For my Daughters, Ni' Jaa' & Alexandria, who keep me in the fight
This one is for my sistaz in the game. I know y'all didn't think I would forget about you.
My love of black women runs too deep for me not to have spun a story in honor of your strength and determination.
“I'll ask you one more time, Ms. Panelli,” barked the red-faced judge. “Do you wish to tell the court whose gun it was?”
“No, sir,” Eve answered, nervously twirling her fingers around a lock of her hair. The county-issued jumpsuit sagged on her rail-thin body, but she tried to make it look presentable.
Eve was a striking mixture of Italian, Black, and Irish. She had smooth, olive-toned skin and at a glance, she looked more Black than anything. The only telltale signs of her mixed heritage were her red hair and blue-green eyes. When her hair wasn't braided up, it hung down to the middle of her back. Eve was one of those girls who was thick where she needed to be and slender everywhere else. With her pretty face she could've easily been a model, but the streets had a firm hold on her. That was part of the reason she found herself incarcerated at the age of seventeen.
“Ms. Panelli, I must remind you that this court will show leniency if you would just tell us who the other young men were that ran off. Now, do you wish to say anything?”
“Nope.” Eve shrugged. “Ain't got nothing to say.”
“Evelyn Panelli, it is in the judgement of this court that you are a threat to society as well as yourself. You have shown no remorse or regret for your offenses against the laws of our fair county. I don't know how they do it in New York City, but this is Livingston County. You Negroes can't just roll through here disturbing law-abiding white folks. You must answer for what you've done.”
This judge must be out of his mind?
I ain't no fucking rat. Do I wish to tell who I was with? Hell no. That ain't how Gs get down. Besides, the public defender already told me that I probably won't get more than ninety days and some probation. You go ahead and talk till your face gets redder than what it is, cracker. I ain't talking.
Eve spared a glance over her shoulder and managed a weak smile. A few familiar faces from her crewâthe Twenty-Gangâand even her disabled uncle had managed to make it to the sentencing. No Felon, and no Butter. She should've known better, though. Even as she stood there trying to stare at the judge defiantly, her stomach was doing flip-flops. She had been in trouble before, but never to this extent. She refused to rat on her friends, but the thought of being locked up didn't sit well with her.
“Evelyn Panelli, this court gladly sentences you to a term of no less than eighteen months, but no longer than two years in the Downstate Juvenile Detention Center. I can only hope than by the time you come out, you will have leaned the error of your ways.”
Eve looked over at the public defender in his cheap suit. He didn't even have the common decency to look at the youth after fucking her. Eve felt like a five-dollar whore. This was the second time that a white man had shitted on her, but it would be the fucking last.
Cassidy stood in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, trying to get her hair clip to stay in place. She could've kicked herself for not letting her sister, Sheeka, braid it the day before. After getting frustrated, Cassidy threw the clip into the bathroom sink and just tied her hair in a ponytail.
She tucked the yellow spandex T-shirt into her sky blue jeans, and strained to examine her ass in the mirror to make sure the fabric wasn't bunched up, giving her the “ass lumps.” Normally Cassidy wouldn't dream of leaving the house without being dressed to kill, but comfort was more important than fashion for the drive ahead of her.
Cassidy was one of those girls who, no matter what they're wearing are still banging. She was a tall girl who had long straight hair. She was a nice shade of brown with a china-doll face. She was kind of on the thin side, but Cassidy had enough body to turn heads. When she walked into a room, men couldn't help but notice her.
Cassidy walked back into the room that she and Sheeka shared, and looked around in disgust. There were clothes strewn all over Sheeka's bed and the computer chair. This was just one more reason that she had to get out of her mother's house. Cassidy was more neat and organized, while Sheeka was a slob.
It took Cassidy nearly ten more minutes to find the car keys. By then she was burnt, because she was already late and had a long drive ahead of her. After finding her keys she took one last look in the mirror and headed toward the front door. When she opened it, a drunken Sheeka was standing there, trying to open the neighbor's door with her key. She stood wide-legged, trying to keep her balance on the tiled floor. Her shapely thighs threatened to tear through the fabric of her much-too-tight outfit.
Sheeka was Cassidy's sister, but they had two different fathers. Sheeka was short and dark-skinned like their mother. She was cute, but not nearly as pretty as Cassidy. For this she secretly resented her sister. She felt like people favored Cassidy because she was prettier.
“Sheeka,” Cassidy said, scaring the hell out of the girl. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Hey, girl,” Sheeka said with a slur. “What you doing coming outta Mr. Brown's house?”
Cassidy looked at her sister as if she had bumped her head. “Girl, you are as drunk as a skunk.”
“Nah, I ain't, sis. I'm just a little tipsy. Will and them niggaz threw a party last night. It was off the hook!” Sheeka said, getting loud.
“Girl, you better keep your voice down,” Cassidy warned. “If Mommy catches your ass out here all fucked up, she's likely to kill you.”
“Please,” Sheeka said, staggering into the house. “That woman won't be up for a few hours.”
“And what time do you think it is, Sheeka?”
“'Boutâ¦two or three,” Sheeka said, trying to focus on her fingers as she counted off.
“Sheeka, it's six-thirty in the damn morning.”
“Oops. Guess I was a lil off, huh?” Sheeka tried to walk to the bedroom but she had some trouble balancing on the stiletto heels that she was wearing. Sheeka fell flat on her face, causing her short black skirt to rise up. Cassidy looked at her little sister, disgusted as her entire ass became visible, due to a lack of panties.
“Girl, you're a mess,” Cassidy scolded. As she reached down to help her sister up, her nose was assaulted by the smell of liquor and sweat. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what Sheeka was doing at Will's party. She had tried to warn her sister time and again about the kinds of men who stalked those mean streets, but Sheeka was determined to do her. There wasn't but so much that Cassidy could do because Sheeka was almost eighteen.
“I don't believe this shit,” Cassidy said, helping Sheeka to her feet. “What the hell were you drinking?”
“Wasn't nothing.” Sheeka swayed. “Had a lil Henney, popped a few bottles. Nothing heavy. It sure was a bomb-ass party, though.”
“I'll bet,” Cassidy said sarcastically. She helped her sister into the bedroom and laid her down on the bed. She watched the drunken mess as she drifted instantly to sleep. Her little sister was going down the same road that their mother had danced on. She and her sister would definitely need to talk, but it would have to wait until she came back.
Felon found himself up with the chickens. He had gotten a good night's sleep, so he was feeling quite refreshed. After he had bagged up the remaining ounce of coke, he lay out to watch a movie. The movie ended up watching him. Nevertheless, he was ready for the day. He needed to get up with his partner and handle some pressing business.
Felon was a very handsome young man who danced on the borderline of being pretty. His body was athletic and muscular, but beneath baggy clothes he looked slim. He had skin the color of brown M&Ms and eyes that seemed to twinkle in certain light. Felon wasn't what you would call a lady's man, but he never found himself shorthanded when certain itches needed to be scratched.
After taking a quick shower, Felon hopped into his blue Sean Jean sweat suit and his blue New Balance shoes. After checking himself out in the mirror and making sure his smile was on a million, Felon headed for the front door. One his way there, his little brother Sammy passed him in the hallway.
Sammy was very dear to Felon. He was still a baby when their father was murdered so he really had no memory of him, but Felon carried the pain with him every day. Sammy was the reason Felon took it to the streets. He knew that he had to step up and fill their father's shoes as the man of the house. He had made a promise to himself to raise Sammy the right way and never subject him to having to go without. In a sense, Felon had traded his own life for his little brother's. Inwardly he hated the fact that he slung poison, but he really didn't have a whole lot of choices. Or at least that's what he constantly told himself.
Felon had been a bright student in high school and even had the chance to go to college. He often pondered continuing his education, but the need for money overrode that. He couldn't waste four more years in school while his family went without. He needed to make some quick cash, and the grind was the quickest way to get it. “Blow up or throw up” was how he looked at it. He did what was necessary to ensure the survival of his family.
“What up, lil nigga?” Felon asked.
“Chilling, yo,” Sammy said, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. With the same dark skin and sparkling eyes, he looked like a ten-year-old version of Felon.
“You getting ready for school?”
“You got paper?” Felon asked, fishing around in his pocket.
“Here,” Felon said, fishing a ten-dollar bill from his pocket. “A man should never walk around without having some type of money in his pocket. That jewel is for free, kid.” Felon rubbed his little brother's head and headed out the front door.
When Felon got downstairs to the lobby, his two soldiers were waiting for him as instructed. The first soldier was a lanky kid who bopped a little too hard when he walked. He called himself Street Wise or Wise for short. The other soldier was a five-foot Spanish kid called Goosey.
They were just two knucklehead cats from around the way that were looking to get down with somebody. Felon figured either one of two things would happen with the two. They would pan out and become good soldiers or they would be cannon fodder on a dummy mission.
“What's good, fam?” Wise asked, leaning in to hug Felon.
“Chilling,” Felon said, keeping him at arm's length. He never got too personal with anyone who wasn't within his inner circle. “Check it, there're two packs in the building, right behind the door to the B stairwell. Y'all do the damn thang and by the time y'all finish them, somebody will be bringing you more. I'm out.” Felon left without waiting for a response. He wasn't funny about dealing with the soldiers in the crew, but he just didn't fuck with the bird niggaz. They were good for whatever they were good for, but that was as far as it went.
Felon had gotten his hands dirty in the past, but now that he was getting his weight up a little something, he tended to stay away from the bullshit. The less he dealt with people, the less they would have to say about him. You couldn't snitch on a nigga that you knew nothing about. That motto had saved him from seeing any real lengthy bids. Felon had been behind the wall, but never for more than a few months to a year or so at a time, and that had always been because of somebody else's fuckup.
Felon felt his cell phone vibrating and wondered who the hell could be ringing him at that hour of the morning. Felon looked at his caller ID, but didn't recognize the number. When he answered the call, his ears were assaulted by the sounds Spice 1's “A Nigger Got No Heart.” He knew it could only be one crazy-ass broad. “What up, Kiki?”
“My nigga, Felon,” Kiki said on the other end. “What you doing up at this hour?”
“You know I don't waste a day, ma.”
“I know it, boy. Say, you still wanted me to see about that thing, right?”
“For sure, ma. You got that?”
“Not yet,” she said looking out the window of her truck at a chromed-out Benz. “Me and Rah bout to handle that right now. Have my money when I hit the hood, nigga.”
“I got you, Kiki. Thanks.” Felon hung up his phone and kept walking. Big Kiki was a part-time bouncer and a full-time criminal. She was an enforcer in the Twenty-Gang click. Both women and men feared Kiki on the streets. She was easily six feet tall and built to brawl. Kiki had a rep as being a knockout artist.
Felon ducked into the store on the corner of 132nd and Madison Avenue. When he was out early enough, he would go into the store to get a coffee, a sandwich, and a
He liked to spend money with the cats in that store, cause they treated everyone in the neighborhood with respect.
As he waited for his coffee and sandwich, Felon took a minute to go through the paper. On one page he read about a family getting burned out of their home in Queens. On another page he read about a little girl getting hit with a stray bullet. As he thumbed toward the back he saw that the Knicks had lost to the Raptors by twenty. Felon decided against purchasing a newspaper that morning. The world was too damn depressing.
Kiki hopped from the Eddie Bauer and looked around cautiously. They were in a quiet area of Brooklyn that consisted mostly of houses. She motioned for her partner Rah to follow. She and Rah looked like Laurel and Hardy trying to be discreet about sneaking up on someone's car. While Kiki was a big woman, Rah was a petite young girl with big eyes.
Kiki reached up under her sweatshirt and removed the “Slim-Jim” she had been concealing. She jacked the rod down into the space between the window and the door until the lock sprang. Kiki quickly slid under the wheel and disconnected the alarm system. After fumbling with the proper wires, the car came to life. Kiki gave Rah the nod and she hopped back into Kiki's truck. Kiki pulled off in the Benz, with Rah following in the truck.
When the owner of the car later found out that his car had been jacked, he complained to the police that it was hood shit. But to the two ladies who would reap the rewards of the heist, it was just another day at the office.
Spooky crept down 140th Street, making sure he stayed close to the buildings. At that time of morning, there weren't that many people about. Still, for the kind of bullshit Spooky was doing, he couldn't run the risk of getting caught. He knew that if Felon or Butter caught wind of what he was doing, his life wouldn't be worth shit.
Spooky continued to move up and down the block, serving the fiends as he went along. He kept two packs of bagged-up crack on him, so he had to pay attention to which pocket he dug into to serve each fiend. Both of the packs were identical. The only difference was that one package contained Felon's work and the other pack contained Spooky's.
That's why he had to make sure that he was on point. Felon had been kind to Spooky when he was down and out, and Spooky had repaid him by trying to slit his throat. He was selling his own work and packaging it to look like Felon's. He was still moving work for Felon while he was hustling his wares, but it was still some under-handed shit.
When Felon put Spooky on, he had promised to promote him once he had proven his worth. The promotion was taking a little too long for Spooky, so he went on the offensive. Spooky was only fifteen years old and still lived at home, so his bills were minimal, but to him he still needed shit. Spooky was a dude who had Gucci tastes, with a Kmart budget. He needed to come up.
When Spooky had told his man Sean about what he had planned, Sean's exact words were, “You're gonna fuck around and get murdered.” Sean would have no part in that scheme. Spooky hadn't really given it much thought, though. He felt that Sean was just being a pussy, while he was a nigga with heart. At least that's what was going on in his ignorant-ass mind.
He figured that if he were to ever get caught, he might be able to talk his way out of it. Felon was far from a sucker, but he was a good dude. Spooky figured he'd give his boss a lame-ass excuse about trying to show that he was on a come-up and needed the extra bread. Felon might beat the hell out of Spooky, but he would probably let him keep his life.
Butter was another story altogether. A lot of niggaz in the hood is gangsta, but Butter was downright mean. That boy got some kinda strange thrill out of seeing people hurting. Spooky had once heard a story about how some kid had called Butter's sister a bitch last summer. When Butter caught the kid, he made him run out onto the I-95. The kid had made it almost all the way across when an eighteen-wheeler mangled him. It was a good bet that if Butter was set on the case, Spooky would surely meet a very similar fate. He just had to make sure that he stayed one step ahead of Felon and his bulldog.