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Excerpt Chapters:  |  1  |  5  |  31 


 

 

 

YARDIES left you wanting more, and we have more.
YARDIES II the Legend of Rude Boy Richie has more intrigue MORE YARDIES EXCITEMENT!

SYNOPSIS:


Richie, now called Makandal as a result of his exposure to education and ruling black philosophies from his mentor, Melchezzedek, while serving a 5 year prison sentence for drug and gang related issues, must now bring his teachings back to his homeland and institute change. This change is set on instituting unification (ONE) and helping the poor to find ways to educate, mobilize and sustain themselves without having to turn to the drugs and violence that has rapidly crippled the potential of the ghetto areas in Jamaica. Going back proved the greatest obstacle to overcome, since Richie is wanted by Jamaican law enforcement, and particularly, Samson, the brother of the security personnel Richie killed before escaping to the United States. Though the mass thought that he was dead, Samson has always held doubts that the closed casket did not contain the body of the man he hated most, and was prepared to kill Richie on arrival, but that was intercepted by an aircraft engine defect. Oblivious of his narrow escape, Makandal (Richie) on arrival in Jamaica used his resources and education to initiate the Young Black Uprising (Yee-BU), a revolutionary group bent on bringing the country back to its roots, and empowering the poor communities. This feat was done through warfare, and unsuccessful negotiations between Yee-BU and the government, as well as the federal government of the United States. Yee-BU goes around the island of Jamaica recruiting members who will stand true to its cause while eliminating those who stand in the way of ONE. His ultimate goal set in creating educational and job opportunities around the world beginning with the meta-utopia city, Thebes, which the group strives to build in Jamaica. These goals are funded with the loot taken from some of the richest men in the world with strategic planning of the group and alliances with the secret organizations of ONE in the United States. Makandal must also fight his vices, such as vengeance and continue his quest to look for his son and his long-lost mother. The Yee-BU faces strong opposition, more forcefully from the United States who allege associations with terrorist groups of Al Qaeda, causing some of its leaders including Makandal to meet their end at this challenge. Still, the cause continues with the one who taught him and those whom he shared the vision with.

 


 

Chapter Excerpts

 

CHAPTER 1

"You got your way, look at the results. Look at the status of Negroes! Do you call that progress?" Marcus Garvey boomed; his baritone voice roiled through the air.

The barrel chested manís fiery spirit beamed through his eyes. W. E. DuBois removed his spectacles in a deliberate manner and wiped them carefully. Booker T. Washington and Malcolm X looked on with rapted attention, while Martin Luther King paced back and forth behind DuBois.

"What else could you call it but progress-Marcus?" DuBois asked with a frustrated sigh. He looked around in his usual casual detached professional manner then continued, "From slaves to CEOs of multimillion dollar corporations in 6 generations. There has been an unprecedented growth in the Negro middle class. The wages of educated Negro women now approach parity with that of educated white women. Marcus the statistics donít lie; these are the plain facts."

Garvey sat up in his chair.

"Youíre damned right statistics donít lie. The Negro family has been all but destroyed. Seventy percent of our children are being raised by a single mother. Thereís no semblance of a Black community, instead, theyíre virtual war zones." Garveyís eyes seemed to grow larger in his head. "Black on black violence is at an all time high; 60% of our youths drop out of high school, 1 in 13 Negroes is in prison, and 25% of Negro youth ages 13-35 are either in prison, in jail, on parole, or on probation."

Garveyís large chest heaved as he took in a deep breath. Booker T. stared at DuBois who turned his back to Garvey and faced Martin.

Unperturbed by the slight, Garvey continued, "Black culture has eroded, our values have decayed. Today, we voluntarily call each other niggers, and our young women strive to be sex objects instead of queens. World wide, Negro suffering and abject poverty is at an all time high. AIDS, malaria, starvation, and under-education decimate our people globally. Those are the concrete results of your philosophy of assimilation and integration. You are certainly right, statistics donít lie. Those are the facts."

Martin Luther King looked at DuBois with an expression that said, Ďyou canít let that go unchallenged,í while Booker T and Malcolm X eyed each other. DuBois hesitated; Martin jumped in:

"We marched on Washington in 1968 and Civil Rights are now the law of the land, a fulfillment of Dr. DuBoisí vision. As a result, we have more negro millionaires than anytime in history." He surveyed his exclusive audience. "There are more Negro doctors, lawyers, judges, politicians, business owners, engineers; you name it, than anytime in history. Our vote is guaranteed. We are the power brokers who decide who wins or lose, Democrat or Republican, in every election. And weíre now accepted as integral to and an indispensable part of the American democracy."

Martin Luther Kingís characteristic preacherís cadence gave his words extra impetus.

Marcus Garvey stood up. All eyes shifted upward with the rise of the ponderous figure. He began to pace the floor then stopped suddenly in mid-stride and drew a deep breath.

"The problem is- -you both focus on individual achievements. Was that the agenda of your assimilationist philosophy, to produce a Negro aristocracy-talented tenth, I believe you referred to it as?" Garvey glared at DuBois, "To create a Negro elite divorced from the aspirations of the nation of 1 billion Africans at home and 200 million abroad."

He stared at DuBois and Martin standing shoulder to shoulder facing him like offensive linemen and laughed. His rotund belly shook with the laughter.

Garvey continued, "Can you call it progress when a few exceptional Africans move into the masterís house if, in so doing, they sacrifice their ties to the kinfolk left suffering in the fields? What good is integration, solely to become an agent, facilitator, or apologist for white supremacy? It makes no sense. Individual profit is worthless if it amounts to a collective loss."

"That is the essence of Western philosophy-Capitalism, I above we. Individual accomplishments reigns supreme, thatís the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant way," Malcolm X interjected.

DuBois was infuriated. His face reddened and his eyeglasses fogged up.

"P-P-Personal re-respon-sibili-lity," he stammered as his tongue stumbled over his anger. He paused, regained composure, then continued, "Personal responsibility is whatís called for if

opportunity is available to you. Our people must be held personally accountable, each man rise according to his ability, and, as Martin puts it, be judged; not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character."

"Thatís right brother," Martin concurred.

Booker T smiled at the rhetorical theatrics and jumped in.

"Iíve always advocated hard work and industriousness. Marcus you canít deny, if there is opportunity then itís the individualís responsibility to seize it," Booker T interposed.

Garvey shifted the weight on his legs nimbly like an elephant then wheeled his colossal body around with surprising agility and grace to face the group. In a slow calculated manner, with a voice that matched his size, he said, "Opportunity without preparation," Garvey focused on DuBoisí beady eyes, now enlarged saucers behind the bifocals, "Emancipation without reparation and integration without equalization ended in the collective degradation, the stagnation, and the regression of negroes in the United States. Your statistics notwithstanding, in the 1930ís negroes-"

"Weíre called African-Americans today," Malcolm interjected.

"Negroes, Blacks- -makes no difference to me," Garvey said, "as long as Our race remains the footstool of the white race, stuck in an intractable inferior position socially, economically, and politically. But since you insist, Iíll accommodate the moniker of your fancy. The 1930ís African-Americans owned more businesses per capita than they do today. We had culture, identity, and purpose then."

"We have that now," Martin Luther King commented.

Garvey rolled his eyes in exasperation then continued, "Look at us now with all the so-called individual accomplishments; We live in ghettoes where crime, violence, drugs, and gang warfare is accepted as the norm. This has to change.

For the first time in the great and majestic history of Us Africans, Our rock and salvation, the Black woman, has been corrupted and is losing her way. This has to change."

Garvey switched his weight from leg to leg as if it carried his argument and commandeered every eye with his fiery passion.

"Gentlemen, Our race is at a cross-road. (left leg) The time is now or never. (right leg) Either we change course and restore African values and the African culture, (left leg) or continue down

the present path of assured extinction as a people. (right leg) Zedek, the time is now. (left leg) Our people need you. (right leg) Zedek!"

Zedek turned on his side.

"Zedek! Zedek!"

"Huh! What?"

Zedek jumped up out his sleep and found his neighbor Richie shaking him and calling his name. He wiped drool from his face, still dazed.

"You said to wake you up for the Black Heritage rehearsals. Itís almost that time," Richie said.

Zedek collected his senses.

"Oh man, I fell asleep that quick?"

"Yep, snoring too," Richie added with a broad grin.

The 6í 4" dread stretched his limbs and yawned like a cat.

"Ugghh!! ManÖI just had a crazy vision," Zedek said as he cleaned the rest of the dribble from his face. He blinked and smiled at the big gap in Richieís broad smile.

"That mustíve been some vision, had you knocked out," Richie said, watching the old dreadís senses crawl back into place. "Turn to CNN they got El Rashon."

Zedek, short for Melchezzedek, stretched one more time then reached over and turned on the television.

"This is Charlene Brown reporting for the News Network Hour. CNN sources at the Pentagon have confirmed that Habeeb El Rashon and 4 other terrorists were killed in a missile strike in Basra, Iraq, 3 days ago. Sources in the WIA say, acting on actionable information, 2 Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator drone destroyed a safe house where a high level Al Qaeda meeting was in progress. Confirmed dead are the second most wanted terrorist, El Rashon, 2 lieutenants from his organization, and an unknown British terrorist. The Pentagon says this is a major blow to the Al Qaeda in Iraq organization. President Bushe praised the missile strike and will hold a press conference on the White House lawn at 1 oíclock."

Zedekís grey eyebrows arched upwards in response to the news and he sat up straight. Wisps of rope like grey locks tumbled from his shoulders to the bed.

Richie took a seat on the footlocker in the corner of the small cell. He never got over the fact, that to him, Zedek looked exactly how he pictured an Old Testament prophet. His white dread locks,

white side-burns, and white goatee matted into one long dread lock, reminded Richie of Moses or Elijah.

The prophet aura was enhanced by Zedekís intelligence and penetrating olive green eyes that sparkled in contrast to his blue-black skin. He was Richieís mentor for the last 5 years.

"So, they finally assassinated El Rashon," Zedek commented, more to the air than to Richie.

"A terrorist assassinated, sounds strange doesnít it? Usually, itís the terrorist assassinating somebody," Richie mused, massaging his neck muscles. "Man, Iím sore from those pull ups and dips yesterday."

"One manís terrorist is anotherís freedom fighter," Zedek countered. "Todayís favorite political tactic is to label any poor man leading armed resistance against super-powers or multi-national corporations exploiting him or his natural resources a terrorist." Zedek changed the channel to C-Span II. The old fire brand from Mississippi, Senator Jefferies, was in the well of the senate staring down the C-Span audience with his accusatory eyes, pointing his accusatory forefinger, denouncing terrorism and terrorists-at home and abroad. He said:

"Mr. President, we cannot, must not let up in this war against terrorism. Not for a dayÖ(the accusatory forefinger accused the camera)Önot for a minuteÖ(the forefinger found its mark again), not for a second (the forefinger made its final indictment then relented).

Senator Jeffries thumped the podium with his fist.

"The United States must strike them where ever they may be found in the world even if weíve to act unilaterally. We must be ready to strike pre-emptively. When it comes to protecting our national interests and the safety of the American people, there must be no hesitation to strike."

Zedek watched the 65 year old, Uncle Sam look a like, body shake with anger and hatred as he delivered his scathing denunciation.

"You see that, Richie?" Zedek said.

"What? Another politician grand standing to get elected, telling the public what they want to hear. I pay them no attention; they all are just performers to me," Richie replied.

"Well bro, you make a serious mistake there," Zedek said and turned off the television. "They are more than performers. You should listen to these politicians and take them seriously."

Richie squirmed a bit and leaned forward placing his forearm on his knee.

"To me, all they do is tell lies to get elected," Richie said in a smooth baritone that pleased the ears no matter what it said.

"Thereís a lot of truth in what you say; however, you should listen to politicians and take them seriously. Not because what they say is true, but because what they say becomes the law, and the law affects you directly."

Zedek explained that ultimately power lies with the politician. He said the common man needed to either control the political process or think ahead of government to make it in life: And one way to do so is by listening to what the politicians say, for it foretold by months and years the laws to come.

"Those who ignore politicians eventually become their victims," Zedek said.

Richie shrugged his shoulders. As far as he was concerned, politicians only did what the people allowed them to do and could never be trusted.

Zedek told Richie about his vision of Marcus Garvey, W. E. DuBois, and the other Black icons debating the present state of Black people.

"Iím telling you, it was as real as can be," Zedek said.

"But what does it mean?" Richie asked.

"Either Iíve been studying too hard for the Black Heritage presentation, or itís a call to action."

Richie checked his watch.

"If youíre going to catch rehearsals, itís that time," he said.

Zedek looked at the pile of books on his desk.

"You know what? Iíll miss this one and make up for it another time," he said.

He bent over the desk, selected 2 books from among the pile, then stood up. His 6í 4" frame filled the cell.

"Youíre rolling soon; Take these," Zedek said, handing Richie the books. "I want you to read them one more time before you go."

Richie took the well worn books and looked them over. Their edges were frayed and pages dog eared from frequent use.

"The Autobiography of Marcus Garvey and Chancellor Williamsí Destruction of Black Civilization. I shouldíve guessed," Richie said.

"Well, what do you expect? These are the Blackmanís bibles. You get out in 3 months. If thereís one thing I want you to do is take the wisdom in them with you," Zedek said as he straightened the pile of books.

Richie nodded.

"If I guessed, I bet you had me read over 1,000 books in the last 5 years," Richie said.

Zedek smiled.

"Outside of school, how many books do you think the average man, from Phd to pauper, reads in his lifetime?" Zedek asked.

"I donít know, a couple thousand?"

"Nooo. Not by a long shot, less than 200, and the number shrinks by 20 every generation," Zedek said. "Itís a shame, because reading is the best route to knowledge and understanding. Thatís the way the brain is designed."

"So why donít more people read and read more often?" Richie asked.

"I donít know; readingís a dying art. I guess it has to do with TV, video games, and the Internet; however, reading isnít the goal," Zedek said, gesticulating with his hands.

"Then whatís the goal?" Richie asked.

"The goal is to convert knowledge into wisdom by applying it to life. Knowledge is a responsibility and obligation. He who knows and does not do, does not know," Zedek said.

He finished straightening out the books then wrapped his long dreads into a turban.

"What do you plan to do when you get to Jamaica?"

Richie leaned back and pressed his back muscles into the wall to help relieve the soreness.

"First, Iíve to locate my mother. She has my money. Then, I hope to live up to the principles of ONE."

"Is your mom still in Waltham Park?"

"I donít know," Richie answered.

Zedek sat on the small stool attached to the desk and scrutinized his protťgť.

"Garvey said the time is now. Richie is my only hope."

"Richie, thereís nothing more I can do. You read all the books. Youíve the ability. All you need to do is apply what you know. At 29, I was no where near your level of consciousness," Zedek said.

Richie was riveted by the verdant gaze. He reflected on his mental growth over the last 5 years and affirmed Zedekís statement with a nod. He had come a long way, from major drug dealer, leader of the infamous Yardies posse, [read Yardies 1] to disciple of ONE. Back then, his position in life, like many Black youths, trapped him in the socio-economic triangle of death: low expectation, under-education, and lack of opportunities. From that perspective, his only hope was to Ďget rich or die tryingí Ė a creed he lived to the fullest, but that was his past.

"Do you remember what I said to you when we first met?" Zedek asked.

"Yeah. I was in the infirmary."

"What did I say?"

"You said I had the aura, that I was a descendant of the maroons."

"Yep, and what did I call you?" Zedek asked.

"Nemesis," Richie recalled with an impish smile that exposed his missing front tooth. He looked down at the floor as the impish smile spread to his eyes.

"Do you know why I called you Nemesis?"

"Yeah, I figured it out. I looked it up in the dictionary. It means Greek goddess of revenge andÖyou knowÖ" Richieís demeanor changed. "I donít like people getting away with stuff," he said, feeling a bit self-conscious though remnants of the smile still lingered on his face.

"You got to control that or itíll trip you up," Zedek said in a serious tone then stared off into space. A look of sadness crept into his eyes. "Richie you must learn to forgive."

Richie felt an urgent earnestness in Zedekís plea. He never heard him sound like that before and knew Zedek referred to the incident in the prison riot.

Zedek stared at Richie.

"Donít let past events determine your futureÖBad things can happen to anyone in prison. If one survives them they become stronger if they move on and leave it behind. A man can never right every wrong done him in life," Zedek said and paused to see if Richie was paying attention. He continued, "To try stagnate your

growth and development as a human being. To forgive is to empower oneself by taking control of the past."

Richie kept his eyes on the floor. He knew Zedek was waiting on a response and managed a feeble, "I Ė Iíll work on it."

"Some things in a manís life he must resolve on his own and in his own time," Zedek thought.

He knew he was in sensitive territory, so he picked up the Gleaner off the desk and changed the subject.

"Iím still trying to track down your son but keep running into dead ends. Tawanaís mother moved. No one knows her whereabouts, or Tawanaís, or Eís for that matter," Zedek said, scanning the Jamaican newspaper.

"I didnít think theyíd still be in South Philly. It feels weird to know youíve a son but never seen him," Richie said as thoughts of his baby mother Tawana returned. He lost contact with her shortly after his arrest. He remembered his last conversation with her. Eight months pregnant, she was detained by Customs officers at Philadelphia International airport in possession of $500,000, and he told her not to worry, for it was only money.

A headline caught Zedekís attention. It read ĎThe Invincibles kill 15 people in drug turf warfare.í Highlighted was the statistic ĎRecord 927 murders since January 1stí.

Zedekís mind drifted like a cloud. He worried about the conditions Richie would face in Jamaica upon deportation Ė crime was at an all time high and violence spreading everywhere. He hitched his mind and returned to the conversation.

"I can just imagine how you feel. Donít worry, between Geego and I, weíll find him. How old is he now-5, 6?"

"Five. I man cannot wait to hold and cherish my seed. I canít wait," Richie muttered. The memories of his fatherless childhood re-surfaced. As an ode to his father, at age 7, he pleged, when he came of age, to be active and involved in the lives of his children since his father-who died in a car crash-never got the chance.

Zedek laid the newspaper on the desk. He was in a pensive mood as he contemplated Richieís fugitive status in Jamaica-wanted for murder.

"Is the situation with your police files in Jamaica taken care of yet?" he asked.

Richie, lost in a daydream, was doodling imaginary circles on the footlocker with his index finger. Zedek is enquiry snapped his mind back from its exploration of the subconscious.

"Geegoís on top of it. He said everything will be taken care of before I leave," Richie answered.

"Make sure to stay on him until you get confirmation. We canít afford to have that situation dangling over your head when you get deported," Zedek said.


CHAPTER 5

Charmane accepted Sophiaís invitation to sleep over with only a vague idea where she lived. Sheíd heard of the Water House section of Kingston but never been there before. Sheltered by an upper-class upbringing, Charmane never ventured out the suburbs of Cherry Gardens unless it was in the comfort of her motherís 530i BMW or her fatherís chauffeured Cadillac Escalade.

Today, she told her mother her first real lie that sheíd be sleeping over with her cousin Kendra-a thing she did regularly. Now, in the heart of Water House walking along Balcom Drive, second thoughts crept in. The area was better known as Fire House to its residents due to the rampant violence.

"Sophia, why you never tell me is so your neighborhood bad. We couldíve gone to my house," 15 year old Charmane said, glancing left, right, and everywhere.

"I donít see it as bad. This is where I grow up. Your momís too strick; she cramps my style, and we canít enjoy ourselves over there," Sophia replied. She stopped to wave to 2 women standing in a door way then continued, "She peeks over our shoulders like we is babies, and I got to be all prim and proper because sheís always saying Ďladies donít do this and ladies not supposed to do that.í She makes me tense, always looking down her nose at me."

"Sophia, you know she means no harm. Sheís only trying to be friendly," Charmane said, clutching Sophiaís waist nervously.

They turned down a dirt track labeled Cider Lane. Charmane was shocked by the clutter of deformed and distorted shacks perpetrating to be homes-shacks constructed of discarded lumber, cardboard, and sheets of corrugated zinc. It was a cosmopolitan collection of second, third, and fourth hand materials. Each piece that made up these hovels seemed misplaced or unsound and bespoke of past lives, of being reincarnated over and over again. This gave each house a unique appearance and individual character. The whole lot looked like a collection of vagrants fresh from Salvation Armyís clothing bank, attired in a kaleidoscope of mis-matched clothes, bunched in a crooked line at the soup kitchen.

The smell of suffering was everywhere-stale, musty, and stifling. Every breath was callous and unforgiving and with it a dream died. To Charmaneís surprise, there were intermittent laughs

of children with cherubic faces. Unlike their adult counterparts, life had yet to steal their joy. The adultsí deadened eyes tracked her every move, and she was deafened by their silent pain. She began to feel guilty, as if, some how she was to blame for their conditions.

Charmane was struck by the unperturbed demeanor of the people. It seemed like nothing bothered nor surprised them, as if, from birth they were pulled, stretched, and twisted by fate until it molded a certain resignation into their souls-the resignation to suffer without complaint.

Sophia waved to a group of men standing on the corner by a light pole smoking weed and drinking beer. Charmane stiffened. She held her head straight as possible. She could feel their eyes pry through her. Her firsthand light skin and long brunette hair stood out like a sore thumb among the background of recycled humanity.

Sophia caught a glint of Bunny Primeís sunglasses, half concealed by the light pole, then saw the sparkle of his gold teeth when he cocked his head back and raised a bottle of Red Stripe beer to his lips with a wry smile drawn across his face.

"I wonder what that foolís doing outside this time of the day," she thought.

Sophia knew Bunny Prime, the don of Water House younger brother and enforcer, only came out at night when gangsters and criminals owned the streets: a midday sighting usually spelt mischief. She pushed the flimsy wooden gate at the end of the lane and entered the yard with Charmane joined to her waist like a Siamese twin. The yard was bigger and more isolated than the rest. It wasnít boxed in by shacks on both sides and exhibited evidence of attempted brick and mortar constructions here and there.

Charmane couldnít get over her shock at the dilapidated condition of the neighborhood. Everything about it told a story of struggle, transience, and tragedy. Were it not for her own eyes, she wouldnít believe places like this existed in Jamaica. What shocked her even more was the amount of people, children, dogs, and other creatures that milled in and out the shanties. How could people live like this she wondered, certain the ramshackle constructions did little if anything to keep nature at bay.

"Masco whoís that red bone with Sophia?" Bunny Prime asked.

Masco looked up from his squatting position. The sun bore down on him. He squinted his eyes at the lanky figure in sunglasses who posed the question.

"I man donít know. Never seen that one before. Must be one of her school friends."

Bunny Prime shifted weight from his crooked left leg-a leg made so after being introduced to a .357 Magnum-unto his good leg, then adjusted the chrome .38 Smith and Wesson in his waist.

"Since Sophia get the scholarship to Immaculate High, we hardly see her," Promise added from the sideline. Ever self-conscious about his appearance, he fingered the knife scar emblazoned on his right cheek that made smiley faces when he spoke.

"Sheís the first person in the neighborhood to go to a high society school uptown. That girlís going to be somebody one day," Masco commented as he emptied his Heineken and threw the bottle toward the gully. It landed with a crash and splintered.

"Her big sister had brains too. If she never got pregnant-"

"The one Bunny Prime and them no stop fuck off the young gal them," Masco interjected, cutting Promise off in mid sentence to offer his explanation for the extra-ordinary high rate of teenage pregnancies in the neighborhood.

Gold toothed, Bunny Prime smiled in silence as a steady stream of weed and crack smoke flowed from his nostrils. With his brain stoked with chemicals, his mind wandered: his feet soon followed.

Charmane found the inside of Sophiaís tenement surprisingly cozy. Sophiaís aunt was on her way to work when they entered. She introduced herself quickly, told the girls to keep the place clean, and was out the door.

"Well, weíre here," Sophia said, "Girl have a seat, you donít have to stand there like a statue"

"But-"

"Charmane, youíre not uptown. Sit down anywhere you want without all the formal bullshit. I know the place isnít furnished with the mahogany and leather furniture youíre used to, but feel at home; this is how we do it in the ghetto," Sophia said.

Charmane sat down timidly in an old worn sofa and took in the ambience of poverty. She was self-conscious of her actions and

reactions, desperate to avoid embarrassing herself or her new friend. She thought about how hard it mustíve been on Sophia when she imposed upon her and invited her home soon after they met. Charmane now realized how embarrassed and out of place Sophia must have felt to be suddenly dragged into the lap of luxury and teased with the comforts of a rich lifestyle.

"She mustíve been insulted and thought I was flaunting my good fortune in her face."

However, Sophia never complained. She knew she didnít belong, and from an early age understood an impenetrable glass wall separated rich from poor. The poor had a right to see the luxuries on the other side of this wall but hold no right to experience it. Sophia knew, notwithstanding their genuine friendship, the law of birthright stood preeminent and took it in all in stride. This was life.

Though Charmaneís friendship with Sophia was authentic, she liking her unpretentious manner from day one, Charmane felt guilt for not having paid more attention to or considering Sophiaís feelings. She matter-of-factly assumed, since they attended the same prestigious high school, their lives were more or less equivalent and invited her uptown. Now, exposed to the other side of life, the real side, Charmane believed her innocent oversight traumatized Sophia who never once complained. This heightened her respect and affection for Sophia.

Charmane found herself beginning to relax and feel comfortable. The informal, easygoing, laid back attitude of the ghetto was a different experience for her; there was a certain charm about it. With much more latitude and increased freedom, it made her normal lifestyle seem rather stifling.

"Charmane, you must be thirsty. Do you want something to drink?" Sophia asked.

"Sure, I thought youíd never ask. Girl, my throat is parched," Charmane responded with a laugh.

"You can stay there and die of thirst following your highty tighty etiquette. What if I didnít ask? If youíre thirsty, say youíre thirsty. Who cares about grace or proper manners when theyíre in need," Sophia said with a smile.

Charmane blushed, buried her face in her hand, and giggled.

"Thatís what I donít understand with the prim and prom thing, it breeds helplessness," Sophia added, imitating a dignified flair.

"Okay, okay. You donít have to rub it in. I get it. Iíll have a Pepsi or Ginger ale please," Charmane said, still giggling.

"Mademoiselle, Iím sorry to inform you that I cannot comply with your request. In the ghetto, we natives lack certain conveniences of modernity- -like a refrigerator. In order to fulfill your request madam, Iíll have to go fetch it from the neighborhood store," Sophia said with a knee deep curtsy.

Charmane, caught between astonishment and laughter, stared wide-eyed at her.

"Is it possible to live without a refrigerator," she thought and was at a loss for words.

Sophia found the expression on Charmaneís face funny and bust out laughing. Charmane followed suit without knowing why.

"Charmane, Iím kidding- -in a wayĖbut I really got to get the soda from the store. Itís just a few houses down," Sophia said. "Without a standard electricity grid, we steal electricity from the main power line, and if everyone plugged in major appliances, it would blow the circuit for everybody and most likely burn down the lane."

Charmane was still lost for words; however, she was certain she wasnít ready to venture back outside at this moment. Sophia read her mind.

"Itís nothing; weíre used to it," Sophia said as she walked to the door. "Make yourself comfortable dear, Iíll be back soon. A tape player with the latest Mavado album is on the table in my bedroom." Charmane only managed a nod. "Girl trust me, youíre in for a wild experience. One youíll never forget. Just wait until it gets dark; thatís when the ghetto really comes alive. Lock the door behind me."

With that Sophia was out the door. Charmane got up and secured the bolt on the flimsy wooden door. The contraption was something she never saw before. Now, by herself, she surveyed the quaint dwelling closely. The walls were covered with a motley of magazine pictures that doubled as wallpaper-pictures of movie stars, entertainers, expensive cars, and jewelry. In it, Charmane saw a wall of wishful thinking; one which captured the hopes, dreams, and aspirations that kept children of poverty motivated to succeed.

There was an intimacy and warmth to the place not found in the suburbs that touched Charmane deeply. It was as if shared

sufferings connected people through their humanity, in contrast to selfish luxury and high living which connected them through vanity.

Charmane headed towards Sophiaís bedroom, partitioned off from the living/dining room by a white sheet hanging from the ceiling. She pushed the sheet aside, stepped in, and was flung to the ground. She let out a scream, hit the ground with a thud, and was dazed. Her attacker grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and slammed her onto a mattress on the floor. Charmane began to flail, thrash, scratch, and kick.

She tried to scream again, but the coarse hands around her neck stifled her voice. She swung wildly and blindly in the direction where she estimated her attackerís face to be and hit something that went flying.

"Bitch!"

Charmane felt her panties slide down her legs and kicked as hard as she could. Her shoe heel connected with a shin bone.

"Agghh!"

The attacker let her go. She struggled to get to her feet, adjust her eyes to the dark room, and run at the same time. She managed a few steps and crashed into a dresser drawer or cabinet of some kind. Toiletries flew everywhere. Charmane managed a scream that was cut short by a hard blow behind the ears. She collapsed.

Her attacker laid on top of her and pushed her dress up. His breath was heavy, laden with stale beer, and the stench of male musk filled the air. Charmaneís eyes adjusted to the dark allowing her to see the face of her attacker. It was grotesque, straight out of a horror flick. The left side looked like he was the victim of a fire: badly scared. The skin looked like the melted wax on the side of a candle, frozen in motion.

The left eye was an opaque white ball like that of a cooked fish. The lower eyelid was melted away and the white eyeball on the verge of falling out the socket. A snarl revealed a mouth full of gold.

The only thing Charmane could focus on was the ghastly eyeball about to fall on her. Her head began to throb. She felt a finger slide into her vagina and fingers pressing against her lips. She opened her mouth, engulfed one, and bit down with all her might.

"Aagghh!!"

A loud explosion followed and Charmane was no more. The attacker ripped off her panties and had his way with the corpse.

"What a nice red bone. Is a pity she never behave herself," the attacker muttered upon completion. He retrieved his sunglasses and limped out the back way he came in, nursing his bruised pinky finger.


CHAPTER 31

Two patrol cars, heading towards the bank, flew pass the Land Cruiser. Billy Boy made a casual turn unto Spanish Town Road then sped up. The Land Cruiser darted in and out to avoid obstacles in the road. Richie looked back. The police cars were racing towards them.

Billy Boy had a good head start. With the obstacles in

the road he knew the police cruisers couldnít cover ground too quickly. When he passed the worse of the obstacles, Billy Boy opened up the booster vacuum, and the Land Cruiser took off down the highway like an Indy race car. He wanted to get to the turn-off on Old Harbour Road with enough distance to crawl unto the cobble stone track and disappear before the police saw where they went.

He got there as planned, slowed down, and eased the Land Cruiser into the field of wild cane and trees. The Land Cruiser disappeared as it drowned in the dense over-growth of greenery. Everything went dark.

Razor edged blades of grass grabbed at the windows and sides of the car. Pele was terrified. He gripped the edge of his seat, gritted his teeth, and braced himself for some catastrophe. Dave Ninja didnít know what to think. He only hoped Billy Boy knew what he was doing turning off into the middle of the bushes like that. The police cruisers whizzed by the entrance to the cobble track to chase a phantom.

In the back seat, Scrap was peeved. All manners of emotions ran through him. He was mad, embarrassed, and felt disrespected. He thought Richie was either a fool or insane. Scrap couldnít comprehend what just took place.

"If we come to rob, we rob. Who ever heard of a robber leaving valuables behind, and then to give back what I already had? Madness! I shouldíve shot him. If it wasnít for Dave Ninja and Pele, I wouldíve shot him; heís a mad man," Scrap reasoned to himself as he twirled the gold watch he kept around his wrist. "We didnít even take the money that was in their wallets," he thought as he swallowed his disgust.

The Land Cruiser looked like it was being swallowed whole by a giant green Anaconda as it crept down the ancient track. With the high beams on, Billy Boy could barely see 2 feet ahead; however, he was familiar with the route. The eerie silence in the

cabin dawned on him. He felt tension in the air, so he turned on the CD. Bob Marleyís Buffalo Soldier came on to ease the tension.

"Yes Iím a Buffalo Soldier, Iím dread locks Rasta.

Yes Iím a Buffalo soldier, Iím a dread locks Rasta.

Stolen from Africa and brought to America.

Fighting from arrival fighting for survival,

Woi, yoi, yoiÖWoi, yoi-yoi, yoi," Marley wailed.

One hour later Billy Boy pulled up between 2 Sour Sop trees. The men got out the Land Cruiser looking worn from the slow bumpy ride. They stretched their legs; a long hike still laid ahead.

"Which way now?" Dave Ninja asked eager to get back to Thebes. He passed a duffle bag to Pele.

"Continue straight ahead through the Sour Sop trees and youíll run into a path by the stream. It takes you straight back to Thebes," Billy Boy said.

Dave Ninja and Pele, trailed by Scrap, took off following Billy Boyís directions.

Richie looked around at the thick bushes and wondered how Billy Boy managed to get this far before especially by himself.

"Where does the track go," Richie asked.

I donít know but it turns left a little farther up, but the forest has invaded the track and you canít drive any further."

"So what about the Land Cruiser?" Richie asked.

Billy Boy locked the doors.

"Iíll return and drive it back down the hill."

Richie and Billy Boy fell in behind Dave Ninja and the others. They rounded a steep corner where they had to grab on to the trees for support. Richie noticed a glint of gold on Scrapís wrist.

"Hold up! Scrap, where you get that watch?" Richie asked.

Dave Ninja and Pele stopped and turned around to face Scrap. Scrap looked like a deer caught in headlights. His mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water but no words came out.

"Do you think I was joking when I said give every piece of jewelry back?"

Scrapís mouth opened and closed some more.

"Ah-ah- -I mean. You know..."

Billy Boy was frozen with fear. Dave Ninja instinctively brought his AK-47 to a ready position. Pele was thinking of something to say when the Desert Eagle exploded. Scrap toppled

backwards and rolled down the hillside. His body came to rest at the foot of a guava tree.

"When the general gives an order thatís unclear and the troops disobey, itís his fault. But when the general gives an order that is clear and the troops understand but disobey that is mutiny," Richie looked around with a scowl on his face, "Honor is the number one principle of the Young Black Uprising. Bury him where he lies," Richie said and walked off.

The bank robbery was plastered all over the Evening News. Anchor woman, Claudette Bartolomue of Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC), the islandís major television station, reported: "In a brazen midday bank heist, 5 robbers strong armed Barclays bank in the Spanish Town Mall and stole 10 million dollars. Witnesses say the men were very organized and communicated with each other using dog barks. The police have dubbed this gang of robbers the African Wild Dogs.

In a strange turn of events, police are having a difficult time getting witnesses to identify these bandits. It seems some patrons are so terrified of future retaliations they have refused to cooperate with the police.

One teller told us the thieves called themselves revolutionaries. Itís been rumored, the robbers shared proceeds of the robbery with the bank patrons, and that may explain why witnesses are reluctant to cooperate with the authorities. Weíve not been able to confirm this allegation.

The robbers made off with the surveillance tape. They were chased by the police, but bad road conditions helped them to escape. They were last seen in a white SUV. Anyone with information please contact 864-HOT-TIPS. Barclays bank is offering a 100,000 dollar reward to anyone with information leading to the capture of these robbers."

Police commissioner, Colin Cross, held an emergency meeting to discuss the security assessment of the island in the wake of hurricane Garvey. Samson and School Boy Keith were in attendance and met in the lounge.

"What do you think about the Barcalys job?" Samson asked.

"Itís different. This is a new group. They gave away money," School Boy Keith said.

"Thatís why witnesses arenít talking much. Even the security guard canít remember details he should," Samson added.

"Yep, I donít know what to think. They called themselves revolutionaries and said they work for poor people. Thatís strange," School Boy Keith said.

"It doesnít sound good. I havenít heard anything like that since Copper in the 70s. He fancied himself a Robin Hood," Samson said.

"Thatís why we couldnít get close to him. The people protected him. The only way we got to him was to use Baskins, the Prime Ministerís hit man, who shot him in the back."

"Yep, that conspiracy was hidden well; to this day people think the Caymanas Park police killed Copper," Samson said. "So what are you hearing? Do you think Coolie Kirk had anything to do with the robbery?"

"No. Not his style. Heís not a bank robber. I had the boy in my sights a few months ago, but his stupid baby mother saved his ass. I havenít heard of nor seen him since, but come hell or high water, Iím going to get him even if Iíve to kill every coolie on the island to get him. Iím gonna get him," School Boy Keith said, seething in anger.

"He might be dead or went to America," Samson said, recalling why he never saw nor heard from Tek Life.

"Maybe," School Boy Keith said. Bigger issues were on his mind concerning the robbery. "$200,000 US and me not getting any of that? Just wait till I put my hands on whoeverís responsible. Theyíd better have my cut waiting. Rob things in my area and me donít get nothing. You must be mad," he thought and rolled his eyes in consternation.

"Have you tracked down Tek Life yet?" School Boy Keith enquired.

"No. Iím beginning to doubt he was on flight 221. I guess everybodyís right; heís dead, and itís all in my head. Do you think I should see a psych about it?"

School Boy Keith bust out laughing. The start of the conference was announced over the intercom. The men parted and headed to the conference room.

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