Queen of the City, страница 8
The nostalgia swept over me as Block handed me the microphone. It felt like that was the thing that gave me all the confidence I needed. I walked up the steps and in moments, I was on stage behind Remy. The crowd grew silent as Remy kept rapping, looking around as if something happened to change the energy in the room. Remy put the mic down and looked behind her as the crowd began to recognize the same thing she did. It was bone silent for a few moments as the DJ stopped the music.
Suddenly, the crowd erupted, “Suzie!” They yelled my name as she took another step back.
“Hold up, what the fuck is she doing here?”
Her eyes widened, but she quickly let them fall back into place to hide her nervousness. By that time, it was too late. I already smelled the blood in the water.
“Yeah bitch, you thought I was done, huh?”
“The fuck? Somebody get this bitch off the stage.”
I looked towards the back as Block stood there, controlling the scene. I smiled. I had all the time I needed as she took a step away from me. The crowd went crazy as I stepped closer to the front of the stage,
“Yo, DJ, can you bring that beat back?”
“Nah, don’t do shit!” Remy snapped, but I turned towards the DJ, smiling the way I did when I wanted to convince Junie to do something for me. Suddenly, the beat came back. I looked at Remy,
“I’m about to murder you on yo’ own beat, bitch.”
The crowd went crazy, cheering me on as I started.
“Bitches thought I was done/but I’m back with the 45 in ya’ back like Bone/reclaiming my throne/muthafuckas thought it was sweet/when Junie was gone/but I’m back with a new beat/Shit is hectic, but I own these streets/my name is on the block/bitches act funny/they get the Glock tucked to their dome like fitted caps…”
She stormed off the stage and went to the back as I rapped for a little longer and exited myself.
The DJ took over the mic. “That was some shit!”
I left the crowd and went to the back where I heard Remy yelling. I stood right by her door as security stood in front of me.
Block was just to my right as I yelled in the room, “What you gotta’ say now, bitch?! I’m here! What did you say about Junie? I got Junie killed? Come tell me what you said out yo’ dirty ass mouth, bitch!”
“Fuck you!” She walked over to the door, but security stayed between us. “Fuck you and all the shit you talkin’! This my set! This my city, bitch! You old news!”
“Old news? Shit, I’m the reason why they are fuckin’ yellin’ right now.”
“You gon’ get yours, bitch! I swear to fuckin’ God, you gon’ get yours!”
I reached through her security guards, trying to grab her but they pushed me back. Block came in and pushed them off of me with a warning.
“Don’t put yo’ hands on her.”
“She needs to stay her ass over there then.”
“It’s cool, bitch. Just know that yo’ fans just became my fans.”
I laughed and walked away. I didn’t do everything I came to do, but half of it was all right with me. I made my reappearance in my city. Everybody knew I was back now, and that was all that mattered. All the weak ass shit that was going around about me was gon’ be put to rest.
“Yo, that shit was dope,” someone said from the hallway. It was the DJ that was on stage when I went out there.
“Thank you. And thank you for pickin’ up that beat again.”
As he stood under the hallway light, there was something familiar about him. Remy’s yells could still be heard down the hall as I examined the man that stood in front of me. I just couldn’t put my finger on it, but I had to have known him from somewhere.
“I think I recognize you.”
He smiled, his dimples pushed his cheeks all the way in.
“Really? I don’t believe you do.”
“I mean, you… I don’t know; it’s just something about you that makes me feel like I’ve met you before.”
“Nah. I know for a fact I’ve never met you. I just moved here from Cleveland a few months ago.”
“Really? Like, I haven’t seen you at a show before or anything?”
“Nah,” he laughed, “I don’t even know who you are. This is my first time hearing you.”
I tilted my head as if I was trying to piece together where I knew him from. Like he didn’t know where he has been or who he has met for himself.
“If you say so.”
“I know so.”
“Ok. Well, thanks again.”
It was his smile. His dimples. His demeanor. The fact that he was a DJ. All of it reminded me of Junie. Maybe that was it. It reminded me of him so much that my mind put Junie in his place. That was the only explanation for it. He turned to walk away, but I wasn’t done.
He turned around.
“I’m lookin’ for a DJ. I know you fuckin’ with Remy and everything—”
He cut me off, “Shit, not after tonight. I know she ain’t fuckin’ with me after I just froze her ass out on stage. What I did was like a dog bitin’ its owner’s hand. Not sayin’ I’m a dog or whatever, just the analogy.”
“Nah, I feel you. But, I’m sayin’ if you have the time…”
He smiled and handed me his card. “Yeah, you know what I’m sayin’. Just hit me up and we can um… talk a little more about it.”
He walked down the hallway as I held his card in my hand, smiling like a school girl. Many guys have tried to talk to me since Junie passed almost six months ago, but I never gave them the time of day. He was different, though. It almost felt like I was talking to Junie while he was in front of me. I looked down at his card: Nasir Jones; producer extraordinaire.
He paused for a moment. “Oh, right. The rapper from the other day? Right! What’s up?”
“Nothin… I was just seein’ what was good with you?”
“Oh, no doubt. I’m good. Most definitely.”
“I was thinkin’… maybe we could get together and talk about that producing thing I brought up.”
“Word. Yeah, that’s cool. We can do that, fa sho. When you tryin’ to get together?”
“Ummm… later on, today is cool.”
“Aight, bet. Later on, it is then. I’ll hit you up. Maybe we can just kick it at the mall or get somethin’ to eat or some shit like that.”
“Cool. I’ll hit you up in a minute.”
I would be lying if I said I didn’t have butterflies when we spoke on the phone. It was a feeling he gave me that made me feel like I was melting as he was talking to me. It was almost 8 months since Junie’s death and the similarities between the two of them were too strong for me just to ignore them. Honestly, if it wasn’t for Junie, I may have never even looked at Nasir in that way. I’d done another show since I first came back out on the scene and fucked up Remy’s spot. The ball was rolling, and I was a fool to think that it wouldn’t pick up again where I left off.
Big Mama was still at the house with me. I could tell she was getting worse, but it was something she would never admit to me. Not even in the slightest way. I tossed my phone on the bed and went to the room to check on her. She was sound asleep; her head scarf wrapped tightly around her head. She didn’t look as young as she used to anymore. The doctors said she had an aggressive form of malignant breast cancer. I knew it wouldn’t be long before they put her in the hospital, but for now, she was staying home. It was sad watching her slowly deteriorate before my eyes. Her cheekbones were beginning to show, her eye sockets were bulging out a little more than normal. Even with all that, her bible stayed on her nightstand like it was the one thing that could keep her alive. She never lost faith. I didn’t unders
The doorbell rang, moving me to leave my daydreams and see who was on the other side of the door. As I opened it, he stood there on the other end with a bouquet of roses in his hand and a card. I shook my head. It was my last resort. I didn’t want to hire anybody to come out here and stay with Big Mama whenever I had to leave, so Uncle Stew was the next best thing. Big Mama kicked him out of the house over 15 years ago because he was strung out on crack and selling everything in the house he could move out on his own. From what Big Mama told me, he cleaned himself up and had been sober for the last three years, but he never forgave her for putting him out when he was struggling. It wasn’t until he learned that she was sick that he was willing to come back around. He agreed to come over to stay for a few hours during the times I had to leave.
He took his hat off, exposing his freshly shaved head. His beard was lined as if he just left the barber shop. A strong gust of wind blew against the house, causing him to move just a little to the left. He smiled,
“Hey, Lyric. Girl, you lookin’ more and more like yo’ mama every day!”
“Can I come in?”
I moved to the side as he took a step into the house. It was his first time being there that I knew about. He looked around like he was reminiscing about how things used to be. I shut the door and walked in front of him and said,
“Look, we ain’t here for none of yo’ bullshit, aight? Now, Big Mama trusted you to come—”
He cut me off. “Lyric, sweetheart. Trust me. I’m not that way anymore. My mother is dying of cancer, and we already left on bad terms the first time. I’m just here to make things right and hopefully… make her days here as peaceful as possible. That’s it.”
I looked at him slowly from head to toe. If he was lying, he was doing a good job at it.
He trailed behind me as we walked back to Big Mama’s room. Her eyes opened as soon as we entered into her room. She tried to raise up in her bed as I rushed to her aid.
“Hold on, Big Mama. I got you.”
She coughed, then looked towards Uncle Stew. Her smile was that of comfort. Like she was relieved to see him after all these years.
“Stewart? Is that you?”
He walked closer to her bed. “Yes, Mama, it’s me.”
I could see the tears building under her convex eyes. A stream of water under the gray clouds.
“Come here and give yo’ mama a hug.”
She reached her arms for him as he walked over to her. They embraced for a while as I stood there, watching them. Big Mama cried, but I guess Uncle Stew wasn’t the type to just cry in front of anyone. He quickly wiped his eye when he glanced up at me. Big Mama finally let him go as he handed her the flowers.
“Here Mama. These are for you.”
She gingerly took the flowers from him, her hand faintly shaking as if she was going to drop them. I reached to grab them from her.
“Wait a minute, girl!” she snapped. “I just want to smell them first.” She inhaled slowly, smiling the whole time. “They smell lovely, Stewart. They are perfect.”
She handed them to me as I placed them in a vase and set it next to her bible on the nightstand.
“Well, back up, boy. Let me get a good look at you.”
Uncle Stew stood up and spun around for her.
“Ummm-hmmm! My baby is done cleaned himself up! Praise God!”
“Yes, Ma’am. For good, too. It’s for good this time.”
“I know it is.”
I walked over to Big Mama, and placed my hand on her head. “I’m going to head out for a few hours, ok Big Mama?”
“If you need anything. Anything, Big Ma, you just call me, and I’ll be right back, ok?”
“Girl—” She began coughing. A loud cough that didn’t seem as if it was going to end. I stood up, but she pulled me back down and held up one finger. “Girl, you get on out of here! I told you about that! You live your life. Big Mama is going to be fine, you hear?”
I wanted to believe her. I wanted to find that she wasn’t deteriorating before my eyes or that every time she coughed, it wasn’t a sign of the end for her. I just couldn’t. I smiled.
“I love you, big Mama.”
“I love you too, sugar. I’ll see you later, ok? You be careful out there.”
I tapped Uncle Stew on the leg and motioned for him to follow me into the hallway. I led him to the front room, far away from Big Mama’s ears.
“I’ma tell you this once and one time only. If you do anything to Big Mama or this house while I’m gone, you betta pray that I don’t see you again.”
He put his hand up to stop me from talking and said, “Listen, Lyric. I already told you that I’m clean. That’s not me anymore. I love my Mama, and I always have. I was just sick before, you know? You know what it’s like to be sick? To be addicted to poison? That’s what I was. That’s what yo’ mama was. Hell, that’s even what you were as a baby, but I saw my sister die with a fuckin’ needle in her arm.”
He leaned in closer to me.
“I saw the life leave her body. I saw that shit with my own eyes and to this day, my mind keeps telling me that it’s a dream. Trying to convince me that it never happened but I see her fuckin’ grave every got-damned day. Every day! I know it’s real, and I know I’m not the same person. If you don’t believe me, and you’re just waiting for me to flip into the person I was, then pull up a chair because you’re going to be waiting a long fucking time for it to happen.”
I believed him. He became teary eyed while he spoke and the passion he evoked wouldn’t allow me to think otherwise.
“Aight, Stew. Aight.”
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I would like to tend to my Mama while I still can.”
He turned and walked away, wiping his eyes dry in the process. I wanted to snap back at him but I couldn’t. The truth is, he brought feelings of guilt in my heart. For the longest time, I blamed my mama for leaving me here by myself. I realized that I had the same type of bitterness about her that Uncle Stew had towards his mama. The reasons were different, but the bitterness was there none the less. I grabbed my jacket from the room and left the house.
We ended up meeting by the lakefront. It was a dirty ass beach with dirty ass water that nobody ever stepped foot on or in. People just came down there and parked in the parking lots blasting their music while ratchet ass chicks danced on the trunks and hoods of cars. Other people walked up and down the strip being loud for no ass reason. Muthafuckas in Milwaukee didn’t have shit else to do but this. It was cool most times before the police showed up or somebody pulled out and started shooting shit up because of some beef. I took him to a spot away from all the noise. There was a walkway that led to the water. We sat down on a bench as the sun was just beginning to fall down from the sky.
“This is a nice ass spot.”
I smiled. “Yeah. I had to pull you away from all that loud-ass ratchet shit that be goin’ on down there.”
“Shit, I’m used to that, though. Where I’m from, niggas be wildin’ out all the time.” He turned to look.
“Where you from again?”
I laughed, “Cleveland? What the fuck goes on in Cleveland?”
“Apparently the same shit that goes on in Milwaukee.”
I turned and caught him looking at me, but he quickly averted his eyes, staring off into the horizon. At least I knew I had his attention.
“So, why you come to Milwaukee?”
He leaned back on the bench and folded his arms over his chest before answering. “Let’s just say it’s for business.”
“Like, making music?”
“Hell Nah. I mean, I do that shit, but that’s not why
“What kind of business then, nigga? Damn. Why are you bein all secretive?”
“The same reason you are so fuckin’ nosey!”
If I closed my eyes, there was nothing in the world that would convince me that I wasn’t sitting here talking to Junie. The sun dipped down lower as a couple walked by us and sat down on another bench. They were cuddled up with each other, kissing and holding hands. They looked to be about the same age as us, but it was hard to tell. I wouldn’t have minded Nasir reaching in to do the same thing with me. He made me feel like a woman. Like I could pull down my outer shell and just be feminine. The same way Junie made me feel.
“What’s over there?” he asked, pointing to the right. The area was off to the side, sort of secluded from the rest of the lakefront in a cul-de-sac.
“Oh, that ain’t shit but some artwork that people painted on the walls. You wanna check it out?”
“Yeah, let’s go check it out.”
We walked further away from everybody, down the winding path until we got to the towers that marked the entrance to the temporary arts exhibit. There were paintings and drawings of all kinds of abstract things that would take forever just to find the meaning of.
“This shit is dope,” he said, running his hand across the wall of paintings.
“I’m not really into art that much.”
“Word? I figured the shit was connected. Like, you as a rapper would just be into this kinda shit.”
“Nah, not really.”
He looked back in the direction that we walked from. Nobody was coming our way. He turned back towards me and moved in closer. I stepped back.
“What you doin’?