The crude rumble of the lawnmower competed with the sunrise. The hurried talk of the men outside instantly triggered Jamilla’s guard.
She could hear someone forcing the door with unnecessary strength. It was too late to wake everyone and hide.
“What the fuck is going on here?” She could hear a man’s voice call out with a mixture of boldness and fear. “Who’s in here?”
Jamilla shook Amar’s thigh roughly. He could sleep through a wrecking ball.
Amar and Jamilla nearly collide as he tries to get up as she jumps across him, careful of the forming baby bump in her stomach, scrambling for the borrowed robe and slippers she’d found only four months earlier in the deceased woman’s closet when they first arrived.
“What is it?” Amar asked
Amar grabbed her by the arm as she was a few steps ahead of him out of the bedroom door.
“Get behind me.”
The man stared back at them wide eyed as they opened the door.
“Who the fuck are you, Nigger?”
“What’chu call me, fool?”
Jamilla, rubs Amar’s forearm anxiously. “Be cool.”
“How did you get in here?”
“Shanelle!? That sneaky bitch. She done sold ya’ll this place right from under me.”
Jamilla glances at Amar who looked to still be formulating something to say without provoking the ill-tempered man.
“She didn’t mention someone else was on the deed when she signed the papers.” Amar responded sharply still pissed at the man’s name calling.
“My name might not be on no papers but I got just as much right to this place as her. She got no right to do what she done. He wobbled out stomach first. Don’t get too comfortable.”
He left as abruptly as he came – the yard had only be a quarter groomed as he rounded up the two guys he had brought with him. Kicking up sand and loose rocks from beneath his tires.
“That fat motherfucker is going to be a problem. Get everybody in here now.” Amar barked.
Jamilla sensing his alarm asked no questions and begin the rounds of waking the adults quiet enough not to wake the kids even though she was sure they were probably up.
“So, what’s the move?” Lennox asked.
We can always take him out if he shows up here again.
What the fuck kind of solution is that Lennox. You ain’t thinking straight.
Well, what’s your idea, Brother “all knowing?” Lennox said menacingly
“We got to be like a figment of his imagination before he comes back.” Amar answered.
“And where we going? They got our families, you already know that. We aint been in contact with none of our people…nobody knows where we are.” Said Lennox
“He’s got a point, Amar. We can’t just ride out of here aimlessly. Especially with the children. I’m sure our faces are all over every news station and paper.” Jamilla said.
“Well, what are we gonna do wait for him to bring the whole sheriff’s department in this shit town to the door.” Lennox shouted.
Shanelle will be bringing our groceries later today. Let’s sit tight and wait to talk with her. If she says, it’s cool. It’s cool. Neff interjected.
He didn’t look smart enough to be a threat and right now he thinks we own the place.
I hope we’re not making a mistake.
FREEWRITE AND REVISE
Shanelle shows up later that day. Uncle James came here. Oh Shit, Oh shit. Her reaction put everyone on edge.
What’s the matter?
But he thinks you sold us the place, won’t that buy us sometime.
We come from Dunn, everybody knows us and we know everybody. It won’t take him long to find out this place wasn’t sold.
So we need to go.
I’m sorry, Shanelle said. I didn’t expect him to ever come down here. I was betting on that but now that he has, I just can’t promise ya’lls safety anymore. I’ll go home and try to find out where his head is. Even if I have to come back out here tonight ya’ll gonna know something. Shit. I’m sorry Neff.
It ain’t your fault.
Please don’t hurt him if he comes back before I do. He’s the only family I have left.
You got my word. Amar said.
Shanelle left hurriedly. The silence in the house was smothering. Well, let’s get our stuff together. I don’t know if I even want to wait for her to show back up. You heard her that fool is unpredictable. And I aint tryna find out how much damage he can do.
Now hold on, we don’t know how this will turn out. I say we wait for Shanelle. We don’t know which decision is right. Every motherfucker with a badge is looking for us. Stepping right into the shit might not make sense. Maybe we can talk to the brother and see where his head is at.
Fuck! Amar’s voice shook the ceiling. This shit is for the fucking birds man. I gotta get my head together. Nef. Lennox. Get on point and stay on point. Keep your gun and your eyes on everything. Diana keep the kids occupied for a while. This is going to be a long day. Some hard decisions have to be made but we all need time to think this out thoroughly so let’s take it. Jamilla come with me.
Night fell twice with them still in the old lady’s house. Shanelle never returned and the adults couldn’t agree on anything. The only decision they did make was that the kids sleep in their rooms, just in case.
Spirit pretends to sleep the first night while Mama and Amar run down all the scenarios on how they were going to either escape the house, fight until the ammo ran out or they were dead.
Tensions were deep; Amar and Neff took Denise, Sheldon and Spirit out in the woods behind the old house every weekend since they moved in for shooting lessons. The two kids were aiming and holding the gun steadier than Denise. When Neff suggested that they armed the kids if the pigs showed up unexpected, Jamilla wouldn’t hear of it.
“Hell no,” Jamilla protested. “Those fools ain’t going to hesitate to shoot these kids. We focus on getting them outta here. They deserve a chance to go on.”
“We can do it.” Spirit said.
“I’m gonna shoot the first one I see right between the eyes.” Sheldon’s voice boomed loudly attempting machismo.
“Shut up, the both of you,” Jamilla responded harshly. “The answer is no, period.” She said looking into Amar’s eyes.
“Go on, you heard your Mama.” Amar said to Spirit and take Sheldon with you. “They’re will be plenty of time for you to take up arms, just not yet.”
“Hold on! You making decisions for my boy now?”
“Don’t start your shit Lennox, decisions are made that’s best for the group.”
“Yeah, well Sheldon ain’t the group and he does what I say.”
“Lennox. Jamilla is just looking out for him, man. What the fuck is your problem. You want the boy to get his head shot off? Be my fucking guest.”
‘Nah, fuck that Milla. Amar pushes a .44 flat into Sheldon’s chest. Here little brother, your daddy wants you to fight a grown man’s fight cause he ain’t man enough to fight it without you.
“The hell you say?”
“You heard me, chump!”
“Sheldon, give me that gun.” Denise said .
“Denise, this ain’t got nothing to do with you.” Lennox says still eyeballing Amar.
“Sheldon, did you hear what I said!”
“Denise, god dammit!” Lennox pushes her onto the nearby couch.
Amar, jacks off a punch to Lennox’s chin knocking him over the end table. Lennox jumps to his feet onto Amar both men now on the ground tussling and punching the other.
Jamilla puts her arm in front of Denise as she moved towards them intent on pulling the men apart.
“Let them fight.”
“They’re gonna kill each other.” Karren says.
“No. They won’t”
“Sheldon, hand me the gun.”
Sheldon obeyed Jamilla.
“Everyone outside, let them get it out of their systems.”
The two men were back on their feet dancing menacingly around the other landing and missing shots. Cuts rested on both their faces.
“When you’re both done acting like children we could use two men.” Jamilla left the room slamming the door behind her.
Later that evening, the men’s faces masked with dried blood and swollen.
The adults decided on their positions throughout the house, upstairs and down. Guns and ammo was stashed for easy access. The decision was made to wait and hope that their rehearsal for survival would not be needed.
3:28AM illuminated the small black clock across the room. Amar is slumped clumsily in the lay-z-boy chair asleep for the first time since yesterday morning. A double-barrel lay across his lap and a glock with the safety still on rested limp in his right hand.
Spirit was awake certain that she had heard something but careful not to wake anyone to only hear the same answer, that “old houses make noises and to go back to sleep”.
A light from outside clutched her senses. There weren’t lights for miles she had heard Aunt Karren say the first night they moved in. Another light appeared, she begin to count 18.104.22.168, too many now to count.
Quick and hard footsteps followed. Spirit desperately grabs Jamilla’s hand squeezing it. “Mama”, “Mama,” she whispered.
Jamilla awakes startled. Looking first at Spirit and then follows her gaze towards the window, the lights now outnumbering the darkness.
Spirit’s hand aches from her mother’s grip; Jamilla grazes Amar’s shoulder with a pillow hoping to wake him up without a sound.
“Amar West, surrender with your hands up!” The voice echoed throughout the small house as if it were already inside.
Amar didn’t waste the time to blink, springing to the floor and urging Spirit and Jamilla to follow.
Again the voice shouted, “RISE members, come out now or we will be forced to open fire.”
Amar tapped his finger coolly to his lips, as if they were playing an innocent child’s game.
“We have to get the children out,” Jamilla murmured to thin air.
“No,” Spirit said hoarsely, as Amar and Jamilla spoke silently to one another with a nod of their heads. Turning to Spirit they looked on her empathetically. Spirit felt the pressure of Amar’s dry lips on the top of her forehead. “Go.”
Jamilla guides Spirit to her feet, hunched as they leave the room. Jamilla opens her arms to welcome Yuri and Sheldon as they run towards her pushed forward by a tearful Diana. They were crying too, defiantly inaudible. Spirit took note that everyone had taken up position downstairs except for Neff who was decided to post upstairs.
Spirit could only think to raise her fist as she walked pass Lennox’s panicked face. “Right on, little sister.” He responded. Turning to his sons, “Its man up time, Sheldon – Yuri.” Make Pop proud.”
“Yes Sir.” The boys say in unison.
Jamilla opens the hatch leading underneath the house. “Get in.” Yuri jumps first, helping Spirit and then Sheldon down to the short drop. “It’s up to you all now to remember what we said. Stay here, don’t make a sound. No matter what.” She rubs each of their heads as they stare up at her. “No matter what. Do you understand”, she looks in Spirit’s eyes knowing the defiance of her only child. When there is no more sound but the crickets and birds. That’s when you come out.” “Understood?”
Spirit wraps her arms around the two boys sitting to her left and right, they huddle knees to chest in the cramped space beneath the floor boards.
“Forget nothing.” Jamilla drops the hatch, closing out the light from the floor above. Her footsteps disappear leaving the children with one option; survival.
Now that the children were underground Jamilla refocuses on the scene unfolding around her. She took note of everyone’s position, Karren should be upstairs she thought.
“Fuck that, you’re down here. I’m down here.”
“You crazy bitch, get upstairs!”
“Move!” Jamilla shouted.
Karren moved swiftly pass.
Jamilla touched her back, they fiercely embraced.
“RISE sister” Jamilla said firmly.
“Rise.” Karren shouts backward, hustling up the old wood steps.
Jamilla evaluates the room briefly, making sure nothing or no one else is out of place before moving to the post Karren left. She and Amar could see each other clearly even in the dark shadows falsifying the depth of space and time.
Denise and Lennox took post at the rear of the home forming a thought out perimeter. Each point with its own line of cocked and loaded pistols, double-barrels and automatics at their fingertips for each time a clip ran out.
Tear gas cans rip the window off its frame nearly hitting Jamilla in face. They all pulled their shirts over their nose and mouth. Lennox scrambles to grab the can and toss it back outside before the smoke and pepper became unbearable.
Boom! Boom! The thunderous sound came from off the parlor.
“They’re coming through the fucking wall.” The left side of the house was being rammed by something heavy. The house wailed and bent as if they were in the middle of a category 5 storm.
“What the fuck do we do?” Lennox shouted to Amar over the noise.
“Shoot every motherfucker that comes in here.”
Shots are heard from the top floor.
Violent holes began to puncture the walls from the outside. “Oh fuck.”
“What’s happening? Why did they shoot? Did they get in upstairs?” Denise quizzes rhetorically.
“Shut up.” Jamilla answers with heavy breath. Worried for her sister friend.
She abandons the open window, her silhouette hinting her presence.
“Get down Jamilla!”
Dark uniforms with flashlight led guns cave the frail door. Breaking wood, crashing glass, hard soles and bangs of fire rounds vandalize the small living area.
Amar steps out of the shadows. Synchronized riffles of fire open the darkness crumbling his skin. The shotgun in his hand let off a single round as he falls, hurling a black uniform against the wall with a hard reddish thud.
The air rushes from Jamilla’s lungs as a flesh sizzling pain rips her thigh. The empty clicking of Lennox’s gun is the last thing she hears, his lifeless body on his back the last she sees, “Spirit” her last thought, as whiteness darkens her conscious.
The boy’s bodies danced in unison heads buried in Spirit’s lap, recoiling at every sound. Spirit is afraid that the thump of her heart would lead the agents to their hiding place. Footsteps trample the floor above them. The house was once again still.
“We have to go.” Spirit whispered to Yuri and Lennox. “What about Mama?” Yuri asked, salt trails marking his dusty cheeks. “She gone.” Sheldon says. “They all gone.”
“Hush,” Spirit scorned him. “Don’t say that, you don’t know.”
“Shh, listen,” said Sheldon.
Something heavy was being dragged across the floor above them.
“So this is Amar Fucking ___________? King of the Brothers!”
“We got this monkey son-of-a-bitch.”
“He ain’t king of shit now.
“King of dead niggas.”
Their laughter was scorching.
“Let’s get the rest of these bodies outta here. There’s a gal upstairs that’s barely breathing.”
That makes two bitches—we found another one laid out in the parlor over there looks like she was trying to escape. Doesn’t matter, by the time they get where they’re going they’ll wish they were dead.
“Sargent Crier.” One of the men announced knowingly.
“No evidence.” Another sneered.
“No witnesses.” A voice hissed.
“They picked the wrong county to lay low in. Won’t be no further investigation shit down here.
Spirit hoped the boys couldn’t understand the evilness but Sheldon only a year and a few months younger than her looked stone cold. He knew just like she knew, their parents were gone and the men above them were to blame.
“I’ll kill them all.” Yuri said audibly.
Spirit and Sheldon held him tighter.
“First, they had to get out of their alive,” Spirit thought.
Talib Jasir Copyrighted 2014. All rights reserved.
Nixon’s lying ass is on his way out. Fighting blatant racism was one thing but fighting the capitalistic system, privatized prisons, gentrification of brown neighborhoods and locking every black man and boy up over trivial drug laws was a fucking beast.