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Kendrick looked over at Priscilla and some boy standing next to her. At first he didn't notice the boy. The boy looked like a pretty boy maybe. Kendrick thought, "Damn...niggas really trying to holler at this girl." He had this grasp of jealousy run through his body, especially when he saw that this guy was actually really decent looking.
As he got close though he realized that it actually was just Corny! He looked over at Corny not believing his eyes. Corny was well done, neat, presentable.
Kendrick was so shocked he found himself staring for a minute. There was no way this could be the same cat. He remembered Corny telling him that Priscilla was going to fix him up for the Homecoming game, but he didn't know it was going to be anything like this.
He had to admit...the kid cleaned up well.
As he got closer though he realized Corny and Priscilla weren't alone.
A crowd of east side guys came out of the car. Crap. This was all he needed right now. More east side drama from these fucking cowards. He pushed his head up. He'd die before he turned away from anyone. These niggas didn't phase him.
"Look at this fucking wet dog."
Kendrick knew that wet dog was a racist term for Dominicans. He didn't care though. He'd heard it all. What else did he expect busing it to Barber High at this time of night knowing Barber High was clearly on the East side.
The comment had come from one of the east side guys. Kendrick recognized most by face. He recognized even more by their trade names. He had come to hear about Tray Dog's history. Tray was definitely one of the higher ups on the east side. He was also known for being a goddam snake.
I came to check on you two."
He had tried to ignore them. He saw the east side dudes all around though. It was clear that Priscilla and Nelly knew these east side guys. He didn't expect any different though. Priscilla and Nelly probably grew up on the East side. They had connects on the East side.
He could see Nelly's eyes kind of wandering as though surprised that Kendrick had shown up to a spot like this in the middle of the night.
A girl had come out from them. It was Tonetta. Kendrick knew her reputation too. She was one of the girls in the Suwoo Gang. She was real popular in both the East side and the West side cause of how fast she could flip brick and sell it out in the street.
Tonetta said, "You the one who shot this place up."
"Nah...ya seen me get off the bus. I just got here."
"He's fucking lying," one of the Suwoo gang guys stated.
"Ain't got no fucking reason to lie to you, son, I ain't come out here for the bullshit tonight."
That was when he saw Tray come out of no where with this hard, blunt laughter, "Well its bout to be bullshit tonight. You want to die tonight wetback?"
Tray got in his face. Kendrick breathed heavy struggling not to sock him right in his jaw. He knew he could shatter his jaw if he wanted to. The problem was that he wasn't strapped. All these dudes with Corny and Priscilla probably were strapped.
"I could die
tonight nigga, just know M83 is going to be riding right back on your
Tray laughed, "Oh you fucking threatening us."
Kendrick took a deep breath. He had to handle what he came out here for and leave or there was most definitely going to be some shit going down tonight.
"Yo...Priscilla are you ok?" he asked.
He tried to make it sound caring, but also hard due to the fat that he was surrounded by all his enemies. He could see by the look on Priscilla's face that she wasn't having it.
"Besides almost getting shot up?" she asked, "I'm ready to go. I'm waiting in the car, ya..."
Kendrick could see by the look on Priscilla's face and her tone that she was pissed. Did she blame him? She sounded like she did. Just earlier in the day, he'd seen her in the hallway and she was smiling at him and finally seeming to open up. Now it seem like he was back to square one with her.
He watched as she climbed into one of the Eastsider cars. He knew it was specifically Tray's car.
Tray turned to Tonetta, "Get your little brother in the car. We got to talk to this wetback real quick."
"I think I'm going to chill with Kendrick for a minute," Corny stated.
Kendrick looked at Corny. He was confused as hell. They all seemed confused. Corny's voice was shaking as he said it but he said it with a sense of absolution as though he was just blowing off Tray all together. Kendrick's mouth almost dropped.
Tonetta turned to her little brother, "Get in the car, Corny, this ain't a game. This real shit out here."
Corny shook his head, silently but firmly.
"Oh my god, is this going to go on all night?" Priscilla asked from the car impatiently.
She favored him a lot. Tonettta, Priscilla and Corny actually looked alike. Now that Corny was a little bit more cleaned up he looked a lot like Priscilla. The family features were clear though. The dark eyebrows, the long oval face and puckering mouth were similar to all of them.
"Tomorrow's Saturday. I'm not going home. I'm going to go stay at Willie's. I can walk to Willie's from here."
Tray looked over at Corny, "Get your fucking faggot ass in the car? Tonetta, I'm bout to bust at your sissy ass brother if he don't get in the car with your other annoying ass sister."
whoa, whoa," Tonetta stopped him, "What's the problem bro.
If he don't want to
go, then he don't want to go. I'm kind
of confused Tray..."
"You not busting at no one either," Kendrick replied.
He couldn't help it. Fuck being outnumbered. He hated the idea of Tray throwing around his weight. He didn't give a fuck if he died today. He was all for his pride and Corny was something like a homie now. He rode for his homies.
"I'll bust at you nigga."
Just at that moment as Tray reached into his strap, sirens started rolling.
The crowd of boys that was with Tray all started into their cars. Tray turned and stared at Kendrick one last time, but then after he stared at Kendrick his eyes moved over to Corny.
Corny and Kendrick exchanged stares.
Corny looked over at Kendrick and they started to run together.
It seemed like they ran for four or five blocked before they stopped. They were completely out of breath. The cops were definitely clearing out the area after the school was vandalized and the gunshots at a public event. The cops were going to be on the Eastside kids hard.
Kendrick laughed as he saw Corny fall onto the floor from all the running.
nigga, you ain't that
Corny laughed back, "Whatever, did I look like I professionally run from the cops?"
The two laughed for a minute still trying to catch their breath. Kendrick had a feeling that Corny really wasn't running from the cops. He had a feeling Corny was really running from the East side guys.
"What you bout to do son?" Kendrick asked.
"Go over Willies..."
"Well you're not that far from the West side. It would be a lot to walk back and I think the buses stopped running tonight. Why don't you just come over?"
Corny looked over with a puzzled look, "You want ME to come over?"
Kendrick laughed at how goofy Corny was. He seemed so amazed by the idea as though Kendrick lived in some palace. He knew that was actually far from the case.
"I mean, you saying what you said, that was real. You officially my homie."
"Yeah...um...sure...that sounds pretty cool, like..."
Kendrick laughed at Corny tripping over his words. He figured he must still be tired, "Come on...we can walk."
They started to walk down the street. They were quiet for the most part, still catching their breaths. They didn't say anything. It was actually very rare for them to have a quiet moment between them. The two always seemed to have some weird...off the wall, thing to talk about.
It wasn't until they got halfway home that Kendrick opened his mouth and said something.
"Why'd you do it?"
Corny had no idea what he was talking about. He wasn't even paying attention. He seemed to be looking around. As they entered the west part of the Bottom, it was clear that Corny hadn't been to this part of town before."
"Why'd you stay?"
"You said it...we were homies."
"Is that the only reason?"
Kendrick watched as Corny looked away from him. That was the sign of someone hiding something. He had seen it a million times especially with Luis. He just had a gut feeling that something was wrong.
"Is that the only reason, I asked."
"Yeah it is."
It was clear that Corny didn't want to talk about it. The way he was looking away and the way he seemed to all of a sudden have a great interest in the slums of the west side of the bottom was proof that he was hiding something. Kendrick didn't push it though. He knew they still didn't know each other "That" well yet. There would be some things that Corny would want to hide from him and he'd have to respect that.
It wasn't until they had gotten into the house that Kendrick remembered that he had told Luis that he could stay over. Luckily Luis wasn't around the house.
Kendrick's father was though.
All of a sudden Kendrick felt this burn of embarrassment. He hadn't realized it with Luis or any of his other homies before. It was always because they always knew what his life was about. However Kendrick had walk Corny past his father who was passed out on the couch surrounded by heroine needles.
He didn't even apologize. He didn't even want to acknowledge it. It was one of those things that you knew the person noticed but you just wish they didn't. You just ignored it hoping that they didn't notice.
Kendrick took Corny over to his bedroom. He didn't have a bed. He really just had a mattress piled up on some boxes that he called a bed.
The embarrassment swept over Kendrick as he kept thinking to himself one day he would be in better conditions. One day it wouldn't be so embarrassing to bring a new friend over.
Corny pointed over at the Captain planet posters that Kendrick had up on the wall.
have like all the old episodes of that.
My little sister and I used sit around and
watch them all the time."
"See under all that thug there is a geek just like me," Corny laughed.
"I don't know about all that."
"Oh yeah. You remember the theme song. Captain planet...He's a hero..."
"He's going to break you losers down to zero..." Kendrick stated laughing.
Kendrick laughed as Corny smiled and continued to tour the room as though it was some sort of museum. No one had ever noticed the little things that Corny walked around the room noticing. He seemed to notice everything and find everything amusing.
"It's nice...you know," Kendrick stated, "It's nice to have someone to talk to and it isn't about money or drugs or gangs. It's nice to just talk to someone about nothing and have that nothing mean so much."
nice...let's keep talking about nothing forever."
"Cool with me if it's cool with you..."
"Yeah...that'll be cool."
I woke up on Kendrick's mattress. The apartment was beaten up, the mattress wasn't clean, but I didn't mind. It smelled like Kendrick. Everything in this house smelled like Kendrick. It made everything so much better.
I woke up to see Kendrick asleep, but he wasn't on the bed with me. He had given me up his bed and was asleep on the damn hard floor with nothing but a few pillows. He looked knocked out though as if he was used to sleeping on the floor.
Kendrick looked so beautiful laying there...
God...i had to stop thinking about him like that.
I tried to shake off the thought, but it was just so hard. He was just so sweet. We had spent hours and hours last night talking. It was crazy the stuff we talked about. At one point we were quizzing each other on what we would take to us if we were stuck in Madagascar for a summer. I wasn't even completely sure where Madagascar was. Kendrick knew though. He was so damn smart.
He had it all...
I stopped looking at him. I had to get out of the room.
Why would I come to his house knowing that I was damn near falling for this guy?
It was retarded to fall for a straight guy.
I left the room and started towards the bathroom. I saw a skinny woman running from the bathroom actually. She looked over at me. She didn't say anything she just continued to walk with her eyes wide. I figured this had to have been his mother. She ended up going into another bedroom and closing the door hard behind her.
I turned around to see a little girl. I knew exactly who the little girl had to have been. She was trying to scare me. I looked back at her and covered my eyes and let out a scream as though she had scared me. The little girl found this hilarious.
I was normally good with kids.
"You must be Ana."
She nodded politely and smiled, "Come play?"
"Um...sure why not."
Before I knew it I was in the living room with this little girl teaching her all the hot new dances that I had learned from watching television. Ana smiled a lot. Her eyes stuck on me like glue the entire time I danced and she screamed whenever I did one of the moves that she recognized from television. She almost burst out into a fullblown scream when she saw me lean back so far that the back of my head almost touched the ground.
I ran over to her trying to hush her up while she was dancing but then all of a sudden out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kendrick standing there. I looked at him with a confused look. The stare that he returned said to say it all. YOU...ARE...BUSTED...
This shit was embarrassing. How long had he been standing there.
My face started to glow red as I looked down at his little sister kind of mad that all her screaming and laughing had gotten me in the spotlight without me knowing.
I had to question him cause he was just standing there staring and not saying a single thing.
"I thought you said you weren't good at anything?" he asked me.
"I don't know anyone who can dance like that. I don't know anyone who is that flexible."
is retarded," I replied shaking my head, "It's gay and it really won't get me
anywhere in life. I'm not special because I can copy some dance moves that I saw
on tv, Kendrick. Come
on. Thanks for trying though."
"Who told you that? One of your sisters or something?"
Somehow Kendrick was able to do look into my eyes and pull something out of them that I never meant to tell him. It was Tonetta who had told me that. Tonetta was always the supposed `realist'. I mean, she was right though. She had just confirmed what I was already thinking.
"Can we drop it?"
"Drop it...please. What am I going to do? I'm a geeky ass boy from the Bottom. Don't you get it. You have brains. You have looks. You have charm. You'll make it out of the Bottom. Boys like me, we don't make it out. What do you want me to do, put in an application for Juilliard?"
He got quiet.
I didn't think so.
We sat in silence for a minute. It was too awkward to say anything. Kendrick was just there trying to save me from myself, but the truth was there was no way out.
A few minutes later the door swung open.
I heard some guy rapping as the footsteps came closer and closer. I looked at the boy that walked into the room. I knew his face immediately
He was one of the west side guys that had jumped me. He was supposedly the one Priscilla said had started the panic the night before. His name was Luis. He had tattoos all over the place. His pants hung almost down to his ankles, literally. His shirt wasn't on. It was slapped over the side of his shoulder.
He didn't even notice me at first as he was obviously singing reggaeton as he entered the room, with this heavy trace of marijuana entering in with him.
He looked over at Kendrick as he spoke. Kendrick nodded at him and his eyes slid to me as though wanting Luis to recognize me. Luis did look over at me for a second, but then quickly turned back away again.
They started his exchange in Spanish. I was completely lost by it. It didn't really seem like a friendly conversation or nothing like that. It just seemed like some sort of debate. I wasn't exactly sure what was going on. I hated when people did that. They left you out of the loop if you didn't know the language.
Kendrick and Luis took turns making it obvious that I was the point of discussion.
Kendrick looked back over at me after the heated debate for whatever was over, "Ey, you ready to go?"
"I thought we were going to hang out..."
"Now's not a good time," Kendrick shook his head.
I looked over at Luis. Need I even wonder if he had something to do with Kendrick's change of heart all of a sudden. I felt kind of used. I didn't know how to describe it. Kendrick was cool but now all of a sudden he was switching up on me.
I started out and rolled my eyes about to walk out. I couldn't believe this shit.
Just as I was walking out I felt Ana pulling at my leg.
She let out a hard scream, "NO!"
She didn't want me to leave. I looked back at Kendrick who seemed just as surprised as I was. The look on Luis's face was priceless.
Luis looked over at Kendrick confused, "She likes him? She doesn't like anyone but you..."
Kendrick looked over at me, "Ana...let go of him."
He actually had to walk over and get Ana off of me. It was just prolonging my leaving and making everything even more awkward. He must have really wanted me to leave if he was acting like this.
"You can chill with him another time. Hey, yo, you not from around here. Let me at least walk you to the bus stop or something."
I walked out. I didn't care if he was looking at me or not. All I knew was that it hurt. Just when I thought I found a real friend, it turned out he was the same kind of guy. I walked out to the bus stop. I could feel his eyes on me. I could feel the awkwardness as I walked out.
It was clear more then ever that I was unwelcome in Kendrick's life.
Kendrick's heart dropped as he watched his little sister burst out into tears as Corny left the room. What the hell was it about him that she liked so much? His little sister didn't like anyone. He went over to comfort her but she immediately turned away and walked in the other room. She never turned away from him. Lil' Ana turned away from everyone...but him.
"Damn, she played you."
you go look out for her? I have to go
make sure he's cool."
"You serious cous?" Luis asked turning his head sideways, "You crazy?"
Kendrick knew Luis would have this kind of reaction. He didn't know why he even said anything. Hell...honestly he didn't even know why he gave a fuck about Corny. He was a lame. He was a nobody. So why the hell was it bothering him so much.
"He thinks we trying to play him, cause you started talking in Spanish."
"Oh you think I wasn't going to call you out on your bullshit?" Luis asked, "You trying to make yourself feel better by hanging out with that kid. I know you Kendrick."
"What...it ain't about that..."
"Yes it is...you feel guilty, cause if it wasn't for your that faggot would have his pops nigga. You frontin' dawg. Let's be keep it 100. Quit da bullshit."
Luis was looking down on him...as though judging him.
try to play me. Why you keep bringing
that shit up? I swear, you not going to
let me forget."
"No...it's you that's not trying to forget! What was the nigga's name? Cornelius Harsh? You want to fuck Harsh's daughter and be best friends with Harsh's son? Come on cous, you torturing yourself. Just forget it. Harsh is dead. It's over."
"It's not too late to be forgiven," Kendrick replied, "His son told me that himself."
"Forgiven nigga? What? Fuck that...you did what you had to do...for us...for the money. And we still have that money. No one knows...no one...why do you keep fucking with that by bringing that fucking faggot ass dude around?"
"Maybe I want him to forgive me."
Luis stopped talking for a minute. The way he looked at Kendrick made it clear that he was shocked. Kendrick knew what he was saying was a lot. He hadn't thought about it much. Why was it that he had taken such a quick liking to Corny? Why did he care about Priscilla? This was the only reason that made sense at the time.
you going to tell him cous..."
Kendrick shook his head, "I don't know...man...I don't know."
"You tell him, you can say goodbye to that money. You can say hello to stripes and a jail cell. Fuck that...we can share a bunkbed."
Kendrick couldn't believe Luis was being so heartless, "Man, a dude died."
"Niggas die...all the time..."
"Look. I don't have time to keep arguing about this. All the while I'm sitting around talking to you, kats could have got at Corny. They could have rolled on him. He could be dead like his dad. I can't let that happen. So...I'm going to go look for Corny. Are you going to watch Ana or should I bring her with me?""
"I'll watch her cous," Luis stated, "You making the wrong choice though cous, I'm trying tell you shawty. That regret shit is going to get you caught in ---."
"Ay...I'm good..." Kendrick stated, "I'll be back. Just take care of Ana."
"She don't like my ass anyway," Luis rolled his eyes.
Kendrick walked out of the house. He raced down the street actually trying to catch up with Corny. His heart raced with the thought that maybe he could be too late.
Maybe Cornelius could have met the same fate as his father.
He couldn't let that happen.
Just then he told himself that Luis had to be wrong. There had to be a way to take back what he did. He had to stay close to the legacy of Cornelius Harsh Sr. and make sure nothing happened to Corny.
As he raced against time and fate, he knew right then and there that he was making a promise...
He was making a promise to a dead man.