By Madasonaysha@aol.com - February 21 2005
I was not looking forward to going to school on Monday so I faked being sick and Aunt Mickey was all too consumed in her own thoughts to see that I was clearly faking. I was glad that she bought it because I did not want to see Joey. Even thought I knew that he liked me, I just wasn’t up to facing him after that kiss, and what a kiss it was. That was the third kiss that we shared and each time it just got better and better. Amanda could tell that I wasn’t really sick even over the phone so she decided that she would skip with me too and we would have a day of watching Buffy re-runs and snacking on crunchy cheese doodles, with grape soda. A very nutritious breakfast. I always loved her company and I was all too happy to have her over. She didn’t have to worry about her mom finding out because she was never around. I couldn’t really judge Mrs. Lopez for working so hard. ( and yes Amanda had her mothers maiden name because she was born out of wedlock). She had to work three jobs just to take care of Amanda and her younger sister Wendy. Her sister was a trip and then some. She was only thirteen, but she was already having sex, drinking alcohol, getting high of weed and Amanda suspected that she might have dabbled in cocaine. She hung around with some of Nate’s younger friends in the Westies who were known to use coke. Amanda blamed herself because she thought that her sister only hung out with the Westies because she did, but really her sister was just one of those people who always looked for a good time and even if Amanda hadn’t been associated with the Westies ,I am sure Wendy still be.
Just to be on the safe side, I told her to wait an hour before coming over in case Aunt Mickey took her time getting ready. Sure enough Amanda came knocking on the door exactly one hour later. I was still sleepy and I didn’t see the need in getting dressed so I just answered the door in my PJ bottoms and what I saw instantly woke me up. The light drizzle of rain that morning had Amanda’s long hair wavy and curly framing her chubby golden caramel cheeks, one of which had huge bruise and her neck was covered in passion marks, but I knew that they weren’t done out of love. They were varying shades of dark purple’s and blues, like who ever inflicted them had the intention of trying to hurt her. I knew it could have been no one else other than Nate. I have never truly hated anyone more in my life, not even Hector and he had abused me. With Nate, I could honestly say the I hated him with every fiber of my being, but the only problem with that was that I also equally feared him.
"Damn Amanda! Nate is such an ASSHOLE!" I yelled as I ushered her into my living room. She gave me a weak smile.
"How do you know that Nate hit me. I mean, I could have fell down the stairs trying to chase some fallen Oreo’s or I could have went to Iraq and got caught up in the war against terrorism……or something like that." She replied hoping that I would laugh at her lame attempt at a joke. Her humor was lost on me. I didn’t find anything funny with getting beat up by your boyfriend.
"Amanda don’t make jokes. Tell me, what happened?" I asked her. She looked exasperated as she plopped down on the couch to tell me about her ordeal.
"FINE! GOD WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW? HUH? HOW HE WANTED TO FUCK ME BUT ONLY HE WANTED HIS BOY TO JOIN IN…IS THAT WHAT YOU WANTED TO KNOW?" She yelled. She started to cry and I hugged her. She leaned into me and the tears only ran deeper and deeper.
"If you don’t want to talk about it I understand. I’m sorry for bringing it up."
"No, Chris it’s fine. It was just I was so scared last night. After you left Nate just seemed to be horny and I mean REALLY horny. I didn’t want to do anything because everybody was over there, but he convinced me to go to my room. I didn’t realize that Jay had followed us until they were both in my room and Nate was locking the door. Sometimes Nate can get a little rough, but he has never forced himself on me, but last night I really thought that he would. Jay came behind me and started to kiss and suck my neck and then when I told him to stop he just sucked harder. Nate started to kiss on my neck too and they just wouldn’t stop. They tried to lead me to the bed, taking off my clothes, but I knew if I would have went on it, I was as good as done. I pushed them away and ran back in the living room. Pasha and Amelia just sat there watching the Mutha fucking television like they didn’t hear me screaming and I lost it. I started calling them all sorts of Bitches and Sluts and I don’t know what came over me, but I started to punch them. I just wanted to rip out their hair! There were two of them and one of me so you can pretty much tell that I didn’t win. The crazy thing was that Nate and Jay stayed in the bedroom for like fifteen minutes while we were fighting. I know that they heard us, but they stayed locked up in my room. Nasty ass punks was probably playing in my panty draw!" She stated in one long breath. Her tears stopped and she looked up at me like she was waiting for me to respond.
"Well……what do you think they were REALLY doing…….you know Nate and Jay?". I asked. I had my suspicions, but I wanted to hear hers.
"Honestly Chris I don’t even want to say it. Nate and Jay have been real close for years. They met up in Juvenile Hall when they were twelve, six years ago and lets just say that I have heard some stories…….REAL BAD ONES! When I asked him about them before he smacked me and told me not to believe lies and that’s when I knew that they might have been true……….Chris…… I have to tell you something." She moved out of my embrace so we could face each other. Her voice was grave and alarm bells went off in my head.
"Okay………what is it?"
"Well, I’m not sure, but I think that you should stay away from them. Jay is pretty much harmless by himself, but with Nate around…….he’s just a little less than that. Whatever Nate asks, Jay does. But, its not him you have to be careful around. Just watch yourself around Nate. Sometimes the way he looks at you…..it makes me uncomfortable. Do you ever feel like that when your around him?" It was hard for her to say those words to me. She would look at me and then avert her eyes after a few seconds.
"GOD YES! I didn’t want to say anything before because I didn’t want you to get mad and you didn’t know I was gay yet, but I have to tell you something." I told her about the incident in the park with the exception of what happened at Joey’s house later that night. She didn’t even know that I spent the night there. Amanda looked at me like she just had and epiphany
"That would explain a lot. That night he came knocking on my door like five o’clock in the morning just wanting sex………he wanted sex! Oh my God! Chris please watch yourself around him. Did you know that he tried to get me to invite you over to get high with us the next night, but I didn’t because I hate getting high and I told him you that you didn’t either, at least I thought that you didn’t."
"I don’t, it was just that one time with Kayla." I told her.
"Kayla is harmless, but please be careful around Nate. He’s a little TOO interested in you." Amanda leaned back into me and the conversation ended there. We watched "Legend", marveling at a pre Top Gun Tom Cruise. I kept thinking about Amanda’s warning. I took comfort in knowing that someone else was aware of Nate’s, shall I say "awareness" of me.
As the day went on we had become too consumed with watching Buffy, season five, and needed naps. We went to my room to sleep since I had a queen size bed ( and no I didn’t ask for a "queen" size because I‘m gay….I am not effeminate! ). We must have slept for a long time because next thing I knew I was getting shaken awake and my hazel green eyes meet the angry dark greens of Aunt Mickey. I didn’t know what she was so angry about, but then I realized my arms were around a still soundly ( well she snored like a beast) sleeping Amanda. Aunt Mickey motioned for me to follow her outside and into the hall. After carefully detaching myself from her, I went to face my punishment. Her face was as red as her hair and her thin lips were pursed together. This was not a good thing.
"First of all young man why the hell aren’t you in school?" She asked. I looked over at the clock to see that it was only one thirty so there was no way I could lie and say I got home early.
"What are you doing home so early?" I asked.
"That’s not of your concern, now why are you home?" Then I remembered my imitation cold.
"You told me I could stay home……I was sick this morning…….REMEMBER?" I told her. God! Was she just THAT busy that she tuned me out? Or was I that forgettable for her not to remember a conversation that we had only six hours earlier. The look of a sudden realization came across Aunt Mickey’s face and then she became apologetic.
"I’m sorry honey I forgot………..WAIT! What is Amanda doing here while I’m not home?"
"She was sick too. She got in a fight with her sister and her mom told her she could stay home so we decided to keep each other company." Aunt Mickey’s face softened and she look approached me apprehensively.
"Chris honey……..Chrissie……are you and Amanda…. sexually active?"
"WHAT! NO…HELL NO!" I yelled. I didn’t mean to sound so aggressive, but even the thought of Amanda and I having sex just grossed me out. In the few months that we had been friends she had become the sister I never had and incest is NOT best!
"Hey watch your mouth! I come home and see a half naked girl in your bed! What the hell am I supposed to think?"
"She’s dressed! Aunt Mickey, I am not having sex with her…….hell I’m not having sex with anybody….wait… I am not having this conversation with you." I did not want to discuss my sex life or lack there of with my Aunt. As uncomfortable as I was, I found it hilarious that Aunt Mickey thought that I was having sex with Amanda. If only she knew the truth.
"Oh God! I am so not ready to have these kind of talks with you!?! I have to go back to work and Roger is taking me out for dinner later. We will finish this talk when I get home tonight." It seemed that I wasn’t the only one uncomfortable with our sex talk. At least it would be about hetero sex. I didn’t even want to think about the levels of awkwardness we would have reached if we would have had a talk about gay sex. She left and I went back to my room. Amanda’s lazy ass was still knocked out. I swear that girl could have slept through a train wreck. I woke her up and we both had the sudden urge to get at one with nature.
The weather was still unusually warm. The rain had stopped and the sun shined brightly. October was just around the corner and it was still close to eighty degrees out. We found ourselves at East Park and I smiled at the memories I had of Joey from that night we shared. Amanda noticed a strange symbol on the racket ball wall.
"GOD! Not again!" She exclaimed annoyed.
"What?" I asked.
She pointed to a wall and I saw a green spray painted W with some kind of decoration around it. "That’s a Westie’s tag." She replied.
"……And your point is…?" I asked, not seeing the significance of it.
"God! Your innocence is cute, annoying as hell, but cute. I blame it on Montclair, suburban boy. Look around you. Do you see all the tags of The E’s in red paint? Your in Easties territory."
"I don’t follow." So there was a Westies sign spray painted on a wall on the East side of the park. I didn’t see the big deal.
"Dumb ass, that’s how all the beefing got started last time. I just hope they don‘t start up another war." She yelled at me like I should have known what the hell she was talking about.
"What "war" are you talking about?" I asked with one eye cocked sideways at her.
"Last summer somebody from Eastside tagged up a wall in Westside territory. West Side looked at it like East Side was disrespecting them. Chief Dee went to the Easties and said that if they tagged a Westies sign in Easties territory, then every thing would have been squared up, you know to make things even. Boss Benny told Chief Dee that he wasn’t going to allow that. With gangs, it’s all about territory. Where you put your mark is where you lay claim to. When the Westies tagged up on East territory, it was like they were claiming territory that already belonged to East Side- ." I had to stop Amanda because she was going way to fast and I had a hard time following.
"Okay wait a minute. Who in the hell is Chief Dee and who the fuck is Boss Benny? And what’s so important about territory? Slow it down for me."
"Oh sorry, Chief Dee is the leader of the Westies and Boss Benny is the leader of the Easties. You have to always address them by their ranks, Chief and Boss being the highest orders. Territory’s are the area’s where they can make their money. They can sell drugs, pimp out girls or whatever the hell else they want to do to keep cash in their pockets. The more territory you have, the more money you can make and that’s why both sides are so protective of what streets belong to them. After Boss Benny told Chief Dee that he wasn’t going to let West Side take claim on one of his blocks, Boss Benny ordered for Chief Dee’s girlfriend to get sliced. Oh man! Chris….they really fucked that poor girls face up! She use to be pretty and I’m talking about Eva from Next Top Model pretty, but after they were done with her, she had this four inch long scar running down her face and she was all tore up. Chief Dee knew that Boss Benny had set that up and he ordered for Chief Boss’s sister to get jumped. Six dudes deep, they put that girl in the hospital!" Amanda had to stop and gather her thoughts.
"Damn, they put her in the hospital." The story she was telling me all seemed to hard to believe. It seemed like a something from a bad movie.
"Yeah….I know it’s fucked up, but that was only the beginning. After Boss Benny’s sister was attacked, all hell broke lose. Boss Benny doesn’t play games and he ordered a hit on the three guys that did it. The one rule that he has is never fuck with his family. You fuck with them and he’ll kill you. The Easties did a drive by, but they hit the wrong house and some kid got killed." I was a little disturbed by the detachment in her voice. It was like the fact that all of that had happened didn’t bother her.
"God! Are you serious? All this shit really happened in this neighborhood? I know that at one time this place was kind of rough, but I really didn’t think it was STILL that bad. You don‘t seem to bothered by it." The longer that I lived in Newark, the more I began to think that it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. Maybe the fact that I had made a few good friends aided in my thinking. Everyone knew that Newark was rough, but you never heard anything about gang violence. The occasional car jacking or robbery would be heard on the news, but nothing and I mean nothing about gangs.
"No, there is no mistaking it. I do care, but shit like that happens all the time. Yeah, it’s a little better now, but I have seen just how bad it can get. That was only the beginning. Now I’m not sure of all the exact details, but I know that the Westies were not happy about that kid getting killed so they started to put hits out on certain members of Eastside. The Easties retaliated and for the entire summer the two gangs took turns shooting each other up. Everybody from both sides were shook. Even people who had no ties to either gang were scared. No one would leave their houses and the cops didn’t give a fuck. They looked at it as a bunch of Niggers and Spic’s killing each other. Nate had to bury six of his friends within a three week period and Joey had to bury four. Chief Dee finally called a cease fire after a few weeks and gave two blocks of Westie territory to Eastside and just like that, the beefing stopped." I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe the story that she had just told me. It all sounded pretty stupid to me. Getting killed over street blocks. What a waste of life.
"So you mean to tell me that all that happened! People died for some damn tag on a wall? What the fuck?! That is the dumbest load of shit that I ever heard!" She shook her head in agreement.
"Tell me about it. But that’s just how things work around here. I think it’s stupid too, but what can you do about it?"
"Yeah….Nothing and judging from that Westies tag I think that shit might start up again. Boss Benny only agreed to the cease fire just to please the other members, but he never forgot about what the Westies did to his sister. After she left the hospital, she just went crazy. The doctors said that she had brain damage and couldn’t control her urges. She started doing drugs and then tricking to feed her habit. Selling herself to whatever man wanted to buy her. She’s strung out on Black Tar, probably Doped up in some crack house right now. I know Boss is just waiting for a reason to pay West Side back." After Amanda finished talking we sat around in silence. I was trying to fully adjust to what she had just told me. That was a lot of heavy stuff to think about. If Eastside and Westside went to war the end result would bound to be tragic again. Then a thought hit me and I felt stupid for not thinking of it sooner. Joey was an Eastie which meant he would be in danger. I couldn’t let that happen. He was not about to get hurt if there was something that I could do about it.
Amanda and I left the park when we saw other kids walking past, notifying us that school was over. I went home and waited until after sunset to go back to the park. It had rained early that afternoon and the ground was still damp. The sun had set, but the sky was still illuminated by a glow of deep orange. I felt the last traces of the summer winds blowing past until the sky faded to a pitch black and a breezy night encased me. The park was surrounded by dense woods so at night there was hardly any light peaking through from the streets. That was one of the reasons why a lot of crimes were committed there. I had quickly colored over the Westies emblem with the shoe polish I had brought with me and was about to leave when a voice startled me and I dropped it.
"AYE YO! WHY THE FUCK YOU WRITING OVER MY TAG!" The voice yelled at me and I recognized the voice instantly. Nate walked over to me and smiled . I stood there silent, my fear taking over, paralyzing me. Where was my voice? I couldn’t find it.
"Chris?" He asked as if he was unsure. He walked up closer to me and smiled as his eyes met mine. They were cold and hard and filled with menacing tendencies. "What up Nigga, why you so quiet?" He bent down to pick up my dropped shoe polish. I could have ran then, but my mind still wasn’t working. He shoved the bottle in my hand and gripped it tightly as he spoke. "When you drop something and someone picks it up for you, your suppose to say your WELCOME!" He put emphasis on the word ’welcome’. He threw his arm over my shoulders as if we were old friends and tried to lead me into the dark brush of the woods as he whispered words in my ear that I couldn’t understand. It was like I was aware of what he was leading me to, but I was numb to the situation I was putting myself in. I followed him in a daze of fear. I was following him into the dark woods where nobody could see me. Where no cries could be heard.……