ll pay you back”
“I ain’t got it”
Which was a lie, working with Pete kept my pockets full. But I didn’t want to feed her addiction.
“Man, come on, please,” she said scratching her neck.
I always wind up giving it to her. Makes me feels so bad afterwards. I put my head in my hands. Mum leaves out the door, getting what she came in for. “Is this it for us?” I say to my empty room. Not expecting an answer.
Danielle walked in to work, it was semi-busy for a Wednesday. She was stopped by a guy with dreads.
“So is today my day?” He smiled yellow, cricked teeth at her.
He had a smile that makes you smile. I smiled and said, “not today.”
He made a fake sad face and spun back to the counter.
“How about me?” The man in line behind him said.
Another man and another chimed in. Danielle smiled, a deep dimple revealing itself. I just laughed and finished clocking in.
Mock sad faces went around the room. The guys at her job usually made her day with their harmless flirting but today it didn’t do her as much good as it usually did. Today Danielle couldn’t shake her past. At home, her mind was riddled with her ex, Isaac and her father.
Her ex was always masterly manipulative. It seems like he could get people, especially me to do what he wanted. I would make a decision and find out it was what he wanted. Isaac never cared about my wants or needs. He always acted like he did but he didn’t. Conversations were about him. Sex was about him.
The last straw was when Frankie, the owner at where I worked. Held a community event in the neighborhood park. There was free food, music, face painting, and a jumping castle for the kids. Employees didn’t have to work today. Just come and enjoy yourself. That is exactly what I was doing, dancing with my co-worker to a reggae song.
My eyes were closed, feeling the beat. Hands grabbed my arm, and a voice said
“You didn’t hear me calling your phone?”
My eyes opened to being yanked and yelled at. My eyes were wide and my heart was pounding so fast. Instantly I narrowed my eyes at Isaac and yanked my arm out of his grasp. With eyebrows arched
“Have you lost your mind?!”
Isaac came into my space, sporting his own mean mug.
“Obviously, you have” he replied with a sneer. He was so close. His hot breath was felt on my brows. My hands bawled and my body felt hot.
“Get out of my face Isaac” I say
He is so close his lips barely touched my lips.
He tried to kiss me. This maniac tried to kiss me. I pushed him
“I’m done” I said turning away from him.
“Come on baby”
“You didn’t answer your phone”
“I was worried”
Isaac yelled at my back. I walked off and finish dancing with my coworker.
“It’s like that?” Isaac yelled at me as I backed it up on Jacob. My deliberate attempt to upset him. Like he did me. Grinding to the beat. Jacob played the part and grabbed my hips.
“Dont touch her!” he yelled
Isaac tried to get to us but the men who frequent Frankies, held him back.
“Young blood, you need to leave” one of the regulars said
“Who the hell are you?” said Isaac getting in his face
Other neighborhood guys joined the little circle
“You want to find out” stepping closer to Isaac’s face.
He looked around and saw he was greatly outnumbered. Isaac huffed and left. After the community event, I slammed all his crap in a box. Kicking up pebbles, I pull my little red Honda to the brick apartments. Isačc said his cousin lived here when I inquired about his frequent visits over here. I knocked on unit 305 and left the box of Isaacs’s stuff at the door. My eyebrows still kissed and my jaw was taut. As I pull out of the driveway, Isaac comes running out the apartment holding his unzipped pants calling my name. Obviously, a cousin was not the reason he was here so much.
“Liar” I scream and back out the with as much reverence I drove up with
“Stupid,” I say hitting the wheel angrily.
The memory dissolved and me as a little girl appeared. I just came home from my first day of school. I made my first friend today, I was so excited until the door opened. There stood a man with my same hazel eyes staring at me. He ushered me in the house. My mom was on the couch, all her teeth showed and she said
“Hi, mom”I still looked curiously at the man. My mom came to stand by me. She bent down and said in my ear
“This is your father, Dominique, say hi”
Biting on my nail, swinging my body left to right
“Hi,” he said getting on his knees to look me in the eye.
“I have been waiting a long time to meet you”
“You have,” I say in a child-like voice
“Yes” he says hugging me.
I’m stiff at first and then return the hug. It was warm. My eyes closed involuntarily as it back then. A gentle smile graced my lips.
“Hey, you ok?” Jacob asked with a raised brow.
I whip my head around and say
Digging in my pocket to grab my pen. Grabbing the notepad off the table I
scurry off to take an order from waiting tables. Danielle comes to the first table.
“What can I get you?”
“Can I have you?” said an older dark skinned gentleman.
A quirk of her lip, she answered “no, I’m not being served”
He put his head in his hands as if disappointed. Looking up he said “well then, I guess I’ll take burger and fries”
Danielle gave him a genuine smile and said
“Coming right up”
I yelled the order back to the kitchen and went to the next table. Most of the day went like that. The last table I went to with my face in my notepad, jotting something down so I didn’t forget. Otherwise I would have avoided this table like the plague.
“Look who it is?” a low voice says
Danielle lifts her head already knowing who’s annoying voice that was. Hands on hip, rolling my eyes I ask
“What can I get y’all?”
The table was full of guys he ran with.The dude with the annoying voice said
“You” winking at me
I sucked my teeth and turned to walk away.
“Hey,” he said following me
I kept walking. He grabbed my arm.
“I’m talking to you”
I swung around, with my eyes mid roll.
“Why don’t you give me a chance?”
“You know why?”
“Cause I banged a few of your friends?”
I looked at him from the side of my eye. Pete slept with pretty much every girl I knew. I wasn’t trying be his latest conquest. My girlfriends say he isn’t very good in bed. Then he is known for being quick and only worried about his own pleasure. No foreplay, nothing. No thank you. I can get more pleasure from my hands.
He was still in diner when I clocked out.
Pete walked up to me with his goons in tow.
“Want me to walk you home?”
Doesn’t he mean us “boys” never leave his side. I resist the urge to roll my eyes and seem disrespectful.
“No, I’m ok” I say with a tight smile
“Why?” he asked with no smile on his face
“Cause she already asked for a ride?” said Jacob coming to stand by me
“You ready chica?” Jacob asks
I say thank you to Jacob when we’re in his car
“No problem, but you better nip that in the bud, quick”
“I have” I say exasperated
“He’s not taking no as an answer”
“You need a fake boyfriend, maybe he would back off”
I look at Jacob smiling so hard my dimple shows
“This thing with Drake is knew”
“I don’t want to bring drama into the relation this early”
He glances at me from the side of his eye.
“No, I understand”
Jacob is bisexual. I didn’t know he was dating but I didn’t want to mess up what he had. I just wanted Pete off my tail. It’s like he got his eyes set on me and I can’t shake him. He has been on me since I moved here six months ago. A new start is what I came here for but all I’ve gotten is a liar of an ex and Pete. Can’t I just be happy, I say in my head, my hand holding my chin while looking out the window. Maybe Jacob is right, I need a fake boyfriend. But who? I just moved here