Authors: Tiana Laveen
7. Descriptions of states of economic deprivation
8. Mental illness and personality disorders
of these topics are one(s) that you wish to avoid at this current time, please be advised. Thank you.
HE SKY WAS
deep russet orange, the kind Indian summer knitted into a dress and worn for one day to her celestial and split-second seasonal ball. Dark, smoky silhouettes of lazily waving trees almost gave the open field filled with wild, long swards a tropical feel, as if a shred of Paradise that began as a seed had burst from the zoysiagrass.
Marcus slowly slid back inside his white Cadillac as he waited for Go-Go to finish taking a piss by the skinny, winding creek filled with cracked sticks, stones, and shiny black frogs that hopped and croaked about. Go-Go was ruining the day with his lightweight bladder due to drinking since three that afternoon, and dusk had just arrived to the preemptive shindig.
“Gaaaaaaad daaaaaaamn!” Go-Go laughed in the distance, apparently entertained by his bodily functions. Marcus’ long time friend wasn’t no big time boozer, but for whatever reason, he chose that day to test his inebriation endurance, to see how far he could push it, go the drunken distance. He wasn’t the only one…
Earlier in the day, Marcus pushed the envelope too as he filled out countless online applications, made several phone calls that ended up nowhere, and emailed a copy of his resume to over twenty companies during the week in hopes of a prayer being answered, perhaps two. He’d look down at his cell phone every now and again, waiting for a call back regarding an offer for an interview, but that never materialized. He was disappointed he hadn’t even gotten a nibble.
Already, as days had turned into weeks, he’d set his goals lower,
lower. He didn’t care if the job offer was for something down and dirty, completely hands on, workin’ in the heat until his entire body was covered in heat rashes. He wanted just a chance; almost anything would do as long as it was legit and gave a consistent paycheck, a bit of something to help out, make some ends meet.
If overtime was offered, that would be a welcome perk. Money was gettin’ slim to none like the shit was on a fad diet, though friends and family were helping when and where they could. His wife was working double shifts at the hospital as a nurse’s aide and she’d drag herself back in the house at two in the morning, barely able to stand on her own two feet. He didn’t like seeing her down and out like that; that was not what he aimed for.
The woman was young, but silver strands had begun to take over her curly twists like straggly weeds in a forest full of life. He’d assured himself he was the cause of her garden turning gray. Before he’d gone to prison, she was sassy and fierce, and they’d worked as a team to maintain their household and live decently. After he returned home, he’d see darkened bags under her once vibrant eyes. Someone had turned off the light in those beautiful brown pools…and that someone he knew all too well.
As the weeks passed, she’d started to disrespect him with harsh tones and cutting words. She’d left bruises and open wounds with her cutting blasphemies, the kind women hurl at their men when their heart is all twisted and tangled up, damn near broken.
He’d made a mistake… How long would he have to pay?
He soon realized she’d never cheated on him, either. It was pure paranoia on his part, birthed by guilt. Regardless, his wife had changed. Gina had never spoke that way to him before… She’d hardened, changed; she’d turned her back on him though she wouldn’t admit it… and yet, another part of him was certain it was all in his damn head once again. Perhaps he was being temperamental and crazy? Maybe he was just feeling a little apprehensive—wounded pride and all?
Who knew what was true anymore, for the chapters of his life blended into one big hunk of madness glued together and bound with the tape of misfortune. He couldn’t decipher where one life sentence started and another ended. Some of the sections were filled with crushed dreams created from a foolish mistake and others with tall tales or outright lies he told himself just so he could go to sleep at night. One thing he
certain of, though, was that he had to get some cash flowing in his damn household and he had to do it A.S.A.P. He gripped the spongy steering wheel wrapped in burgundy faux leather as his worries caused him mental harm and emotional strain.
“Come on, man!” Marcus screamed out the window. “Go-Go, shit! We been waitin’ forever, been here all damn day it seems. How long it take to take a piss?!”
“Maaaan, I got stage fright for a second… hold on. Was a snake out here, man… She was lookin’ at my shit like she wanted to fuck it, like it was a kindred spirit!” The man cackled. “She was tryna hook up on snakesbook.com. Like Facebook, only fuh serpents! Wanted some of dis big, black python I’m slangin’!”
“You ain’t funny, man. You could’ve gone fishin’, fried it up, and shitted it out by now!” He looked over his shoulder and took notice of their other friend, Corey, slumped down low in the back seat with a joint dangling between his fingers and the whites of his eyes practically the color of fresh bing cherries.
He high as hell…
“I’m hurryin’, shit!” Go-Go uttered in obvious annoyance at being disturbed. “You act like you got some place to go… Where you gotta go, huh? Nowhere, that’s where. We all goin’ to the same place anyway. Relax.”
“It doesn’t matter, you know I don’t like bein’ out here. I ain’t want to go to this party in the first damn place. You talked me into this shit.” He strained a bit in his seat, wanted the man to hear him as he screamed out the open window.
“Like you got somethin’ better to do!” Corey chimed in, too, as if his opinion was asked for, cared about, or warranted.
“This private property… Somebody might come out here shootin’ ’nd shit. Y’all don’t think shit through, always just doin’ stuff and not thinking about what could happen.”
“Marcus, if everyone was like you, we’d never get anything done and be sittin’ around shakin’ in our boots all the damn time,” Corey mocked.
He chose to ignore the man, stick to the true topic at hand.
“Come on, time is tickin’,” Marcus stated around a stifled breath.
is private property and you ain’t gotta job, you ain’t got shit… Broke ass nigga!” Go-Go joked.
Corey burst out laughing as the fucker shook his penis, stuffed it unceremoniously inside his pants, and made his way back over to the car.
“Shut up, Corey,” he shot the bastard in the back a death glare, sick of his sideway comments as he funked his car up with all that weed smoke. “Yeah, you think that’s funny, Go-Go?” The guy slid on the passenger’s seat with a sly grin on his face and tugged on the seatbelt, getting the slack just right. “You think I like havin’ this situation?” Marcus asked angrily.
“You ain’t got to struggle, man.” The seatbelt clicked.
“Get on my payroll, man. I already told you what’s up.” The guy winked as if he was the walking embodiment of the golden keys of success… a sure mothafuckin’ bet, a wonderful opportunity slipping away within a blink of a glassy, reddened eye.
Yeah, and end up with another stint in the pen like yo’ ass… Go-Go’s rap sheet longer than an NBA basketball court…
“I ain’t gone hustle out here like you, Go-Go.” He held his head up higher. “That’s not what I’m about… sellin’ drugs ’nd shit…killin’ our people.”
“Here come our very own Muslim, Marcus Shabazz, Malcolm X, Rainbow Coalition, Jehovah’s Witness wannabe ghetto professor on that
shit!” Corey cackled from the backseat. “We got Farrakhan Ali Jackson Abdul Martin Luther King Sharpton tha mothafuckin’ third up in dis bitch!”
“Corey, shut the fuck up a minute and listen. You might learn somethin’!” He turned faster than that pea soup spitting chick from the Exorcist and glared at the instigating bastard. “I’m gettin’ my shit the honest way…a pay check. Hell, I’mma go back to school, too. I got plans, lots of plans, just got to get a little money first is all to help with the pinch.”
He turned the car on and made his way down the pebbly path, growing impatient and debating on turning that car around and taking his ass back home.
“The honest way?” Go-Go veered back as if he were sitting next to a damn beach-ball-sized tarantula with spit made of hot acid dripping from its uneven, jagged fangs. “Mothafucka, you can kill all dat shit.” He rolled his dark, slanted eyes and got positioned just so in the car once again. “The world ain’t honest. The world crooked as Corey’s front tooth.”
“Yo man, fuck you!” Corey called out sleepily. Go-Go kept on, ignoring the background singer’s protests to his insults.
“You was on the straight and narrow since the day you were born and yo’ ass
ended up in prison! You tried to do a bit mo’e for your family, and ended up gettin’ a sentence. The world ain’t fair, Marcus, ’specially for
! It ain’t never been fair and ain’t
gon’ be fair. This world ain’t fixed up for a black man to make it, Marcus. You livin’ in la-la land. You sittin’ here actin’ better than everybody else, and they put yo’ black, non-offendin’ ass in a jumpsuit behind bars on your first damn offense. If a white boy hadduh done that shit, he would’ve got community service at the most. Ain’t no love for you out here! You better get in where you fuckin’ fit in!”
“This ain’t no black and white issue, Go-Go! This is about doin’ what’s right, and bein’ an example for my daughter… a
example. I done already messed up, I gotta show ’er that we can fall down but get back up again.”
“I got kids too, you know that! Three of ’em.” He placed up three fingers in the air. “They don’t eat from good intentions and best wishes and all that other fairytale, livin’ on a prayer type shit. If I waited on the white man to give me a job, I’d be in a casket or a skeleton sittin’ at his table wit’ my hand out. My kids can’t wait for that shit. I ain’t tap dancin’ for
damn body. I ain’t nobody’s coon! My kids see that in me, and I feed ’em! They only eat from
!” He pulled out a thick wad of cash from his pocket and flashed it around before re-depositing it on his hip. “If I’mma go out, may as well be with my pockets padded, man. Ain’t that right, Corey?”
“Yup, that’s right!” Corey cackled from the back like some deranged hyena, tossing aside the insult laid at his feet just seconds previously.
“Neither one of you is thinking about your future,” Marcus snapped, annoyed about the whole damn conversation. “What you gonna do when you thirty-five man, or forty … fifty?” He tossed a glance in Go-Go’s direction then faced the road once more. “You can’t be still slangin’. Show me one fifty year old black drug dealer out here that’s doin’ alright, all in one piece.”
“Who gives a shit? I gotta take care of
! Tomorrow sho’ ain’t promised. Tomorrow is like a damn Leprechaun. Some say they exist, but most of us ain’t never seen one and if we did, we’d rob ’im for his gold. And if you ain’t noticed, Marcus, aint no retirement account, financial program or fund out here, no 401-K plan, choir boy!” Go-Go teased as he kicked a bit of dried mud off his shoe onto the floor, then smeared his heel around in an attempt to knock off the rest with a nasty scowl on his face, as if he were smelling shit.
“Stop stompin’ that crap all over my damn car, man!” Marcus protested as they made their way out onto the main drag. Both of his friends burst out laughing again, as if each and everything he stated was call for them to roll around inside of a barrel of chuckles at his expense. Like he was a living joke… amusing, silly… a source of constant entertainment.
“Oh, wait, man… pull up in here,” Corey asked as he waved his joint around in the air and pointed to the corner store up ahead. “Let me get some Don Julio.”
Marcus pulled into the potholed and unpaved parking lot, pocked with time. The little store was bright and appeared full of activity and life. An open door was propped open with a cinder block and an Asian man worked the register while a line of black folk held onto slick bottles of liquor, bags of salty snacks, and what appeared to be lottery cards primed and ready to be scratched.
“You got some Don Julio money, man? I told you before that I ain’t buyin’
for you that they keep behind the damn counter! You niggas kill me, man! You be havin’ Don Julio taste but be on that discount box wine budget.”
“…It’s actually not. It’s on the side of the register, man.” Corey corrected with a sly smirk on his face, suddenly sounding sophisticated and in-the-know.
“I don’t give uh shit if it’s up yo’ goddamn stankin’ ass!”
“Awww man, nothin’! You treat me like a mothafuckin’ sponsor. I ain’t ya goddamn benefactor; get into it, pimpin’! This ain’t no AA meetin’ and you ain’t the neediest kid of all, you stupid ass mothafucka!” Go-Go snapped, figuring he’d be used as a damn teller machine once again by his ingrate of a childhood friend, no doubt.