(NOTE: Contains explicit language and adult themes suitable for ages 16+)
© K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
CHAPTER ONE (UNEDITED)
Asaad ‘Wolfe’ Calloway
Nobody forgets a real nigga. They may try, but they’ll never forget your name or the respect it carries. I was swallowed up by the streets of Dade County at a young age, and what they spit out was a savage. Growing up, my father was that nigga. He put the Calloway family on the map and made it a household name so that niggas knew not to fuck with him or his family. He provided everything we ever needed, and even though he made his money illegally, he was always there for us and our mother as if he worked a regular nine to five.
Following in my father’s footsteps, I started running in the streets all day and night just to get away from my responsibilities at home. Since I was the oldest out of the three of us, my father made sure that I felt just as responsible for my brothers Law and Blaze as he and our mother did. The older I got, the lower my pants sagged, and I spent my time shooting guns, playin’ ball and hollering at girls. I knew my brothers looked up to me. Everything I did, Law would emulate and then pass that shit down to Blaze. I never asked to be a role model, but when you’re the oldest, it’s just the role you assume. People didn’t start calling me ‘Wolfe’ until my freshman year of high school. I mostly stayed with my head in the clouds and my dick in some pussy until a nigga stepped out of line. I’d had my share of fist fights and brawls, but out of all of them, I fought Damien Price the most. He was the oldest of the Price brothers, and the only nigga to ever try me repeatedly. Each time, I made sure he regretted that shit. Our families had never gotten along, so it was only natural that me and my brothers hated ‘em too. We’d become natural born enemies from the day we took our first breath, and we’d remain that until we took our last.
THE NIGHT OUR father died changed everything. Sometimes a part of you must die before you can be reborn again. The night he lost his life was the night I became a real man in my early twenties. I was suddenly forced to stand on my own two feet and make it known that I could hold my own since I could no longer ride my father’s coattails. I was the man of the house and it was my job to carry my mother and my two younger brothers on my back ‘til the death of me. I remember walking down the street and seeing flashing red and blue lights in front of our home and thinking the cops were comin’ for my ass. Instead of walking towards the house, I darted down the back street to come up on our house from the backway and snuck inside. I saw Mommy standing at the front door with her arms folded tightly across her chest as she screamed. I’ll never get the sounds of her screams out of my ears.
Law popped his head out of his room and looked at me coming up from the far end of the hallway. “What’s going on?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Stay in the room. I’ma go see Mommy,” I told him.
I slowly walked up the hallway and into the living room towards the front door to stand by my mother. “Ma, what’s goin’ on? Mommy?”
“Excuse me, young man. I was just leaving,” the officer told me.
“What is going on? Who are you lookin’ for?” I asked him.
I watched him place his hat back on top of his head and look at me with sadness in his eyes. “I think I’d better let your mother tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
“He’s dead, Asaad. Your papa is gone.” My mother wept.
In the blink of an eye it felt like my entire body had been paralyzed from the neck down. I couldn’t feel anything but my chest tightening up and my legs going limp. On instinct, my body snapped out of paralysis and my arms extended to catch my mother before she collapsed to the ground. She continued to scream as tears rained out of her face. The officer stepped inside to help me carry her over to the couch and sit her down.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” he told us before turning to leave.
Law came walking into the living room with a puzzling look on his face. “What happened?” he asked me while staring at our mother.
I looked up at him with dead eyes. “Dad is—pop got…”
“What?” he asked.
“Dad is… dead.”
All of the color drained out of his face as he took a step back from us. “Did you hear what I said?” I asked him.
Law nodded his head slowly. “I heard you.”
“Well say somethin, nigga!” “What the fuck do you want me to say?” he yelled, balling up his fists.
I quickly shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know…”
Law walked over to the couch and sat beside Mommy. He pulled her into a hug, and she laid her entire body into his lap while he stroked her hair. “Does Blaze know?”
I shook my head. “No.”
“Let me be the one to tell him.”
“Where is he?”
“In his room. I don’t know if he sleep or not,” Law said.
I took one last look at Law and our mother and walked over to switch places with him. Law ran down the hall to get Blaze and for a few seconds the entire house was silent other than the sobs coming from my mother.
“I’m—I’m sorry, Asaad,” she whimpered. “I’m sorry I can’t be strong right now for all of you.”
“Shh, it’s okay, Mommy. I’m gon’ take care of you,” I told her.
Blaze and Law’s heavy footsteps came rumbling down the hallway. The second Blaze’s eyes landed on our mother’s a tear slid down his cheek.
“Ma!” he yelled as he dropped down to his knees and laid his head on her.
She reached out to stroke his hair and Law walked over and sat on the floor beside him and buried his head in his hands. My nose started to run just as my eyes started to get heavy with emotion. As much as I didn’t want to cry, holding the tears back took twice as much effort. Before I knew it, I’d pulled my T-shirt over my face and lowered my neck. The four of us sat together and mourned for our father in silence, crying and thinking.
“What happened?” Law asked, wiping his damp face.
I wiped my face with my shirt while shaking my head. “I don’t really know.”
“Boys, come closer,” she said, sitting up.
“What is it, Mommy?”
“Your father. He was shot in the—in the chest and maybe other places. The cops said it was a random drive-by shooting.”
I shook my head. “Random? I don’t believe that.”
Whoever killed my father or had anything to do with his death must’ve had a death wish fuckin’ with our family like that. As far as I was concerned everybody was a suspect and we were at war. I didn’t walk around with my heart on my sleeve. Instead, I kept everything bottled up inside. I was numb and afraid, but most of all, angry. I wanted revenge on whoever took my father from me, and all I could do was ask the lord to forgive my sins after I was finished.
Andreas ‘Law’ Calloway
It was a humid, rainy day. The stained glass windows of the church were speckled with droplets of rain as Wolfe, Blaze and I sat next to our mother on the front pew staring at my father’s casket. We were all in mourning and we all were dealing with life without our father differently. Wolfe spent his time in the streets, while Blaze spent his with his head trapped in the clouds. As for me…I wasn’t getting through it. I was sinking deeper in it. I wished my feelings would dissolve as if it was that easy to flush them out of me. I didn’t know how to live in a world where my father didn’t exist. There was a part of me that refused to let him go, although I knew I would continue to suffer for it if I didn’t. The air seemed heavy laying against my lungs as I held in all of my pain, rage and confusion. All I could do was wonder why did it have to be him? Why did it have to be us?
The second my mother saw my father lying in the casket with a visible bullet wound in his face, she started screaming in agony. It was the first time I’d ever heard someone’s heart breaking out loud, and it tore me apart. I just knew I’d never get the sound of her screams out of my head. With tear-stained eyes, I brushed my hand against the silk lining of my father’s mahogany casket. I couldn’t believe the three of us were standing in all black clothes at the obligatory funeral that none of us wanted to experience, let alone attend. Wolfe stood with a smug look on his face, doing his best to hold back his grief. Blaze ran his hands down his baby face trying to hide his puffy, red eyes.
When the funeral started, the choir sang “Going Up Yonder.” I glanced over at my mother, who was leaning on Wolfe’s shoulder, with a tissue glued to her trembling hand. Her nose was red and so were her eyes. I shook my head. Her tears seemed endless as I wiped my face with the back of my hand whenever I felt the slightest bit of moisture then turned my entire demeanor back to stone. Thick, steady flow of tears slid down her cheeks like rain coming down the side of a roof. I hated watching Mama cry, dissolving into depression after losing the love of her life. The heightening of our emotions was getting the best of us all. It hurt to even breathe. The pain of losing our father was strong enough to break us all.
As the oldest, Wolfe stood to speak. He stood beside our father’s casket, then froze his eyes in place as he stared at the three of us.
“Um, thank you all for—for coming today. I just want to say a few words on behalf of my mother and my brothers. Uh, I don’t know what to really say about my father. He’s a great man. If any of us can be half the man our father is, we will be good.”
With all his grief balled up in his fists, he glanced over onto the polished mahogany casket. He opened his mouth only to have his voice stuck in his throat. That’s when it hit him that he’d been talking about our father in the present tense as if he was still sitting with us. Our father was gone. I clenched my teeth together as tightly as I could, daring myself to let one tear fall. I looked away from Wolfe as I lifted my head and eyes up towards the ceiling. I had to look at anything but him. If Wolfe lost it, there would be no one strong enough to hold the rest of us up. By the time I’d built up enough courage to look at my brother again, his face had gone cold as if it was made of steel. Within seconds he’d slipped from grief and rolled right into anger.
He cleared his throat. “Um, it’s funny because even now I can still hear his voice in my head tellin’ one of us to run down to the store and get him a pack of cigarettes to go with his bottle of dark rum, even if we weren’t old enough to do it.”
A lazy grin made its way across his face as his eyes sagged to the ground. “Pop…we miss you and we love you. We gon’ be alright down here. I’ll make sure of it,” he said.
After the funeral was over, I helped my brothers pull the casket out of the hearse. The soft grass bent underneath my feet as I carried my father’s body to his gravesite tosay our final goodbyes. The rain had stopped and suddenly there was no wind or clouds. Everything was still. We stood at the cemetery surrounded by hundreds of flower arrangements while each holding a red rose in our hands.I stared at the hole they would lower his body into and separate us by six-feet of dirt forever. The same place where a large marble tombstone would soon be planted in his memory. I wanted to be as invisible as I’d made my emotions.
After the internment, we each took a minute to lay the roses on the casket and then my mother leaned in to kiss it. I rested a hand on my mother’s shoulder for comfort.
“He always took care of me. What am I going to do now?I’m not me without him.” She cried.
“I got you now, Mommy,” Wolfe told her.
“We all do,” I added.
When we got home, we immediately pulled off our suit jackets, shirts and ties to start winding down from a long, depressing ass day. Once we made sure Mama was okay, we all went into the living room and sat on the couch.
“I can’t believe he’s really gone,” Blaze said while shaking his head in disbelief.
I pressed my lips tightly together and followed up with a nod. “Shit is crazy, right?”
“Yo, y’all stay right here. I’ll be right back,” Wolfe said, darting around the corner.
When he came back, he had a bottle of one of Pop’s unfinished bottles of rum in one hand and three cups in the other. After sitting everything down on the coffee table, he filled each of them enough for a shot and passed them to us. Wolfe raised his glass in the air. “This is for Pops,” he said. “We love you and we gon’ dead the mothafucka that did this to you.”
“Salud,” I said.
“Salud,” Blaze added.
The three of us took the shots back to the head and squished our faces together at the bitter taste. “Goddamn this shit is strong,” Blaze said.
“Hell yeah, what is that shit one-hundred proof?” I asked, smacking my chest.
“That shit don’t matter. We gotta talk.”
“About what?” I asked him.
“Some real shit, aight?”
“Hold up, let me go get my blunt first,” Blaze said, hopping up to run down the hallway.
“Close Mommy’s door while you back there,” Wolfe yelled.
I sat back against the couch and looked at Wolfe. The silence between us screamed in surround sound. Neither of us spoke until Blaze came back into the living room while sparking a blunt. “Aight, I’m ready.”
“Long story short, everything is at stake right now. If we don’t strike back, niggas are gon’ make sure Miami swallows us whole. I want to put this behind us as quickly as possible.”
I sucked my teeth. “Pops ain’t even been in the ground a whole day and you wanna run right back into the streets? What about Mama? You know she fucked up over this shit right now.”
“What about her? She knows who she was married to and she knows who the fuck she raised. There ain’t no tears in the streets, Law. We got shit that needs to be addressed. Pop’s enemies are looking to tear us to the ground and lay us right beside Pop. We can’t just crawl under the covers and hide like fuckin’ lil boys. Pop is dead, get the fuck over it!”
He directed his wrath at both of us. He was mad our father was gone and there was nothing any of us could do about it. I knew the holy trinity of the streets was money, power and respect. We needed to have all three if we were going to honor our father and climb to the top of the Miami food chain.
“Set it up then,” I told him.
“So what exactly are you gon’ do?” Blaze asked.
“I say we spread the word on the streets. Fifty thousand to whoever drop the name of who killed Pop.”
“Shit? Fifty thousand? Niggas gon start snitching on the wrong mothafucka just to get paid,” I told him.
“Fifty G’s will change a lot of niggas lives and buy they courage faster than liquor ever could. I told you, I don’t want to sit on this shit too long. We let the word sweep the city, draw out the nigga who wanna get paid and put a bullet in the mothafucka who killed our father.”
“Shit, bet.” Blaze nodded.
“What happens after we kill ‘em? We gon’ pick up where Pop left off?” I asked.
“Yeah, the money never sleeps so why should we? Once we start movin’ the rest of his weight, we’ll divide up the profit into three shares.”
I nodded as the three of us sat around and nursed the rest of the rum in the bottle. If Wolfe had it his way, he was going to make sure that the Calloway boys made our mark on the entire city.