Foreclosure


"How much for the TV," someone calls out from the living room as I collect the money for the lamps.

"What do you think it's worth," I ask eager to make a sale.

"I'll give you $50 for it," he says trying to low ball me.

"I need at least $100 for it. You know it's worth more than that," just gotta set my price and if he can't accept it then that's it.

"Alright, fine," he says handing me the money before removing the TV from the wall.

Who does this? Sells the things from their home just to keep the home? I don't even like the house but if I can't make the payment before the 1st then it's a wrap for me. I'm fucked if I don't do this. I just gotta get the money. If I can make that payment then I can make it to next month. I just need a little bit of money so I can buy time. If I can buy time I can make it. I just need the time first.

I'm lying to myself. I don't really have a plan but I keep telling myself I have a plan. I bought this house thinking I would have other people helping me. In the end they all bailed so it's just me now. I should have trusted my heart.

With the TV I'm still about $600 short of what I need. I've heard of people throwing parties and charging admission to get in like a nightclub but I don't have the money to spend on party favors. Fuck. I wonder how much I could make from renting out a room for a few days. Well I can't really rent out a room, I've sold half my furniture. Fuck, why don't I ever think this through.

I've gotta call my cousin. I don't want to, but I know he'll lend me the money. He's always thought he was better than me, but this will give him the joy he's always been seeking. There's no other way I can do this. None of this is my fault anyway. I didn't know my roommates would bail out. I didn't know the government would be shut down for three months. Who could predict that? I've got a new job but I won't get my first check until the 8th. The bank says they've already given me enough time.

"Everyone, get the hell out of my house," I start yelling out. I'm done with this. I'll just call and borrow the money. I've tried to make it through without borrowing money but it can't be done so fuck it. I'm not selling anything else. I'll call my cousin and whatever happens after that just happens.

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Just Cleaning Up


"A clean up woman is a woman who, gets all the love we girls leave behind. The reason I know, so much about her, is because she picked up a man of mine," Betty Wright belts out early in the morning. Too early for a Saturday. I try to cover my head with a pillow to drown it out. I just want to sleep more but it isn't happening.

"C'mon get up, you know what time it is," my mom says swinging my door open. It would be comical if I wasn't so tired.

I slowly sit up in bed not ready for this at all. She pulls me by the arm and leads me to the house. She's already got my sister working on the kitchen. She gives me a choice I can either take the living room. Bad choice, lots of knick knack. Lots of stuff nobody will ever look at. I could take the dining room. Lot of glass cleaning. As long as theirs no streaks, I can make it out easy.

"I'll take the dining room," I mumble.

"Put some pep in your step," she says tossing me a rag, "just cleaning up, just cleaning up," she says singing away.

I hate this song. She can't even play the regular version. Always the 15 minute long medley version. Betty Wright, the sound of cleaning for generations past, present and future. Getting to work on the table. I hate cleaning the table it's big and awkward. Are glass dining tables still in style? We should just get TV trays and sit them in here with folding chairs. Low maintenance.

It seems like hours pass. I thought I was just doing the dining room. Somehow I got roped into mowing the lawn as well. Finally it has to come to an end. The sun is setting. She can't possibly have much more for me. I roll the lawnmower to the backyard. Padlocking it around the tree in the back of the yard and covering it with a tarp. Gotta make sure it doesn't get stolen like the last one. I roll the trash bins in front of it to fully hide it from view before heading inside.

"I know you not gonna walk those shoes with all the grass on them across this floor," mom says from somewhere out of sight. I don't even think she was around. She's invaded my mind with subliminal messaging for cleaning. I leave my shoes in back and drag myself towards my room.

I don't even bother taking a seat. I just fall to the floor like I've been drinking too much. Exhausted from a day of cleaning. This has to break some kind of labor laws. I can't take much more of this. I hope she just lets me die in silence.

"I know you ain't sleep, do a little work and act like I tried to kill you," mom chimes in. Maybe if I don't move she won't see me. "What you want from Subway?"

At least she pays her workers.
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Snuffed Hope


"Hey they got Fred c'mon man" I hear a voice yelling out as banging on the door yanks me out of my sleep. I roll out of the bed annoyed. It's either too late or too early for this. I make my way to the door to see Josiah standing there sweat dripping down his face like had just run a race.

"What man, I'm trying to sleep," I ask.

"They got Fred."

"Who got Fred," the police got Fred.

"So, he a grown man. He can sit in jail for the night. We all spent a night in the tank before. You really woke me up for this? You crazy," I say starting to close the door. Josiah has been my friend for a long time but this is some nonsense. It's not even like him.

"No," he throws his foot in the door, "they killed him."

"Shit, I'll be right there."

I quickly throw on some clothes. The same thing I wore the day before. I don't care. Something like this can't stand. I sneak back to the bedroom and pull my gun from the nightstand. I glance over to my wife. This might be the last time I see her. We're going to war tonight as far as I'm concerned. They killed Fred. The shining the star. We can't let that stand. He was gonna guide us to the other side and they took that. There's no reason we shouldn't be the monsters they think we are as far as I'm concerned. They might kill me, but I'm killing more than me.

"I love you baby," I whisper, she doesn't make a sound.

Speechless I slide out the front door and follow Josiah as he takes off running into the night. I don't know where we're going at first but as we start going I realize where we're going. We're going to Fred's apartment. These cowards killed him in his apartment, in the middle of the night.

When we get there the first thing I see is the police. They've got the entrance to the building blocked off. I make straight for them and pull out my gun. I'll fire the first shot in Black America's Revolutionary war. This is for our liberation. The torment. The persecution.

I start raising my arm to fire and feel resistance. "Are you stupid, they got enough cops here to kill us all and they don't care about women and children either," a voice whispers in my ear. Looking over I see a short man with a bald head gripping my arm and staring up into my eyes.

For the first time I'm seeing something other than police here. There's women and children everywhere. Fred meant so much to so many. It seems like most of us made our way here tonight when we heard the news. I don't know where we go from here. I don't know if the Panthers maintain a presence here or just fade away. I just know there won't be any more death tonight. We might do it some other time, but tonight we're done.

Tears start to roll down my cheek and I'm just so mad. This is so messed up. I wonder when it'll end. I thought Fred was the one that could do it. They killed my hope tonight. He was gonna save us all and they just killed him. This world is so cold.
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Golden Dog Warrior


"Mr. Green how do you respond to reports that you operate an illegal dog fighting league during the off season," the reporter asks.

"The fuck," Draymond asks.

"Do you train dogs to fight," the reporter doubles down.

My phone starts blowing up with text messages. People asking if I'm seeing this. First Micahel Vick and now Draymond Green. Yes people, I'm watching. The whole country is watching. Draymond thought he was gonna be here to talk about free agency and they're asking if he's a dog fighter. This is crazy.

"Are you for real," he continues to be confused by the question.

"Do you feel dog fighting helps speed up the break," the reporter asks with a sly smile.

"Just because it's a break doesn't mean it has to be fast," Draymond argues. Does he think this is about a fast break? Is he that taken aback.

"Okay, what about the rumors of you training dogs to fight Mr. Green?"

"If the bitch act up kick her in the nuts but if it's a bitch, it ain't got no nuts."

"Are you referring dogs?"

"The only dogs I know is how we be dogging the ball on defense," clearly Draymond has lost it at this point.

"So no dog fighting. Would you be willing to take a polygraph?"

"The only poly is Polly Shore," Dramond smiles as if he's played us all for fools.

Before the next question can be asked Draymond jumps out of his seat and runs across the stage like someone is after him. I guess that's answer. Draymond Green runs a dog fighting ring. They're already uploading clips to the internet.

*Later That Night*

"CLEAN UP ALL THIS SHIT THEY'RE ON TO US," Draymond yells out to his gang.

"Y'all got any chocolate milk over here," a voice yells down to the basement.

"GET THE FUCK OUT KLAY AIN'T NOBODY GOT CHOCOLATE MILK AND TAKE A PIT BULL PUPPY!"

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Tornado Warning


Fuck, fuck, fuck that's all I can think as I pound my hands against the dashboard. I almost made it. I almost did. Tornado sirens blast in the background of my music. Tornado should be making land in a few minutes but my exit is blocked. It's started to flood already and I love my car, but it can't make it through these waters.

My phones rings and I answer agitated, "what," I ask, more yelling than asking.

"Don't say what to me, I'm your mother," my mom demands in a way only a mother could. "Where are you? The weather is getting bad," she flips to concerned mom so easily.

"I'm in Avon, the road is flooded."

"Well, go around," she says nonchalantly as if I hadn't spent the last 15 minutes doing just that.

"I hadn't thought of that," I say with all the sarcasm I could muster up.

I hear here suck her teeth on the other side of the phone before answering, "Well try to find somewhere safe. I heard them talk about Tornadoes over there. It's just thunderstorms here," she says letting my sarcasm slide.

"Alright, I'm gonna try to get out of here," I respond, no sarcasm this time.

"Be safe, I love you," she says before hanging up.

Fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck, fuck. I hate Avon. All the roundabouts, school zones and even trailer parks. It's the worst parts of the city, the suburbs and country all rolled into one shithole. I hate tornadoes. I've been fortunate enough to dodge them all so far but my luck might have run out today. 

I cross another roundabout looking for a dry spot to cross over. I live East of here but fuck it, I'll go North today if that means I can outrun a tornado. I push my car to it's limits. I don't think I've ever driven 80MPH before but I'm doing it today on a city street, in the rain like a mad man. I keep on the gas and only slow when I go around another roundabout. It's almost as if my car got up on two wheels as I speed around it. For a moment my heart beats fast then it's as if it stopped beating entirely and I was holding my breath. Thunder cracks in the background and I breathe again.

I finally start to slow when I don't hear the sirens anymore. I start to make my way home hoping I had passed the worst of this storm. 

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Lucnh Special


"So they don't think she's going to make it through the night," voice cracking under the sadness as he speaks on the phone. "You still there," he asks the person on the other line.

He just called to tell someone his grandmother won't make it through the night. I'm not sure who is on the other line but it's taking a while for them to gather their thoughts. He pauses and uses his free hand to rub his temples. He seems frustrated with the entire situation. I can't blame him. I'm sure I would feel the same way if I was going through this.

"Alright, I'll see you when you get here. I've got a few more people to call. Love you too," he says hanging up the phone. He scrolls through the phone looking for the next number. He picks one but then starts scrolling again, clearly that one wasn't wort the time. I wonder what's wrong with his grandmother. Is she old? He doesn't look to be that old. Is it cancer? No this seems sudden for cancer. Did she break a hip? I'm not sure it's deadly but I once heard somewhere that if an older person breaks a hip it can cause a lot more health issues. Like a horse, with a leg. That's a horrible thing to think. Not sure why it came to mind.

"Uncle Sal," he starts the conversation, as I bite into my slice of pizza. It's still too hot, and burns the roof of my mouth. I chomp at it while sucking in air and swallowing pieces quickly. I play with the burnt skin on the roof of my mouth as I hear him have the same conversation with Uncle Sal that he's had with the last three people he's called. This one is brief, Uncle Sal must be in a hurry. He looks relieved hanging up this call.

He catches me staring over and shoots back a look of confusion. I put my head down and stare at my lunch. I don't think it was that obvious I was looking at him. I guess I couldn't help it. Mom always did say I had a staring problem. I blow cool air onto my pizza as he starts scrolling through the phone for the next call.

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Back to Work


"Hey chuck," the man says putting on his hard hat.

"Hey Ralph, how was your weekend," the other asks tightening the laces on his boots.

"You know, same old crap. Kids break something, I gotta fix it. Wife drags me shopping. You?"

"Same as yours Ralph, what a wonderful life?"

The men chuckle and finish dressing before heading down into the sewers below.
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Addict


"Hey everyone," I start out, they all say hello back. I've been through this before. "My name is Miles," it's not. My name is Andre. Miles is my brother but I feel like he should be the drug addict in their minds. "I'm an addict. But you all could probably guess that since you're here too. We're all a bunch of fucking addicts."

Faces in the room turn sour. It's not surprising. They're here because they want to make a change. Get better. Cure their illness or whatever. I'm here because I got caught. I don't want to change. One guy turns beat red and looks like he's ready to pop. I'm going to guess he likes steroids judging by the size of him. He's trying to stare daggers through me but I can't really be bothered by him.

"Well, Miles, why don't you tell us what you're addicted to," the group leader starts.

"I'm addicted to pain killers. I mean, they say I'm addicted to pain killers but I really am in pain. I fell off a roof a few years ago and got impaled by a metal pipe. Part of it is still in my back. I feel it every day," another lie, I'm just trying to get out of here quick. Lying, it's what addicts do.

"Oh, I'm in pain too," a young woman says laughing at me.

"Me too, I got lumbago," an older man says.

The group starts to laugh with me. For a moment I feel like I've made them realize how silly all of this is. Then it hits me. They aren't laughing with me. They're laughing at me.

_________________________________
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