Evil on Top of Evil: Part 2

Evil on Top of Evil: Part 2
By: Dominic Brogsdale

Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
(Psalm 62:10)

  After about an hour of driving that night, Earl’s mind settled enough to allow him to try to figure out what he was going to do. Rap music blared from the speakers. Staring through the windshield into the night sky, he muttered to himself, "I can't go to Mexico, because I don't have passport. This money is gonna run out fast. Ah, fuck it, I'll figure it out."

 The gas gauge was hovered near E. He stopped at a gas station and parked his car at the pump. He walked up to the front door, pulled on it, and noticed it was locked. Walking to the side of the attendant’s booth, he looked through the window to see a fat white man with glasses sleeping in a roller chair. His head was tilted back and he drooled on his work shirt.

 Earl knocked on the glass three times. The man did not so much as twitch. Earl knocked on the glass a little harder, rapping his knuckles against the window five more times. Still nothing. Earl sighed in frustration, then he banged on the glass and shouted, "Yo!"

 The man woke with a snort and rolled his chair to the glass window.
 Earl said, "You like to sleep on the job?"
 The heavy-set man smiled, and Earl said, "Oh, so you think it's funny."
 The attendant replied, "No, sir!"
 Earl looked him in the eye. "How about I call in on you, and you'll be sleeping at home all the time?"
 The man whined through the intercom, "Come on, man, I need this job. Man, I'm living paycheck to paycheck, and they’re already on my ass here!"

 Earl recognized an opportunity to negotiate and asked, "What can you do for me, man?"

With a sigh, the attendant replied, "I can get you some chips and some pop, man."

 Earl thought he could do better than that. "What about thirty dollars in gas, a box of Newports, a lighter, a pack of red pop, some jerky, phone charger for an Android, and some Snyders honey barbeque potato chips, big dawg? And while you at it, give me some Black Ice air fresheners, the 3-pack, big homie!"

 The attendant bit his lower lip and said, "Man, that's a lot. We keep inventory!"

 Feeling triumphant, Earl said, "I guess you don't want this job!"

 The heavy-set man sighed and relented. "Okay, do you have a twenty? Because I can use my twenty to get all your stuff! I get some stuff free, but not everything."

Earl pulled a $20 bill from his pocket and said, "My man!"

The heavy-set man quickly plucked a bag of Snyders honey barbeque potato chips, a case of red cream soda, three sticks of beef jerky, a box of Newport cigarettes, and some extra items. He dumped the loot into a plastic bag, then opened the front door and set the bag down.

 Earl walked around the attendant’s station and grabbed the bag, then he returned to the transaction window. He looked at the other man and enjoyed the way he squirmed. Meeting his gaze, he asked, "You scared of me, man?"

Nervous, the attendant replied, "No, you just have so much stuff."

Calmed by his successful negotiation and intimidation, Earl felt magnanimous and said, "Okay, you can keep ya job!"

 Earl headed toward his car. As fuel pumped into the vehicle’s tank, he set the bag on the passenger seat. Ignoring the posted warning not so smoke around the fuel pumps, he opened up the box of Newports, grabbed a pack, shook out a cigarette, and lit one up. A moment later, he exhaled smoke into the moonlight. Earl stared at the night sky, still contemplating what he was going to do next. The gas pump stopped. It read $20.

 Earl muttered under his breath, " I told that fat bastard thirty dollars, not twenty dollars."

 He considered going back to the attendant’s station to confront him about the discrepancy when a patrol car pulled up at the pump behind him. Spooked, Earl said to himself, "Let me get the fuck outta here!"

 Earl forced himself to move calmly as he returned the nozzle to the pump. The officer got out the car, nodded, and said, "Good evening."

 Earl nodded back and overheard on police radio: "Multiple homicide in the Jordan Downs project. The only information we have is the suspect is a Black male."

 Earl looked at the officer. The cigarette dangling from his bottom lip, he commented, "Rough night."
The officer drawled in reply, "Yeah, always something going on, people killing each other left and right."

 Earl said, "I feel it! Well, keep safe."

The officer politely replied, "You, too."

 Earl got into his car and drove off. He stared into the distance, his car the only one on that country road. While he drove, he continued to work on how he was going get some more money. Earl looked in his CD deck and pulled out Frayser Boy’s On the Bay CD. He turned to the song "I Had to Get ’Em" and cranked the volume all the way up. He bobbed his head to the beat, took a puff on the cigarette, blew smoke into the air, and rapped along with the verse. His hands drummed the steering wheel in rhythm with the music as he sang at the top of his lungs.

The hook came on. He did not sing along to that, but bobbed his head to the beat as he stared at the lonely road ahead. As soon as the second verse came on, he shouted it at the top of his lungs in harmony with the recording blasting from the speakers.

 Earl put the song on repeat six more times; but, by the third time, he didn't sing along. The only thing he could think about was acquiring more money and getting some shut-eye. Not wanting to waste money on a motel or risk discovery, he pulled onto the shoulder and turned off the ignition. He leaned the driver’s seat back as far as it would go and snuggled down. Pulling a jacket from the back seat, he draped it over himself to serve as a blanket and closed his eyes.

“Just a coupla hours,” he promised himself with a jaw-cracking yawn.

  Anxiety and physical discomfort—who knew cars were so difficult to sleep in?—woke him. After stretching and urinating on the roadside, he climbed back into the car and resumed driving. Earl pulled up at another gas station and yawned. He’d driven through the night and it was now 7:00 a.m. The sun peeked over the eastern horizon. There was nobody at the gas station except those who worked there. Stepping from his car and stretching again, he looked around and thought about robbing them. Then he said to himself, "Nah, there's too much heat on me right now and too many cameras. I'll spend what I have and then figure out what Ima do from there.”

 Earl refilled the tank, without paying, then drove off. He plugged his phone into the charger and opened Google. He said, "Hey, Google, nearest homeless shelter."

The phone did not pick up on it, so Earl said again louder, "The nearest homeless shelter?"

 Again, the phone failed to respond. Earl sighed and said aloud, "You worthless, crusty-ass bitch!"

Annoyed, Earl typed his request into the search engine. After a couple of seconds, and the phone said, "Here you go," and gave him different locations for homeless shelters around the city.

 Earl looked at the locations and said to himself, "Cool."

 About 20 minutes later, Earl pulled in front of the Faith Mission Church. Hungry and still tired, he parked the car and walked inside the church. An elderly Black woman sat at the front desk. She looked up at him, smiled, and in a friendly manner, asked, "How may I help you, young man?"

 Feeling awkward, Earl said, "Um ... yeah, you got some food? I'm hungrier than a mutha—"

 Earl caught the profanity before it escaped completed. He paused and tried again, "Sorry. Do ya'll have breakfast this morning?"

 She stared at him, dark eyes blinking behind the lenses of her glasses. After a long moment, she gave Earl a gentle smile, turned towards the door, and said, "Right through those doors, young man."

Earl nodded and said, "Good looking out!"

 The elderly woman shook her head and muttered beneath her breath, "These young people today!"

Offended by her comment, Earl passed through the double doors. He looked around and saw people chatting around tables, basketball hoops, and the line for breakfast. Earl took his place in line. The line moved slowly. Impatient, Earl grumbled, "Damn, hurry it up ... shit!"

 He finally made it to the front of the line where a large Black woman with a stern voice and no facial expression said, "How you doing, babe? What kind of bread you want?"

 Earl replied, "What you got?"

 The heavyset woman said, "White or wheat, babe?"

 Earl remembered his manners and said, "White, please."

 The woman then asked, "Oatmeal, bacon, eggs, bottle of orange juice okay?”

 Earl said, "Yes, and lots of it!"

Without changing expression, she said, "I can only give you so much, sweetie. We got other hungry mouths to feed."

 Earl looked back at the line, reminded himself that this was free food, and said, "My bad. I'll take whatever you got."

 The woman winked her left eye, smiled, and replied, "Big Mama will take care of you if we have enough left over!"

 Earl had his way with the ladies ad survived the night, Earl smiled at her and replied, "Good looking out!"

 She smiled and handed him his tray. "God bless you, sweetie."

 Earl nodded and said, "Thank you. You, too."

 He carried his tray to one of the tables and sat next to an elderly man. The old man’s long gray beard had food in it. He wore a dingy brown suit and had nappy, salt-and-pepper hair.

 Earl lifted his nose, sniffed, and thought, "Damn, this old muthafucka’s stink!"

 With a creak, another man sat on the other side of him. Earl glanced at him and realized he was stuck between the old Black man and an older white man wearing a dirty tank top and skinny Nike shorts with holes in them. The white man’s hair was patchy, short, and gray. He smelled bad, too.

 Earl looked around at the assortment of humanity gathered there and reconsidered moving to another table. He thought, "Fuck it, they all look like they smell like ass. I'll just sit here!"

 The elderly Black man gave him a gap-toothed smile and said in a friendly manner, "You new here, young man?"

 Schooling his face to show no expression, Earl replied, "Something like that."

 The elderly man continued the conversation. "You don't mind me asking you your name?"
Earl said, "E."

 The elderly man said, "E, huh?" He paused, then continued, "Okay, E, nice to meet you. My name is G."

 "What up, G?"

 With another smile, the old man asked, "Where you from, E?"

 Again schooling his expression to neutrality, Earl answered, "Why you wanna know? You police?"

The man chuckled and said, "No, I ain't no police. Look at me."

 "You could be undercover," Earl retorted.

 The elderly man scoffed. "Yeah, right. As long as I been on these streets and the felonies I got, they wouldn't hire me on the force."

 Curiosity piqued, Earl asked, "What you do, G?"

 The elderly man took a sip of water and countered with a question, "What didn't I do?"

Overhearing the conversation, the old white man on Earl’s other side leaned over and commented in a cloud of foul-smelling breath, "Shit, that mutherfucker was in every crime you can think of!"

 G snorted and said, "And you was on every drug you can think of; that’s why you look like a pasty horse leg."

 The white man grunted. "Remember we both in the same boat, mutherfucker!"

G sarcastically said, "Yeah, yeah. Whatever!"

As G took another sip of water, the old white man whispered in Earl’s ear, "Watch, he'll start talking to ya and ask ya for money when ya leave!"

 Earl smirked and shoveled a forkful of breakfast into his mouth.

 Putting his cup down, G asked, "You look young, young man. How old are you?"

 Chewing on his food, Earl answered, "Twenty."

 G nodded and said, "You ain't got no mama. I know you just ain't in here with us poor folks!"

 Earl quietly said, "Nah, I ain't got no mama, man."

 G asked, "What she do to you? I hear the silences in your voice."

 Earl paused to reflect upon his mother, then answered, "I don't think she loved us, man. She used to tell my brothers and me to sneak into people’s homes and bring back whatever of value we could find."

 G nodded then asked, "OK ... what ya'll do?"

 Immediately suspicious again, Earl demanded, "What do you mean, what did we do? I just told you what we did."

 G said, "I mean, how did ya'll do it and what places?"

Reassured the old man wasn’t referring to his latest criminal activity, Earl said, "Oh, we robbed people in the city, broke into homes in the hoods, got close to people and steal they stuff, or put stuff in our coats at the store. You know, shit like that."

 Chewing on his food, G said, "I see. How many brothers and sisters you have?"
Earl mentally reviewed his family and answered, "Shit ... four older brothers, two older sisters, and two younger sisters."

 G probed some more. "Okay, why you say your mama didn't love you?"

 Old rage simmered inside Earl as he replied, his voice beginning to hiss, "Because, man, if we refused to steal somethin’, she would beat us, yell at us, slap us. There were times she would put a gun in our mouth and threaten us if we didn't do it. That project life, you feel me?"

 G nodded. "I see. Was she on drugs?"

Earl’s eyebrows went skyward at the old man’s insight. "Man!"

 G said, "Yeah, Mama must have been on that hard shit. She probably loved ya'll, but she was probably just fucked up on that shit!"

 G looked over at the white man sitting on Earl’s other side and said, "You don't wanna end up like that muthafucka over there."

 The white man wasn't paying attention. He conversed with the man across the table. He sipped his coffee, smiled with no teeth, and said, "The fuck you say to me, muthafucker?"

G smiled and replied, "Nothing."

Ignoring the exchange between the two old men, Earl said, "Shit, I didn't see the love."

"Where's your brothers and sisters now?" G asked.

Memories of his siblings brought an expression of sadness to the young man’s face. He looked at G and said, "Shit ... one brother ran away, two in prison—one in for stealing cars or some shit like that and the other one just disappeared—and one is dead.”

G said, "I'm sorry to hear that. How did the one die, if you don't mind me asking?"

Earl sighed. "Shit, he got set up in a burglary. They was tryna get away, I guess, and they shot him in his leg, I guess. Everyone else got away, and they lit his ass up!” He shrugged, affecting nonchalance. “That's the way the story was told to me."

G said, "Damn ... what happen to your sisters?"

Earl smiled. "My one older sister, she married this rich white dude. I don't know what she did to get him to love her, because she ghetto as hell. But she taking him for everything he got!"

G chewed on another bite of his breakfast and commented, "Yeah, some honeys got game like that."
Earl agreed. "Yeah, she got game all right. She ain't in the hood no more. I think she meet good ol’ boy online or somethin’, but she got two kids by him and everything. She don't work or do shit; but, hey, if he allow it, more power to her, I guess!"

G shook his head and said, "I heard that! Now what about the other three sisters?"

Earl said, "The other older sister into credit card scams and stuff like that. My two younger sisters, they kind of new to the game. One a year younger than me, but she got three kids by three different baby daddies. She gets pregnant on purpose and gets them baby daddies for child support."

G laughed and asked, "How you know that, young man?"

Earl laughed and said, "Because I know! I be overhearing her conversations with they girls; and, on top of that, they all have state jobs and none of them found out!"

G laughed and slapped the table with his palm. "I know that game, stupid simps!"

Earl grinned and continued, "My other sister joined this gang of bitches. They worse than niggas. They go around stores with ski mask and rob muthafuckas!"

G shook his head and looked Earl in the eye. With a sober expression, he said, "You robbing and stealing, too."

 Amusement vanished. Earl demanded, "Does it look like I do that?"

G raised his eyebrows and said, "Hey, you never know when you raised by a den of thieves."
Earl chuckled and gulped down his orange juice.

G asked, "So, you got any kids or a girlfriend?"

Eyes narrowing with renewed suspicion, Earl remarked, "You sure are asking a lot of questions. You sure you ain't police?"

G laughed again. "Son, do I look like police?"

Relieved, Earl dredged up an uncaring macho attitude and replied, "Nah, but to answer your question, I did have a girlfriend and some kids, but she left me."

Curious, G asked, "Why and how?"

Earl leaned back in the metal chair, paused, looked G in the eye, and said, "They just left. There's only two places they could have gone; but, at this point, I don't care. Fuck it!"

G nodded. "Yeah, it happens!"

Deciding that it was the other man’s turn to answer questions, Earl asked, "What about you OG, how you end up like this?"

G sipped his water, smacked his lips, and said, "Well, I was in the military back in the fifties. I got discharged. My old lady was cheating on me, so I shot his ass, and I shot her stankin’ ass, too. I got a felony, so it was hard for me to find work. So, now I'm here."

Earl looked at him in disbelief and said,

"Damn, that's fucked up!"

G let out a big breath of hot air and said, "Yup. Son, don't get married. I spent all that time in the military tryna take care of her ass, stabbing another muthafucka across seas I don't even know, and here he is, stabbing my wife every night. Ain't that a bitch!"

Earl shook his head and agreed, "Bitches ain't shit!"

G let out an aggressive sigh and echoed the young man, "Yup, bitches ain't shit!"

The old white man on Earl’s other side butted in the conversation.  "Aw, hell, all women ain't bad. I had a good mama, and she was faithful to my pops until he died."

G raised his eyebrows and said, "Yeah, yo mama took care of yo ass growing up. I was a poor farm boy. Your brothers and sisters went to college and made something of themselves; but, you decided to get involved with that hippie shit and them drugs fucked yo ass up!"

The white man paused, looked at the ceiling, looked back at Earl and G, and drawled with his gums showing, "Yyyeeeaaahhh."

Earl asked,

"What happen to ya mom's, G?"

G answered, "I had a good mama. She worked hard, raised chickens and hogs. My papa worked in the coal mines down in the south.”

He paused, stared at his food, and continued in a soft tone of regret, "I made a mistake. I let my anger get the best of me. I did some time in the joint, and well ... now I’m here."

Earl, still in a state of disbelief, exclaimed, "That's crazy!"

G mumbled, "Yup, yup, yup, yup, yup, yup, I let my anger get the best of me."

 The woman who served Earl his breakfast announced loudly, "We’re closing in five minutes and, no, we don't have seconds!"

Realizing he’d spent his time talking and not eating, Earl scarfed his food down.

"Good talking to you, young man. Wish you best out there," G said.

Earl replied with a mouthful of food, "Good looking out."

G took a deep breath and with a look of shame asked, "You got some spare change I can borrow to get a beer, son?"

The old white man tugged gently on Earl's hoodie, smiled, and whispered, "I told ya."

Annoyed by the request, Earl reminded himself that the old man meant no harm. "Nah, man, I'm struggling just like you, OG."

G nodded, accepting the denial. "Thanks anyway."

Finishing his breakfast, Earl left the gym. He looked at the lady at the front desk, recalled her last comment, and said just loud enough so she could hear, "Bitter, old Black bitch!"

The woman gasped and said, "Excuse me, young man!"

Earl kept walking. The woman yelled, "I'll see to it you never eat here again!"

Earl raised his middle finger in response and hurried down the stairs to his car. He pulled out his car keys. Eyes squinted, he looked in the back seat "I could’ve swore I put my book bag in the back seat!"

Frantic, he popped the truck and looked inside. Nothing. He looked in the back seat again. Still nothing. He grunted, "Fuck!"

He banged his fists on the top of the car, then rubbed his face with his right hand. He muttered, "I'm a dumbass, damn it!"

He puffed his cheeks and exhaled in an effort to control his temper. "How the fuck did I forget to lock my door or even put the bookbag in the trunk!"

 Frustrated beyond endurance, Earl pulled up his sagging pants, tightened his all-black Air Force One Nikes, and looked under the driver’s seat. Jaw clenched, he grabbed the Glock hidden beneath the seat, two loaded magazines, and his black ski mask. He tucked the gun in the back of his pants and the magazines in his pocket, then started walking toward the bigger buildings downtown.

It took about 10 minutes to reach downtown. He walked around, looking for any vulnerable person at an ATM. As he strolled along the sidewalk, Earl asked a young Black pedestrian, "Hey, homie, where's the jailhouse down here?"

He pointed south and answered, "Shit, about five blocks down."

"All right, cool. Good looking out!" Earl replied with a grin.

He walked two blocks in the opposite direction of the city jail and watched as people used the ATM. Traffic was steady, but not high. Satisfied with his cleverness, he whispered, "Bingo."

Earl found a nearby bus stop and took a seat under the Plexiglass shelter where he could keep an eye on the ATM. About two hours passed without anyone using it and him ignoring the buses that stopped by to pick up a passenger who had no intention of traveling.

"Damn, is muthafucka's broke?"

 He smiled again as his dwindling patience was rewarded. A young white woman dressed like she worked in some fancy office walked up to the ATM. She looked back and forth as she plugged in her access code. Earl ran at top speed toward her while she focused on her transaction. When he stopped behind her, he pulled his ski mask down, showed her the gun, and said, "Listen, bitch, don't yell, don't scream, and don't say shit. Get me the maximum amount of cash out that muthafuckin’ ATM and act casual while doing it, you understand?"

The young white woman swallowed, found her voice, and squeaked, "Please don't hurt me. I'll get whatever you need."

Earl glanced about to ensure no one noticed them and hissed, "Hurry up, business bitch, hurry up with that shit!"

A white businessman came up behind Earl. Reacting, Earl looked back at him, showed his gun, and growled, "Get the fuck out here."

The man's eyes widened with fear and the realization of what was taking place. He quickly walked off as if nothing had happened.

Standing behind the woman who had gone still, he said, "Quit stalling, bitch. I just murdered some muthafuckas less than twenty-four hours ago, and I'll murder yo ass, too, if you think I'm playing. I'm havin’ a real fucked-up day, so hurry yo ass!"

The woman trembled, hands shaking so that she mistyped her personal identification numbers on the keypad. Crying, she said, "I'm trying, sir. It's almost here."

 A moment later, the machine spat out $500. Earl grabbed it. "Good job, bitch. Don't say nothing to nobody. I got people watching us right now, and they will kill you, bitch, if you say anything."
Trembling and sniffling, she nodded.

 Realizing he needed a fast escape, Earl looked at the traffic lights at the nearest intersection and at every person in the cars waiting for their turn to proceed. He saw a fat white woman smoking in her car and he ran up to the driver’s side. Pointing his gun at her, he shouted, “Move yo fat ass, bitch!”
The woman’s eyes widened as she pulled the cigarette from her lips. Without protest, she obeyed, raising her hands—cigarette clenched between two fingers--and breathing heavily. She didn’t say a word.

 Earl slid into the driver’s seat and drove through town, putting another five miles on the odometer before parking the car at a parking meter. He looked at the passenger seat where the woman had left a pack of Marlboro cigarettes. He grabbed it and put it in his pocket before getting out of the car. He left the car parked there without paying the meter and headed to a nearby parking garage. He walked inside and took the elevator to the top floor. Scouting around, his eyes gleamed with greed.
"Damn, some of these cars are nice."

He saw a Mercedes-Benz, a few Cadillacs, and some Buicks. Although tempted to steal one, he recognized his immediate need required something different: "I need something with good gas mileage."

He spied a Fiat 500 and rubbed his hands together. Grinning, he murmured, "Here we go, right here: small and efficient."

He looked about to make sure no one was around and checking for cameras. He saw no one nor any cameras. Reassured of the excellence of the opportunity, he drew his Glock and used the butt to break the driver’s side window. Reaching in, he unlocked the door, opened it, and dived under the steering column to tamper with the wires.

Sweating and nervous, he glanced around as he tried to hotwire the vehicle. The sour odor of his own sweat made him wrinkle his nose. As he worked to start the car, he whispered, "Work, bitch!"
The sweet sound of the ignition sparking and the engine turning over made his gut nearly liquefy with relief. He smiled at his success and muttered, "Yeah, that's right, you my bitch now!"
He slid into the driver’s seat and winced at a sharp pain. "Aww, shit!"

 A piece of glass pierced his buttocks. Profanity spewing from his mouth, he stood and swept the glass off the seat with the arm of his hoodie, then brushed off his backside. Sitting back down in the driver’s seat and closing the car door, he drove down the garage and looked around to see if anyone was working. A middle-aged Black man read a newspaper inside the ticket booth. He impatiently waited for a car to come out and tapped his fingernails against the steering wheel while shaking his right foot against the accelerator pedal.

He whispered to himself, "Damn, will somebody leave?"

 Hearing an engine approach, he peered into the rearview mirror and saw a car drive up behind him. Earl waved at the driver to pass him. The car swerved around him and scanned out. Earl eased the Fiat close behind that car and followed him out of the parking garage, taking advantage of the short delay before the crossing guard lowered. Sighing with the pleasure of success, he sped away.

 As Earl drove, he looked at the CD deck and saw the Beatles, Journey, Queen, Neil Diamond, The Killers, Vanessa Carlton, Rick Astley, the Black Jets, Billy Joel, 3 Doors Down, and more. Earl frowned, sucked his teeth, and displeased with the car owner’s taste in music, griped, "What is this shit?"

 He tossed the offending CDs out the window and turned on the radio, tuning it to a hip-hop station. He listened to the rapper on the radio on and couldn't understand a word being said. Frowning again, he complained, "These mumble muthafuckas!"

Displeased with the music, he turned the radio off. Driving through traffic, thoughts of Ebony, the children, and the comrades whom he murdered filled his mind instead of music. He justified the crime to himself, "I had to, they was playing with my money!"

He thought about Ebony and how she came up with the idea for the robbery. He remembered lying in bed with her, talking about not having any money and how she suggested robbing those people, calling his comrades in on it, and splitting the money. Earl sighed and whispered under his breath, "She just had to fuck it up, and she had too many damn kids!"

 After a moment’s silence, Earl then said aloud, "Whatever. Ain't the first muthafuckas I set up and kilt!"

 After about a half an hour on the road, Earl glimpsed flashing red and blue lights in the rearview mirror. He let out a big sigh. "Shit."

 Earl eased the car to the shoulder and opened the driver’s door just a little bit. Earl thought to himself, "Damn, I know he's gonna ask for my ID."

He thought quickly.

 Through the rearview mirror, Earl watched as the cop exited the patrol car. He pulled his hood over his head. When the cop looked down for a split second, Earl kicked the door open.

Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow!

 The fourth shot hit the cop in the head. Looking at the patrol car, Earl saw another officer on the radio. He raced to the passenger side of the patrol car. As the other officer reached for his gun, Earl fired twice at the passenger window. The cop ducked. Earl pulled the trigger again, but the gun only clicked. With a curse, he rushed around the car, ejecting the empty magazine and slamming in a full one. Stopping at the driver’s side, he emptied the clip into the car, three bullets piercing the cop’s skull. Glass from shattered windows, brain matter, and blood splattered the car’s interior.

Sweating freely and jittery with adrenaline, Earl ran back to his car and drove off. Panting, he spoke to himself, "I don't have enough time to get another car. I don't know this city very well."

He grabbed his phone and said, "GPS nearest freeway?"

The GPS responded, "Here you go."

Earl looked at the screen and noted that the nearest exit was two miles away.
He sped in that direction, glancing frequently in the rearview mirror. A string of profanities spewed from his mouth when he caught sights of a helicopter and heard sirens behind him. Earl sweated profusely as he gave himself a pep talk, his mind going back in time to the days when his mother directed his criminal activity: "I dodged ya'll plenty of times before; I'll do it again. I'm not going back to juvie hall!"

 Earl looked back, stuck his arm out the window, and fired a shot at the nearest police car chasing him. The bullet hit nothing. Realizing his error, Earl addressed himself aloud again, "What are you doing? I need to save these."

 Tires squealing, he turned onto the exit. Not caring about the other vehicles on the highway, he put pedal to the metal. The nimble Fiat shot forward. Frantically checking the rearview mirror, Earl’s stomach sank at seeing a dozen more cop cars pursuing him on the freeway. He wove in and out of traffic and hit cars left and right like a ball in a pinball machine. He gasped when the left front tire popped. The car skidded out of control, then flipped and rolled. Earl held onto the steering wheel, knuckles turning pale with the strength of his grip. The car finally stopped rolling, landing in an upright position in the median. Earl’s chest heaved as air rushed in and out of his lungs.

Policemen burst from their vehicles, weapons drawn, and yelled, "Stay down! Do not get out of the car!"

Earl breathed heavily and examined himself in the mirror. He saw only minor scratches and bruises on his head. Ducking, he crawled out the passenger side.

One officers shouted, "It's over! We know who you are! Come out with your hands up!"

Earl hid behind the car. Still breathing heavily, he shouted in reply, "Fuck ya'll!"

Another voice, calm and manly, spoke, "We’re here to help you, Earl."

Disbelieving that, Earl yelled, "Man, fuck ya'll! Ya'll not here to help me! Ya'll was never here to help me. Did ya'll help my moms on drugs? Are ya'll helping my pops that's doing life in prison? Did ya'll help me when I was in and out of juvie hall? Did ya'll help me when I was broke as fuck growing up and all I wanted was somethin’ to eat?”

The calm man spoke again, "We wanna help you get better."

 Earl peered from behind the tire. Nearly a dozen cops stood between him and the highway and aimed their guns directly at him. Frustrated, defeated, and resenting it, he shouted, "Man, get the fuck out of here! Everybody I grew up with dead or in jail. Explain to me how ya'll gonna help me if you couldn't help them. Ya'll ain't help them. Ya'll got cameras all over the hood, watching us twenty-four-seven, and ya'll built a prison two miles away from the projects. Ya'll don't give a fuck about me or the muthafuckas that live in my neighborhood, because if you did, ya'll would have helped us a long time ago. Get the fuck outta here with that sweet-talking shit! I've been in juvie; I know what's up!"

 Earl shifted position, his sweat-soaked clothes sticking to his skin. He looked up and down the freeway, hoping for a car nearby. Nothing was closer than a hundred feet. He looked again to his left and reasoned aloud, “I can try to make a run for it, but I can get hit by a car. If I go to the right towards them little woods, I get arrested and do life in prison. Or I can put a bullet in my skull.”
None of those options appealed.

 Earl reached into his pocket and withdrew his lighter. Hands shaking, he put a cigarette in his mouth and tried to light it even as tears streamed down his face. Finally, the tobacco caught the flame and smoldered. He took a puff, tilted his head skyward, and exhaled the smoke. With a sense of fatalism, he murmured, "Welp, God, if you do exist, it would be a miracle if I make it out of this one; but, if I do make it out, I'll be on the run anyway, and I'll be robbin’ muthafuckas for the rest of my life.”

 He took another drag on the cigarette, blew into the air, and licked the blood and tears that dribbled down his face and onto his lips. He figured that, as long as he was talking to God, he might as well get in a few well-deserved digs. Sarcasm dripped from every word.

"Thanks for giving me a drug addict for a mother. Thanks for sending my father to prison for robbing banks. Thanks for giving us nothing growing up: it was fun being broke, poor, and hungry. I really appreciate the life I was given.”

A sob of self-pity shook his body. He started crying harder and wiped the tears from his eyes. Still sobbing, he continued whispering to God.

 "Maybe I'll see you soon, and maybe this is karma for the muthafuckas I've done robbed and killed in my short time here. I guess I'm going to hell. Or maybe I'm already in hell? Shit, I dunno. But ... I do know that ain't nobody gave a fuck about me, especially you, God!"

Desperate not to spend the rest of his miserable life in prison, Earl made a decision. He took a deep breath. Heart racing, he hyped himself up, saying, "Come on, Earl, come on!"

He looked to the left toward the wooded area and cocked his gun. Jumping to his feet, he took off as fast as he could. Two German Shepherds darted after him. Catching sight of the dogs in his peripheral vision, he aimed and shot at them without looking back.  A high-pitched yelp followed.

A police officer shouted, "Officer down!"

Gunfire filled the air as the police retaliated.

Bullets riddled Earl's body, filling it with pain as blood poured out. He stumbled, strength and balance fading fast despite adrenaline and determination. Earl spat up blood as he staggered toward the wooded area, refusing to admit defeat.

He coughed and grunted, "I'm almost there."

The remaining German Shepherd leaped, its powerful jaws closing on Earl’s neck. Earl started choking as the dog dragged him to the ground. He heard an officer yell, "Good boy! K-9 down."
Earl gasped, trying to catch his breath. He tried to get up, to flee. An officer shouted, "He's still moving! He's got a gun!"

The sound of gunfire reverberated again, leaving behind the bitter smell of cordite to be swept away by the late morning breeze.

Earl’s body bounced as the bullets hit him. He felt his left eye explode in its socket. He closed his right eye and faded into the darkness.

 The submission is what the perpetrator wants, but it is also what he understands. After all, he has the power in these circumstances, a power that anyone should perceive. He has a gun and is pointing it at the victim, threatening to shoot. Or he may have a knife, threatening serious bodily harm. He further knows—as the victim—that he is an anonymous stranger and more thank likely will get away. Here the perpetrator often makes assumptions based on race and the concentrated poverty all around him. Also built into his act is the assumption that the police will not expend very much energy trying to bring him to justice, and he may assume that any thinking black person would assume the same thing. Therefore, he reasons, it is certainly easier for the person to give it up. The perpetrator’s need to remain anonymous is acknowledged by the street-smart victim when the victim goes out of his way not to look at the perpetrator. Such a victim will absolutely not look the assailant in the eyes, for though it is unlikely that the victim could actually recognize the perpetrator again, the look in the eye both introduces a certain level of ambiguity into the situation and could be taken as a direct challenge to the perpetrator’s newly won authority. Once the victim and the perpetrator lock eyes, a bond that could be deadly had been established, and the events takes on the quality of being memorable. In that event, what started as a simple effort to relieve the victim of his money turns into an ambiguous transaction that may now require the victim’s life.  

Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, Moral Life of the Inner City by Elijah Anderson (p. 127)


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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