30/30 – 9 | Challenge Pt. 2

If this is your first time visiting my blog, the following will make a little more sense to you if you read PART 1 of it first.

“And speak of the demoness and here she comes!” A familiar shape caught Marcus’ attention. I followed he ’ gaze to Delia and a couple of her friends as the passed by the store where we were.

When the hell did Delia get so fine!

She was always a cute if chunky girl. Even as a tomboy she was pretty and she always had that big ol’ butt! We used to ridicule her viciously as kids. It just seems like overnight the rest of her body caught up. Still, she was just Dee to me. The pigtails and barrettes that used to be all over her head were replaced with one curling pony tail, held in place with one of those stupid looking scrunchy things that the girls wear now. Her hair almost touched her shoulder blades with the scrunchie, it had close to mid back when set loose. I remember threatening to kick her ass a couple of years ago back when we were still speaking and she mentioned cutting it. I know I’m not the reason why she hasn’t done so yet, but I am glad she hadn’t.

I was joking earlier, but I realized now I was right. The rest of her body had caught up with, giving her a very, very curvy shape. Wearing a t-shirt under an over-sized shirt, bootcut jeans and some kind of biker looking boots she was the most casually dressed of the three of them. Hell, she had on the most clothes of the three of them and she was still the best looking of the three of them. Now, if she just had on Lisa’s mini skirt and Mercedes’ snug crop top . . . DAYUM! I caught myself in mid thought.

I never really thought of her as a woman before. But a woman was damn sure what I was looking at now! Which again was stupid, I know guys are always all over her. I also know she is still a virgin. Her reputation as a cock-blocker was well in place. Sometimes, I’d swear guys step up to her just to see how she’s going to shoot them down.

“I was thinking about hooking up with her, you know. The woman is cold! But I think I got what it takes to get in that!” Marcus smirked.

“Huh?” I snapped out of my trance, hoping Marcus didn’t notice.

“Damn man!” Marcus snapped fingers in front of my face as we were walking out. “If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn you were seeing Delia Larson for the first time in your life!”
So much for that thought, I shrugged more to myself than him.

“Come back to earth, yo. I was saying I was thinking ‘bout hittin’ on her.” He repeated, indicating Delia with a nod.

“I don’t think so!” I spun on Marcus so fast I surprised myself. What the fuck was wrong with me?

“Say what?” Marcus stopped in his tracks.

“You don’t touch her ever!” I stated slightly less vehemently than before.
Where the fuck was this coming from?

My sheer confusion of the moment was apparent. I rarely have to speak to my peeps in that tone of voice anymore to get my point across, least of Marcus. Especially not over some damn girl! I couldn’t decide if it was this edginess or something specific to Delia.

“Do I get to ask why?” Marcus asked, as curious by my sudden hostility as I.

“Fuck no.” I leaned against the railing looking down the center of the mall to the lower floors.

“You plan on hitting it?” I knew Marcus knew he was pushing his luck. I knew he knew he probably felt it his duty to force me to confront whatever this was that I was feeling. But the boy could not have know how close I to the edge I was – shit I didn’t know until someone does something to make me see it.

“Don’t say it again.” I warned and I didn’t bother to pretend it wasn’t a threat. Hittin’ it was what we did with the Morgue Mamas, our sister group. Hittin’ it was what we did with the girls in school. Hittin’ it was what we did with any stupid and not so stupid female we could bullshit into giving it up. “Hit it and forget it” as they say, she was just a fuck.
You “hit” what you don’t want or care about and…


I felt my head literally snap to attention as I stood up and realized Marcus was staring at me and smiling; easily following my train of thought. This was definitely about Delia. What the fuck was going on with me? I really didn’t know how I felt other than the extreme relief that I didn’t have to deal with her at this moment. And before Marcus could inquisition me further, the topic of the conversation walked out of a boutique a few doors down.

Lisa and Mercedes, Delia’s running buddies, definitely looked as though they wanted to come over and talk to us. Something Delia was saying was holding them back. Delia and I made eye contact just before I pulled out a pair of sunglasses and pretended not to watch the exchange. A literal split decision was made. Delia walked off on her own as Lisa and Mercedes came towards us. I leaned against the railing, watching Delia as she walked away. She had an edgy energy about her. I knew that walk. Something was on her mind as well.

Marcus and I flirted with Lisa and Mercedes, just killing time. I was just beginning to feel like I could relax when my edginess went up a tempo.


I was glad I already had on the sunglasses and started to scan my perimeter. Marcus felt the change. Without missing a beat in the conversation, he casually leaned against the railing next to me and tapped out a code. I nodded in acknowledgement. Lisa, slightly more perceptive than her partner, noticed the silent exchange between Marcus and I and wisely decided it was time to go. Then again, her brother Ray is a Morguer. She may have recognized the code. Marcus turned to face opposite me. Between the two of us we now had a 360 degree view of our surroundings. Mercedes had started to protest about leaving until her cell went off.

Marcus tapped my elbow nodding to a spot over my shoulder. Delia was standing in front of Dushay’s Music store about half the mall length away from where we were standing holding her cell. I reached out and took the cell phone from Mercedes before she could answer and held up my other hand to cut off whatever stupid shit I knew was going to come out of her mouth.

“Talk to me.”

“’Raisers. Trendy’s at six down two. Bennett’s has a couple. Hank is with Jermaine Robles. Hank’s under – deep. Told them you’re running silent. Please, please tell me you’re not running silent.”

Marcus was just signaling to me about the two Hellraisers he spotted behind me and two levels down at Trendy’s while she spoke.


“Cool.” I spotted the reverse reflection of at least two more Hellraisers about three stores down from us – Bennett’s. I purposely didn’t answer her question. “Take your girls and go – now.”
“Brian Kendrick Palmera!” She hissed at me using my full formal name. She was not happy with me at the moment. She only used my name like that when she was pissed or scared! Unfortunately, I was a little too preoccupied at the moment to indulge her.

“Hey, looks like your girl wants to go, NOW!” I closed the cell and handed it back to Mercedes. Lisa pulled a protesting Mercedes and walked off.

They went off in one direction as Marcus and I walked off in the opposite. Lisa was already on her cell calling Ray. Marcus pulled out his to call in more reinforcements. If Marcus and I were lucky, some of our guys were already here just hanging as we were. If not, we were on our own.

“Are you silent?” I asked Marcus already knowing the answer.

“Yeah.” He nodded. “I knew we were coming here. I didn’t want the noise either.”

I couldn’t argue that. Normally our going in the mall without any heat wouldn’t be a problem. Carrying a piece is asking for trouble. You set off sensors like crazy. Even when you make a legal purchase you go off because you’re carrying. Depending on the store, that may actually get you busted for carrying as some cops work part-time as security and will call it in just to fuck with you. We either leave the gear in a vehicle, or as Marcus and I did, leave it with Ronny who was on door detail today, just for that reason. Unfortunately, Ronny was a good three levels down. Marcus started calling, but I knew we wouldn’t meet up in time.

All the local organizations, Morgue Makers, Hellraisers, Bloodworks etc., had an unofficial truce about malls; their parking lots and similar places were there was a lot of the public around. One group does something stupid in a place like this; we all catch fucking hell from bitch ass cops for weeks afterwards. Most of the time, the minor bullshit wasn’t worth the ensuing headache.

This was not minor.

A Morguer went under deep. He switched organizations, to our main rivals the Hellraisers.

This wasn’t even a challenge – this was an out-and-out fucking assassination attempt.


Henry Innis called Hank just like Aaron, was trying to make his mark within the Morgue Makers. He’s young and has a real mean streak in him. He likes to hurt people. This makes him useful as an enforcer, but he has little sense of self-control. I was hoping to hone his skills and his mind, but I knew he was going to be a problem after I had to take him down in front of the guys for jacking up some young girl because she pissed him off.

And he wants to be a power – bad. He beat the shit out of Frick – our former Arsenal. He beat the shit out of the guy in a challenge for his title. As thanks for the twenty-something stitches and the trouble of it all, Frick lost his job. If you can’t protect yourself you can’t protect our ammo, that’s law. Still, there was no way in hell I was letting Innis anywhere near our gear. I gave the title of Arsenal to Tagger instead, which pissed Hank off royally because even he knows he can’t beat Tagger. Point blank, every Warlord needs a killer and Tagger was mine. Tagger was short for Toe-Tagger. Even Hank didn’t need that shit explained to him. He had the chops to eventually equal if not replace Tagger someday, but not now. So, Morgue Makers and I weren’t giving him what he wanted fast enough and he thinks he’s going to get it from Hellraisers instead? The boy has a lot to learn, and I could not wait to begin class.

Hank was at the office when Marcus and I left. He knew we were going to the mall and we were running silent. Does that mean he also knows there are only a few other Morguers here? Or is he taking the chance that by the time they arrive the damage is done? Does he not realize that no matter what happens he’s a dead man? No one likes a turncoat. Your previous alliance will take you out because you turned on them. Your current alliance may take you out because if you turn once, you could turn again. You’ll be used for whatever info can be gathered and then you’re put down.

Almost always permanently.

Marcus and I heard yelling not too far behind us. The yelling did it; even Marcus had to grin under the circumstance. The woman was a royal pain in my fucking ass. What part of Take your girls and go – NOW was misunderstood? They were making such a commotion I had to look.
Somehow, Jermaine was on the floor tangled up in the bags Delia was carrying. He was cursing her out and she was cursing back. Hank was laughing at the both of them, which caused Jermaine to turn on him. Then they both saw Marcus and I and remembered why they were there. I didn’t see Digger at first. I just heard that heavy ass chain with all those keys he always carries with him and knew he was to my left. I signaled Marcus out of habit, but I could tell he already spotted the situation.

As Jermaine and Hank started to come toward us, Lisa and Mercedes accidentally into them. At least Lisa had – that was too bold a move for chicken shit Mercedes. But it worked out perfect, because in Mercedes’ haste to get the hell out of their way she wound up tripping Jermaine again, who fell into Hank, which caused Mercedes to fall on top of them. God, it was beautiful! I couldn’t have planned that if I wanted to. I swung around and sucker-punched Digger just as he was about to come down on me with brass knuckles. Marcus ducked as a guy the ‘Raisers call Jimmy swung.

Digger was strong but he was slow. The key with him was not to let any of his hits connect. At least not more than once! I heard a commotion below me, then a whistle and I smiled. Morguers were here! I didn’t know how many were in, but I knew by the whistle that at least one was Lisa’s brother Ray. Only he could whistle that damn loud and clear! The two Hellraisers at Trendy’s were now accounted for. That left it at a two to four ratio, between Marcus and I.


I was still tangling with Digger when Jermaine jumped in. Marcus and Jimmy were at it. Hank was off to the side, just watching; the plan being to tire me out. Jermaine must have thought of it, because Hank has no head for that type of subtle strategy. Putting Digger and Jimmy on me was a pretty damn good plan. When Hank finally does make the challenge, I won’t be quite as up to par, while he’d be fresh.

Only thing, I just wasn’t having it.

Not only is Digger big and lumbering; he also doesn’t have a lot of endurance. He was already starting to slow down. Good. I circled around so that Jimmy was behind me, with Digger in front. Of course, Jimmy tried to jump me from behind. It was so easy it felt as if he had literally jumped into my throw. I simply turned around, picked him up as his feet left the floor, turned again and used his own momentum to throw him over Diggers head into the Crazy Comics window. The impact didn’t break the glass, but it cracked. Unfortunately, Digger started to charge at me just as I released Jimmy. A flying kick to his midsection sent him flying into the same window before Jimmy had a chance to move, the glass shattered all over them.

“STOP!” I yelled it at the top of my lungs.

The stupid motherfucker Jermaine actually stopped! Marcus sucker punched him and he dropped like a rock to the floor. It was so easy I couldn’t even enjoy it. Without missing a beat Marcus got behind me to cover Jimmy and Digger in case they actually had some fight left in them.

That just left Hank and I.

I held my arms out to Innis. He came off the wall and stood less than five feet in front of me, grinning, but not speaking. I’ve seen images of demons with less deadly grins. He lowered into a fighting stance, his hands up, but not completely closed into fists.

“You know the rules Innis, you gotta say it or it’s just Britch giving out another ass kicking.” Marcus reminded him.

“Shut the fuck up bitch!” Hank hissed, “First thing I’m gonna do is kick your ass, when I become the ‘lord.”

“When you become the Lord?” Marcus shook his head, inching over to a slowly recovering Digger. “Oh hell, Britch, you knew he got a Messiah complex too?”

“What?” Hank looked up confused; I smirked. I could just make out the butt of a gun tucked in the front of his jeans under a loose shirt. I knew he wouldn’t be silent, I just wondered how loud he was going to get. He could simply issue the challenge and shoot me. Technically, he would win, but he would never have either org’s respect, because I was unarmed. Not to mention the complications of going deep. Since he officially left the Morguers, Marcus automatically ascends to my title. And unless Innis shot Marcus immediately afterward, he would be a dead man within five minutes. I had no doubt Marcus would kill him. I know I would kill Innis over Marcus were the situation reversed. That means I had to keep him talking somehow and either mentally or physically out-maneuver Innis.

“Never mind.” Marcus threw up his hands and stomped Digger back into unconsciousness. “Do what you think you gotta do. Just don’t blow your balls off with that thing, or we’ll be calling you Henrietta.”

Marcus was purposely pissing Innis off; an angry fighter was a stupid fighter. Innis had great physical instinct, but he wasn’t exactly a brain trust. If he wasn’t smart enough to not let himself get goaded, who was I to stop him? He drew the gun on Marcus.


The .380 was not silent at all.

Marcus froze and I could literally hear the change in his breathing as he switched emotional gears. I liked the sound. The last time I heard Marcus breathe like that the result landed someone the other person in a coma. In this mode Innis was truly a dead man if Marcus got close enough to touch him. The only thing that could stop him would be a kill shot. Unfortunately, I also knew Hank would do nothing less.

I decided now might be a pretty good time to end this shit.

“So, are you issuing the challenge, or are you just going to keep primping bitch?” I still had not lowered my arms. He turned the gun on me. The muzzle was less than a foot from my face. I grinned. Innis glared at me totally baffled on why I suddenly smiled and then did exactly I expected of him – he got mad.
“You think I won’t bitch!” He yelled.

Our eyes never left each other as my smile broadened as I dropped kicked him.

As he fell, he cocked the gun, pulled the trigger…

…and nothing.

That’s why I grinned, in his anger the stupid little bitch forgot the safety was on!

He was totally confused for only a second before realizing his mistake, by then I had kicked the gun out of his hand. I could tell by the noise there was a little bit of a scramble as people got out of the way of the weapon. My eyes never left Innis, this was not Digger; he recovered quickly enough. I swung at him with the intention of giving up a left upper cut when he slashed my arm.

Where the fuck did the knife come from? This thing was no fucking joke!

The blade itself was about ten inches long. One side was razor sharp, the other side serrated. Not just serrated, but it edges curved inward like hooks. I glanced at my arm then returned my focus to him, he was grinning again.

Fuck, I knew that look.

I’ve seen it on Tagger enough. Hank was really ready to deal and finally issued the challenge for my title. My arm hurt like a motherfucker, but I could not afford to check it. I knew the moment I took my eyes from Innis I was dead and all Marcus would be able to do was avenge me.

All organizations respected the rules of a challenge. Once issued, you fought with what you had on you at the moment or whatever you could make do with. No one could assist you in any manner other than ensure that no one from opposing orgs number up on you or assist their member. I could feel the blood starting to run down my arm, but I opened them in challenge again. I heard Marcus curse under his breath, which meant the cut was worse than I thought and the true pain would kick in the moment my adrenalin faded.

“That’s cute, Hankie. So did your Mama buy that for you from the Star Trek store? You got the little communicator thingy too? Spock calling Hankie. Mr. Worf would like his apple corer back.” I don’t know what he expected me to do, but it damn sure wasn’t to mock him. Innis blinked rapidly. He was totally baffled by my behavior. There was a reason why I was Warlord and the little fuck still didn’t get it. Someone laughed hard at that corny ass shit I said, but it was enough to get further under Innis’ goat and that’s all I wanted.

“Bitch!” Innis charged at me.

I could tell he was expecting me to swing sideways so I dropped down to the floor. He was committed to his forward motion, and the blade went way over my head. I grabbed his blade hand on the way up twisting his wrist. He back flipped out of it. I front flipped back into it, and landed a solid punch in his gut. He bent over double. As I said, Hank was no Digger. The little motherfucker punched me in the balls. It hurt enough to stun me for a moment, but it wasn’t full contact, I came out of it faster than he expected and saw the blade coming.

The look of surprise on his face that he missed my throat was probably and the same look on my face.

I was losing blood from my arm and already felt it going numb. I didn’t think it would be in my best interest to give up anymore hemoglobin. Somewhere, behind me I heard a cop order Innis to drop the blade. Of course, being a dutiful citizen, he obeyed.


Hank came at me again and we both went over a bench. I landed on my back, with him on top of me. I quickly rolled over taking him with me and started beating the shit out of him. I was hitting him faster than he could get the knife to me, but I was still getting sliced like mad on my hands and lower arms. The cop attempted to pull me off of Innis, who used the distraction to bury the knife in my gut.

The pain stunned me so I could not yell out. Maybe I should have, because Hank apparently felt he hadn’t got me enough and twisted it.

Then I screamed.

The cop who had me, held on tighter. I was too stunned from the pain of the blade to break free. Hank stood up with that damn grin and yanked the blade out, with some help from me as I kicked him backwards and I regretfully found out what the serrated side was for the hard way.

Getting stabbed with the smooth edges blade going in was painful enough; to suddenly have it yanked out is worse. This damn thing had been twisted in me and then yanked. Only the cop holding me up as he was trying to pull me away from Hank kept me standing. I felt each and every one of those fucking hooks! I felt rather than saw Hank coming at me again. I knew I would not survive another gut slashing of that blade.

Using the cop as a brace I lunged up and used both feet to send Hank sailing away from me. Now, the damn cop lets go to try to catch his own balance and we both dropped to the floor. I screamed from the effort. I heard a lot of other people screaming, but I was in too much pain to respond. I was damn near blind with it. I rolled off the cop and tried to stand, looking for Hank, when I saw Delia running towards me.

What the fuck was she doing?? I reached out to stop her, but slipped on my own blood.

“Oh shit!” I fell into Delia’s arms and she lowered me to the floor. I was starting to feel dizzy. Shit was becoming this surreal blur of light and sound. Delia was saying something to the cops Marcus was yelling at someone about self-defense. Good, he was all right. Mercedes was carrying on about something else, when both Lisa and Delia turned and yelled “Shut! The! Fuck! Up! Now!” at her.

And all of it sounded like it was happening in a water tunnel, a block away.

I smelled honeysuckle.

Delia likes honeysuckle.


Why was she here? I reached out to her.

“Keep still, dammit!” She admonished, “You’re losing a lot of blood. We’re waiting for paramedics.” She grabbed some kind of cloth out of a bag, placed it over what felt like an ever-growing fire in my gut and had me apply pressure. If the paramedics didn’t get here soon I knew I was going to pass out from shock. I had to stay conscious as long as possible. I was incapacitated and Marcus was definitely in cuffs, otherwise he would have been by my side. I didn’t know how many of my boys were, if they were clear of the cops and more important were there any other senior members present?

I saw one of my boys on the other side of the mall. He was leaning on the railing, just one of the many shoppers watching what was going on over here. But his fingers were moving. I was a slow pattern, because he had to keep casual in his moves. I realized he was actually signaling Marcus, correctly assuming I was out of it. I got the message. Three Morguers were down. I knew who two were who was the third? I tried to look around.

“Stop it!” Delia hissed at me. “You trained them; trust them to hold it down ‘till you get back!”
I was not even going to ask how she knew what I was doing. I simply nodded and succumbed to her administrations. She was ripping up a t-shirt and using the strips to replace the shirt barely stemming the flow of blood from me. The price tag scratched my skin as she removed it. Christ! She was using material from the stuff she just purchased.

She was staring down at me. It was more than clinical concern for my well being, but I wasn’t sure how to read it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to. I just knew I didn’t want her to leave, so I asked was what the return policy on all the stuff she was wasting on me.

“Absolutely nothing, which is a hell of a lot fucking more than what your punk ass is worth.” She grimaced, tossing aside more bloodied material. She looked toward the railing where more cops stood looking over the side.

“Innis?” I was starting to feel dizzy again.

She didn’t answer me, just slowly shook her head and looked at cops at the railing. I could hear a lot of noise from down below and it slowly sank in. My desperate Hail Mary kick had sent him over the railing to the main floor.

Four stories below us.

I won. Oddly enough, I didn’t feel particularly good about that and I guess it showed in my face.

“You did what you had to.” She shrugged reading my mind.
“But I’ve lost something important in you haven’t I?” I asked reading hers.
“Does it matter?” She asked her voice was very low, quiet.
“You know it does.” I answered honestly.
She was ripping up something else and had started a makeshift tourniquet on my arm. She looked at me, studying my face, not speaking.
“DiDa…?” I whispered after a while.

She blinked. I haven’t called her DiDa since middle school when her favorite saying was an exaggerated “La-Di-Da!” I wasn’t sure where that had come from, but it felt good, familiar and safe.
“Let’s just say I don’t think I could handle the alternative.” Her voice trailed off near end but I heard it.

“Don’t leave me.” I whispered.

I didn’t know what I was going to say, but I damn sure wasn’t expecting to say that! I knew she was speaking from the heart. I just didn’t know I was until the moment I said it. I think she was about to say something when a sharp pain went searing through me and my head started spinning.

“Oh shit!” I touched her face.

I started coughing. I tasted my own blood. Fucking great! I thought I hear Delia calling out my name, but I wasn’t sure, I was getting that far away feeling again.
“I’m glad you’re here, Dee.” I had left a bloodied handprint on her face.

She was saying something, but I couldn’t hear. I felt someone was pulling her away from me. No! I yell out. At least I thought I had, I. I couldn’t hear me, I wasn’t sure and it didn’t seem like anyone else heard either.

I felt someone grab my hand. Delia, Good.

That last thing I remembered was attempting to apologize for the handprint.


Long Fallen

Painting of street worker

It’s Autumn, where the verdant leaves turns gold,
And goldenrod leaves quickly become old
And those old leaves soon become just like me
Something broken and crushed, something empty
Long fallen from the grace it used to be

Hard to believe, less than eight years ago,
I think eight, I’m not sure, the years blend so
My employer came to me one down time
And said I wasn’t pulling in the dimes
I’m a utensil that was past my prime

That as such made me particular waste
And was let go from employ with due haste
Youth started its slide from my once young face
I knew the rules, there was no pleading case
No chance of rescue in this youth built place

I started at fifteen, oh such a knave
But had a knack for knowing clients’ craves
I worked there before I had license to
Attained status, before my year was through
This job was all I ever knew to do

The cache of being ‘personal escort’
I never knew a life without support
That cache provided me some global treks
Spinning clients through my erotic hex
And I won’t lie; I damn sure loved the sex

I joked this job was custom made for me
Their faces at the point of ecstasy
And as conversant in Sun Tzu as Mr. Magoo
My clients soon found out I had smarts too
And for the price, little I would not do

Out lasted many who’ve come through the door
Damn lucky to be there at fifty-four
But like my concaved waist, it couldn’t last
My job choices were very far from vast
Don’t have much future because of my past

I’m offered some dinky job on the side
But I still had a little too much pride
To be a has-been hanging on the scene
I remember how I treated has-beens mean
When I once ruled the roost as its main queen

I’m treated like someone they’ve never known
When I tried to hold some clients on my own
With individual contact of each
A beat down was the last lesson left to teach
That everything I had was out of reach

I’ve gone from elite, to stripper, to street
Where I fidget on very tired feet
Jumping from each nameless and faceless mate
Wondering just which day will seal my fate
The seasons are my only notes of date

And it’s Autumn again the leaves turn gold,
Slowly turning other colors they grow old
Long fallen from the place they used to be
What time has washed away past their glory
And then die, a cruel metaphor of me


dVerse Poets Pub ~ Poetics: Autumn Chill is in the Air


The subway commute is always an awkward ride
More than an hour of standing with the sweating masses
Somehow managing to remain looking dignified
When buffeted about by strangers’ asses

It’s near winter but the air-conditioning is set to Siberia
And several passengers seem on the verge of hysteria

I risk serious hearing loss by trying to drown out the inane
Cacophony of various mindless teenage chatter
I’d read, but my weary eyes just won’t bear the strain
And a snooze is impossible amid the jostling and clatter

The smell of food on the subway making my stomach rumble
The leftover stench from a derelict rider causing a grumble

Granted, it’s always better when I can find a seat
Unless I relinquish it to someone pregnant or older
And sometimes, I wish I had stayed on my feet
When a strange sleepy head leans on my shoulder

But right now I’m good though the train is again stuck
For I’m conversing with a stranger who is cute as all fuck

Nice Knowing

Semi-long day at work, I’m getting home two hours later than usual, yesterday evening. For the last third of the train ride I suffered through the shenanigans of a group of five late-teens/early twenties females who were being, well, the near stereotypical archetype of hood rats. The attempt to simply out loud them via my iPod was futile unless I was willing to risk hearing loss on my part, I wasn’t. Between way too much intimate detail of sex acts than what is proper for a subway during rush hour and the volume, I was really hoping the next stop would be the one in which they disembark.I really hoped that for several stops. As Murphy as his blasted Law would have it, I’ll let you guess at which stop they finally exited… Yes, the same stop as mine.

Grouse. Grumble. Grimace. Groan.

As I’m walking down the stairs from the elevated trains, a few steps ahead of them, I feel this odd tingling that stops me in mid step, but is gone just as fast, so that I barely break stride and continue. I can tell they felt it also because whichever one was cackling at the moment went silent and I heard another let out a “Whoa!”. Before I can even begin to fathom what that could have been, a mighty roar of thunder rolls overhead. If it was four seconds between the tingle, the stop in mid-step and the clap of thunder it was a lot of time. The bark of thunder was so loud, fierce and sudden that a couple of young women screamed in surprise. Every now and then my mind surprises even me with how fast it can extrapolate information, process it and come to a conclusion. The girls screamed; I on the other hand was, without an emoticon, laughing out loud.

Note to self: Bursting out in laughter in front of a group of ghetto girls that just screamed because of thunder — bad move.

Girl A: What the fuck are you laughing at?

Me (I turn quickly already knowing the answer): Are you addressing me?

Girl A: Yes, what the fuck you’re laughing at?

Me: May I ask you young ladies a question? Why did you scream just now?  (You know the saccharine was dripping quadruple time, right?)

Girl B: ‘Cause the lightning scar- suprised us. (I give this one points for catching herself before letting it slip that it scared her.)

Me: Was it the lightning? Any of you really see the lightning or was it the sudden thunder?

Girl A: Okay it was the thunder. Big fucking deal, ain’t sayin’ nuttin’ on whatchu think be funny.  (I know the expression on my face slipped for one second at the butchery of our native language; I know it did.Luckily, they either didn’t notice or more likely had no clue that was the reason.)

Me: Okay, you are all younger than I so I am going to presume you remember more of basic science than I. What comes first, thunder or lightning?

Girl C: Duh, lightning! Light travels faster than sound, so most of the time you see lightening before you hear the thunder unless it’s like right on top of you. Then it looks and sounds like one. (Plus points for the NYC edumacation system – yay! Minus for the tone of voice that was obviously proud of knowing something most primary schoolers learn by first-grade and thus missing the entire point of my snark).

Girl A: And the lightning hadda be like right ova our heads to be all loud like dat. We gots all dis metal ’round us we coulda like died and shit. That ain’t funny.

Girl D (obviously not wanting to be left out of the conversation: That’s why it made me yell.

Me: So those of you that “yelled” did so because you thought you could have died? Right?

Girl A: Yeah and?

Me: If you hear thunder and you have enough time to scream about it, however close it was, and I agree this had to be right on top of us because we all felt a piece of it, that means we survived it. (I literally see the epiphany dawn in Girl C as I speak.)

Me: You screamed because you were thinking “Shit! I could have died!”. I laughed because I was thinking “Shit! I survived!” See the difference? (Girl C and the up to now silent Girl E nod.)

Girl E: See (Girl A’s actual name)? Lookit you all ’bout to start some shit and the lady ain’t even thinkin’ ’bout ‘choo! She just happy she ain’t dead. Now let’s go ‘fore it start coming down.

Me (turning to go): Goodnight ladies, stay dry!

Two of them, I think Girls C and E respond. I hear one say (Girl E?, presumably to Girl A) “Don’ hate, ’cause you know you wrong”.

Weather wise, while other places were pelted with hail, we didn’t get a drop of rain in our area last night. The entire storm for us existed of that one hell of a bolt of lightning that we felt but didn’t see and the ensuing thunder. I personally think the entire exchange was a message from the universe to the two of us (Girl A and I). Girl A and I felt the exact same tinges of current and heard the same loud thunder, yet we had two very different reactions to it.

Of the two mindsets, I have to say – it’s nice knowing where my head space is at these days and I like it !

What Goes Around…

I was almost-mugged last night and I find myself considerably nonchalant about this.

I have always known my neighborhood was not one of NYC better neighborhoods when I moved in.  At its best, this neighborhood may be described as barely decent. It has not been at its best for as while now. It has not reached ghetto status, but I definitely live in “the hood”.  Having come from a background of being the perpetrator of some dirty deeds as a teen, I’m even more vigilant against being the potential victim of such as an adult.  Which is what made what happened last night interesting to say the least.

I was not dressed-up, and it was not yet 11pm.  This is not late for my station at all so there is a fair amount of foot traffic. There were at least two people behind me and maybe another four others spaced out in front of me, when I disembarked.  I had my purse slung on my right shoulder, hand around the handle, the way any woman carrying a mini leather steamer trunk of crap would.  Because my back was bothering me the past few days, I did something I usually do not do. I used the handrail with left hand.  I was halfway down when I heard the commotion of someone running down the stairs. Again, not anything unusual in my neighborhood.  However, being pushed from behind and feeling a sudden tug on my purse was very much unusual.

As I said with my background, it didn’t quite work out the way as the attempt-ee planned it. I hold my purses in such a way that my fingers are usually intertwined in some loop or ring.  The bag can only slide but so far down my shoulder before my fingers are engaged in the instinct to tighten. It’s not that it can’t be snatched from me, it’s just that takes a more work as the attempted robbers. Most snatch and grabbers go for the easy looking targets, any sign of resistance, they generally just keep moving and find another (hopefully easier), target. That I was on stairs and not flat ground helped. My instinct was to pivot and grab the banister/railing to stop my fall, not extend my arm out. Between the unexpected grip on my bag and the way I was falling, it  allowed me to keep my bag as he had no choice but to keep running or risk someone grabbing him.  The people in front of me didn’t have a clue as to what happened as the guy ran past them. The guy behind me was dumbstruck for a moment, but stayed with me long enough to make sure I was all right as I finished making my way down the stairs.

The cost of keeping my belongings?

  • My wrist is a little sore from the sudden wrenching of the bag snatch and the grabbing of the rail to stop my fall.
  • A badly bruised hip and even more pain in my back, but thanks to Advil, Sweet Advil, today has been tolerable.
  • A minor chastising of myself for leaving that shoulder open. I should have thought to change the back to the shoulder closest to the railing I was holding, but yeah, I’m only human.

This is now the third time, I’ve been mugged in thirty years. The last time was nearly twenty years ago. This is the first time nothing was taken. As I was explaining why I was limping to a co-worker, he responded I was rather calm about it all things considered. I admit was fuming something fierce last night, but I was also in too much pain to do anything but take pills and go to bed.  Having had a night’s sleep, I honestly see it as one part Karma paying me back and part a sign of the times of the economy, that these types of up close and personal robberies are making a comeback.  Another taste of how my neighborhood is declining and there is nothing I can do about it. At least none that I’ve thought of yet.

Key word – yet.


Seven Year-Old Girl Pimped-out at Party by Step-Sister
and Gang Raped

To say I was speechless upon first reading this article is an understatement. I have oscillated between pure rage, pure sorrow and depressed resignation since I first read it, over a week ago. My head realizes what has happened, but my heart simply cannot process this.

Yes, the step-sister bares a magnificent portion of the blame here. She was fifteen-years-old.  Not a legal adult by law to make the decision to prostitute herself on her own, but obviously old enough to know what she was doing. The social and moral wrongs of her own acts are not debatable; she was wrong. What she did/allowed to be done to her little step-sister is so beyond wrong there really is not an adjective to aptly put this in any perspective.  However, as much as I put the share of blame on her for what happened, she was not the only person at that party.  No matter which way I turn this I keep coming back to one question infallible question to the men involved in this:

How Could You?

The statutory rape of the fifteen-year-old girl was disgusting enough. Granted she was officially prostituting herself, but you – however much/little you paid for her services, you were raping her.  However old you are above or below the age of consent, how could you have even thought about wanting to, let alone actually do the brutal act of, inserting your penis into the vagina of a seven-year-old child?  Where in the depravity called your mind (because you obviously have no soul) did you take a look at this child and thought to yourself that this was something good? You deserve to spend the rest of your life as a eunuch.

According to the reports, there were at least a dozen people at this party.  My God, what form of hell had this seven-year-old doled-out in a past life that she should be so punished in this one? To be led, by her own step-sister, to an abandoned apartment full of misogynistic, depraved individuals, to be gang raped?  What kind of culture is it where not even one person in that room thought it was wrong and left to call the police?  Not one person ONE FUCKING PERSON in that room simply said “No.”.  Whether they took part in it, or turned a blind eye to the event, they are all perpetrators in this crime and all culpable.

The ONLY good news in this will be the penal system. Even a prison system has its bottom of the social barrel, and that is those who mess with children.  We won’t hear about it, and if even one iota of prison stories are true, we won’t want to hear about it. We never know how it gets out, but information about child molesters/rapists always gets out in the penal system and when it does…

…Let’s just say justice, for this seven-year-old child, will be served.

And now what…?

I was putting out my garbage for the morning pickup when I heard all this ruckus going on behind me where my neighbor’s car is parked in a sort of open area between buildings used as  a driveway. It was seven teenaged-boys at least sixteen years of age fighting. Rather, I should say, four were throwing some serious punches; one was counting numbers and laughing at the fighting with another boy.  I was a little familiar with the basic concept of this. The ones doing the beating only had to the count of one hundred to do whatever they wanted to do to the one getting beat and then they had to stop. Depending on how much the one getting beat was disliked it could a semi-fast count or a really slow one.  If anything interrupted the fight, even if the count was already at ninety-nine, the count had to restart from the beginning. If the ones doing the beating had mercy they could choose to reduce the recount to fifty or twenty-five. My first thought was boys (even ones more than big enough to know better) will be boys.

It’s near 6pm in the evening; I didn’t see any one coming or going on my short block, I did not have my cell on me and above all I was out-numbered by males a lot younger than I. In all honesty , I wouldn’t have gotten involved at all except, this was happening on the property of my apartment building and they were too close to my neighbor’s car. There was a school yard a block away, if they wanted to fight over whatever stupidness it was about, take it over there. Then I saw the seventh one who was getting beat.

He was not a teenager; this boy could not have been older than twelve at the most.  The smallest of the teenagers doing the beating had a good six inches and at least twenty pounds on him and there were four of them.  At this point I forgot about my neighbor’s car. I was worried about the child balled up in a near-fetal position against the fence.

“What the hell are you doing? Get away from him!” I yelled. Luckily for the child the count had just reached a hundred and the teenager counting had called for the break before I yelled. My trying to help could have made it worse for him as I only remembered about the recount rule after I was back in my apartment.

“Yo, mind yo business!” The counter sucked his teeth.

“Boy, don’t even try to act all man up now. You and your friends are beating up on one child nearly half your age. You get no cred for that.” I stared him down, “Besides, you’re on my building property; it is my business.”

If he or his friends were going to say or do anything else; it was cut short by a teen-aged girl who appeared and called him stupid and pretty much said what I was saying.  However she said it, it was enough to get him to relent.  Just then, one of my other neighbors came running out brandishing a baseball bat, and stopped short when he saw me.  From the side window of his apartment he saw the four boys beating up on the one and came down for that, but I was in front of the building out of his line of vision,  he never saw me out there. Not that it would have stopped him.  We all gave each other evil stares as the five of the teenage boys and the girl passed, but no one said anything.  The fifth teenager was trying to help the kid, but drew back when the kid yelled to get the fuck off.  He and the sixth teenager stepped to the side as the boy came out. He was limping, and his face was going to be a series of bruises by the morning, but seemed otherwise alright. I started towards him, but he looked at me with such malice, I stepped back just as I felt my neighbor’s hand on my shoulder about to pull me back. We both watched as this boy limped away in the company of the last two teenager.  I’m not one hundred percent sure but, I believe as they passed, I heard one of the teenagers say to the other that the kid had guts and took it well.  Took it well? What the fuck? The beat down was on purpose?

I can’t swear on it, but I believe what I witnessed was something known as being “jumped in”.   This child purposely let himself get wailed on as a gang initiation rite. If this is true, I am even more scared of that child’s future than I was of what I saw.

“Art” In The Eye Of…

I was walking to the subway after coming from an art show. Just before I reached the train station, I came across this new mural.  It consisted of various women in a colorful, exaggerated, stylized representation of the urban street culture. That is putting it very nicely in artistic terms.

In my terms, it was a HAM (a Hot Ass Mess).  To me it looked like a very bad cross between Dr. Seuss and an acid-tripping graffiti artist.  These women (obviously of color) were “’hood”; as in from the kind of inner-city neighborhood, most people try to stay out of after dark.  I knew immediately anything that huge was commissioned to be there.

Sofia Maldonado - Times Square Mural

Sofia Maldonado - Times Square Mural

Of all the artwork out there representing women for possible display in Times Square “the crossroads of the world” this is the art that what was chosen?  Seriously?  I thought perhaps I was being overly sensitive, and seeing things that were not there, but maybe not…

“It is felt by a great many woman that this mural is an affront to hardworking Black and Latino women everywhere. It depicts them as hoes, sluts, and street walking prostitutes. Not one business or professional woman is represented in the mural for balance”
…states Community Advocate Anthony “Tony” Herbert.

Natasha D on literanista.net said..

“Many people are disgusted by the mural being displayed by Sofia Maldanado. It is a negative depiction of black and Latina women. Artists should have some social consciousness and be responsible and she is completely clueless. How dare she cause this affront to women of color. I am utterly disgusted, as well as many other women.”

Sofia Maldonado - Times Square Mural (Detail)

Sofia Maldonado - Times Square Mural (Detail)

Sofia Maldonado - Times Square Mural (Detail)

In fairness here is a statement from the Artist, Sofia Maldonado

“The 92-feet long mural illustrates strong New York City women as a tribute to the Caribbean experience in America. Inspired by my heritage, it illustrates a female aesthetic that is not usually represented in media or fashion advertising in Times Square. It recognizes the beauty of underground cultures such as reggaeton, hip-hop and dancehall and incorporates trends such as nail art and Latina fashion. Green organic forms represent the imaginary land that third generation immigrants create in their minds about their countries of origin. I represent the characters and happenings that tourists usually do not see in Times Square, even though it could be a frequent scene in the other boroughs of New York City. These women are strong single mothers or wives who enjoy life and have overcome tough experiences living in and immigrating from a third world country.”

I know art is subjective, but in the street vernacular “I’m not feeling this” at all.