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around my way


I sat there next to Amanda, holding her hand as she smiled at me. The thick smell of rubbing alcohol and pine cleaner was thick in the hospital room. All she needed was a few shots of antibiotics to stop the infection she had developed. Her mother was waiting outside with Wendy because Amanda had asked if she could talk to me alone. It had been the longest seven hours of my life. There were a few moments while we waited for the ambulance to come that I thought that maybe she wouldn’t make it. Her body started to convulse with seizures right before the paramedics arrived in what had to be close to twenty minutes after we had called. You always hear stories about cops and paramedics and just about anyone else who are supposed to help those in need, either showing up too late or not showing up at all and I can tell you that the latter is true. We waited close to an hour before help arrived and it took every ounce of my being not to curse the two paramedics out. I didn’t want to distract them from caring for Amanda, so I kept my mouth shut.

“Hey baby…” I whispered and she cracked a gentle smile. He eyes were sunken in and she had cotton mouth, but the seeing her smile, to me, she’d never looked more beautiful.

“God Chris…..I fucked up….real bad….” She sighed and the corners of her eyes began to pool with moisture. I reached out my index finger and wiped the tear away before it could fall.

“Oh don’t you even say it! This is not your fault!” I stated sternly. I hoped the conviction in my voice would convince her that she couldn’t start living in regret. True, a part of me didn’t agree with the abortion, but she was my best friend and I would never tell her that, especially after what she had just went through. She didn’t need to hear ‘you shouldn’t have’, she needed to hear ‘it’s gonna be okay’.

“Please Chris, don’t say that. Look at me, I’m a fucking mess….god, what did I do? I really wanted her, you know? I felt like I was going to have a girl. I was going to name her Lucy after my grandmother……” She whispered the last part and I couldn’t wipe away her tears fast enough. “You know what my mother told me? She told me that if I had told her I was pregnant, she would have helped me…..she would have fucking helped!” I could hear the regret thick in her tear-strained voice.

“Don’t do this to yourself baby, don’t. I….I…..just stop okay?” I was struggling to find the right words to comfort her. Really, there were no words that I could say.

“What am I gonna tell Peanut?”

“Don’t worry about that now.”

“I want him here though, but he’s gonna know what I did, he’s gonna know the baby was Nate’s!” She shrieked as she tried to sit up, a painful grimace coming over her face as she leaned her back against the pillows.

“Do you want me to talk to him for you?” I asked trying to calm her down.

“What are you going to say?” She asked partially relieved.

“Whatever you want me to. You shouldn’t be thinking about that kind of stuff right now. You need to rest and leave me to deal with him okay? I smiled and rubbed my hand through her hair, the dryness just another sign of how sick she was.

“Okay…..can you send my mother back in here?”

“Yeah, but I don’t think I can stay any longer because I’m not family, but I’ll be back tomorrow after school.”

“Come to my house, I get out tomorrow morning I think.” She replied and I kissed her on her forehead and left.

The weather was cold, but the frigidness came as a fresh contrast to the heavy thickness of warmth inside of the hospital. I had always hated hospitals, even though I think the most I was ever in one was three of four times. It was just something about the smell of gauze and rubbing alcohol that made me nauseous and the white lab coats that the doctors wore sort of crept me out. The way the doctors would walk past you, eyes cast down to clip boards without expressions on their faces was off-putting.

When I walked through the front door, there was no one there, but I could see Mickey’s and Roger’s suitcases waiting by the door. They had more than likely just made a quick run to the store for a few last minute items. As upset that I was over what had just happened with Amanda, I didn’t feel like talking about it, at least not to Mickey or Roger. I was still pissed off at them from the night before, but I wasn’t as mad after talking with Aunt Mickey. I guess maybe I was so caught up with my own problems that I didn’t even start to think about all of the things that she was actually going through. I heard the front door slam and then, a few seconds later, Roger calling out my name. Not wanting to talk to either of them, I kicked off my shoes and hopped into the bed to pretend I was asleep. As soon as I had the comforter over my head, Roger and Mickey walked in.

“Oh, he’s asleep. Let’s just leave him a note.” I heard Aunt Mickey whisper softly.

“Let’s just wake him up and tell him that we’re going to be leaving. How would the boy feel waking up and finding us gone, woman?” Roger exclaimed and Mickey laughed gently.

“He would probably be happy!” She stated and they both laughed as I tried my hardest to keep the smile that would have blown my “asleep” cover. I felt Aunt Mickey’s thin hand on my back shaking me gently.

“Aw, hey Mickey.” I mumbled trying to make my voice sound laden with sleep. I could tell from the way she cocked her eyebrow at me that she wasn’t buying anything.

“Wake-up sleepy!” She stated sarcastically and I smiled and sat up.

“So I’ll see you guys Sunday night?” I asked and they both nodded. They didn’t feel the need to give me a long list of rules to follow because I guess they already assumed that I would anyway. I was told though that I couldn’t have more than 3 people over and no one was to go upstairs. I just nodded my head in agreement. The only person who would be coming over was Joey anyway . They went back downstairs and after hearing them shuffle around downstairs for almost another hour, they finally came up to give me one last goodbye and I was left on my own.

It was too early for Joey to be out of work at his father’s store yet so I thought that it would be best for me to get just get it over with and call Peanut. I was nervous and didn’t know what to say to him. I mean how do you tell a guy that his pregnant girlfriend’s baby wasn’t yours and she aborted it and almost died. You can’t just come out and say that kind of bullshit. But I promised her I would tell him, and I would, I just didn’t think it was really best for me to do it over the phone. I thought that maybe I should just go to his house because I didn’t think he was at work, but the thought of running into Nate was something that I didn’t want to do. Every fiber in my being told me that he was bad news and I would make sure to try and avoid him for as long as I could. I sucked it up and picked up the phone. It only took one ring for him to answer.

“Hello!” He yelled. I could tell that he must have been waiting by phone from the urgency in his voice.

“Hey Peanut, it’s Chris.”

“Yo! Where da fuck is Amanda at! “ He yelled and I was thrown by the anger in his voice.

“Um, she’s um, she’s alright. You want to meet up like at the park or something?” I asked and he grunted.

“Naw, not really. I don’t know, I think Amanda’s mad at me or something. I’ve been looking for her all week and she’s been dodging me and shit. Is she pissed at me? What did I do?” His tone went from angry to sad and my heart pulled a little.

“No, but I need to talk to you about her. It’s kinda important-”

“--I’ll meet you in ten minutes at the park.” He replied, cutting me off mid-sentence. The slamming of the phone on his end snapped me out of whatever daze I had fallen into.

God, I was so nervous walking down the street. It was cold out, the smell of snow that hadn’t fallen yet was in the air. It’s like a mixture of ice and wet cement. The tips of my ears were turning a deep shade of red and I dug my hands into the pockets of my puffy coat to try and keep some warmth in. The park was really only two blocks over from my house. It was beginning to get dark even though it was still only late in the afternoon. The sky was turning that deep shade of magenta with faint traces of light blue burning against the fading orange of the sun. When I got to the park, there were a group of guys shooting dice against the wall in a crap game. For a second I thought they might have been getting ready to hassle me, but I was able to walk past them without getting so much a passing glance. I walked a little further in towards the actual playground area and saw Peanut, swinging slowly on a swing with his eyes cast down. His brown skin was a little ashy, like he had just woken up. I took a seat next to him, swinging just as slowly as he was and trying to find the right words to say to him.

“So……” He started and I took a deep breath.

“Okay, I need to go back a few days. Um, look I was with Amanda---”

“WHAT NIGGA! YOU FUCKED MY GIRL!!! I THOUGHT YOU WAS MY BOY AND SHIT?” He screamed, jumping up off of the swing and looking like he wanted to punch me in the jaw, but restrained himself.

“No! I wouldn’t do that shit to you and Amanda is just my girl, nothing more!” I yelled and he relaxed a little, but still stood.

“I’ight! So what’s wrong? What did I do?” He asked and the sadness in his voice made my chest tighten. I just needed to say it, to get it all out there and over with.

“Alright. She found out that she was ten weeks pregnant.”

“Um, okay?” He stated, not understanding where I was going.

“No, she said that the first time she slept with you, was two months ago and the--”

“--the baby’s not mine? Fuck! What’s that shit! God!” He yelled.

“Don’t be mad at her, it’s not her fault!” I yelled, standing up to face him and defend Amanda.

“I’m not blaming her for nothing, it’s my fucking crazy ass brother’s fault! Fuck dis shit yo! Is dat why she ain’t coming round and shit?”

“Yeah, she was scared to tell you. She thought you’d hate her.”

“What da fuck is wrong wit dat girl, I love her ass!!! Fuck, I gotta go to her!” He stated and made a move to leave, but I put my hand on her arm to stop her.

“She’s not home. Listen, when she found out that Nate was the father, she, she lost it and started to cry and say that she didn’t want to carry his kid and shit so she made me take her to the clinic and…..she got an abortion….she‘s at the hospital now.” I stated and he stood there with a dumbfounded look on his face. He attempted to say something, anything, but it was like words were foreign to him and he just stood there.

“Abortion….abortion? Hospital….hospital? What!” He repeated the words to himself in disbelief and the tightness in my chest began to feel constricting. I stood up and put my hands in my pocket, unsure of what else to do. “Abortion….she got an abortion..” He continued to mutter to himself. He avoided my eyes, choosing to stare off into the blank grayness of the park. It felt like the earth itself had dimmed to tones as somber as our moods were. Without saying another word, Peanut turned around and walked away. I wanted to stop him, try and talk to him some more about it, but I knew that there was nothing else left more to do or say so I let him go.


I must have sat on those swings for an hour, lost in my thoughts. The gray sky had turned black with the cold bitterness of winter blowing across my face. I left the park and when I got home I wasn‘t surprised to see Joey sitting on my porch step waiting for me.

“What‘s up man?” He asked softly. His hair was hidden under a red baseball cap matching his red puffy coat. Even if you didn’t know him, you‘d be able to tell that he was in a gang just on how he seemed to proudly sport his colors.

“Shit….this day was just…God…” I muttered as I walked past him and opened the door. The familiar smell of my comforted me as Joey and I made ourselves comfortable on the couch. I told him all about what happened and he just kept silent, letting me ramble on for what was probably near an hour. I laid my head in his lap, closing my eyes and relaxing under the soothing touch of his fingers ghosting over my scalp.

“Yo, that’s all fucked up yo, for real! Dis shit is crazy!”

“I know. It’s just like all of this shit is happening and I can’t do anything about it.” I sighed.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s not your problem. Wait--that didn’t come out right. What I meant to say was I know you love Amanda, fuck son, I love her too, but this is her shit, shit she and Peanut gotta deal wit, ya know? I ain’t saying for you to, like, ignore her or something, but don’t like make her problems, your problems.”

“Right-right, but I still can’t help it. I don’t know…’s just…..just….I don’t know…” I mumbled as I stood up and stretched.

“You know what you need?” He asked with a devilish smirk.

“A nap?” I teased back.

“A distraction. And guess what my middle name is….” He whispered as he stood up, only a few inches taller than me, bringing his arms around my waist. He leaned in and our lips met in a kiss. It was soft at first, but quickly became frenzied.

We didn’t even attempt to try and make it up the stairs. Our hands were quick flashes of pale white and caramelized brown skin, ripping off anything that stood between bare contact with the exception of our boxers. Mine were blue, his of course were red. His fist went to my cock forcefully, pulling from the shaft outwards as I leaned my head down on his shoulder and tried to suppress my moan of pleasure in a grunted sigh against his neck. Up and down his fist went. His fluid movements almost made me cum, but I pushed him away before I could. I wanted this to last.

I brought my hand to his dick, stroking almost as roughly as he had done to me. He gasped as I massaged him, using my palm for extra relief, cradling the tip and nursing it with methodical tenderness. I went to my knees and licked the tip, causing him to shake and groan out how much he wanted me to take him all the way--so I did. His taste was dry, if not slightly bitter, but to me, it couldn’t have tasted better.

His hand guided the back of my head to the beats of his desire and soon, he came, screaming out my name as he did. Helping me stand back up he kissed me before going down and returning the favor. I wished I could have lasted a little longer than I did, but I was so worked up I couldn’t hold off and it wasn’t long before my vision clouded, hot currents of electric pulses stilled me and I had to flop down to the couch to fight my post orgasmic relaxation.

“Umm--yeah--distraction!” I groaned and he laughed as he laid down on the floor below me, smiling and relaxing into his own comfort.

“Potatoes!” He yelled.


“Potatoes! I’m hungry, lets make home-fries!” He grinned and I groaned, being perfectly content with not moving for at least an hour. But he pulled me up and we threw on our t-shirts and went to start on our meal.

“I love you, but damn….you really can’t cook!” He laughed and I threw one of my slightly burned French fries at him. “Hey, I’m just saying that I think I’ll do the cooking from now on!” He continued which resulted in him unsuccessfully dodging a chucked piece of scrambled egg.


The feeling of something vibrating near my face woke me up with a start. Disorientated, I looked at the alarm clock beside my bed to see bright red flashes alerting me that it was only slightly past midnight. For a moment I forgot I wasn’t alone and panicked when I felt hot puffs of air blow down on me. Realizing it was only Joey, I sat up looking for the source of the vibration only finding out that it was Joey’s cell phone on my dresser. I picked it up, about to shake him awake when my curiousness got the better of me and I opened it to see who was calling. Whoever it was, was not someone stored in his phonebook because a number and not a name showed up. I shook him in the shoulder and he groaned for me to leave him alone. I told him his phone was ringing and he grunted for me to answer it as he turned over on his side away from me. I love that boy to death, but trying to wake him when he’s sleeping is like trying to raise the dead--it ain’t gonna happen.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Yo Tearz, ten dime bags of Hydro, fourteenth street projects, house three, apartment C.” A deep voice said. Before I could even fully understand what the man had said, the line went dead and the buzz of disconnection tickled my ear.

I wasn’t an idiot, I knew what that was. It was a drug run and I was not about to wake Joey up with that bull shit. No, I laid back down and tried to fall back asleep. But the thoughts of knowing that Joey was only doing what he was doing to pay back Boss Benny’s money got the better of me and I found myself getting up and throwing on some sweats. Nothing about me screamed ‘drug dealer’. I wore my fear of my face and although I wouldn’t describe myself as a punk, I was no tough guy. But as I fumbled through Joey’s coat pockets and found about thirty baggies of weed and ten vials of what I knew could only be crack cocaine, I couldn’t believe what I was about to do. God, what the hell was wrong with me. I didn’t know anything about drugs-how to sell them or use them. I was blinded by my love. Stupid love that I didn’t even question myself for a third time as I snuck out of the house, leaving Joey sleeping soundly. Sometimes love blinds you to the harsh realties of life and I didn‘t know this it at the time, but I was walking into something that changed me for the rest of my life……….

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