Internal

 

The school bell rang signaling the end of the school day the wild and rambunctious kids of Murphy Junior High School rushed to the streets like a pack of wild wolves on a fleeing jack rabbit. Well all accept one; Ike Nelson took his time exiting the building on the hot summer day. Strolling out as if he didn't have a care in the world. At 13 yrs, old he was small for his age. 75 lbs, 4'9, mostly skin and bones. It wasn't his fault though it was his mother's she had smoked crack when she was pregnant with him through her entire term. He didn't have any brain defects or health issues other than his height and weight. Walking with one strap of his back pack on his shoulder he dropped his bag by the door and kept walking. Both hands in his pockets a nasty smile crept across his face. Heart pumping like crazy; he felt his adrenaline boiling in his veins. Never missing a step he spotted a group of boys all bigger than him in height and weight.

 

T-Ray, Eric, & Roy were huddled together talking and laughing. Just 30 minutes prior they had all been in class together and they were making fun of Ike because of his size and every body in the hood knew that he was a crack baby so that's what they called him "Crack Baby" it was his nick name that all the kids had given him, it had gotten so bad that even the teachers called him Crack Baby. Ike typically let it roll off his shoulders he had thick skin and didn't let what others think of him effect him in one way or another.

 

But these three had taken it too far, they crossed the line it was no secret that his moms was still smoking. Shit every body knew that and it was evident in the way he came to school dressed. Knock off Air Force One's, and hand me down dusty and faded jeans and shirts he never looked fresh. T-Ray and the rest were all joking and cracking on each other which was fine cause Ike was right there making jokes with the rest of the kids. When Ike got in on T-Ray and the girls in the class started laughing he took it personal and started talking about Ike's moms and how she was sucking dick for crack he even went so far as to say she had sucked his dick.

 

The class laughed and Eric and Roy joined in adding gasoline to the fire. Ike didn't let his anger show he just kept laughing and joking throwing more verbal jabs at the three boys talking about their parents and living situations cause shit this was the D, nobody was rich every family had an issue in one way or another. So after class they all thought that it was cool, but in Ike's heart it would never be cool, they were enemies for life. Crack head or not she was all he had and although she had issues with her habit he never had a hungry night, he had clothes on his back, and they never were homeless. So he took it to heart as a declaration of war if any one ever insulted his mother. So while all the other kids rushed out side he stayed behind and got prepared. He went into the rest room into a stall and removed his under wear ripping them into two.

 

After he put his pants back on he wrapped both hands in the under wear. Next he went into the art room grabbed a bottle of glue and made his way to the cafeteria. Digging around in the trash until he found two glass bottles he made his way back to the bath room broke both bottles in the sink smashing them with a school book. He then removed the cap from the glue and poured it on his hands that were wrapped in his torn under wear. Finally he dipped both hands in the broken glass until all of his knuckles were shining with broken glass.

 

T-Ray was the biggest so Ike went for him first; he figured the other two would probably just run any way. T-Ray had at least two feet and a hundred pounds on Ike. Ike increased speed as he jumped up throwing T-Ray in a head lock he pulled him down to his size throwing a knee to the face all in the process. Letting go T-Ray dropped to his knees as blood squirted from his nose. The other two boys stood in shock as Ike began throwing blow after blow to T-Ray's face. The shards of glass tore into his face ripping his skin leaving cuts and tearing tissue.

 

Eric and Roy ran as Ike just kept throwing punch after punch it was evident that he had won the fight but he couldn't stop. A puddle of blood had begun to form. A crowd commenced cheering the fight on Ike felt a rush flow to his brain as he was snatched off of the boy and thrown across the school yard about six feet. At first he thought it was a teacher until he was air borne, hitting the cement and sliding. Before he could gain composure Eric and Roy were holding him down while another boy John, that was T-Ray's older brother he was 16 yrs. old punched him taking up for his little brother.

 

Ike never the one to give up easily still talked shit as he took the blows struggling to get free. As John was prepared to throw another blow to Ike's now bloody face he dropped to his knees as an ear shattering screech leaped from his throat. Jason stood behind him clutching a thick piece of wood. Jason went to the school too. He saw the unfair fight and decided to jump in. As John lay on the ground back in unbearable pain Jason stood over him and brought the piece of wood down across both of his knees and both of his hands.

 

By this time the other two boys had let Ike go and tried to run he caught them both and began to beat them up at the same time. Finally the police had arrived and had all of the fighters cuffed and separated they put Ike and Jason in the principal’s office. They both sat in silence as the principal talked in the hall to the police.

 

“Why you do that man? You caught up in my shit now.” Ike asked examining his knuckles pulling shards of glass out.

“It wasn’t a fair one, plus I ain’t never like that bitch ass nigga John any way.”

“Well any way thanks dude I appreciate it.”

“Fuck it man, don’t trip fuck them hoe ass niggas picking on little niggas and shit.”

“Don 't get it twisted little or not I can handle my shit.”

Jason huffed. “Yeah what ever nigga you ain’t talk that shit when them niggas had yo little ass up against the wall.”

“Fuck out of here I would have got out of that shit eventually don’t be acting like a nigga owe you or some shit like that I ain’t ask for your help in the first place.”

“Ungrateful ass niggas, it's cool though.” Jason stood up, and looked down on Ike who was still sitting in the chair staring up. Jason pointed his finger in Ike's face poking his forehead. “Next time um going let em beat yo ass, Crack Baby!”

 

As the words left his mouth Ike pushed Jason out of his face and he flew across the principal’s desk. Before he hit the floor good Ike was around the desk ready to pounce on Jason but Jason always ready to fight himself tackled Ike as soon as he turned around the desk. Wrestling on the floor the principal’s door flew open.

 

“What the fuck is yall in here doing?” The principal yelled out with his arms folded.

Both boys stopped, looked at each other and began laughing.

The principal felt disrespected, frowning up at Ike and Jason as they continued to laugh about their brief scuffle. He walked towards the door grabbing the handle and slammed the door, forcing the items posted on his walls to shake.

            “You two think it's funny to act like animals out here?  You already have the reputation as being a low life crack child Ike and you Jason; don't let me get started on your track record around here! You know what Jason?  I'm glad your uncle beat your ass the way he does. I should have just let them thrown yo dumb asses in the juvenile detention center. Little stupid motherfuckers!” 

Without any remorse the principal stared at the boys like they were less than human.

The principal's below the belt comments grabbed the boys’ attention as their smiles turned into offended frowns.   

            Damn, his uncle beats his ass? Ike thought as he stared at the principal with a stone cold stare.

            "So what are you trying to ssssay?" Jason stuttered to say as he sat up in his chair. Jason's eyes were dark and furious. His brows were rumpled into a line across his dark forehead as he fixed his eyes on Principal Jackson.

The Principal leaned over onto his desk, clinching his fist as his jaw muscles tightened with anger.

            “Don't think for once you can beat my ass little bastard. I come from the same streets that you are growing up in.  Don't get it twisted.”  Principal Jackson paused, turning his attention to Ike.

        “And what do you have to say little crack bastard? The principal asked as he glanced over to Ike.”

            "Is this the part when I should be scared Principal Jackson? Cause if these niggas out here calling me Crack Baby everyday doesn't bother me, then your little words can never faze me. I've heard my grandmother say harder shit than that to people in church." Ike said with a calm voice as Jason remained demented next to him.

Principal Jackson shook his head feeling annoyed by the two boys’ lack of respect not only for him but for themselves.

            "Whatever. It's your life." Principal Jackson said as he walked over to his chair and sat down.

            "I'm suspending both of you for a week. Next time it will be an expulsion.  Understood?"

The boys didn't respond as their demeanor remained the same, watching Principal Jackson's every move.

                "Now get out of my damn office!"

Ike and Jason slowly stood up and walked out of the office. Jason stopped and turned around, looking at Principal Jackson directly in his eyes.

                "Straighten up your face little motherfucker and pull up your pants." Jason wanted to say something, but he knew Principal Jackson would just call his uncle. He rather take that lost from Jackson than deal with his ass crazy uncle. He slowly closed the office door, staring at Principal Jackson with rancor in his slanted eyes.

            "He really thinks I give a fuck about being out of school? I don't want to be in this dirty ass school anyway. Ike said as they walked out of the office."

            "Yeah right little nigga. You just glad John and his brother can't beat that ass for the next 5 days." Jason said with a devilish laugh.

            Whatever dude. You the one was scared. In there stuttering while you talk. Wha, wha, what you tryna sa, sa, say." 

            "Real funny little nigga, real funny. Where are you from?  I know you and your mother live around the way, but I only been seeing you around here for like two years."

            "I'm from Fox Creek. Where they're known for knocking niggas out at."  Ike said as he rubbed his hands together. 

            "Fox Creek. I have family over there, but they don't be knocking niggas out."

            "Then they must be the ones getting knocked out?" Ike said with a laugh.  

            "Yeah, whatever nigga. You already seen my skills out here in the streets. From 8 years old to 28 years old. I'm out to take niggas heads off if they cross paths with me, disrespecting. You know how it is out here in Detroit."

            "What's up now bitch?"  John yelled as him and about 6 other goons walked towards Ike and Jason from behind the school.

        "Jason, I'm swinging on the biggest nigga and then I'm getting ghost."

          "Ghost? Fuck that, I'm about to let these lames feel it." Jason yelled as he squared up.

Just as John and his crew crossed the street a police car pulled up in front of the school.  The group of boys slowed up their pace when they noticed the officer getting out of his car.

            "What is going on out here?"  The officer asked as he approached Ike and Jason.

No one said anything as the group of boys tried to walk pass Ike and Jason, as if they didn't have anything to do with them.

            "Hold on fellas. Where are you going?  I just saw you come from behind the school."

Everyone remained silent.

            "Let's not all speak at once."  The officer said as he stared at Ike, Jason, and John standing next to each other.

            "Well. Like I said Jason. I'm swinging on the biggest one and then I'm ghost." Ike said as he swung at John, hitting him in the eye.

John stumbled back from the unexpected blow as Ike took off like a car at the Indy 500.  Out of pure reaction, Jason took off behind Ike, eluding the officer and the other goons that were on chase behind them.

            "Stop running you black bastard!" the out of shape officer struggled to say as he tried to keep up with Ike and Jason through the school yard. Only two of the boys ran after Ike and Jason, but they stopped when the officer slowed down. Ike and Jason hopped the flimsy gate, darting down the alley like a track and field team.  They ran a few blocks, and cut through a backyard that leads to a one way street not too far from Jason's house.

        "Damn, you crazy as hell!"  Jason said with a heavy breathing laugh.

            "Scarface said all you have is your Balls and your word. And I need both of them." Ike joked as he leaned over gasping for air.

            "Let's go to my house and chill until my uncle get home. Then we have to leave cause he is going to be on one."

As Ike and Jason walked through the yard they could here loud music playing.

            "Damn. I think my uncle is home."  Jason said as they walked towards the street.

            "So what.  Lets go, I'm thirsty as hell."

Jason wanted to say no, but he figured his uncle wouldn't show his demonic side while Ike was there.

                "Fuck it, let's go." Jason said as he searched for his door keys in his pockets.  "Damn, I must've lost my keys when we were fighting." 

            "Just knock on the door. You know he's home, because of that old ass music he's playing. Nigga still listening to Rapping 4Tay."

            "Yeah, I know." Jason said with a chuckle as he knocked on the door.

            "Who is it?"  Jason's uncle yelled from the other side of the door.

            "It's me, J" Jason said hoping his uncle wouldn't start tripping.

            "Where is your key at?"

            "I left it over Ike's house. His mother just dropped us off, but he needs to use the phone so he can tell her to bring back my keys."

            "How many times I told ya ass to stop losing your key?  Your ass just don't listen!" He yelled, unlocking the hollow door.

Ike started to laugh, cause he could tell that Jason's uncle was drunk by his slurred speech.

            "I know all this motherfucker does is drink and chase hookers."

Jason's uncle opened the door, staring at Ike with an evil grin.

            "Thanks. This is Ike, Ike this is my Uncle Kenny."

Ike reached out to shake hands with Kenny, but Kenny didn't extend his hand.

            "The only time I shake hands, is at the beginning of fights. So go on with that soft shit."

Ike stood there with a dumb look on his face as Jason shook his head with embarrassment.

            "Mike go ahead in Jason's room. Jason will be in there in a second." 

Ike frowned up and shook his head. He just called me Mike? Ike thought to himself.

            "Hold on Ike Just wait right here." Jason said, hoping Ike wouldn't leave him in there with his uncle.

            "Jason you either can let him see this or not. It doesn't make any difference to me?"

            "My room is the first door on your left." Jason mumbled as he dropped his shamed face to his chest.

Ike walked into the hallway and stopped. Pretending to enter Jason's room as he heard Kenny's voice.

            "How do you want it? Head or gut bitch?" Uncle Kenny said as he held his clenched fist in Jason's face.

            "Gut."  Jason, whispered as he Verb Confusion (consider revising) his eyes.

            "I'm going to make an executive decision on this one. Let's go with the head!" Kenny said as he punched Jason in the mouth.

Jason stumbled back, dropping to his knees, as blood dropped from his mouth onto his shirt.

            "Stupid ass! What did I tell you about losing your fucking keys! You can't catch on to shit!" Kenny yelled as he walked into the kitchen and grabbed a beer from the freezer.  Kenny placed the cold beer on his hand as Jason struggled to stand.

            "Let's go Ike."  Jason painfully yelled as he stood to his feet and walked towards the door.

            "I hate that motherfucker  I'm going to kill him one day!"  Jason yelled as he scampered through the front yard.

            "Wait up Jason." Ike yelled as he followed Jason.

            "I swear to God, the first motherfucker look at me wrong is getting knocked out.  I put that on my mother's grave."

Ike didn't say a word as Jason continued to rant about his uncle. It was not his place to say anything about what happened back at the house. It wasn't his business, because he wouldn't want anybody to question him about his mother's addictive behavior.

            "Let's just get something to eat Jason I have a few dollars for us to grab some wings or something." 

                "I'm cool Ike. I'll go with you, but eating is the last thing on my mind right now."

            "Cool let's go."

Ike and Jason chatted as they walked towards the restaurant that was only a couple of blocks away. As they walked down the block, a group of guys were shooting dice on the side walk. Ike noticed the group of boys gambling and veered to the right as they approached the game. Jason continued to walk towards the boys, but was held up when a man on the sideline flashed a gun at him as he approached.

            "Walk around shorty you see it's big money down there, and if you mess up their game, your folks is going have somewhere to go on Sunday.  Ya dig? so be cool."  Jason nodded his head and slowly walked around the game, catching eyes, with a well dressed man, holding a bundle of money in his hand.

            "You need to calm down Jason. Them niggas right there do not play when it comes to them dice games. My father took me to a few before he died last year."

            "Yeah, I know but fuck them."  Jason said as he glanced back at them.

Ike and Jason walked into the empty restaurant. Jason sat down at the table near the door, while Ike ordered himself a wing special and drink. As Ike walked over to the table and sat down, three men walked into the restaurant.

 

                "Those them same niggas that was just gambling on the block."  Ike said as he opened his Sunkist.

            "What's up Fred?" The young man yelled as he walked up to the counter, with two older gentlemen behind him. 

Jason glanced back at the men and noticed that one of them was the same man he had a stare down with. Jason didn't have any animosity towards the man, because he was more impressed than anything. The clean cut man reminded Jason of one the GoodFellas. He wasn't flashy, but his style demanded attention. His Pasolini, Black Hugo Boss suit was spotless and besides his diamond flooded bezel, his fist gripped a stack of hundred dollar bills. Although, he was dress as if he was headed to his 9 to 5, Jason knew better. As Jason saw it, this was gangsta disguised as a business man.

            "I bet he has bread." Jason whispered to Ike.

            "What's up with the whispering? Only girl’s whisper." the loud mouth man yelled from the counter. Jason turned his attention to the man and frowned. 

            "What did you just say? I don't take disrespect well." Jason said as he stood from the table.

            "Calm down little dude. This friendly conversation can turn bad if you can't behave." the man said as he pulled out his pistol.

            "Both of you need to calm down. This isn't the place or the time, for that horse play." the well dressed man said as he stepped in between Jason and the man. "Put that shit away Max."

Max slowly lowered his gun, staring at Jason without a single blink.

            "Calm down shorty. You acting like you still want a fight." The well dressed man said as Jason continued to stand with a clinched fist.

            Okay I see what we have here. Damn, Max you've pissed him off so bad that he's willing to get shot. I like that."

Ike didn't know what was about to happen because he saw that Jason wasn't afraid. He knew Jason was still upset about his uncle and was liable to do anything at this point.

The well dressed man peeled two hundred dollar bills from his stack and held them in Jason's face.

            "Look shorty. If you hit him while he has the gun in his hand, I'll give you this money.  If you have the nuts to hit him while he's holding a glock, you deserve this money."

Jason looked back at Ike, and back at the man holding the Benjamin’s in his face.

            "I want six twenties, four tens, and eight fives."

            "What the hell is your talking about? The well dressed man asked as he folded the bills in his hand.

                "That's how I want my money." Jason said as he swung at the man with the gun.

Jason punched the man with a quick left hand to the jaw. The blow barely fazed the man as he shook off the punch and lunged at Jason. As he grabbed Jason, his gun fell to the floor in between both of them. The well dressed man kicked the gun away from Jason and the man as they fell against the table.

            "You little motherfucker! I'm going to kill your young ass!" The man screamed as he tried to choke Jason. Jason's hands were trapped and he couldn't swing as the man continued to choke him. Ike jumped up from the table and started to deliver a fury of punches to the side of the man's head. 

            "Get em off of me!" The man yelled as he tried to dodge Ike's repeated blows.

Two unexpected gun shots paused everybody.

                "Now, I'm not going to let you jump on my protégé` like that. Get up Max.

Max released his grip and stood up. Jason clenched his throat as Ike helped him to his feet.

            "I like that. These two youngsters have some heart. I can use that.  Max get your shit together and go and get the car."

The well dressed man walked over to Ike and Jason. 

                "Shake it off, you'll be okay. I have something to talk to yall about. Something that will benefit all of us. 

 

Ike and Jason both stood their ground, not budging.

"Sit down, you little tough shits!"

Jason stepped to the man so that they were eye to eye.

"So what you going swing on me now?"

"Nall, I held up my end of the deal, now run me my cheese."

The older man smiled while reaching in his pocket and removing the two one hundred dollar bills he previously had. He placed them in Jason's hand. "You right, we had a deal you earned it."

Jason took the money and handed one of the hundred dollar bills to Ike. They both sat next to each other as he sat opposite to them at the table.

"You lil niggas got some hands on yall."

Neither responded. He continued. "How would you two like to earn $500.00 a night?"

"Doing what? I ain't selling no drugs." Ike stood from the table.

"Nobody said shit bout no drugs."

Jason grabbed Ike's arm and pulled him back into the seat. "Let's hear him out."

"Smart young man." The man said as he reached into his suit breast pocket and removed two business cards. He dropped them on the table in front of the two boys. They both picked them up and read them.

"Breaking Ribs Inc." Ike read aloud. "Jermaine Jackson." Ike laughed.

"Fuck is funny?" Jermaine said staring through Ike. Ike straightened up. "Nall, nothing man its just Jermaine Jackson? Where the fuck Tito and the other four niggas?"

Both Jason and Ike began laughing.

"You two comedians want to fuck off some more of my time or you want to hear about this proposition?"

Ike kept laughing. "Alright, alright Mr. Jackson were sorry what is the proposition? Are you a boxing promoter?"

"I own a gym the address is on there I put together a few fights a year. You two come on in with me I'll make sure you get the training you need and you get $500.00 a fight."

Jason threw his card back on the table. "We not interested." He stood to leave. Ike remained seated.

"Come on Ike."

Ike didn't move. Jermaine sat back with a triumphant smile on his face, still remaining silent. Jason shot Ike a dirty look as he walked towards the door.

Ike could really use the money; he looked back at Jason and felt as if he was betraying him even though they had no formal bond or ties. He looked at Jermaine placed the card on the table and stood up.

"Yo hold up Jason." He walked slowly towards the door.

"A $1,000.00 a fight no more than that." Jermaine said as he stood from the table holding out his hand for a hand shake.

Ike and Jason both looked at each other trying to hold back the excitement in their faces. They both walked over and gave Jermaine firm hand shakes.

Being that they both were suspended from school they agreed that they would start training the following morning. Walking into the gym at 7 am the dimly lit gym held a musk scent. An old barely held together boxing ring, a few jump ropes and punching bags held together with duct tape. Two guys were in the ring sparring, another set of boys jogged around the gym. Both Ike and Jason both stood holding their gym bags looking around the gym with an out of place look on their faces.

An old man stepped out and approached the boys. He was 5'8 a muscular build in his late fifties.

"You two must be Ike and Jason?" He said extending his hand.

"Ike reached out to shake his hand; he grasped his hand and pulled him towards him before he knew it Ike was in a full nelson. Jason rushed towards the stranger, strangling his friend.

 

"Step back, you lil bitch or um going break his shit!"

Ike continued struggling trying to get out of the move, but it was no use. Jason inched towards him again, the man squeezed tighter.

"What the fuck wrong with you man? Let my nigga go!"

The man laughed as he squeezed tighter, Ike was losing energy looking like he was on the brink of passing out. The man picked Ike off of his feet and threw him at Jason. Jason was knocked off his feet as the old man rushed him and began stomping him out. Jason balled up as he took blow after blow to his back and the back of his head. The other boys in the gym stopped working out and watched. They dare not interfere or laugh they knew oh too well the back lash of fucking with Kujo when he was breaking in new fighters.

 

Kujo kicked and punched the two boys with so much aggression and fury all they either could do was lay there and take it. Lying on the floor in their own blood Kujo stood over the two boys laughing.

"Get yall lil asses up."

 

They both limped to their feet standing with their fists balled in a fighter's stance. Ike wanted to give up but he knew they would have to be damn near dead before Jason quit. Jason rushed the old man he threw a two piece combination landing both blows. The old man took the hits and kept laughing. Ike rushed to grab Kujo, before he was close enough Kujo threw a right cross landing it to the side of Jason's head his frame smacked the floor just as Kujo grabbed Ike once again and threw him in another choke hold.

 

Jermaine and Max watched through a window in the upper office.

"He going fuck around and kill them lil niggas they too stupid to take a lost. How long you going let that shit go on?" Max asked as he swallowed the cognac that was in his glass.

 

Jermaine walked from the window and sat at his desk. "Fuck them lil niggas they want to stomp with the big dogs; they get stomped like the big dogs. Lil fuckers playing hard ball they going earn every penny of that $1,000 dollars…lil bitches."

 

Max shook his head with a smirk, he was salty about the boys getting the better of him yesterday but he had to keep it real Kujo was going to put a hurting to them young boys they might not come back from.

 

"How you going get ya two G's back if they both in the hospital with broken ribs?" Max said with a smirk hoping his boss would call the old man off.

"Jermaine stood to his feet and walked back to the window. Kujo still had Ike in a choke hold with his foot on Jason's throat. He stared up at the window as Jermaine gave him the signal to let the boys go. He took his foot off Jason's throat as he gasped for breath. He dropped Ike on top of Jason; he gasped for breath and let out a loud grunt as felt a strong kick to is back. Just as he rolled over in pain Kujo dropped his foot ontop of Jason's stomach. The young boy threw up the malt o meal he had for breakfast.

"You two get cleaned up and get up stairs the boss wants to talk to you." Kujo walked over to the ring and began barking instructions to the group of young boys sparring.

Jermaine pulled a cigar from his breast pocket, put it in his mouth, flicked his lighter and paused. "You got to get thicker skin, don't think I don't know what you was trying to do."

 

***

 

Two weeks had gone by and all they had done was train Kujo was their instructor he taught them traditional boxing, kick boxing, and a few wrestling moves. Their first fight was in two days. They both had gained a great amount of skill in a short amount of time. They were becoming obsessed with training they had stopped going to school and started training full time. They had yet to be paid because of the deal they agreed to they would only be paid on the nights they actually had fights. It was a typical night Ike and Jason had just finished training for the night and went their separate ways heading home. Ike walked into the small two bedroom home he stayed in him and his moms. He went in his room and slammed his door closed. His mother had company; he heard the voices and the constant flicking of cheap lighters all night through the thin walls. He covered his head with a pillow and cried.

 

It wasn't long before he was asleep. "Don't have me fuck you up about my paper!" The voice had said barely audible but for some reason Ike had heard it; it startled him waking him from his sleep. He sat up in bed and continued listening.

 

"You sure it ain't something I can do, for a little extra?" He heard his mother say.

"Bitch I ain't putting my dick in your mouth, you get them food stamps in a few days run me that card."

Ike's bedroom door flew open as he rushed the young boy who looked to be only a few years older than him grabbing him by his neck; he forced him against the wall. The boy defending himself shoved Ike up off of him, Ike stumbled back.

"Cut that shit out Ike!" His mother yelled out in fear.

He ignored his mother as he stared the young dealer down. "I been waiting to try this shit out on a nigga!" Ike said with a crooked smile.

The boy yelled out in anger as he rushed Ike. Ike blocked both blows, wrapping his arms around his attackers mid section so that his head was held down and he was unable to break his grasp. As the dealer threw quick hard blows to Ike's back trying to get free, Ike threw repeated blows to his ribs with his knee. The sound of his ribs cracking echoed through the tiny house as his mother stood back crying.

"I said cut that shit out Ike, stop!" She continued to yell on deaf ears. As the dealer stopped struggling, Ike turned him around picked him upside down and souix flexed him. His shoulder bone shattered as he screeched out in pain. Ike stood over him staring down, wanting to go further he looked back at his mother. He saw genuine fear in her eyes. He wanted to kill the dealer, he wanted blood. He knelt down and went through his pockets taking his money and the remainder of product he had left.

 

Walking over to his mother he hugged her and kissed her. "I love you mama."

"I love you too baby." She said as she hugged him back.

Breaking from the hug he looked into his mother's face and smiled that same crooked smile. "This is what they call tough love mama."

"What baby?" She asked as she wiped the tears from her face.

 

Ike reached back like a pimp and delivered his mama a back handed slap across her face. Blood dripped from her nose as she tried to run he gave chase catching her in the corner. He slapped her repeatedly over and over again.

"I'm leaving mama, I can't stay here no more I can't watch you kill yourself." He went into his room, was about to pack a bag but he looked at the old tattered clothes and left. He would buy a few things in the morning with the money he took off the dealer.He contemplated going to see if he could stay with Jason, but thought he would bring him trouble with his uncle so he walked until the sun came up then went to the gym to work out and train.

***

 

It was the night of the fight, Ike sat in Jason's corner as he cheered him on. The set up was really better looking than both Ike and Jason thought it would be. An old warehouse set up like a ring in the MGM in Las Vegas. People walked around serving drinks, collecting, and placing bets. Bright lights and loud music playing. A few local celebrities walked about the place people who were legit and illegal millionaires, the place smelled of money. It made both Ike and Jason question the deal that they had made it was obvious they were getting fucked there was no telling how much Jermaine was making off the fight if he could afford to pay the two of them a $1,000 dollars a fight.

 

"The bell rang as Jason stepped from the center of the room prepared to fight, his opponeent towered over him standing at almost 7'0 and weighing 375 lbs. The fight was way out of Jason's weight class. But that didn't matter here, this was street fighting. 100 lbs or 1,000 lbs every man was equal. Jason sized the man up knowing that he had the disadvantgae of being lighter in weight so he would use his speed and agility. Just as he thought he was rushed by the giant he side stepped his aggressive but sloppy attack throwing a karate chop to the back of his neck the man stumbled but didn’t fall. Jason stepped back as he let the man regain his footing. Rushing again like a defensive tackle on a foot ball field he came at Jason again this time Jason dropped to his knees just as he was near and threw a series of blows the the mans balls. As he dropped to his knees clutching his stomach Jason rose to his feet dropping his elbow down ontop of his foes shoulder bone the man screamed out in agony as he felt his shoulder bone shatter falling on the mat, the referee rushed Jason back to his corner. Ike and Kujo both cheered him on laughing as Jason marinated in his first victory his facail expression turned sour as he spotted his uncle standing in front of the ring with his arms folded. Jason dropped his head and stepped out of the ring.

 

Making his way to his uncle Ike stopped him midway. "Fuck him man, we better now you want to we can fuck him up!"

 

"Na, na, na, nall man I'm just going g,g,go home." Jason said as he stepped around Ike blocking his path.

 

Jermaine and Max both made their way from the audience as they spotted Jason's uncle waiting patiently. Jermaine grabbed Jason by the shoulder. He reached in his pocket and handed him ten one hundred dollar bills. "You did real good tonight man, everybodys proud of you."

 

Jason took the money. "Thanks Jer, Jer, Jermaine."

 

Jermaine stared back shocked he had never heard Jermaine stutter before let alone show any signs of fear. "Wait here son."

 

Jason stood back with Ike and Kujo as he watched Jermaine and Max approach his uncle.

 

"How's it going? Long time no see." Jermaine said addressing Kenny.

 

"Well if it ain't one of the Jackson 5?" Kenny said with out cracking a smile.

 

Max unbuttoned his suit jacket revealing the butt of his gun. Kenny ignored the gesture.

 

"I came for my boy."

 

"What boy?"

 

"Don't play with me Jermaine."

 

"I have a contract with that boy."

 

"Yeah I know about your contracts."

 

"I need to be compensated for all the money and training I done put into that boy."

 

"I'm a fair man Jermaine, so I won't get belligerent in here being that you ain't come through me bout my boy."

 

He nodded his head at Jason; Jason joined the three men followed by Ike. "Give this man his money back."

 

"Uncle Kenny I earned this money." Jason said avoiding eye contact with his uncle.

 

"Do as I say boy!"

 

"That's not apart of the deal Kenny listen here brother we go way back lets discuss this over.."

 

Kenny cut him off mid sentence. "I'm not saying it again J."

 

Jason handed the money to Jermaine and walked out of the arena. Kenny turned to walk away as Max grabbed him from behind by the shoulder. "The man ain't done talking to you jack!" Max said as Kenny turned around he grabbed Max by the throat with one hand and pulled his pistol from his holster with the other. He brought the barell of the gun down across Max's head repeatedly until he dropped to his knees. Before any one could respond he had the gun pointed at Jermaine as every one stood in shock. Kenny removed the clip dropped it in his pocket and dropped the gun in the floor as he walked out.

 

Kujo came over and attended to Max on the floor. "Damn he was quick." Ike said as he looked up at Jermaine.

 

"He should be." Kujo said from the floor as he bandaged Max's forehead. "I taught him that shit almost twenty years ago."

 

            "Get yo ass in the ring." Jermaine yelled to Ike as he pulled out his cell phone and made a call.

***
 

            “Damn!” Was the first word out of Jason's mouth the next morning as he stretched his sore body in his uncomfortable twin bed.  He still was thinking about the thousand dollars that his uncle made him give back to Jermaine last night.

                “I can't believe Kenny made me give back that money?  It's not like we didn't need it.  Everything is fucked up around here.  The toliet overflows everytime you flush the stool and the fucking carpets are nasty as hell.  Makes you want to keep your shoes on when you walk in this nasty motherfucker.”

Jason stood from his bed, stretching again as he slowly walked towards his bedroom window.

As he peeped through the tore up, beige blinds, he spotted Ike walking towards his house with a grin on his bruised face.

            “What the hell is Ike doing over here so early?” Jason said as he glanced over at his clock.

Jason rushed to his closet and threw on a Barry Sanders throwback jersey and a pair of jean shorts before walking to the front door.  Just as he unlocked the door, Ike rung the door bell.

            “Hold on lil dude, I'm opening the door now.  Jason swung open the door and the first thing that he noticed was Ike's new appearance.  Ike wasn't sportin the same thirft store clothes, and busted Nikes that flooded his limited shabby woredrobe.  He was fresh from head to toe in some of Detroits finest gear.  His five hundred dollar, spotless True Religion outfit was killing the game as he completed his look with a pair of black Mauri shoes and a fresh razor lining that now exposed his deep waves.  Despite his swole eye and bruised knotted cheek, Ike had an undeniable swag about himself that morning as he walked into Jason's house, feeling and looking like money.

            “What's the deal my guy?  How you feelin this morning?” Ike asked as he gave Jason dap, smiling.

            “Come on now.  You know how that shit went last night.  I'm still pissed off about my dumb ass uncle and that money.  Jason said quickly glancing over his shoulder as he closed the door.  But fuck it, like his drunk ass always say.  “You can't count money until it's in your hands.”  But anyway, that's my sad news.  What got you feeling so good lil dude?  Did you fight last night?”

            “If that's what you want to call it.  It wasn't even fair.  You know how Ike handles his business.” Ike said patting himself on the back.

            Nigga, you don't think I can see your swole ass face?  You got yo ass beat last night, stop fronting lil nigga.”  Jason couldn't stop himself from laughing as he examined Ike's battered face.

            “Keep laughing J.  It's cool.  But look, you see these Mauri's on my feet? Ike said as he stuck out his shoe and lifted his creased pants leg.  I bought these with your money.”

            “What the fuck are you talking about?”

            “After you and your uncle left, I had my fight.  Jermaine offered me double the money if I let the dude win the first two rounds, because he had some type of side bet going on.  That's the only reason why my face looks like this.  After that second round, it was curtains for that simp.  Jermaine paid me the 2 racks, plus gave me five hundred mo' and on top of that, took me and Kujo to get something to eat at Monroe's steakhouse.  Yeah, Jermaine's money is long and his Benz.  Ike paused and shook his head.  That clean automobile is the truth.  Damn, you missed all of that shit last night J.” 

            “Damn, I knew I should of just cuffed the money and ran last night.  I can't believe my motherfuckin uncle.”

            “Speaking of ya uncle.  Is he here?”

Jason walked towards the back room, peeping his head in the room and spotted his uncle snoring with a bottle of Christians Brothers laying against his bare, brittle chest. 

            “Yeah.  He's right there. Sleep and drunk as hell.  Let's go into my room.  Jason and Ike slowly crept up the stairs, trying not to wake up Kenny.”  As they walked into the room a phone began to ring.

            “What's that, a phone ringing?  You have a phone on you Ike?”  Jason asked as he quickly closed his bedroom door, hitting Ike on his heels.

            “Hold on J, this is Jermaine.  Ike said as he answered the phone.  What's up Jermaine?”

            “Have you heard from your boy yet?”  Jason could hear Jermaine's raspy voice as he spoke to Ike.

            “Yeah, I'm with him right now.  Do you want to holler at him?”

            “Naw, just bring him down to the gym around noon.  Listen Ike, if I have to wait more than 10 seconds for your asses to get there, I'm docking your pay Ike, because it's your responsibility to have him there on time!” 

            “Hello.  Jermaine! Hello.” 

            “He hung up on your dumb ass, didn't he?” Jason said as he sat down on the edge of his bed.

            “Yeah, but he want us to meet him at the gym later.” 

            “Us?  My uncle isn't going to let me fight.  That shit was over before it even started my dude.”

            “Man are you crazy?  I told you Jermaine paid me! Ike yelled, pulling out a bundle of money from his front pants pocket.  The money is too easy.  All I have to do is fight, and that's it.  I love fighting.  It's just in my blood.  My whole family some fighters.  Getting paid to knock niggas out is my career objective now, Ike joked.”

            “I feel you Ike, but Kenny isn't with it.”

            “Your uncle doesn't have to know. Look, let's just holler at Jermaine and then you can decide if you want to do it or not.  Trust me, it's worth every dollar.”  Ike boasted, brushing off his shoulder with a fist full of twenties.

 

***

            Ike and Jason arrived at the gym about ten minutes before noon.  As they walked into the gym, Ike noticed Jermaine standing by the ring with a sexy, petite female on his side.

            “You see her Jermaine?  That's what this money get ya.” Ike said patting his pocket.

As they approached Jermaine, two men walked in front of them, stopping them in their tracks as if they were the secret service and Jermaine was President Obama.

            “Hold up little niggas.  Don't get shit twisted.  Just cause you work for us, doesn't mean we fuck with you like that.  We just have certain business arrangements, but that shit can definitely change if you can't comprehend this shit I'm telling you right now.”  The goon said, lifting his shirt to expose his tucked heater.

            “Leave them lil dudes alone Booker.  You know they apart of the team.” Max said as he walked over to them laughing with a glass of aged Martell in his hand.

Jermaine turned around and nodded his head at Ike and Jason.  He leaned over and whispered something to his female friend.  She smiled and walked away.  The sexy female looked back at Jermaine, and he winked at her.  The seductive wink from Jermaine had the innocent looking girl peanut butter skin tone complexion change to a bright red as she strutted into the back office area.

            “What's up fellas?  I see you didn't come to work today Ike?”  Jermaine said as he lit his cigar, still watching his sexy spanish trophy walk away.

            I didn't think I had to practice today, since I had a fight last night.  And besides, you didn't say anything about it when we spoke earlier.

            Nigga cause I'm not your motherfuckin daddy!  I shouldn't have to remind you about working and practice.  You think I gave you that money to blow it on weed and Playstation games little motherfucker?  I'm trying to put you on some grown man shit!  Enough with you.  Go and get changed.  You have some work to do with Kujo.” 

Ike looked around, trying not to make eye contact with Max or the other two goons that stood guard.  Jason didn't give Ike any eye contact either, because he didn't want to add onto the embarrasment that Ike was going through.  Ike slightly dropped his head as he walked away from the ring towards the locker room.

            “Jason.  How are you?” Jermaine asked as he took a puff from his Don Diego cigar.

            “I'm good.  So what do you want with me?  As you witness last night, my uncle isn't going to let me fight.  I mean, I appreciate the offer and definetly need the money, but I go through too much with his drunk ass.  I'm only 15 and that nigga fights me like I'm a vet or something.”

Jermaine's facial expression quickly changed, as he squinted his eyes as if Jason's words were painful.

            “Let me worry about your pussy ass uncle.  It doesn't take much to please an alcoholic.  I just want you to focus on fighting for me.  I've seen your skills Jason and I know what you can do once you square up with somebody in that ring.  Take a walk with me for minute.  Max, tell Ike to jump some rope and hit the speed bag until I get back.”

Kujo nodded his head, agreeing with the dictating Jermaine. 

            “Jason, you and I can make a whole lot of money together if you jump down with what I have going on.  That grand I gave you last night was chump change to me.  That cheap ass outfit and flea market pair of shoes that yo boy Ike has on, isn't shit.  I have face towels that cost more than everything his little ass have on. I'm about that real money, understand me? My money don't fold, it only stacks Jason. What I paid Ike isn't shit compared to what we can make together.  I'm talking next level shit.  Junior olympics, olympics, International fighting.  It's no limit to the heights we can reach together.  Just give me six months and I'll have you in a Mercedes Benz, getting your little dick sucked by one of the baddest bitches to ever breathe in Detroit.

            I have these mexicans coming in from Cali to fight some of our boxers.  I'm looking to make about ten thousand for each fight.  If you fight twice, I'll give you $3500 for each fight.  But it don't have to stop right there. We can take this shit across the nation, and make a killing with your hands and my direction.”

The proposition was too good for Jason to turn down.  With the money he could leave his uncle house and take care himself for good.  Without a second thought, Jason agreed to fight for Jermaine.

            “Okay Jermaine.  Jason slowly extended his hand.  Let's get this money.”

Jermaine smiled and shook Jason's hand. 

            “We just have to get you some fights in before the mexicans get here next month.  Jermaine pulled out his money and peeled off ten hundred dollar bills and handed it to Jermaine.

            “You earn this loot youngster. I can't deny that.  Here's a cell phone too, but that's for business only.  Don't be calling any of those little tramps on my shit.  Jermaine joked.  Let's get to work.  Your workout gear is in the locker room.  Jason stuffed the money into his jeans and walked towards the locker room.  Jermaine watched Jason walk into the locker room, twirling his cigar in his mouth as smoke blew across his stern face.

            “Where the fuck is he?” The deep voice bellowed from behind Jermaine's back.

Jermaine slowly turned around, hoping it wasn't one of his enemies from the streets that caught him slipping .  When he noticed who it was, he just started to shake his head.

            “What the fuck do you want?  The liquor store is open nigga, go help yourself to a drink you alcholic.”

Kenny ignored Jermaine's insults as he waited for an answer about his nephew's whereabouts.

            “I'm going to ask you one more time Jermaine.”

            “Or what motherfucker? Booker said as he pressed the nickel plated Ruger against the back of Kenny's head.  You can let yourself out, or you can let them carry you out in a bag.  It's your choice old school. 

Kenny slowly turned around as Jason walked out of the locker room. Jason eyes widen with fear when he noticed his uncle and the pistol against his temple.

            “And if you bring your ass back in here, I'm going to have my niggas drain some of that liquor out of you with these shells.”  Jermaine tossed a .45 hollowtip at Kenny.

            “Is this the life you want Jason?” Kenny mumbled through his sour breath as Jason walked over towards him.

            “Man hurry up and get the fuck up out of my establishment!” Jermaine yelled, dropping his cigar to the floor.

            “Fuck you Jermaine!” Kenny shot back.

Max quickly walked over towards Kenny and punched him in the mouth.  Kenny staggered back from the unexpected blow as Booker followed with a blow from the butt of the pistol to his face.  Max didn't let up his barage of punches as he continued to hit Kenny in the eye and face as blood spattered across his cheap t shirt.  Kenny fell to the ground, holding his head while two other men ran over and started to kick him repeatedly.  Jason didn't know how to react as he watched the men stomp out his uncle with vigorous dander.  The repeated kicks to his head and torso sounded like lumber hitting the ground.  Jermaine glanced over at Jason with a smirk on his face as his goons continued to stomp Kenny. 

            “What the hell is going on?  J, what happened?

            “Mind your business Ike and take your ass to the ring!” Jermaine yelled, pointing towards the empty ring as Ike walked over towards Jason.  The other fighters in the gym stopped their routines to see was was going on with Jermaine and his affiliates.     

Ike look over at Jason, trying to figure out when he was going to jump in and help his uncle.

            “You have a problem with your motherfuckin ears bitch?  Get your five dollar ass in the ring Ike, Max yelled as he briefly stopped his attack on Kenny.

            That's enough.  You can take his dirty ass out of here.  Take his clothes off and wipe up that blood with his shirt.

            The men quickly snatched off Kenny's shirt as he laid on the ground, moaning and clenching his aching body.  He tried to roll over on his stomach but the agonizing pain wouldn't allow him to move.

            “Get the fuck up old school.  We don't have all day.”

Kenny let out a loud moan.  Ahhh!

            “Give me a second Jermaine.  Please, just one second.”

Jermaine glanced down at his diamond flooded watch.

            “Second is up.  Let's go.”

Kenny looked up at Jermaine, but didn't give to much of a stare because he knew Jermaine's goons were looking for any reason to jump back on him.  He slowly pushed himself up, arms shaking as he struggled to stand to his feet.  Jason walked over to Kenny and helped him to his feet.

            “Are you okay Kenny?”

            “I'm going to be fine.  He struggled to say with a dry cough.  What are you going to do Jason?  If you want to fight.  Let's do it the right way. Kenny words broke up as his pain was felt through his coughs.  We can go all the way to the top.  What do you want? Kenny begged his stunned nephew, spitting out blood and chips of his teeth.

            I want to go to the Olympics and turn pro.  Just as Jason was about to speak again, Jermaine bumped him as he stepped up. 

            “Unlike you, he's going to handle his business and get paid.  Jermaine said as he stepped between Jason and Kenny”

            “I wasn't talking to you Jermaine.” Kenny shot back as he placed his arm on Jason's shoulder.

Jermaine reached behind his back and pulled out a black .45.  He grabbed the back of Kenny's head, placing the heater in his mouth.

            “You have a smart ass mouth motherfucka!  If we wasn't on my property right now, I would blow your motherfuckin head off!  Consider yourself blessed bitch.  Now get the fuck outta here! Jermaine yelled pushing Kenny's head.

Jason walked over to Kenny. 

            “Hold up Kenny I want to tell you something.  All these years, when you was hitting on me, I thought you was a real man.  Come to find out, you just a bitch.  Why don't you hit one of these niggas like you beat on me?”

Jason shook his head, looking his uncle up and down.  “Just take your dusty ass home.”

Kenny looked at Jason with a calm look on his face.  It was nothing he could do about Jason's decision.  He picked up the change that fell out of his pocket when he was getting attacked and walked out of the gym, holding his swollen jaw, glancing back at Jason as he exited through the gray, steel door.

 

***

            About three weeks went by and Jermaine had the boys working day and night, preparing for the twin brothers that they were going to face in a 7 round bout.  9 mile runs in the morning and 6 hour workouts to finish their day.  Kujo was turning the boys into machines with the vigorous workouts that he had them doing. Finger tip pushups; stair climbing,45 minute jumprope sessions and not to mention the 50 drops of the medcine ball to their mid section daily.  The way Jermaine saw it, Jason and Ike was just another investment, and his investment had to be the best.  After their long workout sessions, Jermaine would book Jason and Ike into different downtown hotel suites with female company to entertain them.  They were only 14 and 15, so it was too much the young brawlers could do with the sexy females that walked their hotel room floor in the nude.  Jermaine was giving Ike and Jason a taste of how life could be if they remained loyal.

***

            The fight was only 30 days away and Jermaine decided to give the hungry fighters a day off.  Jermaine was throwing a get together over his girlfriend's house and invite Jason and Ike to come over.  When they made it to the party Jermaine and Kujo were walking out with drinks in their hand.

            “Take these drinks in the house Ike.  Jason, come and take a ride with me and Kujo.”

  Kujo pushed both styrofoam cups into Ike's hands, giving Ike a “I wish you would say something” look on his aged face.  Ike grabbed the cups, looking at Jason.  Jason ignored Ike's begging stare, not intentionally because he was high off of the blunt him and Ike smoked before arriving at the party, so he wasn't in his right mind.

Kujo jumped in the driver's seat and start the black Range rover with one push.  Jermaine slowly stepped into the Rover, biting off the tip of a cigar before sitting down.

            “Where are we going?”  Jason asked as he looked around the plush interior of the Range.

            “Just relax.  Kujo is going out of town.  We're just taking him to the airport.”

Kujo turned up the radio, blasting Al Green's “Let's stay together.”  Jason leaned back onto the leather seats watching Kujo and Jermaine groove to Al's classic. 

            I wish Kenny was like this.  Cool, paid and not trying to go upside my head.  Jermaine is a real ass dude.  I wish he was my father. Jason thought as Kujo accelerated the Range past 60 on the empty side street.  Jason closed his eyes, listening to the music as Jermaine counted a stack of money in the passenger seat.  As Jason dozed off, he could hear Jermaine on the phone.

            “Yeah, it's still on.” Jermaine said as he wrapped his money in a rubber.

Jason fell asleep as Kujo continued to increase speeds on the open road.

About 20 minutes later, Kujo was pulling up in front of the airport.  Jason woke up, quickly rubbing his eyes, trying to see where he was at.  Jermaine jumped out of the car as Kujo pulled out what seem to be a plane ticket.  Jermaine and Kujo shook briefly shook hands and separated.  Jason was about to step out of the truck, but noticed Jermaine walking back towards the car.

            “Get in the front Jason.”

Jason sat down, slamming the door.

            “Got Damn!  That's not that rusty ass van door on Kenny's van that you closing nigga!  Be easy.”

            “My bad Jermaine.”

            “I have to make a quick stop and then we back at the party.  With all those black folks at the spot, I know my liquor is gone.  Jermaine joked.

            While they drove to Jermaine's next stop, they chatted about other possible fights that Jermaine had lined up if Jason was successful against the twin brothers.  Jermaine turned down a one way street, turning off his lights as he pulled over to the side.

            “Come on.  This only going to take a second.”

Jermaine and Jason stepped out of the car.  Jason looked down the dark block and noticed a group of women standing on the corner.  Jermaine started to walk towards the house while Jason trailed him, still staring at the group of women.

            “You better stay here Jason.  This fool be trippin when I bring new faces around him.  I'll be back. I just have to grab something.”

Jason watched Jermaine walk into the house, closing the black security gate.  Jason walked back toward the truck, but the doors were lock.

            “Damn, he have the keys with him.”  Jason said as he put his hands in his pockets and began to walk back towards the house.  Jason didn't notice the two dark figures that crept up on him as he reached the stairs.  At the last second Jason noticed the smaller figure approaching him, a stocky man, but it was too late.  The short man punched Jason in the eye, causing him to stumble against the house.  The other tall, slim man grabbed Jason's shirt and pulled it over his head.  Jason couldn't see what was going on as he struggled with the two attackers on the dark block.  The slim man hit Jason in the mouth, spliting his upper lip.  Somehow, Jason’s arms were pinned into his shirt, allowing the shorter man to hold him while his partner delivered repeated head shots to Jason's upper body and face.  The crucial blows immediately swole up Jason's face as he finally dropped to the ground.  Both men stomped Jason as he tried his best to cover up. 

            “Let's go!”  The shorter man yelled as he noticed a car turning on the block.

            “Hold on!”  The man bent over and hit Jason one more time in the jaw, dropping the hand full of quarters on Jason's face.

When the quarters hit Jason's bloody face, the smaller man eyes widen.

            “What the fuck?” the man mumbled to himself.

As the slim man stood up, he cleared his throat and spat out a mouth full of spit on Jason's body.  Jason slowly turned his hurting body in the weedy front yard as the two men ran off.  He vision became blurry as he blacked out

 

            ***

            “Fuck you Max!  That was Jason back there!”  Ike scremed as they sped down the highway towards Max's condo.

            “So what motherfucker!  We had to take care of that business for Jermaine.  Deal with it.  If you can't deal with it, trust me, I can.  Max said as he pointed his pistol at Ike's head.

Ike clenched his fist as Max stared into his eyes without a single blink.

            “Don't act you didn't noticed it was Jason.”

            “I didn't.  I didn't know it was him until the quarters fell out of your hand.  That's why you were dazing his ass, you had them fucking quarters in your hand.  That's a bitch move.” Ike mumbled.

            “What did you say motherfucka?  I don't give a fuck about you or that pussy ass nigga Jason.  You motherfuckers are a waste of fucking time if you ask me.  So stay in line before you come up missing!”

Ike remained quiet as Max sped through the Detroit blocks towards his condo.

The next morning, Ike met with Jermaine at the gym.

            “You're starting to let me down Ike.  I'm starting to lose my trust with you.”  Jermaine said as he spreaded a stack of money across his desk.  I'm a fair man, and I feel we should just go our seperate ways.  You know, like a divorce.” Jermaine joked.

Ike took a deep breathe, making sure to choose his words wisely as the room full of heartless goons stared at him.

            “To be honest, I was going to quit anyway.  That shit you pulled on Jason last night was__ Ike paused.  I'm just not with this Jermaine.  I just want out.

Jermaine started to laugh.

            “Quit?  I guess you doing both of us a favor.  I'm going to let you leave with your life or your clothes.  But you aint leaving with both of them, little ungrateful motherfucka.

Ike looked around the small office.  Max started laughing.

            “You heard him Ike. If you want to live, strip and get the fuck out.”  Booker said as he walked over towards Ike with a mecede in his hand.

Ike slowly stood up from the leather chair, watching the other men as Jermaine spun around in his chair slowly.  Ike took off his shirt, exposing all of his street fight scars as the men started to laugh.  He stripped down to his boxers and tank top.

            “Everything motherfucker.”  Booker whispered as he tapped Ike on the shoulder with the long knife.

Ike smacked his lips and removed his wife beater.  He reached down and grabbed his clothes to leave, but Booker stepped in front of him.

            “You forgetting something little nigga.”

            “Jermaine, please don't make me go out there with no shorts on.”

            “Proceed.”  Jermaine replied as Booker rubbed the knife across Ike's back.

Ike dropped his clothes, and took off his boxers as the men started laugh at him.  Ike grabbed his clothes and ran out of the office, tripping as he left out.  As he fell out of the door, Ike noticed Kujo stuffing a bag full of money under the ring.  Ike noticed about 6 duffle bags of money as he stood up from the ground.

            “Get your little naked ass outta here. Kujo joked as he closed the small door that was underneath the stage.”

Ike quickly put on his clothes and ran out of the gym.

                       

Later on that day, Jason made it home from the hospital.  He was still weak from his beating, and he couldn't talk because his jaws were severely swollen.  Kenny didn't know what was going on as Jason staggered into the house.  He quickly sobbered up as Jason fell to his knees in pain.

            Jason!  What happened to you?  Kenny said as he ran over towards his nephew.

Jason eyes were low and he could barely support himself as he struggled to stand up.  His fracture arm was dangling by his side as Kenny scooped him up and carried him into the living room.  Just as Kenny laid Jason on the couch the doorbell rung.  Kenny ran to the door and opened it without asking who it was.

            “I'm sorry to bother you Kenny, but is Jason home?  I really need to talk to him.”

            “Yeah, come in Mike.  He's on the couch, I think he was jumped on?”  Kenny nervously said as rushed back into the living.

Ike followd Kenny into the living. 

            “Damn.”  Ike thought when he saw Jason laying on the couch in his bloody clothes.  He shook his head as he walked over to Jason.  “Don't say nothing Jason.  I know what happened.  Ike dropped his head to his chest before he spoke.  I did this to you Jason.  I'm sorry.  I didn't know it was you until the last minute.”

            “What are you talking about Mike?” Kenny asked as he grabbed Ike on the shoulder.

            “I'm sorry Kenny, but Jermaine sent me and Max out to handle some business for him.  When we were fighting Jason, I didn't know it was him until he fell to the ground.  I promise, Jason is like a brother to me.

For some reason, Kenny believed him.  He could tell in Ike's eyes that he was telling the truth.

            “Jermaine is a snake.  A fucking snake.  Kenny repeated as he placed a cold towel over Jason's face. 

            “I can't believe he would do this.  Especially, to you Jason.”  Kenny thought.  Don't worry about it Jason.  I'm going to take care of this.

Ike sat back on the small couch near the door and watched Kenny as he helped Jason to his room.  He could see the hurt in Kenny's eyes as he carried Jason up the stairs.

 

***
 

             Later on that night, Kenny walked out of his bedroom, wearing all black.  He walked into Jason's room, peeking his head in before he closed the door. As he reached the stairs, Kenny could hear Ike snoring on the couch in the living room.   Kenny left the house and got into his van that was parked in the drive-way.

After a short commute to Club All-Stars, on 8 Mile road, Kenny parked his van in the back and got out, removing his hoody as he walked around to the front.  Inside, Jermaine and Kujo were enjoying a bottle of Ace of Spade as they watched two half dressed Redbones dance on them.  Throwing money and spilling Champagne, Jermaine and Kujo didn't noticed Kenny walking into the VIP room.

            “Ladies, will you excuse us.”  Kenny said as he pulled out a small baseball bat.

The ladies covered their bouncing titties and ran out of the room.

            “Shoot this dumb ass fool.”  Jermaine said as he grabbed the bottle of Champagne.

            “They took our guns at the door, remember.”  Kujo replied, keeping his eyes on Kenny as he crept closer.

            How could you do that shit to your own blood!  Kenny screamed as he swung the bat and hit Kujo across the head.  Blood shot from Kujo's head as he fell back across the Rose colored sofa. 

            “Hold on Kenny!  I don't know what you're talking about?” Jermaine lied as Kenny wiped the bloody bat on his polo shirt.

            “You had Jason jumped on.You dirty motherfucka!  Your own fuckin so! Kenny screamed as he swung the bat at Jermaine's head. The wild swing missed Jermaine as he jumped across Kujo.  Kenny swung the bat again, hitting Jermaine in the back.  Jermaine's body collasped as Kenny continued to hit him with the wood bat across his back.   Kenny hit Jermaine again, this time grazing his head with the barrell of the bat.  Kenny dropped the bat and ran out of the VIP area towards his car. Kenny's hands were shaking as he started his van and peeled off. 

 

            ***

           

            A couple of weeks later, Kenny and Jason moved to an apartment that was about 30 minutes away from Detroit.  Since school was out, Ike spent most of his time with Jason and Kenny at their new apartment.  Jason was healed up and feeling better.  His arm was still fractured, but he was still able to move around good.  Ike decided to give up fighting for the time being.  The urge was still there but the money wasn't.  Ike was addicted to getting paid for fighting and if he did it now, he would just be wasting his skills, he felt.  Kenny didn't mention to Jason about his encounter with Jermaine at the strip club.  He swept it under the rug with the rest of Jermaine's mishaps.  Kenny still couldn't believe that Jermaine would harm his own son.  He couldn't put it past Jermaine, because he was the same way when they were younger.  Jermaine and Kenny grew up in Detroit during the time with Smokey Robinson was writing hits for the Temptations.  The era when problems that occured in the street were solved with fist fights, not guns.  Jermaine, Kenny and Kujo attended Cooley High School in Detroit. All-stars on the football team and true foot soldiers for one of the biggest drug lords in Detroit, Tony Black.  When they weren't dominating the football field, Jermaine, Kenny and Kujo would be putting in work for Tony Black. 

Kenny was the most skilled fighter amongst the three.  Blessed with both speed and power, Kenny street fights only lasted for about 2 minutes.  Half of his opponents were scared before he even held up his hands, because of the reputation he had in the streets.  His closes competition was Jermaine and Kujo. Kujo was the oldest of the three boys.  Kujo was once the number one ranked boxer in Michigan before a cocaine problem postponed his career.  After recovering from his cocaine habit, he started to train Jermaine and Kenny.  Kenny was born to fight and Jermaine was born to hustle, and that's what he did.  While Kenny and Kujo trained, Jermaine would hustle all night until the wee hours of the morning.  They chased a dream, and Jermaine chased a dollar. 

            The three men were close until Kujo was sentence to 4 years in prison for armed robbery.  Trying to support his undercover cocaine habit, Kujo robbed a undercover officer outside of the  

drug house.  Kenny's dreams were put on hold and his drinking habit increased.  During this time, Jermaine got one of his workers pregnant, but the young girl died on the delivery table when she was giving birth to Jason.  Jermaine didn't know anything about raising a child so he left his son with Kenny.  Since that day, Kenny has had hate towards his brother.  So much hate that he took it out on Jason for years.  The internal hate he felt toward Jermaine wasn't satisfied with the bottles of liquor he consumed weekly.  He could only let out his anger when he fought someone.  Unfortunately, that someone is Jason.

****

                Kenny wasn't sure if Jermaine would retailate on him after what he did to him and Kujo in the strip club.  Everytime he left the apartment, he had to make sure that no on was following him.  It was stressful, but Kenny knew what his brother was capable of if they found out where he lived.

Kenny walked out of the house, carrying a bag of clothes when he noticed a White cadillac pulling into the apartment complex.  Kenny see anyone through the tinted glass as the car slowly pulled up in front of his building.

            “That's Jermaine.”  Kenny thought as he dropped the clothes and took off running.

The white Cadillac peeled off behind Kenny as he darted through the parking lot towards his van. Kenny jumped into the van and tried to leave, but the van wouldn't start. 

            “Not now baby, not now!”  Kenny said as the Cadillac sped up to him.

As Kenny jumped out, the driver of the Cadilac slammed on the brakes.  The Kujo and Booker jumped out of the car with thier pistols drawn, pointed at Kenny.

            “Slow the fuck down Kenny.  This isn't going to take long.” Kujo said as he walked towards Kenny with heavy bandage wrapped around his head.

As soon as Kujo stepped into arm's reach, Kenny hit him in the mouth.  Kujo dropped his heater, grabbing his broke jaw while Booker opened fired, shooting Kenny in the arm.  Kenny clenched his side as the 38 slug pierced his right arm.  He slowly dropped to one knee.

            “It's burning!” Kenny screamed as blood poured through his shirt and fingers.

Jermaine stepped out of the back of the Cadillac with a brace on his left arm, smoking a cigar.  He walked over to Kenny, tapping ashes from his cigar onto Kenny's head.

            “You think this is about the coward move that you pulled in the strip club?  I haven't thought about that one yet, but I'll be sure to keep you posted, Jermaine joked.   Naw, this is a little deeper than that.  Matter of fact, I'm not even here for you.  Where is that little motherfucka Ike at?  That piece of shit robbed me and I want all of my fucking money back.”

            “I don't know what your talking about Jermaine.  Please just take me to get my armed look at because it's going numb.”

            Jermaine grabbed Kenny's wounded arm placing his lit cigar on Kenny's wound.  Kenny screamed as the pain shot through his entire body!

            “Now where is that little bastard at with my money?  I don't have all day!

Jason peeped through his bedroom blinds when he heard Kenny's scream.  He saw the men surrounding Kenny.  Jason ran into Kenny's room and grabbed the revolver that was underneath his mattress.  After checking to see if the gun was loaded,  Jason ran out of the apartment towards Kenny and Jermaine.

            “Get the fuck back!”  Jason yelled as he walked towards Jermaine with the gun.

Booker cocked his pistol back pointing the heater at Jason as he walked up. 

            “I know this is your son and all, but I can't let him point that gun at you like that boss.”

            “I got this Booker, just trust me on this one.”

Booker lowered his gun, trusting Jermaines command.  As soon as Booker lowered his gun, Jason shot him in the chest.  The close range shot, threw Booker back against the car, dripping blood onto the clear coated paint job.

            “Relax Jason!”  Jermaine yelled.

Years of emotions and unanswered questions were building up in Jason's eyes but he remained settle as he pointed gun at his father.

            “It's not worth it Jason.”  Kenny mumbled as he stood to his feet. 

Jason's hands began to tremble as he held the gun in Jermaine's face.

            “Just answer this questions Jermaine.  Are you my father?” 

Jermaine looked over at Kenny.  His words didn't want to leave his mouth, but he felt obligated to answer the question since he hasn't been there for Jason since day one.  Jermaine slowly nodded his head yes.

Although Kenny was in pain, it was nothing compared to what Jason was feeling at the time.

Jason looked over at Kenny, lowering his eyes to the wound in his arm.  Jason pointed his gun at Jermaine, staring at him without a single blink.  Just as he was about to pull the trigger, Ike sped up and slammed on the brakes.

            “We have to go J, the police are coming! Can't you hear them?” 

Jermaine looked at Ike, wishing he could snatch him out of the Cherokee, but Jason had the pistol pointed directly between his eyes.”

            “Get in the truck Kenny.”

Kenny slowly walked toward the cherokee, watching Jason as he laid down across the back seat.

Jason stepped closer to Jermaine, pressing the pistol harder against his forehead.

            “The only reason why I'm not going to shoot you is because you're my father.  Unlike you, I care about my family, my blood.”

Jason started to walk away, but stopped a couple a feet away from Jermaine and turned around.

            “On second thought, fuck you dad!”  Jason shot Jermaine in the chest two times before jumping in the truck.  Ike sped off as  Jermaine fell to his knees, clinching his leaking, bloody chest.

The car was quiet as Jason stared out of his passenger side mirror at Jermaine as they pulled off.

            “Where are we going?  Kenny asked, tying a piece of his shirt around his wound.

            “Look inside one of those bags in the back Kenny.”  Ike said as he drove through a yellow light.

Kenny reached into one of the bags, and pulled out a bundle of money.  He looked at Ike as Ike stared back at him through the rearview mirror.

            “Is this Jermaine's money Ike?”

            “Not anymore Kenny.  We need it for our trainer in Florida.”

            “Florida?”  Jason repeated.

            “Yeah Florida.  That's where the junior olympics boxers are training at.

Jason looked at Ike and they started laughing.

Kenny peeled his fingers through the bundle of money. “ I guess you'll be needing a trainer, Kenny joked as he laid back laughing in the back seat.

           

             

           

 

                                                         “Three Months Later”

 

Kenny, Jason, and Ike relax watching a bootleg version of “The Hunger Games” on DVD in their new four bedroom luxury loft in the Hibiscus Island’s community in Coral Springs, FLA. It had been a gruesome work out, for the past three months Kenny had  been putting Jason through a rigorous work out, Ike worked out with them at times only to keep in shape but after arriving in Florida and linking up with Howard Davis Jr. and MMA Promoters he felt he had come into his own focusing more on the management side of business. Jason wasn’t his only client either, he had a young up and coming female boxer named Sofia Gutierrez she showed a lot of potential. She was apprehensive

about letting Ike represent her at first being that he was barely 13 yrs. old but after he presented her with an advancment check, and two fights in the first week of meeting her she put his age difference out of the equation.

 

Jason was excited about the prospect of competing in the junior olympics and trained like his life depended on it. Kenny also felt the excitement and at times extreme pressure of Jason doing well. He knew that this was a chance at a better life for all of them and possibly his last chance. He cut back on drinking but did not cut it completely off and when he drank he beat Jason. Ike begged Jason to jump Kenny, fire his ass and leave him out in the streets of Florida homeless and broke but due to some unforseen reason Jason stayed loyal to his abussive uncle.

 

Iggy Azalea and T.I.’s hit Murda Bizness came blaring through Ike’s IPHONE taking him by surprise he had been to the mall and a few local fights passing out his business cards. He frantically grabbed at his phone hoping it may be a potential new client. Glaring down at the screen’s caller ID he curled his bottom lip into a frown he saw his mother’s face flash across the screen.

 

“Hey ma.” He said as he pressed talk and stood walking out of the room into the kitchen.

“Hey baby.” She said excitiedly through the phone.

“Chilling.”

“Yeah, I got the money you sent me.”

“That’s what’s up, what you do with it?”

“The right thing.” She said laughing.

“Hmph...”

“What baby?”

“Nothing ma, don’t be smoking up all the money ma, I’m paying your bills from here but the money I’m sending to you go and buy yourself something nice.”

“You still don’t beleive me even after the pictures I texted you? I been clean ever since you left, going to church, ain’t found a job yet but been volunteering and I even met me a good....”

Jason balled his fists and slammed them into the stainless steel refigerator. “A good what ma?”

“A good man, Jason. Damn you act like you my daddy?”

“I feel like it sometimes.”

“Excuse me?”

“Ain’t no good men in the D ma?”

“Well I must have found the last one.”

“Yeah what ever, what’s this clown name?” Jason said as he jumped up sitting on the counter top.

“No one you would know.”

“You don’t know who I know.”

“Jackson.”

“Jackson what ma?”

“Jackson his...”

Ike cut his mother off. “Hold on ma it’s my other line.” He said as he clicked over before she had the chance to respond.

“Hello, Ike’s boxing mangement and consulting.”

“What’s good papi?” A sexy Sofia chimed through the phone.

“Shit just talking to my moms on the other line.”

“It’s cool I’ll call you back.” She said as she began to hang up.

“No hold on!” He said as he jumped to his feet from the counter and clicked over. “Let me call you back ma.”

“Alright, love you baby.”

“Love you too.” He said as he hung up the call from his mother and connected back to Sofia. “Hey sexy.”

“How you feel babe?”

“You coming through for a while?”

“Yeah was in the area, what yall on?”

“Shit should’ve came through earlier today we just finished a mean ass work out, just winding down and watching that Hunger Games shit right now.”

“Aight give me bout twenty minutes stopping for food.”

“Cool.” He said before disconnecting the call.

 

****

Back in Allen Park, a suburban city of Detroit  Ike’s mother Claire loaded the small overnight bag into the back of her new male friend’s trunk.

“Let’s go babe.” He said as he started the engine of the 2012 Lincoln Navigator.

Rushing to the passenger’s seat she climbed in, closed the door and fastened her seatbelt as he pulled from the drive way. “What’s the big rush honey? Cedar Point’s not going any place.”

Cedar Point was the name of the amusement park that they were going to. “Yeah I know babe just trying to beat the evening rush hour traffic.”

She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “Love you Jackson, can’t wait till my new man meets my little man.”

Jackson remained silent as he merged onto I-75 S.  Little conversation took place during the ride which Claire found strange being that Jackson was normally more talkative. They pulled into the hotel’s parking lot in Ohio that they were spending the weekend in and checked in. Jackson carried the bags to the room as Claire followed behind.

“Open the door babe.” He said as he stood to the side and she slid the electronic room key into the lock opening the door. When she stepped into the room and held the door for Jackson to enter with the bags she was startled when a woman came from out of the bathroom taking her by surprise. She grabbed at her chest.

“I’m sorry they must have given us the key to the wrong room.” Claire said as she attempted to exit the room.

“Nall this the right room babe.” Jackson says as he sets the bags by the bed on the floor. “This here is my cousin Lisa, she was having issues at home with her old man so I told her it was alright to crash with us for the week end you don’t mind do you?”

Claire forced a smile as she closed the door turning her back to the woman. “Of course not honey just wish you would have warned me first that’s all.”

“Well if this is an inconvenience I don’t have to…”

“Of course not your family.” Jackson said cutting Lisa off from completing her sentence. “Lets all go have some fun!” He said as he grabbed both women squeezing them in a tight bear hug.

 

****

 

Later that evening back in Florida, after watching The Hunger Games and playing spades Ike and Sofia decided to stop by the gym for some late night sparring. They both had their reasons for wanting to get away from Kenny and Jason and getting some practice in was the perfect excuse. Standing in pearl white boxing shorts, a sports bra, and wife beater Sofia held her arms out as Ike tied her boking gloves for her.

 

“So tell me Sofia, how did you know when you wanted to become a boxer?”

“I don’t know maybe ten or eleven years old.”

“Yeah, who knows what they want to be at eleven?”

Sofia smirked. “I did. Not for sport, for survival. My papa used to beat on me and mama when he had a bad day which was any day ending in Y.”

Ike stared off into space mind wandering to his friend Jason.

“When he got tired of mama and he wanted a different piece of ass he would crawl into my bed at night.”

Ike diverted his eyes towards the floor avoiding eye contact with Sofia.

“It’s alright; it was a long time ago.”

“So what did you do?”

“I grew up fast, I survived.”

Sofia began bouncing around the ring throwing jabs at the wind. “You done playing counselor yet, thought we came to work out.”

“Sofia, I didn’t mean to…”

“Just kidding man, you are too easy.”

Ike laughed as he ducked a jab coming at his chin.

They worked out together for an hour or so before heading home. Ike turned off the lights waiting by the door as Sofia grabbed her gym bag.

“You know you can talk to me about anything right?” Ike asked as he blocked the door from Sofia being able to exit.”

“My very own chocolate Dr. Phil.”

“I’m serious Sofia.”

She kissed him on the cheek. “I am too.”

She stepped out side, Ike followed behind and turned to lock the door as he placed the key into the lock he heard a loud screech he immediately turned to help Sofia when he noticed her standing over the man the sound came from clutching his bloody nose. It seemed as if people came from everywhere, they were surrounded by men and women he didn’t have time to count there were at least fifth teen total. He just hit the person nearest to him. He didn’t know what was going on but he wasn’t going to run and he wasn’t going down with out a fight.

 

****

 

Claire could barely contain herself as she navigated the streets of Florida guided by the navigation system in the rental car. Jackson didn’t want her to drive but she insisted. She needed to do something to calm her nerves she had been on edge ever since she’d received the call from some chick named Sofia earlier that morning saying that her son Ike was in critical condition in the hospital. She pulled up to the emergency room door of Tampa General Hospital. Throwing the rental into park she jumped out and ran inside. Jackson slid over to the driver’s seat and went to park the car. After talking with the nurse at the desk she was directed to where her son’s room was located. Franticaly making her way down the halls she stopped at the door she was looking for took a deep breath and pushed the door open walking in. She paused as she felt her knees get weak, looking at her only son both legs harnessed up in a sling both in casts, one arm in a cast, the other with an iv sticking out of it, his head bandaged with blood seeping through it, both eyes swollen shut, and a tube sticking out of his mouth. Sofia sat next to his bed a busted lip, black eye crying. She stopped and turned towards Claire when she heard the door open. Claire wiped her eyes with the back of her hand standing and walking towards Claire blocking her from getting to Ike.

“Can I help you?” Sofia asked in a defensive stance.

“Yes I’m Claire, Ike’s mother who are you?”

Sofia stepped to the side allowing her to have access to her son. “I’m Sofia, I’m the one that called you, I got your number from Ike’s phone I was with him when…” Sofia began crying again.

Claire ignored her weeping and went to her son holding his hand. She felt his body flinch from her touch.

“Where’s the doctor?” Claire asked as the tears began falling from her eyes.

“He walked down to the cafeteria to talk with Kenny and Jason about Ike’s condition.”

“I better get down there, how do I find the cafeteria?”

“Oh you just…”

Before she could finish her sentence the room door opened and Jackson entered. “You okay babe?” He asked as he took her by the arm.

She inhaled, then exhaled. Not answering his question. “Jackson this is Sofia, Ike’s friend.”

Sofia stuck out her hand and shook hands with Jackson.

“Wish we could have met under better circumstances sir.”

Jackson didn’t respond he turned his back to Sofia and Claire facing Ike. The door opened, Jackson ignored the door keeping his attention focused on Ike. Kenny and Jason both entered.

“You must be Ike’s mom, I’m Kenny and this is my nephew Jason.”

“I’m Claire, this is my boy friend.”

Before Claire finished her introduction Jackson turned and faced the room.

“You thought this shit was over Kenny?”

“Jermaine!”

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