First of all, let me
thank you for purchasing this digital book and for your decision to
support the efforts of independent authors. By purchasing this
digital book from me instead of getting it from those that pirate
other’s works, you prove that you care about the efforts of indie
authors who strive to bring you their stories.
I want to thank my Beta
Readers L.E and E.X. Smith for their enthusiasm and encouragement to
continue the story of Scotty and Vanessa. I want to thank Team Pepper
Pace and those that have sent me messages, made reviews and shared
information about my writing. Special thanks go out to my number one
Beta reader L.E. for her constant pokes with a stick to keep the
Now let’s talk about
HEAs. You’ve probably heard the term—it means happily ever
after. I received several comments and letters showing fear for
the future of the characters in this story. Relax. Despite the ups
and downs that many of my characters go through, I am a strict
believer of HEAs. A long time ago I vowed to always include HEAs and
that goes doubly true for Everything is Everything.
I do want to remind you
that despite the category of a Pepper Pace story, it will always
contain interracial love and mature themes. This Urban Lit story
contains more graphic depictions than many of my other stories as it
is centered on an illegal drug trade and the difficulties of living
in an economically depressed area. That is the basis of Urban
Literature Fiction. There is still romance and sometimes comedic
situations, but the focus of Urban Fiction is street life and its
numerous illegal ‘hustles’. What I’m saying is to please keep
that in mind when you chose this series. This is not your run of the
© 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 Everything is Everything book 2. All rights
reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions
thereof in any form whatsoever, except for short excerpts appearing
in book reviews. For reprint or excerpt permission inquiries, please
contact the author by e-mail at: email@example.com
is Everything book 2 is a work of fiction. Characters – including
their names, places and incidents are products of the author’s
imagination or are otherwise used fictitiously. Any similarity from
this book to events occurring in real life – including locations,
or persons living or dead is wholly coincidental. The use of musical
titles and the naming of musical artists is not an infringement of
copyright per sections 106
the fair use of a copyrighted work.
What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of
little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.
concentrated on the reddened flesh of his wrist where the handcuffs
had bitten into his skin. He knew that he should be working on his
game face and showing that he wasn’t one to fuck with. But the
truth of the matter is that he hoped someone would try. He hoped that
someone would look at him and just see a white guy with longish,
blondish hair and eyes that were a light shade of grey-blue. He hoped
someone would make the mistake of trying to flex because Scotty knew
this is how jail worked. And then he could smash his fist into
someone’s face and hear the satisfying crunch of bone giving away
beneath his blows. Right now he wanted nothing more than to punch and
scream and … He blinked and focused on his wrists. Best to think
about his exit strategy.
This was the second
week of his arrest. He’d been in juvenile detention for a week in a
half until being transferred to the Justice Center Friday. Now it was
Monday. He hated jail more than he hated anything. The food made you
sick, there was no place to lie down and you always had to be on
guard. At least in Juvie he was immediately assigned his bed and
duties. But in jail all you did was wait.
This was not his first
stint in lock up. At the age of seventeen Scotty Tremont knew the ins
and outs of the Ohio criminal justice system. Mostly it was in the
form of Juvenile detention, weekend stays in jail, and once he had
sat cooling his heels for a month at a boy’s farm until they had
run out of space and released him in order to accommodate more
Jail didn’t scare
him, what scared him was leaving his brothers and sisters. Now that
he was the oldest responsible Tremont he had to make sure Miss Gloria
had money to take care of everyone and that Phonso had protection
from the bullies and predators of the ghetto. His little brother was
fifteen but walked around as if he was twice that.
In some ways the ghetto
offered Alphonso Tremont more protection than it did Scotty. Being
half black Alphonso at least looked like most of the people that the
brothers interacted with.
But Scotty knew that
the drug game was one made up of opportunities and splitting up the
Tremont brothers was a perfect opportunity for someone to step in and
Anger washed over him
again at the stupid mistake that had landed him in jail. It had
happened at a house party. The party had gotten too wild and the cops
were called. But instead of just busting it up they all got searched.
had been holding meth,
which would bump the charges from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Stupid little punk!
Phonso was far too ambitious. They were only supposed to be holding
marijuana and so Scotty had made his brother give him all the drugs
and he had caught the possession with intent to distribute charge.
It carried a mandatory
three and a half year sentence.
The city of
Cincinnati’s Justice center had offered him a way out. If he
entered a juvenile divergence program and followed it through to the
end then he could have his record expunged of all drug crimes—past
and present. In order to make this happen he would have to do
something called ‘Scared Straight.’
Scared Straight is
where the city tried to show young offenders the harsh realities of
the criminal justice system by taking them to prison and literally
scaring them straight. The young offenders would be shown the side
of prison that one didn’t get to see on television or the
movies--non-censored and in your face.
Scotty had readily
agreed. But then he had found out where he was going; Lebanon. It
was the hardest prison in the state of Ohio. But that wasn’t the
issue. The issue is that Lebanon County Prison is also where his
“Yo, white boy,”
Scotty’s eyes moved upward and locked onto those of a young black
guy who was standing over him. “That’s my seat.” The young
man’s eyes darted around to see who was watching, who he was
Most wouldn’t look
at Scotty Tremont and see that he was no different than many of
them. They wouldn’t immediately know that he’d had to fight
harder than most because not only was he the product of the ghetto,
the product of a pimp father and a prostitute mother—but he’d
had to constantly prove that his white skin didn’t make him soft.
Scotty had a strong survivor’s mentality—a fact which surpassed
the color of ones skin.
“Get up nigger!
Don’t make me have to tell you twice!” The young man said. He
was bigger than Scotty and he flexed arms that were swollen by more
fat than muscle.
The other men in the
holding cell watched with interest. A few knew that the black man
was messing with the wrong white guy and egged it on anyways in the
hopes of witnessing some free entertainment.
gleamed a half second before he rose off the old bench worn smooth
by countless asses. The young thug suddenly looked unsure but puffed
out his chest since he and the white boy were now the center of
interested in arguing, he just snaked out his fist where it smashed
into the man’s face.
Taken by surprise, his
head jerked back. Less than a second later his body followed and he
hit the floor splayed out—and knocked out.
Scotty blinked in
disappointment. He had barely tapped into his need to break
something. But it went against his grain to hit someone while they
were down so he just stood there a moment hoping the thug would at
least wake up so that he could put him to sleep again.
The sound of hooping
and hollering brought Scotty out of his anger and he distinctly
heard several men yelling for him to walk away. An older black man
that had to be pushing forty suddenly grabbed Scotty by the arm and
dragged him away. Scotty focused his attention on the new guy,
debating with himself whether he wanted a new focus for his burning
young blood. You don’t need to catch another case over some dumb
After a pause Scotty
nodded. “Thank you.”
A moment later two
guards entered the holding cell and looked at the young man who was
still lying on the floor out cold.
“What the hell
happened here?” A guard asked gruffly.
The noise quieted and
Scotty waited silently. But no one said a word. Eventually they
dragged the semi-conscious man out of the holding cell. He did not
It wasn’t until
right before lunch that the bus finally arrived to take the boys
eligible for the Scared Straight program to the Lebanon Correctional
Facility. That meant no food for him. Not that Scotty was looking
forward to another lunch consisting of suspicious looking bologna on
white bread, a thin slice of cheese, a packet of mustard, and the
carton of imitation orange juice.
He was hungry but that
wasn’t anything new. He hunkered down in his seat filled with
strategically placed springs that threatened to puncture his balls.
He half-heartedly listened to the other boys try to outdo each other
with their list of crimes.
There were eight other
boys. Of them was a thirteen year old who had punched his teacher in
the face. He had cool points until it was discovered that his
teacher was a woman. Scotty and another boy were the eldest and both
were there for drug offenses. The two eyed each other suspiciously
until they discovered that they worked in two totally different
Of the nine youths on
their way to the Scared Straight program none seemed interested in
Four had never been to
juvie nor had they ever seen the inside of a correctional
institution. Scotty thought they were the loudest shit-talkers that
he had ever heard. The others had been in and out of juvie for
mainly drug related offenses. While less boisterous Scotty could
easily tell the difference between those that meant to give everyone
around them a hard time and those that wanted to just get through
After the bus arrived
the boys were herded into a processing area. Mr. Kunly was the
correction’s officer in charge of them for the day. He was a tall
thick man with a face that seemed to be frozen into a perpetual
scowl. His buzz cut and cold brown eyes only amplified the fact that
he either hated his job or hated the kids.
He began by calling
them harsh names; asshole, hey you dummy, etc. They were then made
to put on orange jumpsuits and for the smaller kids they were made
to roll up the legs and arms until they resembled circus clowns.
The boys did a lot of
grumbling and complaining under their voices until Mr. Kunly got
into their faces Drill Sargent style.
Scotty and the other
boy his age stayed quiet. When Kunly or any of the other guards got
into their faces neither made sarcastic come-backs. They kept their
eyes averted and made simple responses when asked a question.
The thirteen-year old
teacher-attacker, though was a different story. He and a few others
did nothing but act out, assured of the fact that they were
untouchable because of their age.
“I ain’t scared,”
the boy stated with a self-assured smirk. “I’m going home
tonight and these fools will still be here.”
Kunly turned and his
eyes locked onto the boy and Scotty saw a subtle shift in the man’s
expression and demeanor.
“Is that what you
think, little man?” Kunly asked.
The boy’s chin
lifted in defiance.
“That’s what I
Kunly smiled and it
was dark and mean. Scotty frowned knowing that this day was not
going to fair well for the little man.
After a brief
orientation where ‘little man’ kept making comments under his
breath and getting yelled at, and some of the others were egging it
on, Kunly announced that orientation was over and led them out of
the room. He had a smile on his face and when Scotty looked around
he noticed that all of their guards did as well. Scotty put himself
on alert that something was coming.
Sure enough, as soon
as they entered the next room and the door was closed several men
grabbed them. Some of the boys were roughly lifted and passed from
one prisoner to another, while some of the bigger youth were just
slammed roughly against the cement walls.
At the rough
treatment, Scotty went into defense mode. He had been pushed face
first against the cement wall, his arms pinned by several larger
men. Someone clamped his hand around the back of Scotty’s neck,
holding him firmly in place against the wall.
“Stay down Scotty.”
pivoted at the familiar voice. His heart began to thud in a mix of
regret and excitement.
It was the voice of
his father, Juan Carlos Tremont.
“You have to get a
pat down. Don’t worry, it’s just some bullshit.” Juan Carlos
made sure his son would stay put against the wall before making the
motions of patting him down.
The guards were
standing by the door watching with amusement, as some of the
prisoners got a bit aggressive with the kids. Little man was yelling
that they were breaking his arm and the prisoner patting him down
immediately pressed the boy’s face roughly against the cement
wall. The man wasn’t very big; in fact he was fairly short in
stature. His brown dome was shaved and he wore a slight goatee. His
expression is what made a relatively small man look dangerous. He
pressed his lips against the struggling boy’s ear and began to
speak in low tones. When Little Man cried out in pain the man didn’t
let up on the pressure but pressed his face even harder against the
wall. The man barked out a short order and Little Man cried out
tearfully, ‘Yes, sir!’
When the pat down was
complete more than one boy had tears in their eyes. They were all
made to line up shoulder to shoulder while the prisoners stood back
glaring at them, pacing like caged animals and anxious to do
Scotty’s eyes fell
on to his father. He hadn’t seen the man in years. He’d been a
little kid the last time Juan Carlos had been a free man. Scotty
didn’t think he looked much different although his prison issued
jeans and t-shirt was far from the fashionable pimp that he’d been
ten years ago.
His father was of
average height and weight and yet his presence seemed big. Perhaps
it was his eyes that seemed to pierce straight through you. His eyes
were brown—nearly black, fathomless orbs beneath a straight brow
that lead down to a straight nose. He wore a heavy mustache, which
was streaked in grey. His brown skin and thick curly hair proclaimed
his Hispanic origins. Even in his early forties and incarcerated for
more years than not, it was plain to see why he had no trouble
finding women to pimp out. Juan Carlos was handsome.
Kunly stepped forward,
still smirking. “Okay ladies, lets begin with a little
introduction into Prison Life 101.”
Kunly’s eyes met
that of Little Man who stood quietly sniffling back angry tears.
“You don’t run
this house. You will never run this house because this is my
house.” Kunly gestured to the stalking men. “You’re going to
have to go up against all of them just to get a chance—and these
aren’t even the worse of them. These are the best of them.
We aren’t allowed to have you around the worst of them because
they fuck little boys like you. Or they take you for everything you
got and pimp you out. That’s if you’re lucky. Because worse case
scenario you just end up another dead nigger, another dead honky,
another dead spic.”
One boy bristled at
being referred to as a nigger and a white inmate got in his face.
“You’ll be my
nigger. I can already see that. I got about fifteen more years in
here and when I get through with you I’ll pass you along to the
rest of the brotherhood. That’s right boy. I’m a white
supremacist and there are plenty more where I come from.”
The young boy stood
bravely but fear and frustration had caused tears to course down his
cheeks. As soon as the tears appeared five inmates jumped into his
face yelling at him to shut-up and to stop acting like a little
bitch. One of the guards finally broke it up but the kid was visibly
shaking and crying by that point. It was very easy to forget that
the State of Ohio wouldn’t allow the children to be raped and
beaten up on their watch.
The inmates took turns
questioning the kids about their crimes, getting into their faces
and pushing them around. But no one said one word to Scotty who just
watched his father stand-by quietly without getting involved in the
show of scaring the kids.
After that they went
on a tour of the lunchroom, which was crowded with men who
cat-called them when they walked into the room. They were given food
to eat while the inmates from the previous room made sure they knew
how to sit and eat.
Scotty got his tray of
food while his father escorted him silently. After they were seated
Scotty stared down at the food. There was a grey piece of meat with
grey sauce on it, meatloaf? There were also soggy mixed vegetables,
translucent mashed potatoes and two slices of white bread.
His stomach turned.
“Don’t eat that,”
Juan Carlos spoke while the other kids complained at how bad it
smelled and tasted.
“You don’t eat?”
Scotty spoke for the first time.
“Only the derelicts
eat this. The rest of us get commissary. Besides they made up a
special batch of food for the chumps,” Juan Carlos gestured at the
other kids with his thumb. “This is garbage.”
“We’ll have time
to talk after lunch.” Scotty met his father’s eyes. Juan Carlos
was not his biological father but he was married to his mother and
he was also the only man to ever step into that role.
“Talk about what?”
Scotty stated plainly. He hadn’t been around in years and Scotty
figured that if they wanted to play catch up they could have done it
Juan Carlos didn’t
seem bothered by the coldness in Scotty’s voice. “We need to
Thankfully for the
other kids, the meal only lasted fifteen minutes and they were
escorted to the showers where they were told that if they needed to
relieve themselves they could do so now even though everything was
open for everyone to see you do your business.
Next came time for
them to be locked into the cells with the individual prisoners.
Little Man protested
feebly when he saw that they would be locked in a small cell without
a guard present. Two prisoners who were evidently bunk mates waited
for Little Man. Once the cell door closed behind him they made him
give them his gym shoes.
Scotty followed his
father up one tier to where more cells lined the circumference of
the room. The prison wasn’t like what he was used to seeing on
television. They were in a large room with two levels and a common
area on the main floor.
The majority of the
inmates were congregating here although as he passed cells he could
see that some were in their cells lying in bunks and reading.
It seemed relaxed for
prison. The common area had tables that were bolted to the floor and
small stools that served as the seats. There were two telephones
that he could see, a television set, which had such bad reception
that he could barely tell what was playing. And last there was a
room that looked over it all, and that is where the two guards
Scotty followed his
father into a cell. He looked around, surprised at how small it was.
But it was clean. There were two bunks, a sink a toilet and a ledge
that served as a desk. Lining one wall were two sets of shelves and
they were crammed with the men’s belonging; everything from books,
papers, magazines, toilet paper and cooking spices.
“Have a seat.”
Juan Carlos gestured to a bunk. “That’s where I sleep, so it’s
Scotty was close to
telling him no but decided to just go with it. He plopped down on
the hard bunk realizing that there was no box springs beneath the
mattress, just a metal slab which didn’t yield beneath his weight.
His father squatted
and pulled a large plastic bin from beneath the bed.
good Scotty.” Juan Carlos stated while lifting the lid. Scotty saw
that the trunk was filled with food. His father retrieved a packet
of ramen noodles and a can of generic spaghetti sauce.
Juan Carlos looked at
him when Scotty didn’t reply. “I guess you’re thinking that
there isn’t much for us to say, right?”
grumbled. “No. I’m wondering how you’re going to cook that.”
Juan Carlos smiled and
rose to his feet. He placed the items on the desk and Scotty saw
that there was a little hot plate nestled in the corner.
“I have discovered
twenty-seven uses for noodle soup.”
Juan retrieved a
dented tin pot from one of the shelves and dumped the contents of
the noodle packet and sauce in all at once. “You should see what I
can do with some hamburger meat. When you think about it, there are
all kinds of canned foods that can be repurposed.” He chuckled.
“There’s canned meat, fish, sauces and soup. I can even make
tacos as good as the ones we had at home.” He met Scotty’s eyes.
“Remember those tacos I use to make? You kids could never get
enough of them.”
respond. He remembered the tacos. He also remembered when the man
would get locked up again and there was nothing to eat.
Juan Carlos stood over
the hotplate stirring the hard noodles and congealed sauce with a
“Are you coming here
to stay a while?” He finally asked.
Scotty, whose eyes had
been drawn to the pot of food, met his father’s eyes in confusion.
“I’m just doing
this program so that I can hit the streets as soon as possible.”
“Ah, so you are
planning on coming here permanently.”
gathered in annoyance that this man who knew so little about him and
who obviously couldn’t pimp without getting locked up would think
that he couldn’t hustle. Yes, they were both in prison but the
difference was that Scotty was only a visitor and didn’t intend to
stay in this life long enough to become a permanent resident.
“Nah. It’s not
going to be like that for me-“
“How are your
brothers and sisters, your mom?” Juan Carlos interrupted.
Scotty drew in a deep
breath. His eyes took in the room. There were pictures but none were
of him, his brothers and sisters or his Mom. They all must have
belonged to the other bunkmate—who evidently gave a shit about his
“The same,” he
said feeling no desire to give the man more than that. He didn’t
deserve more than that.
“How did you know
that I was coming?”
Juan Carlos watched
Scotty. “We have the same last name. They asked me and I told them
you were my kid. I got some clout so here we are. For the record
when you do come here, you’ll have clout too.”
Scotty was too
confused to be angry that Juan Carlos refused to believe that he
wouldn’t end up in the penitentiary.
“Well son, I’ve
been here and I’ve made a reputation for myself. A better rep here
than I have out on the streets.” Juan Carlos paused to break open
the packet of noodle mix season. He sprinkled it on the sauce, which
was now beginning to bubble.
“There are a lot of
good hustles here. Believe it or not cigarettes is about as big as
drugs. I don’t mess with the dope. The gangs lock that up. Selling
commissary is good money; food and smokes is about all the State of
Ohio will allow us.”
Juan Carlos withdrew
another bin from beneath the bed and Scotty stood to give him room.
When the lid was lifted he saw that it was filled with cases of
cigarettes. The older man broke open a box and then one of the
packets. He shook out two cigarettes and offered one to Scotty.
Scotty accepted it and
a moment after his father passed him a portable lighter he
gratefully inhaled a lungful of smoke. He hadn’t had a cigarette
in days. The small cell began to fill with the smell of tobacco and
spaghetti, which was surprisingly pleasant.
“So I’m saying
that when you get here-“
“Dad, I’m not
going to end up here,” Scotty bit out. “I have a plan. This is
not going to be my life, not hustling, not prison. I’m out of it
as soon as I can. I’m not greedy. I don’t need to be rich. I
just need to make sure that my family is taken care of.”
“Most men feel the
same way. A good amount of them end up in a prison cell just like
Juan had turned back
to the hot plate and began serving up big forkfuls of steaming
sauce-covered noodles onto two paper plates.
He picked up the
plates and handed one to Scotty. “Sit and eat.” The two men sat
on the edge of the bed and Scotty forked the food into his mouth. He
gave Juan a look of surprise that the concoction was actually pretty
“Do you like it?”
The man asked.
Scotty nodded and ate
quickly, not knowing if a guard would show up and make him leave
before he had a chance to fill his belly.
“Slow down son. We
got time. Do you want a Coca Cola?”
Scotty nodded, though
he didn’t slow down. He didn’t trust his father’s assertions.
Scotty rarely trusted what anyone said. Words were just the lip
service people gave in order to have something to say. People talked
too much even when they knew they couldn’t back up their words. It
was a game to some, but not to Scotty. His word was his bond.
Juan Carlos hadn’t
ever made any promises, though. He just stayed long enough to make
everyone think that things would get better.
Within a minute Scotty
had the food finished, his cigarette butt squashed in the last bit
of red sauce on the plate and he was nursing the Coca Cola.
It had been the best
meal that he’d had in weeks.
Juan Carlos passed his
half finished plate of food to Scotty who declined. Juan Carlos
placed the plate on the desk and studied the boy proudly.
“You look good
Scotty. You took care of yourself. I wasn’t always sure how it
would turn out for you; being white and living in the projects. We
could have moved to Covington Kentucky where there were more whites
but once Tracy started having black kids it didn’t really matter.”
Scotty studied his
father not sensing any animosity in his words. He knew that Juan
Carlos accepted all of Tracy Tremont’s children as his own
regardless of whether or not he was the biological father. He’d
explained to them that family had nothing to do with blood. He was a
Hispanic man married to a white woman with three black kids, four
white kids and one Hispanic kid. And he didn’t even treat the one
kid that was biologically his own any different than any of the
This was maybe the
only valuable thing that Juan Carlos had ever taught them; and why
Scotty couldn’t completely hate the man. Juan Carlos had pimped
out his mother as if she was his possession, as if he owned her. And
by association he felt as if he owned them all. Scotty had come to
understand that it made Juan Carlos feel powerful to be the source
of their creation.
Scotty figured that
Juan Carlos loved them all the way a master loved his slaves. The
way that crazy preacher Jim Jones loved his disciples. Their love
was tainted, though. You can’t love something that you haven’t
taken the time to get to know and understand.
Scotty was suddenly
tired. He’d had enough of this trip down memory lane. But figured
that his father wanted something and until they got to the point
this was just going to get long and drawn out. But Scotty didn’t
think the man deserved to get the nice easy version of the facts. He
intended to keep it real.
“What do you want to
talk about?” Scotty finally asked coldly. “Mom? She’s not
hooking these days. She’s got full blown AIDS and is living in a
residential treatment facility for recovering addicts.”
Juan’s eyes flinched
and then he looked away.
“She seems happier
though. But she misses us. The court took us away. Me, Phonso and
Beady visit her sometimes but she can only have supervised visits
with the others—and that doesn’t happen so…”
Juan Carlos looked at
his son, “You kids got separated …”
Scotty was surprised
to see that Juan Carlos seemed saddened by that.
“You never met
Tyrone. He’s four now. Mom hooked up with Beady’s father and had
Tyrone. Well Beady and Tyrone’s grandmother is Miss Gloria and she
took in those two. She was willing to take in Ginger, Erica and EJ
as long as I was able to bring in money on the side to help out.”
Juan Carlos looked
down with a frown. “What about Alphonso?”
“He and I got a
place together in Garden Hill Top.”
“How did you manage
that?” Juan Carlos asked.
“We just got some
guy we hang out with to put his name on the lease.” No one
bothered them—well other than the numerous girls that Alphonso
brought around. He might be fifteen but he whored around like he was
twice that. It surprised Scotty that his brother didn’t have
children … although the two were very much in consensus that there
was no need to bring any more children into the world.
Scotty reached for
another cigarette; his brow was creased with anxiety. “Do you
remember Leelah James?”
Juan Carlos paused in
lighting his own cigarette. “Leelah,” he said softly. “She
never let me come back. When I messed up with her there was no going
Scotty said bluntly.
The cigarette fell
from Juan Carlos’ hands. He stared at his son ignoring the
smoldering cigarette that lay on the concrete floor between his
eventually asked and this time his voice sounded brittle like the
polar ice caps.
“Raped and murdered
… while she was tricking.”
Juan Carlos rose to
his feet. He walked to the cell door and clung to the bars, his back
to his son.
“Who did it?” he
Juan Carlos looked
over his shoulder towards Scotty. “How long ago?”
“About two years.”
“And what about
Vanessa?” Juan Carlos asked after a long pause.
lying and saying that he didn’t know. He thought about the lack of
pictures of them and how Juan Carlos hadn’t been around. How the
only thing that the man had to gloat and be proud about was a legacy
of pain for bringing two young women into that life; one murdered in
the street, the other HIV positive and strung out. And then what
about the children with a father that couldn’t protect them, and
how about him dropping out of school last year so that he could work
his hustle full time.
Scotty was happy to
knock the smile off Juan Carlos’ lips. Because skipping down
memory lane wouldn’t be any fun for him.
“Vanessa lives with
her grandma. I think she, at least, is going to be alright.”
Juan Carlos looked
shaken when he turned back to Scotty.
“Is this Miss Gloria
“Yes.” Scotty said
Juan Carlos sat down
on the bunk with his head buried in his hands tiredly. “You should
go talk to your brother now. He wants to see you before you leave.
He’s in the high security wing so you’ll have to talk to him
Scotty’s head began
Juan Carlos looked up
at him with dead eyes. “Yes. He has some things that he wants to
get off his chest, Scotty. Something to do with the hammer you used
on his face.”
Scotty shook his head,
his mouth going dry.
“Tino’s … here?”
Juan stood. “Come
on, I’ll take you to him.”
Scotty flinched. “No.
No, I’m not—no.”
still your brother. He’s your family-“
Scotty backed away from his father until the back of his legs hit
Two years ago Scotty,
at the age of fifteen and tired of being his older brother’s
punching bag had picked up a hammer and had beaten his brother with
His beatings at the
hands of his older brother had been bad enough, but then he
discovered that he’d been sending their younger brother out to
sell drugs. Tino had successfully destroyed Scotty’s chances of
fitting in at the prestigious high school that his high-test scores
had allowed him to attend by forcing him to sell drugs there.
Soon he was just seen
as another stoner and when he’d eventually dropped out, no one
thought it was a loss.
Tino had forced him to
sell drugs at the school and when Scotty had refused Tino had beaten
him. Scotty still wore the evidence of that beating on his face in
the form of a scar beneath his left eye that hadn’t been stitched.
That had only
solidified the hate but what had taken it over the edge is what he’d
done to Vanessa. He should not have done that to Vanessa White, so
innocent and far removed from the dirt of the ghetto. She would not
have known that despite the fact that Tino was also her half-brother
that he was a viper just waiting to strike.
straightened but his cold grey-blue eyes locked onto his father’s.
“Tino and I have
nothing to discuss. When I laid down the law that night I told him
not to ever come back—that if I saw him I’d kill him.” Scotty
had actually thought that his brother’s absence was due to his
belief that Scotty would in fact carry out the threat. Now he saw
that it was more than likely the fact that the older brother was in
“You hit him with a
“He beat me for
years, and broke Phonso’s wrist! Oh and by the way, the night I
used the hammer on him—it was after he tried fucking his own
Juan Carlos’ brow
drew together quickly.
“He didn’t tell
you that shit, did he? How after her mother died Vanessa was taken
to live with her grandmother. But she came back to visit me and
instead got Tino. I got home in time to see her crying and running
away. Luckily she got away. Beady wasn’t so lucky.”
Juan Carlos’ face
was pale. “I didn’t know—“
“Of course you
didn’t. How could you? You are here while I’m the one fixing all
the broken pieces!”
Juan Carlos shook his
“We’re done here.
Tino’s no brother of mine. Let him know that if I see him, I’ll
finish the job.”
He moved past his
father and out the cell. Their conversation had been loud and he had
the attention of several men but no one said anything to him as he
rushed down to the lower tier where he rejoined the Scared Straight
When Scotty left the
divergence program his prior criminal record was expunged. He left
the Justice Center like a newborn baby with no history of his many
When he inhaled, the
air tasted sweet even though he was right smack dab in the middle of
A car filled with his
friends was waiting for him at the curb and they shouted
enthusiastically at him. Scotty smiled but there was one small part
of him that wondered what it would be like to start his life anew.
Right now, no more hustling. He had his GED and he could go to
college and follow his dream to teach.
But it wasn’t time.
Soon, though, when he was sure that his brothers and sisters
wouldn’t end up right back in the ghetto. He thought about Vanessa
White, happy that she had made her way out of the projects
completely. He prayed that she would make it.
Miss Gloria gave him a
huge hug when he entered the small house.
“Hi Miss Gloria,”
he said while holding her frail body against his. He didn’t
release her first. He always waited for her to move away before he
dropped his hands. He wouldn’t admit it to anyone but Scotty
enjoyed the human contact.
She brushed her hands
against the stubble on his cheeks. “They don’t give you razors
in that place?”
His brothers and
sisters rushed into the room and jumped on him. Even little Ty tried
to climb into the foray. He hefted his little brother up onto his
shoulders. He was four years old but a big sturdy four. Miss Gloria
fed him better than their mother ever had and now the little boy
with caramel colored skin, hazel eyes and a curly ‘fro was
guaranteed to be a star football player if he ever decided to play
Phonso closed the
front door after them and gave Miss Gloria a hug before he slapped
Scotty on the back and led him into the house.
“Grandma made a lot
of food for you,” Ginger smiled up at him. Scotty lightly pinched
her nose even though at the age of ten she should be done with such
things. Unfortunately Ginger would always be much younger than her
chronological years. She was a pretty redhead with freckles and
green eyes. Whoever her biological father was, he had to be straight
from Ireland. She was also autistic and though her abilities had
been greatly enhanced by the special school she attended, she would
always be developmentally behind other children her age.
“Go wash up so I can
feed you.” Miss Gloria directed. “Y’all kids get down off’n
him and let your brother get cleaned up.”
She sounded gruff but
there was a merry twinkle in her eyes. Scotty leaned in and kissed
her cheek once again.
The house smelled
amazing, like Thanksgiving Day. Scotty was starving and wondered if
he would always feel like there was an empty hollow in the pit of
his stomach waiting to be filled.
His brother EJ made to
follow him but Miss Gloria stopped him and told him to take out the
“Yes ma’am,” the
twelve year old said sullenly but did as he was instructed. He would
be as tall as Scotty’s 6’3” inches but would probably stay
wiry thin. The boy’s fraternal twin Erica was also tall and lanky
though not quite as tall and not quite as lanky as EJ. She hugged
Scotty happily before skipping off back to help set the table.
Once everyone else had
retreated to complete their chores Beady punched him lightly in the
arm with a big smile spread across her pretty face.
“Ow,” he exclaimed
while rubbing the fake injury to his arm.
‘bro.” She stated, following him up the stairs as if he was her
“You act as if
you’re happy to see me,” Scotty stated while hiding a smile.
They headed down the hall together.
“You ain’t so bad
… especially when you’re not around.”
He tugged her short
hair gently and she swatted his hand away playfully.
There had been a time
when the sight of him would nearly enrage her. It was back when she
would try to attend the house parties that her other friends always
She could never make
it to the best ones because Scotty would always be there glaring at
her. Sometimes he’d be the only white guy in a sea of black and
Hispanic faces. He’d watch her suspiciously, silently demanding
that she split. She’d glare right back at him. He was only a year
older than her and she would be damned if he would tell her what to
Then Scotty would
continue dancing with whatever chick he was with at the time, but
his eyes would never leave her. He’d sell his dope while glaring
at her and despite how much she wanted to be able to ignore him it
was hard to do.
And if a guy asked to
dance with her Scotty would actually start a fight with the dude!
Scotty wouldn’t let her drink, if he saw her try he’d knock the
drink out of her hand and try to haul her out of the house. If she
kicked him in the shin he’d let her loose but would just smirk at
She knew what that
look meant—if she stayed he wouldn’t let her have any fun,
wouldn’t let her talk to a dude or dance or anything. So in a huff
she’d just leave. It got to the point that if she walked into a
house party and saw Scotty she’d just turn right around and leave.
One day when Scotty
was locked up she finally made it into one of the better parties.
Phonso was there but he was too busy having fun to care about what
she was doing. Besides, she was pretty sure that she could beat
Phonso in a fair fight-she was older and bigger than him.
At sixteen Beatrice
Tremont was that type of fine that everyone else wanted to be.
Although part black and part white she wasn’t light skinned but a
medium brown complexion. She kept her golden brown hair cut short
like Anita Baker’s and she didn’t need the fake contacts that so
many others wore to make her eyes hazel.
Someone had once told
her that she was built like a brick-shithouse (though she didn’t
see how that was any type of compliment), and she knew that she
could pass for much older even if she wasn’t all that tall.
Boys liked her and she
liked boys. Boys Beady knew how to handle. But not men …
She shuddered at the
thought of a man touching her, but sex was something that called to
her—even if she didn’t let a boy put it in her.
Sometimes she just
needed to let him extinguish her desires before she dismissed him
and his needs. Sometimes she would give in but it was rare for her
to allow boy’s penis on or in her.
One day while Scotty
was locked up she had finally made it into a decent house party.
The music was blasting
down the street and although it was BYOB there was plenty of beer.
She and her girls were dressed fly and they looked better than the
older broads who were trying to get the attention of the coolest
The crowd was older
than her, which was cool since she looked older but she didn’t
really know any of the people. They weren’t the same crowd she
knew from when she used to live in the projects.
Phonso was there doing
the hottest dances and selling mass weed. She avoided him on the off
chance that he wanted to emulate Scotty. Beady began to enjoy the
party, the beer, the music as well as the boys that noticed her.
But before long some
guy started dancing up against her. Not only was he old enough to be
her daddy, he was loud and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Even
when she walked off the dance floor he followed her and cornered
her, still talking smack. She finally had to tell him that she was
sixteen and still he wouldn’t get it into his over-indulged mind
that she had no interest in him.
Beady had been
terrified. She liked to control the boys she dealt with and being a
girl used to the streets she handled herself well. But this was a
grown man and he wouldn’t leave her alone—not until Phonso
popped out of nowhere and began slicing the man with his
switchblade. Phonso kept cutting the fool until he scurried out of
the house with blood streaming from several wounds.
understood that she might be one tough bitch, but she couldn’t
handle every situation.
Scotty paused outside
of the bathroom door and Beady gave him a crooked smile.
“Thanks,” she said
The smile fell from
his face instantly. “What happened?”
His nostrils were flaring.
She shook her head and
gave him an amused look. “Are you some type of mind reader?
Nothing happened. But now I understand why you stay on my ass so
much. But it’s all good, ‘bro.”
“Beady,” he warned
but she headed back down the hall and down the stairs calling over
“Hurry up so we can
eat! Grandma’s been cooking all day!” And then she disappeared.
Scotty closed the
bathroom door, now more sure than ever that he was not going
Miss Gloria cooked as
if she was still living in Alabama and dinner consisted of ham,
southern cheese grits, collard greens, hot water cornbread, red-eye
gravy, crowder peas, sweet potato casserole and roast chicken
thighs. Instead of one simple desert the older woman made everyone’s
favorite so there was a lemon icebox cake, a peach cobbler and
because Scotty had turned eighteen while in prison—a birthday
Miss Gloria didn’t
like family to thank her for making dinner. For her, the way to show
your appreciation was to fill your plate over and over again with
And Scotty did just
After dinner he
checked that the bills were paid and saw that the bank account was
as low as it had ever been. Miss Gloria was a thrifty woman, shopped
at Findlay Market and bought the kids clothes from Sears, but
Ginger’s school cost three thousand dollars a semester and that
wasn’t covered by any of the vouchers offered by the county. Also,
the house was a big old rambling three- story home and every bit of
the space was necessary in order to accommodate them all. The
property taxes took a hefty chunk of money and had to be paid twice
a year without even factoring in the rent, which Scotty had sank the
last of his funds to pay up for half a year before being locked up.
Vouchers and WIC just
His head ached when he
closed the ledger. Later he would talk to Phonso about how much
money he had.
He joined his brothers
and sisters in the family room, happy at least that they wouldn’t
have to worry about these things.
After Magnum P.I.
went off everybody went off to bed. Miss Gloria had already fallen
asleep in her reclining chair and Phonso had left to take care of
Scotty leaned forward
closer to his sister who was curled comfortably at the end of the
“I saw J.C. when I
was in Lebanon.” Scotty said. She rarely referred to him as ‘Dad’
since she knew who her biological father was.
Her hazel eyes moved
from the large television set to rest on her brother. “Oh my God,
that’s messed up,” she grimaced. “Like some movie of the week
where the long lost father and son find each other in jail.”
“I agree with the
messed up part, but the long lost—not so much.” They always knew
where to find the man if necessary.
“How’d he look?”
She asked curiously.
“Good, actually. He
asked about all of you. I told him about Mom.”
Beady sighed. “I’ll
go with you next time you visit her. I haven’t seen her in a few
Scotty nodded. He
never looked forward to visiting Tracy but felt that he should keep
in touch. She had been a terrible mother but she had stuck around
and that counted for something.
He swallowed knowing
that he was about to bring up an unpleasant topic. He didn’t like
bringing up Tino considering what their brother had done to Beady,
but Scotty figured that she had a right to know.
“J.C told me that
Tino’s in Lebanon too.”
Beady sat up and
stared at Scotty. “He’s in prison …” Her mouth parted and
her brow gathered. “Do you know how long he’s been there?”
He shook his head
watching her. “I have no idea.”
“Damn. I always
wondered why he just disappeared,” she said quietly. “Do you
think he’s been locked up all this time?”
Scotty looked away.
She still didn’t know about the hammer incident.
“I don’t know.”
Only Phonso, EJ and
Erica knew … and whomever else Tino told because Scotty had never
brought up the incident again. But he would have thought that one of
the others would have mentioned it to her.
The three of them had
helped him clean up the aftermath—and not just the broken pieces
of furniture but the blood that had splattered against everything.
succeeded in killing his brother—but not for a lack of trying. He
had then dragged the nearly unconscious young man out the front door
and admonished him to never return. He should have picked up a
hammer or a knife or a gun long before then and killed the bastard.
It would have ended so much of the ensuing heartache.
He remembered back
when they had first discovered that Beady had been sexually abused.
He had wanted to go after the bastard that had done it but Tino had
convinced him not to worry about it, had told him that she was
better off living with her grandmother. Now he knew why. He hadn’t
seen Beady again for several months and by then he knew that at
least that part was true.
But in Vanessa’s
case it had been different. He had seen the look on her face after
their brother had touched her. Scotty tried not to remember her
terrified expression when he saw her running from his apartment.
By then he knew that
he loved her … but she wouldn’t even allow him to comfort her.
She ran from him too. When he’d gone into the apartment he saw
Phonso’s angry tear streaked face and he told Scotty what Tino had
done, how he’d kissed his own sister, how he had put his hands on
her. And all the while Tino just sat there looking smug and Scotty
had picked up the hammer …
“Did you see him?”
Beady asked anxiously.
His attention snapped
back to her. “No,” Scotty replied simply.
Beady sighed. “I
guess he had his reasons. But … I thought he cared more. I hated
him for a while for disappearing on us like that.”
“He was an asshole-“
Beady shook her head.
“Not really. He just didn’t know any other way to be.” She was
quiet for a while and Scotty was uncomfortable enough that he had
nothing to say either.
She drew in a deep
breath as if coming to a difficult decision. “Back when that shit
went down with the … molestation …” she glanced at her
grandmother checking that she was still asleep in her armchair.
Scotty cocked his head
and listened with a silent nod. They had never discussed what had
happened when she was thirteen. Child protective services had
removed her and sent her to live with her grandmother permanently
when they had discovered that she had been sexually abused.
Scotty had wanted to
kill the muther fucker that had touched his sister—little did he
know that it was his own brother.
“He came to see
me,” Beady continued.
Scotty shook his head
and then ran his hands through his long blond hair. It fell right
back into his face, his jaw clenched angrily.
“Beady I wish you
would have told me-“
“No. I couldn’t. I
couldn’t tell him either. He begged me to tell him. He even cried
and he punched the door. But he didn’t get mad at me, he just kept
telling me that he was sorry and asking for a name.”
The blood seemed to
flow from Scotty’s face.
Beatrice sighed. “I
shouldn’t have brought it up. It’s just that Tino seemed like he
cared and then he just disappeared right after-“
Scotty shuddered. He
moved to the edge of the couch and rose to his feet. Beady looked at
“Tino didn’t touch
you?” He asked just above a whisper.
She gave him a
surprised look. “Tino? No! Are you crazy?” She shook her head at
him. “Did you think--?”
He walked toward her
and knelt until he was inches from her face. Her eyes grew wide at
the anger she felt wafting from him.
She didn’t speak.
“I damn near killed
Tino because … I thought it was him. Beatrice, who raped you?”
Her eyes grew so wide
that she looked like a cartoon character. Her mouth parted and then
a breath of air fell from her lips that sounded like whisper of
wind, “My Dad.”
Scotty froze and then
looked over his shoulder at the sleeping woman that had given birth
to Beady’s father.
She was still asleep
and Scotty’s head slowly returned to the sight of his sister who
had begun shivering uncontrollably.
worked until she swallowed. She nodded quickly.
Scotty drew in a deep
breath and placed his hands on his sister’s shoulders until she
“Does Miss Gloria
“It happened at
Mama’s house, not when I was with grandma. But yes,” she finally
said. “I told grandma. I couldn’t tell Mom. She wouldn’t have
cared, might have still allowed him to come around,” she stated
bitterly. “I don’t know but I sure as hell didn’t want to take
a chance of finding out. I told grandma that I wanted to live with
her and I told her why. He … wasn’t allowed over here
once grandma found out. She told him that she was going to cut off
his dick and then call the police on him if he ever came around here
again. But now he’s dead and I’m cool with that.”
Scotty sat down next
to his sister and stared out into space. His mother’s
on-again-off-again boyfriend, the man that had fathered two of her
children had unexpectedly died of AIDS almost two years ago. In the
wake of his diagnosis his mother had gotten tested and had learned
that she was HIV positive--along with a number of other women that
also lived in the projects. Mr. Johnny had dipped his wick into a
lot of different women and had left a number of them infected.
He turned his head to
look at her. “Have you been tested Beady?” His heart felt like
it would stop beating in his chest and that he might stop existing.
“Every six months,”
she replied. “I’m still clean.”
He hugged her unable
to stop the tears from stinging his eyes.
“I’m so sorry,”
he tried to say but couldn’t because the tears nearly choked him.
When they finally spilled from his eyes and down his cheeks they
felt hot like molten lava.
okay,” she cried too but it was she that comforted him.
“How can you be?”
“I’ve had time to
digest this. I’ve had time to think about it and to put it away in
a place where it can’t hurt me. Mr. Johnny was never a father to
me. Juan Carlos was more of a father. You and Tino took care of me
more than my father ever did. I hated him even before he ever
Scotty pulled back and
wiped his face with his hands. He stood up with a nod and then
walked out the front door.
He walked to the bus
stop even though he could have called any number of guys to drive by
and pick him up. But he needed the night air to clear his head and
he needed to get a grip on his emotions. Right now he felt as raw as
an exposed nerve. The tears had stopped flowing, had dried up but
the haunted ache in his soul would probably never mend.
Scotty vowed that none
of his siblings would return to the projects—it would be over his
The next day Scotty
drove to Lebanon Correctional Institution to pay a visit to his
brother only to learn that he had been released two weeks before.
September 21, 1982