Excerpts from MENACE

 

Erick S. Gray | Mark Anthony | Crystal Lacey Winslow | Al-Saadiq Banks | J.M. Benjamin

An Excerpt from "Aniyah's Love"
by Erick S. Gray

ONE

A blissful moan echoed throughout the three-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn that was fully furnished with the best money could buy. Sprawling plush carpeting from wall to wall enriched the room, while a luxurious, supple, and rich dark brown sofa set lit up the room with importance. A high-end entertainment center with a 60-inch plasma screen mounted high on the wall showed the latest rap video, which was muted. Ample speakers extended from corner to corner of the room, and a stylish golden ceiling fan hung above.

The moan continued, coming from the last bedroom down the hallway. The door was shut, but the passionate cries of a young woman roared out like a small being in need.

“Aaahhh . . . shit, fuck me!” Aniyah cried out with a profound craze.

Aniyah was butt naked on her swanky, soft bed. She clutched the bedpost tightly with her face downward in the pillow, knees sinking into the mattress. Her ass was in an arch, and her face twisted in exasperated thrill. Twilight seized her naked hips, spreading her legs wider and thrusting more of his nine inches into her.

The bedpost rattled as Twilight thrust into Aniyah fervently. He was sweating profusely and trying to brew up a good nut to let loose in her. Aniyah held tightly onto the bed railing, feeling that it would give her some kind of stability from the hard fuck she was enduring. She bit down on her bottom lip, grunting and moaning, with Twilight’s erection feeling like it was rooted deep into her stomach.

The stereo system in the bedroom played Jay Z’s newest track to a low, with Aniyah’s passionate cries drowning out the hardcore lyrics.

She screamed out, “Fuck me!” panting loudly like she just ran the marathon.

And Twilight did just that.

The bedroom was dimmed, illuminated only by the Azure display light coming from the stereo and the open bedroom window. The apartment stood four floors up in the notorious housing projects on Dumont Avenue.

Twilight reached under Aniyah and cupped her breast strongly and gripped around her leg with the other hand, pulling that ass back against him with might. Aniyah closed her eyes and enjoyed every minute of the dick being pushed into her.

Her cell phone suddenly began to ring on the nightstand near the bed. But she ignored it. She had no time to be interrupted from the beautiful ambiance Twilight was putting her in. Twilight hesitated with his sexual onslaught when he heard her phone ring, thinking that she might want to answer it. But Aniyah turned to face him with an irate expression as he slowed his rhythm into her.

“Don’t stop, baby . . . keep fuckin’ me,” Aniyah cried out with desperation like an addict.

Twilight grabbed Aniyah by her hips and swiftly flipped her over onto her backside, with her sizable tits flopping around loosely. She chuckled like a schoolgirl, staring up at Twilight with pleading eyes that said, “Shit, nigga . . . put that mutha-fuckin’ dick in me.”

Twilight smiled. He leaned his six-three physique in near Aniyah’s welcoming body with her legs spread widely waiting for his re-entry into her. Aniyah had the body of a video vixen, thick and curvy in the right places, with long, gleaming, bronze legs that could make the most thuggish man quiver when they wrapped around him. Her long, sensuous black hair was in disarray from Twilight pulling and grabbing and her twisting and turning abruptly, and her pants and moans were pleasing to hear from any man’s ears. To be with Aniyah, some said it was the closest thing to being with Beyoncé.

Twilight neared the pussy with a hungry gaze displayed across his smooth brown face. He slowly sank between Aniyah’s hospitable thighs and opened up her pussy with nine thick inches of dick for her to play with. Aniyah wrapped her legs around him and leisurely dragged her manicured nails down Twilight’s sweaty back as he grinded like a machine between her warm, smooth thighs.

In an exasperated tone, Aniyah cried out, “Oh shit . . . I’m coming. Fuck me!”

She was sinking into the mattress with her hair spread wildly about behind her, nibbling on and panting into Twilight’s ear like a winded athlete. Suddenly her cell phone rang loudly again, vibrating against the wooden nightstand. It was annoying Aniyah.

But once again, she ignored the call and told the nigga who was beating up her pussy not to stop. She was soon gonna get hers.

Five minutes later, her cell phone went off a third time and Aniyah cursed loudly at the menacing thing that wouldn’t stop ringing and wouldn’t allow her to get her groove on without any interruptions. She was ready to reach over, snatch up her phone, and toss it out the window or into another room. She didn’t think once that maybe the phone call was urgent.

It was bad enough that she was fuckin’ Twilight—who wasn’t her man, but the enemy of her current boyfriend, Ozzie. Ozzie and Twilight had an ongoing beef between each other for years, and sometimes it became deadly between their crews. Before Ozzie, Twilight was in Aniyah’s life since they were young and she loved him deeply, but on Aniyah’s twenty-first birthday, Twilight caught a state charge and had to do seven years upstate for drugs and attempted murder. So Ozzie soon appeared into Aniyah’s life with his magnetic charm and thuggish demeanor, and Aniyah shortly fell in love. But she never forgot about Twilight being her first love.

Aniyah gave birth to Ozzie’s son soon after and Twilight felt crushed and betrayed while he was rotting away in Attica. He knew about Ozzie, and they always had their differences on the block back in the day. But Twilight felt that their beef had become extremely personal, when Ozzie fucked his bitch and taunted his name on the streets. So Twilight put the green light on Ozzie and Aniyah at first, wanting them both dead—but he soon had a change of heart for Aniyah, and kept the green light just on Ozzie. Twilight was coming home within a year and wanted his boo back in his life without there being any problems—and Ozzie was a problem.

A week after Twilight authorized the green light, two goons shot up Ozzie’s truck on Rockaway Avenue in Brooklyn with him and his three-year-old son inside. The gunmen let off a barrage of shots from their Uzi’s and riddled Ozzie’s burgundy Yukon with gunfire, making the truck look like Swiss cheese. After the gunfire and the smoke cleared, Ozzie survived, but was critically injured. His son, Damien, didn’t. He was shot once in the head and once in his chest.

Aniyah was devastated with the news and almost went crazy. She went to visit Ozzie in the hospital almost daily to help him recover while suffering the loss of their first son. When Ozzie was back in service, he suspected who planned the hit against him and wanted Twilight dead. He kept the information a secret from Aniyah, knowing that one: she wouldn’t believe him because of Twilight being her first love, and two: she was already in pain from so much that had gone on in her life. Ozzie wanted Aniyah to be at peace for once. And besides, he knew once Twilight was out his way, there would be nothing to worry about—he would have the streets on lock, along with Aniyah’s heart. Ozzie set up an inside hit on Twilight one month after the attempt on his life. He green-lighted to have Twilight killed while still on the inside.

Six months before his release, Twilight was chillin’ on the third tier in front of his cell when he was confronted by a group of young Bloods. He recognized a few faces, and knew by the way that they approached him—with scowls across their faces and in a threatening number—something was up. So he prepared himself for anything and stealthily removed the shank he had hidden on him into his hand and concealed it behind his back. Twilight stood tall, carried a deadpan gaze, and waited for the head nigga to step to him.

“What’s good, nigga?” Twilight asked in a stern tone, with his eyes focused intensely on the one in charge.

The leader of the pack glared at Twilight being unfazed by his severe street reputation and replied in a raspy tone, “You killin’ babies now, nigga.”

Twilight was upset that the nigga brought up his mistake in the hit he had ordered seven months ago. Twilight was crushed to hear about the boy being killed, even though it was Ozzie’s child. Twilight followed a golden rule: you don’t kill kids or the elderly, and if he had known that Ozzie would have his son with him when the killers approached, he would have called off the hit till another time. But the deed was done, and Twilight knew that he would have to live with that boy’s death on his mind for the rest of his life.

But Twilight didn’t like the fact that some nigga was reminding him about the mistake he had made, and that disturbed him even more. Twilight clenched the shank he had in his hand tightly and replied with, “Nigga, fuck you! Don’t judge me, muthafucka, cuz I live wit’ the death of that child on my mind every fuckin’ day.”

The man turned to glance at his homies and then steadied his look on Twilight with his face twisted up in anger. Twilight took a glance at the small, sharp blade the main Blood gang member carried in his grip and knew that death was coming for someone today. The main Blood didn’t care about Ozzie’s son being killed; he was being paid for a hit, and it didn’t matter what Twilight said to them or how apologetic he sounded. The nigga had to die and be gutted like a fish. Ozzie’s orders from the outside.

Twilight braced himself for the attack. He was outnumbered six to one and knew his chances of survival looked very bleak. But he knew that he wasn’t going to die alone. The guards were nowhere around and Twilight knew that Ozzie had the influence to pay off the guards to look the other way and not be around on a certain tier at a certain time of day. It was a well thought out hit.

Suddenly, the main Blood lunged forward with the blade aimed at Twilight’s stomach. Twilight hastily jumped back, directing the blade from his person. In one swift movement, Twilight swung the shank he carried from behind his back and quickly thrust it into the man’s neck, striking an artery, causing blood to gush out like a fountain. The man’s eyes went black, his body stiffened, and he dropped dead where he stood with the shank still stuck in his neck.

His goons took action immediately and they all came at Twilight with their own personal weapons for kill. Twilight tried to protect himself and fight them all off, but they continued to come at him like a swarm. In the blink of an eye, Twilight was getting hit in every direction—blades and sharp metal tools jabbed into him like his skin was paper thin. He jerked and stumbled, but still tried to stand tall and fight. He grabbed one of his attackers and held on to him strongly and was ready to break his fuckin’ neck. He could feel his warm blood seeping through his skin, staining him everywhere. He felt his life draining from him slowly and could feel the pain from the stabbings ripping him open like a Christmas gift. He felt himself being pushed over the tier and rapidly grabbed some unlucky nigga to fall over with him. When they went over, Twilight braced himself for the fall. He landed on his side, cushioned next to the second victim, who landed first on his neck and helped Twilight embrace the fall better. Twilight had survived the fall, but he didn’t know if he would survive his injuries.

He spent weeks in ICU, in critical condition. Word got out about the attempt on Twilight’s life and his crew knew that there would be hell to pay and much blood to spill. Their number-one suspect was Ozzie, and a war was inevitable.

When Ozzie found out that Twilight had survived the attack, he cursed loudly and started tossing shit. And then out of the blue he chuckled and smiled, sayin’ to himself, This persistent muthafucka, and that they both were two peas in the pod. They both had survived the vicious attacks they set for one another, and both were still alive. Ozzie had to give Twilight credit; he was a tough muthafucka, like himself. But he knew the flood gates had opened and now Twilight would be coming at him more intensely. Ozzie would be doing the same.

After the bloody incident with Twilight and the Bloods, the prison was on lockdown for two months. Twilight spent six weeks in ICU and then spent the remainder of his time recovering from his injuries in the prison hospital with one thing on his mind—revenge.

Twilight was soon released and was welcomed heavily by his old Brooklyn crew, who had sworn revenge on Ozzie for the attempt on Twilight’s life. Twilight had revenge on his mind also, but his heart and mind were weighed down greatly with thoughts of Aniyah, and he was dying to see her again. But he knew Ozzie was trying to have her on lockdown from fear of their reunion. Twilight would be relentless in getting the woman he had loved since the fourth grade, and he knew that Ozzie would do anything to try and end his life and keep them apart.

The streets of Brooklyn would be painted red with blood, and while both crews would think that they were warring at each other over drugs, territory, and revenge—in both men’s hearts, they knew the war reached deeper than that. It was truly over love.

Aniyahhad Twilight pressed down on his back as she straddled him tightly and felt his erection pushing deep into her. Her body trembled slightly with every thrust Twilight forced into her, and the spicy passion that filled the room was soon to make Aniyah’s body befall limp. She pressed down on his chest, digging her nails into his skin and fucking him like a stallion. She gyrated her hips back and forth rapidly, causing Twilight to grip her moist hips, throw his head back against the pillows, and his eyes roll to the back of his head because the pussy was feeling so good.

“Shit, baby . . . Shit!” he cried out.

“I missed you, baby,” Aniyah replied faintly, feeling the dick slide in and out of her repeatedly.

Twilight reached up and cupped her tits and moaned, wanting the blissful feeling to last forever. He had killed for her and knew one day, she would be his again. He felt that their love for each other was just too strong for any nigga to come in between.
Aniyah loved every inch of Twilight, and had missed him so much. She remembered when he’d first come home a month ago. He was looking so buffed and cut up in his wife-beater and boot cut jeans, his stylish braids reaching shoulder length. She heard he had finally come home and she’d heard about his near death experience with the Bloods while locked down. Aniyah suspected that Ozzie had something to do with the unpleasant incident, but she didn’t confront him about it. She was just happy that Twilight was still alive.

It took them almost two weeks to see each other. Aniyah was willing to chance Ozzie finding out and probably killing her, just for that lustful romance with her first love.

The two met discreetly at his place one late night while Ozzie was on the block getting his money right. Their first experience reunited was a memorable one. Twilight and Aniyah fucked each other’s brains out for hours and then nestled comfortably in each other arms and reminisced about the good and bad times they’d had together.

Twilight wanted Aniyah to leave Ozzie, but Ozzie had been taking care of her since Twilight’s incarceration years ago. He’d showered her with money and gifts and she once had his baby. And even though Aniyah’s love for Twilight ran strong, she felt more secure with Ozzie in a way. Ozzie was making his money hand over fist, and had Aniyah living in a lavish three-bedroom apartment in the projects. She was aware of Twilight’s situation also. He’d just come home into a little something and was working his way up on the streets, but he didn’t have the influence that Ozzie had in Brooklyn. But knowing Twilight, he was nothing to play with and was a definite threat to Ozzie and his organization.

Aniyah felt herself about to come, as she swayed her hips back and forth like a machine against Twilight’s thick physique, loving how the dick pushed deeply into her. She then heard her cell phone ring a fourth time. She sighed, wanting to curse someone out.

Twilight looked up at her and said, “Yo, just fuckin’ answer the phone.”

She sighed again and climbed off the dick and reached for her phone on the nightstand. She looked at the missed call and saw that it was Jazz, her best friend, calling so many times. Aniyah knew something had to be up, because Jazz knew Aniyah was spending some quality time with Twilight and definitely wouldn’t be calling unless it was an emergency. Jazz knew everything about Aniyah and vice versa. They’d been friends since the second grade, and Jazz was the one true friend Aniyah trusted with her life.

Aniyah showed a concerned look that caught Twilight’s attention. He looked back and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know yet,” Aniyah replied, fumbling with the phone.

The cell-phone went off again in Aniyah’s hand and she quickly answered, knowing that it was Jazz calling.

“What’s up?” Aniyah answered.

“Yo, why the fuck you ain’t pickin’ up? Where the fuck are you?” Jazz barked.

“You know I’m still with Twilight . . . why, what’s wrong?” she asked.

“Yo, Ozzie got a crew of niggas on their way to the crib right now. He knows you got Twilight up in there wit’ you. I tried to call you before, but, bitch, you wasn’t pickin’ up. You need to get that nigga outta there,” Jazz spat in one breath.

“What? How the fuck he found out!”

“I don’t know, but yo, they on their way now, and them niggas is strapped heavily. They want Twilight’s ass bad,” Jazz continued.

The sudden troubled look that Aniyah carried on her face now caught the attention of Twilight. He propped himself upright against the bedpost and focused his attention on Aniyah and whoever she was talking to over the phone.

Aniyah hung up the call and looked over at Twilight with a worried stare and exclaimed, “Yo, get dressed. Get dressed, now!”

“What the fuck is up?” Twilight questioned.

“Ozzie got niggas coming over here right now to come see you.”

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An Excerpt from "Snake Eyes" by Mark Anthony

from MENACE

ONE
Brooklyn, New York 2:00 am

When me and my girl crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and maneuvered toward the club, which was located on Flatbush Avenue, the scene we saw as we drove closer to the club was absolutely bananas! There were people and cars everywhere. The line to get inside the club stretched about a block-and-a-half long. And there was just this buzz of excitement that filled the air, and it let you know that other than where we were at, there was no other place to be in New York City.

I had been on the run for more than a year now. And more specifically, I had been hiding out in Philly with my new girl for the past six months. Although Philly was about a two-hour drive from Brooklyn, New York, word about a club called the Brooklyn Café had spread all over the East Coast, and news about the club had reached Philly.

Word on the street was that the Brooklyn Café had it going on! It was part strip club on one level and a hip-hop/reggae club on the other level.

But what made me risk my freedom and travel to New York to see firsthand what Brooklyn Café was all about was the fact that I had heard that my mans and ’em, Squeeze and Show, actually owned Brooklyn Café. I desperately wanted to get back to New York to link up with Squeeze and Show, but knew I had the feds and the NYPD looking for me, so I had to be careful.

My girl, who I had met in Philly, was a Puerto Rican chick who had a body like J-Lo and an attitude like Eve. Her name was Marissa, and she also wanted to come with me to New York to see what all the hype was about concerning Brooklyn Café.

We let the valet park Marissa’s silver 745 BMW, and the two of us headed straight to the front of the line and searched for the VIP entrance. There was no way in hell that we was gonna wait on that long-ass line!

“Who y’all wit’?” the bouncer asked us as he put his forearm against my chest and grabbed Marissa by the arm to prevent us from walking inside the club.

“Yo, my man! Are you fucking crazy or what? Don’t be putting your hands on my girl like that!”

“Calm down, money. I just wanna know who y’all wit’! I just can’t let y’all walk up in here like that. Are y’all on the guest list?”

As I purposely tried to disrespect the bouncer and walk by him, I replied, “Come on, man! We ain’t on no list! I own this muthafuckin’ club!”

The bouncer was not going for it and he wasn’t gonna be easily intimidated by me. He stood at about six-foot-five and looked as if he weighed about 300 pounds. He was wearing one of those tight, black, fitted shiny shirts that showed off his chest and his arms.

“Yo, money, you about to get knocked on your ass right in front of your girl, so I suggest you back da fuck up right now!” the bouncer said as he came right up on my chest.

Coming from inside the club I could hear Fat Joe’s smash hit song, “Lean Back,” playing in the background.

I lifted my shirt and exposed the handgun that I had in my waistband and I replied, “And yo’ big ass is about to get leaned back if you don’t let me up inside this club!”

I immediately got the bouncer’s respect. It was more than just the steel that I had flashed. I got his respect because he knew that the person holding the steel had the balls to use it and wouldn’t hesitate to lay his big ass out on the concrete.

Just as the bouncer stepped away from me and as I was about to pull out my gun and blast him, Show happened to be stepping outside of the club’s entrance.

Another bouncer had come to the first bouncer’s aid. People standing around waiting to get inside the club could tell that something ugly was about to go down.

“Promise?” Show asked with a questioning look on his face.

“What up, nigga!” I yelled as I quickly forgot about the bouncers and gave Show one of the biggest ghetto hugs that I had ever given anyone in my life. As the two of us embraced each other in the most loud and rowdy way, we almost lost our balance and fell to the ground.

“Yo, I ain’t know if you was dead or what! Where the hell you been at?”

At that point the bouncer stepped up and asked, “Yo, Show, is dude cool wit’ you?”

“Yeah, no doubt! This is my muthafuckin’ man right here!”

The bouncer came up to me and attempted to give me a pound as he stated, “Yo, pardon me, I was just doing my job. I . . .”

As Show asked was everything a’ight, I didn’t even acknowledge the bouncer. I simply took Marissa by the hand and followed Show into the packed club.

“Yeah, everything is cool, that wasn’t nothing,” I replied as I began to introduce Marissa to Show.

“Lean Back” was still blasting in the background and people were literally losing their minds on the dance floor doing the Rockaway dance.

I shouted over the song, “Marissa, this is my man Show! He’s the one that I had been telling you about! Show, this is my girl Marissa. I’m staying with her out in Philly!”

“Oh word! A’ight, a’ight, yeah, nice to meet you!” Show shouted back as he also scoped out Marissa’s body. Marissa was wearing some open-toed high heeled shoes, a miniskirt, and a backless top, and she had tattoos in all the right places.

Marissa began grabbing on me, trying to get me to dance, but I wasn’t in the mood for dancing. How could I wanna dance after just being reunited with my peoples, who I hadn’t seen in over a year? And now there I was, finally chillin’ with them? Right on cue with the song, I recited the lyrics to Marissa: “Niggas don’t dance we just pull up our pants, and do the Rockaway, now lean back . . . lean back . . .”

Show led us to the bar, where he got us some drinks, and then he took us to the crowded VIP area, where I immediately saw Squeeze posted up with two broads.

I used to sport braids and I would never have much facial hair, but since I had been on the run, I decided to keep my head bald and to grow out my mustache and goatee.

I wasn’t sure if Squeeze immediately recognized me when he saw me, but I had certainly recognized him.

“What up, baby pa?” I said as I looked at Squeeze and attempted to get a pound and a hug from him, all the while interrupting the conversation he had going on with the two broads.

Squeeze paused and looked at me. I couldn’t tell what was going on in his mind because I knew that he had to know who I was. After all, I had been his man for years.

“It’s Promise!” I replied to Squeeze’s blank look.

Squeeze finally snapped out of whatever zone he was in.

“Ohhh shit! Yo, excuse me, ladies. My muthafuckin’ nigga Promise! Where the fuck you been at, dog?”

“I been hiding out, nigga. Jake is looking for me, kid!”

While lifting his drink to his mouth and purposely showing off his iced-out watch, Squeeze took a sip of his drink and replied, “Yeah, I kinda figured you was on the run. I mean, the news had you on TV like every night for a couple of weeks.”

Squeeze then took me to the side so that we were out of earshot from everyone else and asked, “Dog, I been wanting to ask you, what da fuck was you thinking when you popped that cop? And then on top of that, you tossed the gun in the sewer while somebody was watching your every move?”

Actually, I had never known that someone had seen me toss the gun in the sewer. I had just figured that it was good police work that had led them to the murder weapon so quickly.

“Squeeze, on the real, I don’t even wanna talk about that right now. I just gotta get my hands on some paper and get my situation correct. The muthafuckin’ state got my daughter and the whole nine! And yo, remember that chick Audrey that I was fuckin’ wit’?”

“The schoolteacher?”

“Yeah, her . . . well, she got bagged! She doing fed time because of a nigga.”

“Get da fuck outta here!” Squeeze replied.

“Word is bond! We was robbing banks down in Virginia, Bonnie and Clyde style, and the feds rolled on us and she got caught out there. But I bounced on them cats and made it to Baltimore. I was hiding out there and hustling out there for a minute. Then I met my girl Marissa, and I been chillin’ wit’ her for the past six months. Yeah, she’s been holding me down. Her man is locked up, but he stashed some paper before he went up, and we been eating off that.”

Squeeze shook his head. He took another drink from his cup and looked at me with the cockiest look imaginable. He stuck a toothpick in his mouth and twirled it around and shook his head again while he smiled. “Dog, see, you in the predicament that you in ’cause you started to lose that hunger! You kna’imean?”

The music was blasting inside the club and I could barely hear what Squeeze was saying. Marissa spoke into my ear and she told me that she was gonna head down to the dance floor. I instructed her to meet me in the strip club area in about fifteen or twenty minutes.

I replied to Squeeze because I didn’t know where he was coming from. “Whatchu talkin’ about, kid?”

“Come on, man! You know exactly what I’m talking about. You started getting soft on niggas! You started losing that thirst for the streets. And that’s why right after Pooh got killed, when me and Show started coming up and we got this club and we took over the Tompkins Houses, it didn’t even phase me that you wasn’t around to trick off on all the cake that we been getting.”

I looked at Squeeze and before I could comment he replied, “Yo, dude, I’m just keepin’ it real wit’ you. I mean, a lotta cats, if they ain’t see you in a year, and y’all had been running together back in the days, they would look at you and tell you ‘it’s all love’ and invite you right back into the mix to get this cake together. But I’m sayin,’ you know me, dude! And you know how I gets down. We boyz and all, but I’m just sayin’ . . .”

As I stood there and listened to Squeeze spit and sound arrogant like he was the man, I couldn’t help but get heated. I knew how to cut to the chase and get right to the heart of what Squeeze was getting at.

Although I was heated, I managed to drum up a fake smile, but as I began to speak, Squeeze cut me off and continued feeling himself.

“I mean, look at tonight for example. You come up in my spot wit’ your bad-ass Puerto Rican chick, talkin’ about how she’s been holding you down wit’ her man’s money? I mean, come on, kid! Even if you are on the run, nigga, you gotta get out there and get yours!”

I looked at Squeeze and the only thing that I could say was, “What da’ fuck?”

“Promise, you my man, but I’m just sayin’, I gotta tell you what you need to hear. And straight up on the real, you gotta decide what you want! Is it leeching off these hoes? Is it your daughter? Or is it this paper?” Squeeze stated while pulling out a knot of hundred-dollar bills.

I was heated! But I had to remain on the humble, because I wasn’t in no position to come at Squeeze in any other way. See, one thing about niggas is that if you let them talk long enough, eventually whatever is in their heart will come out of their mouth. And from what Squeeze was spittin’ at me, he was basically saying that the fact that we had been boyz for years, that didn’t mean shit. And the fact that we had done countless stick-ups together, that too didn’t mean shit.

Money definitely changes niggas. And wit’ Squeeze, he was making it clear to me that he didn’t give a damn about me and my situation. The only thing that he cared about was his money.

Back in the days, if a cat had to go up north and do a bid, he could always count on his homeboyz for holding down his spot for him until he did his time. And in my case, it definitely should have been the same way. I had been on the run for a year, not because I wanted to be, but because of the cards that I had been dealt.

Matter of fact, it was Squeeze who had called me and told me that Pooh had been shot and that him and Show were ready to ride on Nine and his crew. I guess that my only mistake was trying to be a real nigga and be there for my crew. Yeah, and look where that got my ass? It left me assed out! If I’da stayed my ass home wit’ Audrey that night, then I never would have been in the position to shoot the cop. And I never would have had to rob banks and all of that nonsense! But it was a’ight, though. Squeeze was helping me to see niggas for their true colors. I knew just how to play the game.

“Squeeze, I feel you, man!” I said as I gave him a pound. “You right. I gotta decide what it is that I want and just go after it. I had been thinking that and that’s the main reason that I came back to Brooklyn tonight. I mean, I was like, fuck it! Fuck the feds and fuck the police! I knew that I had to link back up wit’ y’all and just get busy, and I’m ready for whatever.”

I was just attempting to tell Squeeze what he wanted to hear, but he wasn’t buying it. I could sense that he wasn’t.

“So what exactly are you sayin’?” Squeeze asked.

“What I’m sayin’ is I need to get this paper! My niggas is holding figgaz, I been laying low and outta the game and I’m ready to do what I gotta do.”

Squeeze attempted to play me as he sarcastically responded, “So in other words, you need some money and instead of just asking me to hit you off wit’ some dough, you gonna stand here and front like you still gangsta!” Squeeze began to laugh as he shouted, “Oh my gawd! Niggas is funny! Word is bond!”

Again, I held my position and remained humble as Squeeze continued to play me.
Trying to switch gears I replied, “Yo, take me to see the strippers in the strip club. Introduce your boy to some pussy!”

Squeeze smiled as he put his drink down and led me to the strip club. As we walked I shouted, “Yo, gimme your cell number so I can program it into my phone!”

I know that Squeeze heard me but he ignored me and kept walking.

I pulled out my cell phone and began programming Squeeze’s info into the cell phone.

“Yo, Squeeze, what’s your number, kid?”

“My cell?”

“Yeah.”

“Let me give it to you in a few days ’cause too many people got this number and I’m about to switch it up.”

“Oh, a’ight,” I replied.

As we made it to the strip club area, I could see Marissa chillin’ wit’ Show. And before we reached where they were standing, I attempted to get some more info from Squeeze.

“So, Squeeze, how much are y’all niggas holding? What exactly are y’all sittin’ on?”

“What da fuck? You working with the feds or what?” Squeeze asked me as he patted me down, acting as if he was checking for a wire. He tried to play like he was joking, but I knew what time it was.

“Son, it ain’t like last year, kid. We holding some major paper. But I’ll bring you up to speed. Just chill and have a good time tonight.”

Marissa was mad cool and she didn’t trip about all of the guys losing their minds over the thick strippers that were in the joint. In fact, she even paid for a lap dance for me.

Show was definitely feeling Marissa’s style, and just from the vibe that he had been giving off, I could tell that he was still really my man. Or at least it seemed that way. He had given me his home and his cell number and told me that he had bought a crib out in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn.

From the looks of everything, I could clearly see how Show could afford the cribs in that area. The club had to be making money hand over fist, and I knew that Show and Squeeze were getting other kinds of money, but I just didn’t know all the ins and outs.

From the cocky way Squeeze had been acting all night long, it wasn’t long before I was ready to bounce. I just couldn’t take the way he was feeling himself. And I also had the real uneasy feeling that there were plainclothes cops all over the place inside the club. All of my instincts were telling me to get the hell out of the club, so that was exactly what I did.

Marissa wanted to stay and enjoy herself, but I explained to her why we had to bounce and she clearly understood. Before we left, Show handed me $500 dollars and he hugged me and said, “Bring yo’ ass back to New York and let’s get this money, nigga!”

“No question, kid! I’ma holla at you tomorrow.”

Squeeze pretended to be wishing me the best as I prepared to leave, but I could see right through his phony ass.

“Yo, Show, that nigga Promise is working wit’ the feds. Tell him not to bring his ass ’round here no more!” Squeeze stated as he began laughing and stretched out his hand to me for a pound.

“My nigga!” Squeeze stated as he grabbed my hand and pulled me close to him. In my ear he stated, “You still my dog fo’ life. Just let me know what you wanna do.”
“No doubt,” I replied as I walked out of the club with Marissa. Squeeze walked out with us and waited for the valet to bring us Marissa’s car.

As we waited for our car, I couldn’t help but have that paranoid feeling that undercovers were everywhere and that people knew my face and knew what I was wanted for. It’s a constantly-looking-over-your-shoulder feeling that’s hard to describe, and only cats who’ve been on the run can relate to that feeling. Not to mention that only a month ago the TV show America’s Most Wanted had done a segment on me, so I was really paranoid everywhere I went.

Fortunately, Marissa and I made it on to the New Jersey Turnpike south, and I was able to breathe a little as I felt somewhat safe.

As we drove, Marissa asked, “What’s up wit’ your boy Squeeze?”

“What?” I asked.

“Homeboy is on some other shit! I don’t know what it is, but he ain’t really real.”
“You peeped that too, right?”

“Yeah, the nigga just come across like he the man. Like his shit don’t stink. I don’t know about that dude. You should just chill out here in Philly wit’ me and try to get something going wit’ these Philly cats. ’Cause that nigga Squeeze, he come across like a snake-type nigga.”

Marissa was right on the money and she had only been around Squeeze for a short time. But see, the thing that was motivating me to get back to NY and to try and make some dough out there was the fact that my daughter Ashley was in New York. I couldn’t confirm anything, but I had this sick feeling that she was being bounced around foster homes, and that was driving me insane.

My plan was to get to New York, get my hands on some real long money, find out where Ashley was staying so I could straight-up kidnap her and bounce for good out of New York and never return.

So if putting up with Squeeze and his phony ass was gonna get me the things I wanted and get me in touch with my daughter in the shortest amount of time possible, then I was willing to put up with whatever it was that I had to put up with. But at the same time, if that nigga tried to snake me or play me, I wouldn’t hesitate to go to war wit’ his ass.

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An Excerpt from "Cagney and Lacey"
by Crystal Lacey Winsow

from MENACE

PROLOGUE
BROOKLYN, 1990
Cagney

“Yo, son, I’m out,” I said to my homeboys just before I ran out the side door of my high school. It was only 9:30 in the morning and I’d just arrived. As I walked up the block I could hear footsteps slapping the cracked concrete, running toward me. I turned around to see Rick and Black. “Y’all niggas be bullshittin’.”

“Nah, Cagney. My mom be beefin’ when they send them letters home, talkin’ ’bout I cut class,” Black explained.

I sucked my teeth. “How old are you?”

“I’m seventeen, but that ain’t got—”

“You damn near grown and you’re worrying about your mom. You should have your mom in check by now,” I scolded.

“Word,” Rick chimed in.

I looked him up and down and shook my head. “Why you frontin’ like you got shit on lock? I’m younger than both y’all niggas and I run shit in my crib,” I boasted.

“Your mom is cool. But my Mom Dukes don’t be havin’ it,” Black complained.

“Then make her have it!” I said and looked him dead in his eyes.

We ran around for hours, talking shit and ranking on each other, and somehow ended up at St. John’s University. We snuck on campus and admired how clean the grounds were. I tried to holla at a few college girls, but they weren’t having it.

“Hey, baby. What’s up?” I said to a light-skinned chick with a big ass.

She stopped for a minute, thirsty to get attention. Then she looked at my sneakers—which were leaning to the side. And then at my gear—which was a little dated. She looked at me as if I were a parasite and said, “Boy, please . . . never that!”

“Never what, bitch?” I yelled, feeling disrespected.

She rolled her eyes and kept it moving.

After a few more minutes of goofing off, my stomach began to growl. I thought of a master plan.

“I’m hungry,” I began.

“Me too,” Rick agreed.

None of us had eaten all day. Truthfully, I hadn’t eaten since yesterday afternoon. My mother hardly went food shopping because funds were low in my crib. My mother had seven children and I was the oldest at fifteen. Most nights, I didn’t eat so my younger brothers and sisters could eat.

“Yo, I bet we can score some quick cash from one of these ball-playing mu’fuckers!” I said.

“How we gonna do that? We ain’t got no burner,” Black replied.

“Stupid! We don’t need a burner for these corny niggas. If I even look at one of them too hard, I bet they’ll be throwing their money at us.”

I knew that although I was only fifteen, my looks were deceiving. I had been mistaken for an eighteen-year-old on numerous occasions. I stood six feet with broad shoulders. My body frame was naturally muscular from all the sports I played. I had large hands and feet with a deep baritone voice. My thick eyebrows were usually furled over in a menacing way, and my lips were usually twisted into a snarl.
For hours we lay in the cut like peroxide, waiting on our prey. A withering oak tree with overhanging branches shaded us from the hot summer sun. Finally, we saw a scrawny, clean-cut-looking guy with a heavy book bag, walking alone. I looked around and the grounds were almost empty. I told Rick and Black that it was going to be like taking candy from a baby. My agile body shadowed my would-be prey as I stiffly emerged out of the shrubs that littered the grounds.

“Just follow my lead and we’ll be out in a New York minute,” I said, displaying my humorous side. Rick and Black both laughed, even though they were afraid. Steadily I approached the stranger and bumped up against him to get his attention.

“My bad. Pardon me,” I said.

As he began to walk away, I punched him in the back of his head—BAM!—which dropped him to his knees. Swiftly, I hit him with a mean left hook. His head snapped back and blood squirted from out of his mouth. I was sure I had bodied him. He keeled over and I pounced on him without provocation.

“Mu’fucker, give me your dough!” I demanded. My gruff voice was menacing and intimidating. My victim had curled in the fetal position, covering his head with his hands as best as he could. I looked over at Rick and Black and they were standing around nervously, waiting for me to hurry up.

“Give me your mu’fuckin’ money,” I repeated as he thrashed around on the ground like a mangy dog.

“I’m no American,” he breathed. “I speak no English.”

“What the fuck? You better give me your fuckin’ paper before I blast your ass!” I warned and reached inside my sweatshirt for an imaginary gun.

“Don’t kill me!” he begged. “Please, don’t kill me!”

Impatiently, I waited for him to give me his money, but he refused. I dug my hands in his pockets, but they were empty. I snatched his book bag and tossed it to Black. As I got up, I was so frustrated with him for wasting my time that I kicked him in his groin. His face twisted up and distorted from pain as he screamed out in anguish.
“Bitch ass!” I yelled.

I watched him squirming like an animal, and for some inexplicable reason his actions fueled me. My thoughts were erratic and my adrenaline was amplified tenfold. I began to stomp his head into the ground repeatedly until his cranium cracked. Blood squirted and his neck lolled to the side. Finally, Rick pulled me off of him.

“Whatchu doin’, man? You gonna get us locked up!”

I had gotten so caught up with rage that I lost sight of our purpose. I looked over and saw a few students and security guards running toward us.

We broke out.

That night we sat around smoking blunts laced with weed and crack cocaine and laughing about what had went down today. We scored twenty dollars from out of his book bag and dumped his books in a garbage can at the train station.

I went inside just before eleven o’clock and my mother was smoking her own blunt and drinking a tall can of St. Ides beer. I hated to see my mother smoking and drinking, but I knew that sometimes she needed to escape reality.

“Hey Ma,” I said and kissed her on her cheek. She swatted me away as if I were an insect. None of my brothers and sisters were bathed or in bed. Their bodies were dirty and their stomachs were hungry. Immediately, I felt guilty for spending my part of the money on getting high when I knew I had mouths to feed. I promised that tomorrow I’d score some real cash and put some food on the table.

“Go take y’all asses to sleep,” my voice bellowed after they began to irritate me. They were running around, yelling and screaming—blowing my high. I sat down on the sofa—which was where I slept—and started to doze off when something jolted me back up.

“This is Gilt McGronner, WLTV news, reporting on a tragic event that took place at one of the most prestigious colleges in Queens. A foreign exchange student was robbed and beaten to death on school grounds. Witnesses say that three young men entered the grounds and began taunting students. At some point they ran into Chiderjanran Muhammad, the son of Ali Muhammad, president of Saudi Arabia. Authorities say that when they found Chiderjanran, he was unconscious. A subsequent search revealed one thousand dollars in one-hundred-dollar bills in the victim’s sock. Police aren’t sure if he resisted the robbers or if he didn’t have a chance to hand over his money. A tri-state manhunt is taking place for the perpetrators.”

My heart dropped.

Damn, I thought. That mu’fucker had one thousand dollars on him and didn’t want to give the shit up. Well, ha ha! You can’t spend that shit where you at!

That morning I rushed to school so I could tell Rick and Black what I saw on the news. I knew that I was going to be the man at school. I was now a murderer. Whether it was intentional or not—I had done it. As I got closer to school, I peeped the detective car sitting in front. As I turned to do a 180, it was already too late. Two detectives were dead on me with their revolvers drawn. Turned out, Rick and Black both sang like canaries to their parents, who then called the authorities. In exchange for their testimony and cooperation, they both received probation. I was charged as an adult and found guilty of manslaughter. I was sentenced to fifteen years to life in prison. My mother never showed up once during my trial. My girl at the time, Maria, would skip school as often as she could to sit in on my trial. I didn’t know it at the time, but the day of my sentencing would be the last time I’d ever see or speak to Maria.

I was handcuffed and carted away to Ossining State Correctional Facility, a prison in upstate New York. From that day on, I vowed revenge on my two former friends.
“Open your mouth . . . lift your tongue, grab your nuts, lift them up . . . bend over and spread your ass cheeks . . . cough . . .”
I entered the adult prison as a young punk. But I’d leave as a menace.

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An Excerpt from "Cagney and Lacey"
by Crystal Lacey Winsow

from MENACE

PROLOGUE
BROOKLYN, 1990
Cagney

“Yo, son, I’m out,” I said to my homeboys just before I ran out the side door of my high school. It was only 9:30 in the morning and I’d just arrived. As I walked up the block I could hear footsteps slapping the cracked concrete, running toward me. I turned around to see Rick and Black. “Y’all niggas be bullshittin’.”

“Nah, Cagney. My mom be beefin’ when they send them letters home, talkin’ ’bout I cut class,” Black explained.

I sucked my teeth. “How old are you?”

“I’m seventeen, but that ain’t got—”

“You damn near grown and you’re worrying about your mom. You should have your mom in check by now,” I scolded.

“Word,” Rick chimed in.

I looked him up and down and shook my head. “Why you frontin’ like you got shit on lock? I’m younger than both y’all niggas and I run shit in my crib,” I boasted.

“Your mom is cool. But my Mom Dukes don’t be havin’ it,” Black complained.

“Then make her have it!” I said and looked him dead in his eyes.

We ran around for hours, talking shit and ranking on each other, and somehow ended up at St. John’s University. We snuck on campus and admired how clean the grounds were. I tried to holla at a few college girls, but they weren’t having it.

“Hey, baby. What’s up?” I said to a light-skinned chick with a big ass.

She stopped for a minute, thirsty to get attention. Then she looked at my sneakers—which were leaning to the side. And then at my gear—which was a little dated. She looked at me as if I were a parasite and said, “Boy, please . . . never that!”

“Never what, bitch?” I yelled, feeling disrespected.

She rolled her eyes and kept it moving.

After a few more minutes of goofing off, my stomach began to growl. I thought of a master plan.

“I’m hungry,” I began.

“Me too,” Rick agreed.

None of us had eaten all day. Truthfully, I hadn’t eaten since yesterday afternoon. My mother hardly went food shopping because funds were low in my crib. My mother had seven children and I was the oldest at fifteen. Most nights, I didn’t eat so my younger brothers and sisters could eat.

“Yo, I bet we can score some quick cash from one of these ball-playing mu’fuckers!” I said.

“How we gonna do that? We ain’t got no burner,” Black replied.

“Stupid! We don’t need a burner for these corny niggas. If I even look at one of them too hard, I bet they’ll be throwing their money at us.”

I knew that although I was only fifteen, my looks were deceiving. I had been mistaken for an eighteen-year-old on numerous occasions. I stood six feet with broad shoulders. My body frame was naturally muscular from all the sports I played. I had large hands and feet with a deep baritone voice. My thick eyebrows were usually furled over in a menacing way, and my lips were usually twisted into a snarl.
For hours we lay in the cut like peroxide, waiting on our prey. A withering oak tree with overhanging branches shaded us from the hot summer sun. Finally, we saw a scrawny, clean-cut-looking guy with a heavy book bag, walking alone. I looked around and the grounds were almost empty. I told Rick and Black that it was going to be like taking candy from a baby. My agile body shadowed my would-be prey as I stiffly emerged out of the shrubs that littered the grounds.

“Just follow my lead and we’ll be out in a New York minute,” I said, displaying my humorous side. Rick and Black both laughed, even though they were afraid. Steadily I approached the stranger and bumped up against him to get his attention.

“My bad. Pardon me,” I said.

As he began to walk away, I punched him in the back of his head—BAM!—which dropped him to his knees. Swiftly, I hit him with a mean left hook. His head snapped back and blood squirted from out of his mouth. I was sure I had bodied him. He keeled over and I pounced on him without provocation.

“Mu’fucker, give me your dough!” I demanded. My gruff voice was menacing and intimidating. My victim had curled in the fetal position, covering his head with his hands as best as he could. I looked over at Rick and Black and they were standing around nervously, waiting for me to hurry up.

“Give me your mu’fuckin’ money,” I repeated as he thrashed around on the ground like a mangy dog.

“I’m no American,” he breathed. “I speak no English.”

“What the fuck? You better give me your fuckin’ paper before I blast your ass!” I warned and reached inside my sweatshirt for an imaginary gun.

“Don’t kill me!” he begged. “Please, don’t kill me!”

Impatiently, I waited for him to give me his money, but he refused. I dug my hands in his pockets, but they were empty. I snatched his book bag and tossed it to Black. As I got up, I was so frustrated with him for wasting my time that I kicked him in his groin. His face twisted up and distorted from pain as he screamed out in anguish.
“Bitch ass!” I yelled.

I watched him squirming like an animal, and for some inexplicable reason his actions fueled me. My thoughts were erratic and my adrenaline was amplified tenfold. I began to stomp his head into the ground repeatedly until his cranium cracked. Blood squirted and his neck lolled to the side. Finally, Rick pulled me off of him.

“Whatchu doin’, man? You gonna get us locked up!”

I had gotten so caught up with rage that I lost sight of our purpose. I looked over and saw a few students and security guards running toward us.

We broke out.

That night we sat around smoking blunts laced with weed and crack cocaine and laughing about what had went down today. We scored twenty dollars from out of his book bag and dumped his books in a garbage can at the train station.

I went inside just before eleven o’clock and my mother was smoking her own blunt and drinking a tall can of St. Ides beer. I hated to see my mother smoking and drinking, but I knew that sometimes she needed to escape reality.

“Hey Ma,” I said and kissed her on her cheek. She swatted me away as if I were an insect. None of my brothers and sisters were bathed or in bed. Their bodies were dirty and their stomachs were hungry. Immediately, I felt guilty for spending my part of the money on getting high when I knew I had mouths to feed. I promised that tomorrow I’d score some real cash and put some food on the table.

“Go take y’all asses to sleep,” my voice bellowed after they began to irritate me. They were running around, yelling and screaming—blowing my high. I sat down on the sofa—which was where I slept—and started to doze off when something jolted me back up.

“This is Gilt McGronner, WLTV news, reporting on a tragic event that took place at one of the most prestigious colleges in Queens. A foreign exchange student was robbed and beaten to death on school grounds. Witnesses say that three young men entered the grounds and began taunting students. At some point they ran into Chiderjanran Muhammad, the son of Ali Muhammad, president of Saudi Arabia. Authorities say that when they found Chiderjanran, he was unconscious. A subsequent search revealed one thousand dollars in one-hundred-dollar bills in the victim’s sock. Police aren’t sure if he resisted the robbers or if he didn’t have a chance to hand over his money. A tri-state manhunt is taking place for the perpetrators.”

My heart dropped.

Damn, I thought. That mu’fucker had one thousand dollars on him and didn’t want to give the shit up. Well, ha ha! You can’t spend that shit where you at!

That morning I rushed to school so I could tell Rick and Black what I saw on the news. I knew that I was going to be the man at school. I was now a murderer. Whether it was intentional or not—I had done it. As I got closer to school, I peeped the detective car sitting in front. As I turned to do a 180, it was already too late. Two detectives were dead on me with their revolvers drawn. Turned out, Rick and Black both sang like canaries to their parents, who then called the authorities. In exchange for their testimony and cooperation, they both received probation. I was charged as an adult and found guilty of manslaughter. I was sentenced to fifteen years to life in prison. My mother never showed up once during my trial. My girl at the time, Maria, would skip school as often as she could to sit in on my trial. I didn’t know it at the time, but the day of my sentencing would be the last time I’d ever see or speak to Maria.

I was handcuffed and carted away to Ossining State Correctional Facility, a prison in upstate New York. From that day on, I vowed revenge on my two former friends.
“Open your mouth . . . lift your tongue, grab your nuts, lift them up . . . bend over and spread your ass cheeks . . . cough . . .”
I entered the adult prison as a young punk. But I’d leave as a menace.

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An Excerpt from "Walk With Me"
by Al Saadiq Banks

from MENACE

ONE
August 15, 2005

“Your Honor, this man is a menace to society, and I believe it would be a wise decision to remove him from the streets permanently before he does any further damage,” the young, preppy-looking prosecutor says.

The judge looks the defendant directly in the eyes. His feelings of racism show all over his face. Anyone who is familiar with the federal judicial system knows that Judge O’Donovan hates not only black men, but also all minority men. Rumor has it that he’s part of the KKK.

Judge O’Donovan’s eyes are as cold as steel. His temples pulsate as he grits his teeth, causing his jawbone to flex. “Tyshon Walls, you stand before me being charged as a kingpin. You’re being charged with drug trafficking, as well as weapons charges, along with the murders of two federal witnesses. How do you plead?”

Twenty-three-year-old Tyshon stands up slowly. His green state jumper hugs his upper body, exposing his overly muscular frame. His boulder-structured head sits in the center of his thick neck. His deeply receding hairline is a product of his stressful life. The shifting of his eyes makes him look sneaky and dangerous.

Tyshon stares right back into the judge’s eyes without backing down. “Uhmm, uhmm,” he clears his throat. “Your Honor,” he says with a dry raspy voice, “they say you can never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.” He stands there quietly for a matter of seconds before speaking. “Walk with me.”

***
February 2005

It’s midnight and the bone-chilling temperature of eighteen degrees is unbearable. The rain, accompanied by the below-freezing temperature, causes drops of hail to fall from the sky.

The sound of the golf-ball-sized rainfall splatters against the windshield of Freak’s platinum-colored bi-turbo Porsche SUV. The squeaking of the windshield wipers and the sound of the heat blowing through the vents overpowers the faint tune of “Dreams,” by rapper The Game that is coming through the speakers.

The driver and his two passengers all sit quietly as they vibe to the beat. The aroma of goodness trapped inside the vehicle is enough to get anyone high. The smoking of Purple Haze and sipping of 151 is how the three of them end all of their nights.

The smoke and liquor is the outlet they use to keep their sanity. Without it, their nerves would be shot. The hustle and bustle, along with all the other madness they’re involved in, would drive the average man insane.

Freak and Jay sit up front, staring straight ahead like zombies. The swishing of the fast-paced wipers hypnotizes them. Tyshon sits in the back, holding his head down, just enjoying his high.

It’s no coincidence that all three of them have the same thing on their mind at this actual moment. For the past year they all have been sharing the same fear, and that is the case they have pending.

The three co-defendants will begin trial first thing tomorrow morning. The results of the trial can change all their lives drastically. At the worst-case scenario, they can spend the next twenty years of their lives behind bars.

Freak cruises the block as he approaches Tyshon’s house. He stops directly in front. It takes Tyshon approximately three minutes to gain his composure. He’s so high that he’s moving in slow motion. In fact, the whole scene seems to be playing in slow motion.

“Alright, y’all,” Tyshon slurs, as if his tongue weighs a ton. He pushes the car door open and slowly extends his leg out. “I’ll meet y’all at the courthouse,” he says as he plants both feet onto the cement. The cold air smacks him in the face and snatches his breath away. “Be safe,” he says as he slams the door.

“Miracle, later,” Freak replies. “Miracle” is Tyshon’s nickname.

Tyshon uses his forearm to shield his face from the hail that’s making it extremely difficult for him to see ahead. Slowly he walks up the path that leads to his doorway. The wind creates a terrible resistance; yet and still, his body feels so light that Tyshon feels like he’s floating instead of walking. His mind is playing tricks on him. It seems like the door is so far away, as if he’ll never make it there. The closer he gets, the farther away it seems.

Freak pulls away slowly. The downpour of hail increases. That, coupled with the actual darkness of the block, makes it hard to see the road ahead of them. The wipers are no help at all. Neither is the euphoria of their high. Everything seems to be one big blur. Freak shines his high beams in order to get a better view.

They make it to the corner successfully. The red traffic light beams brightly, yet and still Freak manages not to see it. He just flows through the intersection carelessly.
As they ride up the block, Freak slows his pace without realizing it. His buzz is increasing. Enjoying the feeling and wanting to enhance it, he grabs hold of the bottle of 151 and quickly turns it up to his lips. He takes a huge gulp, attempting to drink his problems away.

As he passes the bottle over to Jay, the bright lights of the car behind them shine directly into their car, illuminating the interior, almost blinding them.

Freak continues to creep up the block. His mind is telling him to speed up, but the euphoria of his high is making him think that he has actually increased his speed.
The car behind them tails closely. Freak pays little attention to it until it swerves around him. The two cars ride side by side, just long enough for the other driver to accelerate and pass them. He now has them by a car’s length.

Freak’s high dampens his senses. His reaction time is so slow that he doesn’t notice the car until it has passed him. Recklessly, the driver cuts directly in front of Freak. Freak slams on his brakes in the nick of time, just barely missing the back bumper of the black Chrysler 300 M.

Assuming that the driver is frustrated with his driving and decides to get in front, Freak just follows closely.

The brake lights of the Chrysler shine brightly through the pitch black tinted rear window, as the driver stops short in front of them without warning. Freak reacts many seconds too late. Before he knows it he has already crashed into the back of the vehicle.

Freak honks the horn like a maniac. “Stupid motherfucker,” he slurs as he forces his driver’s side door open. Jay is so high that he sits there, frozen stiff. He couldn’t move if he wanted to.

The passenger’s door of the Chrysler pops open, followed by the rear driver’s side door. Finally the rear passenger’s door opens up.

As Freak stands up, he tries to maintain his balance. His eyes are glued to the ground, trying to make sure that he doesn’t miss a step. Feeling as if he has it all altogether, he finally looks up, only to be greeted by three men who are all approaching him rapidly. Despite the heavy wind, which is blowing in his face furiously, Freak still manages to see the reflection of the chrome handguns that two of the men grip tightly in their hands. Scared and surprised, Freak attempts to backpedal away from them. He tries to do so at a quick pace, but his legs don’t seem to agree.

He locks eyes with the man who is farthest away from him. Even with the blurring of his vision he clearly recognizes the man. Freak doesn’t know him personally, but they’re not strangers to each other. They have been quiet rivals for the past few months. Freak controls the cocaine market on this side of town and his nemesis controls the market on the opposite side of town. They’ve never had open beef, but the tension has always been evident.

The men stand within ten feet of him. Without warning, the gunfire sounds off. Boc, boc, boc! The windshield shatters into tiny pieces. The gunman standing to Freak’s right stands close to the passenger’s side and fires three more times. Boc, boc, boc! The slugs rip through the passenger side window.

Freak truly thinks he’s moving, but he’s really standing motionless. He watches nervously as Jay’s head crashes into the dashboard.

Boc, boc, boc! He hears again. The last shot ricochets off of the hood of the SUV and bounces onto the roof. Freak slowly drops to his knees, trying to protect himself. This is the biggest mistake of his life. Now the two gunmen are standing directly over him.

The shots begin ringing. The heavy downpour of rain muffles the noise of the shots.

“Aghh!” Freak screams as the slugs rip through him from head to toe. His body bounces off of the asphalt as the bullets penetrate his flesh. They fire away until he shows no sign of life. In total they fire twenty-five shots.

“The city is mine!” the man in the background screams as he peeks around to make sure there are no witnesses. To his glory, there is not an onlooker in sight.

Seconds later, the three men jump back into the Chrysler and flee the scene quickly, leaving Freak and Jay lifeless.

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An Excerpt from "Keepin' It Gangsta"
by J.M. Benjamin

from MENACE

ONE

“I’m standing outside the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, New Jersey, live, awaiting the final fate of death row inmate Derrick ‘The Dicer’ Jordan. This is a day when some may say justice is about to be served, while others would disagree and proclaim this day to be a tragedy. This is based on whether or not you agree or oppose with the decision made by the Essex County Supreme Court nearly seven years ago, when they sentenced ‘The Dicer’ to death. He was tried and convicted for the gruesome murder and decapitation of police officer Robert Smith and at 9:45 pm, only two hours from now, the long-awaited chapter will be brought to an end. Derrick Jordan’s violent past finally caught up with him. He was the alleged leader of a notorious drug gang which operated around the Prince Street Housing Projects in Newark, New Jersey and was believed to have been responsible for numerous murders over the years. This is Dan Howard, bringing you live coverage for Channel 7 Eyewitness News. Stayed tuned as the hour of closure to this heinous crime winds down.”

“Are you sure you’re going to be okay, Ms. Jordan?” Gino Carvelli, Derrick’s attorney, asked Derrick’s mother as they pulled in front of the body-infested prison.
“Um-hmm,” she replied with a nod of her head as she wiped the remaining tears of the floodgate, compliments of Gino’s handkerchief, with shaky hands.

Just moments ago, Althea Jordan was an emotional wreck and did not think she would be able to carry out her son’s request. Her heart felt as if a pair of vise grips was clamped onto it, and slowly but surely, they were tightening. Literally, she was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, not to mention spiritually as well. The past few years of battling with her son’s situation had taken a toll on her, turning her salt-and-pepper hair into a full set of sterling silver, making her appear far beyond her fifty years of age. She could not believe how rapidly seven years had flown by. To her, it seemed like yesterday that Derrick had been arrested and charged with the death of a policeman. But now here it was, her firstborn and only son was about to have his life taken away from him at the young age of thirty-two.
As she glanced out the one-way, 5 percent tinted windows of the Mercedes limo, Althea couldn’t help but to notice the many different signs that were being held high in the air by the numerous spectators and protesters.

Two in particular caught her eye: An Eye for an Eye, one read, while the other read, Only God Can Judge.

Being a God-fearing Christian woman, Althea understood the quotes from the signs more than anyone knew she did. A tear managed to fall from her eye over the first one, as she smiled at the latter.

“Okay, when we get out, I want you to stay close to me. Don’t stop for anything and don’t answer any questions. I’m going to get you inside safe and sound,” Gino assured her.

“Thanks, Gino. For everything.”

“I wish I could say you’re welcome, but I can’t because I didn’t do anything. I would like to have done more, but your son made it very difficult for me to do my job, Ms. Jordan. I hope you can understand that.”

“I do understand that. At least you tried your best, and for that I thank you,” Althea replied, flashing him a warm smile.

Gino returned the smile. “OK, here we go.”

“You raised a cop killer!”

“Your son’s an animal!”

“He’s a monster!” These were some of the words Althea heard from the crowd as she and Gino exited the limo just before the media recognized and rushed them.

“Mr. Carvelli! Mr. Carvelli! Have you spoken with Mr. Jordan?

“No comment.”

“Ms. Jordan, how do you feel about the judge’s final decision?”

“Mr. Carvelli, why didn’t you appeal?”

“No comment,” Gino replied again as he and Althea Jordan were bombarded by the media.

As instructed, Althea stayed close to her son’s attorney and refused to answer any questions concerning Derrick. It saddened her that the media would attempt to make a spectacle out of the death of her son, but she was determined to not be intimidated by the gang of reporters that hovered around them like vultures. She could now see the entrance of the maximum-security state prison ahead as Gino Carvelli navigated her through the crowd. She also couldn’t help but to hear the continuous chants and heckles from the emotional crowd about her son being a vicious killer. For a minute it felt as if her legs would give way from under her just before she reached the entrance, from all the mayhem. But the words from one of the reporters miraculously caused her to regain and fortify all of her strength and life back into her body, when the slim Caucasian woman repeated her question.
“Do you believe your son is innocent, Ms. Jordan?”

That question made Althea stop in her tracks and spin around to face the woman.
“No comment!” Gino interjected, answering for his client’s mother.

“It’s all right, Gino. I want to answer.”

Hearing Althea’s words caused the entire crowd to go silent in anticipation. Everyone was curious to hear what the mother of the convicted cop killer, who was about to be executed, had to say. At minimum, there were at least twenty microphones shoved rudely in front of Althea’s face as the reporters waited anxiously for the next words to come out of her mouth.

“To answer your question: yes, I do believe that my son was innocent, and still believe he is despite what the court system says. And regardless of what you people think, my son is not an animal, he is a human being. You are the ANIMALS,” she spat in a hysterical manner.

“Well, why did he plead guilty then, Ms. Jordan?” one of the reporters shouted. Gino made an attempt to interject by coming to Althea’s rescue, sensing her breakdown, but Althea waved him off as she forced herself to regain her composure. She wanted to address the reporter.

For a brief moment Althea paused; she wanted so badly to answer the question truthfully, but she knew that it was not her place. She had given her word to her son that she would not intervene in his wishes. Vowing to respect them, she instead said what she thought to be appropriate.

“Honestly, I cannot answer that. That is something that only my son and God can answer.”

With that being said, Althea Jordan turned her back to the crowd and buried her face in Gino’s embrace, leaving both the media and pedestrians unsatisfied and in a frenzy as she stepped through the prison door.

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Erick S. Gray | Mark Anthony | Crystal Lacey Winslow | Al-Saadiq Banks | J.M. Benjamin

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