I slept like shit that night. Worse than all the previous nights. There’s something about knowing that you’re being hunted, being teased about being the next but never quite knowing when it’ll come. You can’t let your guard down ever, even while you sleep.
I felt sorry for Juice.
Lots of people live like that. Lots of people die like that too. You either adapt to it correctly, or you don’t.
The next couple of days I spent at home with my aunt and uncle, pretending to be a family. I didn’t care to be there with them but I was too tired to motivate myself into doing anything else. My aunt kept making snide comments about my dozing off. Whining that I looked like a junkie on a come down and crashing hard.
“Just like his fuckin’ father,” she kept mumbling, completely forgetting that my mother was the bigger culprit of the two. I kept wishing she would get hers.
I admit, I was beginning to feel sorry for myself again. Depressed and emotional. In part, I know it was the lack of proper sleep, but I felt alone nonetheless. I wished very bad things on the both of them that I honestly regret now.
I know that not wishing those things wouldn’t have changed the outcome and, at the time, anyone would likely have justified my thoughts if they had seen the shit I had to endure with those two, but still. They didn’t deserve..”
-What? They didn’t deserve what, Eric?
-Was that the night it happened?
*shakes head* The night after.
They both went off to work, like normal. No way they could’ve known. Hell, they probably even planned out their next day. Packed up a lunch, thought about things they would discuss with coworkers, I don’t know. I’m glad I don’t.
*scoff* You already know. Everyone does.
I waited around at home. I had a gut feeling that I should stay. For some reason, I knew my boys would come. Or maybe I didn’t and was just hopeful, but either way, they did. Everyone except AP.
It wasn’t early on, a little past noon. Jackson, Benny, Ty, and the twins. They all showed up and it wasn’t to invite me to play ball.
“We need to talk,” said Jackson. I didn’t even question it, the expressions they all wore told me I would hear it all.
“Hurry up nigga!” said Benny’s little brother. “This shit’s important.”
I hopped out of my window.
“They home?” asked Jackson.
I shook my head and Benny instantly blurted out. “They took AP.”
“What?” I said.
“Nigga’s gone! They snatched his ass,” said Ty. Benny slapped him. “What? It’s true!”
“Who took him?” I said.
“Torrance and some other cops,” said Jackson.
“I always knew that traitorous shit bag would turn on us one day,” said Benny. Both the twins nodded in unison. “Always took my hard-earned weed just so he could have some reefer madness of his own.”
“Yeah!” said Ty.
“Shut up Ty. You ain’t ever even been high in your fuckin’ life.” said Benny.
“Have too! Probably more than you.”
“Those guys were there too,” said Drop, ignoring them. “The ones you said were after Sugar.”
“Why did they arrest him?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“For breaking into a crime scene,” said Jackson. “It’s why we came to check on you.”
“He also had tons of drugs in his room,” said Ty. “You got drugs in your too?”
“Drugs?” I said. “What kind of drugs?”
“Take a wild fuckin’ guess,” said Drip. I shook my head.
“It’s true,” said Jackson. “I wish we were making it up.”
“We all saw it,” said Drip. “Smooth sticks of gold.”
“Just like real butter,” said his brother.
I kept shaking my head and they all stayed quiet. Jackson finally mustered up the balls to say, “Listen E, I’m sorry but I gotta ask; the night that y’all broke into Sugar’s, were y’all…?”
“Were y’all high on that shit?” said Ty with no care in the world.
The question hit me harder than any beat down I had ever got from my old man. They thought that Torrance had betrayed them by doing his job, but what they had just asked went way beyond betrayal. The thought that people who considered me their friend could doubt me like that. I didn’t even smoke their fucking weed for fuck’s sake!
“Fuck you,” I spat at them. “Fuck all of you.”
I turned and began climbing back in through my window.
“E,” I heard one of them say.
“E, come on man,” this time it was clearly Jackson.
I was about to shut the window on them when Jackson put his hands over the frame, poking his head inside.
“I know it’s a fucked up thing to ask, but-.”
“But what? All of you know what I’ve been through. Why the fuck would you ever think I’d want to do the same?” I yelled.
“We saw something,” said Benny. “We saw something alright?”
“All of us,” said one of the twins.
“We had to be sure, you know?” said Jackson. “Rule out any chance y’all were just hallucinating or something.” He looked me straight in the eyes, almost as if he were trying to shoot lasers out of his and into mine. “This ain’t got nothing to do with you.”
“Yeah, don’t be such a narcissist nigga!” came Ty’s voice.
A loud smack popped through. “You don’t even know what that means!” said Benny.
“Ow!” cried Ty. “Yes I fuckin’ do!”
I didn’t say anything but the act of not shutting the window on them must have let them know I was interested in at least hearing what they had to say.
“The two niggas that was after Sugar that night. Did you see anything strange?” said Jackson. I narrowed my eyes and he added, “like, in they eyes.”
I hesitated for a moment, feeling like somehow I was being baited. I watched all of them impatiently awaiting my response as if they were absorbed in a mystery flick and the big reveal was around the corner.
“They glowed,” I said. “Bright red.”
“Mother fucker!” said Benny.
“Like if they was scanning something, right?” said Drop.
I nodded at the same time as Benny said, “That’s it! It’s confirmed. We all seen the same shit.”
“You sure?” said Jackson.
“Of course he’s sure nigga. He can’t magically make up the same shit we all seen,” said Ty. “Unless…” his eyes got wide. “You one of them nigga?”
I ignored Ty and answered Jackson, “It was only for a second, but there’s no doubt. Just like all the glowing orbs on that, thing, AP and I saw.”
We all went quiet, trying to process what it all meant.
“What should we do?” said Drip.
“Nothing! What the fuck?” said Benny. “We dealin’ with some other worldly shit here. I ain’t ever back down from a fight, but demons or aliens and shit? Fuck that.”
“He’s right,” said Jackson. “We don’t know what we’re dealing with.”
The twins and Benny nodded in agreement before all their heads slumped in defeat. A defeat that had only come within their own minds.
I stared at them in disbelief, a second wave of rage washing over me. Without a thought I blurted, “Are you fucking serious?” All their heads snapped up. “What happened to always having each other’s backs? To being crew, family?”
Jackson shook his head. “It ain’t the same.”
“Yes it fuckin’ is!” I yelled, surprising even myself. “If one of us gets the shit beat out of them, we all do. No matter what. Now that one of our family actually needs us, all of you decide to just bitch out?” I gave them a second to say something back but no one did. “Sugar died because I let him go with those guys, and now those same fuckin’ people have AP.”
“His parents went with him,” said Benny, ashamed to be protesting but still doing it anyway. “They wouldn’t let nothing happen to him.”
“His parents ain’t gonna be with him the whole fuckin’ night,” I said. Silence overtook them again and I felt myself losing them. “You know what? It doesn’t fuckin’ matter what you all do. I’m helping my brother out whether you pussies are there or not.”
I turned around and snatched up my backpack, purposely leaving the window open. I crawled out of it, ready to storm off but all the while hoping they would take the bait.
“You right,” said Jackson, allowing some relief to come over me. “We can’t just let them take him. So what’s the plan?”
I let out a deep breath. “I don’t know,” I admitted but quickly added, “but we will figure it out on the way.”
I turned around and walked, not bothering to check if they would follow. After a few strides I heard the sound of a bike being lifted and footsteps behind me and I realized something.
I stopped and faced them once again, “Which way is the station?”
“That way,” said one of the twins, pointing with their thumb behind them.
“Right,” I said as I walked past all of them once again, embarrassed, but trying my damndest to not show it.