I just have to go get a charger for my phone,” I state.

Joyous doesn’t want you getting up from off this bed. Period,” my brother’s flunkies state. You can see the look in their eyes. They are completely loyal to Joyous. The gangsters won’t let me leave.
My brother is out there. He’s probably going to “take care” of AK and Keon right now and I had no way to get to them. I had no way to warn them.

My heart is racing. I’ve never been so scared in my life. I was held captive in my own brother’s house by gangsters who had guns. I know they won’t use the guns on me but both these men are twice the size of me. Every time I got up they showed me just how powerful each one of them was. I was fucking helpless in this situation.

I was helpless and I was going to lose the two people who meant the most to me in the world.

After five minutes the doorbell rings. I don’t know what to expect but I think the worst. The gangsters head out into the front room at that moment. I walk to the threshold and when I get there I see my brother Jamison standing at the door.
“Where’s Joyous?” Jamison asks.

Not here.”


I tap the door at that moment to get Jamison’s attention. He looks over and sees me standing there. This must seem weird for him that I was in this house like this. He looks at me and then he looks at the gangsters. It’s clear Jamison has no idea why I’m standing in this house looking just dumb.

What’s going on here?” Jamison asks.

The guys watching me look over at me. They look over at Jamison.

Nigga…mind your business…” the one guy says.
He gives Jamison a look. Jamison was never the gangster. Not like Joyous. He hung around those guys because he played football back in the day and people looked up to him. He was the one guy in the hood that people thought ‘was going to make it’. That never happened clearly. He still had remnants of that ego in the neighborhood but for the most part if you weren’t Joyous no one in our family was getting much of any respect.

Jamison raises his hand not even seeming like he wanted to get into our business, “Cool. Cool. It’s just that my sister Jamila is awake.”

I step forward. I completely lose it for a minute.

Jamila’s awake.”

Yo back the fuck up!” The goon tells me.

Listen, my sister is awake,” I state shaking my head, “I have to go see her.”

Joyous said you stay put…”

I’m really surprised at that moment when Jamison of all people comes to my defense, “Yo Shaun…that’s ya name right? Have a heart here? My sister just damn near came back from the dead just now. That’s why I’m over here. I’m here to tell Joyous.”

The goon looks at the other goon. They don’t know what to do. A part of me wonders if Jamison is really telling the truth about Jamila.

I’ll go straight to the hospital.”

Man Joyous won’t like this shit,” the other goon states.

Jamison at that point seems to kick some truth, “Trust me. Everyone knows I don’t get along with my brother. I’ll take his ass straight to the hospital. This is all about Jamila.”

The two boys look at one another.
“If Joyous gets mad…” the one goon points at Jamison, “It’s on you.”

Jamison nods, “I got this.”

We head out into the car at that moment. It’s my first time being in Jamison’s car. It’s so fucking weird honestly. You would think that my brother who lived in the same city as me that I would be around him all the time. That’s not the case. I feel at this moment I’m in enemy territory.
“Hey head that way,” I state.
I point left towards my apartment.

What?” Jamison asks, “The hospital is the other way.”
“Wait…Jamila is really awake?”

No shit. I just said that back in the apartment.”

Silly of me to believe that Jamison was actually lying to try to help me. I don’t know whether to be excited about the fact that Jamila was actually awake or nervous about the fact that I still needed to warn AK and Keon.
“Let me out.”

Jamison locks the door, “Where the fuck you going? You not going to have Joyous beat my ass. I’m taking you right to the hospital like I said.”

Jamison you don’t understand.”

I don’t care.”

Jamison turns the other way. He’s headed towards the hospital. He has the door locked and starts driving 50 miles per hour so that I can’t open it and get out. I didn’t have the time to do this with Jamison. I definitely didn’t have the time to do it today.

It’s Keon.”

Jamison pauses.

He stops the car, “What about Keon?”

The look in his eyes says something. Regardless of how he felt about me I knew that Jamison still had feelings for Keon. He might not have wanted to help me but there was a look in his eyes that let me know that he definitely wanted to help Keon just at that moment.

Joyous is going after him.”

You’re lying.”

I’m dead serious,” I state, “Why do you think they were holding me captive? Joyous didn’t want me interfering. But he’s going after Keon right now.”

Jamison seems confused. He seems lost at that moment.
“I can’t get involved in that gangster shit…” he explains, “I told Pops I’d stay away from Joyous’s lifestyle.”

Man fuck Pops! This isn’t gangster shit. We both know Keon was doing better. He wanted to be involved with the club. That’s what he wanted.”

Well I can’t be involved in that gay shit then.”

Gay shit? Gay shit!

I feel so bad for Jamison. He had let my father convince him that he was so far removed from his own sexuality. I look at Jamison and I swear I feel sorry for him.
“Jamison. If you ever loved Keon. If you were ever in love with him then you’d let me go stop Joyous from doing what Joyous is about to do.”

I promised Pops that I wasn’t getting involved…”

Jamison you fucking cold man.”

I wasn’t done,” he responds, “I’m not getting involved but I can’t stop you.”

With that Jamison unlocks the door. He could do more in my opinion. He could have driven me there. He could have really helped but for someone like Jamison this was a big step. I look at him and I swear I want to thank him but I don’t have the time to get the words out of my mouth.
I open the door and I’m running. I’m running towards my apartment as fast as I can. My throat is fucking dry and all I want to do is get to him in any way possible.


I make my way towards my house. It’s getting dark. The streetlights are flickering on the neighborhood. I’m sweating and my feet feel like bricks. It’s quiet. Too quiet. Something had definitely gone down out here and it was clear when I get to the streets. There was a puddle of blood just sitting there on the side walk. It’s fresh blood. I wonder who it belongs to.
I recognize it’s smeared on the sidewalk as though someone was being dragged. I follow the trail. I’m not even hesitating. I just need to know where it leads.

It’s dark outside and it’s cold but I follow the trail out towards the other side of the house. It’s so fucking quiet out but all of a sudden I hear something. I hear slamming. It’s a repetitive slamming. THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! Someone’s get the shit beat out of them. I head to the back of the nearest alley and then I see it. Joyous and his gang.

They are taking turns beating the shit out of AK and Keon.

AK is laying on the ground. His eye is damn near swollen shut. Keon isn’t in any better of a condition.

What the fuck are you doing here?” Joyous states.

He signals to his guys. They suspend me immediately even though I try my best to fight through to get to AK and Keon. It’s fucking pointless at that point.

AK and Keon are too bruised and battered to even acknowledge me. I think Keon mutters something low but I’m not sure if he’s speaking to me or not. AK is on the ground spitting up blood.

Joyous…this is not you man. We were getting so far bro…” I state.

You don’t know shit about me,” Joyous explains, “This is who I am. What don’t you get about that? I’m a fucking gangster. That’s who the fuck I am. What don’t you understand?”

Joyous is acting all tough in front of his gang but I could look in my eyes and I saw something else. I saw the guy who would do anything to protect his family. I saw the guy who just was so misguided from the lack of love that he received from his own father that he wasn’t exactly sure how to give it back. That fucked-up love had fucked him up. It had fucked us all up in one way or another. Maybe that’s why I’m looking at Joyous right now and tears are coming down my eyes.

Bro…I hear you…” I state, “It’s not too late. Let’s leave. Right now. You and me man. Let’s just get out of here.”

Ain’t no leaving the hood. This is my life man.”

No. It’s not. Look at me Joyous. I love you,” I state, “Remember we promised each other. We’d be there for one another.”

I think I’m getting through to him at that moment. I swear Joyous gets emotional. The look on his face lets me know that he’s letting his guard down. Then something else happens. A tear starts drizzling down his cheek. A few of his boys seem confused as they see their tough leader crying. Joyous can’t control it. In his lifestyle, he isn’t supposed to cry. In his lifestyle that kind of shit was looked at as being completely weak.

Nigga you crying?” one of his boys says.
“This nigga crying…” another one laughs.

They taunt him realizing the tears are in his eyes. It’s almost as though the taunting reverts Joyous back to what he was formally. He was never allowed to be soft. He was never allowed to be a pretty boy with a kind heart. He had to be tough. He always had to be tough.

He strikes the nearest gang member next to him. Never mind that this gang member wasn’t one of the ones who were taunting him. It’s the closest one to him. The guy bleeds out on the floor, struggling to gather up shattered teeth from my brother’s impact.

Anybody got anything else to say?” he asks, “Or ya’ll want to continue mistaking me for some soft ass bitch like Sosa?”

They get quiet. Completely quiet.

Joyous is back to be mean. He’s back to being gritty. I was getting through to him but these dumb asses just had to mess that up.
“Joyous …”

I’m in a giving mood,” Joyous states, “So go on little brother. Since you ALL about love. Ain’t you? You think that shit is so amazing. Well I’ll give you a gift. Which one do you love more? I’ll give you that one gift.”


Don’t fuck with me bro!” Joyous says pointing his finger at me, “I saw how you begged me to save them. I know you into that homo shit with these two. But there is one you care about more than the other. Who do you see yourself with? Who do you see a future with?”

My heart is rolling at that moment.

I couldn’t believe he was making me decide this? What the fuck was Joyous trying to do? Why was he trying to do this?

I notice the gangsters next to him. They are restrained in fear. Maybe that’s what Joyous wanted all along. He wanted fear. My brother wanted control. He felt as though maybe if he had enough of that control that it would earn my father’s respect. My brother was wrong.

I’m not deciding…” I state.
I was strong too.

I wager wrong though. The anger in his eyes triumphs any strength I have in this moment.

Fine I’ll kill them both!”


The words just come out of my mouth. They just pour out of my fucking mouth at that moment.

Please don’t hurt Keon. I’m not answering your questions so you can hurt him. Please. But I am going to be with AK. I love AK…”

Joyous looks over at me.

I see…” Joyous states.

He shoots! My heart sinks in my chest. I watch who he shoots and realize that it’s AK!

AK screams, “You shot me in my chest!”

A couple of my brother’s goons start laughing. They are enjoying this. I struggle to get to AK watching him bleed out at that moment. I struggle so hard to get to him but I just can’t. I can’t fucking get to the man that I love.

You fucking monster!” I scream at Joyous.

Joyous leans over to AK, “You tried to hurt my family…”

He didn’t hurt me. He cared about me,” I defend AK.
For Joyous those are one in the same.

You took my brother’s heart. I’m going to take yours…”

My brother’s coming…you piece of shit. I called him before this,” AK threatens Joyous, “He’s going to put a cap in your ass. You wanted a war. You got one bitch…”

AK coughs up blood. He’s dying. AK is dying at that moment and it’s as clear as day. Joyous is standing over him laughing. He’s laughing this cold, dark laugh. It’s fucking chilling honestly.

Is that right?” Joyous asks.
“You shot him in the chest!” I state.

I missed…” Joyous responds just as cold as ever.

I haven’t seen Joyous like this. He was uncontrollable. Joyous aims again. This time he aims right at AK’s heart. I always knew my brother was cold. I had always heard stories of just how cold he could be. I had never seen it firsthand like this. It had always been so hard to imagine just how it was possible for pretty boy Joyous to become the most feared gangster in South Central.

Now I got it. Now it made all the sense in the fucking world.

JAMILA’S AWAKE!” I scream.
I scream it at the top of my lungs. I don’t know what effect it was going to have. I just know that Joyous was going on this rant because he blamed himself for Jamila being in her condition. I look over at him and I realize that he completely stops.

He stops. He hesitates.
It buys us time. Just for a second before all chaos.


Sosa…” Joyous states, “BOOK IT! Let’s get out of here!”

His gang starts running in the opposite direction. I hear cars pulling up on the end of the block. AK wasn’t lying. He had called his brother Sosa somehow. He let his brother Sosa know where he was. Now they were going after Joyous.

I am released off the wall and I run over to AK. He’s bleeding out. I try to put pressure on it.

I’m here…I’m here…” I tell AK.

He’s coughing up more and more blood. Tears are rolling down my eyes. I can’t believe Joyous could do something like this.
“Leave him. He’s good as dead,” Joyous states.

I’m shocked that he’s still here. Joyous attempts to grab me and pull me away but I swing at him, punching him in his arm, then aiming at his face.

Get the fuck away from me!”

I’m not leaving without you…” Joyous states.


GO!” AK tells me, “If my brother sees you here…”

I look over at Joyous. I hate him at this moment. Even with him standing here with a gun in his hand and the rest of his gang already down the street making a quick getaway to avoid a gunfight. I look down the other side of the alley. Sosa had brought a whole fucking army. Joyous would be outflanked. It wouldn’t make Sosa anymore happy then to kill my brother.

At that moment regardless of how pissed I am at my brother I realize that I can’t save AK. I have to leave him here. If he had any choice, it would be with Sosa. If I stayed here I would die, Keon who was laying on the ground would be killed and Joyous would be killed as well.

Survive,” I tell AK.

AK doesn’t respond. He’s lost consciousness.

Leave him. He’s dead!” Joyous barks at me.
“I’m not leaving Keon,” I state, “They’ll kill him.”

How do you know I won’t kill him?”

Then we all die here and now,” I state, “Your choice.”

More cars are pulling up. They are scanning the area. Sosa and the Crip Gang are looking for AK. It was only a matter of time before they found him. It’s only a matter of time before they would finish things here.

Fine let’s get him out of here,” Joyous states.

He picks up Keon.

Forgive him,” I tell Joyous.

Forgive him and swear you won’t kill him later or I’m not going anywhere.”

Joyous damn near roars at me especially when he hears the boots on the ground not too far from us. He leans into me in the most threatening way.

I don’t got time for this shit,” Joyous threatens me, “I’m going to whoop your fucking ass and drag you out of this alley myself.”

It’ll take some time.”

I won’t hurt this piece of shit…” Joyous states, with Keon barely conscious over his shoulder.

I get up at that moment. I don’t have the choice. It’s just begun raining. I look back down at AK. I could save Keon but there was nothing I could do for AK. I had to leave him here. I had to leave him bleeding out in the street and I just had to hope that Sosa would be able to get to him and get him to a hospital in time.

I get back to my house. Keon is asleep on the couch. Joyous drops him off on the couch and starts leaving the house. He has that cold stare on his face as though nothing fucking matters to him. He starts walking towards the door.

Yo…” Joyous starts.

I don’t know what Joyous is going to say at that moment. Honestly I don’t give a fuck either. At that moment he’s worse than Jamison. He’d done something that I knew Jamison wasn’t capable of. It’s at that moment that I realize that Joyous is a complete monster.

You don’t speak to me,” I tell Joyous, “Ever again. You hear me?”

Joyous turns.


I mean that shit.”

Joyous turns back around. His pride won’t let him beg me any further. I don’t mind. I don’t want anything to do with him. I had attempted to save him. I had attempted to save all of them. The more I was around this family the more I realized I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t save any of them.

From now on, I wasn’t going to try.

From now on all I cared about was the club. Fuck everyone and everything else.


I wake up the next morning. I go over to the couch hoping that Keon was at least back to himself. I’m right to know that he isn’t on the couch. The problem is he is nowhere to be found.

Keon!” I call out.
No one responds. I walk over to the table where I see a note.

It’s from Keon.









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