Tuesday, November 22, 2005

...Ain't Gold (Part Ten)

Speed was talking before he swung the door open.
“Baby, I thought I told you to wake me up when you-” He stopped short when he saw Rich. Rich powerful fist caught him in the mouth, the second punch landing in his soft belly and doubling him over. His knee caught Speed in the chin and he fell on his back.
“You like hittin women? Huh? You like beatin on women?” Speed’s eyes widened in terror and confusion as this madman lifted him in the air. Rich caught him with an angry right and Speed flew backwards, crashing into the hall table and sliding to the ground.
“GET UP!” he shouted, taking off his coat. He was amped in full battle mode. Speed scrambled to his feet, his fists up and cocked, ready to fight back. He had blood streaming from his nose and he had a loose tooth, but either way, he had to defend his manly honor. His manly honor hit the ground with him as Rich rabbit punched him with his left hand.
“You beat up on the wrong one, nigga. You hear me?” Rich punctuated each syllable with a savage kick in his ribs. As Speed held his hands up to protect his face, Rich leaned down and got in Speed’s face, breathing heavily.

“You touch my sister again. You go ‘head. I want you and all you own up out this bitch by tonight. Feel me?”
Speed nodded. Rich turned on his heel, but not before kicking him one last time. He pulled his coat back on and left the apartment. There were neighbors peeking out of their doors and one woman had actually come down the hallway to investigate. He shielded his face and hurried down the stairs. Looking both ways before running back across the street, he reached his car and sped off.
He laughed loudly as he turned left on Jerome Avenue. “You shoulda seen the look on that nigga face! He be gone by the time you get back, aight?”
He looked over at her, making a right on West Fordham. “You alright?”
“I’m fine. Just pissed is all.”
Rich didn’t understand it. “Why you let that nigga beat up on you, Money?” That was his nickname for her when she was a younger girl. She was always asking him for money, and it sounded enough like Monie to pass as a nickname.
“He ain't never hit me before aright? We had a fight and then he tripped out and punched me.”
“What you do?”
“I hit him back, word, but I couldn’t really get into nothin serious with him.”
“Shit. The Money I knew woulda hung his ass out to dry.”
“I didn’t want to get hurt.”
Rich looked out his side mirror as he merged onto I-87. “Why not? I memba them days you and me used to fight niggas together. We was on that Bonnie and Clyde shit.”
“Just drop it, Rich.”
“Why you getting all stank? I’m just wanna know-”
“I’m pregnant, alright?”
Rich skidded as he lost control of the car for a second. “What?”
“And it ain't his.”
“What? Money, you talkin crazy! What you sayin?”
She punched the door on her side. “Fuck, see that’s why I ain't wanna say nothin, Rich.”
“My bad, Money. But on the real. When you was gone say somethin? All that money I spent sendin you to college and now you droppin out?”
“I ain't fuckin say I was droppin out, aright? You and Grandma think just alike, damn. She said the same thing. I’m still goin to school, I’m still goin to work, ain't shit change, Rich, damn. Can a bitch get some support?”
“My fault, Money. My fault. Who’s the father?”
“This nigga off my campus. It was kinda by accident. I was studyin with him in his apartment and shit just got a little hot. I found out a couple weeks ago.”
“How far are you?”
“Thirteen weeks.”
“Fuck you smokin for?”
“I’m quittin. Damn, Rich, what, you my daddy now?”
Rich shifted gears. “That nigga know?”
“Yeah, he know.”
“What he say?”
“He said he gone take care of me. And he be makin sure I’m alright and shit. That’s how Speed found out about him. He called and asked how I was feelin and Speed nosey ass was listenin in the room. He heard Tony ask about the baby and he flipped.”
“This new nigga, Tony, he decent? I ain't gotta go see him, right?”
Simone laughed. “He alright, Rich. You ain't gotta give him the Speed treatment. What you do to him anyway?”
Rich shrugged. “We just had a lil talk, that’s all. You ain't gotta worry about that. I gotta buy you a new end table though.”
Simone knew to leave it alone. She’d been there when her brother had killed before and he wasn’t above killing for or over her. She leaned back in her seat and they just cruised. Rich was astonished yet pleased with the current strain of events. He was a little upset with his sister getting herself into this sort of predicament, but happy she knew where she wanted to be and how to get there.
“How’s Grandma, anyway?”
“Hmph. You need to go see for yourself.”
“Money, you know Grandma ain't hardly tryna to hear from me,” he said frustrated. “Its my fault mommy died, its my fault daddy died, its my fault Darnell in prison, I ain't tryna hear that shit from her.”
“She do not be talkin like that, Richard. She miss you and I was tellin her you meant to come see her.”
He looked at her after turning onto Riverside Drive. “She said she miss me?” he asked deadpan.
Simone nodded. “She wanna see you. You know she ain't got but so long for this world, nigga.”
“Yeah, well, she shoulda thought about that fore she threw me out.”

Rich was angry and bitter with his grandmother. He knew hustling wasn’t the way to go, but back then; it kept a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and food on the table. But Marie Pryor was a proud woman who believed her SSI and Food Stamps would be enough to raise three children. She didn’t ever accept outside help, not even from Rich. When she found out where the extra cash was coming from, she made him leave. He’d seen her since, but they’d only exchanged cold pleasantries. It made him angry to think about it.
“And Darnell got hisself arrested. I ain't have shit to do with that.”
“I know. I know.”

Simone stayed over that night. Rich made sure she was comfortable before going up to his room. The next morning light flooded into his bedroom. He was going to have a good day; his good mood from seeing his sister had carried over. His hand made its way to the nightstand. he grabbed his ringing two way and flipped it open. Eight messages from Smash and Cris B. He called Cris back and as soon as he did he wished he hadn't.
“Yo, Toots and Smash got robbed this morning.”
His good disposition was instantly shattered by the surprising news. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another. Rich had never been robbed. Stuck up maybe, but never actually robbed. “What happened?”
“They was on 116th. They ain't tell me who did it. They shot out the tires and took the cash out the trunk.”
“All of it?”
“All of it.”

Rich pulled the phone away from his ear as he banged on the bed and let out a ring of expletives. He was fuming. He was going to kill Toots when he saw her. He’d just lost thirty grand. He put the phone back up to his ear.
“I'll be right there.”

Copyright © 2005 Jacki Simmons
All rights reserved.


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Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take and may this song play all the way, through. And if it skip a beat, hit repeat, this the realest shit I ever wrote, this is me. If it skip a beat, hit repeat, This the realest shit I ever wrote, this is me. -Juelz Sanatana, This Is Me, What The Game's Been Missing