By: Dominic Brogsdale
It was 2:00 am. Earl, Vance, Itrez, and Lonnie sat at a small poker table in the kitchen and smoked blunts and Newport cigarettes. Guns lay on the table. They drank Steel 211 Reserve and Hennessy. Only Earl stayed sober.
Earl yelled at his girlfriend, "A-yo, Ebb!"
Ebb was short for Ebony. She was petite and light-skinned with hair down to her neck. Earl liked her personality, polite yet cunning.
Ebony didn't answer and Earl called her again, "A-yo, Ebb."
Ebony walked in the kitchen and said, "What, bae?"
Keeping a straight face, Earl asked, "You order that food, pizza or whatever?"
Ebony answered, "I tried, but you know they stop delivering food out here. This is Jordan Downs projects; nobody’s coming out here at night, especially since two drivers got murdered last week, and they still don't know who did it."
Vance grimaced and said, "Oh, yeah, that’s right, but wouldn't they be able to trace the call or the number of the people that got popped?"
"Everybody killin’ out here, B. You don’t know who be killin’ who!" Itrez commented.
Earl complained, "I’m hungrier than a muthafucka!"
Ebony shrugged and glanced toward the cabinets. "Well ... I can make you some ramen noodles, cut up some hot dogs, and put some ketchup in there."
Earl tilted his head back and stated, "I’m tired of eating that ghetto-ass shit. Can a muthafucka have a hamburger or something?" He paused. "Whatever. Cook it up real fast. We got some Flavor Aid or something in this bitch?"
Ebony replied, "We got Flavor Aid, but no sugar."
"All right then, make me some of that then. Fuck, it’s food." He couldn’t expect Ebony to force Domino’s to deliver and she couldn’t magic food that wasn’t in the cupboards.
Lonnie spoke up, "Let me get some of that, too, Ebb."
"Okay," she replied and headed toward the cabinets and pulled down the ingredients necessary to whip up a quick meal.
Earl turned his attention to Vance, Itrez, and Lonnie. , "All right, muthafuckas, y'all ready to get this money, stick these rich muthafuckas up, and get up out of here?"
Vance, using his tongue to roll up some weed in a Swisher, said, "Hell, yeah!"
"All right, so you know Ebony be doing cleaning services out in them little rich areas, and she's been peepin’ game for a while, so we can't leave no paper trail!" Earl reached in his pocket and grabbed a white piece of paper with addresses on it. He slammed it on the table, unfolded it, and said, "All right, Vance, you go to 6123 address; Itrez, you go to the 6633 address; and, Lonnie, you go to the 6636 address. I'll take the 6366 address."
Lonnie inhaled the blunt, exhaled, and asked, "How we gonna get in without the alarms going off?"
Earl looked at Ebony and caught her eye. "Explain."
As she cooked, Ebony stated, "They trust me and they up in age, so I disarmed them before I left today."
Impressed, Vance said, "Damn, Ebb, how you put this together?"
Ebony replied, "I’ve been working out there for a year or so; and, while I was cleaning, I’d watch them put in the code."
Lonnie smiled. "Oh, shit!"
Earl nodded in agreement with his girlfriend’s cleverness, and said, "She left the downstairs windows unlocked, too! So, open it up, pop them old bastards, go through the drawers, get the jewelry, and be out!"
"So, do you work just those ones or different homes out in them rich areas?" Itrez asked.
Ebony shrugged and answered, "I work at a lot of different homes, but these homes, in particular, don't have dogs, children, or cameras."
Earl stated, "This should be pretty easy, in and out."
Ebony agreed, "Yeah, they jewelry and money just be laying around."
Lonnie looked at Ebony and said, "Are you sure you got all the facts straight, because I’m not tryna get caught!”
"Yeah, I've been watching over a year now. I've been all through they house and everything. I know which house is which." She gave him a smile of reassurance.
Lonnie let out a big sigh of relief. "Okay."
Earl looked at Lonnie. "Don't get nervous now. If you nervous, you better bounce now!"
Lonnie shook his head. "Nah, you already know I got caught some years back for that stick-up on granny. It’s a wrap for me if I get caught again!"
Earl looked at him and replied, "You got this, my nigga!"
Ebony brought the ramen noodles and sliced hot dogs in a bowl for Earl and Lonnie.
As though appearing from nowhere, one of Ebony’s four kids ran into the kitchen. He saw the Glock 19 near the edge of the table and reached for it. Earl reacted, shoving the child away. The boy bumped his head against the corner of the wall and started crying.
Ebony yelled at Earl, "Why you do that to him?"
Ebony went to pick up wailing toddler. Earl yelled at her, looking her in the eyes, "I told they little ass to stay in there! The little nigga almost grabbed my Glock. Take they little asses upstairs!"
Ebony bounced her toddler up and down and patted him on the back. She had her arm underneath his diaper, which leaked feces onto that arm.
Ebony tilted her head back and wrinkled her nose in disgust. "Fuck, let’s go upstairs and change you!"
As she carried the child away, Earl sat back down and said, "All right, niggas, let’s wrap this up and get this money. Leave the blunts on the table, and the drinks."
Vance inhaled on the weed and asked, "What y’all doing with the money?"
Itrez tilted back a swig of Hennessy then said, "Shit, pay this fucking rent at my mom’s before she get evicted. Her rent twenty-five dollars, and she don't got the money to pay for that shit, and my brothers and sister need food."
Vance said, "Gas. Turn the jewelry into cash and ass."
They laughed. Lonnie volunteered, "Hell, yeah! I’m moving to Mexico."
"Why Mexico?" Itrez asked, scratching his head.
"Because I already got caught once, and there ain’t nothing here in these projects, man! I got a felony. It’s already hard to get a job, so fuck it! I'm getting this money and I’m out!"
"I feel that,” Earl commiserated. “We gonna miss you, my nigga, if you leave."
"Earl, why you ain’t drink and smoke tonight? You usually be faded," Vance asked.
"Don't worry about me, my nigga. Let’s get this money!" Earl replied with a straight face. He looked at everyone and said, "All right, my niggas, I gave y’all the addresses and the access codes to get in. Make sure your cars is cleaned out, ain’t no weed smoke, beers cans, and nothing inside that bitch. And make sure it smell like black magic up in that muthafucka. If the smokey come by, show them your I.D. and tell them you're just going to the restaurant down the street or something … fuck, I dunno." Earl glanced at the clock on the wall, then continued, "It's two-thirty now. Let’s meet back up here by three-thirty."
They laughed again and Lonnie cheered, "Hell, yeah!"
They loaded their Kahr Arms p380 handguns and tucked them inside their pants next to their penises. Itrez stated, "Man, this shit is uncomfortable next to my nuts."
Earl agreed, "I know, but if smokey come, they ain’t checkin’ these here nuts, my G. We wanna be light as possible and be out."
Earl leveled a stern look at them. "Make sure we all meet back here, got it?"
Vance said, "Yup!"
Lonnie said, "Got it."
Earl grabbed a brown bookbag that had a Bible, Koran, and notebook. He intended to stash the jewelry in it. He ran out the back door, jumped in his 2004 black Chevy Impala, tossed the bag into the front passenger seat, and said to himself, "6366 Lives Street. Okay, I drove by there the other day. It took about twenty minutes."
He turned on the car, put in a Three 6 Mafia CD, and turned to the song, “Let’s Plan a Robbery.” Driving off, he smiled and said to himself, "Hell, yeah!"
About twenty minutes later, he arrived at the 6300 block and started talking to himself again as he drove and looked at the addresses: "6360,6362,6364 ... ahh, there we go, 6366!"
He looked at the clock on the dashboard and said, "It's 3:05 am. Let's get this done."
Earl grabbed the brown bookbag, looked around the area to make sure no people were around, and, exiting the vehicle, quietly closed the door. He walked up to the concrete steps.
A car honked. Earl cringed and looked toward the noise. It was Lonnie, driving by in a 1965 Ford Mustang. Earl put his index finger over his mouth, shook his head, and muttered under his breath, "Stupid-ass muthafucka!"
Earl crept around back. He dug into his pocket and pulled out a pair of plastic gloves. He slowly opened the door. He expressed his admiration for Ebony at a barely audible volume, "My bitch, she really did deactivate the alarms."
Entering the house, he slowly crossed the living room and headed for the staircase. The stairstep creaked. He cringed and paused, then switched to crawling up the stairs like a cat until he made it to the top. He saw an old black couple snoring. He watched the covers go up and down for a long moment before he crept into the room to find the jewelry and the safe Ebony had spoken of. He looked at the dresser and whispered to himself, “There it is.”
He pulled the bookbag off his back and, one by one, started putting earrings, necklaces, and loose change that lay around into the book bag. When he’d cleared the dresser of its valuables, he frantically looked around, straining to see in the darkness. Murmuring aloud again, he asked, "Fuck ... where the fuck is that safe?"
He started moving quickly but quietly in the room. Boom! He bumped into a child. The child fell into the dresser and started crying loudly.
Startled, Earl shouted, "Fuck!" He kicked the child in the face as hard as he could. The child flew across the room and crashed to the floor, screaming.
The noise woke the old, heavy-set man and woman. The woman let out a loud shriek and started breathing heavily. She grabbed the left side of her chest as her eyes rolled back into her head. She passed out.
The old man sat upright, looked at Earl, and demanded, "Who are you and what do you want?"
Earl quickly pulled his gun from his underwear. He hands shook as he aimed it at his victim. "Where’s the safe, old man? This is a muthafuckin’ stick-up, so don’t muthafuckin’ play!"
The old man said, "I don’t have a safe."
The child still cried. Earl pointed the gun at the old man yelled at the child, "Shut the fuck up!"
The old man took a deep breath and said in a calm voice, "Shawn, do what the man says and be quiet."
The child crawled past Earl and into his grandpa’s arms. He buried his face into his grandpa’s belly.
Sweating, Earl looked at the old man and yelled, "Where’s the muthafuckin’ safe?"
The old man trembled. A tear rolled down his cheek. "I don’t have a safe, and it looks like you took everything off the dresser."
Earl moved to the old man’s wife who still lay unconscious. Only the sclera of her eye was visible. He pointed the gun at her head and yelled again. "Your wife already look dead, B. You want me to make it official? Where is the muthafuckin’ safe?"
The old man yelled back, "I don’t have one, I’m telling you!"
Earl shot the old man’s wife in the temple. Flesh, bone fragments, and brain matter splattered the wall and the old man’s and grandson’s faces. Shocked, the old man cried out, “Gloria!"
Earl walked over to the old man, grabbed the boy, and again demanded, “Where’s the muthafuckin’ safe?"
The child started crying again, reaching for his grandfather. The old man wrapped his arm around the boy and begged, "Please don’t hurt my grandchild. I have a little money in my closet."
Earl pointed the gun at the boy’s head. "Go and get it. Don’t try and be funny, or your boy gets it!"
The old man got up and picked up his glasses off the nightstand. He glanced back at his grandson and the armed thief as he walked to the closet. He looked under a pair of jeans and pulled out a small medal box.
Nervous, Earl warned, "Don’t play!"
With forced calm, the old man opened the box and took out $600 in one hundred dollar bills. Holding out the cash, he stated, "This is all I have. I use it for quick emergencies and to pay the young lady that cleans our house every week. Depending on how much I have, I give her a nice $200 or $400 tip."
The memory of Ebony having extra money flashed in Earl’s mind, but he never remembered her telling him when he asked her where she got the extra money. He let out a deep breath and snarled, "Fuck, all this hassle for six hundred dollars!"
Thinking of the jewelry in the bookbag, Earl hefted it in his other hand and asked, "Is this jewelry real or not?”
Still holding the cash in his hand, the old man replied, "Some is and some isn't."
Earl told him, "Sit back on the bed."
The old man obeyed and reached for his grandson. Earl looked him in the eyes. The old man drew back. A tear rolled down his plump left cheek. The boy whimpered and sniffled. Earl shoved the boy toward the old man, who enveloped his grandson in his arms. Shaking, the boy burrowed his face into his grandfather belly once more.
Looking at them both, Earl said, "You know I can't let you live, right?"
The old man hugged his grandson tightly with his left hand and looked down at the Bible on the nightstand next to him. With his free hand, he opened it to Psalm 37. He ran a fingertip over the thin paper, looked at Earl, and said, "Do what you must, but may God have mercy—"
Earl shot the old man in between the eyes. "Fuck yo God. The preacher don't love me, my mama ain't love me, and nobody loved me since I was born."
The cash slid from the dead man’s hand.
The child shrieked and cowered. Earl reached over the dead man’s belly and grabbed him by the neck. He jammed the gun in the boy’s open mouth. Giving him a sinister look, he said, "I hate you, just because you look like you were going to have a good life, and you a bitch!"
He blew a hole through the child’s mouth.
Earl frantically grabbed the money and stuffed it into his bookbag. He rushed around the room, making sure he didn’t leave any evidence behind. He then ran down the stairs, jumped into his car, and drove off into the night.
About 20 minutes later, Earl pulled back into the Jordan Downs neighborhood. He grabbed the bookbag and ran through the back door with Vance, Itrez, Lonnie already sitting at the table. Chest heaving, he yelled, "Ebony!"
Earl yelled, "Come here and bring the kids."
Ebony came down the stairs carrying with a 6-month old baby girl in one arm and holding the hand of a 2-year old boy. A 6-year old boy and 8-year old girl trailed behind her.
Earl yelled, "Why you send us to that old muthafuckin’ preacher man’s house and he ain't have shit!"
He unzipped the bookbag in frustration and shook it over the table. A couple handfuls of jewelry fell out. "Look at the fake-ass gold and shit! The fuck we gonna do with this?"
Ebony said, "Sorry. Dang, I thought it was real, it was so shiny!"
Earl yelled, "What about the safe?"
Ebony replied, "Yeah ... he has a safe. It’s a little box he keeps the money in."
Earl tilted his head back, then glared at her and said, "You stupid muthafucka, when you said ‘safe,’ bitch, you made it sound like a big one with money in that bitch. All I got is this fake shit." He said nothing about the $600 stolen from the man he murdered.
Ebony said, "Fuck you, you ain't got no job. Be happy I helped you get anything, nigga!"
Earl looked at Vance, Itrez, and Lonnie. "What y’all niggas get?"
Vance said, "Some fake shit, but I did get some of these rare coins—they can be worth some bread—and two hundred dollars."
Itrez and Lonnie had teamed up. In front of them was some cash. Lonnie shrugged his shoulders, and said, "We got this two thousand dollars.”
Frustrated, Earl yelled, "Fuck, that ain’t shit!"
Earl looked at the ground and said, "Damn it, Ebony.”
Earl then walked away, muttering, "I gotta take a leak. "
Everyone was quiet for a moment. Lonnie broke the heavy silence and said, "Earl hot right now; but, then again, we was better off robbing a bank."
Vance looked at Ebony. "Fuck it, don't worry about it. You know we still got a little something. We just have to figure a way to split it up."
The rat-a-tat-tat of automatic gunfire ended the conversation.
Earl fired a his modified Armalite rifle into the kitchen, raining bullets on Vance, Itrez, Lonnie, Ebony, and the children. Earl glared at Ebony as she gasped for air. He kicked her in the face and snapped, "Stupid bitch, all that work and we got nothing. And you was holding out on the money that old man was giving you. You got me fucked if you think I was gonna help you raise these little bastards."
He pointed the AR-15 at her face and pulled the trigger, then sprayed bullets into the baby and the children. He then looked at Lonnie who had tumbled to the floor. The man groaned and clutched at his bleeding wounds. Earl searched his pockets and pulled out a thick wad of $100 bills. Furious, Earl kicked him.
"Fuck you, man!" Lonnie groaned.
"I knew you niggas was gonna hold out. That's why I couldn't trust y’all," Earl said.
Coughing up blood, Lonnie said, "Fuck you, should have known you was up to somethin, because you didn't smoke or—"
Earl cut off the man’s word with a bullet. He sneered and said, "Shut the fuck up."
He fired more rounds into Vance and Itrez, then checked their pockets. He found a Swisher Sweet wrapper, $6 in ones, and a magnum condom in Vance’s pockets. Itrez’s pockets contained a dirty Q-Tip and a stick of bubble gum. In a hurry, he grabbed all the jewelry and money off the table and his bookbag. Without a backward glance, he ran out the back door, jumped into his car, threw the bookbag in the back seat, sped off into the night.
Anderson, E. (September 17, 2000). Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City. W. W. Norton, 2000.
NIV Study Bible, Hardcover, Red Letter Edition. (October 29, 2011). Zondervan.
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