Copyright © 2016 by Quintarrius Shakir
Published by Quintarrius Shakir
Cover Design: Quintarrius Shakir
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic, or electronic process, or in the form of a phonographic recording; nor may it be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or otherwise be copied for public or private use—other than for “fair use” as brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews—without prior written permission of the publisher.
Carnival mask glyph made by from .
To the Creator for gifting me this story. We know You by many names. But, You are One energy. Thank You.
To my beta readers: Yhonica Brackins, J’darius Bush, Lily Robinson, and Darrika Higgins. Thank you for taking the time to proofread this piece. Your feedback is deeply appreciated. Always.
“Sometimes blood ain’t no thicker than water, and sometimes family will bring you down quicker than strangers.”
- Diana Armstrong (The Players Club, 1998)
“You a pussy ass nigga with nothin’ but good dick and a fragile ego! How dare a punk like you accuse me of sleeping around Memphis, spreading this delicious, juicy fruit ass out here for every nigga that I meet on Slapt!,” D’Wayne hissed at his cheating boyfriend, “The more I think about it, I realize that I’m being slut-shamed because you’re insecure! What type of straight man do you know would be out here fuckin’ his baby momma in the day and suckin’ dick at night?”
“OPEN UP THIS MOTHERFUCKING DOOR BEFORE I KICK THIS HO IN!” Jeremy pounded against the bathroom door with his fists. “GIVE ME MY DAMN PHONE, NIGGA. DON’T FUCKING PLAY WITH ME,” he yelled inside the living room of D’Wayne’s 500 square foot studio apartment.
Jeremy rattled the doorknob. He slapped his hands against the door.
“OPEN UP THE DOOR,” he shouted.
“I ain’t opening up shit but these text messages! What kind of idiot doesn’t put a password on his phone?”
“BITCH DON’T YOU GO THROUGH MY PHONE!” Jeremy warned. “OOOH, I CAN’T WAIT TILL YOU COME OUT THIS FUCKING BATHROOM CAUSE I’M GONE STICK YO DUMBASS IN THE JAW.”
“Fuck you and ya’ mammy, Jeremy. Fuck you and them baby neck braids. Fuck that seaweed dick. Fuck ya feelings—got me saved in ya damn phone as Pizza Hut. Girl, bye. ”
Just a few minutes ago, D’Wayne snatched Jeremy’s phone and ran into the bathroom with it. D’Wayne sat curled inside his bathtub with the shower curtain closed as he scrolled though Jeremy’s text messages.
BOOM! Jeremy punched at the door. The door vibrated and rumbled, startling D’Wayne.
D’Wayne continued reading the text message thread between Jeremy and his baby momma. He was flabbergasted, to say the least, about what he was reading in Jeremy’s phone. Jeremy was still sleeping with his baby momma Clarissa. And, Clarissa had no idea her children’s father was cheating on her with another man.
This was the ultimate form of disrespect to D’Wayne. How could Jeremy be ignoring his text messages? It made no sense to D’Wayne considering he was paying Jeremy’s cell phone bill, reloading it will prepaid minute cards every other week.
Feeling guilty, Jeremy attempted to sweet-talk D’Wayne out of the bathroom.
“Look, I’m sorry for yelling at you. But, you just making me so angry right now with yo childish behavior,” he told D’Wayne. “Just give me my phone, man. I’ll leave your place and not come back, since that’s obviously what you want.”
“What I want is the truth: I asked you where you disappeared to four days ago. You said at your grandmother’s house. The lie detector test determined that was a lie.”
“I ain’t lying to you!”
“Yes you are lying, nigga! I’m reading the text messages right now Jeremy! It’s right here in my face! You was just fucking her last night! Don’t be bringing that dirty ass dick to me thinking I’m gone catch some shit from you and her! You can burn that bitch up cause she stupid enough to believe your lies, but I’m not the one!”
Jeremy responded to the D’Wayne’s diatribe by calling him homophobic slurs like sissy, faggot, and bitch ass nigga.
BOOM! BOOM! CRACK! Jeremy viciously punched at the door twice. On the third strike, the impact of his punch pierced a hole in the door. D’Wayne could see part of Jeremy’s throat and lips through the newly formed hole. Jeremy attempted to get his hand through the hole and unlock the door from the inside. But, before his left hand could slip through, D’Wayne slapped Jeremy’s knuckles using a bottle of air freshener.
“Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater. Silly rabbit, those tricks ain’t gone work on me,” D’Wayne berated.
“When I get in there,” Jeremy formed his threat as he massaged the darting pain from his damaged hand, “I’m gone kill you!”
“I rebuke thee, Satan! Get the fuck out my house!”
Jeremy attempted to reach through the door again. D’Wayne slammed the air freshener bottle against his boyfriend’s ashy brown palms, but Jeremy didn’t flinch. He endured the pain from the strike of the aluminum can and continued to reach for the doorknob.
D’Wayne would never win a fistfight against Jeremy, who was in a higher ranking weight-class than D’Wayne. Had D’Wayne lost his mind testing a man of Jeremy’s strength?
In Jeremy’s mind, once he could get inside the bathroom, he would wrestle D’Wayne to the floor by football tackling him, then pry the phone from his hands.
“Get out of my house before I call 9-1-1!”
Jeremy groaned as he maneuvered his hand through the hole in the door.
“I bet you enjoyed fucking her, didn’t you? It must have made you feel real manly to get in some real pussy, didn’t it? And I’m talking about getting inside me. This is the realest feeling you’ve ever experienced. You want it again?”
Jeremy ignored D’Wayne’s taunts and focused on getting inside the bathroom. His anger had now led him into a dark corner. “I’m gone make DAMN sure you never do this to me again.”
“I should text this bitch Clarissa right now and let her know you fucking me, her, and Michael!”
“Who the fuck is Michael?” Jeremy knew who Michael was, but he pretended he didn’t. Jeremy’s strategy to feign ignorance towards D’Wayne’s accusations failed, of course.
D’Wayne, who deeply loved a man he had only known a few weeks, didn’t want to share his boyfriend, at least not with another man. Maybe he could endure his boyfriend’s relationship with another woman. But, the idea of sharing Jeremy with another brother frightened D’Wayne.
“Oh, now you don’t remember who Michael is? I guess every bottom and verse-bottom with a wet ass out here getting the Lake Geneva title, right? I’m ashamed to wear that crown now.”
Jeremy knew his relationship with Clarissa was a miserable one, causing him much grief and confusion. But, he wasn’t ready to let Clarissa go; especially considering the fact she had full custody of the children.
“You have two choices. You can either leave peacefully, or the police can remove you from the premises.”
“How you gonna call the police when you stole my phone from me?”
“Considering the fact you just punched a hole in the door, I’ll tell them this is a domestic dispute. And, you won’t have to worry about being in the closet anymore. The whole world will know you are a faggot.” Saying the F-word to Jeremy drained D’Wayne of his dignity, but it was the lowest, most foul thing he could say back to Jeremy.
“You wouldn’t dare do no shit like that.”
“Try me. My name is D’Wayne Markeith Franklin, and I’ll put all your business in these streets if you don’t leave immediately.”
Jeremy removed his arm from the hole in the door. “Mane, give me my damn phone, dog! That’s all I’m asking for!”
“This is MY phone! I pay the bill on it! I said leave, now scat!”
Jeremy felt he had no choice but to follow D’Wayne’s orders. If he stayed, the police would be called. The officers would see the hole in the wall, notice D’Wayne shaking and locked inside the bathroom, and realize that this was, indeed, a domestic dispute between two men involved in a violent romance.
If Jeremy left, there’s no telling what ridiculous shit D’Wayne might do from his cellphone. What if he text Clarissa outing him? What if he deleted his Slapt! application from his phone? What if he called the service provider and requested the phone line be disconnected?
“Oh, you still here? You got thirty seconds to get out my house. You ain’t got nothing but some Nike flip-flops and a drawstring backpack. It shouldn’t take you but a split second to grab it and go.”
“Mane, can I at least get my phone bruh? I’m not leaving without my phone.”
“I SAID GO,” D’Wayne demanded from the other side of the door.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! D’Wayne slammed the brass lion-sculpted doorknocker against his father’s door. He stood on the front porch of a battered mobile home in Orange Mound. D’Wayne was nervous. He hadn’t spoken to his father in over a year. It wasn’t because D’Wayne hadn’t been reaching out to his father. He called him quite often actually. But, his father never answered and rarely, if ever, returned D’Wayne’s calls.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! D’Wayne attempted to contact his father once again. After a few minutes of waiting, D’Wayne noticed someone inside the home peering through the peephole.
“Daddy, is that you? It’s D’Wayne. I’m just stopping by to say hello.”
The person on the other side of the door did not respond.
“I know it’s you. You don’t have to hide from me. You not gonna catch a gay disease from me.”
The person on the other side of the door stopped peering through the hole.
“For real? Really? I drive all the way out here from Whitehaven and you can’t speak to your own son?”
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
“I just need to talk to you for ten minutes. All I need is ten minutes to talk to you and get some advice.”
The door cracked open, but the elderly person on the other side, his father, did not greet D’Wayne. D’Wayne walked inside and followed his father into the living room. The living room’s walls were decorated with pictures of D’Wayne’s five other siblings. D’Wayne was the youngest of six children and the only boy in the litter. D’Wayne’s father resented him, his only son, for being a homosexual. His father felt D’Wayne contributed to a millennial culture that aimed to feminize African American men and further destroy the Black family.
His father sat down in his country-style porch rocker and propped his ankles on a cherry wood ottoman. D’Wayne sat down on his father’s chocolate microfiber reclining sofa.
“Let’s see, Mrs. Jenkins… You say your former boyfriend took—well stole—your vibrator collection from you and tossed the whole thing in the trash, ruining the machines. And, Mr. Paul, you assert that you only took the vibrator set because you gifted it to her for her birthday, and after the breakup, you wanted the gift back. You acknowledge that you purposely took the vibrators but do not owe the plaintiff any money. Mrs. Jenkins, according to the document in front of me, you are seeking $800 in damages, which includes the cost of the sex toy collection and the emotional distress that you have accumulated due to unresolved sexual tension,” informed the African American judge on the television set.
“I’m sure those toys were too good to go to waste like that,” D’Wayne commented.
“How do you know? You know cause you use ‘em don’t ya?” D’Wayne father responded.
“I’m just watching the show dad. I didn’t come here to argue.”
“Who said I was arguing? You making that stupid comment about them toys, like you know how to use one.”
“I use them all the time actually, everyday. I used one before I came over here.”
“You better get out my house talking like that. I don’t want those demons in my house.”
“You ain’t even religious daddy! All your kids have different mothers!”
“Don’t you talk back to me. I’m still your daddy, boy.”
“Don’t start none, won’t be none,” D’Wayne murmured under his breath.
“What you say? You talking shit? Speak up so I can hear it.”
“I ain’t say nothing, Daddy. I ain’t say nothing. I’m just trying to watch the show. Let’s just watch the show together and make the best of our time.”
“So, the plaintiff says that you decided to snatch the vibrator from this woman as she was in the process of using it? Is this true Mr. Paul,” the judge asked the defendant.
“It’s partially true, your honor. I did remove the vibrator from her vaginal cavity, but that was after she finished her orgasm. She was done using it.”
“Actually I was still using it, your honor! I’m able to orgasm multiple times in one session. I hadn’t even reached the point of climax yet, and he was tugging at the instrument before I could get there.”
“That’s peculiar… Don’t you think? Your legs were quivering, and you had been lying there for like five minutes. In my opinion, you were done!”
“That’s a lie your honor! I was not done! He’s usually done after one round. He’s jealous of me AND the toys!”
“So, what you showing up at my house for? You must need some money?” D’Wayne father asked.
“Actually, I do. I was wondering if I could have $100. It would help me a lot. I could fill my tank up and have some groceries for the next two weeks.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
“Isn’t there something you should say?”
“I don’t know what else to say. You said you’d see what you could do. I’ll just be patient and wait on you to that Daddy.”
“Thank you is what you’re supposed to say.”
“But you haven’t done anything for me.”
“I’m giving you these $100 you asking for. So, I expect a thank you.”
“Soooooo,” D’Wayne rolled his eyes and twirled both his index fingers 360 degrees, “You know what you can do?” He hunched forward slightly, extending his neck towards his father, and perching his lips at him.
“See now you ain’t getting shit. Cause of that smart-ass mouth. You argue like a lil’ ol’ bitch. That’s ya problem. It’s a damn shame my only son needs to act like a woman when he tries to stand up for himself.”
“Why are you always trying to push me to be something I’m not?” D’Wayne placed both his hands atop his head, sliding his nude-polished nails through his small, fire truck red afro. “I came over here to spend some time with you! You never answer my phone calls! You never call me back!”
“I want my son to be a man, not a girl! That’s what I want,” D’Wayne’s father snarled. He rocked back and forth in his chair; his straw-hat and sweat-soaked suspenders reminded D’Wayne of Woody from Toy Story. His father continued, “I didn’t raise six daughters! Your lifestyle is against human nature. It ain’t right. Y’all destroying the population with that sick form of behavior y’all call sex. Two men can’t repopulate the Earth, and two women can’t either! God ain’t make Adam and Steve! He made Adam and—”
“He made D’Wayne and Jeremy,” D’Wayne interrupted. “I have a boyfriend Daddy, and I need your advice on how to deal with him. He says he’s straight. I know that’s not true. If you’re a straight man, then you can tell me how to deal with him. You supposedly know EVERYTHING. So you must know how straight men think. A man should know a man, right?,” D’Wayne provoked.
His father’s lip raised in disgust.
“You nasty some bitch. You think I’ll give you advice so you can commit an abomination against God? Boy I ain’t raise you like that. Leviticus 20:13.”
“We have dirty, dick-sucking dog sex. You know he’s the first man I let cum inside of me? I like to call him Daddy,” D’Wayne put his hand on his knees, spread his legs, and body rolled on the couch. His feet were wrapped in a sand suede lace-designed sandal. “One time he said he wanted to stop dealing with me. He felt bad he was having an affair on his girlfriend.”
“You trying to get under my skin I see. The spawn of a demon—a fuckin’ sodomite—in my damn house.”
“I did exactly what my mama did to you to make you stay. I fucked him so good he didn’t want to go back to his girlfriend.”
D’Wayne’s father tried to ignore his son’s vulgar story telling. “You need to read Leviticus 18:22. Scripture says right there that if you participate in some vile shit like that, you going straight to Hell.”
“I did a split on his dick. I literally was in a split. Bouncing on his dick.” D’Wayne slid onto the floor, belly-first. He lay facedown, with his hands pointed forward, and spread his legs outward until his body formed a “T” shape. He then gyrated each of his ass cheeks in his low-rise khaki cargo shorts.
“Get off my damn floor with this foolishness!”
“I be like this,” D’Wayne stuck his tongue out and bounced each butt cheek one at a time.
“They used to murder people like you back then. You know that right? You would get the death penalty for the shit you doing right now. Off with your head.”
D’Wayne stood up and stripper-kicked the tension from his legs.
“Well, we don’t live in the olden days anymore. They made it legal for me to get married.”
“That’s how you know we living in our last days…”
“No, you’re living in your last days! You fornicated your whole life! You’ve live for 58 years, and for 58 of those years you’ve been nothing but a pain in the ass to everybody whose had to take care of you: me, Cameko, Jasmine, Kiara, Princess, and Selena!”
“I took care of y’all! Ain’t my fault y’all’s mommas wanted me to themselves! I’m just one man. I can’t please everybody. You still had clothes to wear. I paid for that car you driving in. Sometimes I tell myself that taking care of a girly-man like you is asinine and stupid! But I still do for you!”
“Okay, but you drink you drink like a fish! That’s a sin. You smoke weed! That’s a sin. You hit women! That’s a sin. You hit my momma! That’s a sin. So, if I’m a sinner, you’re a sinner!”
“See, your momma was a trick who ain’t know her place. She was just a ho with loose morals and loose pussy. That’s why her ass dead now, cause she was like you. Out here catching diseases, handing out death sentences,” he disparaged as he rocked back and forth in his chair.
“You ain’t finna sit here and slander my mama like that!” D’Wayne defended.
“The bitch died of AIDS! The disease that God designed to take out hellish mongrels like you and your kind!”
HIV infected D’Wayne’s mother when D’Wayne was in elementary school. She didn’t know she had been infected until the virus developed into AIDS. D’Wayne could still remember the ugly sight of her frail, skeleton-thin body connected to a life support system.
Because she never treated the disease with proper medication, she succumbed to what is known as an OI, or opportunistic infection. An opportunistic infection can be most simply described, as an infection that takes the opportunity to attack the immune system when it’s at is weakest.
D’Wayne remembered vividly how Dr. Juanita Wilcox educated him as to why his mother’s death was immanent.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Franklin, a OI has infiltrated Ms. Franklin’s body,” Dr. Wilcox explained.
“What’s a O-I?” An 18-year old D’Wayne asked.
“OI is an acronym for ‘opportunistic infection.” See, what HIV does is attack what are known as CD4 cells. We sometimes refer to them as T-cells. They’re a subtype of what you might know to be ‘white blood cells.’ Your mother has a T-cell count of less than 200.”
D’Wayne pulled the brim of his fitted cap over his eyes. His crystal clear tears sparkled from the refracted beams generated by the bright lights illuminating Baptist East Hospital.
“Can you save her? Can’t you just give her some medicine and make her better? Kill the virus?”
“No, we can’t destroy the virus. We can suppress it; hinder it from reproducing and infecting her body—,” Juanita paused. She babbled to indicate her words needed to be edited. “Bleh-leh-leh-leh-leh. I need to correct my grammar. We could have suppressed it…”
D’Wayne’s felt as though his body was paralyzed. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t breathe.
“Is my mama gone die, Dr. Wilcox? Just tell me if my mama—” D’wayne took a deep breath to calm himself down. He fought back a fistful of tears.
“I’m sorry,” Dr. Wilcox then moved her shoulder length hair behind her ear. “I don’t mean to get your hopes up, but we could have done that had your mother gotten tested for HIV before her T-cell count dropped this low.”
“JUST TELL ME IF MY MAMA GONE DIE! YES OR NO,” he shouted. D’Wayne’s face wrinkled into a prune as he tried to hold in his emotions.
Juanita tried to remain professional. She felt D’Wayne’s pain and tried to empathize with it. Juanita hated seeing another woman suffering. She hated being the bearer of bad news. But, she had to do her job. She was required to let this young man know that this mother’s immune system had crumbled… And death loomed.
As a Vanderbilt Medical School-trained obstetrician and gynecologist, Juanita prided herself on building a medical career focused on care and education for populations affected by HIV and Black women’s health more generally.
Juanita hated that so many Black heterosexuals believed the myth that only homosexuals could contract HIV. She seethed at the fact that HIV- and AIDS-related illnesses were the leading cause of death for Black women. And, as a Black transwoman from the College Hill area of St. Louis, she loathed the fact that Black transwomen were most likely to test positive compared to women of other races.
Juanita stared at D’Wayne’s baggy jeans and 3X white tee. She collected her mental strength and continued educating him on the complexities of the crisis.
“Your mother was a narcotics user. The drugs she routinely injected in her system slowly ate away at her vitality. Since your mother’s T-cell count is this low, she’s no longer fighting against HIV. She’s fighting against AIDS.”
D’Wayne’s breathing stopped from this soul-shattering information.
“At this time, Mr. Franklin, your mother is up against a malicious pathogen known as ‘aspergillus’. Aspergillus is an opportunistic infection that settles itself in the lungs and grows into a deadly fungus. Right now, that lethal fungus has mutated into a tumor,” Juanita finished.
D’Wayne’s mother died three days later. The porous, fungus-filled tumor exploded inside her lungs and ripped apart her lung tissue.
“I’ll tell you one thang I’m proud of! I’m proud ya mammy never gave you my last name!” D’wayne’s father stood up from his rocking chair and stood over D’Wayne. He looked D’Wayne directly in his eyes. D’Wayne’s father articulated each of his words as though his tongue were forked, “You could never live up to my last name. You would ruin everything I am, everything I’ve contributed to this world. I reckon you get on up outta’ my house before I get my shotgun and snipe you like a pidgeon.”
“You disgust me,” D’Wayne replied. He stared his fathered in the eyes and clenched his fists in preparation for war.
D’wayne’s father continued insulting D’Wayne’s mother, his only vice. “Beat myself over the head sometimes cause I just can’t believe I slept with a two-dollar tramp and bred a pathetic little bitch like you.”
What can you do when a dysfunctional relationship is tearing apart you and your parents? Some families talk things out in order to understand each other’s point of view. These families seek to understand how individualized life experiences can shape one’s perceptions of the world. Other families say, “Fuck that talking and yip-yapping.” They throw blows and get to jackin’.
D’Wayne invoked the spirit of Pumkin from Flavor of Love and spit a wad of saliva in his father’s face, leaving a trail of slimy mucus trailing from the left eyebrow to the left nostril.
D’Wayne’s father grabbed him by the throat and head-butted him, sending D’Wayne stumbling backwards onto the couch. His father lunged towards him with the speed of a starving cheetah, landing a left hook and a right hook to D’Wayne’s face. The sounds of his father’s punches against his face sounded like short flashes of thunderclaps.
His father revved up a third punch, this time to D’Wayne’s stomach.
D’Wayne kicked his feet at rapid speed, hitting his father in random areas: the chest, stomach, and shin. His father braced himself against the blunt blows of D’Wayne’s Payless sandals striking his body.
D’Wayne’s left leg was caught in his father’s grip. His father drug him off the couch like a rag doll and slung him in a 90-degree angle across the living room of the dilapidated double-wide trailer. The strap on D’Wayne’s laced sandal broke. The shoe flew across the room in the opposite direction of D’Wayne’s body.
THUMP! D’Wayne landed on a pile of his father’s dirty clothes, softening the impact of his father’s throw. His father stomped at his head. He rolled over on the floor with his hands covering his face to avoid the attack. He landed on top of five empty beer bottles.
From his periphery, he could see his father still trying to attack him. He rolled over once more, barely missing a rib-shattering kick from his father’s steel-toe boots.
He picked up an empty beer bottle and launched it at his father’s head. His father ducked the throw, distracting him long enough for D’Wayne to regain his balance.
After picking himself up from the floor, D’Wayne crouched his knees and placed his hands in front of his face as though he were in a street fight. D’Wayne’s father, who taught him the art of street fighting by way of childrearing, mimicked his son’s fighting stance.
They both stared each other in the eyes. Each waited for the other’s opponent to strike first.
D’Wayne extended his right foot forward, as to scope out his father’s reflexes. His father instinctively dashed backward, his arms still covering his face.
They both stared each other in the eyes. Each waited like a cool and calculated cobra, preparing for the opponent to strike first, miss, and be dealt a finishing blow.
SWISH! D’Wayne swiftly swung towards his father.
“WHAT’S UP HO?” D’Wayne taunted.
His father titled his head backward, avoiding the punch, and returned with a quick left jab to D’Wayne’s nose.
They both stared each other in the eyes. Each waited like an expert-trained assassin, waiting to viciously snap the neck of their opponent. Blood dripped like faucet water from D’Wayne’s nose, which was shattered from his father’s previous attack.
D’Wayne threw another punch.
“WHAT’S UP HO? WHAT’S UP?” He missed.
His father returned the missed punch with two right jabs and left hook to D’Wayne’s already-damaged stomach.
D’Wayne swung with his right hand, connecting a solid punch to his father’s left jaw. He swung with his left hand, connecting a solid punch to his father’s right jaw. But that wasn’t enough to stop his father, who seemed unharmed by D’Wayne’s punches.
“You hit like a bitch!” his father taunted as he stepped in a puddle of D’Wayne’s nose blood. His father then unleashed another round of punches on D’wayne’s forehead. D’Wayne returned with a flurry of his own punches.
For 15 seconds, it appeared the fight was at a stand still. Both men brawled like boxers as they took their anger out on one another.
At the 16th second, both men locked arms with each other.
D’Wayne got behind his father and put him in a headlock, stepping on a beer bottle and crushing it in half.
His father hammered at D’Wayne’s face with his fists, trying to break D’Wayne’s wrestling hold.
D’Wayne kept his grip tight, enduring the heavy blows from his father’s heavy fists.
D’Wayne kicked the back of both his father’s knees, dropping both of them to the ground; his father still trapped in D’Wayne’s tight chokehold.
D’Wayne released the chokehold when his father’s breathing almost slowed to a stop. While lying on his father’s back, D’Wayne reached for his missing sandal. Once the sandal was in his clutches, he began to strike the back of his father’s head with it. The hard padding on the bottom of the sandal inflicted great injury onto D’Wayne’s father.
D’Wayne stood up and continued hitting his father with the buy-one-get-one shoe. Because D’Wayne hit his father so hard, the plastic daisy with white rose petals detached itself from the shoe.
When his father would try to pick himself up off the floor, D’Wayne would hit him again and yell, “I said ‘Stay down ho!’”
“This is for me!” D’Wayne kicked his father in the stomach with his barefoot.
“And this is for Ebony!” D’Wayne kicked his father in the stomach again, “Ebony Franklin!”
D’Wayne whooped his daddy’s ass like he stole something. Actually, D’Wayne stole something. He stole $300 from his father’s faux leather trifold wallet and left him a note saying, “You didn’t even pinch me! Call me when you heal, mind, BODY, and soul. Love always, Your Son.”
Of course D’Wayne knew where Clarissa lived. He was a professional investigator when it came to finding out information on his man. He searched for Clarissa on Facebook, and judging from her photos, he figured out she lived in Buenos Dias Apartments. He drove all the way to Frayser and text her from Jeremy’s phone, asking her to meet him at the mailboxes in the front of the complex. D’Wayne left Jeremy’s phone on a bench near the mailboxes and drove home before Clarissa could make it to the front of the complex.
When Clarissa arrived at the mailboxes, she didn’t see Jeremy. Concerned of his whereabouts, she text his phone and soon heard its text message ringtone. She picked-up the phone from the bench and looked through the Jeremy’s text messages.
Her mouth dropped when she viewed the text exchanges between her baby’s father and his sidechick, Pizza Hut.
“Birds born in cages think that flying is a disease.”
- Alejandro Jodorowsky
“That’s my co-worker, mane. She and I ain’t messing off like that,” Jeremy explained to Clarissa. It had been two days since D’Wayne had taken Jeremy’s phone from him. He couldn’t believe D’Wayne would give it to Clarissa…
To be so reckless as to leave his iPhone on a bench in Buenos Dias Apartments!
“Why is she texting you, calling you ‘bae’?” Clarissa quizzed. She stood in front of Jeremy with her arms folded. Her baby blue scrubs had been dirtied from a long days work bathing and dressing elderly patients.
“She wasn’t calling me ‘bae,’” Jeremy lied.
“Nigga, stop lying. Pizza Hut was calling you ‘bae.’ Let me see your phone.”
“For what, ‘Rissa? I’m telling you the truth, keeping it one thousand.”
“No you not being honest. I saw it with my very own eyes! And now you don’t want to admit that I saw what I saw.”
“Yo eyes just playing tricks on you. You ain’t see nothing like that between me and my homegirl, mane.”
“If she yo homegirl, then, why you got her saved under the name ‘Pizza Hut?’” she asked. When he didn’t respond, she slapped him against his right temple with the tips of her fingers. His head jerked from Clarissa’s slap, but he continued playing his video game. “I know you hear me talking to you!”
Jeremy and Clarissa’s twins Tyrus and Tytus sat on the floor in Clarissa’s dining room, playing with action figures. Both twins were dressed in matching lime green, Ralph Lauren polo shirts and relaxed khaki pants. The twins, at only four-years old, had grown used to their parents arguing. They also grew accustomed to living in clutter.
Clarissa’s apartment was filled with cheap furniture from a super dollar store. Newspaper lined the carpet in her hallway. Dog feces from her black-haired Maltese trailed from the beginning of the paper trail up to the middle of the hallway. A mountain of greasy and unwashed dishes towered the steel-faucet attached to her kitchen sink. A granola-colored ring hardened and crested inside her toilet.
“Look, I’ll tell her to stop texting me!” Jeremy said as he mashed on the buttons of his videogame controller.
“What’s the bitch name?” Clarissa asked.
“Why? So you can come up to my job and act a fool on her?”
“Nope. I want to know the bitch name because she needs to be paying something on this rent,” Clarissa schemed. After five years with Jeremy, she grew tired of taking care of a grown ass man. It was time for him to take care of her.
“You need to text her and make her pay Memphis Light, Gas, and Water. This month’s bill was $148.65. If Pizza Hut gone be a part of this family, then she need to be paying these bills.” Clarissa had been watching Love & Hip Hop New York. She remembered the sermons Cardi B preached about how women can financially benefit from dysfunctional romantic relationships. “She need to run me my money, or you can go ahead and move-in with her ‘cause you ain’t gone see your kids again.”
Jeremy paused his videogame and looked Clarissa in her eyes. A tiny, black roach quickly crawled across her foot.
“Why you gotta bring the kids into this ‘Rissa? The kids ain’t got nothing to do with this. I told you I’ll handle this tomorrow,” Jeremy tried to rationalize.
“Jeremy I’m tired! I’m tired of waiting on you to change, to stop lying to me all the time—to stop disappearing every week! I’m mother-fuckin’ TIDE, JEREMY!”
“You want me to say I’m sor—”
“I WANT $150 IN MY HAND BY THE END OF THE MONTH! YOU AIN’T GONE STOP FUCKING CHEATING ON ME! YOU DON’T LOVE ME! ALL YOU LOVE IS THE FUCKING KIDS! SO IF YOU WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH YOUR KIDS, THEN I NEED $150 IN MY MOTHER-FUCKIN’ HAND BY JULY 31,” Clarissa belted from the bottom of her lungs. It appeared to Jeremy, for a split-second, that Clarissa was demonically possessed.
“Okay,” Jeremy said.
“You need to be around more anyway! I bet you don’t know what Tyrus got in trouble for last Monday.”
“It’s probably something petty or stupid. Both of the kids in Head Start. What he do? Cuss? Pee on himself?” Jeremy questioned.
“See, this is why you need to be at home. You would know because I already had to beat his ass for this shit. The school said they called you, but obviously you was with PIZZA HUT because you couldn’t answer your phone,” Clarissa said.
“You just trying to make a point right now I see. This ain’t got nothing to do with Tyrus behavior. I ain’t finna get into an argument after you just tried to launder $150 from me… Whatever, mane… Gone with these psycho-mind games, bruh,” Jeremy retorted. He un-paused his videogame.
“Tyrus tried to kiss another boy,” Clarissa revealed.
Jeremy paused his videogame once again.
“He what?!” Jeremy asked in horror.
“The school called me and said that he was trying to kiss another little boy during recess! One of the administrators caught them hunching and kissing on each other behind the school. They said Tyrus was the aggressor, and when I tell you I beat the living daylights out of him! I tore that ass up! I ain’t raising him like that.”
“Mane, where he learning that stuff from? You sure he started it? I feel like the school lying on my son, mane. I bet that other little faggot ass nigga trying to turn my son out!” Jeremy shouted.
“I don’t know where he got that from! Lord I hope ain’t nobody been touching my damn kids at that school. I would kill somebody,” Clarissa said with tears in her eyes.
Jeremy, who was bisexual by nature, felt guilty for his son Tyrus being born homosexual. When Jeremy was four years old, he had kissed a boy and a girl on the lips the first day his mother let him play alone outside. An adult had not touched Jeremy when he was a child. He simply had an urge to recreate the experiences he saw on his mother’s soap opera shows. He wanted to experience that moment with both a boy and a girl. But, at age twenty-nine, Jeremy carried a soul-shattering amount of guilt: he was not only kissing a boy and a girl; he was having unprotected sex with both of them, too.
Outside of the HIV Health Warriors building stood a wide, fifteen-foot tall statue carved in marble. A Black man, with shoulder-length dreads, a wide nose, and a chiseled jaw-line, stood mighty. His long sword raised above his head and brass bracelets wrapped around his large biceps. His threatening stance made more distinguished by his bare feet and bulky shield. A textured garment wrapped around his waist and fell just below his knees.
The statue’s companion was a slender-bodied Black man with a baldhead. On his back, he carried a large bow and a satchel filled with six arrows. He stood bare foot, en pointe. His hand outstretched as if he was reaching out to grab you and pull you towards him. He appeared weightless in comparison to his marble, sword-wielding counterpart.
Both statues stood back-to-back, holding the other’s left hand.
D’Wayne sashayed on the cobblestone sidewalk and studied the manicured lawn on his way towards the entrance. He arrived just in time for his testing appointment.
“Welcome to the HIV Health Warriors Clinic! How can I help you?” asked Phillip, the clinic’s purple-haired desk attendant.
“I have an appoint for an HIV-test.”
“Okay. Great!” Phillip then pulled out his clipboard. “What’s your last name?”
Phillip peered up and down the first page of his clipboard. He turned to the next page, “Okay, here you are. D’Wayne Franklin, correct?”
“Mmhmm. That’s me.”
“It says here on my sheet that your health insurance pays for a full STD and STI test. Do you want us to draw a blood sample, or do you only want to test for HIV?”
“I’m only going to test for HIV today.”
“Okay. Well, anyway, you’re just in time. Your tester for today—Oop! Your test WAS going to be administered by Jamal Stronger… But, he’s out to lunch with another staff member, Marcus… So… We’re going to assign you to… Hold on just one second…”
Phillip turned towards his computer and began looking at the clinic’s staff’s calendars. He scratched the shaved side of his head with his index finger, “Okay, okay. We’re going to assign you to Robert Clayton. He’s really good,” he said with a smile to D’Wayne.
“I’m going to send him a page to let him know that he’s going to be testing you. You can just sit down in our waiting room. We have coffee, tea, and some pretzels and cookies on the table next to the magazine rack. Help yourself while you wait,” Phillip said behind his large nerd glasses.
D’Wayne took a seat next to a dark-skinned man who appeared to be in his early twenties. His afro-styled hair was tapered on the side and in the back. He wore a long white tee, black running shorts that stopped below his butt cheeks, and ankle-length biker boots. He sat with one leg crossed over the other leg’s knee. His nose sunk deep into a gay romance novel.
D’Wayne stared at the boy’s septum-ring. He admired it. He imagined himself with one but quickly edited the idea.
Jeremy would never like that. It’s too gay. he thought to himself.
The boy noticed D’Wayne staring at him.
“You must be nervous?” he asked D’Wayne.
“Nervous? Why would I be nervous?”
“Why do people get nervous when they go to the clinic?”
“That was a rhetorical question, sir. I’m not nervous at all is what I’m saying.”
“I was answering a rhetorical question with a rhetorical question. Clearly you didn’t catch that. My bad.”
“I don’t catch anything baby. You asked a question, and I answered it. Simple as that. Now you saying you wasn’t asking a question.”
“I wasn’t because, like I said, it was rhetorica—”
“I know what rhetorical means!”
“Then you should’ve caught it the first time,” the boy countered.
“You about to catch these hands in this clinic, and by the look of your lanky frame, you in this clinic cause you catch a lot of shit,” D’Wayne wittily shaded.
“We both here, so what does that say about us?”
“You know, I was just about to say that I really like this whole look you got going on. It’s really giving me Goodwill Zanotti, with the beauty supply store white tee and all.”
“Tuh! Ya mammy wear Goodwill! Bitch you sitting down and your stomach hanging over in your lap! Fu—”
“Uh-uh! Not up in here! Y’all can take that outside, 25 feet across the property. We don’t do that in the clinic. This is a place of empowerment,” Phillip reprimanded.
“—Fuck you!” the boy finished, but this time, he directed the swear towards Phillip.
An androgynous human being walked into the waiting room. This being’s presence was intense and felt incredibly charismatic and passionate. This person wore long boxed-braids tied into a large bun with a multi-colored scarf around their head. Their outfit consisted of an elegant blouse, an elegant blazer, and black peep-toe kitten heels that accentuated their denim skinny jeans. They stood 6 feet 2 inches tall. The nametag “Auria” pinned on their left breast.
“Hey! You! Miss thang in the white! Both you and your girlfriend are going to act like civilized adults, or y’all going to be escorted off the premises in handcuffs! We don’t tolerate that sort of ratchet behavior in this establishment! Leave the hoodrat behavior in the streets! And if you think I’m playing, try me! We’ll immediately have y’all childish asses hauled off in police car, ready to be shipped off to 2-0-1 Poplar. It ain’t nothing but a phone call,” Auria fumed, reaching their boiling point.
D’Wayne moved and sat two seats away from the boy in the white tee.
“Let me know if you have any more problems, Phillip,” Auria said, “My office is right around the corner. I want somebody to jump bad. I’m ready to call the police and press charges,” they finished and walked to their office.
A baldheaded man with glowing yellow-skin arrived in the waiting room. He announced himself as Robert Clayton, the clinic’s therapist.
“D’Wayne M. Franklin,” Robert called.
“I’m right here!” D’Wayne gently waved at Robert to identify himself.
“Come on back here to my office. We’re going to test you in private.”
Robert shook D’Wayne’s hand with a tight, affirming grip.
In Robert’s office, D’Wayne sat on a comfortable sofa while Robert sat on a stool. Robert administered a saliva-based HIV-test to D’Wayne. He swabbed D’Wayne’s mouth to collect a sample of his saliva.
While they waited on the test results, Robert interviewed D’Wayne about his personal sex practices and sexual history.
“We’ll start with some simple questions first. How old are you?”
“28,” D’Wayne answered.
“And, what is your living arrangement like at home? Do you have a roommate?”
“I stay by myself.”
“How would you describe your relationship status?”
“Like Facebook: it’s complicated!” D’Wayne laughed with Robert. “But, for real, I’m single. Well—yeah—single.”
“Are you a current or past drug user?” Robert asked.
“No, but I do smoke weed.”
“Is anyone in your family a current or past drug user?”
“My mother is. She was a heroin addict.”
“How many sexual partners have you had in the past three months?”
“And how many times did you use a condom in those encounters?”
“I’ve only had sex with one of those people unprotected.”
“Were you the top, or the bottom? Or versatile? Or was this with a woman?”
“The bottom. It was with another man.”
“Is this particular man, a man that has sex with other men? We often refer to his this population as ‘MSM.’”
“I’m the only man he’s with. I don’t know if he has sex with any other men.”
“Is he with any other people that you know of?”
“Yes. He is with a woman.”
“Okay, and is she aware that there’s a three-way relationship going on between the two of you?”
“No, she’s not aware. Not to my knowledge. He hasn’t told her, I don’t think.”
D’Wayne’s repeatedly bounced his leg to deal with the nervousness.
“You said you’re single, but I have to ask this question because of the bruise under your eye. Has anyone been hitting you? Like a partner-dispute-type-of-situation?” Robert asked.
“No, no. Nothing domestic. I got into a fight with someone a few days ago, but it wasn’t a boyfriend or anything.”
“Okay, well I just want you to know that we do offer domestic abuse services to people who are experiencing—”
“I’m not being abused. I got into a verbal altercation with a family member, and things got a little out of hand,” D’Wayne interrupted.
“Okay,” Robert affirmed. “On a scale of 1 to 10, what would you rate your knowledge about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases? 1 meaning ‘no knowledge at all’ and 10 meaning ‘very knowledgeable.’”
“I would say I’m a 5.”
“And, if you were to test positive for HIV right now? What would you think? How would you feel? What would you do?” Robert questioned.
D’Wayne thought about the first time he met Jeremy, how he sucked his dick in a coffee shop bathroom. He swallowed every drop of Jeremy’s dish detergent-flavored semen. He thought about their next encounter, which happened a couple days later. He let Jeremy hit raw and impregnate him.
“Well, as far as what I would think, I would think that I’m dirty. I would think my whole life has changed and that people will look at me different. I would be happy that I found out this soon, so I could get treatment. I mean—I—I—I would feel devastated. But, I would also know that I have to accept the consequences of my actions, that I did something risky and something bad happened. And, as far as what I would do? I know who I would have gotten it from. There’s only one man that I’ve ever had unprotected sex with, and I did it because I love him. I would want to kill him for betraying me, for destroying my life. My mother died of HIV,” D’Wayne’s self-assured demeanor crumbled into an anxiety-provoked one. His leg bounced even faster, “And I would hate to die the same way she did.”
Robert jotted notes on his clipboard. He picked up D’Wayne’s swab-test from the testing holster and reviewed the results. He jotted down more notes on his clipboard. D’Wayne’s foot shook so rapidly that is caused the water bottle to fall off Robert’s desk.
“Well, your test results show that you’re negative, Mr. Franklin. I don’t want to say congratulations to you, because that would reinforce a problematic stigma. I will just say that I’m happy we don’t have to worry about you killing anyone,” Robert said with a cool smile. His straight white teeth tucked beneath a set of luscious pink lips.
“WOO! THANK GOD!” D’Wayne shouted. One hand clutched his chest and the other waved in the air like a kite, “Woo! Thank you Jee-sus! Thank’sha Jesus! Hallejuah! Glory be to the Almighty!” D’Wayne praised.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! A dark-skinned man with a matte ebony complexion opened Robert’s office door. The moisturized waves in his hair glittered beneath the light beaming from the office ceiling. He leaned against the door’s frame with his arms folded. His deep baritone carried across the room.
“You better shout louder than that. God can’t hear you,” the man at the door teased to D’Wayne. It was D’Wayne’s best friend, Kenneth, a staff member working in the finance department of the clinic. “I want to hear you speak in tongues.”
“Me ho I need a donut cinema show! Keke, peepee, and Ree Ree Franklin! Praise the Lord! She-she boom boom, ah, ah! Zoom! Zoom!” D’Wayne yelled random words to satirize African American Christians who catch the Holy Spirit and speak in an ancient, un-translated tongue.
“Do you two know each other?” Robert asked Kenneth.
“Yeah, we’ve known each other since we were in our teens, man. He’s my bestfriend,” Kenneth informed.
“You need to apologize for busting up in here! This is supposed to be a private session. I ain’t want you knowing my results.”
“Why wait for you to tell me later when I could find out now? I wanted to be here in case you found out you were positive,” Kenneth replied.
“He’s right, Kenneth. This is a private session. You shouldn’t be in here,” Robert reprimanded.
“I’m—I’m sorry,” Kenneth nervously apologized. Kenneth held an extreme attraction for Robert. “I didn’t mean to—I just—See it’s my bestfriend, and I—”
“I’m not mad at all. I completely understand. Your bestfriend is getting tested, and you wanted him to know he wasn’t alone. I get it.”
“Right… I see…” Kenneth said.
“But, we do need to finish-up here. I have a few more things to follow-up with Mr. Franklin on,” Robert responded.
“Okay, well, I’ll just, um… I’ll just go… Back to my office—down the hall,” Kenneth stammered. “Bye D’Wayne.”
“Bye, boo. Toodle-oo.” D’Wayne sent Kenneth off.
“Small world isn’t it?” Robert asked D’Wayne.
“Is this rhetorical or…?”
Robert chuckled. “Well, I guess you can say that Mr. Franklin. So, how do you feel about your results?”
“I’m thankful! Thankful I’m clean! I’m so excited right now that I gotta post this to Facebook.”
“Wait, no. No, no, no. Hold on one second. I want to caution you on a few things right now. First, you’re not “clean” because this implicates men living with HIV are “dirty.” This lazy way of thinking about living with HIV reinforces social stigmas surrounding this matter. Now, I do think we should be happy you tested negative; the virus disproportionately affects our community. I want you to think about your HIV status not a symbol of cleanliness. Your status is just that: an indicator that your body carries a treatable virus. Second, I don’t think it would be wise for you to post that on Facebook. This isn’t an accomplishment—well it shouldn’t be. Protecting yourself is a universal practice, in my opinion. But, please, Mr. Franklin, consider not posting this to Facebook.”
“Well! You educated me. Okay. I won’t post it to Facebook.”
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the firs titme.”
- Maya Angelou
“YES, BITCH! Now, that cat suit is cute!” CaNesha cheered her bestfriend D’Wayne as he strutted around barefoot in a black leotard and feline mask. “Ain’t nobody gone be able to see you in that. You’ll be like Vivica Fox in Kill Bill when she wanted to have that knife fight with Uma Thurman.”
“I do look—might I say? Sickening?” D’Wayne placed his hands on back and arched it forward. He turned to the side and looked at his figure in the mirror. “This bitch won’t know what’s coming for him.”
“Why didn’t you just dress in all black, like in a jogging suit and a ski mask?”
“Cause, Bitch, you know I had to be extra. That’s me all day. I can’t be a low-down dirty dog without having some sort of flair; you know what I’m saying?”
“So what time we riding out to this nigga Michael place?” CaNesha asked as she watched her friend pose in front of the dressing room mirror.
“Around eleven. He works until ten o’ clock tonight, so I think he should be home by then.”
“And what’s the plan?”
“We gone drive-by his place wearing all black and bust the windows out of his grandmamma car. Then, we gone bust the windows in her house and throw stink bombs through the windows.”
“Ooooooh, Dee! This is scandalous! What this boy Michael do to you? He must have hurt you?” CaNesha squealed with glee, her clip-on weave ponytail flinging from side-to-side as her body jiggled. CaNesha loved participating in ratchet shit, especially when it involved destroying other people’s property.
“Girl, no! He didn’t hurt me. He fucked my man, and then bragged about it to me.”
“Bitch, no he did not. No. He. Did. Not. These nigga-hos is not out here doing it like that now; is it?”
“My thing is: if you fucked him, and I told you he’s mine, why would you keep talking about it? On top of that, I check through my nigga’s phone and see where they texting talkin’ about meeting up AGAIN.”
“And, so, what did you say to your boyfriend?”
“Oh! I confronted him after I took his phone.”
“You took his phone??? What???”
“Girl, yes. I took his phone. He ain’t have a lock code on it or nothing. His dumb ass. So, I snatched his phone while he sleeping, ran into the bathroom, and Bitch! He was beating down my door trying to get his phone back.”
“See, that’s how you know he up to some shit,” CaNesha informed.
“Right,” D’Wayne agreed, “I learned that little trick from a meme I saw on Instagram. They said that’s how you know to find out if your man’s cheating.”
“That’s also a good way to get yo ass beat, too,” CaNesha added.
“Ain’t nobody gone whoop my ass!”
“You sure? It sure looks like somebody already did cause you got that bruise under your eye. You sure he ain’t beat the door down and pop yo ass in the eye?” CaNesha said with her eyebrows raised. She was genuinely concerned as to who gave her friend a black eye.
“Girl I told you like two hours ago that I got to fighting with a dog on the way from my daddy’s house.”
“Okay, Dee. If you say so,” CaNesha replied. She hoped that D’Wayne had been telling her the truth. She knew a lot about Jeremy but had never met him. She suspected D’Wayne was in an abusive relationship and too ashamed to tell her. “Is your bougie ass friend Kenneth coming out with us tonight to do ratchet shit?”
“Nawl, we gonna leave him out this time,” D’Wayne said with no emotion.
“Good, because I can’t stand him. Sometimes he’s cool, but I just feel like he’s always trying to judge somebody, always trying to down them and downplay their accomplishments.”
“I agree that he is judgmental. I just ignore him, though. He’s a very dependable friend.”
“Are y’all really friends? Because I feel like y’all just holdin’ on to a friendship that started when y’all both came out the closet. Like, I get that he was your first gay friend—that’s sentimental and all—but I also feel like that he’s a seasonal friend. Like you outgrew him, you know what I’m sayin’?”
“I know what you’re sayin’. But, he’s really a good person deep down. We’ve been through so much together. That’s like my brother.”
“When he first went off to college at UT Chattanooga, he never reached out to you. He would never return your calls and barely called you on his own. Then, when he transferred to the University of Memphis, all of a sudden he wants to be buddy-buddy because he ain’t have nobody who liked him in Memphis,” CaNesha said, reading Kenneth for filth. “On top of that, he ain’t got no car. He still lives in the suburbs with his gorilla-looking daddy. He dick-sprung off that African boy who ain’t never gone be in a relationship with him. His whole life is just sad to me.” CaNesha then pretended to file her nails.
“I guess I could be a little bit more critical of our friendship.”
“You could be a hell-of-a-lot more critical! And when you finish breaking down the relationship, you’ll realize there ain’t much of one. He’s too vapid for to be your friend.”
“Alright, well, I’ll do my personal homework later. Let me pay for this outfit and get ready to fuck this nigga shit up.”
D’Wayne had $300 to his name, the same $300 he took from his father after he whipped his ass. He spent $50 on a cat woman outfit with matching ankle boots. He then spent $60 on a quarter of weed for him and CaNesha to indulge. He spent $40 on a carry-out meal from Olive Garden.
With exactly $150 in his pocket, D’Wayne feasted on his fettuccine alfredo pasta as though he lived a middle-class lifestyle. CaNesha sat next to him on the floor, munching on her vegetable-stuffed chicken masala as The Real Nail Technicians of Atlanta played on a tablet. After the two finished their dinner, D’Wayne rolled a fat blunt, smoked it with CaNesha, and fell asleep on his sauce-stained futon.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! D’Wayne’s phone alarm blared in his ear. It was 10:30 P.M.
D’Wayne woke CaNesha from her slumber. D’Wayne slipped into his pleather-made catwoman outfit. CaNesha changed into a black jogging suit and a ski mask. The pair hopped into D’Wayne’s raggedy sedan and sped towards Michael’s address.
Almost every light D’Wayne passed through was green.
The red lights stayed lit no more than two seconds.
At times, D’Wayne would swiftly check both ways for on-coming traffic, and speed through a red light.
He and CaNesha threw back shots of dark Tennessee whiskey to prepare for their violent adventure.
D’Wayne sped down Perkins Road at 60 miles per hour, swerving through a variety of luxury sedans and suburban-style vehicles.
The sweat from D’Wayne’s nose dripped onto his shirt. Because the air conditioning in his car was broken, he was burning up in his catwoman outfit. He sped as fast as he could towards his destination.
SCREECH! D’Wayne stopped one street before his destination and parked on the sidewalk of a nearby cul-de-sac.
D’Wayne couldn’t believe Michael was bold enough to brag about sleeping with Jeremy. He also couldn’t believe Jeremy was bold enough to send Michael dick pictures on the Slapt! app. Jeremy thinks I’m a fool. If he REALLY loved me, he wouldn’t feel he had to hide something like this from me? If he REALLY loved me, he wouldn’t feel like he had to hide someone like me from the world… he thought to himself.
Michael’s grandmother was 62-years old and worked in downtown Memphis. For 22 years, she worked in the mayor’s office as an executive secretary. She needed her car not only to get to work but also to make it to her chemotherapy appointments. D’Wayne knew these things about Michael’s grandmother and decided to strategically strike at his enemy’s Achilles heel.
D’Wayne, holding a crowbar, and CaNesha, carrying a large purse, exited the four-door Camry in true superhero fashion. The click-clacking of their boots against the street’s pavement resonated throughout the dimly-lit neighborhood.
“There’s the car!” D’Wayne whispered to CaNesha.
The pair, dressed in all-black attire, attacked Michael’s grandmother’s car as though they were blood-thirsty lions, and the car their next meal.
D’Wayne burst the windows out the car with baseball-like swings. He car broke the taillights. He broke the headlights. Using a screwdriver from CaNesha’s bag, he stabbed at the tires in the front. He stabbed at the tires in the back. All the tires popped. He broke the car’s windshield, shattering the glass so that it would fall into the front seats. He stood on top of the car and dug his initials “DMF” on top of the car using the crowbar.
CaNesha pulled a sack of sugar from her bag and poured it in the gas tank. She used mustard to spell the word “BITCH” on the hood. She used ketchup to draw a giant penis beneath it.
D’Wayne threw bricks through the house’s windows, sending loud crash sounds throughout the neighborhood. He then lit stink bombs and small fireworks and threw them inside of the house.
The adrenaline rush numbed the pair’s senses. They didn’t realize that the Michael’s grandmother’s car alarm trumpeted throughout the neighborhood. They didn’t realize their outrageous antics woke up the tenants inside the home.
“GRANDMA! GET THE GUN! SOMEBODY OUT HERE FUCKING YOUR CAR UP!” Michael shouted from his porch.
When D’Wayne heard Michael’s voice, he stopped slashing the car’s leather seats with a butcher knife. He dropped the knife in the backseat of the car and kicked his crowbar to the other side of the street.
Michael ran towards his grandmother’s car.
D’Wayne hopped over the cars hood, like he was actually Cat Woman, and ran towards Michael.
Both Michael and D’Wayne met each other with fists to the face. D’Wayne couldn’t feel Michael’s punches, however, because he drank so much dark whiskey. A super-powered drunk and a sober, angry Black man wearing Buzz Light Year pajamas tussled in the front yard of a four-bedroom, two-car garage house in East Memphis.
D’Wayne was a more skilled fighter than Michael. Michael had been in very few fights. His windmill swinging failed to protect him from D’Wayne’s assault of jaw jabs and stomach kicks.
“WASSUP HO? WASSUP HO?”
With both hands, D’Wayne grabbed the blonde patch of hair in Michael’s brown afro and pulled him towards him. Michael stumbled trying to keep his balance. D’Wayne kneed Michael in the face two times before slamming him face-first into the ground.
STOMP! STOMP! STOMP! D’Wayne stomped Michael in the middle of his back using his costume heels.
BOP! BOP! D’Wayne felt two sharp blows from a bat. He fell to his knees in pain.
“I’m gone kill you! FUCK CALLING 9-1-1! Get up Michael and help me kill these people!” Michaels’ grandmother yelled to her grandson. She stood 5 foot 4 inches, rocking a white bathrobe and salt-and-pepper fade.
BOP! She hit D’Wayne once more with her long and wooden bat.
Michael tried to pick himself up off the ground. The mysterious super villain wore him out from their fistfight. But, he still managed to muster his strength and get back on his feet.
Michael was determined to find out who was destroying his grandmother’s car. He wanted to call the police, not have them killed.
“Hold on grandma! Let’s see who this is first! Roll her over! We can’t be going to jail for killing people now,” Michael pleaded.
“Hell nawl! Look at my car! It crumbled like a cookie! How I’m gone get to work in the morning for my chemo?! Call the fucking police or I’m gone kill this woman!”
D’Wayne tried to get up from the ground. Michael’s grandmother raised her bat above her head, slamming it on D’Wayne’s shoulder blade.
“Grandma stop!” Michael shouted.
Michael’s grandmother stopped swinging the bat. She flipped D’Wayne onto his back and stood over him. She was ready to finish him off with a vicious blow to the neck.
Michael neared D’Wayne’s damaged body, and placed his hand on D’Wayne’s mask. He pulled the mask by the ears—
KSSSSSSS! KSSSSS! KSSSS! CaNesha pepper sprayed Michael and his grandmother. She sucker punched Michael in the face, knocking him backwards to the ground.
“AHHHHHH! MY EYES IS BURNIN’!” Michael’s grandmother yelled as she ran in circles through her yard.
SLAP! “Shut the fuck up, Old Lady!” CaNesha bitch slapped her to the ground.
CaNesha picked D’Wayne up and helped him to recover his strength. They ran down the street towards his car. In the darkness, D’Wayne sloppy jalopy put-putted back to Salty Tree Apartments on Millbranch road.
“I don’t regret what I just did. He just learned that if he ever do that again, he gone get popped,” D’Wayne said to CaNesha as he removed his mask from his face. His back was in pain from the beating he endured from Michael’s grandmother.
“I don’t even know who this guy is, and I just fucked up his grandmamma car! I gotta be a trill bitch to do some shit like this,” CaNesha bragged as she took puff of reggie from a fat, vanilla-flavored blunt. “Man, you was whooping his asssssss! That shit looked like some stuff you would see in the movies. You was karate chopping, kicking in the air and shit,” CaNesha described. She then deepened her voice, “MOR-TAL KOM-BAT!”
CaNesha passed the blunt to D’Wayne.
D’Wayne took a puff of the blunt, which would soon turn into a roach. His eyes rolled into the back of his head.
“Girl… I gotta go to bed soon. I got work in the morning, and I ain’t trying to be up too late. My back hurting, too,” he said as he rubbed the blunt against the bottom of his ashtray.
“Okay, boo. Well, I want to let you know that I had a lot of fun tonight. I ain’t never gone forget this shit. And, thank you so much for the weed. I’m gone smoke you out next week when I get my check.”
“Awww, that’s so sweet of you ‘Nesha,” D’Wayne gushed.
“You need $20 for some groceries or something? I don’t want you hungry or nothing. I know you bought that Olive Garden for both of us, and that shit was expensive.”
“Nawl girl. I’m good! I got some money to last me up until payday! I had to pay you back because you always doing for me. Always letting me borrow money, or paying for my food just cause you wanna hang out. I remember stuff like that. I appreciate it so much.”
“Awww,” CaNesha cooed. “I love you Dee.”
“I love you more Nesha.”
D’Wayne embraced CaNesha in his arms and hugged her tightly, his arms wrapping around her round, chubby body. CaNesha gripped D’Wayne with all her strength as to let him know how much she loved him and hated letting him go when she had to leave his presence.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! Jeremy knocked at D’Wayne’s door. He couldn’t go back to Clarissa in his current state. He needed to see D’Wayne. He needed to be around him. He needed to inside him—raw—again.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! Jeremy knocked at D’Wayne’s door. He couldn’t tell Clarissa that “Pizza Hut” was a man, not a woman. He needed to eat Pizza Hut. He wanted the sticky, gooey cheese to melt in his mouth, not in his hand. He knew he needed meatballs in his mouth—succulent—again.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! Jeremy knocked at D’Wayne’s door. He couldn’t bust a nut when he fucked Clarissa, whether it was in her gushy, ingrown hair decorated pussy or stretchmark covered ass. He needed real boy pussy. He needed to massage it tenderly with his tongue. He needed boy pussy—GOT DAMMIT, I NEED IT NOW!—again.
D’Wayne peered through his peephole and saw Jeremy stood outside his door. He flung himself across the room, heart racing from excitement. D’Wayne couldn’t believe Jeremy was back! He was sure that when he took Jeremy’s phone, things were done!
But, what if Jeremy had come over to beat his ass for taking his phone? What if Clarissa knows Jeremy has been sleeping with him?
D’Wayne’s heart thumped through his pink V-neck shirt.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
He peered through the peephole again.
“What do you want Jeremy?” he asked from inside his studio apartment.
“Stop saying my name out loud, mane!”
“Okay, bye, Jeremy.”
“Hold on! Open up!”
“For what, Jeremy?”
“Mane, just open up the door!”
“Are you still mad at me, Jeremy?”
Jeremy took a deep breath. He grew angry from D’Wayne saying his name out loud. The walls in Salty Tree Apartments were thin as paper.
“No! No! I ain’t mad! Just let me in so we can talk!”
“CAUSE I FUCKING MISS YOU, NIGGA!” Jeremy shouted, his voice echoing throughout the apartment complex. Jeremy took a chance at being out-ed as gay, or bisexual, or whatever the world would see him as. He needed to get inside the house and get inside D’Wayne.
He also knew D’Wayne like dramatic displays of affection. He knew he was sucker for a masculine man expressing vulnerability.
“Okay, I’ll let you in, Jeremy.” D’Wayne opened the door, and within seconds, he was whisked into Jeremy’s arms.
“I missed you babe. I missed you so much,” Jeremy said to D’Wayne as he pressed his chapped lips against D’Wayne’s. Their tongues tangoed inside each other’s mouths, passing saliva back and forth between the two.
Jeremy grabbed D’Wayne’s ass, cupping it between his long, tendril-like fingers. D’Wayne placed both his arms around his boyfriend’s neck.
They embraced each other and shared dozens of wet French kisses.
“Do you forgive me?” Jeremy asked.
“I’ll always forgive you, baby.” D’Wayne said. “But, I need to ask you just one question…”
“I don’t like answering questions, baby. You know that be starting arguments between us. I just wanna chill and cuddle a little bit.”
“Just one question. That’s all I wanna ask. That’s all.”
Jeremy took a long sigh. He was trying not to get angry with D’Wayne. He was horny and growing impatient.
“If you wanna know if I screwed my baby momma while we was fucking, then yes. The answer is yes. She kicked me out over the text messages between us. I’m over here. There’s your answer.”
“So, she knows you and I—”
“No. She thinks you’re a girl,” Jeremy interrupted. He kissed D’Wayne on the lips and proceeded to fondling D’Wayne’s balls.
D’Wayne pulled from Jeremy’s kiss.
“That’s not my question I had for you. That’s not what I wanted to ask. But, thank you for volunteering that information…”
“But, my question is: what happened between you and Michael?” D’Wayne asked.
“Please don’t lie. Please. You don’t have to. I’m on your side… Just tell me the truth.”
“Nothing happened really.”
“Nothing happened sort-of!”
“So, something did happen?” D’Wayne asked. “What happened Jeremy?”
“Aight, aight. I’m gone tell you what happened. Okay, so what had-happened was I was on Slapt! one night, and you wasn’t answering the phone. This was just after we had met, okay? I got horny, like real-real horny. So, I was on the app or whatever, and I ended up messaging this little dude. We ended up meeting up cause I caught a bus to his house, which was off Perkins. So, I get to his place, and he wanna get straight to fucking. I wasn’t comfortable with that, so I told him ‘Nawl, I’m good.’ So we just jacked off with each other. When I was about to bust, he had caught my nut. He got mad at me cause I was ready to leave after I bust. I told him I ain’t wanna fuck, but he kept begging me to do it. I was turned off and left. But, he might have had his mouth on it maybe ten seconds—at most—and that’s all that happened. I swear to God. I put that on my kids, bruh.”
D’Wayne stood frozen, unsure of whether to believe his boyfriend or not. The story sounded truth-enough. Should he believe it?
“And the Lake Geneva—you called him Lake Geneva… That was supposed to be MY title.”
“It IS your title!”
“But why would you call him that?! If you didn’t sleep with him! Why?! Why?!”
“I promise! I didn’t! I just ate a little ass that’s all! I promise you we ain’t fuck,” Jeremy confessed. “Do you believe me?” Jeremy asked. “If you don’t believe me, then I can just go ‘cause I ain’t trying to argue.”
“I believe you,” D’Wayne lied to Jeremy (and to himself).
“Will you ride-or-die for me?” Jeremy asked, kissing D’Wayne’s neck.
“I’ll always be down for you. I swear. From the bottom of my heart,” D’Wayne told Jeremy. “If it was me and you against the world, I would stand back-to-back to you, helping you murder these bitches,” he through soft moans.
Jeremy nibbled on his neck. His tongue tickled the intricate design of D’Wayne’s inner ear.
“Well, I need to borrow some money,” Jeremy said as he started taking off D’Wayne shirt.
“How—how—how—uhhhhh,” D’Wayne moaned in ecstasy, “muh-muh-how much do you need baby?”
“Call me ‘Daddy,’” Jeremy said as he licked D’Wayne’s navel, swirling his tongue around the hole and ignoring the sour flavor.
“How much you need DADDY???” D’Wayne asked quickly. “How much you-you-you-neeeeeed?”
“A hundred and fifty-dollars. I’ll give it back to you when I get I paid,” Jeremy said.
Jeremy pecked at D’Wayne’s neck, but D’Wayne didn’t moan or move. D’Wayne lay on his futon, stiff as a log, as Jeremy kissed over his naked body.
He only came over here for some ass and some money. That’s all he wants from me.
Jeremy put D’Wayne’s soft-penis in his mouth, sucking on the forehead and the foreskin covering it.
He doesn’t give a damn about me. He doesn’t care if I’m doing well or a bullet away from suicide. Once he busts his nut, he’ll be sliding on his Nike sandals and heading out the door.
Jeremy put D’Wayne’s toes in his mouth. His tongue explored the open-space between each toe. He even sucked on the heel of D’Wayne’s foot.
I guess I’m just like my mama—just a cheap buck for a quick fuck. What does it matter if I let him walk all over me? Everyone else does… But with him, I don’t feel alone. I fight for him—I FOUGHT for him… And now, I have him, so I may as well enjoy him…
After a half-hour session of funky sex, D’Wayne and Jeremy lay together, cuddled up on the futon. $150 fit snuggly inside the backpocket of Jeremy’s girbaud jeans.
The couple’s eyes glued to the tablet’s screen as Keke Beats from Real Nail Technicians of Atlanta kicked a cameraman in his crotch.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! “Jeremy I know you know I’m out here! Open up this door!” Clarissa’s muffled voice reverberated through the walls of D’Wayne apartment. Jeremy, startled by his baby momma’s voice, jumped off D’Wayne’s futon, knocking him on the floor. He ran into the bathroom, stepping over D’Wayne in the process.
Quintarrius Shakir is a fiction writer, ethnographic filmmaker, and PhD candidate in sociology at the University of California Santa Barbara. From early childhood, he wanted to be more than an artistic intellectual: he wanted to be a teacher of the masses. He aims to illustrate, through his gripping writing and creative imagination, the powerful ways in which literature can both entertain and educate the public.
Please visit your favorite ebook retailer to discover other books by Quintarrius Shakir:
1: Damn, It Must Be Good!
2: [TITLE TO BE ANNOUNCED] (Coming Fall 2016)
1: Sweet As Pie
2: [TITLE TO BE ANNOUNCED] (Coming Fall 2016)
To learn more about this book and other books:
Like Black Spectrum Network on Facebook:
Follow Black Spectrum Network on Twitter:
Follow Black Spectrum Network on Instagram:
I really appreciate you reading my book! Here are my social media coordinates:
Friend me on Facebook:
Follow me on Twitter:
Follow me on Instagram:
As the youngest child of a homophobic trash collector, D’Wayne Franklin has experienced the brunt of physical abuse in his relatives and soul-shattering discrimination in the real world. Now, in his late 20s, D’Wayne finds himself constantly combatting emotional triggers like abandonment and desperation. “Lord, I release my attachment to my family and ask to attract real love into my life,” he requested from the Divine. After meeting the man of his dreams, Jeremy Sikes, on the Slapt! app, it seemed to D’Wayne that the universe was finally answering his prayers. Until he found out his boyfriend was sleeping with other people. Left broken-hearted and bitter, D’Wayne sets out to confront the root of his problem: a pathology of co-dependency stemming from issues with his father. Doing this, he hopes to recalibrate the way he operates in and experiences love relationships. “I’m going to fix my life at all costs,” he says to himself as he drives to North Memphis to meet with his father. DAMN, IT MUST BE GOOD! is a fast-paced, page-turning romantic/medical thriller set in the culturally rich city of Memphis, Tennessee. It is the first book in the MOIST series.