Chapter 15: “The Door”
One Year Ago
Not being able to move your arms and legs is one of the worst feelings in the world.
Janiyah squirmed. She also could not speak. Big Sam had tied her arms and legs and put duct tape over her mouth. What’s worse than being tied up like an animal? Knowing your little brother and sister is in the other room, completely oblivious to what’s going on outside of cartoons.
“What’s my little mama gonna do now?”
Her fat ass leaned against the wall, smoking a blunt. Big Sam was a woman, her name short for Samantha, and she was one of the biggest drug Queenpins in Chicago. Her name is what made her so good because everyone assumed she was a man. Sam had men under her, though, taking orders and moving weight. She didn’t have to do anything but give orders. When Janiyah met Tabitha, she had no idea she was Big Sam’s cousin. They became close friends, and both got trapped. Janiyah’s body trembled to think of the things they used to do, what people did for money, what people did for love.
She ignored Sam’s questions; her eyes were darting around the room. She looked at the driver—that piece of shit. Adam had a big crush on her, and maybe she could give him a chance, or so she thought. After finding out about Big Sam, she planned her escape with Mike and Kayla. He was supposed to take them to the bus station. Instead, he brought them here, right back to Big Sam. Of course, he was working for her. She should have known.
“Come on Niyah,” Sam continued, “you had to know I knew you would try and escape me. The good thing though, is that Ronnie ain’t that smart.”
Janiyah cringed at the mention of her little brother’s name, gritting her teeth against the tape’s stickiness. He was so naïve about Sam.
“He is starting to ask questions, though,” she took a puff of the blunt and blew out the smoke, “I wonder why?”
Big Sam winked, and her brown eyes flashed a glacial blue and then went back to brown. Janiyah frowned. It had happened in a matter of seconds. If she were not looking directly at the woman, she would have missed it. What was that? Did her eyes change? Janiyah shook her head as a chill ran down her spine. She couldn’t have seen what she thought she saw.
They were in an undisclosed location, but it looked to Janiyah to be a warehouse with a room in the back. Spacious and roomy, the cold-storage area was large and tin-roofed with concrete floors. Windowless, no one could see the inside of the building. In the middle of the space sat one table with several boxes on top. It was where they did their dirty work, she was sure.
Big Sam put the blunt out on the bottom of her shoe, and then extended her arms to receive a box from one of her men. She took out a knife and cut the package open, pausing to glance at Janiyah.
“I’m sure you will keep your mouth shut about what you see here.”
Janiyah raised a brow. That was a weird statement. Drugs. Of course it was drugs. What was so secret about that?
Sam nodded to a man in the distance. He had been standing next to the closed door that housed Mike and Kayla since they got there. Hands folded in front of him, the man had not said a word. He nodded back at Sam and knocked against the door with his knuckles. “Ey,” he shouted, “bring ’em out.”
The door creaked open, and Janiyah rocked the chair so furiously that it tipped over, causing her to crash onto the floor, her face hitting the concrete first, her nose and mouth bleeding underneath the tape and sliding down her chin. Janiyah screamed from the pain to her jaw, her eyes bulging out of her head at what she was seeing. It was her baby sister Kayla, blindfolded with a gun to her head. The man walked the girl closer to Janiyah. Big Sam smirked.
“As I said, I’m sure you’ll keep your mouth shut about what you see.”
Big Sam walked over to Janiyah and ripped the tape from her mouth, specks of blood flew off with it. Sam cringed and wiped the droplets that landed on her hand off on her jeans. Janiyah screamed from the pain.
“Please,” she cried, “please don’t hurt her.”
“It was just a matter of time before you told Ronnie about our little investment.”
At the mention of Ronnie’s name, a sound is heard near the door.
Ronnie emerges from the shadows, points a gun at Big Sam, she smiles, and Janiyah screams.
That’s not really what happened next, but it always ended this way, missing all the other stuff that happened in-between. The same scene played itself on a loop in her mind.
It was the same nightmare and the same scene. Why couldn’t she remember anything else? It always skipped to the part when Ronnie pulls the trigger, but she never sees him fall. Should she be thankful? Hell no. Not seeing her brother die but replaying the moment just before he did was no favor.
Tina would always come to her rescue, rocking her back and forth. She thinks I’m a saint. Janiyah was thankful for her mother’s best friend taking them in, but there was so much she didn’t know. Janiyah blamed herself for Ronnie’s death. If it weren’t for her sneaking around with Tabitha to work for Big Sam, he would have never gotten involved. All she wanted to do was help her mom pay back her debt. All Ronnie wanted was for his sister to stop doing what it was she was doing.
Everyone had their secrets, she guessed. Somehow, hers seemed far worse than everyone else. Tina saw a therapist and took crazy pills, and Miss Bernice let the kids take turns sitting in the passenger’s seat of her car. None of that seemed as bad as her situation. Big Sam was dead, but everybody in the hood knows just because the leader dies, that doesn’t mean your debt is paid. It just passes on to the next person in charge. Her mama may have been strung out and unstable, but she was still her mother, and she still owed.
Emotion rose in Janiyah’s throat as she started the ignition of her car and headed in the direction of Tabitha’s house, convincing herself again to keep quiet. There was no way Tina could know that she still worked for Big Sam’s people. And there was no way she could tell anyone about what she saw that night. Not about Sam’s eyes, which Janiyah was still not sure happened, or what was in those boxes. She just wanted to get the rest of this money and finish paying her mother’s debt, and it would all be over. She had cash from Ronnie’s case, but there was no way she could explain why she took thousands of dollars out of the account.
She had to finish the job.