Free Story: I’m Not Gangsta
I’m Not Gangsta
North Dover Street
“Ooh baby…baby…slow down…”
I stop trying to pound Jeanelle through the mattress. I thought that’s what she’d like, having her back blown out. I thought that’s what girls like her got off on.
I slow it down. I slide my hands under her plump bottom, grip her cheeks and start grinding her deep.
“Ah, shit! Yes! Like that!” she groans.
I used to have a serious crush on Jeanelle, back from the time I was around twelve to a couple of years ago. Back in the day, whenever I came to Philadelphia to visit Aunt Paula and hang with my cousin Jeffrey, I couldn’t wait to go sit on their stoop and wait for Jeanelle to come out from the row house across the street. I used to think that Jeanelle was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. But that was then.
Okay well, she’s still beautiful, but I’m not into her like that anymore. That’s not why I’m finally having sex with her.
Jeanelle starts to sigh and moan more. She likes it like this, slow and easy. She coos, “Ooh baby” at me and starts kissing my face, working her way toward my lips.
I don’t want to kiss her. I don’t want to think about who else she kisses or where her mouth has been. I don’t want to think about her being Douglas Vaughan’s girlfriend, and what she might’ve been doing with him as recently as last night…with her mouth.
Douglas Vaughan is a Crip. They say he’s a bad motherfucker. That’s what my cousin Jeffrey told me. Jeffrey would know, because he lived here in the hood, in the row houses of North Philly. I wouldn’t know personally, because I live across the bridge in the suburbs, in Marlton, New Jersey. That’s where I grew up. But Jeffrey knew. He was from here. He was gangsta.
I’m fucking Douglas’ girlfriend Jeanelle because he’s somewhere laying low for a minute. Right now the police might be looking for him.
I’m fucking Douglas’ girlfriend because I’ve known Jeanelle since we were kids, and I know she has a big mouth. She’s going to tell her girls that I fucked her. And then the word will get out that I fucked her, and then Douglas will come looking for me.
All that being said, I don’t have a death wish. I have plans for my future.
I’m not gangsta.
I’m going to college in September, to Columbia University. My parents are paying my full tuition. Just like always, I’m going to study hard and get all A’s and B’s in school. I’m going to be an engineer.
I already have money invested in the stock market. My parents started my portfolio on my first birthday.
I’m going to buy my first home before I turn thirty. I’ll have a nice car – not to show off – but because buying a quality product is financially practical. So you won’t see me rolling with 22’s or hear me coming from two blocks away because my trunk is filled with subs instead of an emergency repair kit. I’m thinking about a Volvo.
I have a girlfriend – Tiffany – but I doubt that we’ll be together by the time I graduate from Columbia, or even much longer. She’s going to be a doctor. She’s going to study pre-med at Warnbouough College in England in the fall. So we’re realistic about our future together.
One thing I’m noticing is that I like sex better with Tiffany than with Jeanelle. Tiffany is really nice and we have fun together, and she’s something of a freak. She likes to try different things, things we see in online videos. But she’s not slutty or anything. Tiffany is a freak, but she’s a nice girl. What’s the difference between a freak and a slut? A freak will do everything with one person. A slut will do one or more things with everybody. That’s what I think, anyway.
Tiffany and I took each other’s virginity two years ago, when we were sixteen. We always use protection, always. We have plans for our lives that we don’t want to ruin. Besides, if Tiffany got pregnant, our parents would be so disappointed in both of us. So no matter the situation and no matter how freaky we get together, protection is a must.
I’m using protection with Jeanelle, too. But I still feel unprotected. I try not to think about her being with Douglas, or all the guys she was with before she became Douglas’ woman and other guys knew to leave her alone. Jeffrey told me about how Jeanelle used to be. That’s when I stopped having a crush on her. And to think that when I was a kid I had fantasies about marrying her.
But one day I will get married, after I buy my house and have established myself financially. And maybe a couple of years after getting married, my wife and I will have our first child. I’d prefer that my wife-to-be be a stay at home mom, like my mother was. I believe that it’s critical during a child’s early years to have their mother be available to provide constant love and nurturing. It contributes to a child’s emotional and mental well-being, and helps them become law-abiding, productive citizens. That’s how my parents raised me, and I turned out just fine.
I’m not gangsta.
My cousin Jeffrey was gangsta. He had to be, living in this neighborhood. His mother – my Aunt Paula – and my mother are sisters. As it turned out, life took the sisters down different paths. Aunt Paula got pregnant with Jeffrey when she was a senior in high school. So she quit school, had her baby, and since Jeffrey’s father became a ghost when he found out that Aunt Paula was pregnant, she worked the jobs she had to work to make ends meet. The result was that she ended up raising her son – my older cousin Jeffrey – in the hood in North Philly.
My mother – Aunt Paula’s older sister – took a different path. She went to college, met and married my father, and they planned and built their life together in the suburbs of New Jersey. They taught me that I should have a plan for my life, and that my focus should be on working to achieve whatever goals I had, and to make my life’s dreams become reality. They taught me that success started with me, and that if I did what I was supposed to do, if I studied and worked hard, then I had the right to move anyone who stood in my way out of my way. That’s not gangsta, but it’s kind of the same principle.
Even though we lived in different worlds, my cousin Jeffrey was like an older brother to me. I always looked forward to our visits in the summer. I’d still planned to come home from college during the summers and hang out with him. But that’s not going to happen now.
Jeanelle wraps her arms and legs around me and holds me close as I grind deep inside her. She’s holding me as if she really likes me; as if she’s feeling affection.
I don’t want her to hold me close like this. I know the kind of girl she is. I try not to lose my focus. I try not to be disgusted. I try to remember how it was to have a crush on Jeanelle, back in the days when she seemed so pretty and innocent. But all I can see is her and Douglas. All I can think about are the things Jeffrey told me she’s done, and with whom.
As I grind deep inside her, Jeanelle whispers something in my ear. For a second I don’t think I heard her correctly, but then I know I did.
She said, “Take me with you.”
I pretend that I didn’t hear her.
After Jeffrey’s funeral last month I asked around, querying some of the people from his neighborhood that I knew and trusted. Those who would tell me anything said that it was Douglas who shot and killed my cousin. He killed him because even though Jeffrey and Jeanelle had been neighbors and friends since before kindergarten, Douglas felt that Jeffrey was disrespecting him by associating with Jeanelle. So being gangsta, Douglas had to show everyone that he wasn’t to be disrespected.
My parents thought it was a nice thing for me to do, that it was a nice gesture for me to go visit Aunt Paula before I go away to Columbia. They said that she would enjoy having me spend time with her now that Jeffrey was gone. I almost felt bad that my real reason for visiting wasn’t out of compassion for my aunt.
After we’re done fucking, Jeanelle tells me that she’s always liked me. I don’t tell her that I used to like her, too. I tell her that I have some things to do and send her back across the street.
After I send Jeanelle home I take a shower. Then I go down to Aunt Paula’s basement. Aunt Paula is a waitress at a rat hole diner a few blocks off Market Street. She’s at work right now.
Down in the basement, I go to the hot water heater.
During the summer that I was fourteen and Jeffrey was seventeen, he showed me his hiding place. While Aunt Paula was at work, we came down to the basement to the hot water heater. Jeffrey pulled three bricks out of the wall behind the heater. There was an empty space behind the bricks. That’s where Jeffrey kept his stuff.
I pull the bricks out and reach in. I find a large plastic freezer bag stuffed full of marijuana. I find some money, a thick stack of cash with a paper bank band around it. I find what I think is a .9 millimeter handgun, and what I think is a .38 caliber pistol. The .9mm looks bigger than I remember. The .38 looks smaller.
On television I remember seeing how actors slide something back on an automatic handgun before they shoot it. I’m not sure how that works, so I opt for the .38. I check to make sure that it has bullets in it. It does – five of them. For some reason I thought a .38 would be a six-shooter. That gives me a moment’s pause. With only five bullets I’m going to have to be very efficient.
I put the .9mm, the drugs and the money back in the hiding place behind the hot water heater. I replace the bricks. Then I go back upstairs, all the way up to the guest bedroom. I sit on the bed and study the gun.
It’s pretty small, one of those snub nosed numbers. That’s good. I can put it right in my pocket or waistband. The grip feels rubbery. Hopefully even if my hands are sweaty, I won’t drop it. I place my finger on the trigger. I’m tempted to put a little pressure on it, just to see how it feels. But I’m not crazy. I’ll find out soon enough.
It’s 3:30 in the afternoon. Aunt Paula usually gets home from work around seven. I figure that this is a good time to go for a walk. I put on dark sunglasses and a baseball cap and head out.
Aunt Paula lives on North Dover Street. I walk to the corner and head up 29th Street. As I near Somerset I think about turning right there, and just circling the block back to Aunt Paula’s. But then I decide that I should put a little distance between myself and her place. So I walk another block and head down West Cambria. I figure circling a two block radius should be enough.
I could drive. I drove my Camaro to visit Aunt Paula. But I need people to see me walking, and walking the same route at about the same time every day.
I’m not too worried today, since I just got with Jeanelle. But starting tomorrow I’m going to be on pins and needles.
I’m looking for a silver Mercedes SUV. That’s Douglas’ ride. That’s what I expect to see rolling up on me as I take my daily afternoon walk.
I’m a little nervous about this. Okay, I’m actually scared. Really scared. But my father always told me that courage isn’t the absence of fear. He said that courage is being able to do what you need to do, even when you’re afraid.
By the third day I’m feeling pretty comfortable walking with the .38 stuck in the back of my waistband under my shirt. I almost feel like it belongs there. But I’m not comfortable otherwise. I keep my baseball cap pulled low, and keep my eye out for the Mercedes SUV. I look ahead and back over my shoulder every few seconds.
I’m still scared.
By the end of my walk on the fourth day I’m starting to wonder if Jeanelle told anybody after all, and if she did, if Douglas heard about it or even cares. Or maybe after he killed Jeffrey, he left Philly.
On the fifth day – Friday – I turn the corner from 29th onto West Cambria, thinking that this was a dumb idea. I’m not gangsta. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I decide that this is the last day that I’m talking this walk. I decide that tomorrow morning I’ll drive back across the bridge to Jersey and go home. I miss the comfort of my own bed. I miss my parents. I miss Tiffany.
My cell phone goes off, playing The Temptations My Girl. That’s my ring tone for Tiffany.
I smile to myself, thinking how crazy it is that so often when Tiffany or I think about each other, the other will call. It’s like we have some kind of connection.
Smiling, I’m about to reach into my pocket for my phone. But then I see it, parked at the curb two cars ahead of me.
Douglas’ silver Mercedes SUV.
The Mercedes is facing away from me with the passenger side at the curb. There’s somebody in the front passenger seat. Our eyes meet in the outside mirror.
My heart starts pounding so fast that it feels like one steady beat. I know that I have to move fast because I only have moments to live or die. I try to hurry to the Mercedes, but it feels like I’m moving over the sidewalk in slow motion. I’m so scared that as I approach the SUV, I almost forget to pull the .38 out of my waistband.
But then I remember. As I pull the gun out I think about the fact that I only have five bullets. I pray to God that there’s no one in the back seats.
The dude in the passenger seat is just starting to bend over like he’s reaching for something when I make it to his window. I have the advantage because he’s in a cramped space. I point the .38 at the glass, and at his head on the other side of the glass. I close my eyes and squeeze the trigger.
It seems like the glass breaking is louder than the gunshot. Or maybe because I’m terrified, my senses are out of whack. I open my eyes and look.
The dude in the passenger seat is leaning left, like Douglas is his lover and he wants to be close to him. There’s blood on the side of his head.
Douglas is looking at me as I stick my arm through the shattered Mercedes window and point the .38 at him. He looks scared as shit. I suppose that if this was a movie, this would be the part where I’d say something cool and witty before I blow his brains out; something about payback being a motherfucker. But I’m scared as shit, too. I want to scream, I’m so scared.
Instead of screaming, I squeeze the trigger four more times.
Every day before I took my walk, I put my suitcases in the trunk of my Camaro. And every day except for today, after my walk I took them out of the trunk and back up to the guest bedroom. Today I leave them in my car.
I go back into Aunt Paula’s house to leave her the note I wrote almost a week ago, thanking her for having me and promising to call her often while I’m away at school.
I put the note on the kitchen counter. Then I go down to the basement. I remove the three bricks from the wall behind the hot water heater. I take out the stack of money.
I go up to Aunt Paula’s room. I slip the money under her mattress, right at the edge where she’s sure to find it the next time she changes her bed linens. Then I leave.
As I cross the Ben Franklin Bridge back into New Jersey I maneuver to the outside lane. I sling the .38 through the window and over the guardrail.
A couple of days later Aunt Paula called and talked to my mother. I didn’t hear the conversation, but I have a pretty good idea that Aunt Paula told her that the dude that everybody thought killed my cousin Jeffrey was shot to death on West Cambria, around the corner from her house, and that the shooting happened while I was visiting. Maybe she told my mother about finding the money, too. I assumed these things. Seeing that my mother’s eyes are red and swollen from crying makes me pretty sure that my assumptions are correct. My mother looks so sad.
I want to apologize to my mother for disappointing her, but I don’t. Denial is critical to my fulfilling my life’s goals.
When my father and I are alone, he suggests that instead of going to Columbia, I consider going to school in England so that I can be close to Tiffany. The look in his eyes tells me that it’s not really a suggestion.
Canterbury, Kent, England
We have an apartment together, Tiffany and I. It’s kind of nice having our own place together, so that we can do the things we like to do when we’re not studying.
Right now we’re playing the rape game. Tiffany really likes that one. She has some good orgasms when we play this game.
She pretends to try to fight me off as I take her. I pretend to hold her pinned to the floor. She’s really into it. She tells me to turn her over, to pull her hair and fuck her hard. She tells me to spank her and make her say that she likes it. I do as she asks. She tells me that when I get ready to come, to make her beg for it.
This is really freaky stuff.
But I kind of like it.
As I pull Tiffany’s hair and fuck her hard, I consider my future. I like Tiffany. I like the way she likes to fuck. I’m thinking that it would be nice to have a doctor as a wife. And I’m thinking it would be nice to have a wife who likes to have her hair pulled and get spanked every now and then.
But I’m not freaky or anything.
And I’m not gangsta.
© January 2011