the other side of the game . pt 2 . pretty blaq & hbflyy
Instructions: before you start reading, go listen to ‘Other Side of the Game’ by Erykah Badu and read pt. 1
I rolled over without opening my eyes, expecting to embrace Malik, as I’ve done every night for as long as I can remember. When I didn't feel his warm body lying next to me, I opened my eyes, and saw he wasn't there. I reached for my cell phone to check the time; the bright light illuminating from my phone made me squint, while trying to read the time. It was 3:00am.... no missed calls, no text messages, nothing. I got out of bed and headed to the restroom; the empty packaging from the pregnancy test was still sitting on the bathroom counter, reminding me of the impeding dilemma we were facing. I finished washing my hands and threw the packaging in the trash. I headed to our small living room area to see if Malik was anywhere in sight. I figured he was on the balcony lighting up a backwood, something we both indulge in together from time to time; especially when we're stressed.
When I didn't see Malik on the Balcony, I became worried. I walked back to our bedroom to get my cell phone and call him. The first time I called, it rang and rang until it went to voice mail. I didn't bother to leave a message, I just called him right back. This time it went straight to voice mail after the first ring, which meant, he hit "ignore". I called back, and once again, I was sent directly to voice mail. I was getting pissed and my anxiety was once again flaring up; not because I thought he was out fucking around on me with some bitch, but because I know my man, and I knew exactly what he was up to. I sent him a text
Malik, please hit me back and let me know you're alright... I Love you
Malik immediately texted back
I'm good Baby, handling business... I love you too
I AK 47'd off text messages asking Malik multiple questions,
What's going on?
I already knew. When I didn't receive a reply back to any of my text messages, I jumped up, threw on my two-piece Champion sweat suit, Nike Air Max LTD's, grabbed my switch blade, and tucked it in my pocket. I went to the dresser, to grab the car keys, but quickly remembered that Malik was gone in the car that we shared. It was after midnight, so the BART stopped running over 3 hours ago. I pulled out my phone, scheduled a Lyft, and headed straight out the front door. By the time I walked down the stairs, my Lyft driver was already waiting.
When I pulled up in front of Grandma Kat's house, the block was pretty much silent. There were no cars driving by, and no people on the street, with the exception of a few corner boys and OG niggas hanging out on their porches, sitting on milk crates, shooting the shit and sipping on Old E. I exited the car and walked up the steps, leading to Grandma Kat's house, ignoring the random cat calls from the drunk niggas and hungry stares from the corner boys. I anxiously knocked on the door. Without looking through the peep hole, Grandma Kat yelled in her stern voice
"Who is it?”
I replied to her "Its Laysia Grandma Kat"
I heard Grandma Kat unlocking all 3 locks and the deadbolt before she swung the door back, brandishing her shot gun. She had a look on her face that said she was ready to blow a muthafuckas head clean off. Grandma Kat looked at me and said,
"Get in here lil girl.”
I walked in and Grandma Kat slammed the door behind her, locking every last lock. The house was dimly lit, the only light coming in was from the street lights blaring through the kitchen window. I followed grandma’s lead, floor boards squeaking as we made our way to her rustic dining room table. We sat across from each other, and I sat silently waiting for her to address me. I knew better than to speak before I was spoken to. Grandma Kat propped her shot gun against the antique China cabinet that sat behind her. She reached across the table and lit her serenity candle then grabbed the pack of Virginia Slims that sat next to it. She took the palm of her hand and tapped against the bottom of the cigarette carton, until a Virginia Slim pooped out. She lit it, using the flame from the candle, leaned back in her chair and took a long drag; blowing the smoke out the corner of her mouth.
Grandma Kat wasn’t your typical “pie baking, sweater knitting, ‘Price is Right’, ‘Matlock' watching” granny. She was a 66-year-old revolutionary and the matriarch of her family. She was a Maverick of a woman, stern, and she loved hard. Grandma Kat was a part of the Black Panther party in the 70s. The only man she ever loved was killed by Oakland PD when she was pregnant with Malik’s momma. Since then Grandma Kat dedicated her life to raising her grandchildren. She is the reason why Malik and his brothers have so much heart. She was worn down looking, her youth had faded years ago. Her mini afro represented her roots and her deep chocolate, onyx like skin was still flawless, aside from a few fine lines, but it was something to still be envious of.
After taking a few more drags and exhaling the smoke, grandma spoke to me
“Lil girl, what the hell got you coming to my house at 4am, banging on my goddamn door like you looking for trouble?”
I answered , “Malik isn’t responding to me and I’m worried, have you seen him?”
“Yea I seen him, but you still aint answered my question.”
"Grandma Kat, I came over here looking for Malik. Is he with Tyrell?"
"Yea they left hours ago, been gone all night.”
"Grandma why is he hanging around Tyrell?”
Grandma Kat, put her cigarette out and leaned forward, half of her face shaded from the dark room and the other half illuminated from the candle light on the table"
"Now chile, do I really need to tell you what you already know? ... shiiiit the last thing you need to be worried about is what Malik is doing with Tyrell. What you need to be doing is figuring out YOUR next move with that baby you got baking in yo belly.”
My head was down the whole time grandma Kat was talking, but when she mentioned the baby, I quickly raised my head, and my eyes widened.
"Yea lil girl, I already know... it aint nothing that my grandsons don't tell me, and they always consult with me before they make any moves.”
"Well, grandma, I don't know if I wanna keep this baby! Malik didn't discuss nothing with me. I just woke up and he was gone. If I knew he felt so much pressure that it was gonna lead him back to this drug shit, then I woulda just told him right then and there that I wanna get an abor----"
"Aht aht aht aht… shut up! We don't believe in that in this family, and since you are a part of this family now, neither do you.... do you hear me? You just talking crazy cuz you stressed out. I love all my grandsons, but Malik is special, you and I both know that. He aint really about that life, but he's smart, he's strategic, like his granddaddy, and he's far from soft. I didn't raise no deadbeat bitch niggas, and Malik is a man! At the end of the day, he's gonna get out there and do what he gotta do to make sure his family eats. Aint no way you, me, Allah, nobody stopping him once his mind is made up! So yo best bet, is to worry about you and that baby, and don't interfere with what Malik got going on"
"I hear you Grandma Kat, but I can’t stand the thought of raising this baby on my own if something happens to Malik"
"Baby it’s just a possibility that you gone have to face and accept. But you got me for as long as I remain on this earth.”
Grandma Kat is still a practicing Doula, so I trusted that she would be here for me every step of the way, but thinking about Malik possibly being locked away in some cage for years, or even worse killed, tore me the fuck apart.
Grandma Kat continued to ramble on, but I was too caught up in my own thoughts to take in everything she was saying. Suddenly we heard three loud Ghetto knocks at her front door. Grandma Kat abruptly stopped talking then placed her index finger to her lips. She grabbed her shot gun and tip toed quietly towards her front door. I saw her lean into the door to glance through the peep hole, she swung her whole body around towards me, and started waving her arm at me, motioning for me to hurry to the back of the house. She didn't even have to verbally give me instruction; I just ran to the back guest room and dug underneath the mattress until I found what I was looking for.
The feeling of a gun is recognizable to almost anyone, even if they’ve never touched one. I quickly slid the Mossberg shotgun from underneath the mattress, and sat it next to me on the floor. Listening for what was happening at the front door and still moving quickly, swiping my hand under the bed for whatever else could be under there, I felt a plastic package and then another. In my hands were two kilos of cocaine, partially wrapped in duct tape. Now I could hear commotion in the front room, the sound of heavy boots, multiple pairs, thudding on the old wooden floors throughout the house;
Grandma Kats gruff voice hollering, “This is illegal! You don’t have a search warrant! You can’t just come in here!”
She was letting me know that it was the police, not a robbery. The gun would do me no good, to kill a cop is an instant death sentence. My heartbeat increased, even though the guest bedroom was in the back of the house, it was just a matter of seconds before they would be kicking in the bedroom door. I ran into the bathroom attached to the room slamming the door shut behind me and started clawing at the plastic packages. If I could get them open and flush the cocaine down the toilet, that would be better than the police finding the drugs in here with us. I got one package open and spilled shit everywhere but managed somehow to get the majority of its contents down in the bowl. Reaching for the second package, suddenly the old door flew open and a police officer with his gun pointed directly at me yelled, “PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR, YOU’RE UNDER ARREST!”
I dropped plastic package and slowly raised my hands in the air as hot tears began to rapidly flow down my cheeks.
-6 Monts Later-
Any day now I’m going to be having our baby. Finally. It’s a boy, and his name is going to be Sankara. After I’d read about the fearless west African activist Thomas Sankara, who became president of Burkina Faso before being assassinated, I knew I wanted to name our son after him. Malik was on board of course. I could have said I wanted to name our child ‘Harry Potter’ and he would have agreed to it just to make me as happy as he could. I’ve been in jail for six months and one day. I have four years, five months, and twenty nine more days left before I’m free. By the time I get out of here our baby will be starting kindergarten. I’m going to miss his first step, I won’t be there when his first tooth sprouts out of his gums, and I won’t rock him to sleep every night when he cries. When my mind drifts off to these thoughts, I close my eyes and squeeze them tight. The days of crying are over. Tears can’t change where I’m at, and they damn sure can’t change what happened that night.
The police had been watching Tyrell for a long time. When him and Malik left Grandma Kats house that night, they tailed them, and pulled them over few blocks from the house. Knowing that it was just Grandma Kat there they were anxious to get inside of the house, but then I pulled up in the Lyft and they waited for me to get inside before they came in, guns drawn searching. The drugs empty package of drugs in my hand, the cocaine all over the floor, and shotgun with my fingerprints all over it had me facing over twenty years in prison. The public defender I had, a beautiful young black woman with a British accent got my charges lowered and I pled guilty to tampering with evidence. It was a tough pill to swallow, but I was thankful, it could have been worst. Grandma Kat got three years for conspiracy, her old age made the judge go easy on her. Tyrell got sentenced to fifteen years, the evidence they had on him was concrete. They had nothing on Malik, because he hadn’t done anything.
He wore the guilt like a heavy coat in the summer. In all of our years together I’d never seen him cry, not when his brother died, not when he was sentenced to juvenile detention when we were teens; but the first time he came to visit me he balled silently staring me in me eyes on the other side of glass.
Like I said early, this isn’t a fairytale story with a perfect and hopeful ending, there’s no splendid endings, no white woman saviors. No one ever talks about Bonnie dying for Clyde.
This is the other side of the game.