Writers Wednesday – Chapter 2: The Men with Blue Eyes

Chapter 2 – Missing

Did you miss Chapter One? Start Here!


“Ronnie, no!”

Tina shot up, swung her legs off the bed and snatched her robe from the hook on the door. Pulling it tighter around her body she was in Janiyah’s room in an instant and rocking the seventeen-year-old in her arms. There was no explanation needed and no sound escaped either of the women’s mouths except the whispered shooing coming from Tina. She rocked and rubbed the young woman’s head with her eyes closed. This had become her routine. Running into Janiyah’s room in the early mornings, holding her through the nightmares she didn’t think would have lasted this long. She also worried she could not sympathize with her sister’s daughter as intimately as she wanted. After all, she wasn’t there but Niyah was. To lose your baby brother in such a violent way was one thing. To witness his murder was another thing. And then, there was the other thing.

Tina’s cell vibrated in the other room, the loud hum calling out to her. Peering down at her exhausted teenager, she removed her arms and let the girl’s drowsy body fall back into the sheets and covering her, Tina tippy toed out the room.

“Hmm.” She looked down at the tiny screen and plopped down on the bed. That was odd. What was the office doing calling her so early? She looked toward the window. The sky was still dark, the sun not yet peeking through. She still couldn’t believe the city settled and despite four people living here, the house was still too big, though no amount of money could bring her nephew back. She threw herself back into the bed and called the number back.

“You better have a good reason for calling me so early in the morning,” she laughed, pausing as the person on the other end spoke.

“What?” Tina’s smile faded and she shot back up in the bed.

“Everyone? How is that even possible?”

Balancing the cell between her ear and shoulder, she slipped on a pair of jogging pants. Trying to do the same with a blouse was not going to work.

“Hold on a minute…” Placing the phone on the bed she slipped on her shirt and decided it was best to put the phone on speaker.

“The phones are blowing up over here. Officer Parks said she started getting them as early as last night,” said the caller.

“Calls? What calls? I thought I told you to hold…”, she said before almost slipping on a sock. She picked it up and put it on. Now if she could just find the other one. Tina wasn’t the organized type at home. What she could do in the courtroom somehow did not manifest in her private life. It was one of the worries she had about being a mom. Lawyers didn’t exactly have a lot of time on their hands. She found herself hiring a Nanny against her better judgment to help maintain that balance. She had little time for laundry and housework and now that Janiyah had her license she could pick up her brother and sister from school. She did make it a point to be back in time to make dinner and spend time with the kids. It made her feel motherly, like she was upholding her end of the bargain. Ms. Alice was not allowed to cook for her family except on occasion and during emergencies. This was one of them.

“All I know is you better get your butt down here asap.”

“I’m on my way,” said Tina looking under the bed, “Where in the world is that other sock?”

“Yea, I know what that means. I’ll give you an hour,” said the caller.

“Freddy, chill. I said I’m on my way.”

“Your on-the-way has a different meaning from everyone elses. Yours means two hours from now”, chuckled Freddy.

Tina rolled her eyes and hung up on her partner.

“Kayla! Michael!” she yelled, grabbing the toiletries bag on her way out the door. She’d only have time to jump in and out the shower.

She bypassed Janiyah’s room and climbed the stairs where a giant blue M hung against a door. She banged.

“Michael!”

She turned around and ran down the short hall where a giant pink K hung, she banged, “Kayla!”

Running back downstairs Tina revisited the slightly open door from earlier and peered in, “Niyah, ya’ll come on. I need ya’ll to get up.”

The young woman stirred and slowly sat up, a black night scarf covering her head. Her elegantly arched eyebrows shot up, “What time is it?”

Tina smirked. She didn’t know how she did it, but Janiyah managed to be cute at every occasion, even after waking up. The nose ring she begged Tina for didn’t look bad against her golden-brown skin. Janiyah scratched at her nose as if reading Tina’s thoughts and as she could have guessed, her nails were freshly done.

“I need you to call Ms. Alice, tell her I need her to come in early. Like, right now.”

“OK.” Janiyah patted her head and then laughed, “Where’s your other sock?”

Tina cut her eyes and smirked as she turned away from the room to head back across the hall.

“Mike, KK. Up. Now!”

As she prepared the shower her mind flooded with Freddy’s urgent message.

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Everyone involved in the Ja’mella case were missing. The men accused of the rape, their girlfriends, the police officers, the journalist who wrote about it, even the detectives who investigated the case. Gone. “How was that possible?” Tina pondered as the shower poured its steaming hot blessings over her body. It didn’t make sense. The black men accused of raping Ja’mella Jones, a famous hair stylist on Chicago’s West Side, had been found innocent after the woman admitted she made it all up. Ja’mella even opened her store back up last year. From every angle it just didn’t add up. At least physically it didn’t.

Tina stopped moving, letting the water drench her skin. How could she have forgotten the most important piece of the puzzle? Her nephew Ronnie.

She tried to tell him about these streets and his loyalty to Big Sam ultimately cost him his life. THEY had killed him. Is that why the city had settled? Who would want to admit that Ronnie’s death was not by the hands of men but…

Tina shook her head. It’s these kinds of thoughts that got her in trouble in the first place. Still, she couldn’t shake the truth and her skin shivered from something more than the cooling water. Her skin had also started to wrinkle. Her “quick” shower had lasted longer than she wanted it too.

Tina pulled the dry towel from off the top of the shower rod. She knew. Had known all this time that Big Sam wasn’t human and that Ronnie’s death was no accident. And something told her the Ja’mella case was connected and that she was not the only person who knew. Someone was trying to keep it hush hush. Or something.

Writers Wednesday -The Men with Blue Eyes


Chapter 1: Friday, December 31, 2005, 11:55p

632 N Dearborn St., Excalibur Castle Chicago Dance Club

BODIES FILLED THE MASSIVE VENUE, and the music growled from the belly of the loudspeakers. Excalibur once again managed to stuff every available body into the three-level club. Blue, green, red, and yellow lights beamed from above the DJ table and hung from the second and third floors, illuminating the mass of intoxicated bodies on the ground floor.

“Erica, girl where you been? It’s about to start.”

Tina turned away from the bar to face the short woman of milk chocolate complexion and short hair. Her body filled out the black dress as the woman waved her hot face.

“What?”

Tina laughed, the women couldn’t hear themselves over the music. “Its bout to start! The countdown!” she yelled in Erica’s ear.

“Wait lemme get my drink.”

“Girl please, time don’t wait for nobody you better c’mon,” said Tina jumping down from the barstool.

“Grey Goose Martini and a plain cranberry juice”, shouted Erica to the bartender who smiled and winked. Baby girl was full of it tonight.

A crowd of people began to surround the main stage as it prepared to lower the huge crystal ball to the middle of the floor.

“I need yall to make some noise!” boomed the voice of the Emcee from the microphone, sending the crowd into hysteria.

“C’mon E,” said Tina, watching as the bartender handed Erica her drink.

Erica wobbled over to Tina and the women stumble toward the stage, laughing.

“Here we go!” yelled the DJ.

“Whew!” yelled Tina, laughing. It had been a long time since she had this much fun.

“I love you Chicago!” yelled Erica. Tina laughed. She was feeling it.

“We love you!”

“I love you too baby”, said the DJ.

“Whewww!” the women laughed.

“Ten…nine…” began the DJ.

“Eight…” said Erica.

“Seven…” said Tina.

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As the crowd chanted along something caught Tina’s eye. A man standing in the midst of the people and staring at her from a distance. Wearing a black suit and tie he is oddly out of place and looked to Tina to belong in a courtroom, not a club. The sound around her went mute and her mind raced to decipher the identity of the strange man. After spending the past year in therapy, she had tried to forget about her now fading past. Purposefully considering her sanity, she had not expected to walk into Erica’s office to receive such a down to earth reality check from a doctor who was now dancing out her dress in a club with her patient. As such, Tina took this as a sign that things were finally back to normal, taking hallucinogenic suppressants as prescribed and even cutting off any ties to the former life.

But now, as the club lights bounced off the hint of blue that gleamed even in the darkness, she knew that the nightmare she’d tried so desperately to separate herself from would be back and she would have to face the reality that the events of almost two years ago did, in fact, happen. Her nephew was murdered in a warehouse trying to save his sisters and brother from a possessed woman, she was now raising her nieces and nephews as her own, and as much as she wanted to be, she wasn’t crazy. Why couldn’t they leave her alone? What did they want now?

“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

The return of sound and Erica’s sudden hug made Tina fall back as Erica spilled her drink.

“Damn, messing with you”, she said wiping at her dress. “Hey girl, you alright?”

Tina’s eyes darted frantically around the club for the man, but he was gone.

“Yea girl, I’m good,” she said waving her hand.

“You sure? You been taking the pills, right? Don’t let me have to write yo butt up.”

Stealing one more glance in the direction where the blue-eyed man stood, there was no one there.

“Yea girl, I’m alright. Where the bathroom though?” she said with laughter to feign the fear that already started to seep its way through her pores and release its gas into the air.

Writer’s Wednesday – Papa’s House

Wednesday is your new favorite day! Lol. 🙂

I would like to share more of my writing with you. I mean, besides poetry. Soooo, I’ve come up with another Wednesday Segment. Welcome to Day One of Writer’s Wednesday. I was late to my workout this morning drafting this so excuse my delay on getting to the comments. I am currently sweating it out during my lunch as you’re reading. Gotta keep it together ladies!

Here’s our Writer’s Wednesday Badge.

Every other Wednesday, I’ll give you either an excerpt from one of my books or something new, a short story or something. I don’t really know but I’ll think of something creative every other week, time permitting.

This week, I am giving you a sneak peek into a scene from The Road to Freedom in a segment I like to call “Papa’s House.” Enjoy!


“This here make you grow hair on ya chest,” said Papa as we laughed, watching as Terry took in the liquor before coughing, and Papa patting his back for rescue as he laughed.

“Breathe, son, breathe.”

“What the hell is that!” said Terry, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Can’t handle it, huh T?” said Frank, laughing.

Papa’s shoulders bounced up and down when he laughed, slapping his leg as he did so. “That there’s what we call white lightening. Amazing what you can do with a little corn mash. You be alright son, breathe,” he said as Terry went back to his place on the sofa, holding his chest.

We were sitting at the home of Peter “Papa” Whitfield, the white man who offered us food and a bathroom once Ms. Mary’s vittles ran low. Peter ran a farm just outside of town and his faded blue jean overalls and heavy boots gave way to the hard work it took to run this place. Acres of land spread wide on both sides, cows grazed the area beyond the fences, and Rottweiler dogs alerted its master of strangers approaching Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian Mississippi.

The air was unusually cool tonight and the warm coffee blanketed our insides as we rested from the road. Though we would have liked to go on, Ms. Mary insisted we stop and refuel.

“You know, liquor does not actually warm you in the cold. It thins your blood and makes you colder in winter,” said Gary.

“Thank you, Gary, for that irrelevant piece of information,” said Terry.

“Well, I don’t think your friend’s gonna be worried about the cold anytime soon,” said Papa, chuckling.

“What is that heavenly smell?” said Laurie as Sara, Papa’s wife, appeared from the back of the house carrying a casserole dish.

“Why don’t you ladies come find out. Leave the men here to talk about men things,” she said, with laughter in her voice as Laurie and Fae marched on to the back to retrieve more food.

As the women disappeared, headlights invaded their places on the sofa. Papa’s dogs barked and raced toward the unknown vehicle as they growled in the night air.

“You expecting company Mr. P?” said Willie, peeking out the window.

Papa frowned and stood as Sara emerged from the back.

“Papa.”

I don’t think I like the way that she called his name.

“Alright boys, y’all head on over to the back now,” said Papa.

“Why?” said Terry.

“This ain’t the time to be asking questions now boy, go!”

We all scattered to the back of the house, walking past the thick, black curtain that separated the kitchen from the dining room table; where Terry had taken his first, or perhaps second, drink.

“What’s going on?” said Fae.

“I don’t know.”

“Shh,” said Sara as Papa’s voice roared from the front door.

“Tommy Lee, ain’t specs to see you out so late, how’s the wife?”

“Hey there,” said the voice of a deep southern drawl. From the sound of it, Terry wasn’t the only one drinking tonight.

“Oh, she’s be fine. Mighty fine. Say uh, you ain’t got no company on in there do ya, Peter?” said the Tommy Lee voice.

Papa chuckled, “You mean besides my wife?”

Tommy Lee’s drunken voice laughed. “How is Sara doing by the way? She so pretty. Hey! Sara! It’s Tommy Lee!”

“You alright, man? Perhaps we should take this on out in the yard.”

“Perhaps,” said Tommy, laughing. “That’s a funny word, “Perhaps!” he said again, laughing.

“Look a here,” said Tommy. “Word is you’s got some niggers in there.”

“Whoa,” said Terry.

“Shhh!” said Sara as we continued to listen.

“I think you better get on home now Tommy, it’s getting late now.”

“Kicking me out, huh? I ain’t gonna tell you how to run thangs, but you best be careful. Nigra mens and Nigra womens is on the loose now. They’s tryna inflame our nigras and our whites t-t-t…” Tommy’s voice trailed off as if trying to find the words as we listened.

I regretted the once warm caffeine that now had my blood racing, my hands shaking, and my heart pounding out of my chest.

“Alright Tommy boy, I think you best get on the road now, the Missis be waiting,” said Papa as their voices faded away. I noticed Papa’s voice remained calm, and I imagined they had now stepped outside since we could no longer hear the now distant voices.

“OK, everybody just remain calm and stay where you are until I come back,” said Sara, before disappearing behind the curtain.

“What do you think is going on?” said Laurie.

“I don’t know,” said Frank.

“How does anyone know that we’re here?” said Gary.

That was a good question. We’d made sure to keep our travels discrete since the New Orleans incident. But it would also make sense that Frank’s dad would be looking for him. But I kept my thoughts concerning his dad to myself. We all knew he was racist and it embarrassed Frank. Though I’m sure Mr. Hansen had something to do with it, I did not want to disgrace the face of my friend. I went with my second thought instead.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we were being watched.”

“Or followed,” said Fae.

“I bet it was that punk ass Papa. What kind of name is that anyway? What man calls himself Papa?”

Terry’s eyes had a gloss to it as he spoke. I think by now he was really feeling the liquor.

“I’m tired of this,” said Willie.

“Oh, so you punking out too Willie?”

“Terry come on,” said Fae.

“Naw, I’m asking him a legitimate question. You punking out, Negro?”

“What you just call me?”

“Really?” said Laurie looking at both Terry and Willie.

“I know y’all ain’t gonna do this now,” said Frank.

“Please don’t do this now,” said Gary.

“Shhh!” I was sick of everyone’s talking. Though they spoke in whispers, it seemed our voices carried and would float on out the back room and into Tommy Lee’s ears. Who knows what he wanted or what he heard. We were in Mississippi after all. The stories of their crimes against the Negro were well known in the South. And after the murders of Emmett Till and others, Mississippi’s racism had gained increased attention. People all over the world could read in newspapers and watch on television the bizarre system that protected those who committed crime after crime. I didn’t understand why such hatreds existed for negroes, and my longing for the answer burned its own private hole into my chest. Unless I did my part to find out, I would never be quite whole again. If only I could have explained it this way to mother where she could understand. Being part of the fight for freedom on behalf of negroes wasn’t just some phase I was going through. More so than a desire, it was a need. Otherwise, as a young white man in white America, I could not help but feel guilty on behalf of my people. And as we stood here, fearful of the unknown, I knew that what I felt could not compare to Fae, Willie, and Terry. Considering I was shaking uncontrollably in my own skin, what kind of fear did they experience? And more, what was it like to have to experience it your entire life? The pangs of guilt sought to overwhelm me as we stood there behind the curtain and waited.


TheRoadToFreedom_Ysrayl

“I enjoyed the writing style of the author, who was able to capture different characters through their dialogue and how she wrote their accents. Though Ysrayl is not a white teenage boy, she is able to write his narration convincingly, while also being able to give other perspectives through the rest of the characters.”

– Swimming Through Literature, Amazon Review

*****

Remember, The Road to Freedom as well as Beyond the Colored Line and Between Slavery and Freedom is on sale this month! The Black History Month Stella Sale ends next week. CLICK HERE to order all three books at one low price. All books are paperbacks, signed by me with my author seal. Shipping is also free but this limited time offer won’t last.

I Knew it Was a Mistake the Moment It Was Over

Portia Banks smoothed out the wrinkles forming in her dress, and picked at imaginary lint. She took it all in, snapping imaginary pictures of memory with her eyes as she scanned the room. Bachelors in Computational Journalism from Stanford University, Exceptional Research and Development, the list goes on and on. She wondered if it was all worth it, her name on the door, this office, or the prestigious position she found herself in. She’d come a long way from the dirt roads of Mississippi to a position as one of New York’s top Journalists. And while the check would be huge, she knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.

“Come on now, I know that look. You do know this is the biggest client we’ll ever have; ever.”

Simon fixed his glasses and stared intently at Portia, trying to understand her logic. The woman had talent no doubt, but as Assistant News Editor he had worked side by side with this talent for over two years and a mule could not be more stubborn. Of course he couldn’t say that, Portia was always on a prowl for any glint of racism from her white counterparts, even finding it where it didn’t exist. She believed all Europeans were born racists and that no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t help themselves in their feelings toward blacks. Still, she had managed to become one of his best friends which awarded him the truth concerning her level of racism. Although she wanted him to believe she held this grudge against whites, their friendship told him otherwise. In any event, to take on this case would put The Journal Chronicles on the map and Portia knew it.

“We’re talking about the biggest dollar signs you’ve ever seen in your life. Huge,” he spoke with his hands.

“Trying to persuade me with money is never a good idea Simon you know that. Besides, you do know money is not everything?”

“No, as a matter of fact I don’t.”

Portia laughed, “You’re such a liar.”

“And your such an idiot,” said Simon standing.

“Whatever”, said Portia gathering paperwork from her desk. It was Friday, the most exciting yet busiest day of the week, everyone trying to take weekend vacations and submit final story ideas to the big dogs at the same time.

“I just don’t care much about the man,” she said continuing, “What is there to know about a man we already know everything about?”

Simon looked at his watch; he had exactly two minutes to convince her to take this case. Otherwise it would go to the competition and Anne, the wicked witch of the west who pretended to be their boss, would never let him hear the end of it.

“That’s just it. How do you know we really know him? Because the TV says so? I’m not going for it.”

Portia smiled at Simon as he went on. She was wondering where he’d put his soap box and knew it was only a matter of time before he stood on it. She stopped daydreaming and turned the mental volume back up on Simon’s voice.

“We’ve got an opportunity to present a fresh story, a new look. To gather information about the success of the world’s biggest fragrance chain since Victoria’s Secret, Scentology. By delving deeper into Xavier’s most intimate thoughts, we have the opportunity to present a fresh story. We don’t care about his written rebuttal, let CNN fight over that. Anderson can hold that down…”

“Don’t try to be black Sy…” laughed Portia.

“Portia! WHAT WE WANT is the exclusive hard core truth. WHO is Xavier Thomas?

That was a year ago and Portia cursed herself for having to live the answer to that question. With every nerve in her brain there was an explosion threatening to obliterate pieces of reason. Painfully, Portia sought desperately to understand how she’d allowed herself romantic involvement with this man. Her face contorted, as she floated in and out of consciousness. The womanly intuition she’d always counted on to save her, could not assist her now as she tried not to choke on her own blood. Laying on the bathroom floor, a tattered mess in this abandoned building, where Xavier had just tried to kill her for discovering that he was a clone.

For Rose – A Story in a Single Image

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The city never afforded her body the chance to be this intimately part of creation in the way to which her eyes were now experiencing. The sun danced splashes of yellows on her skin and the light immersed her body into the landscape. Forty-two acres of earth welcomed Chelsea until her eyes were not big enough to hold all of it at one time. The sun seemed to come down from the sky to personally greet her and she felt a closeness to the heavens like never before. It was as if she could reach up to the sky and capture the wings of angels in the palms of her hands. A treasure of luminaries in a bowl of black dirt. The only sounds audible were locust and grasshoppers that leaped through the air like children playing hide and seek with the clouds and the growling motors of cars racing by. The land did not reach any homes on the right or the left for at least a mile or two nor were there any houses in front of her. Chelsea remembered feeling lonely and yet the way the trees stretched its branches wide reminded her of a mother’s embrace. Only Forrest stood across from her, a gate closed her into her grandmother’s inheritance, and community spoke like laughter beyond Sara’s womb. She bent her knees and crouched closer to the ground, plucking handfuls of grass from the rich dirt. She had to touch it to make sure that it was real. How could something so beautiful be the result of something so painful? What Grandma Rose left to her would nourish generations of children and her heart ached that Nana would not be here to drink glasses of lemonade on the front porch of their country home or eat tomatoes fresh from the garden. “Rose”. She said it below a whisper and let the smile crease into her face and wrap itself around her cheeks. It had been weeks since she smiled. Nana always knew how to do just that. Amazing how she consoled her even beyond the grave. The woman let the emotion wash over her and the tears race down her face and drip from her lips. The sun bowed its final curtsy before lowering itself into sleep for the night and Chelsea cried for the last time. Her tears all courage shaped in her throat. Finally, the grief had come to an end.