Monday, March 8, 2010

King Maker - Part 3

Well guys and girls, here is the last part of King Maker, sad to say.
Hope you enjoyed it as much as i did.

Ultimately stemming from the nearby Eagle Creek
reservoir, creeks bordered the Breton Court condos
along the south and east. Not too long ago, several
kids had followed the tributaries back to the reservoir
and drowned. The tragedy was still repeated at
supper time to children who dawdled too long after
the street lights went on. The main drive of Breton
Court was laid out like a horseshoe with elongated
tips. As one went down either side, individual courts
of townhouses faced one another. King lived at the
base of the horseshoe. A few townhouses were still
owned and rented out by people who simply refused
to sell to the three owners even if they didn’t live
there.
King stayed in one of those. His condo overlooked
the southern bend of the creek, now overgrown with
weeds and filled with discarded shopping carts from
the nearly vacant strip mall on the other side of it. It
was better than living out of a car which he had done
for months. Clumped between his court of condos
and the next were trash dumpsters. A black raincoat
and a pair of jutting legs dangled from one. Merle
fell from his perch, a tangle of legs and arms in an
awkward sprawl, then drew the collar of his black
trench coat up about his neck, though there was no
chill to the air. The aluminum foil helmet was a nice
touch.
“What’s the good word, Merle?”
The old bullshit fool gave a clenched-fist salute,
though he didn’t pause from his rummaging activities.
Merle had a familiar spirit. Maybe he was one
of those faces, those strangers you bumped into on
a bus or train and instantly poured yourself out to.
Maybe he was one of those neighborhood peripheral
figures who seemed to travel in the same circles he
did, even if the two had never officially met. Thinking
back on those times, King felt a certain comfort
about the man, as if the shambling bearded tramp
were a filthy protective shadow. If he were the Merle
he had heard people whisper and laugh about over
the years, by most accounts, he appeared better,
younger, now than he did back in the day. Maybe he
cleaned up from drugs and such and was now
merely homeless. His breath smelled of pork rinds
and Funyuns.
“Signs, signs, everywhere are signs.”
“I heard that.” King plopped down on the curb,
withdrew a burrito from his bag, and offered it to
Merle. “Somehow I’m not really surprised to see you
here. You seem to get around.”
“That’s me. The bad penny.” Merle pinched off bits
of bread and scattered them about him. He shooed
away the birds, making way for a squirrel to come
collect as he will. Without a warning, Merle suddenly
bowled over, gripping his head as if trying to
keep it from exploding. His face flushed an agonized
shade of red, his mouth locked in a silent scream.
Collapsing on the ground, he waved King off from
helping him. When he next spoke, his voice had the
weak rasp of a sick kitten.
“You alright, man?”
“I’m fine. I suffer from spells.”
“You ought to see a doctor. Get that checked out.”
“I’m past the concerns of a doctor. What say you,
good King? Caught twixt the knights of Dred and
Night?”
“Nah, they just jawing. They needed to show their
teeth some.”
“The Night’s too long. Night’s daddy was a crackhead.
Got hit in the head with a shovel.”
“Do what?”
“He was sitting on a curb, people acting stupid.
Crackhead just bopped him straight in the side of the
old noggin.” Merle tapped the side of his head, dislodging
his aluminum cap. He sprayed food with
each sloppy bite, losing almost as much as he ate
while he spoke.
“My daddy was crazy, so I hear,” King said. He
fought to be legally emancipated from his mother
years ago. She had two little ones at home and he
was old enough to live on his own so that she could
concentrate on providing for the young ones. According
to his grandma, she was never quite the
same after his father’s death. Whenever she spoke
of him, it was with a mix of awe and sorrow, as if
either she had been betrayed or her idea of him had
been. At any rate, he had to get his social security
benefits transferred into his name but to her address
so that she could spend it. They’d make it
without him. As would Nakia. More family he’d
abandoned.
“An OG OD’d on the streets. Brought down in a
fight over a woman. He had to have her, though.”
“My pops wasn’t no drug addict.”
“Never said he was. Heavy is the head… and all
that.” Merle wiped his hands in the grass. “Prisons
and graveyards are full of fools who wore the
crown.”
“Truth and all, I didn’t know my father at all to
speak of. I just sort of fill in the blanks here and
there, the way I’d want them.” King froze, not understanding
why he gave up that bit of personal
information at all much less to a stranger. A white
stranger at that. Like he thought, maybe Merle had
one of those faces. Before he could speak again, the
homeless man spoke.
“Can I tell you something?” Merle leaned in, still
chewing on too big a bite of his burrito.
“Sure.”
“Last night, I dreamt of the dragon.”
“You sound like that’s supposed to mean something.”
King had an air of being trapped in himself,
of not knowing who he was, that came off as rather
petulant. “You act like you ain’t right in the head and
yet you seem so…”
“Content. I am what I am. I know who I am. I accept
who I am.”
King heard a bit too much bite in his tone. “What
does that mean?”
“You war with yourself. You’re the ‘should’ve’
man. You–”
“Should’ve finished high school. Should’ve gotten
involved in something larger than myself. Should’ve
let myself fall in love,” King said.
“Instead you hide, afraid of betrayal. A spectator
in your own life.”
“Until lately. I don’t know how to explain it.”
“You felt the call.”
“The call?”
“To action.” Merle thrust the remaining bread into
the air, a makeshift sword jabbing at clouds. He
turned the jousting loaf toward King and engaged
him in a one-sided duel, waving the bread about in
strokes and feints. “Feelings overtook you. Who you
really are wants to take over.”
“And who am I?” King kept turning to face the
loaf-wielding man. As much as instinct might have
told him to, he couldn’t write Merle off as either a
bum or a lunatic. He had too much gravitas, too
much presence, to be easily dismissed.
“That is the question. I can’t answer it for you.
Some people are built to lead, some to follow. Which
are you, lion or lamb?”
King inspected the stretch of Breton Court like
there were parts within the sphere of his influence
and the hinterlands, those areas on the outskirts, out
of his influence. Prez. Damn. What happened to that
brother? Everyone seemed infected with the same
sickness, on edge. King saw the fear, the frustration,
the cauldron of terror and rage with life reduced to
desperation and survival. So many stood by and did
nothing; sick of gangs and violence, yet suffering in
silence.
“You get off on knowing the rule book without
having to share anything.”
“Knowledge,” Merle tapped his aluminum foil helmet
with the loaf, then returned to feeding the birds
and squirrels, “is power.”
“Power is power, too.”
“Ah, the first lesson in ruling. That wasn’t so hard,
now was it?”
“What wasn’t?”
“Making a decision. Making the hard choices is a
gift.”
“What do…” King didn’t know why he sought
Merle’s advice, or approval, nor could he explain the
strange sense of kinship between them. “What’s my
next step?”
“Take hold of your destiny.”
“How do I do that?”
“Either you seek it out or…” Merle stood up as if
dismissed. “Here come your boys. Anyway, I have
places to be and fey to annoy.”
“What?”
“You’re the right guy, my guy. If you were another
guy, you’d be the wrong guy.”
Evenings were made to sit out and King relished the
few quiet moments. He had grown up in the area
though now he spent some time away, maybe to
come into his own. His boys were still his boys. So
they drank some, listened to the sounds of kids playing,
the occasional car horns, and dogs barking from
the fenced back patios of the rowhouses.
“Ain’t nothing changed,” King said.
“Look around you. Why would it change?” A
hard-faced man, with a scar on the back of his neck,
Wayne had the build of a defensive linesman, stocky
and chiseled, with the swinging step of someone
who knew how to use their size should the necessity
warrant. Thus also explaining why the plastic chair
wobbled every time he shifted his weight. A mane
of long dreadlocks furled down to his shoulders.
Wayne was King’s case manager down at Outreach
Inc., a ministry that worked with homeless and atrisk
youth. He’d helped King with his emancipation
and got his benefits straightened out. Even though
Wayne was four years older, the span of attaining his
college degree, he hung out with King now out of
true friendship as much as anything else. King had a
spark about him that drew folks to him.
“You know what your problem is?” King asked.
“What’s that?”
“You pessimistic. Now me, I’m a glass half full of
Kool Aid sort of man.”
“Just something in the air.” Wayne carried his survival
instinct, too. The eyes in the back of his head
that let him know when something was up. King respected
and depended on it.
“I know. I feel it, too. A vibe. Like a whole lot of
anger bubbling out there waiting for an excuse to
blow up.”
“Yeah, something like that,” Wayne said.
“Want another one?”
“Nah, I’m good with this one. Don’t need to be setting
a bad example for you young ’uns.”
“Sure.”
“What about you?” King raised a beer to Lott.
Lott bobbed his head to beats and rhymes only he
heard, keeping his own counsel. He was a week past
getting his hair tightened up and his large brown
eyes drifted with the activity of the court. His FedEx
uniform – a thick sweatshirt over blue slacks, his
name badge, “Lott Carey” with a picture featuring
his grill-revealing smile, wrapped around his arm –
girded him like a suit of armor. Lott put on his pimproll
strut for all the eyes to see as he moved toward
an open seat, a puffed-up exaggerated gait with a
cool blank stare, his face locked into a grimace of
put-on hostility purposefully designed to make old
ladies clutch their purses and white suburbanites
cross the street if they were in his path. A row of
faux gold caps grilled his teeth. He was a wrong
time/wrong place sort, always getting caught up in
situations he didn’t start but felt compelled to finish,
with jail being the typical finish line. These days he
kept his dreams simple: dreaming of holding a job
and breathing free air, not like some of the other
talkers on the block.
“You know I don’t drink.”
“It’s still polite to ask.”
“And where would we be without politeness?”
King nodded then popped open the beer. There
were too few evenings with anything approaching
peace, so he opted to enjoy the time he had.
It was a glass half full of Kool Aid evening.
A nest of fine braids lined Omarosa’s head, not a hair
out of place as if she had just stopped from the
beauty salon. Hers was a cultivated beauty, but
where would her kind be without beauty? With skin
like heavily creamed coffee, almond eyes that missed
nothing, and the high cheekbones with accompanying
aquiline nose of a European aristocrat, her
pointed ears were the only tell of her mixed fey heritage.
The pair of handcuffs clicked in her hand as
she spun one spindle through the rest of the cuff.
Invisible to all, she strolled along the court sidewalks.
Only three kinds of people generally
remained invisible: fiends, homeless, and pros. Such
a station in life supplied invisibility because as fixtures
in the neighborhood, most folks averted their
eyes from them either in sympathizing shame or due
to the desire to not be approached by them. Folks
tended to assume she was a pro, though few dared
ask her for sex. She allowed them to carry on in their
assumptions, for her kind also valued the power of
illusion. After all, few suspected the need to be on
guard against the sawn-off 12-gauge that rarely left
her side.
“The game begins again.” She didn’t turn her head
to address him nor otherwise betray any surprise at
his presence. Few managed to sneak up on her, with
her battle-hardened senses keen as the edge of the
blade strapped to her thigh. However, Merle had a
way of appearing when least expected. “All the players
are almost in place.”
“Indeed,” he said. “They’ve woken the dragons.”

Now i guess you will have to get your own hands on a copy.
Keep reading.

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