An Excerpt from LIFE AFTER WIFEY
by Kiki Swinson

Choosing Sides
(Nikki Speaks)

From the time I jumped into my car and left Syncere’s house until time I pulled in front of Kira’s apartment building, I wrecked the hell out of my brain trying to rationalize and make sense of the text message I had just read on Syncere’s T-Mobile. The message was clear but I could not bring myself to believe that my man had something to do with Mark’s murder, not to mention the fact that Kira had gotten caught up in the crossfire and lost her baby. I didn’t want to sound stupid or naïve, but there had to be an explanation behind this whole thing. I needed to find out what it was and how involved Syncere was before Kira blew the whistle on him because whether she realized it or not, I needed my man. So, I was not letting him go that easy.

Immediately after I got out of my car I stood there on the sidewalk and took a deep breath. After I exhaled, I put one foot forward and proceeded toward Kira’s apartment to confront the inevitable. Knowing she was going to bite my head off the moment I jumped to Syncere’s defense was something I had prepared myself for. As I made my way down the entryway to her building, this fine-ass, older-looking Hispanic guy wearing a dark blue painter’s cap and overalls came rushing toward me, so I didn’t hesitate to move out of his way. But, what was really odd about him was when I tried to make eye contact and say ‘hello’ he totally brushed me off and looked the other way. Being the chick I am, I threw my hand up at him and said, “Well, fuck you too! You ol’ rude muthafucka!” I kept it moving.

Patting my right thigh, with my hand, to a rhythmic beat as I walked up the last step to Kira’s floor, I let out a long sigh and proceeded toward Kira’s front door. Upon my arrival, I noticed that her door was slightly ajar so I reached over and pushed it open.

“Girl, did you know that your door was open?” I yelled as I walked into the apartment. I didn’t get an answer, so I closed the front door behind me and proceeded down the hallway toward her bedroom. When I entered into her room and saw that she was nowhere in sight, I immediately called her name again and I turned to walk toward the master bathroom. “Kira, where you at?” I turned the doorknob and pushed the door open.

“Oh, my God,” I screamed at the top of my lungs the second my mind registered the gruesome sight of Kira’s body slumped over the edge of the bathtub, while her head lay in a pool of her own blood. I couldn’t see her face because of the way her body was positioned. I rushed over to her side, got down on my knees and crawled over next to her. My heart was racing at the speed of light and my emotions were spiraling out of control as I grabbed her body and pulled her toward me.

“Kira, please wake up!” I begged her and began to cry hysterically. She didn’t move so, I started shaking her frantically. “Kira, please wake up!” I screamed once again. “Don’t die on me like this,” I pleaded. Out of nowhere, her eyes fluttered and slowly opened. Over-whelmed by her sudden reaction, my heart skipped a beat and I pulled her body even closer. “Oh my God, thank you,” I said in a joyful manner and cradled her head in my lap. “I almost thought I lost you,” I told her and wiped the tears away from my eyes. Meanwhile, Kira struggled a bit to swallow the blood in her throat and then she tried to speak. I immediately leaned forward and positioned my ear about two inches away from her mouth so I could hear what it was she had to say.

When she finally moved her lips, the few words she uttered were just above a whisper and barely audible. I was about to ask her to repeat herself and she started choking. I panicked. “Ahh shit! Don’t do this to me. Take a deep breath,” I instructed her as I began to massage her chest. Then it suddenly hit me that I needed to call an ambulance. I retrieved my cellular phone from the holster on my right side and dialed 911.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“My cousin’s been shot,” I answered with urgency.

“What’s your cousin’s name?”

“Her name is Kira Walters.”

“And what is your name?”

“My name is Nicole Simpson.”

“Okay Nicole, I need for you to stay calm. Can you tell me if Kira is conscious?”

“Yes, she’s conscious. I’ve got her lying in my arms.”

“Okay, tell me exactly where Kira’s been shot.”

“In the left side of her head, right above her temple.”

“Is that the only place she’s been shot?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Nicole, I’m gonna need you to give me the address to where you are located. In the meantime, I’m gonna need you to remain calm and grab something like a sheet or a towel and press it against Kira’s head to stop some of the bleeding. Has she lost a lot of blood?”

“Yes, she has,” I assured the woman. Shortly thereafter I gave her the address. The operator stayed on the phone with me until the police and the paramedics arrived. Covered from the waist down in Kira’s blood, I was ushered out of the bathroom and into the kitchen by this short, white, female police officer who had a ton of questions for me. I only answered the questions I knew the answers to. Once our little session was over, another detective - this time a white male - came in and asked me almost the exact same questions as the female officer did. I found myself repeating everything over again.

My back was turned when the paramedics took Kira out on the stretcher. By the time I realized that she had been taken away, she was already in the ambulance, headed to the nearest emergency room. The white, male detective informed me where they were taking her so I immediately called my family, told them Kira had gotten shot and that they needed to meet me at Bayside Memorial. After they assured me, they were on their way, I hung up with them. On my way out, I noticed at least a dozen detectives and forensics investigators combing every inch of the apartment to collect evidence so there was no doubt in my mind that they were going to find her killer..

I got to the hospital in no time at all and to my surprise my mother, my father and my grandmother arrived shortly afterward. We all sat and waited patiently for one of the doctors performing the emergency surgery to come out and give us an update on Kira’s condition. In the meantime, my grandmother had a few questions for me to answer.

“Nikki, are you sure Kira was conscious when she left with the paramedics?” she asked as if she was making a desperate attempt to find the answer in my eyes.

“Yes, she was,” I replied in a reassuring manner. “She even tried to say something, but I didn’t understand her. When I asked her to say it again she started choking and that’s when I called the paramedics.”

“Well, how was she breathing when they took her out of the house?”

“I don’t know, Grandma. I was in the kitchen when they carried her out,” I told her and then I put my head down in despair.

Knowing that my cousin was in surgery fighting for her life and I couldn’t do anything to help her put a huge strain on my heart. Not to mention the fact that if I would’ve gotten to her apartment a little sooner this probably would not have happened to her. In a sense I felt like her getting shot was partially my fault. Which was why I was feeling so terrible right now.

“What in the world do y’all got going on?” my father interjected as if the sight of me made him cringe.

“What are you talking about?” I looked at him with an expression of uncertainty.

“What kind of people are y’all mixed up with?”

“Come on now, honey, I know you’re upset but this is not the time or the place,” my mother spoke up.

“Yes, your wife is right,” my grandmother agreed trying to keep the peace.

But my father wasn’t trying to hear them. Their comments went in one ear and right out the other. “Whatcha trying to do, end up like your cousin in there?”

“What kind of question is that?” I snapped.

“Just answer the question,” he commanded.

“No, I’m not,” I replied, irritated with his questions.

“It’s hard to tell,” my father snapped back. “Because every time I turn around, somebody’s either getting shot or killed. And if you keep walking around here like you ain’t got the sense you were born with, then you’re gonna end up just like your cousin back there.”

“Alright now, that’s enough! I don’t want to hear another word,” my grandmother whispered harshly with tears in her eyes. Her tone sent a clear message to my father that she was sincerely pissed and he’d better, not utter another word.

But, knowing how much my father loathed when people told him what to do, the chances of that happening were slim to none. The moment she closed her mouth and rolled her eyes at him, he parted his lips and said, “You know what, Mama…” But fortunately for us, he couldn’t finish the thought because we were interrupted by an Asian doctor dressed in green hospital-issued scrubs, walking toward us. “Are you the family for Kira Walters?”

“Yes, we are,” I eagerly replied.

“I’m Dr. Ming and I was called in to perform emergency surgery on Miss Walters.”

“How is she?” my grandmother asked.

“Yeah, how is she? Can we go in and see her?” my mother asked.

“I’m sorry to inform you but Miss Walters didn’t make it.”

“What do you mean, she ‘didn’t make it?’” I screamed in disbelief.

“Ma’am,” the doctor began in the most apologetic manner, “believe me, we did everything in our power but she was non-responsive.”

Hearing this man tell me that my cousin just died hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, there had to be some kind of mistake. Kira couldn’t be dead. I just had her wrapped up in my arms back at her apartment a couple of hours ago. Whatever this man was talking was pure nonsense and I couldn’t accept that.

Meanwhile, as the thoughts of living my life without her started consuming me, my grandmother walked off in another direction, crying her poor little heart out. My parents got a little more in-depth with the complications Kira had and why they could not save her. I, on the other hand, just sat there in a daze.

My family and I left the hospital shortly after the doctor broke the news to us. Unfortunately, no one was able to see Kira’s body except my grandmother. A nurse escorted her down to the morgue to ID her and get her belongings. My parents and I were cornered in a small room by the same two detectives from Kira’s apartment. They didn’t have much to say this time, so our little chat went by quickly.

When we arrived back at my grandmother’s house I went off into a room by myself while my parents sat around in the living room with my grandmother. I heard bits and pieces of their conversations. But when they started talking about making Kira’s funeral arrangements, I immediately turned a deaf ear to them because I wasn’t ready to accept the fact that my home girl was dead. As it turned out, they ended up handling everything and I was truly fine with it because it took the burden off me.

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