Going under, p.38
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       Going Under, p.38

         Part #1 of Going Under series by Georgia Cates
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Page 38

 

  I walked in her house, which she took every opportunity to remind me of, and saw her sitting on the couch smoking a Camel. “Bout time you brought your ass back. ”

  “I went to see Harley and Ozzy,” I informed her, not that she cared, and I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t ask how they were.

  “I’ve got some dime bags on the table I want you to sell today,” she said, then took a puff on her cigarette.

  I always thought being around cigarette smoke after I quit would make me want to smoke again, but something about the sight of her made me wonder why I had ever taken it up in the first place.

  I looked over at the table and saw about a dozen bags of dope. “I can’t sell all of that tonight. ”

  “You can or you won’t sleep here tonight,” she threatened.

  I had homework I needed to do instead of out being a thug for her, but that was the beauty of having Rita as a grandmother. She couldn’t care less and that was what was going to make leaving and never coming back so damn easy.

  I jerked the bags of dope off the table and went back to my truck. I hit the road on the way to Collinsville because I wouldn’t infiltrate East Franklin with her trash.

  I got on my phone and made some calls to line up some sales. I called the same old customers I had sold to for years and luckily had half the stash sold at one stop.

  I pulled up at the apartment complex I had frequented a thousand times. I got out and knocked on the same door I had always gone to first. The door swung open and a big, burly guy stood in the doorway.

  He put out his fist for a bump and said, “Jess, good to see you. You haven’t been around in a while. ”

  I didn’t want to be here now, but I didn’t have a choice. “Yeah, I don’t make it over here a lot since I’m in Franklin now. ”

  “Come in, dude,” he offered.

  I didn’t want to get stuck talking, or worse-staying while they sampled the merchandise. “Nah, I can’t stay. I’ve got some more places to be. You know, people waiting on their shit,” I said like this whole thing was cool with me.

  “You can come in while I get your money. We can’t make this exchange standing in the door for anyone walking by to see,” he said and turned to walk toward the back of the apartment.

  I knew he was right, so I walked in the apartment and closed the door behind me. I saw several guys sitting in the living room. “Hey, you’re that guy that ripped me off a few months ago,” one of them said as he came up off the couch.

  He was probably right. Twyla had me ripping people off left and right. He was fast and I didn’t have time to react. The guy punched me in the face with his fist and I saw my blood spray the wall. One of the guys yelled, “Hell, yeah!”

  He wrestled me to the floor and I got on top of him and punched him a few good times, but his friends weren’t going to sit back and watch me beat his ass. I heard one of his friends say, “We’ll teach you to come around after ripping somebody off. ”

  I felt a hard kick to my back and an excruciating pain accompanied it. I took another kick to my abdomen, then a pop to the back of my head and I felt the warm ooze of blood down the back of my head onto my neck and shoulders.

  I propelled myself toward the door and swung it open because there was no way I could win such an uneven fight. They must have felt like they had taught me my lesson because I somehow I managed to get away from the trio and find refuge in my truck. I sped out of the apartment complex and onto the road toward Rita’s.

  I reached into my pocket and discovered I had lost every last bag of dope in the shuffle. I slammed my fist against the steering wheel of my truck. “You are so stupid!” I shouted to myself.

  When I pulled back into the yard at Rita’s, I dreaded the fight we were about to have and wondered if she would throw me out.

  I walked in her trailer and she said, “That was fast. I believe you’re getting as good as your mother was. ”

  As I stood there covered in blood, I became furious with her. Could she not see how I could have been killed? Did she not care at all? Then, I remembered who I was talking to and remembered how she didn’t care if someone killed me as long as she sold her dope.

  “I got jumped by three guys and they got all the pot. ”

  I didn’t have to wait long on her response. “Then, it sounds like you owe me some money to the tune of about a hundred and twenty dollars and I bet you won’t be so stupid next time. ”

  I’m not sure what I expected from her, but this exceeded it all. I went to my bedroom and pulled the money from my hidden stash of cash and went back into the living room where she sat. I threw the money on the coffee table in front of her and walked back to my room.

  I got in the shower to wash away the blood covering most of my upper body. When I washed my hair, it burned like hell and I wondered if I was going to need some stitches to the gash I felt. I winced just thinking about how sore I was going to be in the morning.

  When I got out of the shower, I used a mirror to look at the back of my head and saw it continuing to bleed quite a bit although areas of it had clotted. Damn. I was going to have to go to the hospital, so I got dressed and grabbed a towel to put over the seat in my truck to save it from being doused with more blood.

  It was almost midnight by the time I was released from the emergency room. After I went back to Rita’s, I did my homework, then laid down to get a little sleep before I had to be up for school.

  As I suspected, I was sore as all get out when I woke up a few hours later. I stirred in my bed for a minute, dreading the actual movement of getting up, then forced myself up. I walked into the kitchen and took a couple of over the counter pain relievers, then took the hottest shower Rita’s hot water heater would provide.

  I got out of the shower and looked at my swollen and bruised face. Claire was not going to like this, but the worst part was explaining how it happened. I thought about telling her a lie, but what was the good in that? She should know I’m involved in stuff like this so she’ll get the picture about moving on.

  I looked at the back of my head where the stitches were and man, it looked awful where the doctor had shaved a big patch on the back of my head. I think it would look better to shave the rest off, but I didn’t have any clippers. I wanted to cover it with a cap, but the school didn’t allow hats to be worn. There was no hiding this from Claire, so I decided it was best to get it over with.

  She spied me on my way to Calculus and the smile she had for me melted as she stood at her locker dumbfounded with Forbes next to her. Her eyes never left me once she noticed the shape my face was in and I was certain she saw the gash and bald spot on the back of my head when I walked into class.

  Her reaction to the way I looked had me dreading second period with her. Payton’s eyes got huge when she walked into Calculus and she sat in front of me as she had become accustomed to doing. I knew I’d never be lucky enough for her to keep her restless lips still and quiet. “You look like crap,” she gawked with huge eyes.

  “Thanks, but I wish you’d tell me how you really feel,” I said sarcastically.

  “What happened, besides getting the hell beat out of you?” she asked.

  I shook my head, letting her know I wasn’t going there with her.

  “Has your friend Claire seen you, yet?” she taunted.

  “Briefly,” I replied.

  “She’s going to go crazy, you know?”

  I didn’t answer her, but I knew Payton was right.

  “You want me to put a little make-up on that pretty face for you, Kimosabe?” she laughed. I knew she thought I deserved what I got after the way things went down with Claire because she still didn’t know the whole story.

  “I’m good, but thanks. ”

  Calculus went by way too fast and it was time to face Claire before I wanted to, but I didn’t have a choice. She had beat me to class and watched me as I walked and t
ook my seat next to her.

  Her face was pale. “What happened, Jessie?” she whispered.

  “When I got home, Rita told me I had to go out and sell. I got my ass kicked by three dope heads and stayed in the emergency room until almost midnight getting my head sewed up,” I explained.

  “Turn around,” she ordered.

  I turned the back of my head to her and she gasped. When I turned back around she said, “You can’t stay there anymore. ”

  I laughed at her and asked, “What am I supposed to do? Where am I going to go? I have no one! I’m lucky Rita lets me stay with her. ”

  “It’s not luck. It’s her selfishness and greed letting you stay there so she can force you to deal for her. Living there is dangerous and you have to leave. I don’t know where you’ll go, but we’ll think of something. Your mother almost got you killed and Rita is going to finish the job if we don’t get you out of there. ”

  “I’m not attached to her by any means, but I have no where to go,” I explained.

  She reached her tiny hand across the desk and laid it on top of my much larger one. “Don’t worry. We’ll think of something,”

  35 Simple Humanity

  Claire

  I was not going to let Jessie’s grandmother get him killed. I spent the rest of the day racking my brain, thinking of a way to get him away from Rita’s dangerous hold.

  Everything I thought of required monetary resources he didn’t have and, because I was at a total loss for what to do, I resorted to the only choice I had-my parents.

  I walked into the house after cheerleading practice with a mission. I was going to get help for Jessie and I would resort to whatever I had to in order to get it.

  I found my mom in the kitchen preparing dinner. I walked into the kitchen and stood looking at her. She turned around to look at me and saw the tears in my eyes.

  “What’s wrong, Claire?” she said with a concerned look on her face.

  “It’s Jessie. ”

  “Did something happen to him?” she asked as she put her oven mitts on the countertop.

  “Mom, Jessie can’t keep living with his grandmother. She forces him to sell drugs in exchange for somewhere to live. He doesn’t want to do it, but he has no where to go. He has no family to take him in. He’s stuck there with her until he finishes school and she’s going to get him killed if he has to continue selling drugs for her. Three guys jumped him last night and beat him up really bad. They busted the back of head open and his face looks like dammit. I don’t even want to see what his body looks like under his clothes because every time he moved today, he looked like he was in so much pain. You were his counselor. Surely, that places some kind of responsibility on you to help him. If not, simple humanity alone places some kind of responsibility on us to help him. ”