The Big Sister Blues

 

 

 

 

The Blues

“BEANIE…BEANIE…WAKE UP” I hear a high pitched cry, sitting up and I can barely open my eyes. But when I do, I see the kids standing in the doorway.

“Purple, get up Beanie won’t wake up” Jackson urges. I jump up and hurry through the hallway and into the living room, where Beanie usually fell asleep. She loves the big, brown couch and would rather sleep on it than her own bed. Mama’s clutching her, crying, and Winston isn’t around.

“What happened?” I ask.

“She won’t wake up” Mama’s screaming. I hear the sirens but continue to stare at Beanie lying peacefully in Mama’s arms.

“Excuse me” I hear and I’m shoved by the EMS worker, who argues with Mama.

“Purple” Jackson yells in my face.

“What?” I mumble still staring at Mama; he turns my body to the hallway Billie and Franklin stand sobbing staring at the scene before us. I rush to them, shielding them from what I know they won’t understand.

Hospital

The doctors are making Mama cry and there’s a police officer standing next to them. A woman wearing a suit with a stiff hairstyle watches with a disapproving look. My aunts and uncles, now sober, are enraged. I don’t understand. Jackson is leaning on the wall staring at the floor. This cold, hard, floor. Green walls with plastic flowers hanging from the ceiling. Mamas in handcuffs and sobbing; we catch eyes but I look away. She’s being drug away like a dog on a leash that won’t move. Franklin jumps up as if he wants to save her, but Jackson holds his arm.

“Sit down” he says as I glance their way. The way everyone is crying I can’t help but realize the truth, something happened to Beanie. I can see their lips moving but nothing is coming out. Pills. Mama tested positive for drugs. An investigation is going on at our house. Our uncles and aunts aren’t real so we have to wait at a foster home.

“What they mean Uncle Ronnie ain’t my real uncle?” Franklin asks, because they’re close. I know that Uncle Ronnie, Aunt Lee-Lee, Butter, and Aunt Vicki aren’t our relatives but Mama’s closest friends. Our real family hasn’t been around for years and I don’t know if they’re dead or alive.

“Just be quiet” Jackson tells him. I can see the hurt on his face. Beanie called him daddy and he’s worried. Billie has cried herself to sleep and rests heavily on my lap. Stiff Hair walks our way and I tense up; I don’t want us to go to foster care or to be separated.

“Come on children, you can go with me now?” she says with a polite smile. I hesitate, and Jackson exhales, shaking his head. Before we can answer, three very well dressed people step off the elevator.

“Is that Maureen?” Jackson asks, and I freeze because I didn’t recognize her.

​Maureen Portier is our maternal grandmother, Jackson and I are the only ones that have ever met her or seen pictures. The sight of her, nose in the air, poncho thrown across her chest and a Louis Vuitton purse on her arm makes us sit up straight. Stiff Hair turns to see where our attention has turned. I watch the three of them. Neat hair. The women wear makeup and perfume. But all I can smell is money.

“Oh hello” she greets.

“Hello, I’m the children’s maternal grandmother,” she announces loud and clear, making Billie shift.

“Our what?” Franklin says as Jackson nudges him. The young woman with her is looking at each of us slowly, a look of disgust on her face. She’s wearing real gold earrings, a huge wedding ring and a short stiff haircut. She reminds me of Halle Berry, but real.

“Oh. You must be…” Stiff Hair’s voice trails off as she looks through a folder.

“Maureen Portier,” she says with attitude.

“Yes, nice to meet you Ms.-“

“Mrs.,” she corrects.

“I’m sorry Mrs. Portier,” Stiff Hair apologizes.

“Who do I speak to about my daughter and grandchild. I understand something has happened,” she asks, as Stiff Hair leads her to the nursing station with the man she came with, Halle Berry follows. Mrs. Portier walks over to listen to the mumbling. I keep quiet and stop breathing to eavesdrop.

“Ecstasy….dead…maybe thought they were M&M’s….our condolences.” Those are the only words I make out as my heart drops. Beanie always loved M&M’s and I would have to take them out of her hand if she found one on the floor or in the couch.

“Who are they?” Franklin asks as my eyes water.

“Mama’s family,” Jackson says. I know that sitting still is killing Franklin so his mouth is about to run.

“I never seen them before,” he states. “I ain’t going with no strangers” he says folding his arms.

“Shut up, you’re going wherever they tell you to.” We stare at the small crowd of people. Halle Berry is holding her chest and has a tissue in her hand. The Suit has his hand on Maureen’s back with his head down. Maureen is still keeping eye contact with the nurses. My mind drifts as Billie turns to a more comfortable position. She won’t understand when she wakes up. Poor Beanie. Lying somewhere by herself calling me.

“I’m here” I whisper closing my eyes picturing her smile.

“Well children you don’t have to worry about going with me, your family is here” Stiff Hair says with slight cheer in her voice. I’m relieved; I didn’t care where “the family” was taking us as long as we weren’t being separated.

“I don’t know them,” Franklin tells her.

“Me neither,” Jackson speaks up with a scowl on his face. I glance at both of them because I’m surprised; usually Jackson understands things and agrees with me. Apparently he hasn’t grasped this situation.

“I’m your Uncle Francois, your mother’s older brother,” The Suit says, finally coming over so that I can see his face. He looks like Michael Ealy except with a clean cut. His shoulders are filling out the suit and I can tell that he works out. Up close Jackson resembles him a great deal.

“And I’m your Aunt Dominique, you’re mother’s little sister,” Halle Berry says, forcing a smile. Her nose and eyes are red. She cried about Beanie without even knowing her.

“Jackson.”

“Franklin, and that’s my twin Billie”

“I’m Purple, I mean Pierre.” I speak up not wanting to say Purple because I hear Beanie’s voice when I do.

“Pierre, you’ve gotten so big and beautiful,” Aunt Dominique says with a big smile. She remembers me and I can’t place her face from anywhere before.

“And look at Jackson, how old are you now, thirteen?” she asks, turning to him.

“Yeah, fourteen in July,” he says with a fake deep voice. He’s going through puberty and has this annoying, scratchy voice.

“Wow, it’s been a long time,” she continues, but my focus moves to Maureen who is now sitting down. She’s talking with a doctor. Her face is tight and she’s nodding, staring at the ground. Details about Beanie. She’d only seen four years and now it’s over. Another tear.

“Pierre,” I hear I look up and brush it away. It’s Jackson who has called me but when I look at him he’s nodding at Aunt Dominique.

“Yes,” I ask.

“I asked how’s high school?” she repeats.

“It’s good,” I lie to avoid the ugly truth. Detroit Public School. Lazy welfare mother. No new clothes. Taking care of four children, now three.

“How about you Freddy?” she asks, looking at Franklin.

“That’s not my name, lady,” he says, as Jackson nudges him.

“I’m not a lady, I’m your Aunt Dominique,” she says in a snappy way that made me look at her. I know how Franklin is but I’m not used to people talking to him with attitude.

“Well, I ain’t neva seen you before,” he adds. He’s like Mama once they get started it’s hard to stop them. Mama once argued with a grocery store clerk until her voice went out and we still had to leave.

“I know and I want to apologize” she says just above a whisper. I watch the way she shuffles her feet.

After Franklin set her straight she walks over to Maureen and Uncle Francois. I remember him. I was five and Jackson was four. He held me as Mama argued with Maureen and rushed our things out of the house. I remember him trying to calm her down, and when he couldn’t, he looked in my face and smiled at me.

“Why are we still sitting here, I’m hungry?” Jackson mumbles.

“Me too, and what about Beanie are we supposed to just leave her here?” Franklin asks. I look to see that he’s serious; he’s always been protective of her.

“She’s not coming home with us, Franklin,” I tell him using my hand to cover Billie’s ear.

“She died,” Jackson says as we look at him. I wait to see his face drop and his eyes water as Jackson grabs him. I can’t look. Beanie made all of us happy when we were sad. She was our cheerleader. Mama called her “Love” because that’s what it felt like when she was around. Whenever one of us was sad or upset, she would give you a hug or kiss. She used to say everything with a smile when she wasn’t sucking her index finger. I would miss that wrinkled finger and the way she avoided touching you with it. I smile because I can see her switching hands while we cross the street.

“Children,” I hear, looking up to see Maureen in her shiny shoes and heavy perfume. The look in her eyes makes us once again straighten our backs.

“Yes,” I say.

“You’re going to come home with me,” she says nervously as we all look at each other.

“Okay, but who are you?” Franklin asks, exhausted with our new family introductions. A smile slides across her face. It’s my smile, the one I use after a sarcastic joke.

“I’m Mi Mi, your grandmother” she tells us.

The Saxophone

It’s Friday night. Music blares from a broken speaker, no one cares to understand the words just feel the beat. Only old faces are allowed in Mama’s presence. New people make her nervous and me protective. The kitchen has turned into a carry out restaurant, with the neighborhood ordering my chicken and spaghetti. Today, Mama turned an age that she refuses to speak and act upon. I know her secrets, her strengths and living proof of her weaknesses.

“Purple, put some ice cubes in here for your uncle” Aunt Vicki yells over the music. Her eyes are half open, with a smile but she’s not happy just buzzing. She slings the cup hard causing the remaining alcohol to spill on her hand and drip on the counter. As I grab her a napkin, she licks it off. “You know damn well, I ain’t letting good liquor go to waste” she laughs as I drop four ice cubes in the red cup.

Playing cook, bartender, housekeeper and babysitter, not the kids but Mama. Tupac plays and they’re yelling the lyrics. Picture me rolling. This keeps them occupied while I clean the kitchen. We saw a roach a month ago and I refuse to chase them down again. We’ve been living in the same space for two years, which is the longest that we’ve ever lived somewhere. East Side. West Side. Highland Park. Southwest. But now the old home off Dexter is as stable as we could imagine.

“Purple” I hear a whisper. Knowing the voice before I see the face, Jackson walks into the kitchen taller in size but younger in age. My big little brother, we resemble to the point of twins and I don’t know why but it makes me happy.

“Stop whispering and go back upstairs” Jackson advises the voice.

“What’s up?” I ask turning to him.

“Somebody pissed all on the bathroom floor” he says angrily yanking open the cabinet under the sink. Jackson is another worker in Mama’s House. He fixes everything whether he knows how or not. If there’s a mouse present, so is Jackson. If there’s a spider too big, Jackson is even bigger. And when a mess is made that is too disgusting to clean, my little big brother is there to make sure we don’t live in it.

“So trifling” I mumble.

“Dang, we out of bleach” he grunts lifting up the empty bottle,that I bought last week.

“JACKSON, what the hell you doing down here, huh? Go upstairs with them like you suppose to” we hear Mama’s voice boom from behind us. Turning around to see the tall, slender person that created us and most of the drama we’ve endured.

“Somebody peed on the bathroom floor” he explains.

“Well clean the shit up, what the fuck you bothering Purple for she trying to clean up herself? Stop being so fucking lazy all the time” Mama yells. Jackson opens his mouth but shakes his head walking away. Mama vs Jackson is a match that has been played as long as I can remember. And no matter who was right, Mama always won.

“We’re out of bleach” I tell her.

“What the fuck do you want me to do about that at eleven at night?” Mama yells.

“Ma, why are you yelling, I’m just telling you” I say to her, being the only person to talk to her this way so she can understand. Low voice. Eye contact. Strong tone.

“Oh, shit just get some tomorrow. Hand me that Hennessey out the freezer” she says motioning towards it and staggering on the counter running her hands in the long frizzy hair that took me two hours to flat iron this afternoon. Wasted. She pushes the hair back looking like a lion awakening from sleep. Her eyes carried bags from having five kids and no husband. Sometimes she mumbles about no regrets but her spirit says differently. I grab the half drank bottle, pour her a glass and hand it to her.

“Do you want ice?”

“I said give me the bottle”

“I heard you, do you want ice?” I ask again, she cracks a smile and takes the glass sauntering back to the living room moving to the music. Mama drinks long and hard. Nothing can stop her at times. But I’m glad that every once in a while God makes me strong enough to accept the challenge.

“Purple” I hear the whisper again.

“What Franklin?” I ask walking to the hallway to see my youngest brother squatting down smiling up at me.

“We hungry” he says.

“My bad, give me five minutes” I tell him, wondering how I forgot to feed my children. Yes, mine. Mama had them but surely God gave them to me.

“Okay, Billie just wants chicken” he whispers, the sound of Mama’s laugh makes him jet up the stairs. To be caught at the grown up party was Treason without a Reason. Pulling out the paper plates, I set out four plates giving Jackson the most of everything and Beanie the least. Instead of a tray I use a baking sheet to carry the plates upstairs to the room that I knew they were in. Mine. I have a television that one of Mama’s boyfriends had no choice but to leave when she put him out.

Opening up my bedroom door, they rush me like birds to the sky grabbing the plates that they knew were theirs by the portions. Jackson was absent. Billie my little sister and one of my roommates grabbed her plate, smiling at me. She and Franklin are eight year old twins. Identical and both resembling a man none of us had ever met before. They share a warm brown complexion, light freckles with jet black curly hair. Franklin wore it in a taper with a curly top and I kept Billie in two long French braids on each side of her head. Mama calls her Pocahontas at times.

“Thank you Purple” she says.

“You’re welcome” I say leading, Beanie, our baby sister over to the broken chair and desk by the window. Beanie’s father was a nice man that went to jail while Mama was pregnant with her. Armed robbery. Mama says he didn’t do it but when he was around everything was new and shiny. Beanie looks like Mama, long skinny face light brown hair and sharp features. As sweet as she is, Beanie barely speaks. I’m concerned more than Mama. But that happens a lot around here.  My room is our room Billie, Beanie and mine, since Mama lost her job we shared a bed instead of a bunk bed like Jackson and Franklin in the next room. But when Mama gets her taxes it’s first on the list. She worked at a Coney Island for a month but quit saying the owner didn’t like her and she didn’t have time for attitudes. Nonetheless, she’s expecting a lot of money back and I’m expecting my own bed.

“Thank you” Beanie says sucking her finger staring at the food.

“You’re welcome” as I lift her up, securing her on the half of chair.

“PURPLE!” I hear Mama yell.

“I’ll be back with water” I tell them as I hurry to the stairs, glancing in Jackson’s room to see that he is no longer lying in bed with his headphones. Making moves. Despite Franklin’s efforts to keep the room messy, Jackson is a neat freak. Mr. Clean. He hates clutter, piles and nasty smells. We didn’t hire him as the janitor, he elected himself.

“PURPLE!” Mama yells again as my feet stomp down the steps letting her know that the kitchen is empty.

“Yes ma’am?” I ask walking to see her holding the arm of a tall dark man, who rolls a blunt wearing sunglasses in our dimly lit living room.

“This is Chucky, you remember him?” she asks. After sizing him up, I remember him as the man she accused of stealing the bracelet my daddy bought her.

“I think I do” I lie to keep them from asking me anymore questions.

“She about as tall as you now” he laughs. Now I really remember him. Jackson nicknamed him Clown because he laughs after everything that he says.

“Yeah she is and Jackson is even taller. Where’s my son?” she asks with love in her eyes. I wish Jackson were here to see the look on her face. I’ve mistaken it for pride.

“Cleaning up a mess Beanie made” I lie quickly, so that she won’t go yelling for him as well.

“Oh, make Chucky a plate for me” Mama ordered. Restaurant manager.

“Sure, do you want spaghetti or chicken?” I ask. Waitress.

“Both, you know I love to eat, baby girl, it hasn’t been that long” he laughs. Non-paying customer.

“Sit down and get comfortable, baby” Mama says. I watch her pull him to the living room and the trouble isn’t too far away.

Mama is in a middle school relationship with Winston, our “father” for face. They met when she worked at Coney Island and when she got fired he became a regular at our restaurant. Unlike most of the men Mama introduced, Winston works at a GM plant and has a car that can fit most of us. He doesn’t act as a father just uses the words around strangers. Mama dates for Mama and we have each other. But at this moment Clown needs to leave before Winston gets here or he’ll never laugh again.

“Enjoy” I say handing him the food in a plastic butter dish, that we reuse as storage containers. Clown laughs at the dish but Mama doesn’t think it’s funny.

“Purple, give Chucky a plate and quit being rude”

“We’re out of plates” I say cutting my eyes at her. The day has been long and breaking up a fight before the police get here was something that I’m not interested in.

“I get it, I get it, Purple you’se a smart girl but don’t ever try to outsmart yo Mama, she’s always right even when she dead wrong” Chucky says laughing, which causes a tickle because it’s true.

“Shut the fuck up” Mama flirts rubbing his arm. The front door slams and I can smell Winston’s cigarette and sweat aroma before I turn around.

“Hey Winston” Uncle Ronnie yells glancing at Mama, who is still snuggled next to Clown.

“Whassup everybody, Angelique can I talk to you?” he says.

“No, gon upstairs can’t you see we trying to party” Mama said rolling her eyes and sipping her drink. I head to the kitchen as the crowd watches in silence.

“You wanna be cute in front of your friends?” he asks. Here we go. Ping Pong. Mama vs Winston. Although, Mama is wrong Winston has lost. They argue back and forth until the only people in the living room are them. Once the kitchen is completely clean I hear a struggle and walk to the hallway to see Mama hitting Winston as he covers his head, then pushes her on the couch.

“You don’t put your hands on me JACKSON!” she screams with tears in her eyes.

“Calm down and don’t call that boy to handle your mess”

“Don’t tell me what to do Purple go and get your brother”

“I’m outta here, woman you crazy as hell, to think a man gon put up with you and your ex-boyfriends after working overtime to keep the lights on.” He yells at her as she ignores him.

“Purple go and get your brother”

“No ma, he’s sleep”

“You don’t have to get anybody, I’m gone” Winston says with his hands up and walks out. Great, Winston was decent and always made sure we had what we needed aside from the food stamps. I glare at Mama who stares at me.

“You got something to say, since you in grown folks business?” she asks.

“Not at all, mama” I tell her heading to the kitchen to turn off the light.

“Until you’ve walked in my shoes, you cannot understand my blues” she said as I slowly walk up the stairs. She played an old Jazz song with every ruined relationship. I’ve heard it play eight times. Not sure how long she played it before. There was more to Mama’s story than the blank pages she wrote.

The Drums

Monday morning. I stare over at the clock radio that reads 5:30am. The alarm won’t sound until 6:00 but between now and then it’s my time. Peace. No one asking for anything. Calm before the storm that I call my family. I slide out of the bed and away from my blanket which is actually Beanie curled up. She sleeps close and I don’t mind because no one can deny love to her. Slipping on my house shoes and grabbing my towel. We kept them in the bathroom until we realized that sometimes Mama’s men used them as their own. Jackson went off so bad that Mama had no choice but to keep a close eye on her overnight guest.

Once I close the bathroom door it becomes a room in another world. Four walls and a small window of meditation, within this room I can relax, think and admire myself without the immature comments from my siblings or those questions from Mama. “You better not be pregnant” she said, that one time when I was excited that I was losing the middle school weight. “No ma’am”. “You better not be, keep your legs closed at least until you get a job” she said. That was all the birth control I needed to keep my emotional and sexually thoughts to myself. Besides there was only one boy that I was interested in and he doesn’t even go to my school. Justin Baker, is a senior at King High School. I met him during an All-City honor society banquet and we talked the whole night about school, the future and being too smart for our families. I gave him my number and still waiting for the call. Even though that was three months ago, I would wait forever.

Prayer. Justin Baker. Planning my day. Menu for dinner.

“Yes” I sing, to the knock on the door it bursts open and I jump to see Mama running to the toilet and falling to her knees throwing up. I turn off the water, grabbing my towel and wet her rag. “Here” I whisper but she waves me off. I sit the rag on the edge of the tub and leave her with her troubles. Jackson comes out of his room holding his soap because he doesn’t use what we use. It’s not strong enough he says. Smells like girls stuff he says.

“Mama’s in there throwing up and Winston is gone” I tell him, the look on his face is a blank stare.

“Smart man” he chuckles. They didn’t have a relationship more like an understanding, small talk about sports and sometimes Jackson laughed at his jokes which was the most interaction he ever had with one of Mama’s friends. Walking into my room, Billie is sitting by the bed rubbing her eyes and the clock radio is singing loud. Beanie shifts. But she never wakes up to the siren.

“If you have to go pee do so before Jackson gets in there” I tell her. She hurries to the bathroom knowing that Jackson takes the longest because he handles other business. The kids at school hate wearing uniforms but I’m so grateful because the clothes I do own almost seem like a uniform but I make it work. Most of my clothes use to be Mama’s the other ones are birthday outfits or tax money splurges. I tried to get a job but Mama was working as well and she was worried that the kids would be home alone too long. Jackson works wherever they hire him, the main reason is because the taller he gets the more expensive his things become. His cool attitude and handsome face diverts the fact that his uniform shirts aren’t as white as they once were and he knows how to manipulate his pants to make them appear longer. But I’m learning that shoes are a big deal with him, a few of his friends have gave him a pair or two before, which made me want friends. While halfway dressed Beanie rolls over staring at me with a small smile lingering on her face.

“Good morning” I sing.

“Good morning” she mumbles trying to get comfortable.

“Let’s get ready for school” I sing. Although, she’s the youngest at this age Beanie is the easiest person to wake up besides Jackson. Franklin is of course the most problematic. The baby boy. The only person that eats breakfast is myself because by the time I make it to school our breakfast program is over.

“I’m so sleepy” Franklin whines while we walk down our quiet block.

“You should’ve went to bed at nine like the rest of us” Billie says.

“I wasn’t sleepy’ he says.

“Let’s play “When I grow up”” Billie sings jumping up and down with a whimsical smile.

“I don’t feel like playing” Jackson grunts.

“Then, you get to go first” Billie smiles. We can’t resist her demands, although she’s small, Bossy is her middle name. We never mind because according to her test scores Billie is a genius. A teacher at her school wanted her to get tested for a scholarship but Mama never finished the paperwork and I couldn’t forge it and show up as her guardian.

“Come on Jackson, it’ll make this walk quicker” I encourage, this game gives me hope as small as it may seem. I love thinking about our future as a family.

“When I grow up, I’m going to be rich” he mumbles.

“How rich?” we say in unison.

“So rich, I’ll have live alligators in my backyard” he says as we laugh.

“It’s supposed to be more realistic”

“Billie, you can’t tell somebody what their dreams” I remind her.

“Okay, whatever Franklin your turn”

“When I grow up I’m going to be rich?”

“How rich?”

“So rich that I’m going to buy everybody a new house” he says.

“Make sure I have my alligators in the backyard” Jackson tells him.

“And I want heated bathroom floors” I say.

“And cartoons” Beanie yells as we stop to look at her. Shock. Whenever she speaks, it’s like hearing the first cry of a newborn baby. Sometimes it takes a whole day, other times Mama threatens to put her in a special school.

“All the cartoons you can watch” Franklin says tickling her cheek as she laughs. I squeeze her hand a little tighter, hoping that this year whatever had her tongue will finally let it go.

This school of mine sits sturdy and brown, holding future leaders, professionals, crack heads and single mothers. It’s true any of our lives can change from good to horrible in the blink of an eye. There’s a boy that was in my class last year that died of an overdose of codeine. Two of my middle school friends are mothers and both of the fathers are dead. Each day that I’m able to sit in this classroom and achieve something, I take advantage. Not just because I want a better future, but because I don’t know the future of my brothers and sisters.

“What have we decided on today Pierre?” Mrs. Alexander asks me. She’s short, fat with a weird choice in lipstick, but I’m closer to her than I am to Mama. If it wasn’t for her encouraging me, I was sure to drop out and get a job. That’s how bad things were last year.

“I still don’t know”

“You have time but I want to help you pull in these scholarships before it’s too late. I know that you’re thinking about home but this is your life and future we’re talking about”

“I know, I’ve written down my options it’s hard to think about going away to college right now”

“I agree that college may not be for everyone, but make good life choices should be. If you don’t want to go away to college there are community colleges and schools closer to your family.”

“I’ve looked up a few online, it’s just hard for me to pick a major with all the other major things going on in my life”

“At one point you must start thinking about Pierre” she says. Her words linger in my head just until I get to my next class. Selfishness. The word is foreign to me but it seems everyone expects me to leave my kid’s hanging. They’ll never understand that we’re all we got more than family. Like the last breath.

The smell of my “Pretty Peach” perfume dances past my nose, I bought it at the beauty supply. It wasn’t until Mama bought me a make-up kit with a few nail polishes and a bottle of perfume that I began making more of my appearance. Jackson and I share a lot of the same features and look like twins in most of our pictures when we were younger. Both tall, slender and yellow just like Mama, but with our father’s round face and thick eyebrows. We don’t know much about our father except for his features. But every once in a while Mama will tell us a story with a lazy smile in a daze. They were married. I still can’t imagine Mama as someone’s wife. She’s mean to most men and ignores the rest.

“My bad” Jackson says from behind me as I stand waiting for him. He’s sweaty and his shirt is open exposing the black t-shirt htat he wore as an under shirt.

“Where were you, the bus is coming?” I ask while we hurry to the stop.

“Hooping in the gym”

“Wow, Jackson when did basketball become more important than family?”

“Purple, this family is your life not mine” he says which makes me turn to look at him.

“What does that mean?”

“You like living with Mama and putting up with all that mess but as soon as I graduate me and Scoop are moving down South” he tells me. Pain. I can’t imagine life without my brother, who would I vent to? Jackson was the only person my age that I had a friendship with.

“It’s not that I like it Jackson, we’re family. I love y’all and I do what I have to do to make sure that we’re good. I would love to go do my own thing but who would raise the kids?” I ask him.

“Mama like she supposed to, that’s how messed up she got you, them her kids, Purple not yours” he tells me. Jackson is angry and I realize that someone said something to him or teased him. When we lived in the Southwest with one of Mama’s friends, we constantly were bullied by this huge family down the block and Jackson would come home almost every day saying how he wanted to leave and find our dad to live with him. It got to the point where Mama yelled that our father was dead, which caused a whole other problem.

“Jackson, we take care of each other. You can go on your way and live your life but right now my life is making sure that y’all are good until Mama gets herself together” I tell him as the bus pulls up.

“Good luck with that one” he says. Once we get on the bus, he stands up next to me staring out the window. I realize that it’s love that has him twister.

Dakari Wells. Homecoming Queen. Street Fashion Model. Jackson’s crush. From the first time he enrolled all he could talk about was Dakari Wells, but never said a word to her. I figured he finally got that guts to approach her and his feelings were hurt. It’s her loss but Jackson won’t realize until she’s knocking down his door. She dated boys that drove their own cars and made money the illegal way. I admit to having a crush on Stanley Ferguson, our neighborhood thug, he was nice to me said hello bought the kids ice cream from the truck. But I had too much drama already than to be Stanley’s ride or die chick. I’m good.

“Jackson, I know that you want to move away but I don’t know what I would do without you. At the end of the day all we have is this family. I know how she is but I don’t want Franklin, Billie and Beanie to not be taken care of”

“Purple, have it ever occurred to you that maybe if we weren’t around Mama might actually get her shit together”

“Yes, but I don’t think it’s a chance that I’m willing to take” I tell him, he shrugs his shoulders and puts his hands in his pockets.

“This shit gotta change” he mumbles, which lets me know that he’s rethinking his decision. I can breathe again. Jackson is my twin regardless of our two year age difference and because we share a father and mother I feel closer to him, like he completely understands me. I imagine this is what Billie and Franklin feel sometimes one is thinking what the other is saying. They call it Bonkers.

“It will one day”

The Bass

“Purple..Purple..open your eyes” I hear a voice whisper, then giggling and shushing. I open one of my eyes to see Billie and Franklin smiling with bright smiles. It’s Saturday morning and the sun is pushing through the dark blue sheet nailed up to our window. The smell of morning breath is slipping into my nostrils causing me to sit up. Billie is sensitive and Franklin doesn’t care.

“Good morning” I mumble as they smile hard making me laugh, Franklin’s face is painted with dried up slob from the night before and Billie’s thin strands of hair are trying to make a teepee on top of her long braids. Both of them wearing pajama’s jumping up and down.

“Good morning” they yell as I glance to see Beanie is on her stomach, mouth opening unbothered by this morning introduction.

“Happy Birthday” I sing as they laugh. It’s their tenth birthday, which is as exciting for them as it is to me. Birthday Love. Our circumstances have made us humble but spoiled in some ways. Mama’s birthday rule is whatever you want goes, which still has its restrictions.

“Are you going to make our cake?” Franklin asks at 9am.

“Yes, double chocolate circle cake” I say pointing to the short list they gave me of what they wanted. It’s become a ritual in our home. You write a list, cross your fingers and hope Mama allow everything. But they usually give it to me if Mama isn’t here or her door is locked.

“Is Mama here?”

“No, her shoes and purse are gone too”

“She probably went to get our presents” Billie sings as they dance making me smile, because the list is still with me I doubt that Mama is out doing good deeds.

“Ok, go wash your faces and brush your teeth” I tell them. They rush out of the room as I grab the list that they wrote on the back of a grocery store receipt.

  1. Double chocolate circle cake
  2. Haircut- Franky
  3. My hair down-Bills
  4. All our friends over
  5. Pizza and Red pop
  6. Wrestling toys-Franky
  7. Two new Barbie’s with nice clothes

The list as simple as it looks on some days can be a challenge, we rarely have company over because Mama doesn’t like to look after us better yet someone else children. I get up and look out the window at our old neighborhood to see that the sun is peeking out. One of the first warm days of spring without rain and mud. The backyard will be the perfect setting for today’s festivities. After checking to see Jackson snoring under his covers, puts me at ease knowing that he’s here instead of in the streets.

I jump in the shower and throw on some jogging pants and an old t-shirt, our Saturday’s were heavy duty house cleaning days everyone has chores and the earlier we finish the more time we get to do nothing. The twins are already in the living room vacuuming and wiping off the television and coffee tables. They’re definitely in a good mood because Franklin is making sure the vacuum and sucking up every crumb and lint ball. The kitchen is my place but because I cleaned it last night, I sweep and mop then make room in the refrigerator for any left overs for tonight. Jackson comes downstairs holding Beanie who lays on his shoulder sucking her finger.

“The vacuum cleaner scared her” he tells me. Beanie hates the vacuum and expects Jackson to save her from it at all times. Once Franklin chased her around with it and it was the first time Mama heard her get upset, she screamed “LEAVE ME ALONE NOW”. We all had a good laugh that day and Mama always brought up the memory to make us smile.

“He’s almost done” I tell her. Franklin turns it off and Jackson puts her down but she grabs his leg still acting like a baby.

“Where’s Mama?”

“Great question” I say shaking my head. Jackson is in the charge of the bathroom and the sweeping and mopping of all the floors in the house. Once the house smells fresh, we start getting ourselves together for the party.

“We’ll be back” Jackson says fully dressed with Franklin behind smiling.

“Where are y’all going?”

“To the barbershop” Franklin says smiling, he loves going with Jackson to the barbershop instead of by himself.

“Y’all got money?” I ask as Billie sits in a chair ready to get her hair blown dry.

“Yeah, I got a little” Jackson says as they head out.

“I know what I’m wearing” Billie says dancing in her seat as Beanie sits on the couch watching cartoons in her favorite overall’s holding her pink elephant.

“What?” I ask.

“Thank pink dress with the big sleeves”

“That was from Easter last year” I remind her.

“I know and I really like it” she says. I shake my head knowing that it’s her birthday, although she’s grown in a year I’ll do whatever to make it work for her. Two hours later and Jackson runs in with a fresh haircut dancing and acting silly because he’s feeling his birthday self. Billie sits on the couch not wanting to mess up her long, straight hair that took me too long to press even though I know once she goes outside it’ll be an afro on the top of her head. Beanie is sleeping on the couch, she takes a nap at the same time every day.

“Where’s Jackson?”

“Playing basketball down the street” Franklin says. I get in the kitchen to hide my worry, it’s been four hours and Mama hasn’t shown up yet. The sound of the twins yelling makes me hurry to see them standing on the couch looking out the window laughing.

“What?” I ask, the door opens and Jackson hurries in with Dollar Land bags. Confused until Mama walks in with grocery store bags.

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FRANKS AND BILLS” Mama yells with her arms open as they hurry to hug her excitedly. Jackson gives me a smile as I hurry outside to see Uncle Ronald getting bags out of his car.

“Hey uncle”

“Hey baby girl, how you doing?” he asks.

“I’m good, I was getting worried about her” I tell him.

“I was too when she came calling me at eight this morning to run some errands” he says as I look in his trunk to see a big Toys-R-Us bag and two more grocery bags.

“Thanks uncle”

“You’re welcome, me and your auntie will be back for the party” he says.  I hurry the toy bags upstairs and into her room. When I come back down Billie’s excitement has woke up Beanie.

“Look Purple, we got new outfits” Franklin says holding up the jeans and a blue button up plaid shirt and Billie has a pink plaid dress.

“Those are nice” I say as Mama watches smiling.

“Purple, there are some decorations in those bags for the backyard, Jackson says he’s going to make sure its nice back there and your Auntie Vicky is going to let us borrow two of her tables and chairs”

“Ok cool” I say.

“Mama can we have pizza?” Franklin asks.

“Yeah, I’m about to call them to put the order in now” she says getting up. This is the only time I see Mama move with purpose. Our birthdays always make her happy, I don’t know why but sometimes she’s more excited than us. Beanie is following Mama around as she turns up the radio to the local hip-hop station and starts emptying the bags. Billie and Franklin have hurried up the stairs to get dressed.

“I also bought y’all something to wear for the party as well” she says smiling. I turn to see the bag from Kidz Jungle, a clothing store that sold name brand clothes and we got our school clothes from.

“Thanks Mama” I say pulling out a pair of jeans and a t-shirt that read “Blessed” on the front of it. I didn’t care what it said, this was the first time I had something new in a while and I’m grateful. I handed Beanie that pink plaid dress like Billie’s, and she stripped down to put it on in the dining room making Mama laugh.

“I guess you like it, huh Love” she asks as Beanie blushes.

“Where’s Jackson’s?” I ask seeing the bag was empty.

“I gave him some money, he’s growing up and I don’t know his style” she mumbles. Usually that equates to Jackson’s clothes are too expensive for Mama’s money. After I get dressed in my new clothes and bake the cake, the guest begin to arrive. Mama ordered ten pizzas and some chicken. I’m worried that the cake that I made isn’t enough as I look out the back window to see the kids running around playing tag.

“Purple, run to the store and grab some cupcakes” Mama pulls the money out of her bra and hands me a twenty dollar bill.

“How many?” I ask.

“As many you can buy with that twenty” she says going back outside. I put on my jacket for the cool Spring weather ready to break in my new jeans. Jackson is still down the street playing basketball like we’re not having a party. The closest grocery store is three blocks away, which is a short walk compared to other places we had to walk.

“What’s up Purple?” I hear, knowing the voice before I look up. Stanley Wilson sits on his grandmother’s porch smiling at me dressed in an outfit that I’m sure Jackson wishes that he could wear for Dakari.

“Hey Stanley, how are you?” I ask, happy that I have my new outfit on.

“I’m good, whose birthday is it?” he asks seeing the cars and decorations.

“The twins turn ten”

“Straight up, I’ma have to come down to celebrate with my boy Frank” he says. As a kid, Franklin gets excited seeing Stanley driving his Regal with shiny rims and wearing nice clothes. All of the kids on the block look up to him and he’s cool about it, I’ve never saw or heard of him having an attitude.

“Yeah, make sure you come down the neighborhood is welcome” I tell him.

“I definitely will, where you headed?” he asks.

“To Save-A-Lot” I tell him.

“I can take you they said it might rain” he tells me as I glance at the sky to see it clear from clouds.

“You sure, I heard different” I say making him laugh.

“You can’t trust the weatherman” he says.

“You’re right, sure” I tell him. Stanley always tried to help me and even apologized to me for selling Mama weed once he saw how upset I was about it. He hopped off the porch and we walk over to his new car in the old hood. “How’s your grandma?”

“She’s doing good, just got out the hospital last week” he says. Mrs. Ferguson when in good health has babysat the kids a few times for me. She became a grandmother to all of us, gave me advice and money a couple of times and raised Stanley even though his parents are married.

“That’s good to hear, I’ll bring her some cake from the party” I tell him as we ride to the store. Out the corner of my eye I can tell that he’s nervous, changing the music twice for a five minute ride. Stanley is average height, with honey colored skin and his big smooth lips that the girls talk about at school. He always wears a hat and a pair of Cartier sunglasses, which are one of the leading causes of death in Detroit. Unlike most of the boys at school, he’s never said anything nasty or perverse to me and holds the door open. But I don’t like drug dealers.

“I’ll be right out” I tell him. The store is crowded but I manage to hop in the 12 items and less aisle, without that one person who can’t count to 12. I managed to get 24 cupcakes for fifteen dollars. I grab a pack of gum and stuff a piece in my mouth before I get back in the car with Stanley.

“Got everything?” he asks.

“Yes, thank you”

“You’re welcome, I see you out here taking care of your brothers and sisters and that’s some real shit. Not too many people can be so selfless, you feel me. Girls nowadays only worried about clothes and money but you keep it one-hunned with your family and I admire that” he says making me blush. I’m proud of myself but at the same time, I have no choice.

“Thank you, I appreciate that”

“No doubt and if you ever need something or in a situation that you can’t handle just hit me up” he says. I knew it coming. He feels sorry for me, for us. I’m sure Mrs. Ferguson talks about the “poor kids” down the street.

“Thanks, but we’ll be alright”

“I’m not saying it to say that you won’t be just letting you know that I’m a friend” he says pulling up to my house that has more people than before. Jackson and two of the boys he was playing basketball with are sitting on the porch.

“A friend, you can never have too many of those” I tell him, although I have none.

“Especially not the loyal ones”

“Do you wanna come and get a slice of pizza?” I ask him.

“Sure” he says as we get out the car and Jackson starts laughing.

“Ow Mama, Purple got a boyfriend” Jackson yells toward the house.

“Shut up, ugly” I laugh.

“What’s good, Jackson” Stanley says as Jackson nods at him. I know that just like Franklin, Jackson idolizes Stanley in a way. Dakari and her friends all wanted his attention but Stanley made it clear to everyone that money was the only thing he was chasing.

“Whattup” Jackson says.

“I need to holla at you about something” I hear Stanley mumble as I turn to them hoping my brother hasn’t started selling drugs.

“I’ll get with you” Jackson says. After telling my nosey family that Stanley is not my boyfriend, I’m surprised to see Mama orchestrating the games in the backyard and the twins having a ball. Beanie is in Auntie Butter’s lap eating pizza and rocking to the music from Uncle Ronald’s radio.

“I got the cupcakes” I tell her.

“Good, now we can turn up” Mama yelled causing all the kids to dance, making me laugh. I turn to see Stanley rocking from side to side with them eating a piece of pizza.

“Whassup Stan the Man” Franklin calls him.

“You know me, I’m just chilling Franky Blue” he jokes with him.

“Who is Franky Blue?” Billie asks them.

“That’s my gangster name” Franklin says.

“You’re not a gangster, you still scared to go in the basement” Billie says.

“Billie, stop” I tell her.

“You scared too” Franklin yells at her.

“I’m just stating facts” Billie says making us laugh and Franklin has this lost look on his face.

“Here’s something for your birthday” Stanley says giving them both ten dollar’s.

“OH SNAP” Franklin yells as Billie smiles.

“Thank you” they sing.

“You’re welcome” he tells them as they run to show Mama, who pins it on their shirts.

“Check you out baller” I tell him.

“You know I am” he says jokingly. Once the party dies down Stanley leave to talk to Jackson and we begin to clean up. The grown up party is happening and it’s my job to make sure the kids are good and our house is in order. Mama kissed Billie and Franklin after giving them the toys they asked for. They were in my room playing with their new gifts. Jackson hasn’t been back since his talk with Stanley. I sit on the front porch, enjoying the silence proud that Mama made sure the twins had a good birthday. Seeing her happy and making them happy makes me feel that one day she will be the mother that we all need.

The moon has spread a cool breeze across our city and causes me to close my jacket tighter. It’s 11:30 on a Sunday night. School will be over in two weeks. Countdown. This Detroit street is quiet now. We’ve had too many warm days behind one another and everyone is use to the weather. The walk that I’m taking seems long, I take faster strides because Jackson is not at home and I left Franklin in charge. It wasn’t the first time and if Mama keeps this up it won’t be the last. The sign outside of the door reads “Come as a friend, leave as family”, I’m pretty sure that’s why Mama spends most of her time here. The door burst open and Brawny appears, dark, tall and thick. He’s the biggest man I’ve ever man and also the most intimidating.

“Hi Brawny” I say as he exhales, his eyes are sad but he cracks a smile.

“Hey girly, come on in here, she’s in the back” he mumbles, trying to keep a steady tone. But his words are shaky. Pity. Those poor kids. That poor family. I’m used to strangers shaking their head with crooked smiles, trying not to stare but still staring. It doesn’t bother me, sometimes it’s a comfort to know that some people understand. I exhale deeply, the bar is half empty or half full depending on how you want to look at it. Maggie, the bartender and owner’s wife is on the phone turning her back on me. She hates Mama and the fact that she drowns in her problems here. But Joe, her husband sits at the table with Mama was she lies her head down on her arms. One of her shoes is halfway off her foot and her hair is messy.

“Hi Joe” I whisper.

“Hello, Purple” he says standing up to squeeze me. Joe is a man that seems like a great dad. Anytime I saw him out in the neighborhood he was telling Stanley to get out of the streets and preaching to Jackson about staying in his books and away from girls. He and Maggie live in a big old house around the corner that they made look better than any other house on the block. “I got her to calm down, she got in an argument with a guy but he’s gone and you know how yo Mama is, nothing stops her mouth from running but liquor” he says.

“Come on Mama” I say walking closer to her. I touch her shoulder. Hard like wood covered in a knit sweater that I picked out at the Salvation Army for her for Christmas. Happy to see her wear it, sad to see what’s stained on the front of it.

“Purple, what you doing in a bar?” she asks in a stern tone, that for a minute scares me.

“To take you home”

“Come on Angie” Joe says grabbing her arm as she slow gets up. Stumbling back, we catch her as she pushes her wild hair to the back. I flat ironed it for her last night only for it to be a frizzy afro as usually.

“I’m good” she mumbles to us snatching away from me and staggering out the door as I watch her. Joe glances at me but for some reason my head is stiff.

“Thanks Joe” I say.

“Be safe, sweetie” he says patting me on my back as I hurry after Mama, who’s already out the door.

“I will” I mumble trying to catch up with a woman that’s now chasing more than liquor. In front of me Angelique Damier Portier-King staggers as if she’s a zombie every once in a while she yells something loud enough to catch my ear. I stay behind her not in shame but in safety, because I know she’s seeing double, she might not see me at all. We once fought, I lost and I’m not ready to get back in the ring again.

“Oh shit, what the fuck is this?” I hear a boy laugh followed by more laughter. I look up to see a group of boys on Stanley’s porch. As we get closer, two of them go to my school Marv and Randy, both joke around more than they learn. Exhale. They’re losers. Keep walking. Almost home.

“STAN, COME SEE THIS SHIT!” Marv yells as I pick up the pace to show that we are together. Stanley walks on the porch to see us walking pass the house.

“She tweakin!” Randy laughs.

“Come in the house y’all” Stanley tells them as I glance at them.

“Why?”

“Just come on, nigga” he hurries as they go in the house. I look up and he nods at me as I walk next to Mama, happy that he stopped the jokes. I’m used to people pointing, laughing and tripping out over Mama and her ways. It’s my siblings who aren’t strong enough to protect their feelings.

“Fuck they was laughing at” Mama slurs.

“I don’t know” I mumble, if I tell her why she would be down the street banging at their door demanding respect and smelling like throw up. Once I open the door, Franklin pops out with a bat in his hand and a mean look on his face.

“Hey it’s me, go up to bed” I whisper to him blocking his view of Mama.

“Did you find Mama?” he asks.

“I wasn’t never lost, Purple move out of my way” she whines.

“Franklin GO!” I yell as he hurries up the stairs without looking back. I open the door and Mama pushes through and heads to the couch to lie down.

“Damn room spinning” she mumbles.

“Come on, let’s go to your room”

“That was a long ass walk, Purple leave me here” she says.

“No Ma, you have throw up on your sweater and I don’t want you to put it on the couch” I tell her, helping her up. She snatches away and looks up at me.

“Whose couch is it?”

“Mama, you don’t’ want throw up on your couch” I remind her.

“Just leave me the fuck alone”

“Ma”

“TAKE YO BLACK ASS UPSTAIRS AND LEAVE ME ALONE” she screams, standing up over me. The look in her eye causes me to walk to my room. “IF I SAY I’M SLEEPING ON MY GOHDAMN COUCH THAT’S WHAT I’MA DO…YOU AIN’T MY GOHDAMN MAMA, I’M YOURS” she continues to yell as I close my door. While getting undressed, flashbacks of the faces in the bar, Marv and Randy, even the way Mama looked at me caused a lump in my throat. Hot face. Warm tears. What starts as just tears flowing turns into sobbing and slobbing. I grab my pillow sitting by my bed on the hardwood floor that creaks beneath me. I’m hoping each tear that I shed will add more strength to me. Prayers to God with each drop. A tap to my shoulder causes me to jump and look up to see Beanie sucking her finger. She stands in front of holding out one sheet of toilet paper torn on the ends. The thin sheet of paper is what she brings whenever we ask her to get us tissue as if that one small piece will clean up this big mess that I’ve made.

“Thank you” I whisper, Beanie hugs me with her small arms which still pull me in tightly.

“Welcome” her little voice says as she hops into bed. Sitting up, the moon peeks through watching everything that has happened, in a few hours the sun will rise and another day will come. Another day to do this all over again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Damaged One: 1985

1985

Today is One’s first day of kindergarten and the day that Pamela was found raped and beaten behind a corner store. One knew who she was but also knew that she wasn’t around for a reason, her mentality wasn’t as strong and she was too young. The girl was only seventeen when I met her and eighteen when she had my boy and now she was dead at the age of twenty-three.

“How do you feel about Pam goin to heaven?” Shelly asked One as we took him to school.

“He don’t feel shit cuz the bitch wasn’t around ain’t that right, One?” I asked looking back at him as he nodded with a nonchalant look on his face.

“Let him speak for his self, he’s a boy that just lost his mother” Shelly said.

“Mother? that bitch wasn’t his mother she birthed him that’s all she did, she never saw him, held him or watched him sleep at night, I did all that” I yelled at her.

“That’s because you didn’t let her, but he knew who she was and he liked her” Shelly said.

“And just how do you know that?” I asked her.

“Because she came by a couple of times to see him” Shelly said as I slammed on my brakes.

“You let that whore bitch be around my son, I can’t believe this shit. You the only bitch that I trust with my boy and you pull this-“

“Pull what? Sheed, she missed him she had a right to see her son” Shelly said.

“Says who? You don’t know these streets like I do, damn I can’t trust yo ass either “ I said stopping at a bus stop.

“Yo, what’s up with this bus shit” she asked.

“Get the fuck out and figure the shit out” I told her.

“You one stupid ass muthafucka, Sheed that little boy loved Pam and it’s wrong for you to destroy the good memories that he” before she could finish I was burning rubber down Woodward. I couldn’t belive that bitch betrayed me I guess you can’t trust nothing that bleed for seven days and don’t die.

I stopped talking to Shelly she fucked up our relationship real good.  She was up there with my momma now and so it was just me and One the way shit should be. I raised him to be a good pimp until I got locked up for attempted murder on a police officer. The nigga was trying to blackmail me for being a pimp, when I refused to let him hit my girl Tina for free this cracker muthafucka mased me so I used my brass knuckles to bash this nigga’s brains out and let’s just say they locked my pretty ass up.

“They talkin serious shit, Sheed” Ro told me.

“Like what?” I asked her.

“Ten to fifteen” she said as I laughed.

“I’ll walk out this muthafucka” I told her.

“They serious, daddy” she said hearing the seriousness in her voice made me stop to think about if I had a chance and I knew that I didn’t because the cop was in a coma and now he needed surgery for his face.

“Ay, find Shelly and make sure that she get my boy” I told her.

“That’s somethin else I had to tell you” Ro said quietly, I hadn’t talked to Shelly since last month.

“What happened is she alright?” I asked.

“She got caught with some candy” she said as my eyes fell to the ground.

“What they talkin?” I asked her.

“Five to ten” she said, I nodded not knowing what to do with my boy I couldn’t leave him with Ro, the bitch was too stupid for words and there wasn’t another mufucka in the world that I would trust with my boy, but I knew that there was only one person that I knew he would be in good hands with.

“Take him to my mom’s” I told her.

“What?” she shrieked she knew about my relationship with my mother.

“Shut the fuck up and listen, let her know the deal before they try to take him to some catholic orphanage or some shit” I told her as she nodded.

“Do you want me to bring him up in here?” she asked.

“This ain’t no place for a pimp we’ll communicate through phone” I told her.

“Okay, daddy stay strong’ she said.

“You think you can run the stable while I’m in here?” I asked her.

“Yeah, I’ll take care of you” she lied.

“Good” I said not believing one word that she spoke. They only thing I was worried about was One, I hoped he would grow up to be a man and not get faked out like the rest of them.

RO

As soon as I drop this little nigga off I’ma pick up Keisha and me and my boo are going to be off with all of his money. One sat quietly in the front seat dressed to the nines, with my help I picked out all his clothes and his daddy bought them.

“Where’s Cocaine?” he asked me.

“That nigga got himself locked up so you gon be stayin wit yo raggedy ass grandma” I told him.

“Take me to Shelly’s” he ordered.

“No, little nigga sit back and shut the fuck up” I told him pushing him back.

“Bitch, don’t put yo whore hands on me” he yelled, I smiled knowing that he would be just as ruthless as his daddy.

“I’m sorry lil daddy but you gotta chill out” I told him, he sat back and shook his head. Little Cocaine got so handsome over these years. He was only seven but I knew in ten years I hoped that my pussy could whip him like it did his daddy.

Rasheed’s old bitch of a mother still lived in Highland Park and we all living it up just because she didn’t want to accept no trick money well I wonder how she gon feel about this extra mouth to feed. I pulled up to see toys all on her front lawn and the front screen was kicked in.

“Get out” I told him.

“Bitch, you betta respect me” One yelled.

“Daddy, would you please come on?” I said politely to him. He got out and stomped behind me up the stairs, I knocked and heard a baby crying and gospel music.

“Who is at the gohdamn door?” I heard a husky voice say.

“It’s Roanna, Momma” I said holding One’s suitcases. She came to the door looking a hot mess, a large heavy set bitch, with all black hair. She looked like an old Indian woman with the huge vacuum cleaner nose and a mole on her chin.

“What the fuck you want?” she asked holding a baby on her hip.

“To introduce you to Rasheed’s son One” I told her.

“How you doin, lookin just like that no good muthafucka” she said laughing, I noticed One turn his back on her.

“Well, Rasheed is locked up and ain’t nobody gon take care of this boy” I explained.

“He need to stay here?” she asked me with a hurry the fuck up bitch tone.

“Yeah” I told her.

“Well, come on boy” She said surprising me.

“You not even gon ask how long Sheed got” I asked her as I placed his bags in the doorway.

“Don’t matta, that boy is my blood, he can stay as long as he wants” she said, I was surprised I thought that Sheed said that she was a bitch and only cared about herself and here she is taking in her pimp son’s little bad ass boy.

“Bye, One” I told him, he stood angrily in the doorway. He grew on me a little I always wanted a kid and was kind of happy that Cocaine allowed me to be with One the way that he did. I just hoped that he would grow up the pimp that we raised him to be.

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The Damaged One: Cocaine

Rasheed “Cocaine” Hutchinson

“This lil nigga here is gon be the shit on this block, ain’t nobody gon be able to tell him shit, cuz he is the shit ain’t that right lil man” I told him as I held the brown skin boy in my arms. I thought he would never get here and now here he is eight pounds two ounces, born on the fourth of July ain’t nothing hotter than this little firecracker here.

“He lookin just like you, Cane” Pamela said.

“Yeah, bitch he betta look like me if I’m his daddy” I smiled as she laughed, Pamela wasn’t my top bitch but she was still fine and claimed I got her knocked up and the proof is all in my son’s face. He got my nose, lean with a fat tip, yeah that’s me. I’ve been pimping my whole muthafuckin life and I never thought that this would be the greatest investment of my life.

“What we gon name him, daddy?” Pam asked staring down smiling at him.

“This lil nigga here ain’t gon be named John, Michael or no common shit like that, cuz he ain’t no common nigga. We gon name him One” I said as I seen the confusing look on Pam’s face.

“One?” she asked

“Yeah, bitch One, cuz he is the one, when he walk down the street mufucka’s gon no better than to fuck wit mine. And right now he the only one that I know that’s gon pimp these hoes better than I do” I laughed as she nodded in agreement.

“One, that’s different but I’ll get used to it” Pam said.

“Yeah, you better cuz you gon be hearing his name for the rest of your life and in yo mufuckin afterlife ain’t nothin gon stop my boy from being the best of the best and I’ma do every muthafuckin thing I can to make sure that he got it all” I told her as she got the look of jealousy in her eye. I don’t know what the fuck she thought I was through with her ass the minute she popped this nigga out, all I came for was my boy.

When Pam was released, I took her to the whore house.

“We stayin here?” she asked looking back and forth at the old house off Rosa Parks Boulevard.

“No, bitch you stayin here, my son aint’ gon be raised in no chicken shack” I told her.

“But, daddy who’s going to take care of him?” she asked, I slapped her across her face.

“I’m the muthafucka that run this, you just keep yo mouth close and yo legs open, now get the fuck out and get rested until you well enough to start suckin some dick to buy some milk for my boy” I told her as she held her mouth.

“Okay, daddy” she said sadly then opened the door and slowly walked to the house. I pulled off and took One downtown to my sister’s home in the Indian Village, Shelly is my money keeper and baby sister. She been taking care of business since day one and she was the only bitch that I ever trusted, I didn’t even trust my momma after the bitch told me Santa Claus was real and I looked up and seen her ass putting presents under that tree, that fucked my whole life up. That’s when I decided I would be Santa Claus, bitches would sit on my lap and tell me what they wanted out of this life and under the tree would be opportunity.

“Let me look at the pimp in trainin” Shelly said running out to the car. Most people said that we looked like twins with our slanted eyes and black silky hair. I wasn’t no greasy looking ass pimp it’s nineteen eighty, I’m macking nothing but Adidas outfits all colors with the matching shoes, I had a different pair of Gazell’s for each pair of the week and the gold around my neck left me hickey’s sometimes. But life was good for a young nigga like myself, here I am thirty-two and I have a son. I thought I would have to leave this earth without an apprentice and now young Luke Skywalker has been born to succeed me and take over the game. I’m one proud nigga, right now I might fuck my white bitch tonight.

“Ain’t he the most handsome nigga next to me” I said as she went crazy over how cool this lil nigga was. We walked into her huge home and she took him up to the room the I had prepared for him.

“I’m yo auntie Shelly, sugar” she said kissing his forehead.”What’s his name, please don’t say Rasheed Hutchinson the third?” she laughed.

“No, his name is One Rasheed Hutchinson” I said hitting her on the arm.

“That’s a good way to put him out here everybody gon know who they fuckin wit” she said picking him up as he whined.

“Well, I’ma stay with him tonight and probably all tomorrow, Ro is gon take over at the crib for me” I told her. Ro, is my top bitch my first trick when we were in the ninth grade the bitch fucked a nigga and turned around and paid me saying that he was talking shit about her and she wanted me to beat his ass and that’s when this shit became clear to me and we became soul mates.

“Alright, well you know ain’t shit up wit me but countin stacks and now raisin this lil pimp right, here oh One we gon teach you everything there is to know honey, you ain’t gon want for shit fuckin wit yo auntie Shelly” she said smiling at him as he drunk his bottle.

“Nope, he ain’t gon want for shit” I told her as she nodded and I knew what she was going to say next.

“Have you told momma?” she asked, I exhaled.

“Naw, you know how momma be trippin and shit, she don’t want shit to do wit me and I dont’ want shit to do with her” I told her.

“I think seeing her first grandchild will bring you closer together” she said.

“If the bitch can’t see me then the bitch can’t see my reflection in the fuckin mirror” I told her.

“She never said that she didn’t want to see you” Shelly said.

“Yeah, she did loud and clear when the bitch married that nigga while my daddy was on his death bed” I told her.

“Sheed, dad left her in the first place how can you-“ before she could finish One was screaming for no particular reason. I took him out of her hands and walked into her dining room. Shelly watched me quietly. My daddy was the only real nigga that I knew and he stepped out on her and instead of working it out, she put him out and he turned to drugs. He ended up overdosing and was in a coma, she never went to the hospital and never took us to see him and I knew why that nigga that she married had her ass hypnotized like I got these bitches.

“Shss, lil pimp” I whispered as he quieted down after he burped. Fuck my momma, Fuck Pamela and Fuck everybody using a pussy and ain’t paying me for it.

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Staying OnQue

Happy New Year to all my patient readers!!

After prioritizing my resolutions, blogging more of my short fiction stories is at the top of the list. As a writer the best exercise and to stretch your thoughts and create your own dreams. I admit it’s been a while since I posted a story but that’s because I’m taking OnQue Press to the next level by publishing out first book “In Love with Murda”, it sold out the first book signing and we’re getting ready for our second release in February. The love and support that I received was pure bliss and I want nothing more than to keep providing the good and gritty stories that will keep you clutching your pearls and emailing me as to what will happen next. This year will show the growth in my company as well as my characters, thank you for the support and continue to be apart of our success!!!

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Junior Ten

When her graduation came Junior lie in bed staring at the ceiling, Bless was up early to check on his houses and she was left with the decision. She was proud of herself for completing school but wasn’t sold on the idea of a ceremony for something that should’ve been done a while ago. Bless bought her a Pucci dress to wear for it although she never told him the date.

“Fuck it” she mumbled getting dressed and headed to the school.

“Whattup baby” Bless answered.

“Hey, Ima go to that ceremony at the school for a minute just to make sure I passed” she laughed nervously.

“Ok, do you want me to meet you there?” He asked.

“No, I’ll be good”

“Alright, hit me up when you leave so we can get something to eat”

“Ok”

“Don’t be nervous you worked very hard for this. I’m proud of you and I hope you’re proud of yourself.” He said.

“I am, thank you for believing in me”

“No need, what matters is you believed in yourself” he said as she nodded wiping the tears from her eyes.

“Ok, I’ll call you”

“Later” he said as they hung up. She felt better until she got to the school and was nervous as they sat her in her seat. The ceremony was long, boring and she craved a cigarrette. When they began to call their names she got sentimental seeing that everybody’s family showed up happy to congratulate them. She knew that she should’ve invited Bless.

“Charlee Bonnie Truman Jr.” They announced as she stood up and heard a roar of applause and cheering. She turned to see Bless, Jerry, Miss Earl and the twins cheering for her. She blushed and couldn’t stop smiling as Bless came to take her picture and hug her.

“Congrats baby”

“Ima kick yo ass for telling my business” she said hugging him. As Miss Earl stood nearby smiling at her, she took her seat as the ceremony went on. Once it was over they sat at Starters being loud and celebrating Junior then Rocky walked in to join them.

“I had to come and see this shit” Miss Earl said.

“Thank you”

“So what’s new” she asked. Junior smiled and grabbed Bless hand to show his ring.

“What the fuck that mean?”

“We got married six months ago” she told her Miss Earl’s eyes got big.

“Shut the noise” she said smiling as they hugged. She never would’ve guessed that they were getting to that point.

“Yep, it was downtown nothing big” Junior told her.

“Well congratulations” she said to the both of them. Bless nodded and held Junior kissing her temple.

“My wife is the baddest bitch in the world” he whispered making her smile.

“Not without having a real nigga to back her up” she said as he smirked and sat back. Junior was finally beginning to feel like life was getting better for her.

Bless walked in quietly as Junior sat in the living room watching a soap opera, she looked peaceful and angelic. He sat down on the loveseat as she turned to see him and smiled, they hadn’t seen one another in two days and she missed him. She wore one of his button- up’s with her hair in a ponytail showing off his name on her neck.

“Hey baby, where you been?” she asked sitting up slowly, her side still healing from the gunshot wound from the shoot out last week.

“Shit, working and shit I was kicking it on the Boulevard with Mo and his brotha’s” he said staring at the t.v. then glancing at her.

“After the shootout I been trying to lay low but Rocky act like she can’t do shit without me, this bitch made me sit outside while she beat up Juno third baby momma” she laughed as he nodded and smiled.

“She stay crazy don’t she” he asked smiling as Junior nodded and turned back to the television but she could tell something was on his mind, he was never the type of person for small talk unless it lead up to something big.

“So, what’s up?” she asked staring at the TV.

“Well” he said then cleared his throat.

“I was fucking with this bitch and I got
her pregnant” he said as Junior nodded and smirked, it wasn’t the first time so she didn’t really care.

“Straight up, that yellow bitch you was with two weeks ago?” she asked checking her text messages to see that Rocky wanted to go to Solomon’s tonight.

“Naw, Rod sista” he said, Junior nodded, she remembered the pretty dark skin chick that Rod was so protective about back in the day.

“Oh, why you telling me?” she asked, they had never discussed their affairs it happened and they dealt with it.

“Well, I uh wanna keep it, if that’s cool with you” he said putting his sweaty palms together. Junior’s mind went blank. He had a pregnancy scare before but she heard about it through the hood.

“You wanna keep it..” she repeated trying to get her brain to register what her husband just presented to her.

“Yeah, we always talked about adopting and shit one day and you seemed down about the idea about us having kids and shit. Since you not able to….you know, then I figured that having one that was my blood would make things better for us” he said as she stared into his light brown eyes.

“Yeah, yeah, that makes sense, does
she know you married?” she asked.

“I told her when she told me she was pregnant”

“And she don’t mind having a baby by you” Junior asked confused.

“I’m me, bay” he said cockily as she nodded and sat up still thinking.

“This could be our shot of having a lil man, you know” he said as she nodded realizing that he could sense her hesitation.

“Go ahead, it’s cool it ain’t yo fault that I can’t give you one, I just hope he come out looking like you” she laughed as he smiled.

“You sure” he asked as she nervously twirled a cigarette in her hand.

“Yeah, she not a rat that I’ma have to beat down for being trifling is she?” she asked as they laughed.

“No, she graduated from State last year and she was raised by some good people besides Rod” he told her as her heart sank.

“Oh wow, one of them stuck up college bitches” she said.

“No, she cool” he told her as she nodded.

“I’m straight as long as she not gon get in the way of us making this paper we good” she said as he smiled.

“Alright, thanks for understanding and shit” he said as he got up and kissed her forehead. He expected her to curse him out or even put a bullet somewhere in his body but he figured that she must’ve wanted a kid just as bad as him.

Junior waited until she heard him pull off to let the tears fall, it wasn’t that he had a girl pregnant but it was the fact that he wanted her to keep it. She couldn’t have children due to the accident that happened when she was ten, but he chose to marry her anyway. Then, the fact that the girl had not only finished high school but college and she barely attained her G.E.D and now felt like that wasn’t even good enough. Junior knew that Bless loved her and would never want to hurt her but this hurt more than any gunshot, stab or fire, for the first time she felt betrayed by the man that she loved.

Months later and word got around that Bless had one on the way and Junior started feeling like an outsider. Everybody would congratulate her until they found out the she wasn’t the baby momma.

“How the fuck are you letting this nigga have a baby with the next bitch?” Rocky asked breaking down the weed for her blunt.

“Dawg, don’t start”

“Don’t start you’se a dumb ass bitch”

“How I can’t give him a son?”

“So”

“So you think that means he shouldn’t have one, it ain’t his fault” Junior told her.

“That’s exactly what it means he chose to marry you despite that shit and now all of a sudden the nigga want a baby. I think he just want it by that bitch, I seen them last week going to dinner and shit…I mean what the fuck she his mistress now. Getting a bitch pregnant is one thing but taking her out and spending bread is another thing” Rocky ranted as Junior swallowed the lump in her throat, she didn’t know that he was spending time with her.

“I know he told me, I said it was cool, shit they already having a baby together” Junior said smugly as Rocky looked over to see that her cousin was in pain. She knew Junior and she hadn’t been in her usual upbeat mood. Nowadays, she let the Patron put her to sleep and woke up with a blunt in her mouth they didn’t go party nor shop the way they used to.

“You sure you cool with this?” Rocky asked.

“Rock, you know I ain’t the type for all this sentimental bullshit”

“Yeah, but you still a woman” Rocky said as Junior lit up a cigarette then exhaled slowly. There wasn’t anything she could do now but sit in the background, after she gave him the consent he spent more and more time away from her. They only seen each other in bed and she was damn near passed out so that didn’t count.

“I’ma head over to the bank, I’ll hit you up later” Junior said getting up to go and make sure the money was right.

Counting money was the only thing that kept her mind off of the drama that had begun, she walked in pressed the code in and grabbed the garbage bag of money that Jerry dropped off earlier today. Her phone rang and she looked to see Bless number but she ignored it and put her mind where it needed to be. Two blunts and an order of Chinese food later and she was finished, it was past two when she headed home. The sound of Bless voice made her stop, she expected him to be asleep but instead he was on the phone laughing and talking.

“You act like you wasn’t on my tip to begin with” he laughed as she rolled her eyes and found him painting the extra bedroom.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Junior asked as he looked up to see her with a screw face. He hung up the phone and put the roller down.

“I’m getting the room together for the baby”

“The room?”

“Yeah, he gone need his own with all the shit he gone have” he said smiling.

“He?” she asked.

“Yeah, we found out yesterday we gone have a boy” he said still smiling.

“Wow, congratulations” she said half smiling.

“So, I guess I’m too excited, huh?” he asked.

“No, we always wanted a boy”

“And now we getting one” he said as she nodded.

“Well, let me get my ass to bed I been at the bank counting” she told him.

“I want you to go with me to find some furniture for the room” he told her.

“Me? Why do I have to go?” she asked.

“Because I want you to be apart of it, he’ll probably be here more than with her, she going back to school for her master’s” he said as Junior nodded.

“Oh, sure just let me know” she said hurrying to the bedroom. She took off her clothes locked the bathroom door started her bath and turned on some music. After popping a pill once again she found herself crying, she never felt so weak and hurt. Bless had a funny feeling and went to check on Junior and was surprised to find the door locked, she usually left it open just in case he wanted to join her.

“BAY, YOU GOOD?” he asked her. Junior wiped her face and cleared her throat.

‘”Yeah, I’m just tired” she said.

“Once I finish this wall I wanna go up to Starter’s to talk with Ross, you rollin?” he asked.

“Naw, I’m try to get some sleep, we got shipment’s coming in tomorrow” she reminded him.

“Okay” he said uneasily and walked away from the door. Junior exhaled and let the pill take her under their not believing that her life could have so many speed bumps.

As their relationship began to suffer, Alena was falling in love with Bless, who wouldn’t, she ahd been wanting him since they were kids but he was way out of her league back then. But when they met up again at her brother’s party, she knew she couldn’t let him slip through her fingers. She already knew that he married Chalee, who didn’t know they were the Jay-Z and Beyonce of the crimeworld. And she was more than happy when he agreed to let her carry his child since Chalee was unable, she knew that once she had the baby Bless would be with her forever. She never wanted a child but she wanted Bless and if this was a way of getting into his life by all means it would be done.

“Hey baby, whassup on a movie later” she said laying across her bed with the phone on her ear as she rubbed her smooth stomach.

“I told you that we can’t kick it like that, Lena, I’m still a married man despite you carryin my child”

“Oh it’s like that now”

“What you mean, it’s always been like that” he said as he played domino’s at one of Red’s house party’s. Junior sat on a stool behind him sipping her Corona enjoying the music and food. They hadn’t been out in a while and this made her feel better. They decorated the room completed and she found herself getting excited thinking about having a baby in the house.

“I guess….when am I seeing you again?” she asked as he exhaled.

“Let me hit you back” he said hanging up and turning around to toss Junior his phone. She caught it and glanced to see “LENA” flashing on his screen.

“Hello” she answered.

“Can I speak to Bless?”

“He’s busy, I’ll tell him to call you when he finish….the baby okay?” she asked, as Bless started getting loud with Unger for counting wrong.

“Yeah, I gotta go” Alena said then hung up.

“Bay, calm down” Junior laughed as he took his shirt off ready to beat ass.

“Fuck that, this nigga think I’ma clown” he said pulling out his nine and putting one in the chamber. She stood up knowing that he never took it out unless he was going to use it.

“No, he don’t let’s go home” she said seeing that somebody turned the music down, Marlon and Dave pushed their chairs from the table.

“I pulled out”

“Yeah, but you don’t have to shoot”

“You know the rule, baby”

“We make um, we break um” she said trying to talk him down. He clenched his teeth as she pried the gun out of his hand and picked up his shirt. Unger smirked and watched as Bless followed his bitch out the door.

“Lucky muthafucka” he mumbled sipping his beer. Junior heard him and turned around to put two in his body as Marlon jumped back, Unger fell over the table.

“Why the fuck ain’t you let me do it?” Bless said angrily checking to make sure he was dead.

“Man, what the fuck?” Red said running in to see his neighbor dead.

“My bad, he was talking shit” Bless told him. Red was used to seeing dead people at his party, he just didn’t feel like taking another trip to the cemetery.

“Get outta here” he told them as Junior grabbed Bless and hurried out of the house.

“I can’t believe you aint’ let me shoot him” Bless said angrily.

“Calm down, you need to learn to control yo temper” she snapped at him.

“ME? You the one that shot somebody and it wasn’t yo beef” he laughed.

“I’m always cleaning up yo messes” she said casually.

“What the fuck that mean?” he asked angrily.

“You know exactly what it mean” she said.

‘No, I don’t”

“Well then I’m trippin” she said.

“I don’t need all this stress, man, I’m trying to live long enough to see my son walk” he told her.

“Can you shut the fuck up about that baby?” she yelled.

“That baby?” he asked.

“That’s all you wanna talk about can we have one conversation without talking about your son” she said angrily as Bless realized that it bothered her.

“Damn, I thought we agreed that this was okay” he said.

“It is I’m just frustrated” she exhaled feeling stupid and pulling up to the house. They remained silent as they got ready for bed.

“I’ma go and get rid of this gun” he told her as she sat in the tub.

“Okay” she said closing her eyes and trying to relax. He hurried out until he realized that he forgot phone. When he returned all he could hear was sobbing at first he was startled until he realized that the sound was coming from his wife.

“What’s wrong?” he asked standing in the doorway as she jumped and hurried to wipe her face.

“Nothing, I’m good” she said getting out the tub.

“You think I’m stupid or something, think I can’t tell when something ain’t right with you or with us….I been noticing how distant you been for a while so you mine as well come out and say whatever it is that’s making you cry” he said as she wrapped herself in her robe.

“I said, I was fine, damn leave me alone and go drop that piece’ she said, rushing past him he grabbed her shoving her into the door.

“Not until you tell me, why you in here crying and shit?” he said.

“I’m not about to fight with you just leave me the fuck alone” she said as they began to wrestle, when she began using her fist he knew it was something serious.

“STOP” he yelled holding her down as his eye swoll up.

“Let me go” she cried.

“It’s the baby” he said breathing hard.

“Why did you ask?” she cried as he looked down at her.

“I wanted to make sure that you were okay with it”

“I’m not and it ain’t shit I can do about it” she cried as he let her go.

“Why the fuck ain’t you tell me?”

“Why should I have to, you should know me better than anybody…anybody if you couldn’t look at me and tell that I was hurt then you don’t know me and we shoudn’t be together” she told him as they stood face to face.

“Damn, my eye” he complained.

“Maybe, this is a sign” she said.

“A sign for what?”

“You want a family, I can’t give you one so maybe it’s best if I leave” she said.

“Leave? Like a divorce” he said in shock.

“Or a separation, I thought I could handle it but I can’t, I don’t want to and I don’t think that I have to” she said walking to her closet. They had been together for too long and for him to lose her wasn’t something that he ever thought he would do.

“So you gone walk out on me” he asked.

“Just until I get comfortable with it” she told him, he was at a lost for words. Alena was too far long for a an abortion and Junior was too hurt to persuade. Once she left it felt like someone had ripped his heart out.

Junior and Bless only seen each other as far as business went, she was still the general and would always be his best friend.

“Ay, you wanna shoot pool tonight?” he asked her as they left a meeting.

“No, I’m going out of town” she said hurrying to her Charger.

“Where you headed?”

“Rocky is going to visit Peru, they moved him” she told him as he nodded, he missed her and wished she wasn’t so stubborn.

“Straight up, how much longer that nigga got?” he asked not really caring, he just wanted to hear her voice.

“Three left to go” she said getting in the car and rolling down the window. He walked over and leaned into the car.

“You know that I love you more than anything else right?” he asked.

“Yes” she said slowly.

“And that I would do anything for you”

“Yeah, boo, I know”

“I just thought you should know” he said as she nodded. An awkward silence fell over them as he cleared his throat. “When you coming back home?” he asked as she srugged her shoulders.

“I don’t wanna talk about it, I just need to get my mind right first” she told him as he stood up.

“Man, I need you at the crib…I don’t know where shit is, the cleaners probably sold all my clothes cuz you got the tickets and you don’t even wanna see the kitchen” he said making her laugh.

“Well, I can swing by to tidy up the spot, I am still your wife but I’m not staying” she told him.

“I’ma need some pussy too” he said.

“Why you not fucking Alena, you can’t get her pregnant” she said with attitude as he exhaled.

“So, you wanna act like a fuckin kid” he asked.

“Bye, Bless” she said angrily pulling off headed to the spot. She didn’t plan on ever going back to live with him. She wished that he and his situation would disappear, Bless meant more to her than anything and now he was being taken away from her.

After leaving Solomon’s for Rocky’s birthday party, Junior sped home drunk she was falling asleep and couldn’t find her phone to call somebody to scoop her. Before she knew it she slammed into something and the air bag knocked her unconscious.

“Shit” she moaned waking up in a hospital bed with the worst headache of all time. She couldn’t remember anything but toasting with her cousin. The doctor’s came in and explained that she was in a car accident that caused the other driver to go into cardiac arrest but no one was dead. The family decided to press charges and seeing her alcohol level she knew she was going to jail.

“You straight?” Bless asked once she was in the county.

“I’m good, been here before” she said not looking him in the eye as he glanced at gauze alongside her face where she said the glass cut her to the point where she needed stitches and would have a permanent scar.

“Al said you probably serve ninety days and some AA classes or community service” he told her as she shrugged and twirled the phone cord in her head.

“That’s straight” she said as he realized that she couldn’t stand to look at him.

“I love you alright and I’m glad you okay” he said.

“Did she have it?” Junior asked as he exhaled.

“Yeah, two nights ago” he said.

“That’s why you aint’ come to the hospital?” she asked.

“I didn’t know you were in the hospital, nobody did” he told her.

“It don’t’ even matter you probably wouldn’t have been there for me anyway, look we need to get a divorce” she told him.

“No, you agreed for her to have that baby”

“Now, I’m disagreeing” she told him.

“Fuck it, alright, I’m out” he said getting up and dropping the phone. Junior stood up and walked to her cell, although she was trying to be tough for some reason she couldn’t stop the tears from running down her face. She didn’t talk to or see Bless for her three month lock-up, Rocky waited for her outside once she was released.

“What’s good, Tru?” Junior said giving her a handshake as Rocky nodded smiling.

“You look a little thick around the edges” Rocky laughed. Junior was depressed and was eating the crappy food that they fed her and some.

“Fuck you” Junior said sliding into the seat to find her guns in her holster under the chair.

“Well, I guess you know by now about yo hubby, huh, I been keeping tabs on the bitch because I know that you wanna handle this shit on yo own” Rocky laughed.

“What you talkin bout, I ain’t talkin to that nigga as far as I’m concerned he just my boss” Junior laughed.

“So, you don’t know that the baby ain’t his” Rocky said as Junior’s face dropped.

“WHAT?” Junior shrieked.

“Yeah, he got the lil nigga tested cuz he heard some shit and it ain’t his” Rocky told her.

“Bitch shut up” Junior said in shock.

“I swear to Goh” Rocky laughed as her cousin looked out the window.

“What he do to her?”

“She was hospitalized for a week and shit” Rocky said as Junior nodded relieved because she missed Bless so much. First they went to Rocky’s apartment where Junior showered and ate good, then decided to call Jerry to locate her love.

“Whattup, JR. you home” Jerry said excitedly as Bless overheard from the kitchen of one of the count houses.

“Yeah, I’m back what’s going on out there?” she asked.

“Come to the fourth crib” he told her.
“I’ll be there” she said, excitedly she hurried to the house on the eastside of seven mile to see Bless navy blue 745 outside. Checking in the mirror to make sure she was looking up to par, she hurried out nervously only to see Bless standing outside with his hands in his pockets.

“Welcome home” he said as she nodded.

“Thank you”

“I’m sure Rocky told you about what happened, I apologize for the unnecessary bullshit” he said.

“I’m sorry for the outcome, I know how much you wanted a baby” she told him.

“Yeah, well it ain’t meant to be if it’s not with you so I should’ve known better” he said. Junior took the bold move to hold him as he exhaled and held her back.

“I love you so much” she said.

“Don’t get all mushy on me” he laughed.

“Shut up” she said punching him in the side as he held her tighter.

“Now take me home and so I can show how much I’ve missed you” he said as they laughed.

Junior turned her head to throw up, the smell of the dead body made her nauseous. Bless and Swank watched her in confusion as the snitch lie with his eyes wide open.

“You know better to throw up at a fuckin scene, now we gotta move the body. Fuck wrong wit you” Bless yelled as they stood near the river ready to get rid of a body.

“I’m sorry the smell is fuckin with me” she said slouching to her knees continuing to throw up. She glanced to see her husband angrily staring at her. But she couldn’t say anything at the moment.

The ride home was quiet as she rolled the window down to allow the air to blow on her face. She had another hot flash, lately her body wasn’t holding food down and the smell of her favorite foods made her nauseous. The next morning Bless watched her sit on the toilet looking flushed.

“I’m taking you to the hospital” he said.

“I’m good, must be food poisoning from the Chinese”

“Well, I want to be sure”Bless said the tone in his voice let her know that he was serious.

“I hope it ain’t cancer” she laughed.

“Why is that funny?”

“Because of the shit we be on instead of me dying by the bullet. I’ll end up dying of some crazy cancer” she laughed.

“Stop saying shit like that” Bless barked at her, she turned to see that he was worried.

“You’re the one that said I’m my own worst death” she said.

“I said shut the fuck up” he says turning the radio up. He was scared for the first time in a long time. Junior sat quietly until they reached the emergency room. The doctor walked in and was surprised to see the beautiful couple besides Mrs. Wells wrap sheet of stab and gun shit wounds they appeared to be a normal married couple.

“Are the test results back?” Bless asked.

“Yes, it appears that Chalee is pregnant” the doctor said making the both of them freeze. The shocked looked on Junior’s face almost caused the nurse to checking her vitals.

“But I had an accident” she said.

“You did but it didn’t make you barren just took harder for you to get pregnant” she said.

“I need a cigarrette” Junior said glancing at Bless who sat with his poker face.

“Not for another nine months, congratulations” the doctor said leaving the two of them alone.

“Let’s get you home” he said as she nods and they quietly ride home. Junior was in a panic she couldn’t have a baby. She didn’t know the last time she even held one. From the look on Bless face he didn’t want one either. They avoided the conversation as she sat in the living room and he stood in the kitchen eating. Junior got up to join him knowing that he was in an awkward position.

“I think we should get rid of it, what would we do with a baby, here. I didn’t know that I could still get pregnant, must’ve been in the paperwork they sent me home with….. I haven’t got pregnant all this time” she said nervously hoping he didn’t blame her.

“Yeah, but we’ve been fucking like rabbits for the past two weeks though” he said with a slight smile.

“I know it’s awkward but I’ll take care of it. It’s my fault in the first place for not knowing. I’ll just start taking birth control” she advised him trying to read his face as he stares at her.

“What if we keep it?” He asked, Junior’s face went blank.

“No, us with a baby? Not the way we live”

“Well we’ll live differently”

“I don’t know anything about a baby” she told him as he nods.

“We can learn together” he said, Junior could tell that Bless wanted the baby but she was terrified. She’s never thought about children not even when she was with Aaron.

“Bless, I don’t think I have it in me. I’m just not the type” she said with tears in her eyes as he walks over to hold her.

“Don’t be scared, baby” he told her because he felt her shaking. He wanted a family because he had one, the world hadn’t made him that hard. But then again Junior didn’t seem maternal she took lives not have them.

“I can’t” she said laying on his chest. Bless exhaled and held her tighter.

“I’m not goin to force it on you, baby, if you don’t want it then do what you have to do” he told her as she wipes the tears from her face.

“Thank you, I’ll be quiet about it” she told him as he nods and lets her go.

Bless sat on the porch as his boys shot dice, he loved the game but couldn’t get over the fact that Junior wanted to go through with the abortion. Today was a hard day for him to get through and now he would always have a reminder of what followed. Junior scheduled the appointment for tomorrow and he didn’t know what to say to her or how he could change her mind. He rarely drunk but ended up at home drowning in a fifth of Patron while in the comfort of his own home. Junior walked in from her meeting to see Bless smoking a blunt, shirtless in front of the TV.

“Bless”

“Whattup” he mumbled.

“Why weren’t you at the meeting?”

“Had other shit to do” he slurred as she noticed the empty bottle of Patron.

“What the fuck you drinking for?” She laughed plopping on the couch as he looked up at her with half closed eyes.

“Man, shit, it’s my mom birthday and shit and tomorrow you killing my first born so my head all fucked up” he said as Junior’s smile faded away.

“Oh, I didn’t know” she told him.

“Yeah, so I picked up something to help me sleep and shit. Eventhough I know once I wake up it is what it is. I have no control over what goes on. I can’t bring my momma back and I can’t convince my wife to carry our baby” he said looking at her while hunching his shoulder and leaning back in his recliner.

“Brandon, I don’t know what to do with a baby. I’m just not one of those girls” she told him.

“Can you be one for me?” he asked sitting up as she exhaled and tears formed in her eyes.

“I’m scared, everybody that I ever loved or cared about has been taken away from me” she cried.

“But I’m still here” he told her as she nodded.

“But for how long” she sobbed.

“As long as I got you to watch my back, I’m here forever” he told her watching her wipe her tears. Junior exhales and stared at him.

“We would need to move and you will need a new general” she told him.

“We not moving, we good and low key and we can discuss a stand in” he said in a lazy tone. Bless gets up and rubs her stomach. Junior was hesitant then exhaled looking up in his eyes.

“You’ve been taken care of me since day one let me put some work in” Bless mumbled leaning in to kiss her. Junior knew that it was a risk but for Bless should we so anything to make him happy.

Junior sat at six months wearing one of Bless jogging suits watching as the young boys dug a hole to bury the body and she felt a kick that caused her to jump. The young boys stopped to look at her.

“You straight”

“Uh, yeah I’m good…sorry” she apologized wanting to rub her stomach but didn’t want them in her business. Turning her back she walked to the car rubbing the little one that grew on her.

“Hi” she whispered. Pulling out her phone she called Bless but he didn’t answer, lately he was tying loose ends because he planned on being home a lot when the baby arrived.

Late that night, Junior slept on her side as Bless pulled off his clothes. Meno was back and robbed two of their spots. He knew by morning Junior would catch wind but he told the crew that he was changing her role and not to bother her with it. He knew that she would want in on the man that killed her father and took the connects they needed to be on big money. She didn’t need that stress, he wanted her to be ready for their baby and nothing else.

“Why you home so late?” She mumbled as he slid in behind her.

“Doing my job” he said getting comfortable.

“And you couldn’t answer your phone?” Junior questioned struggling to turn around with her big belly.

“Shit, I been at it since I left this morning, bay, let me sleep without the bullshit” he mumbled closing his eyes

“I was trying to call you to tell you that I felt the baby kick but fuck you and your attitude” she said as he looked at her. “Nobody want to hear you complain about hustling and your a fucking hustler, that shit wack as hell” she said getting up to use the bathroom. Bless felt guilty and sat up as she waddled back in wearing his tshirt.

“My bad”

“Yeah whateva, good night” she said turning her back to him. He knew that once she was mad he had to wait until Junior was ready.

Junior sat in the hospital looking around at all the machines and nurses walking around and she began to feel fear. Bless sat asleep in a chair, her contractions woke them up and this time they weren’t sending her home. At 39 weeks their baby was on it’s way. The doctors and nurses kept checking on her but she didn’t know what was really going on. Bless woke up a half hour later to see the look on her face.

“Aye, what’s wrong?” He asked.

“It’s almost time and I still don’t feel ready for this” she said as he got up to sit next to her on the bed.

“Relax, this is our baby and we’ll get through this togetha” he said putting his arm around her.

“What if I fuck up though?” She asked.

“It’s a learning process, boo, you’ll be good” he assured her. Before they knew it she was gripping the rails and pushing unit the doctor ordered her not to go any further. Bless watched his son be brought into the world. Junior laid back and once she saw him she knew that everything was going to be alright.

Miss Earl arrived to help the young couple with “baby Brandon”, whom favored Junior more than his father. Although she was still nervous having Bless for a husband helped. He was the first to change a dirty diaper and the last person to put his son to sleep. Junior sat upstairs as Rocky filled her in on the street drama. Meno was at a local strip club and living his life like nobody’s business. Junior wanted to ignore it but saw this as her opportunity. Three months after the baby and she craved a shoot out. Getting dress she heads downstairs to see Miss Earl on the couch as Bless fed the baby in his recliner.

“Aww” she sang as he looked up to see her dressed.

“Where you headed?”

“To move this money”

“I’ll move it”

“No, I would like to get out the house. It’s been months and I miss my job” she told him.

“I’ll go with you then”

“Yeah, I can watch him” Miss Earl said.

“Why the fuck can’t I go by myself?” She asked angrily.

“You know why, I’m not stupid. You not going after Meno, it ain’t happening let the goons handle it”

“No, it’s my fuckin fight, you think just because we had a baby that I’m going to change who I am and what I want. Fuck that” she said angrily.

“It ain’t about all of that, either you chill or Ima make you chill” he mumbled looking at her with one that could kill.

“Just lock me up and make me you’re little housewife, fuck what I want” she said. Miss Earl didn’t want to intervene but she agreed with Bless, she didn’t want to lose another child to the streets.

“You need to take a nap or some shit, get out my face with all that” he said as Miss Earl took the baby to his bedroom.

“I’m not, I need you to understand that I’m not about to change who I am and how I handle my business”

“Quit being so fuckin selfish” he yelled and they continued until Junior left the house.

“Bless go and get her” Miss Earl said knowing that Junior wasn’t in her right mind to be traveling the streets. But he let her be, she needed to learn her own lesson. Instead of driving off Junior parked around the corner trying to cool off. Having baby Brandon changed a lot for her mentally, she craved the streets but once she hit them something told her to chill the fuck out. After an hour she returned home to see Bless asleep and the baby in the room with Miss Earl.

“You good” Bless mumbled.

“Yeah” she said as he kissed the back of her neck and held her.

Junior and Bless were sitting in the doctors office as baby Brandon looked around not knowing that his shots were to come. Bless felt bad that he couldn’t warn his son and Junior was hoping that he wouldn’t be too cranky later. His teeth were cutting in and he was already having a hard time with those.

“He’s so happy right now, this is fucked up, man” Bless said making Junior laugh.

“Calm down, he’s strong and he’ll pull through it like a champ” she said holding him up as he smiled at his parents.

“Remember B, yo mom didn’t care that this was about to go down” he said making Junior laugh.

“Brandon Wells” the nurse called. Much to Bless surprised baby Brandon made a sad face then reached for his mother.

“Told you he’s a champ” Junior said. Bless grabbed the diaper bag as they exited the doctors office. As soon as they stepped out they heard the gunshots. Bless knocked Junior down as the bullets riddled his body.

“BLESS” she screamed as the car sped off. The baby cried in her ear as she watched Bless grip his neck which was squirting with blood. She looked around to see that the shooter was gone and crawled over to her husband.

“Bless hang on, baby” she cried trying to quiet her son as Bless stared at her and his body jerked then slowly he stopped moving and closed his eyes.
“No, no, Brandon, Brandon? Please don’t do this….Brandon!!” She screamed as the ambulance pulled up to see the young man that choked on his own blood. Junior stood back calming down the baby watching the ambulance attempt to revive him enough to get him in the ambulance. When they stopped working, her knees gave out and all she could do she cry. Who would take care of baby Brandon and furthermore who would take care of Junior?

Junior Nine

Every day was spent on the block and every night Junior spent in Bless arms until he disappeared back into his own room. She was beginning to get upset when he would spend time with Maya.

Today was Jerry’s birthday barbecue at River Rouge Park and Junior was meeting Jerry and Dez at the mall so that she could ride with them. They sat in the black Chrysler 300 passing the blunt back and forth as Junior pulled up in the black Jeep Wrangler that Bless bought her.

“That’s who that nigga bought the truck for” Dez said.

“Hell yeah” Jerry said as Junior hopped out wearing some blue jean True Religion booty shorts, a white True Religion tank and her gun strapped to her side. Her hair was slicked back into a ponytail as she strutted to the car.

“Think he hitting it?”

“Shit, wouldn’t you” Jerry asked as they laughed and she got in.

“Whattup” she asked getting in.

“What’s good, short shorts” Dez said.

“Nothing much short dick” she said making them laugh. Jerry blasted the music as they headed to the crowded park.

The weather in Detroit was perfect for a barbeque and the crew already had the food prepared and waiting. The liquor was on ice and the usual game of spades and dominoes was being played. Bless walked around having a good time with his boys, then decided to hoop to let some steam off. Junior warned him that Meno was seen on the Eastside but didn’t have any other leads.

“Look at the party” Dez said as Junior looked up to see the crowd she lit a cigarette because she didn’t like crowds and told Bless how much she disapproved of the whole crew being in one spot. He called her paranoid and to just relax so she was on high alert.

“I’m bout to get it in” Jerry said. They got out as Junior took it upon herself to walk around the area to make sure she knew everybody or saw familiar faces. She didn’t need any surprises.

“Junior” she heard Cam call as she turned to see one of Bless capo’s standing by.

“Whattup Cam”

“I came to holla at you about getting a loan and shit” he said as she nods ignoring the fact that he kept staring at her breast.

“What loan?”

“B, told me to holla at you about it” he said confused.

“I don’t know what you talkin about my nigga” she said walking away wondering if he was wearing a wire. She looked up to see Bless walking over wiping his forehead with his shirt. His dark skin glistened and the sun made his face scrunch up which reminded Junior of the face that he made with her.

Maya drove through the park with her three best friends ready to have fun. It was summer vacation and she was happy that she had one year left until it was over.

“I’m ready to eat and drink”

“Yes, and shoo away Bless thirsty ass friends”

“That’s the part I’m not ready for we should just get a plate and go our own way”

“I can’t do that, it would be disrespectful plus I miss my man, let me know if you see him” Maya said.

“Yeah, I do talking to the bitch he not suppose to be fuckin” Gigi, her best friend said as they rode pass the two.

“Bitch, Bless don’t want no ignorant ass Junior she’s as dumb as a box of rocks”

“She ain’t gotta be too smart to know how to ride a dick” Gigi instigated as Maya parked trying not to let her friend bother her.

“Did you tell Cam some shit about a loan?” Junior asked Bless as he approached.

“Yeah, give him 25 large” he said.

“For what and why is he asking me this shit here and right now?”

“I told him not to call you with it and I have to explain why I’m giving away my money?” He asked with a slight smile.

“Yes, I need to know why that much is leaving the bank. I can’t just let you take that much out whenever you feel like it. We gotta be smart”

“But you let me deposit as much as I want” he mumbled sexily grabbing her belt loop.

“Stop” she whined.

“Don’t tell me to stop” he said then looked up to see Maya and her crew headed his way.

“Is that the soon to be Mrs. Wells?” He yelled making her blush.

“Of course” she said as they greeted each other with a kiss.

“And she brought the team” he said making them laugh.

“Hey Junior” Maya said.

“Whattup” Junior said lighting a cigarette.

“Point me in the direction of yo capo’s no workers” Gigi told him as he laughed.

“Follow me, I’ll make sure y’all taken care of” he said as they walked away and Junior walked closely behind him. Gigi tapped Tiffany as they watched Junior follow Bless closely.

“Is that my bitch?” Junior heard as she turned to see Rocky. She happily hugged her cousin who was dressed in a white tshirt and baggy pants.

“Hell yeah, damn I’m so happy a real bitch is here it’s too many fake hoes around” Junior said laughing.

“Who she talking about?” Gigi asked making Bless turn to see the commotion.

“Probably you with yo fake ass” Rocky said making Junior laugh as they walked in the other direction.

“I can’t believe you’re here”

“Yes, fuck hiding shit Ima live a thug life like you” Rocky said as they laughed again. Both grabbing a beer and continued to walk.

“Thug life more like a fucking love triangle”

“Bitch, you let Bless hit?” Rocky said shocked because her cousin swore he wasn’t her type.

“This nigga can’t stop, I’m talking every night, like I’m his personal toy” she said thinking about this morning he was late picking up Maya from the airport because he knew it would be awhile before he would be with Junior.

“Don’t fuck around and get pregnant”

“Ha, you know I’m fucked up down there” Junior mumbled.

“Oh yeah my bad, so what else is going on?” Rocky asked as they stopped to watch the crew play spades. Zion stares up at Junior, he was a capo and had his eye on her since they were younger but she was with Aaron then wasn’t messing with anybody after that. Once his hand won the game he got up and headed her way.

“What’s up on a movie or something?” He asked as Junior blushed. A date was something she hadn’t experienced in years and Zion was cool people. Bless, who was at the curb talking to Jerry glanced to see Zion in Junior’s face. He didn’t like it and felt that she should know better.

“When?”

“Shit whenever you available” he said.

The sight of a black Taurus with dark tint going to fast made Junior look up to see the gun out the window. When she heard the first shot, she was racing towards the car. Something in her had a feeling it was Meno.

“TRU!” Rocky screamed running after her cousin as the bullets flew from the Mac and caused people to scatter. The shots from Junior caused the car to swerve, they hadn’t seen her coming. The gun fell out the window and she was able to shoot out the back window before she tripped over something which caused her to tumble hard and fast on the concrete and slide under a car.

“Fuck” she said feeling her thigh burning as Rocky finally made it.

“Bitch I got asthma, I can’t be chasing after yo crazy ass” she said as Zion and Jerry helped her up and put her on the car to see the skin torn off and the wounds.

“Oh shit” Junior said feeling the stinging as Bless charged over. The wild boys were running to their cars.

“Let me see” he said checking her out and pulling off his beater to put pressure on her wounds. She whined and leaned back.

“You need to go to Dr. Wes” Jerry said about their paid under the table doctor.

“Yo job is to keep yo fuckin eyes on me at all times, what the fuck was you doing while my muthafuckin back was turned, huh?” Bless asked her wrapping her leg tightly.

“My bad” she said feeling embarrassed.

“Yo bad? Let me catch you slipping again and it’ll be yo ass” he barked at her with a look that could kill.

“Fuck” Junior said feeling her leg on fire.

“Aye nigga yo girl over there crying and shit” Dez said walking over to them.

“She’ll be alright” he mumbled as Rocky smiled at her cousin. Bless gently grabbed her leg and brushed the dirt away. The crew looked at them suspiciously.

“Go see about Maya, Ima go to Wes” Junior told him as he hesitated to move. Bless walked away as Zion helped her off the car and into his car. They rode to the doctor where he patched her up and have her a shot.

Bless could hear Junior showering and getting dressed. The smell of her body wash invaded his senses as he climbed the stairs. Junior had her music on choosing between outfits when he reached the top. She was meeting Zion at the bar and didn’t know what to wear. It’s been a week after the shooting and her leg was healing better.

“Whassup” she asked picking the hot pink BeBe dress out of her closet.

“You going out?”

“Yeah, Zion wanna meet at this bar” she told him. He exhaled and sat on the bed.

“You like that nigga?”

“Yeah, he cool” she said pulling on the dress as the spandex struggled to slide over her hips. Junior looked over at Bless scratching his head and knew he had more to say.

“I’m breaking up with Maya” he told her as she stopped.

“Really, what she do?”

“Nothing, I think I’m in love with you” he told her as she stared at him with confusion.

“In love with me?”

“Yeah and I want to be with you”

“Bless, I’m not-”

“I ain’t trying to hear that, I’m not a college girl shit. I know what you are and I want it” he said as she smiled.

“I didn’t know you felt like that”

“How do you feel?”

“Shocked, my head all fucked, I didn’t expect for you to say that” she said as he walked over to hold her.

“I don’t wanna just be friends anymore”

“Us? Together?”

“It’s a deadly combination” Bless said as she smiles.

“We’ll be alright” she says holding him. Never expecting it but she was happy she wouldn’t have to share him anymore.

Their relationship was open Bless did what he wanted and Junior played around when she felt like it but she was devoted to Bless. He’d become more than a boyfriend to her and she never thought that she would fall in love again. Bless didn’t treat her different as a boss either, he still chewed her out but came home and took out the trash. They spent a lot of time together, Junior was surprised at how romantic he became unlike the way presented himself. Nor did she think that she would be the type of female to enjoy it.

“Shut…the….fuck…up” Junior said angrily hitting the smoke detector with a broom and cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Bless walked in to see the struggle and laughed. Every other night she turned the kitchen into a science lab. He appreciated her efforts but couldn’t stand the smell of smoke every night.

“Stop” he said leaving the door open as she dropped the broom turning to see him.

“I don’t like that stupid thing it goes off when I’m lighting a fuckin cigarette”

“I’m sure it’s going off because you’re burning the chicken” he said turning the fire down.

“I’m trying to cook for you” she said denfesively.

“I know, but you don’t have to” he said grabbing her and pinning her to the counter as she removed the cigarette.”I’ll cook, I’ll buy the groceries and you can show up and feed it to me” he said kissing her lips as she smiled.

“That’s it”

“Yeah, you’re not that type of woman so don’t worry about it. I’m in love with you for who you are” he said as she blushed.

“Take me upstairs” she urges him as he laughed.

“Later, we need to go get something to eat” he said nodding at the chicken making her laugh.

Rocky and Junior stood at the gun range shooting off rounds. Rocky didn’t mean to get as high as she was and nearly missed all her targets but Junior was on point. It was her favorite hobby, she loved pulling the trigger. It’d been a while since she had, the crew stayed in line and didn’t need to be governed and Meno was hiding. Her only big responsibility was making sure the money was good.

“Where we headed?” Rocky asked wearing a pair of baggy True Religion jeans and hoodie. Junior wore an Addidas jogging suit with the matching shoes.

“I have to meet Bless at the mall”

“The mall?”

“Yes, you know I hate the mall but he wants my opinion about some watch” Junior said, she realized that the price tag must’ve been large.

“Damn, call me when you done with the couple shit. I’m going over Rico’s” Rocky said about her on and off again boyfriend.

“Don’t fuck around and get pregnant” Junior laughed.

“You being funny, I would throw myself down the stairs” Rocky told her half seriously. She’d been pregnant once but got rid of it quick and never wanted to go through that again.

“Bye” Junior said hopping in the car. She headed to Somerset and called Bless, he already texted her that he arrived. Walking through the mall she shuffled pass people and met him on a bench near Ralph Lauren.

“Hey”

“Whattup” he said looking at his phone.

“How much is the watch?” She asks as he stands up.

“I’m not getting it anymore” he said walking as she followed.

“So why did you have me drive all the way out here” she asked irritated because she didn’t have her license and Troy, Michigan was too hot for her.

“Because I need to ask you something” he mumbled walking into Tiffany’s.

“What?”

“Will you marry me?” he asks turning to her.

“Huh, what chu say?” She asked not believing what she thought she heard.

“Will you marry me?” He asked again.

“Marry you” she asked him slowly trying I make sure she heard him.

“Do you want me to get down on one knee?” He asked kneeling down making heads turn.

“Get up” she squealed turning red as the store occupants smiled.

“Not until I get my answer, I’m in love with you and I wanna spend the rest of my sinful life with you, baby” he said as she laughed and couldn’t believe this was happening.

“Yes, I’ll marry you if you get up”she said through her teeth as he laughed.

“You better said yes” he said getting up as she kissed him and he held her.

“I can’t believe you” she laughed blushing and wiping the year from her face. Everyone clapped at the young couple.

“Believe it, now pick your poison” he said gesturing towards the store. Junior exhaled and looked around at the jewelry.

“This might take a while” she said.

“You don’t have to get a ring if you don’t want one” he said knowing that she was never find if them.

“I don’t have to wear one?” She asked smiling at him as he shook his head.

“I don’t need a ring to know you belong to me” he said as she nods. She opted for a charm bracelet with charms that represented them. It wasn’t as expensive as Bless wanted to spend but as long as she was happy he was as well.

That night they lie in bed as he held her kissing her forehead. Junior held his torso and knew that he was still woke.

“I wanna get married this week” she said.

“Alright, I have something to do tomorrow but Thursday we can go down there” he told her as she nods. Their relationship wasn’t traditional and she didn’t want to change anything.

After they were married, a party was at Solomon’s that Jerry throughthem. The crew was shocked to hear that they got married until they saw Bless band. They made fun of Junior for not waiting to kill his pockets for a ring.

“That’s our honeymoon money”
“No it’s not” Bless said because he already planned his bank just in case she wanted a real wedding.
“I’m glad y’all got married because ain’t no otha muthafuckas would’ve been able to put up with the high speed chases and shoot outs” Jerry said making everybody laugh.
“Shut the fuck up” Junior laughed.

Junior drove Bless quietly to Toledo so that they could visit his family. One of his elder uncles passed away and they were headed to the funeral. He hadn’t saw his family in years but kept in touch by phone with his aunts and cousins. They were excited to meet his wife and Junior was nervous. This would be the first time meeting his family and she didn’t know what to expect.
“I found this school for you to go to that’ll help you learn to read” he said as she turned to him.
“Why? I didn’t ask you to do that”
“I know you didn’t but I felt that it’s something that needs to be done”
“How the fuck are you going to take it upon yourself to look for me a school? If you wanted an educated bitch you had the chance to marry one of them” she yelled at him.
“I’m not asking you to go to college, damn, I just want to help you out”
“I don’t need help and I don’t need know fucking school to treat me like I’m a retard” she said.
“It’s not like that, but think about it. With us being married I’m taking care of everything. But if something happens to me how are you going to read over my will and shit. Who gon write my obituary?” He asked her.
“We’ll die together to avoid the extra paperwork” she said angrily.
“You keep joking around, this shit is serous”
“If it was so serious to you why did you marry me without my degree but now you want to change me and that’s not fair” she told him.
“Fuck that I said anything, I didn’t look at it like that and I apologize if it came off that way. Shit, I love you and I only want the best for you” he said then turned up the radio. Junior was so upset that she lit a cigarette and smoked the rest of the way. She didn’t understand why he would even bring it up unless it was starting to bother him. Lately, he’d been messing around with the college girls and she wondered if he was starting to wish he’d married Maya.
After a week Junior walked into the school and nervously sat with the counselor who was going to help her get her diploma. Bless was proud of her but didn’t want to get in her business just in case it became too much for her and she dropped out. They had online course and in class courses, after a test she found oh she wasn’t as far behind as she was. When it came to her online courses she sat in front of the computer at home frustrated. Bless noticed the silence and walked into the office to see her dresses in maxi dress staring at the screen.
“You good?” He asked as she shook her head.
“This question is confusing” she told him as he walked over to see that she was studying English. He pulled the chair next to her and read it over and they worked it out together until Junior was in complete understanding.
“Thank you” she said as he kissed her forehead.
“Don’t hesitate to call me, baby” he told her.
“I won’t” she said.
Junior went to school everyday and although it was frustratin and pulling her away from her job as the general Bless assured her that everything would be fine and to focus on school. She gave him the name of one of their best soldiers to look out for them.
“Whattup” Sam from her English class asked catching her walking out the building. Junior turned to see the boy that reminded her so much of Aaron that she caught herself staring at him at times.
“Hey, Sam”
“Where you headed to?”
“Home, that test took a lot out of me” she said.
“Yeah, it’s fucked up the shit was probably easier when I was suppose to learn it” he said making her laugh and agree.
“Right, where you headed?” She asks as the stood next to her Jeep in the parking lot.
“To the crib, about to roll this blunt and shit before my babymomma drop my son off” he told her.
“How old is he?”
“Two with his little bad ass, you wanna come and kick it with me for a minute” he said, Junior smiled and checked the bullets in her gun as she followed him to his small house off 7mile.
The house was basic couch, big screen TV, video game system on the floor ashes and fast food bags everywhere. Junior was happy that Bless kept clean, he was a neat freak and couldn’t go to sleep if any room in the house was dirty.
“You gotta man?” Sam asked rolling the blunt.
“Yes, I’m married” she said.
“Damn, how old is you?”
“Twenty”
“Y’all got kids or something?”
“No”
“Well, why the fuck he wife you down?” He asked.
“What you mean?” She asked as they laughed.
“Nigga’s don’t just be marrying bitches because they love them” he said.
“You are stupid, yes they do that’s the reason why he married me” she told him.
“Yo pussy must be fire” he said making her laugh.
“Shut up, that is not it” she said sitting back.
“Must be, you be cheating on that nigga?” He asked.
“No, I don’t have a reason to”
“That’s because you never let me put my tongue to it” he mumbled.
“You foul, Sam” she said looking up at him as he gazed at her and the tension was strong. Besides his resemblance to Aaron he was cool people.
Junior got up and put her clothes on as Sam laid back watching her. Every Tuesday they would head back to his house to get it in. Junior didn’t know why she was so comfortable with Sam but it made her feel better. She hurried home and took a shower as Bless stood outside of the curtain making her jump.
“Fuck, you scared me” she yelled as he laughed.
“If that’s true why you not holding Block” his voice echoed as she glanced at the .45 taped to the wall.
“What’s up?” She asked turning off the water and grabbing her towel.
“I came home because I couldn’t stop thinking about my rough ass wife” he mumbled snatching her towel and back her to the wall. Junior smiled and grabbed the towel.
“Cut it out, I need to head out” she said.
“This won’t take but a minute” he said as she got nervous.
“No, I can’t” she mumbled moving away from him as he grabbed her arm.
“What the fuck you mean?” he asked angrily.
“Let me go, I said I don’t feel like it” she sai snatching away.
“You fuckin somebody else?” He asked.
“Aren’t you?” She asks as he leaned on the wall. This was the first time that he heard that she wa messing around and it stung. He messed around on some arrogant shit but he couldn’t understand why she felt the need to step out.
“Who is this nigga?” He asked.
“A nobody, we just cool” she told him putting lotion on, out the corner of her eye she saw him chuckle.
“So you just be going to chill with him and sucking his dick and shit” Bless asked.
“What? No what the fuck? Don’t start, I don’t ask who you be fuckin” she said throwing on her clothes.
“I don’t want you seeing the nigga no more” Bless said angrily.
“Boy bye” she said putting on her Jordan’s to match her baggy Jordan jogging suit.
“I’m not fucking playing” he said seriously.
“You not about to tell me not to do some shit that you’re doing, cut it out” she said jogging down the stairs as he hurried after her.
“Fuck it, if I find the nigga I’m killing his ass” he yelled after her as she slammed the back door. Junior was pissed, she’d heard about him with a few females but now that she found one person to kick it with he was jealous.
Junior kept her distance from Sam and told him that her husband caught her and that she had to end things. Although she was against Bless trying to stop her she didn’t want Sam to get hurt because of it. The next few weeks they stayed mad at each other. Junior was in a deep sleep when she felt Bless slide into bed. He yanked her as she turned to see him leaning towards her . They kissed And Bless made love to her unlike he never had. They stayed in bed all day turning each other out and she promised never to stray again.

Junior Eight

“Watch out she’s a handful” Miss Earl mumbles handing Bless the last piece of Juinor’s Louis Vuitton luggage.

“I got her” he said as they glanced to see her pushing the front door open. The attempt on her life last week that left Sonia dead and she was still numb from Guru. Chalee was a Truman and understood that life never came easy with them. A thoroughbred that was always ready to die no matter how horrific the death. But not Sonia. She was innocent and only guilty by association. Being a loud mouth chick was the only life she knew but it didn’t mean that she deserved to die. Now, she had to hide until she could find Meno and finish what he started. Of course she could do it alone but Miss Earl wouldn’t allow it. And with Rocky on the run it was only a matter of time before the shit hit the fan again.

“Hey, why the long face?” Miss Earl asks walking up to her.

“Because I’m grown and I can take care of myself, I don’t need this nigga all up in my business” Junior told her as Bless smiles and gets in the driver seat. They had a love hate relationship, after Aaron was killed she never thought about getting close to Bless because she felt guilty about what she did to Aaron.

“Bless has been loyal to this family and can keep you safe until Meno surfaces”

“You treating me like a fuckin kid, I can handle myself” she says angrily as Miss Earl nods.

“Junior, your mother meant a lot to me. She was my favorite, my baby girl. I know that she and I weren’t close and I even understand the reason why she kept you away from us and from all of this. But you have to understand, I feel it’s my right to keep the only thing that my daughter was ever smart about alive. And if that means tucking you away with that nigga, that’s what I’m going to do. And I don’t give a fuck what you have to say about it. I love you” Miss Earl tells her feeling choked up. Junior was shocked to see her grandmother show emotion.

“I love you, too”

“The only reason why I’m letting you stay here instead of taking you to Florida with the rest of us is because I know that you have to fulfill your own destiny. Just be smart about it. Real bitches never die” she told her as Junior smiled and they hugged. It was a long warm hug that resulted in tears to form in both if their eyes.

“You got me crying and shit” Junior said wiping her face.

“Some hoe shit” Miss Earl mumbles as wipes her own tears.

“Well, I’ll call you when I can” Junior said walking towards the black Buick Regal with the darkest tiny she ever seen.

“Aye, stay Tru baby and call me if you need anything. I don’t give a fuck what it is” Miss Earl tells her.

“I will” she laughs. Bless turns to see her approaching and got nervous. His infatuation with Junior never changed and never died down. Even with his devotion to Maya, he couldn’t get over the fact that Junior captivated him. The fact that she was born soldier and she bled loyalty made him a fan. And now he would be responsible for looking out for her until they were able to catch up to Meno.

“Whattup” he mumbled as she slid into the car. She wore her hair in a high bun with big silver earrings and peach colored lipstick. Today she wasn’t in a fancy mood and wore an oversized men’s Nike Jogging suit and some Air Max.

“Hey” she mumbled letting her seat back and pulling her hood over her head. An awkward silence fell over them as he pulled away from the curb. The music got loud enough so that Junior could block out her thoughts as she closed her eyes.

Bless glanced over at her on their way to his home. She would be his first guest, since he moved six years ago. It was his hideout and no one would ever suspect he lived the way that he did. But, it humbled him and kept him at ease. He didn’t like the suburbs; the silence, the police and the tax paying snitches. After ten minutes Junior sat up to see that they were driving down a bumpy street that had little to no houses. Empty lots where families once lived were spaced between charred buildings and rubble. She glanced at Bless wondering if he was taking her to die.

“Where the fuck we at?” She asks.

“My block” he said turning up into a high wooden fence that covered an addition lot next door. It was a small home and looked basic and like it needed work.

“Are you kidding me?” Junior asked with attitude as he laughed.

“No, this is where I live and you’re my first guest”

“I see why” she grunted and rolled her eyes. Bless knew that Junior still had her materialistic ways but hoped she would understand his way of life as well.

“You don’t like it?” He asked staring over at her as she turned away from him. Without response, Bless got out and opened the gate. Then motioned for Junior to drive into the backyard. She slid over and slowly drove up to the two car garage. Over to her far right she notice a well maintained dog run with six cages. Nervously she slid back into the passenger seat. After Bless locked his gate, he walked up to the passenger door and tapped on the window.

“What?”

“Stay in the car for a minute” he told her. Beyond irritated and wanting to lie down she rolled the window back up and watched him jog to the side door and it took him five minutes to unlock it. After two minutes she heard movement and sat up to see six blue eyed Pit bulls running and hurrying over to the dog run.

“I am not staying here with all them fuckin dogs, hell no” she mumbled as two if them walked over to her door and started barking. Junior jumped back as Bless said something to make them hurry to the cage. He glanced at her window and smiled knowing that she would have something to say. She watched him feed the dogs and lock them up. Then motioned for her to get out the car. As soon as she stepped out the barking started, Bless stepped over to them and they stopped although one of them continue to
jump on the gate and stare at her.

“I can’t stay here with no dogs”

“Chill out, they not as harmful as they look” he told her.

“Whatever” she said, reaching over pop the trunk. Bless helped her get the four bags out. As they walked into the house, there was a steel door blocked the basement. They walked into an updated kitchen that smelled like lemon. She was impressed the little shack had potential.

“Let’s discuss the rules before we go any further” he said as she folded her arms and rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, let’s do that”

“The basement is off limits, no company is allowed over, and we keeping this strictly business between us” he said making her laugh.

“First off, I won’t be going into the basement because I’m sure it smells like dog shit, second I can’t have company because everybody I love is either dead or no longer in this city and third I have no desire to fuck you because you’re selfish and it’s a turn off” she told him making him nod and smile.

“Cool, follow me to your room” he lead her through a tight hallway, where she glanced at the bathroom with newer fixtures and on the plush white carpet. She never would’ve known that Bless had style like this. He seemed like a nigga from the hood.

“This was just an empty room until Miss Earl asked me to help her out so everything is new, I hope you’ll be alright” he said as she reached the top to see the flat screen I the wall. A queen bed sat with a new comforter set in a bag. There was a full bathroom and a nice sized closet.

“It’s straight up here thank you” she told him as he nods.

“I got some shit to do, but if you need something just hit me up. I’ll show you how to unlock and lock up when I get back” he said as she nodded and sat on the bed.

“I doubt that I’ll be going anywhere for a while. Ima unpack and take a nap” she told him, he could feel how tensed she was.

“You don’t blame yourself do you?”he asked as she stood up pulling off her hoodie to show the crop top with no bra. Tattoos covered her torso and back of her neck. Bless couldn’t help but to stare like it was his first time.

“Shit, who’s to blame?”

“It’s the life we live”

“It was the life I lived not Sony” she told him kicking off her shoes feel emotional.

“We all have a journey” he explained about to tell her more about himself.

“And mine is filled with death, where yo towels at?” She asked.

“I’ll go grab you one” he said, he knew this was a tender time for her and with time she would heal. Junior stood under the shower not carrying that her hair was getting wet, her heart ached and that night repeatedly replayed in her mind. Bless stood at the door and placed the towel on the toilet.

“I’ll leave you something to help you sleep” he said.

“Thank you” she said. Junior wasn’t a weed smoker but at a time like this she needed help to relax. Bless tossed the glass jar of bud on the bed along with two blunts. The sight of her lace panties hanging out if her suitcase made him pause. This arrangement was as deadly as it was necessary. He didn’t know how long he could keep his feelings to himself.

Junior jumped out of a nightmare to be confused by her surroundings until she realized that Sony was still dead, Rocky was on the run and Miss Earl was in Florida. Lying on her back, the dampness of her pillow cooled her. After the shower the bed held her tightly once the weed took affect. Staring up at the ceiling fan, she exhaled loud trying to relive some tension from her heart and mind.

It was dark outside and she could hear movement, Bless was back and she didn’t know how much time passed. She lost her cell phone and didn’t care about getting another. Grabbing her towel, she wraps it around her body and hurried down the stairs. In the kitchen Bless stands at the counter watching the small television that sat on the counter.

“Hey”

“Whattup” he said chewing his food. Junior noticed another styrofoam box on the oven.

“What’s for dinner?”

“Some steak dinners from Longhorn”

“Sounds good” she said walking over as he watched her open the box inspecting the food in nothing but a short towel.

“You’ve been asleep for six hours” he told her as she checked the clock on the microwave to see that it was two in the morning.

“Damn and I’m wide awake” she laughs.

“Good, I got some work for you”

“What is it?”

“I need my general back”

“You do?” She asked in shock, after Guru and Sonia she was MIA for three weeks.

“Of course, I need you watching my back” he said as she smiled. Becoming head of his army always helped relieve her stress.

“When do I start?”

“You on the clock now, the meeting is in an hour” he told her as she hurried upstairs to eat and get dressed. The higher she ranked the more likely she would run into Meno and have her revenge.

Excitement was replaced with confidence as they pull up to the warehouse where they met. It was cold, empty and close to the Hudson River. The location was perfect to discuss business and Bless was happy that he found it. An old automotive parts store that he gutted out and turned into a meeting place. Concrete floors, steel doors and dim lighting, it didn’t take much to please the crew.

“You ready?” He asks her knowing that her appearance was going to ruffle a few feathers.

“Hell yeah, boss” she says making him smile. They exit the car and head towards the large rusted door. Junior decided to wear her jogging suit again, it would make for an easier transition if she didn’t walk in the room in her Prada’s bossing them around. The team welcomed her back but knew that she would be on some guerilla tactics and they were ready to take over.

“Aye, they having drinks up at Solomon’s for Boone welcome home party, you rolling?” Bless yelled up the stairs. Junior sat on her bed polishing her toes. She was a week back in her position and the team was showing love. The streets were moving out of their way and heavily searching for Meno.

“Yeah, I’ll go” she said. Bless noticed that although she became general and stepped into the roll without a problem, he could tell she’d also fallen into a depression. The crew told him that she wasn’t lenient to any of their bullshit and they complained often about her tough ruling. She gave them no room to fuck up and excuses were useless.
He dressed in a t-shirt and Levi’s and Junior hurried down still wearing the Nike jogging suit that she worked in. It seemed her love for fashion died with Sonia.

“You must love that suit” he said grabbing his keys.

“I just want to be comfortable” she mumbled pushing pass him. Her usual tight bun was messy and unraveling from the rubberband. She unlocked the doors and pushes open the steel basement door. Bless watched as she opened the gate for his dogs that had grown fond of her.

“Go in the house” he heard her order as they rushed in. He locked up hearing her start the car and hit the horn. The gate was open as he hopped in as they headed out.

“Curt said Jay looking for you” Bless joked with her about one of their crew members who flirted with her often.

“I’m straight on a nigga with more baby momma’s than he got kids” she said making Bless laugh.

“How is that possible?”

“He taking care of his first baby momma and third baby momma other kids and them hoes be making that nigga jump through hoops” she said as Bless laughs.

“He’s just trying to be a good man”

“He stupid”

“What? You don’t like kids?” He asked.

“I like kids” she said uneasily because
it had been a while since she actually encountered one.

“When you gon settle down and have some then?” He asked.

“Never, when I was twelve I got in a car accident that messed me up and I can’t have kids” she told him as he glanced at her.

“Damn, straight up”

“Yeah, a car hit me while I was riding my bike and I was in the hospital for about two months, that was the first time I saw Miss Earl” she said smiling.

“Do you want to adopt?”

“Nope, I’m good, it might be too dangerous on the streets with a little me running around here anyway” she laughed to get rid of the awkwardness.

“I need me a tough ass little dude to
run behind me, it might make me appreciate life more” he said.

“You want Baby Bless?”

“Lil B” he said laughing.

“Maya want kids”

“Yeah when she finish school and shit, hopefully I’m still around to make him” his phone rung and he looked to see Maya calling.

“I’m on my way baby” he mumbled knowing that she hated to wait. Junior turned the music up so she wouldn’t hear their conversation and for a moment pictured herself pregnant and then laughed it off. Who would be crazy enough to impregnate her?

Solomon’s was more crowded than usual, Boone was well respected and always showed his people love. He was caught on a gun charge and was happy to be home. The ladies were fighting each other to get to him. Boone was a sight to see and had long money. He owned a few small business that were ran by his brother while he was down and they continued to bring in the money. He and Bless were on the same football teams in middle school and high school and considered him a real friend. Junior thought that Boone was a nice guy but for some reason had a bad feeling about him. That was the only reason she agreed to go to watch Bless back.

They stepped in and went there seperate ways. Never had Junior wanted to sit at the bar more. She nodded at people that knew her and slid on an empty bar stool.

“Hey baby girl” Solomon sang coming over to see her with a weary smile on her angelic face. He never understood how such a beautiful girl could do such ugly things. He knew her family and used to kick Rodney out of his bar every other weekend for fighting.

“Can I get a shot?” She asked.

“Junior you know as well as I do that you have a couple of years to be at this bar” he told her.

“Solomon please” she begged and he noticed that their was something different about her face she looked weary.

“Just one” he said as she nodded. After he bought her one another man sent her another until she was buzzing hard. Her thoughts fell to a young couple grinding on the dance floor the guy reminded her of Aaron. Just the thought of the way he made her feel brought tears to her eyes.

“You buzzing?” She heard Bless ask as she looked up to see Maya by his side. They glared at one another and Junior felt a certain way about the way she held him.

“Yeah” she said.

“Hey, Junior sorry to hear about your friend” Maya said in a soft voice as Junior stared into space.

“Thank you” she whispered looking down at her glass. Maya didn’t care for Junior, her friends told her that they felt that she was too close to Bless. But Maya knew Junior’s secret, a friend of hers told her how Junior dropped out of school and didn’t know how to read. Maya knew Bless loved an educated woman and wouldn’t want shit to do with a high school drop out with a six grade reading level.

“Be careful with the liquor” Bless told her as they walked away. But instead she took one more shot then hit the dance floor as Sonia’s favorite Lil Wayne song played. Before long the tears began to flow and she couldn’t control her emotions. Stumbling she fell into someone who grabbed her.

“I got you, come on” she heard Bless say as she sobbed on him and he rushed her out the bar before anyone could see her being weak. Bless pushed her in the car as Maya hurried out.

“Where are you going?”

“To drop her off I’ll be back”

“Why can’t somebody else do it Brandon I’m only in town until tomorrow? You asked me to come to this ratchet ass bar in the first place now you wanna leave me to drop her off” Maya asked angrily.

“It ain’t like that, chill out I’ll be back” he said as Jerry came out.

“Do you want me to take her?”

“Nah, buy Maya a drink” he said.

“No, I’m leaving” she said hoping he would object but he was pulling away from the curb.

“You can’t be out here weak and shit, nigga’s wil body yo ass” Bless scolded Junior heading home.

“Fuck it, let ’em come. I ain’t got shit to live for, everybody gone, Bless, everybody” she sobbed. He sat quietly and nodded understanding where she was coming from.

“You still here for a reason”

“I don’t believe that anymore” she said finally in a calmer tone.

“You have to, my family was murdered when I was twelve years old. I was the only one to survive, my parents, my little sisters they even killed our dog” he said shaking his head as Junior stared at him.

“Who killed them?”

“It doesn’t matter, what matters is that I’m still here and I’m representing strength right now. I understand where you coming from because I felt the same way. But I was able to bounce back, in truth I’ll never be the same but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Use that anger and that pain to go out there and get what you want. Don’t let it drown you” he told her as she stared ahead and the rest of the ride home was quiet.

Once at home Junior sat in the living room watching late night TV in her t-shirt. Bless came out his bedroom to see her rolling a blunt and struggling with her demons. He put his keys down and sat on the love seat. She looked up and he grabbed the blunt and rolled it.

“You not leaving back out”

“Naw, I’m tired” he mumbled firing the blunt.

“What about Maya?”

“She’ll be alright” he said passing her the blunt as they watched TV until they went to their seperate rooms. Junior realized that Bless had just made his move to being a friend.

Two weeks later, Junior stood in front of her mirror staring at how tight the black catsuit and gold Prada shoes looked on her. Tonight is Bless birthday and since hers was last week she decide to have her own quiet celebration. She didn’t have anyone to celebrate with so she couldn’t make it a big deal. The crew was throwing Bless a Freak Fest at “Cream”, a high end strip club that catered to every man’s desire. She hated the clubs but wanted to watch his back knowing that he would probably get drunk.

“Come on” he yelled up the stairs as she made sure her gun was placed tightly in her bun. It was heavy but necessary. Bless heard the heels hitting the kitchen floor as he looked up to see her dressed as a sexy cat burglar with her cleavage showing.

“Damn cat woman, you trying to bring home one of them freaks” he asked making her laugh.

“Shut up, fool, you know I’m not into that gay shit”

“That ain’t what the crew think” Bless said. The fact that Junior dressed like a tom boy and fought like a nigga made the crew skeptical of how she swayed only Bless knew that she was all woman.

“Fuck them” she mumbles not caring what they thought. As they got in his BMW, Bless smiles to himself.

“You’re not trying to celebrate yo birthday on my birthday are you?” He asked making her laugh.

“How did you know?”

“I remember Aaron use to say he couldn’t hang with us because y’all had plans and shit” he said.

“Yeah, he was a good boyfriend” she said, thinking back.

“I got you something” he said as she turned to see him handing her a key.

“What is that for?”

“A little Jeep for you to get around in” he said as she smiled because she loved Jeep’s.

“Thanks Bless” she said smiling hard.

“They can drop it off tomorrow on Stahelin for you” he told her about the house that he and Maya shared when she was in town.

“I could kiss you right now” she laughed with him.

“Don’t start that soft shit” he said.

They pull up to see cars lined up and both exhaled hoping it would be an easy night. Junior made sure her bun was secure as Bless finished his drink.

“I ain’t gon be in this bitch all night” he mumbled.

“Sounds good to me” she said as they head towards security, who nodded at Bless knowing he was the birthday boy. The other guard was excited to get his hands on Junior.

“Damn, you here for amateur night?” He asked making her laugh.

“No, I only do private dances” she flirted as he laughed and rubbed down her leg for the search, causing Bless to glare at him.

“Watch yo hands nigga, that’s my bitch you touching” Bless said angrily causing Junior and the guard to stop their flirting.

“My bad, man, it’s just a standard pat down” the man said, nervously raising his hands. Junior cracked a smile seeing how serious he looked.

“Go ahead and party, daddy” she told him as he walked in still grimming the guard.

“I didn’t mean to disrespect you, baby girl” he said, apologetically.

“It’s ok, he’s just overprotective about his pussy” she said heading into the club.

The smoke and music was enough to make anyone a target. Bless headed towards the rowdy booth as she sat where she could look at the whole scene. The crew was already drunk and all she saw was ass everywhere and the sparks from the many bottles they were popping to celebrate Bless twentieth birthday.

Junior sipped her water and rejected the big booty girls attempting to ride her lap. Word got around that “Junior” was a girl a while ago and the stud rumors started so the dancers were anxious. After forty five minutes she was ready to go irritated with the loud music and lames trying to hit on her.

“Damn, boo let me twerk on you” a voice said from behind her. Junior turned ready to go off until she seen a girl dressed in boy clothes wearing a hoodie and jeans.

“Do I know you?” She asked.

“You better” Rocky said flashing the “TRU” tattoo on her wrist. Juinor’s eyes got big as Rocky slid in the booth next to her.

“Bitch, if you wasn’t on the run I would hug you” she mumbled, excitedly.

“How you been?” Rocky asked missing her cousin. She shot one of the men that shot her and was facing an attempted murder charge.

“Fucked up but it’s getting better”

“Bless cool?”

“Yeah we straight and shit he bought me a whip.”

“Damn, you fucking that nigga?”

“Bitch no, all business” Junior said.

“For now, damn I gotta head out” she said looking around at all the faces. It was hard for her to place a friend from foe.

“You leaving?” Junior asked in shock finally turning to her. She missed having someone to talk to that knew her inside and out. Their relationship started off bad but now they were closer than ever.

“Yeah, but I’ll catch up to you, happy birthday” she told her getting up.

“Aye” Junior said as Rocky turned around.

“Stay TRU” Junior mouthed with her hand over her heart and tears in her eyes. Rocky nodded and headed out feeling just as sad. Junior watched her leave and sat back happy knowing that her cousin was still around.

“You see Rocky?” Bless asked as she turned to see him sitting next to her.

“Yes, I did, how did you find her?” She asked knowing he sent her.

“With time and a little money” he mumbled in her ear.

“Thank you” she said staring in his eyes.

“You’re welcome, I’m ready to go”

“You are? But you’re not drunk yet”

“I don’t need to be, plus I got that meeting in the morning” he told her as they got up to leave the party.

Once at home they got dressed for bed then Junior grabbed the Don Diva magazine and flipped open to an article. At first the reading was easy then she began to struggle until she got frustrated and tossed the book. Growing up school wasn’t as important as hustling, which she was passing with flying colors. She got up wearing her wife beater and boy shorts hoping that Bless hadn’t ate her leftover Benihana’s.

“Hell yeah” she whispered seeing it was still waiting on her. Standing by the microwave and staring at her toes, the sound of Bless walking in made her look up to see him with his basketball shorts and shirtless the sight of his naked tattooed skin set her in a daze. There was no denying that he was sexy but his attitude turned her off.

“You can’t sleep either?” he said grabbing a bottle of water.

“I’ll be good after I eat my Benni’s” she said smiling as he nodded.

“Damn, how did I miss that?” He laughed as she took it out of the microwave.

“I really want to thank you for today. It was the first time that I felt good in a while” she said.

“You’re one of the few people that are loyal to me and I wanted to show my appreciation. Even with all the shit we been through, it’s like we still got each other and shit” he said as she nods.

They head to the living room, where she ate and he smoked a blunt watching “The Mack”. After the food and smoke was gone they began to shift. Bless glanced everytime she moved her legs.

“I’m going to bed” she yawned and headed upstairs. Bless rubbed his beard and laid back staring at the movie and closing his eyes trying to shake away what he knew was to come.

Junior slept with her back to the wall shotgun behind her and .45 under the pillow, being careful was an understatement. Although Bless never let anyone come over it didn’t mean noone knew where he lived. The sound of a floor board creek made her eyes flash open in the darkness. She slid her hand under the pillow to find it empty. Jumping up with the shot gun in her right hand she was slammed on her back.

“Wait” Bless laughed in the darkness, putting his hand over hers as she let it go.

“That shit not cool I could’ve killed yo ass” she said as he climbed on top of her.

“You ain’t fast enough” he mumbled pulling her by her legs.

“What are you doing?” She asked as he pulled off her underwear and his head disappeared under the covers. At first Junior was in shock then she melted , it almost felt like she was sinking into the bed. Bless went to work swallowing and lapping up her juices as if she were his favorite ice cream. Then her legs shook and she was moaning for the first time in two years.

“Shit” she let out a groan as Bless waited until her body relaxed and placed himself in her. Junior grabbed him tightly causing their tongues to lock as he rocked in her feeling her tightness grip his dick and suck him in deeper. The very thought of him being able to release in her caused his nut to fly out of his body.

“Damn” he said breathing hard as Junior continued to work her hips until he flipped her on top and allowed her to get him back up so that she can get hers. Just like the thoroughbred she was, Junior rode him until she was icing her flavor down his shaft. Bless caught her rhythm and matched it until he felt himself erupting once again. They hit the pillow hard and fell asleep to the sound of their breathing.

The next morning, Junior woke up to an empty bed and frizzy hair. She stared at the ceiling confused but feeling so relieved. Bless was her boss and she respected him in that way. When they messed around before she wrote it off as a mistake and never looked back, but he put it on her like he’d been waiting for it. After showering and braiding her hair in two french braids to the back, she walked downstairs to see that he was gone. Bless had a meeting but she figured it had nothing to do with the crew because he wouldn’t want to go alone. He walked in ten minutes later to see her scrambling eggs. The sight of her gave him flashbacks and caused a chill to roll down his back.

“Whattup” he asked.

“Shit” she said.

“I want to apologize for last night. You were looking good in that outfit and I lost control and it won’t happen again” he said as she nodded putting her eggs on her plate.

“It’s cool we all get a little weak sometimes” she said. But it only took him a week before he was climbing the stairs again.