Chapter Twenty One

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I walked in the house and Marley brushed up against my leg and for the first time, I didn't feel like kicking her. I cracked a smile, "Wuzzam girl? You thirsty?" I took her bowl and filled it up with water by the sink before sitting it down near the door. I creeped up the stairs to avoid making too much noise and waking up my mama. "Aw look at you finally being nice to the cat." Jelissa giggled in my ear. I had honestly forgotten we were on FaceTime for a minute.

"Love I'm always nice to Marley," She kissed her teeth, "Alternative facts." We both started cracking up as I pulled forward the curtain on my door-way and shut on the light. I took off my clothes and plopped down on my mattress and watched Marley come in through under the curtain and curl up by the bed. Jelissa and I talked for a while longer before her sister came in and asked her to call me back. By the end of our conversation I was ready to be knocked out though. I was officially no more good.

Just as I was about the fall asleep I heard my mother calling my name, "August? August come here baby." I let out a deep sigh and threw on a t-shirt before heading down the short hallway to my mom's room. It was dark so I flipped on the lamp that sat on the floor next to the door. "Hey baby, you got in late. Working?" I didn't even say nothing but I just shook my head no. "Hmph," she started, "Let me guess you was at that damn studio all night again?" She started shaking her head like she was disappointed.

"You don't care about your mother August?" Her voice trembled as she spoke. "After all I done for your black ass you can't put your pride aside for five minutes to try and take care of me." As I listened to her go on and on trying to guilt trip me I started to become irritated. I've been taking care of myself since I was twelve years old. I got me some business and never asked my mother for a damn thing while she sat on her ass. And here she was trying to make me seem like the ungrateful one?

"Mama you just re-upped on your medication. Just because we ain't livin how we was in New Orleans don't mean I'm not taking care of you." I stated as I leaned on the wall. She sat up and swung her legs over the side of the mattress. "Boy this is your mother you're talking to," She started as she struggled to stand up. When she found her balance she started to walk towards me with her finger pointed at me, "I gave birth to you, I cared for and loved on you and your brother, I spent all that damn money to put your daddy in rehab for him to go and just waste it all!" She held her hands above her head.

"If you had any kind of respect for me, you would appreciate all I done for your ungrateful ass! Standing up there with your chest all poked out like you done something." She mushed my head and my nostrils flared. I had enough, I don't have to deal with this. Man all this woman ever said back in New Orleans was "I ain't have no baby to be raising hell out in the streets." "You need to bring yo tail on in this house August." "I can't have both of my babies in the ground, I'll lose my mind."

"Bye mama, you know what since you need the money so bad why don't you go bust yo behind trynna sell some dope aight?" I left out of her room with a quickness and got dressed. I didn't need her pressuring me to go back into a lifestyle that made everyone around me fall. She was all I had left though. I didn't know exactly what I needed to do, but I know the first thing I'm gonna do is give that man Sean a call.

"And where the hell do you think you going? I didn't raise you to talk to your mama like that boy, if I had the strength I'd beat your narrow ass." She went on and on as I threw a couple of things into my backpack. I started drowning her out as I made my way down the hallway towards the stairs where I knew she wouldn't follow me. "Get your head back here August, I ain't done with you."

I stopped midway down the stairs and turned back to look at her and said "If I get shot that ain't gone be on nobody but you." I waved her off and left out the front door. I walked a few blocks before I took out that cell phone Sean slid to me earlier. "Speak." The old man said into the phone and I furrowed my eyebrows before starting to talk, "Hey, Mr. Sean right? It's August we ran into each other earlier. You know, your nieces friend?" "Oh yeah, I remember you. You seem to have your head on straight so if you're calling me you must be in some deep shit." He chuckled.

"I kinda am. I just wanna get back on my feet." I told him, "Well I'll tell you what. Meet me by the bodega in Brownsville I saw you at earlier. I'll be around back. See you in a few." The line went dead. The place he was talking about was only about six blocks away from my house so I plugged in my earphones and started listening to this track I'd been working on before walking slowly towards where I was supposed to meet Sean.

"All I do is grind and pray," I mumbled along to the music with my hands in my pockets trying to keep myself warm. As I approached the store I saw a tall dark man leaning against the building and it indeed was Sean, "What's good young? Let's walk and talk." We began walking a couple blocks south of where I came from and Sean took it upon himself to drop some knowledge on me about the neighborhood.

"I grew up around here and it ain't as bad as it used to be. If you wasn't from here you could walk down the street and get stabbed, choked out, raped. Niggas was ruthless back in the day but we wasn't really big on guns you know unless it was really called for. You see that building?" I looked to my right to see a large abandoned building with bordered up windows, "That used to be a library, it's been closed forever."

"It's been closed since I was a kid but I spent a lot of time over there in that lot as a teenager working if you know what I'm saying. We got a little bit further to walk so come on." We walked at least five more blocks before we reached a couple of projects. "This is Riverdale. Or the Riv' as me and the homies used to call it. I grew up here on the third floor and I seen a lot of shit happen in this complex. It wasn't nearly as safe as it is now and trust me it still ain't a safe place at all."

"I grew up all over Brownsville and I don't think shit will ever change here. Get in the car boy." He ducked down into a Cadillac and I followed suit. "Where you live son?" "Oh I'm a few blocks up from the store we met at." He started to drive and spoke up ,"I like you so I'm gonna do business with you, you're smart and I like that." I nodded as I listened to him talk, "You like my niece?" I wore a confused look on my face, "We're friends." Sean chuckled, "I ain't going to hurt you if you like my niece. But she has a boyfriend who works for me also. I don't really care for the two of them much if I can be honest with you."

"I've had to beat his ass up a couple of times," "Yeah I heard," I responded. "Oh so you and my niece are close?" I shrugged, "Sort of." We pulled up on my street and I directed him to my house. "Well let me give you a couple of pointers. Don't bring this shit no where near my niece. I don't care if she knows you're working for me, but keep her away from anything that involves guns and drugs. Secondly, guns. I'm not going to get you a gun. If you got one, you got one. But don't become trigger happy. Do not let the thing on your waist be what defines you in the streets. You gotta earn respect and your reputation up here by the way you handle business, this ain't like New Orleans son." He paused.

"Is that all?" I asked, "No. You need to keep up with your school work as well. You said you got a scholarship to Eden? That's a big deal. You live your life how you were living it before you met me during the day. Think of working for me as more of an 'after school job'. You got it?" I nodded, "Yeah I got it. Thanks. I'll still be able to work with Jelissa on her music though right?" Sean shrugged, "You'll be able to do whatever you got time for at the end of the day, that doesn't have anything to do with me." I got out the car and approached my door, "And keep that phone on you at all times. I'll call you in a few days or so." With that he drove off and I went inside.

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