“Alright, Monica, push! Push!”
She let out a scream that would’ve shaken the graves of those who passed away. It was her first child, and she didn’t know what to expect. When the doctor came in with a needle the size of her finger, she waved it off, “You have to stick that in my back? No, I’ll pass.” The epidural would’ve saved her from a multitude of pain, but she wasn’t privy to it. As a matter of fact, she rarely saw the doctor throughout the pregnancy so it was a tossup as to whether or not the child would be born without any difficulties. Her mother passed away when she was five, and it left her father to raise her on his own. At the time, he was twenty-three, and he was so caught up in his own life that he didn’t make time for her. Luckily, she had a grandmother who was older but still willing to take custody of Monica to keep her from going into the foster care system. She had seen first-hand the effects that could have on a child, so she did what she had to do. Her name was Janice Carter, and she was her father’s mother, but Monica only knew her as Mama.
“Push, Monica, Push! That’s it, keep it going! Good job, Monica, good job!”
In the hospital room, the nurse stood beside her and held her hand as she used a towel to wipe the sweat from her forehead. “You’re doing great, Monica. Just keep going.” She coached her from the side and as a two-time mother herself, she knew the pain the Monica was going through and did her best to ease it all. Trey, the child’s father, stormed out in an unbelievable rage the day he found out Monica was pregnant. The scene wasn’t how she expected it to go at all.
“Trey? Hey, baby.”
She walked to the couch as he sat, watching Sunday football with a burger in his hand that she just prepared for him. They were both nineteen years old, and Janice passed away two years before, but she left her the house that she paid for before she died. Janice was living in a three bedroom house with no mortgage, and the only thing she had to pay for was the monthly bills, something she could manage as a cashier in a department store. “Do you like the burger?” Trey didn’t turn to look at her when he answered, “Yeah, it’s straight.”
The announcer on the television spoke up as the play just began. Monica reached into her pocket and pulled out two pictures to place them on the table. After a few moments, she realized that Trey wasn’t going to look at them from there, so she picked them up and set them on his lap. He stopped in mid-chew and glanced down at them, speaking will a full mouth. His voice was muffled, “What is this?” She was nervous because she didn’t know how he would take it but she knew the truth had to come out eventually, “These are sonograms. We’re um; we’re gonna have a baby.” She had been dating Trey for almost a year and even though it was off-and-on, it was still the most consistent relationship either of them had. Monica smiled at him as she waited for a response and suddenly, she got it.
Trey smacked the small photos off his lap as they fluttered to the ground, “Pregnant?! Nah, I… I don’t know why you’re tellin’ me that. You know I pull out every time we don’t use a condom.” She exhaled, hoping that it didn’t go this way, but she knew it was a slim chance that it wouldn’t. She sat back on the couch as seclusion saturated her facial expression. He slammed the plate down on the table, nearly shattering it as the top bun of his burger flew onto the floor.
“Nah, nah, I know that ain’t mine. You’ve been cheatin on me, Monica, huh? You’ve been messin’ around with somebody else, and since they got you pregnant, you’re tryin to pass it off as mine?”
“Trey, stop trippin’. You know I ain’t been with nobody else.”
“I know? I know, huh? All I know is that I never came inside of you so how is this baby mine, huh?”
“Trey, it’s yours! I haven’t been with anybody else! You’re the only dude I ever been with!”
Tears began to well up in her eyes as Trey paced back and forth, his nostrils flaring with both fists balled up as if he was ready to punch through a wall.
“Whatever, Monica! You can tell me anything you want to! Oh, I guess the dude I saw you at the grocery store with ain’t nobody, huh? Go and tell him that you’re pregnant!”
“Grocery store? Trey, I told you that he worked there, and I asked him where the vegetables were! That’s it!”
“Whatever! Look, I ain’t stayin’ here for this! I’ma let you go and find the real father of that baby and tell him the news because it ain’t mine!”
He looked down at the sonograms that laid spread out on the floor and when he reached down to grab one, he ripped it into pieces and flung them into the air like confetti. “And don’t call me until you get all this situated! I’m done! For real!” He stormed out of the house and slammed the door behind him, the vibration knocked pictures off the wall as Monica buried her head into the couch and cried out loud. It was an acute pain that she hadn’t felt before, the precise stabbing of small needles into her heart as she was on the verge of hyperventilating. Suddenly, she felt a cool and calm spirit around her. “It’s gonna be alright, Monica,” the voice said as she looked up with teary, reddened eyes. She calmed her breathing and sat up as she looked to the floor to grab the two pictures that were still intact. On the back of them, she wrote, “Monica and Trey’s baby,” and placed them on her table. The truth was the truth, no matter what Trey said.
Inside the hospital, she pushed again but this time, the baby was fully out as the doctor suctioned the fluids out of his mouth and patted him on the back until his first cries came out. “There we are, theeere we are little boy, you’re fine, you’re fine,” the doctor said as he passed him to the nurses to they could quickly clean him up. Monica was out of breath and suddenly, the pain she had seconds ago seemed to all be worth it once she realized her baby boy had come out unharmed. “Can I… can I see him?” she asked, still trying to recollect herself. “Of course! They are just cleaning him and then they will bring him right to you.”
They walked over with her baby boy and placed him in her arms as tears rolled down her face. The nurse that was by her side continued to coach her, “Just hold him close to your skin for a while so his body temperature can regulate. Yes, that’s it, right by your bosom.” Monica held him close and kissed him on the cheek as he relaxed, his eyes moving around aimlessly like he knew he was no longer in the comfort of the womb. “Do you have a name for him?” the nurse asked as she admired them. “Yes. His name is Allen. Allen Travelle Taylor.” From that day, she always held him close to her and when Trey came to visit his son in the hospital, Monica rolled her eyes at him. He hadn’t contacted her at all for the entire length of the pregnancy, but Monica didn’t want her son to grow up without her father around, so for his sake, she told Trey what hospital she was in. When he came in, his hair had grown out and was on the verge of locking up. His pants sagged just below his waist, and he had all types of jewelry hanging from his neck and around his wrists. During the last nine months, Monica had gotten word that Trey started selling drugs to make extra money.
“Yo, whassup, Monica?”
“Allen is right there.”
He walked over to look at his baby boy, but honestly, he wasn’t interested in him, and he still hadn’t accepted the fact that he belonged to him. He stuck his finger inside the incubator and smiled at Allen, but quickly left his side and stood by Monica. He reached out for her hand, but she snatched it away, “What do you want, Trey? I thought you were here to see the baby.” He smiled arrogantly, “Yeah, I did come for that, but I came for you, too. I miss you. I miss what we had.” She sucked her teeth, “Trey, get out of here with that, for real. You dissed me nine months ago and after all the morning sicknesses, the cravings, and everything else I had to go through BY MYSELF, you wanna come back around? Nah, I’m not goin’ there with you. There is your son. He is the only reason we will ever need to communicate with each other.” He reached out for her hand,
“Come on, Monica. You know you-”
“Trey, get out of here before I call security! I’m not playing with you!”
His nostrils flared, the same look he had when she told him that she was pregnant and with that, he left the room without once looking at his son. Monica refused to let tears fall from her eyes over him as Allen moved around in his incubator. He deserved more than what Trey was going to give him, and Monica knew it but for now, she was only focused on raising her son to the best of her ability.
FIFTEEN YEARS LATER
“Mama! Mama! Where is the ketchup!”
“It is in the refrigerator!”
“Where? I don’t see it, Mama!”
The two of them yelled back and forth from the kitchen to the front room until Monica sighed and got up, “If I come in there and grab that ketchup, I promise I am going to pop you upside your head!” She walked in as Allen stood with the ketchup in his hand and a broad grin on his face. He burst out laughing as soon as he saw her. Monica shot him a look of disgust before she charged at him. She was thirty-four years old, but she still looked as though she was in her mid-twenties and people had a hard time believing that she was the mother of a 15-year-old boy.
She still lived in her grandmother’s house, but now, she worked as a supervisor at a call center and made well over enough money to keep her and her son happy. Allen was a good kid for the most part, but she saw a lot of Trey in him. His temper, mainly, was what she worried about the most. He was always getting into fights at school and with children around the neighborhood. His father came close to laying hands on her when she was younger, but he never crossed the line. With Allen though, it didn’t seem that he had that kind of restraint when it came to other people. The two of them had an air-tight relationship and even though he didn’t have a father figure in his life, he still had a good grasp on what it was like to be a man. His teacher, Mr. Weston, did much to structure him as much as he could, and he recognized Allen as a bright student during the parent teacher conferences.
“Allen is really a smart kid, Monica. He just gets mixed up with the wrong crowd a lot of times, you know? Bad company corrupts good morals, so all of the good things you are teaching him at home sort of gets washed away when he comes around these group of kids.”
That was what he said each time Allen had gotten into trouble at school, and he was on the verge of being kicked out of Madison High School if he kept up his behavior. Trey had only seen Allen twice in his lifetime, once at the hospital and then once again when Allen was five. Allen said that he had no memory of his father and even though Monica tried her best not to talk bad about Trey in front of his son, Allen still drew his own conclusion. He was a mirrored image of his father, same thick eyebrows and dark brown eyes. His hair kinked up the same way Trey’s did when he started growing it out, and Monica would shake her head at how much the two of them resembled. At times, it scared her because she felt that somehow, she had gone back in time and started life as a teenager all over again. Those thoughts only lasted for split seconds, though, and she hated when it happened.
Trey continued to be a dope dealer since the day he left the hospital and for a while, he was making a lot of money. Monica would hear how he was driving new cars almost every other week and flashing pockets full of twenty dollar bills and tossing them up at the strip clubs like they were dollar bills. Ten years after Allen was born, Trey was robbed by a group of other men and the ended up shooting him in the legs. The doctors thought he would be paralyzed, but amazingly, he regained his ability to walk after extensive rehab sessions. He had a limp, but it was better than strolling along in a wheelchair.
Back at the house, Allen was preparing to leave. “Aight Mama, I’ma be back later on.” He grabbed his bag and headed to the door,
“Wait a minute, boy! Where are you going? Don’t play with me.”
“Mama, I’m going to Ricky house right down the street.”
“Ricky? Is his Mama gon’ be there?”
“Yes, Mama. She will be there.”
“Boy, if I call around there, and she is not home, I am coming over there with a switch, and I am lighting you up right in front of yo’ little friends.”
He laughed and kissed her on the cheek,
“Aight Mama, beat me with a switch, aight. I got it. Any other method of abuse you got for me?”
She playfully swung at him, but he eluded her and ran to the door,
“I’ll be back, Mama. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
When he got far enough away from the house, he looked inside of his bag to make sure he had everything. A black Glock 9 and a few bags of weed was what he needed for the trip he and Ricky were about to make. Ironically, he followed in the same footsteps of his father except he started at a much younger age. He was influenced by the wrong crowd, and when the music videos showed him what it was to be a man, he figured he needed to step into his place as well. He made it over to Ricky’s house, “What up, fam?” They shook hands as Ricky spoke,
“Chillin. You ready?”
“Yeah, let’s roll.”
They headed to the West side of town to make a drop. Allen knew that it would be dangerous because they were going on unknown territory but he wasn’t scared at all. In fact, Ricky was the one who was calm, and it was just because Allen was there. As they rode to the West Side, Allen glanced at his phone. “My Moms is calling, man. She is about to snap once she finds out where I’m at. She probably called your mom first.” Ricky drove his car with one hand on the steering wheel, “Yeah. Don’t answer that, though. Just wait until we get back.” Allen slid his phone back in his pocket, and twenty minutes later, they arrived on the West Side of town.
Both of them were unfamiliar with the area, but they knew where they needed to go. Little did Allen know, Trey lived on the same side of town, but Allen wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a lineup, let alone identify his relation to him. “Aight, you ready? The house is right there,” Ricky said as they were parked on the street. “Aight, Let’s go.”
They both got out of the car and headed towards the house as Trey walked down the sidewalk with a limp. He was still on edge since the time he had gotten shot and even though it was almost ten years ago, he never forgot the moment it happened. A group of young boys, close to the ages of Ricky and Allen, were the reason he had to walk with a limp. As they approached him, Allen put his hand near his waist. In unfamiliar territory, he always wanted to be ready to pull out if it came down to it. Trey tensed up as they inched towards each other’s path, “Whassup, little nigga?” he said as he stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to block their path, “Yall don’t belong over here. I can tell. What’s up?” Allen glared at him, but before he responded, he realized that something was off about him. It was like he was looking in a mirror and watching an older version of himself right in front of him.
Ricky spoke up, “We ain’t here to see you, so watch out.” Trey didn’t budge, and when Ricky shoved him back, Allen snapped out of his trance and pulled his gun out, “Look, we ain’t come here for all that. We just trying to see Snap, aight?” In Trey’s mind, flashbacks of the fateful night he was shot twice by the group of boys began to replay in his mind. He looked down the dark barrel of the gun, oblivious to any detail of Allen that might have told him that they were related. It was all erased, and the only thing he could focus on was avoiding being gunned down again by a group of teens. As Allen pointed the gun at Trey, he froze again. He saw his own eyebrows, lips, nose and eyes on the face of this man in front of him. His eyebrows wrinkled up but to Trey, he sensed hesitation. He is not going to shoot me, he said in his mind. He had been living a street life for a while, and he knew when somebody was going to shoot and when they were bluffing. Allen wasn’t bluffing by any means, but seeing his features on another man bugged him out completely. Slowly, he began to wonder if the man standing in front of him was his father. Before he could react to his thoughts, Trey pulled the pistol from his waist and as Allen was on the verge of yelling for him to stop. Pow! Pow! Pow! Trey emptied his clip into Allen as Ricky ran from the scene.
Blood spilled from his body as he laid on the sidewalk, gasping for air. Trey stood over him and shook his head, “Not this time, little nigga. Not this time.” As Ricky sped off, Trey turned around and limped away from the scene of the murder. Allen laid there with his eyes wide open; chest covered in blood as his gasps for air slowly ended. If you are not being a father to your son, you are killing your son.
If you liked this story, or any of the short stories I have posted, please take a moment to check out the kickstarter page for my upcoming novel, “Strange Fruit in the Concrete Jungle.”