True to the game iii, p.9
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       True to the Game III, p.9

           Teri Woods
 
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  Gena wiped her tears and smiled and held Gah Git’s hand. She leaned forward and buried her head in her grandmother’s chest. Gah Git was so strong. Only you Gah Git, only you. Gena didn’t know what it was but there was something about her grandmother that no matter what, she was able to see a bigger, better, brighter picture even when the world was dark and gray and hopeless. For Gena it seemed the older generation just had that way about them. No matter what, it was still okay and somehow the Lord would give whatever strength was needed. Maybe it was some damn magic potion that they drank when they were younger or something. Gena thought of all the stories her grandmother had told her about her mother and her father not being able to go to school and having to work the fields in the South, picking cotton all day in the hot sun. And she remembered Gah Git’s stories of the sixties and seventies and the Black Panthers and the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. Maybe that’s why she’s so much stronger than me. Gena would never have thought of marching or boycotting, and would never have imagined Gah Git out there either. Yes, her grandmother, Gah Git, was one of the last few out there who endured the water hoses, the dogs, the police batons, the beatings, the jails, and everything else, and still she held up her head and kept going. Gena never understood how her grandmother managed to always take nothing and turn it into something. She would take in her grandbabies and accept the responsibility and all that came with them. She made sure they had food to eat and clean clothes on their backs. She helped each and every one of them with their school lessons and preached day in and day out about staying out of trouble. This was her Gah Git, and for Gena to know that she had caused her grandmother pain broke her heart in two.

  Gah Git caressed Gena’s head, and Gena could hear her grandmother trying to speak.

  “Huh, Gah Git, what did you say?”

  “Don’t cry, baby,” she whispered taking in small breaths.

  Gena smiled at Gah Git and watched her close her eyes. She was on heavy sedation for the pain, and just like that like she was asleep.

  “My life is so messed up right now and I have no one, Gah Git, no one. I don’t know what to do and I don’t know where to begin. I’m pregnant, Gah Git. I’m going to have a baby.” She looked at her grandmother. Not even a flinch. Gah Git was definitely sleeping. “I thought the guy that I was seeing really cared about me. And when I went to tell him I was pregnant, he tried to kill me. He was after Quadir’s money and he tried to kill me, but Quadir rescued me and then I found out that all this time, Gah Git, he wasn’t dead. Quadir didn’t die. He’s been alive all this time. A doctor saved him and she helped him recuperate. And he never came for me, he just let me keep thinking he was dead and the guy I was seeing—oh, Gah Git, it’s such a mess—is the guy who tried to kill Quadir, so Quadir hates me. He thinks I was in cahoots to bring him harm. And I love him, Gah Git; I love him so much. It’s just that he doesn’t love me anymore. He thinks I’m his enemy and all he wants now is his money. And I’m starting to think that it was Quadir who sent that man to the house looking for me because I ran away. I snuck out the window and I left him. But the only reason I left is because he told me about him and the doctor. You should have heard the way he was talking, you could tell that he really loves her. He doesn’t love me no more, Gah Git, and I wish he did. I wish he did.”

  Gena laid her head back down on her grandmother. Gah Git had listened to every word Gena said. Oh, Lord, what a mess, Gena; what a mess you have made with your life. Gah Git wanted to speak so badly, but she didn’t. She just lay still and pretended to be asleep. She simply listened to what was going on with her grandbaby. Truth was she knew if she opened her eyes, Gena would stop talking. So, she lay there listening to Gena talking about her sordid life.

  When she was done spilling out her heart and soul Gena walked out of the room and found Markita sitting among her family in the hospital’s hallway.

  Out of nowhere, like a sabertooth tiger, Gwendolyn jumped up and went over to Gena, who hadn’t even had a chance to get the door closed.

  “You lucky I don’t fuck you up in here. See, see, see, all that shit with them gangster-ass niggas of yours got my mother all fucked up,” said Gwendolyn, getting ready to swing at Gena.

  “Fight, fight, fight,” said Bria, who smacked high fives with her twin, Brianna, as they stood on the sidelines as if watching a Jerry Springer episode.

  “Calm down; calm down,” said Michael, grabbing his sister’s arm and holding her back.

  “No, Michael, let me go. She need her ass kicked. That little bitch wouldn’t even help me get out of jail.”

  “Gah Git told me not to get you out,” cried Gena. “And I don’t know what’s going on. Bria told me what happened. I swear I don’t know who’s looking for me.”

  “Well, take your ass on somewhere until you figure it out,” said Gwendolyn.

  “Stop, Gwendolyn. Just knock it off in this hospital making all this commotion,” said Paula, who would rather see the family quarrel in the privacy of their home.

  “Don’t nobody want to hear that shit, Paula. Michael, let me go.”

  “You know what, Aunt Gwendolyn? You got so much to say about me, what about you? You broke Gah Git’s heart, running around Richard Allen like a wild crack monkey. You really got some nerve,” said Gena, ready to go toe to toe.

  “Bitch, I’ll whoop your little ass. Who you think you talking to. I’m your elder.”

  “Whatever, Aunt Gwendolyn. You’re nothing but a crack monkey,” said Gena as she was being pushed to the elevator by Paula and Bria while Michael and Gwendolyn’s boyfriend, Royce, held Gwendolyn back.

  “Come on, Gena. Just leave her alone; just come on,” said Bria, pushing the buttons on the elevator panel and trying to close the door behind them.

  “Aunt Gwendolyn is crazy, ain’t she?” asked Bria.

  “Yeah, she crazy all right. But, she’s telling the truth, though.”

  “Gena, it’s not your fault. You can’t blame yourself or let nobody else put the blame on you. Regardless of whether or not some mad, crazed lunatic is looking for you, and raped our old-ass grandmother and done damn near killed Gar . . .”

  “Bria, please, I get the point. It’s just that, truth is, she’s right.”

  “Well, what are you gonna do? ’Cause everybody is really scared for you, Gena. If that man would do that to Gah Git, Lord only knows what he’ll do to you once he finds you.”

  She’s right; there’s no telling what he’ll do. There’s no telling what Quadir has told him to do. I better get out of town and quick. But where will I go?

  “You okay? You look like you’re just staring out into space.”

  “No, no, I’m fine. I’m okay.”

  “So, what you gonna do, Gena? You better get out of town while this crazy man is looking for you.”

  “Yeah, I know. I just can’t believe he’d do something like this.”

  “Who?”

  “Nobody, nothing,” said Gena as she hugged her cousin.

  “You gonna be okay?”

  “Yeah, yeah, I’ll be fine.”

  “Where you gonna go?”

  “I don’t know. I don’t know.”

  It’s probably better that you keep your whereabouts to yourself, especially since you got crazy rapists and murderers hunting you down, mmm-hmm, thought Bria as she watched the elevator doors close with her cousin on the other side of them.

  Mommie Dearest

  Quadir strolled through the back door of his home, nearly scaring his mother to death.

  “Quadir!” She rushed to him and embraced him tightly. “What are you doing here? You know you shouldn’t be here! If someone sees you . . .”

  “It’s okay, Mama.” Quadir nodded. “I just wanted to drop by and see you.”

  “Quadir, if you needed to see me, you could have just left the code, and I would have met you at the meeting place.”

  “I know. I just wanted to see you right now. I didn’t feel like waiti
ng.”

  Mrs. Richards exhaled. “Qua, boy, what’s the matter?”

  Quadir shook his head.

  “This better not be about that damn money.”

  “Not really.”

  “Not really?” She placed her hands on her hips. “What does that mean?”

  “It’s about Gena.”

  Mrs. Richards turned back to her dirty dishes. “What about Gena?”

  “She woke up.”

  Mrs. Richards froze. “And?”

  “She knows it was me who rescued her.”

  She turned toward her son. “She knows you’re alive?”

  Quadir nodded.

  “And so, what’s next?”

  Quadir shrugged. “That’s the problem. I can’t answer that question.”

  “Well, you know I can’t answer it for you. So if it’s those kinds of answers you’re looking for, you’ve come to the wrong place. There’s a mirror behind you. Turn around, and ask away, because that’s the only person who can give you the answers you’re looking for.”

  Quadir smiled. She was as blunt as always. And just as truthful. But like all of her truths, this one was also filled with many other truths. He had come here to find an answer, and he knew that she had the key to unlock the code that was keeping him from finding peace.

  “Amelia says hi,” Quadir said.

  “Nice girl.” Mrs. Richards faced her son. “I really like her. Nice, polite, honest, straightforward, smart. And a doctor, making her own money. What’s not to like?” She turned back to her dishes and continued washing them.

  Quadir nodded. “She does have everything going for her.”

  “Nice girl.”

  “You said that already.”

  “Did I?”

  “You did.”

  “Hmm.”

  “Another hmm.”

  “Are you two getting serious?”

  “I don’t know.”

  “Why don’t you know?”

  “I don’t know that either.”

  “Are you sure you don’t know?” Viola asked with a knowing smile.

  “A lot of loose ends to wrap up, I guess. I want to make sure one door is closed before I open up a new one.”

  “Wise to always do.”

  Quadir seated himself at the table and lowered his head to his arms.

  “Sometimes doors are hard to close, son,” she told him. “Sometimes, there’s so much behind those doors that our heart won’t let us close them.”

  “What if it has to be closed?”

  “It’s hard to say good-bye to the ones we love.”

  Quadir remained silent.

  “You do love her, don’t you?”

  Quadir lifted his head and turned toward her.

  “I mean, it takes a lot for someone, especially my son, to hang up his playboy hat, and actually settle down. She must have really been something special for you to have done that. I used to wonder what was so special about Gena that could make you do that.”

  Quadir remained silent.

  “Do you remember, son?”

  “Remember what?”

  “What was so special about her that made you want to settle down and be with her?”

  Quadir lowered his head. His mother had just sucker-punched him in his heart. He did remember. He remembered her smile, her innocence, that killer body. She was his G, and he was her Qua. She was from the projects. He was trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. He was balling, trying to shine so that they could have things that they never dreamed of having. He remembered the day he promised himself that he would always take care of her. He remembered when they went to the Bahamas and stayed over at the Valiant Hotel. He remembered the first time they made love on the beach. It was as if the drink was named just for them. He remembered everything about her. Why did she have to fuck with Jerrell. Why? Things would be so much easier if she hadn’t fucked with him.

  “Ah, so you do remember,” Viola said. His silence and daydreaming had answered her question.

  “She met somebody else.”

  Mrs. Richards nodded. “She’s young, the man she loved was murdered, and in her mind you were never coming back. I’m sure enough time passed by. I’m sure she mourned her loss and then moved on. Come on, what do you expect? You were dead, and you were never coming back.” She turned to him. “I remember being met by those doctors in the hospital and being told that you were dead. I broke down right there and fell into that doctor’s arms. The first thing I thought was, my poor baby. And then I thought about how I was never going to see you alive again, how I was never going to get to see that smile of yours, how I was never going to get to hold any grandchildren from you. My Quadir was dead, and he was never coming back. I was preparing for a funeral in my head, and preparing for a life without my baby. Right up until Amelia called and had me meet her in that damn parking garage across from the hospital. She snuck me into the intensive care unit late that night and allowed me to peek into your room. I got down on my knees and prayed so hard to God that night, thanking Him for giving me my baby back, that I couldn’t walk for two days. I had the privilege of knowing that you were alive. I had the ability to sneak in and see you whenever I wanted. She didn’t have those things. Your death to her was as sure as the sun sets in the evening time. She had to move on; she had to live.”

  “You don’t understand, she was fucking with Jerrell, Mom. And he’s the one who tried to kill me.”

  Viola finished her last dish and turned to her son. “It hurts like hell, and you feel betrayed by that. Quadir, I put that girl on the streets, so that I could hide the fact you were alive, and look for that damn money. Put her on the streets! That was the worst thing I have ever done in my entire life. She had nothing, and nowhere to go when I did that. We can’t blame her for moving forward with life. She’s strong, Quadir. She wasn’t just going to curl up in a ball and die. I raised you to be a man. To stand up and be a man. No one is at fault here. You got shot, we had to protect you to keep you alive, she thought that you were dead, and life happened. It’s life’s fault. So, now you have a choice. You can go on and always wonder what if, or you can put those questions to rest.”

  “How?”

  “Do you love her?”

  Quadir went silent.

  “Do you still love her?” Viola asked more forcefully.

  “I love her.”

  “Then that’s all that matters.”

  “And Amelia?”

  “What about her?”

  “I love her too.”

  “You love her for everything that she did for you? Or are you in love with her?”

  Quadir shook his head. “That’s just it; I don’t know. She means everything to me. She’s everything that I’ve never had in a woman. She’s independent, she’s smart, she’s fun to be around, she’s strong. She puts my ass in check when I need it. I’ve never met anybody like her.”

  “Well, that’s because she’s independent and not no project chickenhead, like you’re used to.”

  Quadir laughed. “Mom!”

  “You dating these hoochies looking for some tennis shoes and something to eat, and maybe get an outfit and their hair and nails done. Let’s keep it real.” She kissed Quadir on top of his head. “And for the first time in my baby’s life, he’s met a real black woman. A strong sister, who tells him to keep his money in his pocket; she’s got this. She doesn’t need anything from you, Quadir. She just wants your love.”

  “And I want to give it to her. She deserves it.”

  “Don’t give it to her because you think you owe it to her, baby. One thing about women like Amelia, they always land on their feet. No matter what decision you make, even if your decision is to make none at all, she’s going to be all right.”

  Quadir exhaled. “You got a quarter?”

  “A quarter? What for?”

  “Hell, for the coin toss. I don’t know what the hell I’m gonna do.”

  Viola threw her head back in laughter. Quadir joi
ned in.

  “Follow your heart, Quadir.”

  “My heart is pulling me in two different directions.”

  She shook solemnly. “No it’s not. It’s pulling you in one direction, but your pride and sense of duty are pulling you in another. You don’t owe anyone anything. You don’t owe Amelia anything for saving your life. She’s a doctor; it’s her job. You don’t owe those niggas on the street no explanation. You don’t owe Gena and who cares what she did in the midst of your absence? Listen, son, you make your decisions in life based on what will make you happy. You were given a second chance to live. Take it. Don’t let nothing stop you from living your life to the fullest and being happy.”

  Quadir nodded. “I thought you liked Amelia better.”

  “I do. What mother wouldn’t want their child to marry a doctor? But hell, I’m from the hood so I’ll always root for the underdog. Listen, it’s not that I don’t like Gena or that I like Amelia better; you’re the one that gots to lay up with the broad. Shoot, not me. I just want you to make whatever decision will make you happy. I’m your mother; I love you—that’s what mothers do.”

  Sneaky Sneaky

  Rik pulled up to the shopping center in his black Range Rover and found a parking space up front. Today was a good day for shopping. He had a little change left over, and he might as well get some new kicks. Even if he wasn’t balling out of control like before, there was no sense in looking like shit. He lived by the mantra “never let ’em see you sweat.” So even though times were desperate, he was still going to look as if he were the fucking king of Philly.

  The clothing store that he chose today was one of his favorites. It was a small Italian clothier that sold fine Italian suits. They could hand-make you a suit, or tailor something off the rack to fit you just right. They also carried the latest in street gear in another section of the store. Today, he was here to do a little bit of shopping for both.

 
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