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Family Business


I looked at Bonnie like she almost lost her mind.

"You are having HIS baby?"

She didn't look back up at me. I could tell she was embarrassed as she kept looking down at the floor. She kept looking for something to do. She was trying not to feel bad for herself maybe. She was looking for me not to feel bad for her.

This was ridiculous.

"I can't deal with this."

I walked out of the bathroom immediately. Bonnie followed me down the hallway. She followed me right into my room as a matter of fact. The anger kept building up in me. The frustration was too much to deal with.

All I could think about was how stupid she was. How stupid my family was. I just needed to get away. I went into the room and started to pack up shit.

"Where are you going?"

"Bonnie you go ahead and bring a child into this world like this. I'm not sticking around for it," I continued trying not to look at her because my nerves were getting the best of me.

My hands were shaking as I was packing. I couldn't take it anymore. You ever so nervous that it seems like you are having tremors? That is exactly what was happening. I was having body tremors and I couldn't think straight. When everything falls apart there isn't much you can do but run.

Where would I go?

I hadn't thought about any of that.

"You have no money," she continued, "What you just going to take off?"
"Don't worry about me. Worry about Tray, that is the only one that's ever mattered to you Bonnie," I continued finally turning to her to make eye contact, "You never gave a fuck about family. You never cared about me. You chase him around all day."

" don't have to leave. Let's talk about it. Maybe we can fix things with Tray. We can all be one big family,."
She wasn't understanding me. I was looking at her like she had two heads. I grabbed both her arms and brought her close. I wanted her to see the passionate hatred I had for Tray. I wanted her to be sure that I wasn't a push over. I wanted her to know I didn't care how much of a loser I was. This was it. This was when everything would change.

I shook her, "He fucks me...against will. I don't want to be his family! You never even noticed me. It takes your boyfriend to fuck me for you to accept I'm gay."

I heard her grimace at the thought for a moment. She kind of jerked. She didn't want to hear the truth. She jerked every time I mentioned her boyfriend fucking me. She didn't want to believe it, even though she had seen it with her own eyes. She wasn't denying it though. I knew it wasn't clicking with her, but she still wasn't denying it.

"I won't tell anyone," she said, "This could bring us, I don't know...closer. You know a secret of mine and I know one of yours..."

She wasn't getting it.

"You know, you're right, I am leaving. You'll never see me again. You got that?"

"No wait...please don't go...god. I'm going to tell Tonetta. I'll tell...Mom."

"Have a ball."

Before I knew it I had a suitcase with everything that meant anything to me and I was walking outside. It was raining then. I couldn't believe I was out in the rain like this with a couple dollars and no plans. I had to get away though.

I planned on leaving the Bottom and never looking back. I felt like my sister had betrayed me. Bonnie had betrayed me before. Hell all my sisters had betrayed me, but it had never been anything like this. I knew Tonetta would probably come looking for me. I don't even know if she honestly cared or if she thought she was the oldest so she just had to. She probably beat my ass if she found me, but I wasn't going to give her the chance.

I walked to the corner store.

I figured I'd use the payphone and give Willy a call and let him know I was leaving, but he didn't answer his phone.

On the wall I noticed the poster.

It was the Escalators. It was the same invitation that Kendrick had showed me. What if I really did make it? I would have money. I would have a chance to get out of the Bottom for good.





Louis walked into his room without knocking. He sighed immediately. Kendrick had been playing with his little sister when Louis just walked in. He'd been nice enough to let Louis stay here, but Louis had no respect for space.

He just kept wondering when it was that Louis would go home. He knew it would be a while. Louis had parents were naggers. Kendrick's parents didn't care. The welfare raised Kendrick. They were hardly around physically and never there mentally. Louis could do whatever he wanted if he stayed in this house.

"Yo. I'm fitting to ride on these clowns man."

"What you talking about?"

"That dude Tray talking mega noise. Word is he calling us a whole bunch of pussies. "

"Yo! Watch your mouth around my sister," Kendrick said.

"Man you ain't even were in this too."

"I told you not to speak like that in front of my sister didn't I?" Kendrick asked again and then looked down at his little sister, "Anna, Go play in the living room."

He watched as Anna quickly scurried out of the room. He was worried about her more and more. Kids shouldn't be exposed to that. That is how they grow up to be just as bad.

He wasn't going to have his sister exposed to it. He kept wondering how it was he got Louis stuck in this house.

"Yo I'm sorry ok?" Louis said.

"Ok nigga, what were you saying?"

"He's calling us pussies. He said I'm a pussy cause I'm not going to school and he calling you a pussy too yo."

"I'll see that dude any fucking time. He knows my street rep."

"No man. You keep hanging with that fag. Tonetta's little brother. Man, they poppin mad shit saying ya'll are fucking and shit."

Kendrick's heart thumped. It was easy to say he didn't care about stuff like that but to know his name was in the streets as being gay kind of felt sore. This Tray guy was really worried about him. He understood there was beef between the gangs but Louis was the one feeding the fire. Kendrick understood why Tray came at Louis, but why come at him specifically? Maybe it was because he was trying to get with Priscilla.

"He's not a fag yo," Kendrick said, "That's my homeboy."

"How? Why you chill wit him?"

"You wouldn't understand," Kendrick argued, "I'm a grown ass man. I can hang with who I want to. And as far as Tray just let me know when you want to ride."

Attacking Tray would start the real war. Kendrick didn't know if he was really ready for it. He just wanted to graduate and get a degree and leave with his sister. Once he got a real job he could file for full custody of Anna. That was his dream. He wanted to be her legal guardian.

"Ok, I'm just saying the streets are talking," Louis continued.

Kendrick turned around, "Let them talk."

Louis closed the door and Kendrick laid on his bed falling asleep. He was worried though. Even if he wanted to act like he didn't care, the truth was he did. He wondered about Nelly sometimes. Nelly was kind of soft, but that was just natural. That's all that was. Nelly couldn't help it. He'd get Nelly some pussy. Nelly was a good looking guy. He didn't think so when they first met, but if you fix him up he was actually really attractive. He'd hook Nelly up with a hot chick and no one would talk about him anymore.



I walked to Kendrick's door. I wasn't sure if I wanted to knock or not. I just stood there in the rain thinking about it. It would be hardest to say goodbye to him. I had to do it in person. I just didn't know if I could muster up the strength.

Kendrick had a personality just like mine. He was a kid inside. That is why we got along. We were big kids who were forced to grow up because our parents were never there.

We both had rough lives. We both acted so ok with everything but on the inside were just kids...looking for hugs.

I think that is why we were friends. That is why we connected.


The door had opened and the guy Louis was standing there. He had a cigarette in his hand. I figured he was going out to smoke or something and ended up seeing me standing there."

"Uh-oh. So-sorry. I was going to knock."

"What the fuck do you want?"

"Is Kendrick home."


He didn't even look at me when he said it. He had said it in a low monotone voice as though he was excusing me or something.

"Well do you know where he is?"

"Nigga...what do you want like..."

"I just came to say goodbye. I'm leaving town."

"Ok I'll let him know."

Just at that moment I caught a glimpse of Anna inside the house. I knew then that Louis was lying. There was no way in hell Kendrick would leave Anna alone with him.

I smiled over at Anna.

"Hey little Anna."

"NELLY!!!! NELLY!!!"

She got excited and I almost laughed as she ran to the door and gave me a huge hug. She grabbed me by the hand screaming up and down, "NELLY! NELLY!!"

I watched Louis immediately take a step back from the door. Anna was definitely loud enough to wake get Kendrick's attention if he was here. I knew any moment Kendrick would be coming down the steps. Louis knew that as well.

"You know what...he may be here. I'll get him."

Louis walked up the steps and a couple minutes later. Kendrick came down the steps. He was asleep and Louis was following close to him.

Kendrick looked beautiful even while rubbing his eyes and barely seeming conscious. He didn't have his shirt on. I could see all his tattoos on his smooth chest. He had the most beautiful tan complexion. I just couldn't help but to keep staring. It may have been the last time that I saw him.
His pink lips were parted as though he was looking for something to say when he saw me but he was just kind of surprised to see me.

"Nelly! Nelly! Nelly! Let's go play," Anna started.

"Anna, give us a minute. Ok," Kendrick sated noticing the serious look on my face probably, "Louis can you give us a minute too."
Louis and Anna left into the kitchen, both of them seeming somewhat reluctant to leave. Kendrick looked back at me. His eyes were still almost probing me. He looked at me and then at my suitcase and then at me again.

"I'm leaving."

Kendrick looked at me hard. At first he didn't say anything. He had went over to the linen closet in the hallway and pulled out a towel.

"Leaving where? You're soaking wet."

He handed me the towel.

"I'm not sure yet," I said and smiled, trying my best to seem cool and collected, "Something happened back home."

"You want to tell me?"

"Not really."

He nodded, "I'm not going to press you about it. I will figure it out though. But where do you think you're going suh?"

"I dunno. Might go join the circus."

Kendrick didn't laugh like I expected him to. He nodded as though taking me completely serious. I didn't know if he should take me serious or not. I hadn't thought about anything. I had no plans.

"You staying with me."

"What do you mean? Kendrick I am not staying here. I am leaving. I'm getting out of don't understand..."

"Explain it to me."

"I can't..."

"Then you're staying with me."

He grabbed my bag before I had a chance to fight him about it or anything. I continued to follow him into his room. He wasn't even looking over at me. It was almost like he had made up his mind before we had even decided.

"Kendrick I can't..."

"Nelly, this isn't up for discussion. Where are you going? Tell me where you are going and I'll let you go."

"I don't know where I'm going."

"Exactly. So why not stay here. Son you might not understand," he stated leaning closer to me, "Cause you are my friend. But first and foremost I'm a gangsta. And I handle my own and I've considered my own for a while now. And I'm not to be fucked with. So do as I say because if you act stupid, Ima fuck you up."

I laughed a little bit but when he didn't laugh back I realized a part of Kendrick was serious.

He's considered me his own. What did that mean...

His roughness really turned me on though. I couldn't lie. I didn't know what else to say. I just kept smiling . I nodded finally with no more reluctance.

"Good," he said.

He brought me into the kitchen where Anna was sitting and watching Louis smoking...

Only...he wasn't smoking a cigarette.

"You trying to smoke that in front of my sister homie?" Kendrick asked.

He grabbed the blunt away and almost snapped out. I looked at Kendrick. He was real particular with Anna. It was just the way he should have been.

"It's raining outside."

"I don't care homie. Like real talk that is disrespectful..."

Louis sighed as though annoyed. I couldn't believe he didn't even have decency enough to care about Kendrick's sister while in Kendrick's house. I could've snapped on him myself but it didn't seem the "gangster" needed any help dealing with his own friends.

Kendrick looked over at me and nodded, "Nelly is staying here for a while..."

"What?"Louis looked like a kid who had just gotten his candy stolen from him, "You must be kidding me. You just taking in anyone now?"

"I took you in?"

"I been your homeboy for years."

"Well he is like family now."

" straight tripping..."

Louis walked out of the room at that moment.


I felt the tension. I knew he didn't like me. I didn't know exactly why but I could understand it. It just seemed like everyone didn't really get along in this city.

I was from the eastside. Regardless if I was in a gang or not, I wasn't part of them. I didn't feel comfortable in this neighborhood, but I did feel comfortable in Kendrick's house. I felt comfortable with Anna.

Anna loved me.

We spent the rest of that day playing. She couldn't get enough. She wanted to show me all her little toys. She wanted to show me her dollhouse. She wanted to pretend like I was a guest at her dollhouse.

And I was a big kid...I enjoyed it.

Kendrick didn't really join in, but he watched from the couch almost as though he was watching tv. He would make little comments every now and then and smile.

Before long she had fallen asleep.

It was just Kendrick and I in the living room now.

I was in a comfort mode. Nothing was really happening. I watched her sleep.

"Maybe we should put her to bed," I said to him.

He had a beer in his hand. He was sipping it slowly, "Yeah in a minute. You wore her out. That's rare. I'm kind of jealous of your relationship with her."

"Don't be. She loves you. You are big brother...always. I'm just her favorite living toy."

" are more than a toy to her. She asks about you all the time. You really mean a lot to her," Kendrick continued.

"At least someone cares."

I didn't believe I let that slip out. I knew Kendrick was going to dig deeper into that but with the child mood in the room, it seemed like he was taking his time to think about how he should approach it. I wasn't looking at him. I hated looking at him because he was so damn handsome.

"Why do you think no one cares?"

I smiled at him, "Anyone ever tell you that you are the spitting image of Adam Rodriguez off CSI Miami and I Can Do Bad All By Myself."

"I look better than him and stop changing the subject," Kendrick continued.

"Well if you really really want to know," I started, not looking him in the eyes as I spoke, "Something happened to me. Something bad. It's because I'm know from other people."

The seriousness in my voice was amusing as an afterthought. Kendrick and I tried not to be serious. We both struggled actually not to be serious with each other. It's because we had to be serious with everyone else. Kendrick and I always just wanted to play.

He paused for a minute. We were both quiet. I looked down at Anna. It hadn't been this awkward since that moment he was drunk and even then it was only awkward on my end.

" different?"

"How different?"

I shook my head, "Nevermind. Hey, you want to help me bring Anna upstairs? I guess she sleeps with you?"

He nodded. He looked like he wanted to keep talking but I wasn't sure. Kendrick was acting weird a little bit. I couldn't blame him. I was being a goddam mystery. It wasn't fair to him. I just couldn't lose him though. I didn't know how he would feel about me if he knew what Tray had been doing to me.

I lifted her up and we started to walk up the stairs.

"You going to sleep in my room?"

"Um...I figured I'd just sleep on the couch in the living room."

"Louis is on that couch. You can sleep in my room."

We got up the steps and I saw him put his sister in his bed with him. Almost as though he did it usually I watched as he took off his shirt. I pretended like I wasn't watching him but anyone paying attention would have noticed me. I wasn't good at hiding things too well.

Kendrick's body was exceptional. His boxers hung loosely too him, hugging on to his fat round ass. He had a nice ass, I had to admit to it. He had a bubble butt. It was muscular though, unlike any I'd seen before. It was weird because I thought I was the only boy in the world with a big butt for whatever reason. To see another nice round butt was nice.

"You going to school tomorrow."

I shook my head, "No..."

"I understand, you going through a lot. You mind walking Anna to daycare in the morning?"

I nodded. Kendrick was having this casual conversation all the while undressing. He seemed so comfortable around me just as if I was one of his homeboys. He was changing into something more comfortable for bed.

He had only gotten down to his boxers. He had on some plain boxers. He probably wasn't trying to look sexy or anything. Kendrick wasn't a metrosexual. He had this common sexiness that he didn't have to force. His dick print could be seen in the boxers. He reached down and adjusted himself, grabbing onto the thickness and sqeezing the girth.

I sat down.

"I'll sleep on the floor."

"The bed's fine. There's room for three of us."

"Naw, thanks though."




"Have you heard from my brother?"

It was the end of school the next day. Kendrick had been working hard all day handing in all his assignments and applying for a couple of scholarships in the guidance office.

He hadn't expected Claudia Harsh to come up to him at the end of the school day.

"Cornelius?" he asked.

He wasn't a liar. He hated it, but he knew Nelly definitely didn't want his sisters to know where he was. He looked over at who Claudia was standing with. It was the other Harsh sisters, Bonnie and Priscilla. Priscilla was on her cellphone. They all looked like they had worried faces on. Bonnie didn't even look over at Kendrick. It was like she was pretending hard that he wasn't there.

"That's the only brother I have."

"Oh, naw..." Kendrick explained trying to change the subject, "What's wrong? You guys can't find him or something?"

"I'm not sure. I'm really worried. You know he's always been different..."

Claudia's face showed her concern. She wasn't like the other Harsh sisters. She had always seemed a little more mature then the others were. She seemed to be trying to dig into Kendrick for some type of reaction.

"Why do people keep saying this different thing?" Kendrick asked, "He seems perfectly normal to me. "

Claudia and Bonnie exchanged looks as though both wondering where Kendrick had come from with that statement. Claudia looked harder at Kendrick. It wasn't clear why she was looking like that. First he thought maybe it was just clear lack of trust.

"You find Nelly to be the average cat?"

Nelly nodded, "Damn right..."

"No. I mean it's cool, you accept him for who he is."

"What? Of course I do...he accepts me for what I am."

Just at that moment Priscilla had dropped her phone call, "No...I called every family member we have in the Bottom. No one has seen him."

Kendrick was surprised to see that Priscilla wasn't calling to schedule her nail appointment or something. The fact that they had all come together at the school to look for their little brother was kind of warm to him. Maybe Corny didn't have it as bad as he thought. These girls seemed to be honestly concerned.

Kendrick looked over at Priscilla. He was looking at her in a new light. She was beautiful now, but she was also caring and that was something that he didn't think she really possessed.

"Hey gorgeous," he stated.

She blushed at him and shook her head, "No phone call after the kiss and now you want to flirt..."


Kendrick thought back. The night he had went over there he was so drunk. He only remembered parts of it. He remembered dinner. He remembered being in Nelly's room and them looking at each other but not saying anything. He remembered how awkward it was. He remembered that stuff, but he didn't remember kissing her.

"Oh were you too drunk?"
"Oh no...maybe I need you to come over here and refresh my memory," Kendrick stated.

She giggled. She came over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. It was a good save on his part because he had no idea where she was coming from.

Claudia smiled and nodded, "While you guys are kissing my little brother could be in a ditch somewhere."

"I'm sure he's fine," Kendrick stated, "Seriously."

"Tonetta is out right now with Tray and some members from the East side, looking for him."

"Man what the fuck makes your sister think he wants to be found by those people," Kendrick asked looking at all the sisters one at a time, "You guys need to pay more attention to him. And I know you may have a problem with me saying this...but he doesn't Tray."

Kendrick braced himself for Bonnie to backlash him.

It didn't come from Bonnie though. She wasn't trying to protect her boyfriend like a lioness. She seemed to actually let it slide. It was almost like she was trying to ignore it.

"Tray is like family," Priscilla stated, "He's always there. He's like a big brother to Corny. How can you keep saying that. Just cause you got your gang beef doesn't meant that Corny doesn't like Tray."
Kendrick shook his head. He was tired of arguing the same point especially if he didn't have any gunfire. He just knew Corny. There was no other way to say it. He just knew there was something up between Corny and Tray. He had caught the way Corny seemed on edge when Tray came around.

Claudia put her hand on Priscila's shoulder, "Ok Prissy, now we don't know what's going on. Bonnie, I'm not trying to come at you, but Kendrick does spend a lot of time with Corny. Maybe we should listen to him."

Bonnie stayed quiet. She nodded and crossed her arms. She was so quiet. She didn't say a damn thing.

Kendrick nodded, "Thanks Claudia."

She nodded back to him, "I'm glad you're his friend. You have always been there."
"Whoa...Claudia find your own, this one's going to be mine," Priscilla flirted openly almost for the first time. Kendrick could see that the joking way she had said it was probably only masking her true feelings.

Claudia rolled her eyes as though she had stepped back into the role of a teenage black girl from the Bottom all over again.

"Relax hunny, no one's trying to take your man."

Priscilla did clutch onto him. He didn't know how he felt about it at first. He didn't even notice she was holding onto her biceps still even after the joke was over. He could tell she wasn't completely comfortable though. She was looking around, almost as though ready to look for some Suwoo cats.

"Damn let me find out I'm going to be your man," Kendrick asked.

He didn't know how to feel. He knew Priscilla was definitely liking him but all of a sudden all that pursing seemed to be really working. The girl he wanted for this long was finally giving him a chance.

Now what?

"I like the sound of it," she smiled but just as she said it her eyes got wide, "Oh shit...Bonnie! I forgot you were here. You are so quiet. Damn. Um...Bonnie are you going to say something to Tonetta or Tray or any Suwoo member about this? "

Bonnie was zoning out.


Priscilla and Claudia looked at each other and asked almost at the same time, "You ok Bonnie?"

"Just worried about the little bro," she continued and nodded, "That's all that is."

Kendrick looked hard at Bonnie. She seemed empty almost. He couldn't have been the only one to notice to. Bonnie, out of all of them, seemed to have the least relationship with Corny. Since when was her world turned so dramatically upside down when he went missing for a day? She hadn't had a real relationship with him for so much longer.

Claudia nodded, "We all miss Corny. I guess now that he's gone, we realize what a big part he played in our lives. He was different..."

"He was normal," Kendrick argued.

" you boo," Claudia corrected and smiled, "He was different to the rest of us, but his difference is what made him the most valuable member in our family. And I know it's too soon to panic, but now that we know for sure that no one knows where he is, we need to step this up."

Priscilla grabbed harder onto Kendrick's arm as though getting worried, "How?"

"Well Tonetta didn't want to but I think it's time we go to the cops," Claudia stated.

Kendrick raised his hand to object to the thought of it. It would be too much to get the cops involved especially if Corny was actually still in the Bottom.

Right before he could say something to explain his hand being in her face, he heard Bonnie's voice come out of no where.

" cops...please..."

They all turned to Bonnie. No one had noticed that Bonnie's eyes were actually swelled up with tears. How did they miss it? They must have been so concerned with the fact that she was quiet that they didn't care to see that her eyes were closed as well.

Kendrick noticed how suspicious she had been. There was no doubt that she knew what had happened that made Corny run away.

"What's going on Bonnie?" Claudia asked.

"She knows..." Kendrick stated, "Tell them. I can see it in your eyes."

"He's gone forever and it's my fault," Bonnie started crying all of a sudden, "He left all because of me. I'm just a loser. I'm just a goddam loser for Tray. And now our little brother is gone and he's probably hungry somewhere. I just pray he's alive."
"He's alive," Kendrick stated.

"You know where he is?" Bonnie asked all of a sudden desperate.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," he stopped, "You tell me what happened to make him run away or I'm not telling any of you. I don't know what you guys did to hurt my homeboy, but I'm going to make damn sure that doesn't happen again."

By now he had lost Priscilla's hand but he really didn't care. If she had something to do with it, he would hold her just as accountable.

Whatever happened, must have happened right under that household and none of them did anything about it.

"If you bring him back...I'll tell you everything..." Bonnie continued.