Black Sheep 3
I wake up on Keon's couch. I still can't believe everything went on last night. I wake up to the sound of something frying. As I get up I notice Keon in his kitchen. He doesn't have a shirt on. He is rapping to Too Short with earphones in his ears. He's wearing nothing but some sweats.
God bless the inventor of sweat pants. Keon has no idea that I'm awake and he's in the kitchen bouncing around with his dick bobbing every which way.
I can't help but to cross over to him and grab a piece of bacon.
"Oh shit!" he says taking off his earphones, "Thought you were still asleep. Did I wake you? I had to get my morning workout in."
"And then you eat bacon?" I ask him.
"I said I started working out but I'm still Fatty at heart," he laughs.
"In the shower."
I sit at that moment.
He nods, "I told her this morning."
"How is she taking it?" I ask him.
He just continues to cook. He tries to smile slightly but it doesn't come out authentic. I knew that Jamila must be taking Big Mama's death hard like the rest of us. I'm glad that she at least is able to know about it though.
Keon finishes cooking and makes me a plate.
"This is good," I notice as soon as he's done cooking.
He's made an omelet with bacon and all sorts of vegetables in there.
Keon laughs, showing those sexy dimples of his that I can't stop staring at, "I wasn't fat like that for nothing, Joshua. I know how to throw down in the kitchen."
"Where's your girl at?" I ask him, "I know she's happy."
He laughs for a minute before grabbing a little bit of the omelet for himself and standing over his bar to eat it.
"Long story. What about you? You been dating?"
I shrug. I can tell him about my failed relationship. I can bring all that up but I've been working so hard to leave that all in the past that I don't think it's best.
"Nah. Nothing like that."
"Really? I figured gay boys would go nuts for you," he tells me.
Just then he lifts up his head. Our eyes connect. It's a strange thing to say, but then again it isn't something that I wouldn't say. He smiles real thick when he says it. I smile back. We stare at each other for a minute.
"What makes you say that?"
"I mean look at you," he responds.
"What about me?" I state.
"I don't know. I guess you've maintained yourself pretty good. I'm proud of you. You aren't in town for 48 hours and you already got gang wars started over you," he tells me with a laugh.
I don't laugh back. This is kind of a serious matter. I just stare at him while he laughs. For me this gang thing isn't a joke. He may have lived this life but I was really scared at points in my interaction with AK. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
"So what happened last night?" I tell him, "With my brother and the whole gang thing..."
"You know I can't tell you about Piru business," he responds, "Your brother is the head of the Piru branch of the blood gang out here. So you know that AK will be handled...."
"What if I don't want him handled?" I ask.
Keon stops cooking. He stands there in the middle of the kitchen and stares at me hard. It's moments like this that I remember the old Fatty that I used to know. Past the sexiness I can still see glimpses of the old boy especially with his concerned look.
"He robbed you and tried to rape you," he says slowly just like he used to do every time he wanted to make sure that something stuck in my head.
I stand there at that moment. Keon was the one who told me about the Fruit Town war that had gotten the neighborhood so bad. I knew what happened last night was unfortunate. I shouldn't have put Keon in the position to go to a dangerous side of town in the first place.
"I didn't get raped," I state.
"People get killed for less in these streets," Keon explains to me, "We tried peace. I guess that was just something that we all knew wasn't going to last though. Officially the peace is over and we are back at war."
"I don't care about AK."
"Then why are you trying to protect him?"
"You said you liked it. Whatever he did yesterday," Keon tells me.
He has a point. I remember feeling turned on at points. I was still scared when AK robbed me and tried to get with me. I knew it was on the verge of rape but he never crossed that line. It was a strange encounter and I was turned on at points in it. I had to admit that. AK was sexy and there was a danger there that had turned me completely on.
Still protecting AK had nothing to do with my decision.
"Keon I don't want anything to happen to you," I state, "Seriously..."
Keon raises his eyebrows.
"You concerned about me man?" he asks.
We both stop talking. We stop eating. I don't think he expects me to say that. I think it means something to him the moment that I do. His eyes squint at me as though wanting to realize something in it.
"I never stopped being concerned about you," I tell him.
He nods. He bites his lower lip. I can tell there is something on his mind by the way his eyes search the room. I watch him. I watch his hand play with his arm. He rubs his hands over his tattoos several times and then stops. He takes a deep breath.
"Why come you never...contacted me?" Keon asks.
"When you found out I was gay...you didn't take it too well."
"I know. I know. I apologize but there was more to that and you know it," Keon explains.
"We don't have to talk about the past."
"You like to live in your truth Joshua. So live in it. Admit it. You tried to kiss me."
I'm shocked Keon is bringing this up. I did try to kiss him. That is how he found out that I was gay. I had literally tried to kiss him. Fat and all. I don't know what it was. I always felt closer to Keon than anyone else in my life. I felt like I wanted to share my first kiss with him. Truth was I never even got close to his lips though before he pushed me away from him, punched me in my stomach and took off.
I sit there and just shrug, "Listen. I get it. You are a straight man who was disgusted by it. I was wrong."
"I wasn't disgusted by it or by you. I told you I didn't think I wanted to do it and you kept trying. You kept forcing it."
I stop talking.
"I was just...wanting to feel...loved..."
"I'm not like your father," Keon explains, "You always had love with me man. You always will. Us kissing wasn't going to make me care about you any more or any less yo. I told Joyous that I think your family is wrong for how they did you."
Thinking about my family is heavy load.
I shake my head.
"Man I don't want to talk about it," I tell him.
He nods at that moment. He smiles slyly.
"You're right. You're right. One day though can we talk?"
"Maybe. One day."
"Cool. I ran to the store and got you an extra tooth brush. I also text your assistant and let her know where you were so she wouldn't worry. "
"You got into my passcode?"
"C`mon. It's me you talking about. If I don't know your passcode, then who will?" Keon asks me.
I laugh, "You are handy. I'm going to have to fire my assistant if you keep being so handy."
"Well your assistant wouldn't keep it 100 with you. You need to brush your teeth. If your morning breath anywhere near as bad as it used to be then you need it immediately," he jokes.
"Smell it and let me know," I tell him.
I jump over my stool and dart towards him before he can run away. Within a matter of seconds, I have him over the stove. I'm pouring my hot breath in his face as he struggles to get away.
He is outraged and completely entertained all at the same time. I breathe on him pinning him down and putting my mouth over him. I don't realize just how close my mouth is to his mouth as I'm doing it. He is laughing and I don't think he realizes it too. Before I notice it he stops squirming to get away. He stops squirming and just stays there.
Within that next second I hear footsteps and I know my sister is walking into the room.
"What's going on here?" Jamila asks.
I step away from him and he continues laughing where he took off, showing off his dimples.
"Your brother being a clown, as usual," he tells my sister.
I look over at my sister. Our eyes connect. If she did think this was some awkward gay moment that goes to the back of her mind when she sees me. We just stare at each other. Wow. I'm amazed that she is still beautiful even through her addiction. Her hair looks a mess. It's long and unruly falling all the way down past her butt. Her eyes are worn down and she is a little bit too skinny. However, there is something about her though. A devil-may-care beauty that I always admired about her.
Jamila never wears make-up. She never ever touched the stuff. The most she would do is lip balm. She walks like she is floating on air sometimes. Light steps that you can barely hear. When we were younger she'd always be a fairy and I used to imagine that Jamila really was some fairy that no one could understand from some far away place.
"Is she really gone?" Jamila asks me.
I nod, "She's really gone Jamila."
With that confirmation in mind it seems like Jamila is OK to greet me. She gives me a hug. It's warmer than my brothers' greetings but it's not nearly as warm as the greeting that Keon or my grandmother gave me. It's somewhere in the middle. A lukewarm idea of love that has never been truly realized between us.
"Mom says you doing well for yourself," Jamila states.
I nod, "Somewhat."
I wish I could say Mom said the same thing about her. She didn't. There had been emails where my mother would be wondering if Jamila was still alive. Sooner or later my mother stopped caring though. There was only so much you could do with Jamila. There was only so much you could care. Even now I can see the look in her eyes. It's this distinctive look that tells everyone around that in any moment she might flee and you shouldn't ever try to keep up with her.
"You going to stay for the funeral?" Jamila asks me.
I nod, "I suppose."
"You can stay here," Keon offers.
I shake my head, "No. That won't be necessary. I can afford a hotel."
"This ain't about you. Damn. So stubborn. My best friend comes in town and he doesn't stay with me?" Keon states, "That makes me feel like shit."
He gives me this sad little look.
"Aw Keon I wasn't trying to make you sad."
"Keon knows you will stay. I heard him this morning telling your assistant to bring your things over here. Don't let him play you with that innocent look," Jamila responds.
I give Keon a look and he flashes me his dimples. He knows damn well he is playing me. I can't pretend like I don't like it though.
Keon nods, "Jamila I like you more when you're knocked out. You free to stay too, though, Jamila."
Jamila smiles, "I'll be back. I got to go actually."
"It's 8 am in the morning Jamila," I state, "Where could you possibly be going?"
"I have to go see a man about a horse," she responds.
She starts towards the door at that moment.
"I was hoping we could talk more."
I'm desperate to find out a little bit about her life since I'd been gone. I knew she was an addict. God knows what she needed to do at this time in the morning but I had the feeling it wasn't anything right. As she starts walking towards the door I can't help but to run her down and hold her even if it's for a minute. It's like chasing a ghost though. When she turns to face me I can tell that she is already long gone.
"I got things I have to do."
"I know but I mean...I miss you Jamila. I haven't seen you in so long," I explain.
"You been gone how many years brother?" she explains, "Whose fault is that?"
"I know Jamila but..." I state.
Then I realize holding her arms.
There are tracks running all through her arms. I look over at Keon. He must have seen them before as well. He crosses his arms.
"You should let her go," Keon advises me.
The way he says it reminds me of my father just telling my family to ignore me in the hospital. The way everything here is swept under the rug annoys me.
"Jamila---these drugs can't be healthy. Look at you...you're fading away," I state.
Jamila laughs, "You hear this guy Keon? Can you believe this guy?"
Surprisingly Keon sticks up for me.
"He just wants the best for you Jamila."
"The best? Can you believe this guy?" Jamila asks over and over, "Joshua always lives in his truth. I'll tell you that much though. That's what I love the most about you. You always live in your truth while the rest of us lived in our fantasies."
She says it in a condescending way. She is shaking. A nervous shake as though she hasn't had her morning 'medicine' as of yet. After every other word a slight shake. A distant nervousness. I look at Keon. When I had left my sister had a problem with liquor. Now it had gone past that. He knows this is an issue. Keon had been a friend of the family for quite some time now.
"Jamila I'm back now and I want to make sure you're good."
"For how long?"
"I don't know...but..."
"It's no buts. You left me. You left me with this fucked up family. In this fucked up city and you never thought to look back for your only sister. You got out. That is a good thing. Don't think it is. And I love you Joshua. I'm proud of you. But this is what you have left behind. Faded memory. That's all."
She rubs my cheek. I know my sister loves me. She doesn't love me how other sisters might love their brothers but she loves me more than most others in my family. She loves me the same way that Joyous loves me. She loves me in her own context. She loves me in the way she knows how. It's a fleeting love. A quick word and brush on the cheek while she's sober and a hope that I won't forget it when she's not.
Then she turns and like a ghost she fades away again.
When she leaves I look back at Keon.
"It wanted to warn you before you saw her," he explains to me, "But I figured you'd see for yourself. I figured you knew it had gotten this bad."
"I'm sorry," Keon tells me, "If that means anything."
I nod and smile at Keon, "It does."
Jamila does not attend my grandmother's funeral. No one misses her. No one asks for her. I'm not even sure if anyone notices. I attend with Keon. He doesn't leave my side. The fact that he is here acting as support for me means the world especially when I see my brother there.
The funeral goes pretty smoothly and it isn't until the reception that things get odd. I don't sit at the family table. I don't think I have a seat to sit at the family table.
That's when Keon pats me on the back.
"You're going to sit where your grandmother would want you seated."
"Keon you don't get it..."
Keon doesn't take no for an answer. He leads me to the table. My father is sitting at the table when I get there. When Keon shows me the seat he wants to take I can see my entire family table looking uncomfortable like they aren't quite sure what to say at this moment.
"Joshua..." Uncle Regis states.
I assume this is his way of saying hello. He just keeps saying the word as he turns over to his daughter Sheila who has gone completely wide-eyed.
That's when my dad drops his fork, leaves his food, gets up and walks away from the table as though he couldn't possibly speak to me.
Joyous laughs when my father leaves, "That was fast."
I shake my head. I can't believe I disgust that man so badly.
I smile, "Listen. I just came over because my flight leaves after the funeral. My assistant Marcella booked it. She'll also be getting in touch to contribute to paying for burying Big Mama."
"We don't need your money," Jamison states.
"It's not for you," I reply, "Marcella please say your goodbyes."
Marcella smiles and nods, "It was nice to meet you all..."
Keon seems annoyed, "Wait wait...don't go...hey don't go."
I kept walking though and I was walking so fast that I found myself leaving Marcella behind. I knew she would catch up though and as I made my way out the door I realized that I was on the brink of crying my damn self.
Just thinking of my grandmother...thinking of my family.
I was the cause of my grandmother dying.
How did I end up back here with my family?
"You don't owe them anything," Marcella tells me.
"I know," I respond.
"If you want though, I can postpone your ticket," Marcella tells me, "I can go home and take care of the businesses in your absence."
"No. That won't be necessary."
These were the most unexpected chain of events in my life and everything seemed to be folding. All the secrets of the past were unfolding right here in front of me.
I felt Marcella's hand grabbing me from behind and pulling me back.
"Look I'm not going back Marcella."
It wasn't Marcella 's voice. I turned around to see Keon. He was addressing me finally. His eyes were looking right in my eyes and he was holding onto my hand. His hand was clutching onto mine. I wasn't sure exactly what had made him follow me. For a moment I thought he had done it on his own will. For a minute I was blown away that Keon wasn't my father's lapdog.
It was just for a brief moment that I was honestly impressed by Keon and thought maybe him grabbing onto me in the way he was meant something
Keon is holding my hand.
Marcella looks at me, "I'll go see if the car is outside."
I nod at Marcella as she leaves Keon and me alone for a second. I realize Keon is still holding my hand at that moment.
"Will I ever see you again?" Keon asks.
"Do you want to see me again?" I ask him.
Keon takes a step closer, "I just...listen. I think we need to have a talk before you leave."
"A talk about what?"
"About...just...you know...just that day. You know? The day you tried to kiss me. I feel like things got fucked up and I don't want you to leave without knowing that I wasn't disgusted man. Like honestly. I don't want you to leave at all but if you do have to leave don't leave thinking I was disgusted with you."
"What was it then?"
"Nervousness. Like ever since you came back I feel like the way I felt when your grandmother told me about the Marchioness. I felt like I wasn't so...stuck in this lifestyle. I felt like maybe there's something else out there. Another purpose you know."
"The Marchioness made you feel that way?"
"Yeah. You and the Marchioness," he tells me, "Is that weird? Is that ga—ga---":
"Yeah. That's what I want to say. Is it? Is it gay to feel a little weird around you."
"No it's not gay," I state, "It is a little gay that you are still holding my hand though."
He laughs at that moment realizing he's still holding my hand. He lets go of it. We sit there for a few seconds and then all of a sudden I do something weird. I grab his hand back.
"I like it better this way," I tell him.
I don't know what to expect Keon to do but he doesn't let go of my hand. He just holds it.
"Don't go. You're my best friend man..." Keon asks me, "There has to be some way to get you to stay..."
Just at that moment I see my brother Joyous walk up as well, "What's going on here?"
Keon lets go of me. He doesn't laugh like when Jamila caught us in a weird position though. I can tell that this is different.
Keon's relationship with Joyous is different. Joyous gives him a hard look.
"Keon let me talk to my brother."
"I was just..."
Joyous cuts him off, "I want to talk to him alone. Man, why the fuck you still around?"
Keon nods and leaves at that moment.
With him leaving Joyous looks at me hard.
"What's going on yo..."
"Him?" Joyous asks me, "You don't like him or nothing do you?"
"No of course not."
"Just he's getting involved a lot more than he usually does man. He's a good soldier of mine. I wouldn't want him to get too involved and end up in some shit he couldn't get out of. You feel me?"
Joyous gives me a hard look. I don't understand it but then I do. I remember Joyous once thought that I kissed a boy. I hadn't even kissed him but that boy ended up in a stretcher with two broken legs. The boy said he had an accident. It was all so convenient. I never spoke to Joyous about it but I wouldn't put it past Joyous.
"He's my friend. You knew we were friends for a while man."
"Let's keep it like that. For his sake," Joyous states.
"You came all the way out here to threaten me to stay away from your 'soldier'?" I ask my brother.
My brother sighs, "No. I had a message for you. Dad wants to talk to you...in private."
Joyous takes me to a bar across the street from the reception area.
I hadn't heard my father say those words in so long. I looked down to see him sitting at a booth in the bar. I'm not surprised to see my brother Jamison there. He never leaves my father's side. He is my father's pride and joy. Jamison pulled up a chair and joined us.
"Jamison...you mind me and your brother just having a short little chat alone?"
Jamison seemed confused. I could tell it must have been the first time in a long time that he wasn't included in something that my father was doing. The fact that he wasn't included actually surprised me. It was unlike my dad not to spoil Jamison with attention. I watched as Jamison nodded seeming lost and confused before he turned to walk away.
Now I was interested.
The waitress came up to us, "Is there anything you wanted?"
"Just water. I won't be here for long."
I turned to my dad who was looking at me with those same intense eyes as though judging my every move and making sure to get ready to critique it as soon as he was necessary.
"Listen...what happened those years ago..."
"Let's not talk about it."
It was silence again.
"What did you want Dad? I have a plane to catch."
"Your grandmother was concerned before she died about the family. She assumed that after Jamison's wedding it would be the last we ever saw of you. Was she right?"
"Depends on who wants to see me and who bites the dust. I guess the more you guys die off the more you'll see me."
I wanted to take it back almost immediately after I said it. I didn't mean it like that. I should have just said no. He bent his head down and for a moment he didn't even seem like he understood what was going on.
"You are a cold sonofabitch. I guess that's because of me," he stated, "But I understand you, you aren't the emotional type. You want business and you're about your money...that's why I want to offer you something."
"You weren't aware but your grandmother was in talks of re-opening the club the Marchioness. We originally planned on giving it to Jamison. I figured Joyous would use it for his gang activities, your sister would just waste it and you weren't around to even want it. Then I hear that Jamison would want to sell it."
"That was Big Mama's legacy. He can't sell it. She loved that club."
"That is the problem," the old man stated, "So I'm going to split it amongst all my children."
I'm so confused.
"So you are going to leave the legacy of the Marchioness in the hands of three idiots?"
What made him think Jamison, Joyous and Jamila were qualified to do this?
"I'm going to leave it in the hands of three idiots and a cold sonofabitch."
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