“Who needs height when I got skills?” Jamahl says.
“True, but I ain’t never seen a 5’ 2” player in the NFL; hate to break it to you,” Tommy says.
“Yo Mama is 5’ 2”! I’m 5’ 5”.” Jamahl retorts.
“With Timbs on maybe,” Tommy shoots back.
“I’m just saying you gotta grow at least six more inches if you plan on making the team.”
“We’ll see.” Jamahl says.
“Man, leave him alone – at least he’s not scared to try out.” Damon says.
“Yeah Tommy – always got something to say, standing on the sidelines.”
“Yo, I got better stuff to do than be on County Preps’ losing team,” says Tommy.
“I’ve seen you run – stick to the video games and wavy chips life.” Jamahl answers.
“You can’t beat me though!” Tommy says.
Jamahl stops his bike to look Tommy in his eyes. “How much you want to bet?”
“How much you got?” Tommy instigates.
“Damon let me hold a five,” demands Tommy.
“Let me borrow a five, I know you got it.”
“But you’re gonna lose.” Damon protests.
“Man, ain’t no way I’m losing to this lightweight.”
“You better not.” Damon hands Tommy a crumpled five dollar bill.
“Alright bet, fifteen bucks. Where you want to start?”
“From this stop sign to the end of the next block,” says Jamahl.
“You can run that long, right big boy?”
“Here Damon, hold my money and my bike.”
“Hey, whoever wins buys me a cheeseburger,” says Damon.
“You got it; it’s going to be me anyway,” says Jamahl.
“Whatever. Damon, when I win you can get fries too,” says Tommy.
“Word!” Damon says excitedly.
“Ready?” says Jamahl.
“Let’s do it. Count us off,” says Tommy.
“On your mark, get set…you hear that?” Damon pauses
“Yo, what the hell man. You gotta start over now.” Tommy says.
“Ya’ll don’t hear those sirens?” asks Damon
The wailing echo speeds towards them.
“So what? You scared of the police?” asks Tommy
“Aren’t you?” Jamahl and Damon say in unison.
“Watch out.” Jamahl grabs Damon’s arm as the cruiser’s tire smacks the curb in front of them.
“Hands up!” The cop in the passenger seat jumps out before it comes to a full stop and rushes around to the sidewalk with his gun drawn and pointing at the three boys. Tommy and Damon raise their arms. Jamahl doesn’t move, his arms paralyzed at his side.
“I said hands in the air!” The second cop exits the car and points his gun directly at Jamahl.
Jamahl feels his arms rise involuntarily; he looks down at his fallen bike and back at the cops who are making quick work of patting down Tommy and Damon.
“I’m next,” he thought.
“Don’t even think about fucking moving.” The first cop barks in his direction.
“Are you going to tell us what we did?” Tommy probes.
“The three of you motherfuckers just robbed the corner store up there.”
“Up where?” Damon yelps.
“Shut up!” The second cop shouts.
“Nah man, this ain’t right. We just left school – you got the wrong guys.”
“Turn around and shut your mouth.” Tommy resists the first cop who has him by the neck pushing him forcefully against the wall. Jamahl seizes the bike as the two cops throw Tommy to the ground. He gets a running start before jumping on.
The second cop is on him before the pedals turn 360 degrees. “I told you not to move!”
The bike shook under the cops grip as if he were in an earthquake. Jamahl falls to the ground and kicks the bike into the cops shin.
“Fucking animal!” the cop yells, “Get back here.”
Jamahl springs off the asphalt.
“Run!” he hears Tommy yell. “Go, get my dad.”
“After’em.” The first cop shouts behind them. Jamahl was almost around the corner when he felt the blunt nails of the officer grope his back, causing him to run in place. A smell of ashes and trash march from the cop’s mouth “Got you!”
Jamahl’s shirt rips from his chest as the cop jerks him backwards. He takes off running again when his left sleeve gives way to freedom.
“Goddammit, his shirt ripped.” The second cop yells back at the first cop who is now also in pursuit.
“Call it in!”
“We’re on foot pursuit of a black male, 5’ 9”, 175lbs., heading north on Randolph street. Suspect is wearing black shorts and red sneakers.”
Jamahl ran with his body leaned forward and knees high. “Run like that and no one can catch you.” Coach Lenny had said.
“If I get to the car graveyard they’ll never find me,” he thought.
Jamahl took the shortcut through his friend Darrion’s yard not caring about all the dog shit they never cleaned up. He hurdles a ragged wooden fence that separates the scrapyard from the neighborhood.
Fearing that his legs would give out he falls into the door of an old Chevrolet Nova hard enough to feel the metal curl from his weight and slides to the ground trying to steady the breath jumping from his nose and mouth. His phone rings in his back pocket; threatening to give away his position. “Mommy,” the screen read as he quickly rejects the call.
“I hear something over there. Come out with your hands up. There’s nowhere to run.”
Jamahl runs in the opposite direction and collides into the stomach of the first cop; they both fall to the dirt from the impact, hurling the drawn gun to the ground within equal distance of them – terror simultaneously commands their eyes.
“Over here Johnson!”
O’Malley moves for the gun – Jamahl is quicker.
Jamahl hears Johnson approaching from behind.
“Lower the weapon!”
The gun is heavier than he expects.
“Fucking animal!” O’Malley lunges towards him – a single shot caves his chest.
Jamahl’s ears sting from the sound of two close range shots.
The weight of the lifeless cop lying on top of him doesn’t dull the shrill pain ripping at his spine.
“Officer down – repeat – officer down. Johnson shouts into his shoulder radio.
“I’m not an animal.” Jamahl musters the words.
“What the fuck did you say?”
No Bonnie by Frank Ocean.
Fan fiction – two storylines – Context is in the song.
No Bonnie – Alt ending 1
“Why do you keep looking out the window?”
Zav turns to her. “You know how hard I feel for you?”
“I mean, you know you’re my heart right.”
“I do, baby what’s up?”
Standing in the middle of the dark and strange hotel room they strain to find each other’s eyes.
“Not now, come here.”
“No, talk to me, you’ve been acting odd since you came home last night and now we’re a hundred miles away in this room. You gave me no explanation but I came with you.”
Zav’s silence is deafening. “Zav, tell me what’s going on.”
He looks out the window once more before drawing the black-out curtains completely shut. “I will.”
He undresses her, kissing every exposed inch.
The light from the bathroom reveals the tears settling into his eyes, they trail down his cheeks onto her naked breasts.
They move in a slow motioned waltz towards the bed until she falls on her back. She helps him unveil the rest of her as he kneels above her pushing his boxers off his legs with his feet. His tears drop rapidly onto her bare stomach.
“Baby, what’s wrong?”
“Thank you, for loving me.”
Their love making lasts for hours – torrential and calm, sweat drenched waves of release and echoes of pleasure weight the room.
She holds him to her breast afterwards, fingers intertwined, their bodies sticky and dry he wakes her from sleep.
“I have to leave and I don’t know if we’ll see each other again. There’s a car out back, brand-new, in your name. I left you enough in the glove box to start again.”
“No, I’m coming with you.”
“You can’t. I won’t risk your life for mine.”
No Bonnie – Alt ending 2
For my Daughter
Written at a writing workshop Summer 2012.
The prompt: Think of a symbol that holds meaning for you. I chose the Adinkra print Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan (meaning “Love never loses its way home”)…10 minutes to write. Go!
Love never goes far from home…at least that’s what I hope she takes away from it all. Once she is grown. Too grown for me to hug or play with. I can just hear her now commenting that I am the immature one as I beg to return her to childhood with a comical gesture or silly face.
She’s already taller than me and only 13. Tall, brown as the earth and regal; except she doesn’t know it, well not the regal part. She stuns me with her boldness. Over the years, I’ve tried to direct her in the right way—if there is ever a right way. How can you contain the wind? I hear my old professor say as I scold her for being who she has always been and how, I, suspect will always be.
My child. I was 23 when she came – wishing every night for a boy. Even dreamt that She was a He a few weeks before she emerged. His name i called so easily having rehearsed it years before knowing that one day late nights would lead to parenthood. Kamau Sundiata Yusef, living only in that brief space and time of darkness and subliminal thinking — gone with the groggy blink of my eyes.
You get what you need, grandmother said sternly.
What you deserve, mother says, humored by fate.
My nights grow longer as she barrows closer to independence like that train from the movie we once watched together, “Unstoppable.”
I hope she remembers where love is and will forever remain as she moves forward, living and loving on her own. That I, will always be here…at home.
(c) Talib Jasir All rights reserved. 2015
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.