Godfrey and I first moved into Bentley Manor in June of ’69, it was supposed
to be a temporary stop until the financing for our first home came through. Thirty-seven
years later, I’m still waiting. My husband’s wait ended in ’71
when he suffered a massive heart attack while working at the Atlanta Steel Plant.
That day changed my life forever.
Hopes and dreams withered away like rose petals in a snowstorm. I worked
three jobs to support and raise four children. When my oldest got strung out,
I hustled just like everyone else during the infamous eighties to take care of
my grandbaby. Now I don’t know where the hell she is.
Living paycheck to paycheck has a way of making the years roll by. Afros
turned to Jeri curls, then to box fades, then twisted cornrows, and then finally
back to Afros.
Between you, me, and the lamppost, I’ve seen just about everything
under the sun in this slowly dilapidating apartment complex. Me and my best friend
Osceola brags that she was Bentley Manor’s first tenant, when the
Manor was just a regular apartment complex. She says she still remembers the original
color of the carpets. I have a hard time believing they were ever any other color
than puke green but she swears otherwise.
Over the years, or rather over the decades, Atlanta as well as Bentley
Manor has gone through some changes and is currently suffering through head shaking
fads. Did you know they call this city A-T-L now? Bentley Manor started off as
regular apartment complex, but in the late 70s it was the Ghetto, in the late
80s the projects. Now, it’s The Hood.
Atlanta was once called as the black Mecca and played host to thousands
of college students for Freaknic in the ‘90s. Now rappers decreed it the
capitol of the dirty south. Don’t try to wrap your mind around that, it
will all change before you know it.
You can’t tell them young folks nothin’, mainly because they’re
hardheaded and they know everything. In my lifetime, I’ve gone from being
a nigger, to black, to African American (though I don’t know nothin’
about Africa). Now Nigga is back and there are more than a few of those running
around Bentley Manor.
I pretty much spend my days sitting out on the stoop with Osceola?watching
and yes, sometimes snickering. Misery loves company after all.
This place is hard on folks?the ones coming in and the ones clawing to
get out. But it’s hardest on the women. The little girls, the disillusioned
teenagers, and The Desperate Hoodwives...
I’m so sick of Tyrik’s shit I don’t know what to do. Here
it is nine o’clock and his ass is still not here. Hell, he hasn’t
even bothered to call. Let me pull some sorry shit like not answer my cell and
he would be all over me like white on rice.
“Humph. Looks like somebody is all dressed up with nowhere to go.”
My mother’s cackle, like always, bounces off my last nerve and I pull away
from the grimy window to give her my best ‘don’t fuck with me’
glare, but she ignores me and takes another hit off one of Koolay’s famous
fat blunts and lowers her eyelids to half mast.
“Don’t go gettin’ mad at me ‘cos I tell it like it
is.” Another hit and mom passes the blunt to Koolay. “A nigga is a
nigga is a nigga. Your fancy NFL nigga ain’t no different than the nappy-headed
ones runnin’ around here.”
“Word.” Koolay, with his lost in the eighties ass, chuckles and
untwines his skinny, vein protruding arm to take the blunt.
Encouraged by her boyfriend’s agreement, mom finally succeeds in finding
my glare, but she hardly takes it as the Kryptonite it’s intended to be.
“That nigga is never gonna to swoop in here and take you away from all this.
So stop dreaming. You ain’t special.”
“And neither is that tightly guarded coochee you got,” Koolay grunts.
That snaps my mom out her glossy-eyed high and she quickly smacks the back
of Koolay’s head. “What the fuck you doing thinking about her coochee
Koolay ducks and turns on his wide-eyed innocent act on to full volume. “What?
I had your back.”
“Fuck you, mutherfucker.” Momma jumps to her feet and starts waving
her long slender finger like a policeman’s baton. “If I ever find
out you been putting the moves on my daughter, your ass is out of here!”
Momma is in her element. The only thing she likes better than good weed and
good dick is a good argument. Shaking my head, I stroll out the front door of
the small apartment and walk out to the front stoop.
It’s a hot muggy night with enough humidity to wither my kitchen area,
but I’m past caring whether I need to make an appointment with Keisha. I’m
still wondering why the hell Tyrik stood me up two nights in a row. Not like I
want him to meet my momma, but still.
Maybe my momma is right. Maybe Tyrik is no better than the other niggas running
around like cockroaches in Bentley Manor.
I suck in a deep breath and will my tears to disappear. This can’t be
happening. I played my cards right. I don’t act like some loose booty around
him. I was careful to be aloof about his money and fame. I cared about him not
what he had.
He ate that bullshit up because I served it on a silver tray with a smile. So
where the fuck is he?
Standing outside like an idiot, I gaze around at my old, red-bricked prison,
complete with a wrought iron security gate. A joke really since the worst
of the worst lived in Bentley Manor, who exactly is the gate supposed to keep
out...or keep in?
I have to get out of this place.
I know clinging to a nigga like he’s the Messiah is sorry as hell. I’ve
tried to save myself, working three jobs to put myself through some sorry tech
school that promised job placement after graduation. But that shit turned out
to be a joke. Everybody and their mommas ended up with a computer degree. The
mutherfucker barely qualifies you to turn on a computer let alone rake in the
six-figure income the dot-comers revolutionists promised from every glossy-paged,
I make a quick swipe at my tears, disgusted with myself for acting like a weak
bitch in front of the whole damn neighborhood. I turn to see Junior lumbering
up the cracked sidewalk. Junior, Tyrik’s cousin and struggling rapper-though
he can’t flow for shit, bounces up the stoop and stops before me. “Whatcha
know good, gurl?”
“Nothing. Just hanging out.”
His unkempt bushy eyebrows (which looks like one long fuckin’ hairy caterpillar)
leaps at this. “Since when does your bougie ass hang out wit us common Negroes?”
I’m not in the mood for Junior’s needling and I flash him my DFWM
glare and he quickly tosses up his arms. “I’m just saying. I figured
you’d be over at Tyrik’s party, shaking dat fine ass before some other
hood rat jumps on dat rich, NFL dick.”
No shit my heart drops to my Gucci knock off shoes. “What party?”
Junior looks at me as if I suddenly spouted an extra head, but then just as
quickly his face cracks with an understanding smirk. “Ah, dat nigga didn’t
“Fuck!” I explode, tossing my hands up in the air. My mind scrambles
for a plan, a move, or tactical military maneuver to get my ass back into the
game. “Junior, I need a ride.”
He scrunches up his face. “What the fuck? This ain’t ‘Drivin’
Miss Daisy’ Incorporated.”
“Nigga, you can’t spell incorporated.” Snatching his arm, I
storm down the steps. Junior apparently knows I mean business since he doesn’t
offer any further resistance. “What is Tyrik celebrating?” I ask under
my breath, but the question was voiced loud enough to reach Junior’s ear.
“Farewell party. He’s been traded to Pittsburgh.”
If my heart wasn’t already in my shoes, I swear it would have fallen
again. Still, it takes everything I have to keep my burning tears in check. Tyrik
is planning to leave me in Bentley Manor.
The realization is like fuel on a fire blazing inside of me. He’s not
leaving. Not if I have anything to say about it.
jerk open the passenger door on Junior’s long ass Chevy Caprice and pray
the mysterious odor wafting from inside wouldn’t kill me before we make
it to Tyrik’s mansion out in the suburbs.
Junior starts up the car and the damn thing roars to life like one of the city’s
garbage trucks. If the engine isn’t sufficient enough to cause ear damage,
his top-of-the-line stereo system (which is worth ten times more than the car)
booms enough bass to rattle my teeth.
“You know, you owe me for this one, right?” Junior asks lighting a
roach he retrieved from the car’s ashtray. He takes a hit and passes it
over. I need something to calm my nerves so I hit it for a few puffs. It’s
laced with something I can’t name, but at the same time I don’t care.
“I’ll hook you up with some gas money later in the week,”
I answer belatedly. I know that’s not what he wants. Hell, I can feel what
he wants because his hand is on my thigh and is caressing it like it’s some
long lost friend of his.
“C’mon, Devani. We got about twenty minutes before we reach dat
nigga’s place. I’ve already hooked you up twice. You can’t tell
me you ain’t feeling good right now.”
Actually, I am feeling damn good.
“I scratch your back, you scratch mine.”
“Junior, cut the shit. I’m in a hurry.”
Anger polishes Junior’s black eyes. To my surprise he pulls the car over
into the emergency lane of I-285, and then reaches across my lap to open the car
door. “Get the fuck out,” he barks.
“What? We’re in the middle of the highway.”
“Good then you’ll have no problems hitching a ride,” he says
unconcerned and pulls out a fresh blunt from his shirt pocket.
I glance around, noting all the cars rocketing down the dark highway to unknown
destinations. No way am I going to hitchhike all the way to Alpharetta.
“Fine.” I slam the door and turn toward him. “What do you
Junior crackles under his breath. “Do you really have to ask?”
“I’m dating your cousin,” I inform him unable to stop my
face from twisting in disgust.
“Doesn’t look dat way to me.”
I’m not fucking him. I may have attended community college but I’m
not jumping on community dick. Junior has a reputation of fucking everything that
isn’t nailed down and I refuse to gamble with sexually transmitted diseases.
“Forget it.” I open the car door. I’ll take my chances hitching
a ride with a mass murderer.
“All right. All right.” He takes another puff from his magic dragon
and passes it to me.
This time, I wave off the offer.
“How about a hand job?” He unzips his jeans without waiting for an
answer. What he pulls out shocks the shit out of me. His large-?no massive, nearly
blue-black cock is the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen. This nigga is seriously
missing out on a career in porno.
“Let me see you,” he says, pushing my skirt up again with his rough,
This time, I actually get a little wet, but I rein in my senses to push back
his hand. “Drive.”
Junior snickers, but does as I ask. “I just want a little peek.”
His hand glides expertly up and down his pretty cock and I have to admit I’m
more than a little fascinated.
“C’mon, li’l ma. Let me see what you’re holding out
for only those niggas wit the fat wallets. I bet you keep dat shit shaved, don’t
Actually, I sport a cute little Mohawk straight down the center. A woman’s
body is more than her temple...it’s her most powerful bargaining chip. That’s
why I eat right, which is hard to do on my income. All the crap that’s bad
for you is cheap and guaranteed to put you in an early grave. And, of course,
I’m an exercise fanatic.
Every woman should carry a compact, their favorite tube of lipstick, and a
gym membership card. I don’t mean one to some rink-a-dink gym that only
obese people attend with enough clothing to cover every inch of their bodies.
I mean a real gym where you’re not only inspired by the muscles rippling
around you, but turned on as well.
I met Tyrik at a Gold’s Gym.
“Shit, baby. Let me take a peek at it,” Junior groans as irritation
ripples across his features. If I don’t do something soon, he’s going
to try to put my ass out on the side of the road again.
I lean back a bit; ignoring the fact I’m drifting to the area with the
mysterious odor, and hike up my dress to show him a little thong action.
“Ah, pink.” Junior grins. “I love pink.” He reaches
over and brushes his finger across the lacy material.
I slap his hand back. “Don’t touch.”
His grin only widens. “Open your legs so I get a good look.”
I roll my eyes but do as he asks.
“Move the thong,” he orders, snubbing out his blunt.
Again, I obey.
“Oh, look at you wit the pretty kitty.” He licks his fingers for
a little lubrication and begins pumping his cock. Unbelievably the damn thing
“Give me your hand, li’l ma.”
I know I shouldn’t, but damn I’m Curious George at the moment and
I want to touch it. I inch closer to him and wrap my slender fingers around his
exotic work of art and no shit my fingertips just barely touch each other. Now
that’s a thick brother who can cause some damage.
Junior moans as my fingers tighten and relaxes while I take over pumping his
cock and a few times I have to remind him to watch the road. Despite my warnings,
two houses in Tyrik’s neighborhood lose their mailboxes.
One thing for sure, Junior has impeccable timing. Just seconds before rolling
to a stop outside of Tyrik’s mansion, Junior’s orgasm erupts like
a California geyser.
“Shit,” he gasps and then winks at me.
I cringe at the thick gooey mess all over my hand, but before I can utter a
complaint, Junior magically produces a dingy towel from the backseat and tosses
it over. No the damn thing isn’t clean, but it will do in jam. I quickly
clean up and scramble out of the car just as one of the hired valets offers to
park Junior’s monstrosity of a vehicle.
Rufus, another one of Tyrik’s cousins, spots me and is a little slow
to react when I jet pass him without an invitation. When I enter the house, I
realize this is more than just a party this is the party of the year.
“Devani,” Rufus calls coming up behind me. “You can’t
be in here.”
“Where is he?” I ask, rounding on the four hundred pound man. My
DFWM glare is in full effect and Rufus quickly drops his gaze.
“Look, I’m just doing my job, Devani. Invite only.”
“Fuck your job.” I turn and dart away again before the large man
has the chance to react. I perform a quick walk-run sort of search in hopes of
spotting Tyrik before another member of his sorry entourage kicks my ass to the
no sight of Tyrik downstairs, I rush up the circular staircase. The atmosphere
is a hell of a lot looser upstairs as women’s titties spill out of their
dresses and men are planted here and there between their legs.
Tyrik’s ass better not be up here.
My fervent threat quickly becomes a soulful prayer, but when I open the door
to Tyrik’s grand size bedroom, God makes it clear he isn’t in the
prayer answering business tonight.
There, sitting on the bed, with his head thrown back in ecstasy is my one-way
ticket out Bentley Manor and planted between his legs is an exotic Latina hoochie
with her mouth wrapped possessively around Tyrik’s cock.