1997 “I’m telling you papi it’s all there.” St. Louis said as he reached underneath the kitchen sink and removed the triple beam scale walking back into the dining area and setting it on the table in front of the man he was doing business with. Five hundred grams of raw cocaine sat on the table in front of him. “Look you not my freend okay? Cut it weeth de papi sheet okay? I no trust nobody we weigh, I pay, I go.” St. Louis laughed as he sat in the chair across from him, flashing a gold tooth smile. “However you want it. Where’s the money?” The man ignored the question as he continued placing the product on the scale. St. Louis tried not to let his nervousness show this was his first time doing a deal this big the work wasn’t even really his he had been given the cocaine on consignment from his uncle. This was his chance to prove he wasn’t a fuck up, that he could be an important part of his uncle’s organization. “It looks good to me my freend.” The man said as he stood from the table and began placing the product in a brown handled paper bag. “Well it don’t look good to me, where the fuck is my money?” St. Louis said with his best tough guy impression he could squeeze out. The man reached underneath his black plaid flannel before St. Louis could respond he had a 9 mm Luger pointed at the tip of his nose. As the man cocked back and was about to squeeze St. Louis sprayed shit into his pants. “You nazty fuck, you have no mann…” Before his sentence was finished two pops from a .38 echoed through the small apartment. The back of the man’s head ripped open as part of his brains splashed and hit Amerie who stood holding the smoking pistol in the face and neck the rest hit the ceiling. “Holy Fuck!” St. Louis screamed out as he swallowed forcing down the vomit that was about to come out. “Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my god…..” Amerie mumbled over and over again staring at nothing in particular, smoking gun still in hand. Amerie was his woman they had only met a month prior and she’d already moved in. She stared and mumbled, not moving, not showing any emotion as if she were almost in a catatonic state. “Baby, hand me the piece okay?” St. Louis said as he stood from the table and attempted to walk towards Amerie. “Don’t touch meeeeeeee!” She screamed out as she backed away and balled into a corner on the floor rocking back and forth pulling her hair still mumbling to God. St. Louis backed away as he removed his shirt and began wiping down the table and everything he touched in the kitchen. “I’m going give you a few minutes baby to get it together while I clean up but you got to get it together we got to go!” Amerie didn’t respond she continued rocking. Ten minutes later St. Louis stood with all that he owned and Amerie’s few possessions grabbing the dead man’s gun and the brown paper bag with the coke he stepped towards Amerie and kneeled so that he was eye level with her. “You ready baby, I have your things let’s go.” Amerie continued mumbling her prayers to God as she clutched the murder weapon never ceasing her rocking motion. “You got it bad baby girl, I got to go you coming or what?” St. Louis said as he stood and slowly backed away from Amerie. Still no response, he left her things on the table turned and left out of the apartment. 12 Hours Later Ms. Jackson, Amerie’s mother sat at the blood stained/coffee stained table in the interrogation room at the precinct on 35th and Michigan holding Jasmine, Amerie’s 3 year old daughter. Tears covering her face as two over weight white detectives with sloppy hair, sloppy suits, and foul breath that smell of tobacco and cheap coffee. “St. Louis? No first or last name?” The lead detective asked as he placed a cigarette in his mouth, lit it, and blew the smoke in Ms. Jackson’s face. She frowned at the rude gesture as she pulled Jasmine’s face closer to her bosom. “That’s all that girl told me, I swear I told her over and over again leave them knuckle head, good for nothing niggas alone they wasn’t nothing but trouble. Now look at my baby done gone and let that boy run off and leave her holding the bag. Lord you got to know she wouldn’t do something like this.” The detective stared at Ms. Jackson with contemptuous eyes. “No we don’t know that ma’am when officers were dispatched to the scene of the crime your daughter was sitting in the corner mumbling to herself refusing to lower her weapon she’s damn lucky she wasn’t killed.” “No one there but her and the deceased, so all we know the dead guy on the floor was her boyfriend this St. Louis you keep talking about.” The officer said speaking up for the first time. “Just ask my baby, I raised her right she’ll tell the truth I…” “We asked her ma’am she isn’t responding we put her on suicide watch.” “Oh God, what do I do now?” The detective sighed as he walked across the room to where Ms. Jackson sat and slid a manila folder across the table in front of her. She opened the folder and stared down at the paper. “What you’re looking at ma’am is a signed confession from your daughter.” “Confession?” Ms. Jackson uttered as her tears hit the paper. “Yes ma’am about three hours ago she confessed to everything and…” “And why did you take me through all of this?” Ms. Jackson said as she angrily stood and made her way towards the door. “I didn’t ma’am it was my partner he felt sorry for the girl and thought that….” Ms. Jackson opened the door and walked out not waiting to hear the rest of the officer’s remark. He walked behind her stopping at the door. “She goes up for sentencing next week, if you give a damn!” He yelled out as she kept walking ignoring his outburst. 1 Year Later Amerie sat on the bottom bunk of her 8x10 cell reading mail she received from her mother. Amerie, Life sure is different without you, not better not worst just different. Jasmine and I still pray for you every night she just got to the point where she doesn’t ask when you’re coming home anymore thank God for that. I know it sounds harsh but that damn girl would bring me to tears every night with that question, selfish of me huh? I been running on and on, how have you been? You been reading the Bible I sent to you? Lord Child I hope you been eating girl, you not eating not going hurt nobody but you. Rode out to see you last week after two hours of driving when I get there they tell me you can’t have any visitors your butt done been put in the hole for fighting. Thought Jasmine was going be upset she took it extremely well. Saw that girl you used to run around with Rochelle walking round here with a big belly, say she almost due. She walking round with her nose in the air like her stuff don’t stink thinking she done made it cause she have designer clothes and Dooney & Burke purses, riding in a Benz say the baby daddy that fool you in there for St. Louis. I told you not to trust that ol fast tail girl. Olivia been hanging out with them boys from over in Roseland heard she just got out of county for a robbery charge. Well I got to get back to cleaning these greens, got a pot of chitterlings on the stove. By the time you get this letter Thanksgiving will have come and gone so keep praying and try your best to enjoy your holiday. Love you baby, Mama Amerie climbed from her bunk neatly placed the letter back into the envelope placing the envelope with her things in the small box underneath her bed. She made her way down the tier to the library. Grabbing a law book on appeals she sat at the table and closed her eyes. 2 Years Before Amerie stood modeling her 5’3 caramel complexioned, solid frame in the mirror. She smiled a seductive smile to herself as she ran her hands down her curvaceous ass. “That bitch think she cute.” Rochelle said as she broke down the weed buds on 2Pac’s Me against the World CD case. Olivia sang along to 2Pac’s Krazy as she continued getting dressed. “Bitch please, you know I’m cute, you jealous!” “Jealous?” Rochelle said setting the CD on the table she stood, walked over to the dresser, curled her lips, grabbed the dresser with both hands tooting her ass in the air she dropped to the floor and came back up dancing. “Let me see that tootsie roll, tootsie roll, tootsie roll, let me see that tootsie roll!” The other two girls began laughing. “Just cause you got your ho dance down packed don’t make you cuter than me.” Amerie said as she passed Olivia a lighter to spark the freshly rolled blunt. They smoked the blunt and twenty minutes later were riding down I-94W & Dan Ryan headed to the Robert Taylors for a house party. Her mother warned her about going to house parties especially in the projects. Amerie wasn’t worried her homeboy Big G was going be there he was plugged with the folks on the Low End so she knew they would be safe from bogus acting niggas she wasn’t worried about the females her and her girls could hold they own on that end. Twenty-five minutes later they were parking and headed to where they heard the music playing. “Hey baby, yeah you light skin come here.” A young thuggish looking boy clutching a 40 oz bottle, with baggy jeans, dusty Jordan’s, and nappy corn rolls yelled out towards Amerie. The three girls all picked up their pace ignoring the boys. He took the final swig from his beer and threw the empty bottle to the ground. “Damn bitch you can’t speak?” Amerie knew that they were too far from the housing building that the party was in to avoid this confrontation and Big G was nowhere in sight. She turned with an attitude. “I said hi damn?” He flashed a smile with a mouth full of gold grills. “Why you got to say it with a attitude light skin?” “I ain’t got no attitude but why I got to be a bitch?” Rochelle and Olivia both grabbed her arm and pulled at her to follow them. “Come on girl we got to go G probably looking for us.” Rochelle said trying to get away from the boy. “Slow down baby girl don’t you see me and light skin getting to know each other.” Amerie rolled her eyes. “My girls’ right we got people waiting on us maybe some other time.” “People, who, who yall know over here anyway, where yall from?” Amerie thought this might be a good time to do some name dropping maybe this lame might back off she thought to herself. “Our homeboy invited us to this little get together maybe you know him they call him Big G.” “All yeah, I know folk’s I ain’t know that was ya peoples.” “Yeah, well like I said we got to keep it moving.” “Aight, light skin look the lil folk’s going walk yall over there make sure don’t nobody fuck with yall.” The three girls looked at the three boys approaching them and began laughing they had to be no older than twelve. “That’s cute but that’s okay we can take care of ourselves.” The ringleader of the three boys lifted his shirt to reveal the butt of a nine millimeter. “We insist light skin, Big G a fuck us up he knew we let yawl go off alone and something happened to yall. Plus I know yall ain’t trying to walk through the halls at night you know it’s dark as shit niggas be smashing the light bulbs .” The three girls shrugged their shoulders not saying another word and let their armed escorts walk them to the party. Walking through the hall it was just as they said it was dark as hell Amerie removed a lighter and flicked a flame as all three girls clutched on to a boy’s t-shirt following on their heels to the sound of the music. The party was on the third floor but the elevator was broken so they took the stairs, the hall reeked of vomit and piss. A drunk startled the girls coming around the corner down headed down the stairs taking them by surprise. The three boys laughed when the girls screeched from being startled. Once in the party the girls chilled near the door surveying the scene and looking to see if they could spot Big G. The apartment was elbow to elbow with people. It wasn’t long before they were on the dance floor with drinks in their hands. After dancing to three songs back to back Amerie looked around for her friends she knew how Rochelle’s mouth was once her liquor started kicking in and a fight was bound to break out. Project females didn’t like females from other neighborhoods coming around they were territorial about the men from their neighborhoods. After heading back to the front door where they had been standing she decided to look for her friends in the bathroom. Halfway through the crowd she felt someone grab her by the waist. “Wait a minute nigga don’t be…” Before she finished her sentence and faced the man that had his hands on her she saw that it was Big G. “Dang girl it’s like that?” “Boy I ain’t know who you was.” She said with a smile on her face. “Um, hmm.” She wrapped her arms around his neck as he bent his 6’6; 300 lb frame down and wrapped her in his arms. “Damn you smell good girl.” She pulled away and took a good look at him. “Shit you do too.” “Thank you, where are ya girls?” “Your guess as good as mine, was just looking for them.” “Don’t get lost; I want a dance before the set over.” “For sho.” “Bitch, why is you all up in my man’s face?” Amerie turned her attention from Big G to the woman who stood in a group of four other girls. “It ain’t even like that sweetie, G get ya bitch before I do something to her.” “You ain’t better than us bitch coming down here trying to steal other bitches niggas.” “Like I said it ain’t…” Before she could finish her sentence Big G pushed her behind him blocking her from the group of women. “Look girl I told you before you ain’t got no claims to me I talk to who the fuck I want to when the fuck I want to, you and them dusty bitches get the fuck on with that bullshit.” “We ain’t going no mother fucking where!” Rochelle and Olivia both appeared from out of the crowd clutching beer bottles standing next to Amerie. “You good girl?” Rochelle asked never taking her eyes off the group of girls. “She straight.” Big G said still trying to diffuse the situation. Rochelle asked again. “Amerie you straight sis?” “Yeah I’m good, let’s get up out of here though.” “Bitch please, we ain’t letting these dusty ass, lame, fucked up weave wearing, stank pussy, bottom feeding, broke bitches run us off!” Olivia said speaking up for the first time. “Please believe we ain’t running off, but look around this shit ain’t even cracking let’s roll.” Amerie said as she gave Big G another hug. “Call me when you get free G.” “I’ll walk yall to the car.” Big G said as he followed the girls out onto the street. “Fucking round on the low end.” Olivia said laughing. “What’s wrong with the low end, boogee ma fucka?” Big G asked only half joking. Olivia laughed it off. “You joking right?” “Man whatever.” Big G said shaking his head, as he heard the females from the party following behind them talking shit. Amerie and her two friends picked the pace up hurriedly making it back to their car. “Yeah that’s right yall better get the fuck out of here broke bitches!” The girl from the party yelled out as her friends amped her up. “They don’t want it girl, we’ll stomp a mud hole in them punk bitches!” One of her friends yelled out. The girls following behind were still a few feet behind, once they reached the car the same boys from before were still outside. “What up folk’s?” Nappy corn rolls asked to Big G. They shook hands. “You good G?” “Hell yeah, I’m straight.” Nappy corn rolls looked at the small crowd approaching. “Man here these bitches go.” Nappy corn roll said with a crooked smirk on his face. “This bitch going make me kill her ass.” Big G said face curled up with an annoyed look. Amerie and her friends had all removed their ear rings and placed them in the car with their purses. “I thought I told you bitches to…” Before the girl from the party completed her sentence Amerie cracked her forehead open with a Club Steering wheel lock. The girl hit the ground as her blood squirted getting all over Amerie’s blouse. Amerie kicked her in the stomach and back, wailing her with the club. Rochelle and Olivia rushed two of the girls that were closest to them. The other two girls ran, but quickly returned with six more women. An older woman looked to be in her early thirties rushed Amerie pushing her back and pulling the bleeding girl from the ground. “Get the fuck up off my baby.” She yelled out as she helped her daughter to lean on another female nearby. She began approaching Amerie still clutching the bloody club. Big G nodded at Nappy corn rolls, he pulled his gun from his pants and let off a shot in the air. “Yo yall ain’t bout to jump these girls.” “Fuck them saditty bitches!” A voice from the crowd yelled out. “I said move the fuck on!” Nappy corn roll said now moving to the middle of the crowd. No one said another word as they all started dispersing. Face snarled up he turned towards Amerie and her friends. “Yall bitches move around too light skin.” Amerie and her friends quickly climbed into the car and turned it on. “Thanks, and my name is Amerie.” “Aight Amerie yall be safe.” “We will, and Big G next time you come out to our end.” She put the car in drive and headed back towards the high way. Dwight Correctional Amerie sat in the prison library reading and reminiscing, mostly reminiscing a year had gone pass from her twenty-five year sentence. One day of the week was set aside for counseling her lawyer said that it may go over well if she were ever granted an appeal. She thought it was all bullshit but she attended anyway. Bidding was easier than she thought would be, same routine everyday nothing changed. Wake up do count, eat, get rec, shower, do count, eat, so on and so on nothing changed. The nightmares that she heard about women choosing other women to be their man, rapes by the inmates and the guards all were true but none of those things happened to her. Her first six months was fight after fight but not so much now. She had one friend, her cellie Claudine it had taken Amerie sometime to warm up to her but eventually they had become close. Claudine introduced her to Buddhism; she had a favorite quote that she used sort of as a mantra to help her do her time. “Karma moves in two directions. If we act virtuously, the seed we plant will result in happiness. If we act non-virtuously, suffering results.” She fought against it doing whatever she could to try to disprove Claudine’s theory, she would steal or con other inmates out of their canteen then argue to Claudine that the fruit of her labor was that she got ahead by taking from others and putting herself first and would offer to share her ill-gotten gains. Claudine sticking by her morals would refuse leaving Claudine to eat the stolen food. Karma would always strike once Amerie received food poisoning and was in the infirmary for a month and on another occasion she was jumped in the shower beaten until she had internal bleeding to her stomach. She still had not seen these things as Karma until she woke up one day with a knife to her throat. Claudine, her cell mate, the woman who claimed that she wanted to be friends held a knife to her throat. “Don’t move.” Claudine whispered through clenched teeth. Amerie remained silent not moving as she felt the blade against her skin. “One last lesson it’s on you to accept it or not.” Amerie remained silent as she thought about what she would do to Claudine if she let her up. “I know they locked us up like animals and a lot of us deserve it, deserve it or not were not animals and we don’t have to behave as such. We have the capability to forgive and forget. Forgiveness starts with one’s self. I had to forgive myself for not being there for my sister when she needed it. I was in this damn hell hole had I been out maybe things would have been better. Hell I don’t know maybe they may have been worst point is I blamed myself for a long time.” “What the fuck is your point bitch?” Claudine grazed Amerie’s neck as blood trickled down her throat. “Are you going listen or what?” “I’m listening!” Amerie whispered as tears rolled down her cheeks. “My sister was beat damn near to death and put in the hospital fighting over a man that wasn’t even hers. The heartless bitch that beat her fucked her up with a steering wheel club.” Amerie closed her eyes preparing to take her last breath. “Me forgiving me was only part of it, in order to really let the pain go I have to forgive you. I knew that you were the one that put my sister in the hospital and yet I never, never saw you as an enemy when I remove this blade you can carry it however you want to but I tell you from the bottom of my heart I forgive you.” Amerie opened her eyes when she felt Claudine’s tears falling on her face and the blade no longer against her throat. Placing her hand on her neck she looked at her hand blood covered her fingers. Rolling out of bed standing to her feet Claudine dropped the blade and backed away. Amerie launched at Claudine wrapping her hands around her neck they both fell back against the steel bars. “Aaaaaaaah you crazy bitch, I should kill your ass!” “Go head if that’s who you are do it I will not fight it but I don’t think that’s who you are.” Amerie squeezed tighter, you don’t know me bitch stop trying to psycho-analyze me I don’t know what the fuck you think you know you don’t know me. You put a fucking knife to my throat bitch.” “It….waaaaas the only way IIIII could make you listen.” Claudine struggled to get out as Amerie continued squeezing. “This bitch crazy.” “Karma moves in two directions. If we act virtuously, the seed we plant will result in happiness. If we act non-virtuously, suffering results.” Amerie let go of Claudine’s throat as she dropped to her knees gasping for breath. “I’m requesting a cell transfer, you may not want to kill me now but who’s to say that won’t change.” “If I wanted you dead we would have never had this conversation you would be dead, that’s not what I want for you.” “What is that you want for me Claudine, why do you want anything for me at all why do you give a fuck?” Claudine stood to her feet staring Amerie in her eyes. “My reasons are selfish, “Karma moves in two directions. If we act virtuously, the seed we plant will result in happiness. If we act non-virtuously, suffering results.” “Here we go with that shit again, stay the fuck away from me.” “We all have choices and every choice we make effects others in the universe good or bad my choice not to enact revenge upon you helps someone else out in the universe and me knowing that helps me.” Amerie turned and sat on her bunk placing her back against the wall. “All the bitches in here they put me in here with the craziest one, how the fuck I end up having to see the shrink and you don’t and they say this system ain’t fucked up.” Amerie laughed. Claudine tossed a book on the bed next to Amerie. Amerie picked it up and read the title. “The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation by Thich Nhat Hanh what is this?” “Read it, don’t read it, transfer cells, stay sooner or later you will learn it’s not all about Amerie Jackson.” 2012 Ms. Jackson got off at the IL-17 exit, exit 217 toward Streator/Kankakee headed to Dwight Correctional Center. Nicki Minaj’s Super Bass thumped through the speakers as she accelerated the gas pedal going way beyond the speed limit. Her phone rang taking her out of her groove. “Hello.” She chimed through her ear piece. “Granny.” Ms. Jackson rolled her eyes. “What child?” “Why you leave me, told you I was coming.” “Girl, you just now calling me I’m almost there now you bout two hours late you wanted to go you would’ve been there.” Ms. Jackson was headed to pick Amerie up from prison, she was being paroled. Jasmine remained silent. “So, is that all?” Ms. Jackson asked now becoming annoyed. “We’ll yeah I guess.” Jasmine ended the call. “Fuck it girl it’s nice out let’s shower change and head to the lake front.” “Ain’t your moms on the way back, don’t you want to see her?” Cinnamon her best friend asked as she headed to the back of the house towards Jasmine’s room. Jasmine laughed. “I been waiting fifth teen years, she can wait a few hours.” “Hell yeah, who we meeting out there?” Ms. Jackson pulled up in front of the prison to find Amerie standing out front waiting. Amerie approached the car followed by another woman. “Hey mama.” “Hey baby, come on get on in.” Ms. Jackson yelled out full of excitement. “Mama this is Alicia she need a ride to the city can we drop her off?” Ms. Jackson sighed, smiled. “Sure honey, come on girls get on in.” Both women climbed into the two door 88 Cutlass Alicia first getting into the back seat once in Amerie sat in the front closed the door and the car pulled off. Amerie threw her arms around her mother’s neck and kissed her face over and over again. Ms. Jackson laughed, and shrugged her daughter away. “Quit girl before you mess around and make us crash.” “I been waiting too long to do that, you better get used to that old lady.” “Not a problem with me, not a problem at all where am I dropping you honey?” “Maywood.” “Out West.” “Yes, ma’am you get out that way much?” “Child no, no reasons to everybody I know live over South.” Alicia laughed. “What about you Amerie?” “Nall, keeping it real I can’t remember ever coming out West now that I think about it. What about you, you ever come over South?” “Hell nall, yall wild as hell out there.” “Here we go.” Amerie laughed, looking back at her friend. “So what are your plans now that your home Alicia?” Ms. Jackson asked looking at the woman through the rearview. “Find a job, get a place spend some time with my kids.” “How many children you have?” “Six, all my babies grown, all but one he going into high school now.” “Well I wish you the best of luck.” “Thank you ma’am I’m going to need it.” The rest of the ride they listened to music and rode in silence all trapped in their own thoughts. Jasmine sat in the passenger seat of a black on black 2012 Navigator sitting on 36 inch rims, Charlie Blow sat behind the wheel he was the local heroin supplier he got it in from New York and had the lower South Side sewed up. Charlie sunk back into the leather the waves in his bald fade spinning, his blood shot hazel eyes lit up the interior of the truck as he lustfully sized Jasmine up. Jasmine stared back ignoring his jagged teeth and rugged razor bumps that smothered his scarred chubby face. He had that gwap so physical imperfections got a pass in her book long as he kept her ass in Prada and Gucci, wrists and neck in diamonds and gold, feet in Jimmy Choos his face could look like Flavor Flav’s ass just keep the paper coming. “So what’s up baby you going do that thing for me or what?” Charlie Blow asked licking his lips as he dumped the blunt ash out the window. Jasmine smiled a seductive smile and grabbed at his crotch she unzipped his zipper attempting to pull his Johnson from his jeans. He pushed her head back up as she tried to give him head. “Not that baby, that business I was talking bout.” Jasmine leaned back in her seat, turned her head staring out through the dark tinted windows at her house she saw her mother standing on the porch watching. “Why so soon baby I told you my mom’s just came home it’s not a good time.” Jasmine let the lie flow effortlessly off of her tongue. “So what business supposed to just wait? Everything just stop cause ya moms back shit niggas hit the world all day everyday and this bitch keep spinning and bills keep coming I thought you was more than wet pussy and some bomb head?” Jasmine brushed the hair from her face, she faced Charlie Blow. “Nigga I’m a hustler.” “Well act like it bitch we done come too far together to be on bullshit now.” Jasmine sighed. “I’m down.” Jasmine sighed. “I’m down.” Charlie Blow shook his head non-believingly. “You sure baby, I don’t need no half ass shit.” “I said I’m down, I’m down.” “Aight I’ll be through to scoop you in two days and we can handle that.” Jasmine didn’t respond she grabbed the door handle and opened the door. “Jasmine.” She stopped, faced Charlie Blow. “No kiss, no hug, no shit huh?” Jasmine forced a fake laugh as she leaned over she planted a soft kiss on Charlie’s lips. “See you in a few days, be safe baby.” She climbed out and made her way up the stairs to the porch where her mother was waiting. Amerie kept her eyes on the truck as it pulled off making a mental note to herself to ask around about who the person who drove it was and what he was about. Both women stared at one another awkwardly for a few seconds before Amerie broke the silence. “Hey Jasmine, how you doing baby?” “I’m straight, how are you Amerie?” Jasmine asked dryly. “I’m wonderful, now and I….” “I’m glad your home and would love to catch up but I am dead tired can we finish this up when I get up in the morning?” Jasmine asked as she walked pass her mother and into the house not waiting for a response. It wasn’t exactly the response she expected from her daughter her feelings were hurt but she was still glad to see her. “Good night baby.” Jasmine didn’t respond as she let the screen door slam and headed to her room. Amerie woke up to the smell of sausage, bacon, eggs, and smothered potatoes cooking in the kitchen. Although she had to sleep on the couch it was a hell of a lot better than sleeping in a cell. Rolling out of bed with a feeling of hopefulness she made her way down the hall stopping at Jasmine’s room. She grabbed the door knob and gently pushed the door open. Jasmine lay in bed on top of the covers knocked out sleep in the clothes she had on the night before. Amerie closed the door walking back the way she had come from to the kitchen, “Hey mama.” “Morning baby, you sleep alright?” “Yeah I slept fine mama.” Amerie said as she wrapped her arms around her mother from behind and placed a kiss on her cheek. “Umm, hmm…” Ms. Jackson said as Amerie stepped back, Ms. Jackson set a plate of biscuits on the table next to the rest of the food. “What?” Amerie said as she sat at the table. “I heard you moving about last night and most of the morning.” “Wanted to see Jasmine so I stayed up till she came in.” “That child reminds me of you know who.” Amerie dropped her head in embarrassment. “Don’t go looking all sad, it ain’t all bad you weren’t a terrible child.” “Thanks mama.” Amerie said smiling. “Hard headed as hell, but not terrible.” Amerie laughed. Ms. Jackson set two coffee cups on the table and filled the cups with coffee. “You ran across Rochelle or Olivia lately?” Amerie asked her mother of her two former road dawgz. Ms. Jackson sat at the table and began putting food on the plates she placed one in front of Amerie and the other in front of herself. “They both around I see that Olivia girl all of the time she is a hot mess.” Amerie laughed. “Still running wild huh?” “Running reckless and foul is a better way of putting it.” Amerie paused the conversation to bow her head and say grace. “What you mean mama?” “That girl been gone off Heroin for the past six years now.” Amerie dropped her mouth open in shock. “Mama no.” Ms. Jackson shook her head as if she still couldn’t believe it herself. “Yeah her baby was killed in a drive-by was only 6 yrs. Old.” “Into gangs’ mama?” “Nope good boy far as I know was coming home from choir and hit by a stray on his front porch.” “Mama that’s awful.” “Yeah baby I pray for us all but that girl Olivia been on that mess ever since.” “Thought I saw something like that on the news last night a house party got shot up a 13 yr. old boy died in his mother’s arms and thirty more was wounded. The streets like a war zone.” “That’s what I say all these damn punks they catch don’t lock em up and make us tax payers have to feed, clothe and give their trifling tales a place to sleep send they little tough asses right on over to Iraq and see if they can gang bang with them damn Taliban’s.” Amerie didn’t respond she stared silently playing with her food with her fork. “What about Rochelle?” “She still lives up the street last I heard from her she was working at Walmart over on 83rd and Stewart.” “Yeah think I might stop in on her say hello before I go see my P.O. today.” “You be careful round her.” “Why you say that?” Amerie asked in between bites of food. “She got that fool St. Louis living with her.” “Thought they had a baby together.” “Yeah he bout fourteen maybe fifth teen now they put his little wild tail in juvie till he turn eight teen. His little dumb ass was robbing the corner stores and got caught lucky they ain’t kill his ass you know them damn Arabs ain’t got no qualms about shooting. Any way that girl’s good for nothing man still chasing a dream he ain’t nothing, ain’t never had nothing, ain’t going never be nothing still trying to hustle chasing a dream. He jump on her when he get bored don’t need much of a reason.” “Rochelle?” “Child I’m trying to tell you.” Amerie shook her head in disbelief. “Rochelle?” “What time is your appointment today?” “Two, going put in some apps before that can I borrow your car.” “Child you don’t have no license.” “Mama please.” “Please what?” “Now you know I can drive.” “That has nothing to do with having a driver’s license, we can go take the test sometime this week and go clothes shopping so you can look presentable when you get called back for a job.” “Cool mama, can I at least get a ride to see my PO?” “I can drop you off but I have to be to work I’ll give you carfare to catch the bus home.” Amerie wolfed down the food remaining silent for several seconds. “Who the nigga that drive the big truck Jasmine was riding in last night?” “Charlie Blow, don’t like him much either. He got most of these young boys out here chasing these damn Scarface Tony Montana dreams.” “Him and Jasmine serious?” “Lord I hope not I told her about his type but you know how they are at that age.” “Yeah I know.” Later that evening after running errands and seeing her parole officer Amerie moved about the kitchen frying chicken and cooking macaroni and cheese. Jasmine walked into the kitchen and set a takeout bag of Pepe’s on the table. “Hey baby.” Amerie said to Jasmine as she took a chicken leg from out of the skillet of hot grease and placed it in the bowl with the rest of the chicken. “What’s up?” Jasmine said as she turned to walk out of the kitchen. “Don’t you want to talk?” Amerie asked attempting to move passed the awkwardness. “Sure, just not now Cinnamon’s on her way to pick me up.” “Cinnamon can wait a few minutes sit down.” “Uhhgh.” Jasmine grunted as she walked back to the table and stood fiddling with her thumbs. “What you want to talk about?” “How are you, how’s school?” Jasmine rolled her eyes. “School’s fine taking some online classes.” “Online, what’s that?” “Damn Amerie I forgot they didn’t have that back in your day what yall have calculators, no, no typewriters.” “Nall we had computers but they was just coming out we mostly played games on em.” “Well online classes are where you get on the computer and take classes from home.” “Really wow sounds exciting.” “Yeah it’s a hoot.” Jasmine picked up a book sitting on the table. “Atheism 101: Answers, Explanations and Rebuttals. What’s this, bet not let granny see that she going flip out.” Amerie laughed. “Flip out for what?” “You know granny don’t allow no heathens in her house and you not believing in God she going flip her wig.” “I never said I didn’t believe in God.” “What’s the book about then?” “I just study everything about belief and draw my own conclusions. I’ve studied Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Atheism, Five per centers, and Moorish American belief.” “You bet not let granny here that kind of talk.” “So who is Cinnamon?” Amerie asked as she sat at the table, Jasmine still standing. “A friend we been tight since elementary.” “Nice girl?” “Nice enough.” “Who was that who dropped you off last night, I’d like to meet him.” “How you know it was a him you couldn’t see in the truck the windows were tinted.” “Who is he jasmine?” Amerie asked smiling. Jasmine frowned. “No one important Amerie.” She responded before walking out of the kitchen. Amerie smirked. “No she didn’t just turn her back on me, except those who show patience and do righteous good deeds, those: theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward help me Lord before I put hands on her.” Amerie said to herself as she went back to the stove to continue frying chicken. “I’m telling you girl Amerie be tripping.” Cinnamon laughed, “You call her Amerie?” “Yeah, shit what else should I call her?” “I don’t know, mom?” “Psh bitch please I don’t know that lady granny my mama she can go back where she came from as far as I’m concerned.” Amerie said as she put the bottle of Red Berry flavored Ciroc to her lips. Cinnamon scrunched her forehead in surprise. “That’s kind of harsh ain’t it?” “Shit life harsh, I don’t owe her shit she the one who left me.” At that moment Charlie Blow pulled up on Cinnamon’s block and parked next to Cinnamon’s car with Chief Keef’s “I don’t like that” banging through his stereo system. “What’s going on ladies?” He asked looking at Cinnamon longer than Jasmine thought he should. “We good, nigga damn just say fuck me eye fuck my home girl like I ain’t even sitting here.” “Go head with that shit Jasmine.” “It’s cool I got you.” “You got me what that shit mean?” “You heard me nigga I….” He pulled off before she finished her sentence, “You be tripping girl.” “Girl fuck that nigga.” Cinnamon didn’t respond she just stared at Charlie Blow’s truck through her rear view as it faded in the distance. Amerie walked through Walmart looking for her child hood friend Rochelle; they said that she worked the electronics area so she began browsing through the DVD’s. Picking up Denzel Washington’s latest release Safe House she heard a familiar voice from behind her. “So they done finally let your ass out huh?” Rochelle said as she approached her friend, she looked to be at least six months pregnant. “Damn Rochelle, you big as hell.” “I’m still cute girl.” The two girls laughed and hugged. “I missed you so much girl.” “Me too, it is so good to see you.” “Hold on girl let me clock out, it’s my break time lets go outside and catch up.” In no time at all the two were outside walking and talking, Rochelle pulled a half smoked blunt from her purse and lit it. “Want to hit this girl?” Rochelle asked as she attempted to pass the joint to her old friend. “Girl nall, and you shouldn’t be either.” “Shit, why not? Girl I done had three successful pregnancies and I smoked with all of em.” “You still Rochelle.” “Damn right, was a bitch supposed to change? I know you heard about Olivia right?” “Yeah it broke my heart.” “Um, shit happens she come around every so often begging and shit I give her ratchet ass something to eat and tell her to move around.” “You better put that out girl here come your manager.” Rochelle dropped her blunt in a puddle of water sitting in a pothole in the parking lot. She smiled and turned to face her store manager. “Ah shit girl it’s only him.” “Him who?” “Girl you know who?” “Shid I wish I did he kind of cute.” As the man was upon the two women Amerie still couldn’t place the face. “Damn, hey light skin.” Then it all came back. “Nappy corn rolls?” Rochelle busted out laughing. “Damn you still remember that girl you crazy.” “All, all that’s how you going play me.” “Nall, nall you cool.” He smiled. “How you been light skin?” “I been good, I see you the man round here huh?” “Just doing me, staying out the way.” “You ever hear much from Big G?” His smile faded. “You ain’t heard Big G been dead bout four, five years now.” “What?” Amerie asked in shock. “Yeah got into it at a club with some niggas, they left came back bout ten minutes later and aired out bout six niggas in the parking lot.” “Damn that’s too bad Big G that was my nigga.” “I know right.” “You got some pull in there, a bitch need a job.” “Come fill out a app we’ll see.” “Can I put you down as a reference?” “Yeah, don’t put that lazy ma fucka standing next to you down.” They all laughed. “Fuck you Trey.” “Trey.” Amerie said flirtingly. “Yeah Trey my mama ain’t name me Nappy corn rolls.” They all laughed. “Well let me get back in here, make sure you fill out the app, it was good seeing you again and Rochelle don’t be out here taking forty minute breaks and shit.” “Damn nigga I ain’t.” “Well I won’t hold you up, just wanted to see you but before I go what can you tell me about this nigga named Charlie Blow?” “Why don’t you ask Jasmine?” “Girl I know how my mama felt when I was that age she is a trip.” “Girl you don’t have to tell me I know. But Charlie Blow he the man right now.” “Yeah.” “Girl yeah, two-three trucks, a Maybach, a handful of old schools with candy paint, suicide doors, 36’ inch rims that nigga got it going on.” “What’s the deal with him and Jasmine? “Girl if he the Prince of the streets she most definitely the princess.” After catching up with her friend and filling out the application Amerie made her way home, the house was quiet accept the sound of the shower. Amerie went to Jasmine’s room and began looking around just to try to get some insight to who her daughter was. She hurriedly rummaged through her things trying to find what she was looking for and get out before Jasmine returned from her shower. She opened her laptop and the screen lit up, Mapquest popped up on the screen. Amerie read the directions. Just then Jasmine entered her room with a towel wrapped around her body. “What the hell, what is you doing going through my stuff Amerie?” “I was just…”
‘Being nosy right?” Jasmine moved around her mother and closed her laptop. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t come in here uninvited.” “I’m sorry I just…” “Did you want something or you just wanted to go through my shit?”
“I want us to start over and…” “Be mother and daughter, I’m sorry Amerie that ship done passed.” Jasmine said as she sat on the bed and began applying lotion to her skin. “No but I would like for us to be friends.” “I’ll see Amerie but I have enough friends already.” “Who, like Charlie Blow?” “Uh that’s none of your business, I am eight teen and make my own decisions been doing it for a while now.” “So this little road trip you planning out to Racine, Wisconsin you made that decision on your own?” “Don’t worry about that Amerie I got it.” “Okay, I tried that’s all I can do.” “I appreciate the effort, thanks for nothing can you close my door on the way out.” Amerie shook her head and closed Jasmine’s door as she exited. A day has passed since she last had the confutation with Jasmine Amerie lying on the couch watching the tonight show with Jay Leno the phone rings Amerie reluctantly picked up. “Hello.” “Yes can I speak with Amerie Jackson.” Amerie sat up surprised to be getting a call this late especially from a man whose voice she didn’t recognize. “Hey Amerie sorry to be calling so late but this is Trey from Walmart I was calling to let you know that you have the job if you want it all you have to do is show up tomorrow morning for the orientation.” “Are you serious?” “Yes ma’am.” “No interview or nothing?” “I guess you were right I do have a little pull in there just be there at eight am a dark blue polo and beige khakis oh and two forms of ID.” “Thank you so much I’ll be there and on time.” She hung up the phone. Just as she was prepared to lye back down gun shots rang out and a loud crash against the door startled her. Rushing to the window she looked out onto the porch and saw Rochelle banging on the door. She unlocked the door and swung it open. “Girl what the hell…” Out of breath clutching her pregnant stomach she uttered, “Come quick, Jasmine going kill this girl!” “What!?” Amerie yelled as she headed to the door with no shoes on still in her pants pajama set. Ms. Jackson stepped from her room as the two women were headed out. “What is going on out here child?” “Mama it’s Jasmine she’s in trouble, don’t worry I’m going to get her.” “Oh Lord my nerves, I swear you children not going be happy till you put me in my grave.” Amerie followed Rochelle down the block. “Where is she what’s wrong?” “I should have told you girl but St. Louis is Charlie Blow’s nephew.” “So.” “St. Louis told me Charlie Blow sent Jasmine on a run for him, she just got back.” Amerie remained silent she knew that trip to Racine was some bullshit. “Where’s my baby?” “Girl she just got back twenty minutes ago with the money she was stopping by her girlfriend Cinnamon’s and caught her and Charlie Blow getting buck nasty in the back of his truck. She out there with a pistol we have to get to her before the police do.” Amerie couldn’t believe what was going on. The street was bustling with people. Jasmine stood in front of the truck .38 in hand. Amerie felt her head get light dizziness hit her as she slowly approached the commotion. “Jasmine baby, give me the gun.” Charlie Blow and Cinnamon both sat in the back seat, Cinnamon crying. “I’m so sorry Jasmine I swear I didn’t mean for it to go down like this.” Charlie Blow upset, yet trying to calm Jasmine down. “Put the gun down baby, let’s talk.” “Oh now you want to talk, fuck you and that bust down, ratchet bitch!” Broken glass from the windows covered the streets and the interior of the truck it was all over Charlie Blow and Cinnamon laying in her hair. “You have to believe me Jasmine I’m so sorry you’re my best friend.” “Bitch kill that noise, get out the truck bitch!” Cinnamon shook her head no still crying. “Put the gun down first.” “Get yo scary ass out the truck I ain’t going shoot you.” A small crowd gathered around the truck to see what the commotion was about. Amerie crept closer and closer toward her daughter. “You don’t want to do this baby, not for him he not worth it.” “What is that supposed to be motherly advice? Do us both a favor and save you have no right to try to say anything to me concerning me and what’s going on in my life Amerie.” “You may not like it but I’m your mother I know I haven’t been there like a mother is supposed to but I’m here now and I love you.” Tears streamed down Jasmine’s face as she clutched the gun tighter. “You don’t love me you don’t even know me.” “That doesn’t mean I don’t love you, let me get to know you I tell you this though you pull that trigger you will be going to where I just came from for what? Trash they’re both trash baby.” Tears now flowing down Ameie and Rochelle’s eyes as Amerie began to wrap her arms around her daughter Jasmine pushed her mother to the ground, aimed towards Cinnamon as she dives from the truck and tried to run. The bullet missed her and hit the ground Cinnamon continued running never looking back. The other door of the truck flew open Charlie Blow hopped out squeezing two shots hit two kids standing by watching and one hit Rochelle. She fell to the ground clutching her stomach. “Oh God, my baby!” She uttered as the blood seeped. Jasmine squeezed the other five shots at Charlie Blow hitting him three times in the chest. Rushing to where he lay dying she dropped to her knees and cradled his head in her lap. Amerie made her way to her daughter. “Give me the gun baby.” A chilling expression covered Jasmine’s face as she placed the gun in her mother’s hand. “Go home baby there’s nothing you can do about him.” Jasmine gently lifted his head from her lap and let it hit the ground with a soft thud. Walking back to the rental car she drove to Racine, WI she climbed in the passenger seat and pulled off. A Month Later Amerie sat behind the glass in the visiting room of the Dwight Correctional Center. Jasmine sat on the other side of the glass. They both picked up the phones at the same time. “How you doing baby?” “Fine.” “How’s ya grandma?” “She cool, she would’ve come but she had to work.” “It’s cool, yall go to Rochelle’s funeral?” “Grandma did, but I didn’t.” There was a long pause. “You know I love you right?” Amerie said placing her palm on the glass. Jasmine rolled her eyes. “No one asked you to, look I only came because grandma asked me to I won’t be coming back it’s too late to build anything so why try?” “I put a couple hundred dollars on your books and will send some every month until ten thousand dollars of the money I went to get for Charlie Blow is gone. I gave twenty to granny and kept twenty for myself.” “I don’t want your money Jasmine that’s not why I took the charges.” “That’s the thing Amerie I don’t care why you did it.” Jasmine hung up the phone stood and stared at her mother tears in Amerie’s eyes, Jasmine mouth to her mother through the glass. “Stay up….mom.” She turned and walked out of the visiting room.