Hello once again, today we’ll be taking a step back just for a short moment, although I am working on something right now and plan to upload later, but for now, a little something else. This is a short story written in such a way that I would never have imagined myself writing. It’s very crude, I guess, but it fits the character, who I depict as both the narrator and the person in question. This is more of a very quick memoir type thing recounting this character’s life. It’s something I don’t normally do, but here it is anyway, “Life Without Anything”.
If, for one day, you could be anyone else, would you take it? If let’s say you lived in poverty, let’s say you were caught in civil war. Let’s say, “bad” people came and “claimed” your land. Let’s say you were stuck in a concentrated prison. Would you exchange your life for another? To live in peace, and to live in luxury? I wouldn’t.
I lived in the sticks. You know, back water poor town. Every day was a struggle. Ya get up, hope to god you’re still alive, and hope to a greater god that your family’s still alive. Then you check the windows, if they’re still intact. You make sure your locks are working. But maybe that’s not enough, so you check your cabinets, your fridge, your closet. Now that it’s over, you wake your family. One father, one mother, two young un’s, a dead beat uncle, and a homeless pregnant lady. Ya make sure everybody has food. Give little Timmy extra bread, little Tommy more milk, Beatrice gets the most, and your father gets the peas. Ya save just enough for a handful of stale bread. That’s yours. It ain’t no breakfast. Ya take that for dinner. Pack it up in a little zippy, make sure Timmy ain’t gettin’ to it. Then, your off.
Your father going to some washed up delivery job, your mother holding down the fort, Timmy et Tommy going to school. Beatrice caring for tiny Sam and Lenny’s gambling. Lenny ain’t making squat. Leaving with five, coming back with one. Your father’s breaking his back, and Beatrice can’t help it. So, what’d ya gotta do? Ya go out there and do what you can. Mother telling ya to hit the books, you nod and look away. Father tellin’ ya to stop skipping classes, you nod and look away. Lenny…. ya just don’t listen to the guy. But Beatrice, she tellin’ ya to go and do what you can. You listen to her. You know your family ain’t no American dream. It’s an African nightmare.
So, what’d ya gonna do? Ya gonna stick your head into: quadratics, Ideal Gas Laws, Projectile Motion, Pythagoras? No, ya do what you can. Ya stick to first period English. Gotta get articulate, gotta get literate, gotta get your mind into the zone cuz’ you know a healthy body only comin’ if ya got a healthy mind. You bring that to your grave.
First period is over, you reciting iambic pentameter, “to be or not to be”, “I dare do all that may become a man”, “tempt not a desperate man”. You speaking from the heart, not from the books. Ain’t no one got anything on Shakespeare. Bell stops ringing, you the only man in the halls, then you bolt. Ya see the big double doors, you know the cameras be on your grill but ya go. You don’t look back, forward is all you know. Losing your footing? Don’t worry, press on, It’s only one thing ya gotta throw. Catchin’ everything in your way: opportunities, money, knowledge, that’s your game. But ya ain’t in it for the fame, cuz all you gotta do is wait till everything’s back the same. Ya do what you gotta do, making money is all you can do.
So you in the streets, don’t look to anybody. Man brushes your shoulder, you apologize. Man asks for a dollar, ya give him two. Ain’t nobody on your case, you just tryna make it. They call you “normal”, cuz you ain’t in no scraps, you ain’t trappin’ , but you getting dough for your family. You walk to the butcher, he ain’t no scan’t. He’s got a big scruffy beard, but a heart to match. He’s a good guy, not gonna snitch. The bloods lay off, cuz he’s covered in more. He offered you a job off the streets. Ya do what you gotta do.
Sometimes ya comin’ home like you a vampire. Other times, your hand so sore ya can’t even move it. But ya got change in your pockets. That’s all that matters. Lenny’s in on it too, after he done losin’ to dice, ya hand him your days change. Tell him it’s for the family, it ain’t much, but he can’t lose it. Tell him to say he found it, he ain’t no mugger, but your old folks will believe his luck is strewn. But your day ain’t over. It’s almost three, ya hit up Dumped Alley. They call it that cuz bodies always caught and dope’s always mo’in. It be a trap house o’er there. But ya know a guy. Name’s Old Larry. He knows what’s up. Picks up garbage, cleans corpses, he makin’ a living from scavenging. That’s the only thing he’s got. Ya do what you gotta do.
Old Larry ain’t no stranger. He be givin’ as much as he’s takin’. But ya got manners, you only visit to see how he’s doin’. He gave ya food and clothes before but now ya workin’. Some day ya gonna see Old Larry dead on the ground, bullet wound and e’rything. Not today, he’s still up and kicking. He ain’t going out without a fight. He’s got family too.
Day’s over, ya comin’ home. Larry’s already chilling, he gives you the eye. That means the money’s home. You see Beatrice, she’s sleepin’ sound. You don’t wake her. Timmy and Tommy gonna be home soon, your mother tryn’a fix something up. You tell her you had a good day, don’t make eye contact. You open your room, then ya knockout till dinner.
Come dinner, ya take out your zippy. Timmy got nothing on your bread. You take the slices adn stuff them in your face, say you already ate. Beatrice gets the most, little Timmy gets more potato, Tommy ain’t runnin’ from carrots, your father gets the peas and Lenny has whatever. Day comes short, and nights even shorter. E’ryone be finished, and it’s time to hit the hay. Your mother come get ya, “Good night.”
“Night,” ya reply, then she outta there. Ya wait five minutes then ya check the locks. You know your mother too tired, your father asleep, Lenny ain’t on that and Beatrice ain’t obligated. The only one is you. So you check the front door, all clear, and that means it time to knock. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s how your day goes. It’s only a humble life. Ya work, ya provide, and ya survive. So, what’s so special?
You see, come morning ya do the same thing. You pray ta’ god, you save your dinner, but you ain’t tired. You full of energy. You leave your home, but on the street you see Old Lady Benneht. But she ain’t a geezer. In fact, she lookin’ like ex-military, wearing camo pants, camo shirt, her arm could take me out in one hit. Nobody gon’ be scrapin’ with Benneth. So she come up ta’ ya’, and asks ya, “Got a bill?” But she ain’t muggin’ ya. Na, she provides. She be the first person ta’ help ya’. You owe her your life. A bill for her ain’t nuthin’. You see, she be runnin’ the old orphanage. She a white lady but she got black kids.
“Got a new one today. Out to get her welcome gift.” You nod, and send her a five. You know secretly she be a shooter, how else she gon be providing for the kids? Last time you hit up her place, ya saw ten rascals. She ain’t foolin’ anybody. Won’t admit it, but the entire streets be knowin’ bout her. New body turn up and she the first ta’ mention it.
“Little one says she wants a Barbie. I’d say give her a gun. Least then she can fight. Catch my drift?” Ya nod.
“Next time you come around, come in. They’ll be thrilled to see you. You helpin’ them as much as I helped you. They appreciate it. So do I.” Ya nod again. And come next time, when you visit her orphanage, those little punks be giving you the biggest smiles you’ve ever seen. Ya ain’t seen nothin’ like that. These ain’t the sticks, this is reality. I be livin without anything, but if I can still make these kids smile with all their heart, then I would’ trade it for the world.