Honor Thy Thug
Author:Wahida Clark

Honor Thy Thug - By Wahida Clark




1




FAHEEM

My heart raced as I stared down at my seven-year-old son’s blood-soaked shirt. As his last breath left his body, so did my spirit. I slowly lifted my hand to stroke his little face, and a piercing pain stung my heart. I knew that he was dead. The limpness of his body told me so. But still I refused to believe any different. Warm tears rolled down my cheeks, seeping into my skin. “I can’t leave him.”

“Fah! Fah! Let’s go, man! The hook is on the way! This joint is going to be crawling in a minute, dawg!” I heard my cousin G yell.

His voice shattered off the warehouse walls but hit my ears like a whisper. I couldn’t move. I felt my lips moving, but I heard nothing. “My son, man. My son, G.” I knew I was saying it over and over.


Thirty-six hours earlier

I dropped my wife, Jaz, and my daughter, Kaeerah, off at the airport. They were headed out to Cali to go visit Tasha. I then scooped up my son’s uncle, Wali. I needed him to get the skinny on this nigga, Steele, before my fam from up Jersey arrived. I didn’t think I would have to pull my gats back out of retirement because I had considered that chapter of my life closed. But this bitch of a baby mother of mines, Oni, along with her scandalous, crooked-ass, wannabe-gangsta brothers, fucked with the wrong nigga and he in turn fucked with me. Now I had to send for backup.

Oni and her brothers had robbed Steele’s people of their coke, meth and a shitload of cash. In retaliation, since Oni and Steele had been fuckin’ off and on, this nigga did the unthinkable, he snatched up Lil’ Faheem . . . my only son. My seed. So, since I had nothing to do with the caper, my plan was simple: Give Steele his shit back, and get my son; I made Oni and her brothers cough up the bricks and about three hundred grand. They knew if they didn’t it would be over for them.

When my fam from up north touched down, I spent a couple of hours filling them in on what all had gone down and what was about to go down. We were holdin’ and ready to get to what used to be one of Atlanta’s hot spots, an old club called The Mix, which was off of Candler Road. At one point in time it was the place to be.

I looked over at my cousins G and Snell and said, “Our main objective is my son’s safety. All I want to do is get him outta there. I ain’t got no beef with these niggas. So none of that we go in shootin’ ask questions later bullshit.” It sounded good being said, I was just praying that’s how it would go down.

“C’mon, nigga. You know we got you, Fah. That’s why you got us down here,” my cousin G said with his usual air of cockiness. “Once little man is out the way, then if them niggas look wrong, I’ma push them melons back. Real talk.”

I checked my gat one last time. “Time to roll.” I had G riding shotgun, Snell and Wali’s punk ass was in the back. The only reason I allowed the nigga to roll was because Steele wouldn’t meet with us unless at least one of them muthafuckas who stole from him was present. Me personally? I wanted all of Oni’s brothers to come, because I had planned to dead them all. And this would have been the perfect time and place to do it. But for now, Wali would have to do. Today would be his last day breathing.

After about twenty minutes, we pulled into the parking lot. “This it?” G sounded disappointed. I don’t know what he was expecting. “This shit look abandoned.”

“It’s closed down. Them niggas just use it as a hang out spot and a place to conduct business.” Wali told us.

I pulled around the back of the club. Wali had already told me that if something went down, there were only two exits. One in the front and one in the back. So I decided to park in the back, while hoping that my gut instinct was right. I pulled up next to a black Suburban, the only car there. I assumed that our guests were already inside. I deaded the engine. We got out and met at the trunk of my ride, looking around the deserted lot for anything or anybody out of place. Satisfied, I then checked out the three duffels one last time and slammed the trunk shut. I kept the one with the cash and gave Snell the other two with the bricks. One had coke, the other meth. G was the firepower. We headed to the back door, and there was two niggas standing in the cut, obviously waiting on our arrival and clockin’ our every move.

“Spyder, what up, nigga?” This nigga had a long neck and was skinny as a bean pole. Wali greeted him as if he was a regular there and we were enjoying an evening out on the town.

Spyder hawked and spit in Wali’s face. To my surprise, Wali was cool. He wiped his face with the back of his hand, smiled, and said, “I see somebody ain’t get no pussy last night.”

Spyder then anxiously grabbed the duffel bags and checked their contents. No one bothered to pat us down. Red flag. Gratified, he led the way, while his partner, who looked like a linebacker, took up the rear. My heart was racing. I was anxious to start bustin’ niggas right then and there. But I knew I had to be cool until I got my little man out of harm’s way.

When we got inside the old club, there was this faggot muthafucka, Steele waiting on us, mugged up. Wali did good with his description. He was tall, thin, with sharp, cold eyes. As soon as he spotted Wali, he stood and swiftly drew a shiny Heckler and Koch, one of my favorites, and shot Wali in the leg. Fuck. Everyone drew their weapons. This nigga was precise and I was worried.

Wali stood there screaming, obviously in pain. “Shut up man! You ain’t dead.” Snell yelled at him.

This nigga Steele then had the nerve to calmly take his seat and was now propped up on a leather sofa like he was a fucking don or some shit. His long black dreads with red tips hung loosely over his shoulders. The image of him toking a cigar vexed me as much as the smoke that clouded the room. My son. I had to stay focused. I was here to get my son, I reminded myself.

“You can relax your weapons. Just know that I ain’t done with that scum.” His muscle lowered their weapons, then myself, followed by G and Snell. Wali was still wailing in pain.

“Aiight, we here. I got your shit, now where is my son?” There was no need for formalities.

“Who the fuck is you?” Steele sneered while mean-mugging me as if I gave a fuck. He knew who I was.

“I’m a monster. But today, I come as a father. I just want what belongs to me, my son. And in exchange I’m giving you back what belongs to you,” I said as I patted the duffel bag I was holding and nodded to the two Snell had.

“Oh yeah. I heard about you.” He looked at me with contempt. “Let me see what y’all working with.”

“They already checked the bags at the door. Let me see my son. Your shit is all there.”

The nigga took a minute to size up the situation, and then nodded at the linebacker. There was a door behind him, and when he opened it, a chick came out with my son. He was blindfolded, and they had his hands taped together in front of him. It took everything within my power to not lose control.

“Aiight, you see him, now pass over what belongs to me,” Steele barked.

My nostrils flared up. I took a deep breath, and then unzipped the bag so that he could see the cash. Snell did the same thing.

“I didn’t say show it to me. I said pass what belongs to me over here.”

I didn’t know who the fuck this nigga thought I was, but I wasn’t new to this shit. “Nah, nigga, same time.”

“Dad?” Lil’ Faheem called out, and my knees got weak.

And just as we were getting ready to make the exchange, with shit already tense, Wali’s bitch ass starts to yell. “Y’all niggas are clowns, taking kids and shit!”

Steele rose to his feet, yelling, “Muthafucka, you and that bitch violated me. Do you realize how lucky you are to be breathing right now? You, your sister, and your brothers! You know how much money y’all cost me?”

“Fuck you, nigga!” Wali spat.

This time I pulled out my gat and pressed it against Wali’s temple. “You ho ass nigga. Will you shut the fuck up! This nigga got my fucking kid! Are you out of your fucking mind?” I gritted.

“Faheem, fuck that pussy. That’s why we took his shit! If it wasn’t my nephew, he wouldn’t have gotten shit back!”

What did he say that for? The Heckler and Koch reared its ugly head again and this time, Steele shot Wali right in the middle of his forehead. I knew he was dead before his body hit the cold concrete. I jumped back right on time. G was a little late because he got splashed with brains and blood.

“Uncle Wali!” Lil’ Faheem yelled out. The broad wouldn’t let him go as he squirmed to get away.

Steele and his cronies started laughing.

There was nothing funny to me. And, that was the last straw because that’s when my son cried out, “Daddy! Help me! Daddy!” At that point, it was over for me. I lost it.

“Hold the fuck up! Can we finish this business? I am here for my son!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. I must have made the muthafuckin’ concrete shake, because niggas got quiet, real quick. “Now, look. I ain’t got no beef with you, man. I ain’t got shit to do with what they took from you. If you want to kill the whole damn family, you got my blessing. Shit, I was planning on doing them myself. But right now, the only thing I’m concerned with is my son. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t even be here.”

Steele stood there taking in what I was saying. Finally, he asked, “How I know you weren’t down with them?”

“I never heard your name until a few days ago. I don’t run with them, you know that.”

Steele placed his finger up to his lips as he studied me. Then he said, “Dig, if I ever find out that you was with these muthafuckas, I’ma give you what he got.” He glared at me. “Now, set my shit on the table.” Me and Snell picked up the bags and did what we were told. “And you!” He pointed to the girl. “Release his son.”

They took the blindfold off and shoved Lil’ Faheem towards me with the force of a professional wrestler. Once I got him in my arms, I breathed a sigh of relief but I was still tense as fuck. Then I heard, “That nigga about to start poppin’ shit off!” Who? Next thing I knew we were in the middle of a real gun fight. As bullets started flying, I felt a hot slug pierce my shoulder, and I flew backward damn near tumbling over a table. With a burning sensation enflaming my shoulder until it was virtually numb, I managed to muster the strength to squeeze my gat and let off a few rounds. The sound of bullets merged with the rapid fire of loud claps consumed the atmosphere. Then I hit the ground, covering my little man with my body and I could see niggas ducking and sparks flying through clouds of gun smoke.

When the smoke cleared, I rolled off of Lil’ Faheem onto my back. The pain in my shoulder wouldn’t let me move. My ears were ringing. I stared up at the ceiling for a minute. “You alright, lil’ man? Daddy’s here for you.” I felt for his hand as I looked around to see who was standing and who wasn’t.

“Fah, you aiight, nigga?” I heard Snell ask as he made his way over to where I was.

“Who started poppin’ off first? And did we dead all of them muthafuckas?” That’s what I really wanted to know.

“Spyder is down, but Steele and the bitch got away. They got the bags.”

“Fuck them bags! We gotta get out of here. I’m hit in my shoulder. Help me up so I can get little man in the car.” When I looked down at my son, my worst fear had surfaced. He was bleeding from a wound in his head, and his body was limp. I started calling him and shaking his arm. “Faheem. Faheem. Get up! Daddy’s here, and he’s not going to let anyone else take you away from him.” I tilted his head back and tried to give him mouth-to-mouth, but deep down, I knew it was too late.

“He gone, Fah. We got to get the fuck outta here,” G said as he bent down and gently placed his hand on my shoulder.

“Get the fuck off me!” Tears came to my eyes as I tried one more time to give him mouth to mouth. I grabbed him and lifted his body to mines. I wanted him to hear my heart cry for him.

“Dawg, the hook is on the way. Come on, let’s get him in the car. We gotta get the fuck outta here. Let me take him,” my cousin tried to convince me once again. I was fucked up, and nothing he said made sense, and I wasn’t trying to hear nothing he had to say. My son was dead. No parent should ever have to experience this feeling. I only needed to feel the last of the warmth left in his body. Vomit threatened to spill out of me. I knew right then and there I would never be the same. It was over for Oni and her whole damn family. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the karma coming back to me, from all of the families I made cry during my career in the streets.

“Fah, the hook will be here. What you wanna do?” G asked me.

I didn’t give a fuck if he said the police was behind me. At the moment nothing in this world mattered to me. My son, my only son lay dead. And for what? His bitch of a mother and her ho ass brothers. I weighed my options as the faint sounds of the sirens whispered at a distance. The warehouse was dark, cold, and filled with the smell of gunfire. It felt as if the walls were closing in on me. I couldn’t think straight.

“My son, G. They shot my son.” I squeezed him tighter, wishing I could turn back the hands of time. I hadn’t even gotten used to the idea of having a son, and now he was dead. Hell, I just met him no more than four months ago, and just like that . . . he was gone. I did a lot of things in my life, but never in a million years would I have thought that the ultimate sacrifice would be the life of my child. My only son, who I didn’t even get the chance to know. I hadn’t even learned all of his favorite foods or if he had bad dreams in the middle of the night. Did I tell him that I was going to be the best father that I could possibly be? He was just getting used to me being a part of his life. All I could think was I didn’t get to tell him how much I loved him. I wouldn’t get to teach him how to drive, talk about girls . . . damn, I felt cheated. At that very moment, I wanted to die right with him. But I knew I would never be able to savor the sweet taste of revenge. That was more important to me.

Snell was standing over me, his face wet with sweat and tears, the wrinkle in his brow reflecting the urgency in his voice. He was now begging me to leave. Impatiently, he rushed back and forth from the front door and back to where Lil’ Faheem and I were lying. “Believe me, man, I understand how you feel. I swear, I know your pain. You already know I’ve been there when I lost my daughter. But Fah, the hook is coming and ain’t no way we gonna be able to explain all this fire and these dead muthafuckas in here, including lil’ Fah. They ain’t going to be trying to hear shit!” Snell was trying his best to reason with me.

For real, what he really wanted to say was, “Nigga I ain’t trying to go to jail!” I appreciated his loyalty and would remember that.

“Nigga, I got this. Ain’t no sense in all of us dealing with this shit. Y’all go ahead and bounce.”

“Can’t do—”

“Snell! Y’all just go,” My voice cracked. I looked him in the eye. “This is my battle. I got it from here. You and G go. Call Jaz and tell her I need her and to get here. Don’t tell her shit else but to get here, now.”

I looked around at the dead bodies and then back at my son.

“Make sure the strap Wali had is still on him. But grab up ours.” I kicked the one I had away from me. “I got this. I know what to tell them. Go!” I scanned the room and there was a lot of bloodshed. Half of the people that were alive an hour ago laid sprawled out on the concrete floor, dead.

They scrambled around collecting our straps and then were out the back door. I had to pull myself together. If they didn’t get out now, we all would be fucked. I went back to hugging my son while getting my story together. The pain of having Lil’ Faheem’s lifeless body in my arms filled my body with sorrow and rage. I swore on everything I loved . . . I was going to make everyone involved suffer before I killed them.


KYRA

I was on pins and needles. The address on the front door matched the one on my driver’s license. I peeked through the windows and the house was completely empty. I jotted down the realtor’s number off of the For Sale sign in the front yard.

I was told that I used to live here. When Nurse Wright at the hospital dug into my background this was my last known address. But seeing it didn’t jar my memory at all. Maybe the real estate agent, Jordan Brown, would be able to give me some answers.

“Excuse me, lady. Do you want me to take you somewhere else?” the impatient cabbie asked me.

“Yes. Give me a couple of minutes.” I walked around to the backyard, desperate to remember something. Whoever lived here hadn’t in a while, according to the height of the weeds. Nothing registered. Nothing looked familiar. I headed up front.

“Are you ready?” the driver asked me. He saw that I was looking over at the neighbor’s house.

“I’m ready.” Disappointed, I got back into the cab.

He wasted no time pulling off.

We headed for the address that was listed for my emergency contact, Tasha Macklin. I said a quick prayer, asking that if her house was empty and up for sale, I would have the strength to handle it and God would tell me what to do next. Because if no one lived there, or I couldn’t get answers, I’d be shit out of luck. And then the only thing left would be to call Nurse Wright. Something I didn’t want to do. She was my nurse throughout the months I was in the coma, and had taken a liking to me. She was there with me when I came out of it and all during my rehab. After I completed rehab, I was given a clean bill of health, but she didn’t want me to travel back here alone. I insisted. I felt that I had to start somewhere. If I was going to reclaim my life, I had to do it on my own. And I was determined to regain it all back. Stuck in the cab for what felt like an hour, I was hoping that I had the right address. It was taking forever for us to reach my next destination.

“Excuse me.” I leaned up and boldly tapped the cabbie on his shoulder. I asked, “Are you going the right way?”

“Yes, ma’am, I am. According to the GPS, we are one and a half miles away.”

I was glad to hear that. I sat back in the seat. My stomach swirled as if I was upside down on a rollercoaster. It was threatening to release everything I had eaten for lunch. I peeked up at his GPS and saw that we were now less than a mile away. We made a left turn, and the houses were getting bigger and bigger. Everyone was trying to outdo one another.

“O.J. used to live in this neighborhood.” The cab driver stated with pride.

I guess the cabbie decided to turn into a tour guide at the last minute. But I didn’t care about O.J. or the fact that all of a sudden he was trying to be friendly. I had my fingers crossed, hoping that a For Sale sign was nowhere to be found. I felt the vehicle slow down, and then it came to a stop. My eyes scanned the property and its surroundings. Thank God, somebody did live here and hopefully it was who I was looking for. Toys were tossed around on the freshly manicured lawn, and it was quiet, except for the faint whisper of an airplane high up in the sky.

“Thank you,” I told the cabbie, and paid him his fare.

“Ma’am, would you like for me to wait?” Now all of a sudden he wasn’t in a hurry.

“No. I think I’ll be all right here.”

“Well, just in case, here’s my card if you need me to come back.”

I took it from him, grabbed my purse, and got out. I was sick of riding. I had that bumpy plane ride from Phoenix. And then the long ride in the cab. I was hungry and ready to unpack and get comfortable. But even more anxious to meet Tasha Macklin. The words on the mailbox read “The Macklins.” So . . . this was it. I was at the right place. I waited impatiently as the cabbie took my two bags out of the trunk, jumped back into his ride, and pulled off. He was out of sight before I sucked in a deep breath, picked up my belongings, and trudged up the walkway, forgetting about my hunger pangs but getting more excited with each step I took. A smile spread across my face. I was close and I could feel it. I reached the front door and set my bags down. My stomach was churning. I rang the doorbell. I rang it again and again and again.

No one answered.


RICK

I didn’t realize how much I missed California. The pace. The palm trees. The L.A. streets. The weather. I deeply inhaled the L.A. air and reminisced about the days I used to wreak havoc on this city. Denzel Washington, Training Day style. Being here had me feeling rejuvenated. I pulled over and called my woman, Nina and told her that I wished I would have brought her with me and that we had to talk about relocating out here.

“I’m having my baby right here in Arizona, Rick. Not California,” she snapped.

“Baby, what difference does it make?” I tried to reason with her before I figured out I was wasting my time. “Look, we’ll talk about it when I get back.” I hung up, thinking, Arizona? California? What the fuck difference does it make? Women.

Speaking of which, I had finally pulled up in front of my ex-wife’s house. I scanned the area. Being a detective, I know how much people are creatures of habit, and she was no exception to the rule. I rang the bell and knocked, but she didn’t answer the door. I went around back for the spare key, and sure enough, it was in the same spot, down in the flower pot.

I went inside and did a walkthrough. Surprisingly, I didn’t get nostalgic. Most likely because she’d made sure it never felt like home to me in the first damn place. Everything that I remembered was gone. Everything was new. She had stripped the damn place. Stripped it of anything that had to do with me. Nothing was the same.

When I went upstairs to her bedroom, I went straight to the closet to see what kind of man she had stuck her claws into. Whoever he was, I felt sorry for the muthafucka. But to my surprise, both closets were full of nothing but women’s clothes. I looked down at the shoes, and it was the same scenario, all women’s stuff.

I walked over to the dresser, and she still had the picture of me and her at her sister’s wedding. The rest of the pictures were of her and a dark-skinned sister with a mole on her chin. In some of the pictures, they were hugged up; in others, they were out to dinner or in the backyard. Wait a minute! She must be gay with all of these pics with the same broad. I gots to be one hell of a nigga, if I can make a bitch switch sides. But then I thought, what if she was gay while we were together? Then the joke was on me. Ain’t that some shit!

Hell, I needed a drink. I left her bedroom and went downstairs to pour myself a stiff one. I made myself comfortable and ended up having two. As I sat on the sofa, I thought about how when I passed Trae’s house, just down the street, I was scared to stop. Me. Muthafuckin’ King Rick wasn’t scared of anything know what I would say. Trae was my man and we were still cool before I had to get ghost. It’s not like I did him dirty and left on bad terms like I did with countless other muthafuckas. The truth was, I wasn’t sure how he and Tasha would treat me since I was responsible for Kyra’s death . . . in a way. Fuck it! I needed to man up and get the shit over with. I had to stop by there. That’s why I came out here. I could hope he would hear me out. If not, at least I could say that I tried and take my ass back home. I needed closure. But either way, it felt so good to be back in L.A., the City of Angels. California. I got up, leaving the same way I came in. Made it to my ride, turned back for the last time, and looked at where I used to live, shaking off the memories.

“Rick? Is that you?” It was Mrs. Singer, my old, nosy ass neighbor. Some things never change.

I didn’t even bother answering. Let her figure it out. I started the car and headed down my old block. Slowing down in front of Trae’s, I noticed that there was someone sitting on his porch. She had her head in her lap, a little chick. It felt as if I’d seen this girl before. I threw my ride in park, turned it off and jumped out. Her head popped up and she was up and on her feet as I walked towards her.

“Excuse me. Do you live here?” she asked me. “I’m looking for Tasha Macklin.”

Her voice went right through me. My heartbeat started racing. My mouth turned dry. I rushed up the walkway. But it couldn’t be. I stood there face-to-face with . . . her. I wanted to turn my back toward her before a tear fell, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.

“Do you live here?” she asked again, placing her hand on her hip.

I wanted to open my mouth to answer, but . . . how could this be? Finally, I asked her, “Kyra, is that you?”

She cracked a smile. “Do you know me?”

The sound of her voice made my heart race. Now I was scared for real. But she looked so different. “You don’t remember me?” I asked her.

“Do you know me?” she asked again.

We stood there staring at each other for what felt like an eternity. This was not happening. I mean, what were the fuckin’ odds? I didn’t want to believe it was her. The dreads were telling me it wasn’t her. But the scar. I could see the scar. She was shot. I had seen countless gunshot wounds. That’s when I knew. Those eyes. I would never forget them. It was really her. My eyes again welled up with tears. “I didn’t kill her,” I whispered.

She reached out and wiped my tears with her thumbs. I kissed her hand. She was trembling. “Are you okay?” She tilted her head to the side. She stared at me with a little more intensity. Finally she said, “Rick?” She kept repeating my name. “Rick?” Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She hugged herself as she backed up. “Rick. Your name is Rick. I remember you.” All of the color drained from her face.

And then she fainted.

I caught her just in time. My heart beat a mile a minute as I picked Kyra up from the porch and took her to my car. It felt as if I was performing a kidnapping. My palms were sweaty, and my adrenaline was high. Moving as if I was robbing a dope boy’s stash house, I held onto her for dear life, opened the car door, and lay her across the backseat. My cell rang, and the ringtone let me know that it was my fiancée, Nina.

Immediately, guilt set in. “Shit,” I spat. Now I was feeling like I was caught cheating, which urged me to take the call. “Nina, baby. I’m in the middle of something. Can I call you back? Is everybody okay?”

Silence lingered on the other end. Then she finally asked, “Is everything okay with you?” She was sounding as if she sensed that I was up to something.

“Everything’s fine. Let me call you later.” I hung up before she could say anything. I didn’t want this moment to be ruined. I wanted her all to myself. I rushed back to the front porch and got Kyra’s things. She had two suitcases, a purse, and a shoulder bag. I popped the trunk, tossed everything inside, slammed it shut, and jumped into the front seat. Cranking the engine, I took a deep breath and then turned to take another look at Kyra. My mind and my eyes were at odds with each other. There she lay, just as beautiful as she was the last time that I saw her. Then the loud voice inside me yelled “She’s alive!” I couldn’t believe this was happening. The woman I fell in love with, the woman I thought was dead and buried by her dope-fiend-ass husband, but here she was alive and in the flesh. My mouth filled with saliva, and my hands began to sweat. I turned and gripped the steering wheel as I pulled off, heading for the hotel where I was staying.


KYRA

I was dreaming that I was riding in a car. However, when I opened my eyes, I actually was. How did I get here? The last thing I remembered was looking for Tasha Macklin and then standing on the porch in front of Rick. I had recognized him. Tears were streaming down his cheeks and then everything went black. But now my head was pounding. It was hurting so bad that I kept swallowing to keep from throwing up. “My head,” I moaned out loud, closing and squeezing my eyelids together as if that would stop the pain.

As soon as I did, the car stopped and jerked forward, damn near throwing me off the backseat. I sat up in a panic. The next thing I knew, the back door opened, and this beautiful specimen of a man leaned in and asked if I was all right, and should he take me to the hospital. I looked at him and felt my face frown up.

“Relax, it’s me, Rick,” he said.

I studied his face. “I know who you are. But is it really you? If it is then I’m Kyra. We dated.”

“Yeah, it’s me, and yes, you are Kyra and we didn’t just date we were in love.” He hugged me gently, as if I was too fragile for a real embrace. “I’ma get you to a hospital real—”

“No! Please, no more hospitals!” I grabbed his arm tight, causing him to pause. “Do you have any idea how long I’ve been in the hospital? I was in a coma for months and then in rehab for more months, and I couldn’t and still can’t remember who I was or how I got there. So please no more hospitals.”

“Okay, okay. Relax. Do you realize that you fainted back there?”

“I just need something for my head. It’s pounding from the fatigue and all of this excitement.” Just as quickly as he was in the backseat asking if I was all right, he was back up in the front seat and pulling off. I had to lie back down.

We drove for a few minutes before the car stopped again. I pressed a hand on each side of my head as if that would make the pain go away. Rick jumped out, and after several minutes, he came back with some milk, cookies, and a bottle of Tylenol for migraines. He helped me sit up.

“You can’t take these on an empty stomach.” He opened the cookies and gave me two of them. I gobbled them down. He opened the carton of milk and held it to my mouth as if I was a baby. He then opened the pill bottle and shook two out into my hand. I swallowed them and drank some more milk, and then Rick motioned for me to lie back down. I did, because I badly wanted the headache to go away. It hurt to even think. I wondered if the headache was from me fainting or from the excitement of being possibly reunited with my family. “I’m taking you to a place where you can relax.” He left me alone and got back into the front seat.

The car started moving again, and my thoughts were moving even faster. I was remembering people, places, and things. Now my chest was tightening up, making it hard for me to breathe. Visions and parts of my memory came flooding back. The doctors told me that if I saw something or somebody familiar, it would trigger certain events. My baby! I popped up. My baby daughter, Aisha Aaliyah. My heart raced. Where is she? I began rubbing my temples. Rick. I remembered creeping around ‘with him while I was still loving . . . Marvin. And Marvin? Where is Marvin? I was now gasping for air. More flashes of events and faces began to crowd my head. There was a gun pressed up against my temple. Mook. I could still feel the cold steel against my face and the smell of alcohol on his breath. I remember screaming at Marvin to give that nigga the money and to stop haggling with him. Then Marvin shot Junie and yelled for me to put the car in reverse. I did, slamming on the gas and crashing into the car behind me. That was when Fish jumped out, shot Mook, and then shot me. The events came to me crystal-clear. It was night time and my daughter was in the back seat. I was petrified.

“If you want your wife, I suggest you give me my muthafuckin’ dough right now,” Mook said.

“Mook, get that fuckin’ burner away from my wife,” Marvin warned him.

“I’m telling you, Blue, he’s going to split her wig. Just give me my dough. You owe me, remember?” Junie spat.

“I don’t owe you shit, nigga! That was years ago. And here you are pressin’ me about some fuckin’ chump change? Why you pressin’ me about that shit?” Marvin asked his cousin Junie.

“Stop haggling, Marvin. Just give the nigga the money,” I blurted out, and slid him his burner.

“Listen to your wife,” Junie said.

“Babygirl, these pussies ain’t going to shoot nobody, not like I will.” Pow! Marvin shot Junie in the stomach.

“See. That’s how you do that. I didn’t even have to get out,” Marvin bragged. “Put the car in reverse, babygirl, and let’s get the fuck out of here.”

As soon as he said that, Fish jumped out of the ride behind us and started waving at us.

“Hold up, babygirl.” Marvin told me. He then hopped out.

Fish snatched the gun out of Mook’s hand and put a bullet in his head. I remember the BOOM! making my ears ring. “Pussy muthafucka.” He clenched his teeth as he watched him slump to the ground.

Marvin started laughing. “Fish, nigga, where did you get these pussy muthafuckas from?”

He shrugged. “That’s what happens when you send a boy to do a man’s job.” Fish pointed his gun at me and let one off. All I heard was . . . BOOM!

I could hear, but I couldn’t move. Aisha! My baby! The last thing I remembered was hearing my daughter saying, “Daddy, we can’t leave Mommy.”

The anguish from all the memories overwhelmed me. I brought my hands to my face and cried. I was excited that I was remembering. But my daughter . . . Marvin left me? My stomach knotted up, and I couldn’t hold back the tears. “He left me!” I screamed out.

“Kyra!” I heard Rick yell from the front seat. “Are you okay?”

“He . . .” I felt dizzy, and then everything went black again.


KYRON

I woke up to my brother and Trae staring in my face. These two pussy muthafuckas were standing at the end of my hospital bed with rocks in their jaws. I was disappointed in both of these niggas. I didn’t know who these muthafuckas were anymore. Mad niggas were telling me that they were all wifed up and shit, crying about gettin’ out of the game. Get out? I reminded those fools that we used to fuck the shit outta New York, raw. It was me who gave their lil’ asses the muthafuckin’ keys to this city. It was me who hooked them up with a connect that set them up for life. It was me who did a bid for these two pussies and got outta prison thinking we were gonna be out here makin’ this paper, and what did I get? Knifed up over some pussy? And did my own brother have my fuckin’ back? Hell, no! Since when was this a part of the game? So what if I fucked Trae’s bitch, he was supposed to take that shit and keep it moving. Niggas, bitches, wives and girlfriends been getting fucked since the game started. Now niggas want to stand by their vows and shit. My only plan was to take back what was mine . . . the streets of New York. Do these muthafuckas think that my plan is supposed to change because they went soft and shit? Or because the Dons are complaining? Fuck my brother! Fuck Trae! And fuck the Dons. Shit, they ain’t the only ones with work around here. I do shit my muthafuckin’ way. I can ride solo. I told both of them to get the fuck away from me. I told them that I was no longer ridin’ with them.


TRAE

I was glad when Kay got on the elevator and left me to do me. He knows that this shit between me and Kyron is not going to end until one of us was dead. We both knew that Kyron had 90’s dreams about taking the streets over once again. That is what is wrong with the majority of these niggas, they come home and think that shit still supposed to be like it was. No matter how many ways we tried to explain to this nigga that snitching is accepted with these new generation wanna-be hustlers, he wasn’t hearing it. I saw the greed and excitement in his eyes. Now it was time to put his lights our permanently. I took the five inch blade out of my pocket and went to work, wishing that I could have chopped his head off with an axe. I pulled the knife out of his throat and stood by the bed watching this grimy muthafucka take his last breath. All the while thinking to myself that out of all the lives I took and all the shit I did, not until this very moment had any of it felt justified.

Satisfied with the work I just put in, I went into his bathroom to wash the blood off my hands and my blade. I pulled the ski mask off and stuffed it inside my pocket. I then took off the hoodie, turned it inside out, and put it back on. I smiled at myself in the mirror.

After slipping out of this nigga’s hospital room and bypassing the elevators, I entered the stairwell. I rushed down six flights to the second floor and then decided to get on the elevator. Just as I anticipated, when the doors opened, it was full. I stepped on, blending in with the crowd, and as soon as the doors reopened, I made my way out of the main lobby, passing security.

Outside, I started walking down 168th Street, thinking how that last move was done purely on emotion. Never a good thing, but it sure had me on a high. I hopped on the first bus I saw, the M4, and rode for a few blocks, got off, and flagged down a taxi. I gave the driver an address down the street from my apartment building.

Mission accomplished.

• • •

After enjoying a long hot shower, I lit a blunt and sat on the couch. I wanted to soak in and enjoy the peace and quiet around me, especially since I knew it was only the lull before the storm. The storm that I brewed up.

I also wanted to bask in my glory for a just a few moments. Old Kyron made Treacherous Trae come back out. That was my own nickname for myself back in the day. Being in the game wasn’t easy. I had to take a lot from niggas and I had to give just as much by sending a lot of niggas to where I just sent Kyron. Straight to hell where I was sure that I would see all of them muthafuckas. But no nigga ever got what he didn’t deserve. I almost went back down memory lane before Kyron went to jail and we was all out here lil’ niggas trying to get it. But fuck that. I looked straight up at the ceiling and tried to think about nothing. But this apartment wouldn’t let me. It was too dear to me for many reasons. I looked around my living room. I was attached to this apartment because it held so much history of where I came from and who I am now. That’s why I would never sell it. I got this apartment as soon as I started seeing real money. Owning real estate on New York’s Park Avenue back in the day let us know that we had arrived. Kay and I used to call this spot ‘“The Honeycomb.”’ I remember how good it felt to get into my bed after weeks of nonstop hustling. We would rest for a day or two, and then we were right back at it. Those were the days.

I laid my head back and stared up at the ceiling. My thoughts drifted back to when I first brought Tasha here. She was the icing on the cake. Kay and I had a rule: No hos allowed. But as soon as I laid eyes on Tasha, I knew she was the one. I knew that she was going to be my wife. I will never forget the euphoria I felt to have snatched her up right when we were on our way out of the game. I was ready to settle down with that special someone who’d make me feel as if all that grindin’ and throwing bricks at the penitentiary was well worth it. My baby stepped up to the plate and made me feel just right.

I’ll always remember when I got shot, at Angel’s wedding, getting out of the hospital and having Tasha nurse me back to health, right here in this very apartment. What used to be my bachelor pad now had tampons under the sink. My weight room was now the kids’ bedroom, with bunk beds and Transformer curtains hanging over the windows. Damn. Nothing stays the same.

I had dozed off, not knowing how long I was asleep, when somebody woke me by knocking on the door. When the knocking got louder, I sat up, and in walked Kay. He had a key, so why was this nigga knocking as if he was the police?

“Yo, nigga, you slippin’ tough,” Kay teased.

“I knew ya ass was coming through.” I held up the .380 I had tucked under my thigh. “She’s never far from me. I keep my bitch close,” I teased back.

I knew he would be stopping by, which was one of the reasons I didn’t retire in the bedroom. I got up and went to the bathroom to piss, wash my face, and brush my teeth. Wide awake, I was now ready to face the music.

I went back into the living room and glanced at the clock. Three thirty-three in the morning. I sat down and watched Kay walk into the kitchen and come back into the living room with two Heinekens. He passed me one of them as he looked around, smiled, and sat down. I knew he was reminiscing about old times, too. You had to have been rollin’ with us to understand what we were feeling. It was a rush to hustle nonstop and have to constantly look over your shoulders. I relit the other half of my blunt, took a few tokes, stood up and passed it to my main nigga.

“So you heard,” I said to him as I sat back down. I looked over at him, and he looked tired as hell, as if he had been out in the streets for days. His eyes were bloodshot, and he wore the same clothes from the day before. “Nigga, you dumb. Of course, I heard. Do you know where the fuck I just came from? I’m just leaving the muthafuckin’ precinct, a place where I said I was never stepping foot in again. I was one of the last niggas to leave the hospital room, so you know the police had to question me.” Kay paused. “Your ass slipped up big time. You did that shit in a public place. You know they got cameras everywhere in a hospital.”

“Who did you mention it to?” I was more elated with my deed than caring about some damn hospital cameras.

“Man, they got you on camera, I told you. You on the news. And you know me better than anybody. Who the fuck you think I mentioned it to? At the station, I only answered what my attorney, Harry, told me to answer. But you know I had to tell Angel bits and—”

“Damn, my nigga! Why did you have to say shit to her? You know she gonna run and tell Tasha. Tasha needed to hear this shit from me first.” Hearing that took some of the fun out of what I did.

“Nigga, I told her not to tell anybody, especially Tasha. And what the fuck do you mean, ‘why did I have to say shit to her?’ Who do you think answered the door when the police came by? Who do you think called Harry? In your mind, you may think you did, but you ain’t pulled off the perfect crime. Not this time. Actually, you may have fucked yourself, and my hands are tied.”

I thought about what he said, and he was right. So I said, “For what it’s worth, I apologize for putting you in this situation. I owe you for this one.”

“You owe me more than an apology!” Kay barked. “You really got me in a fucked-up situation. Anybody else, you know we wouldn’t be sitting here talking,” my partner-in-crime said as we locked gazes.

They don’t make niggas like Kay anymore. When he said that we were brothers, he meant that shit. Here I done killed his blood brother for fuckin’ my wife, but because of our history, the circumstances, and him respecting the game, we didn’t have to go to war. Of course, he didn’t like what I did. Me and him being the same age and with Kyron going in and out of jail, Mama Santos raised us up as brothers. She is like a mother to me. And to this day, I know Kyron hated me for that. But Kay understood that this was some man-to-man shit.

“So what’s everybody saying? What’s Mama Santos saying? You and she were the only ones stopping me from totally wildin’.”

Kay sighed. “Mama is disappointed. And do you really think that stabbing my brother in the throat wasn’t wildin’? Angel said there was a mention over the local news. But shit, you ain’t going to be able to keep it a secret. Angel and my moms is up at the hospital now. He’s in critical condition. Hell, Harry said that’s the only reason they let me go. But if he dies, Trae, you gonna have a hard time getting out of this one, in more ways than one. And you did all of that and ain’t even kill the nigga. Don’t get me wrong, that is my brother, and I love him. And I want to really do something to you for making my Moms hurt. But you really slipped up big time. Because if he doesn’t die, when he gets out of the hospital you will be consumed with trying to get him. And we both know Kyron, he’s coming for you. You need to get your lawyer Benny’s ass on this ASAP.”

Time felt as if it stopped. What the fuck did he mean, in critical condition? I was there when that pussy took his last breath. How the fuck can a nigga survive a stab to the throat? Hell, I know I cut the jugular vein. Real talk.

“Trae! Trae! What the fuck is wrong with you? Do you hear me talking to you?” Kay yelled. “Yo, you looked like you spaced out over there.”

I leaned back into the sofa and shut my eyes. I was not gonna let this nigga tear my family to shreds.

Kay chuckled. “Oh, I know what your problem is. You thought you deaded him, didn’t you? The Higher Power obviously ain’t done with neither one of you niggas yet.” My eyes popped open just as Kay stood up. “Not yet. But we’ll see what happens. The next six hours the doctors say are the most critical. However, I know that he’ll be alright. I don’t know if you remember. But years ago, I told you about that dream that I kept having that was spookin’ me out. Well, I had it again. But this time, it was crystal-clear. Before, I didn’t know the ending. I know now. I shot my own brother in the head.”