It's the weekend.
You're quarantined and trying to remain COVID-free.
You've binge-streamed every show and movie that your heart desires, and you're looking for something new to pique your interest.
Well... Joi Miner to the rescue!
Welcome to Sneak Peek Saturday! Every Saturday, I'll share a snippet of one of my novels... either upcoming, or already available for you to enjoy.
This week's pick:
Valentine’s Day, 2013
“Noooooooooo! God nooooooooooo! Brent! Baby, not yet! Keldric needs you! I need you! Breeennnnnnttttt!” Ice heard his mother, Bianca’s, screams and came running out of his room and down the hallway to his parents’ bedroom. His cousin Kawan was right on his heels.
He watched, in horror, as his father’s private doctor, Doctor Simms, and the nurse, Brenda, dragged his mother, kicking and screaming out of the room.
“He’s asking for you,” Dr. Simms said to Ice, solemnly, trying his best to maintain his hold on Bianca. She was bucking against him and Brenda, knocking off his glasses and elbowing Brenda in the nose.
Ice watched Dr. Simms reach into his bag and pull out a needle with one hand, while holding Bianca as best he could with the other. Brenda’s nose was leaking blood and was probably broken, but she hadn’t released her hold on Bianca, either. Ice was fighting the urge to fuck them both up behind the way they were handling his mama. She was a little woman, and was usually calm and quiet. But, her husband dying had brought out a side of her that Ice had never seen, even when she was mad.
Dr. Simms stuck the needle into Bianca’s arm, almost missing and stabbing Brenda with it because of how the hysterical woman was swinging her arms, legs, and head. If you didn’t know any better, you would think she was fighting for her life. But, Beast and Ice were her life, so, in a way, she was. She threw her head and butted Dr. Simms in the face before her breathing got heavy, and she started to calm down.
“Ahhhhh shit!” the doctor yelled out, letting Bianca go, damn near dropping her, to grab his lip. She got him good.
He looked like he wanted to hit her, or call her a name, but he thought better of it, because of the fact that he knew what grief could make a person do. Ice watched as his mama pressed her back against the wall and slid down to the floor slowly. Her eyes had this glazed look to them, and she was taking shallower breaths. Ice was debating whether he should go to his mother’s aid, or cross the threshold into their bedroom.
“Nigga, gone in there. What you waitin’ for?” Kawan nudged him, making the decision for him.
Ice peeled his eyes away from his mother whose eyes were now low. She looked like she was sleeping, other than the fact that she was calling his father’s name over and over again, moving her head from side to side. Taking a deep breath, he stuck his young chest out and walked into their room. His breath caught in his throat at the sight of his father with an oxygen mask on his face. He knew it was bad if Beast couldn’t breathe on his own. Inching closer to the bed, he bumped into the chair that was turned over on the floor. The chair that his mama sat in religiously with his dad, once he became bedridden. The sound made Beast turn his head slowly, in the direction of the door. He gave his son a faint smile, raising his hand towards his face.
“Yuh di man of di yaad now, son (You’re the man of the house now, son),” Beast said weakly. He’d removed the oxygen mask, and it was hard for him to breathe.
He watched as Ice stood in front of him, his eyes glistening with tears that he refused to let fall. That made him proud. His son wasn’t devoid of emotion, but he wasn’t a punk, either. Even though he was a mama’s boy. He knew his family, and his empire would be fine without him. That gave him the peace to let go. He motioned for his twelve-year-old son to come closer to him, because what he had to say next was the most important thing he’d ever told him.
“Yuh mama a guh finish yuh training. Dem call mi Beast but dat uhman there a mi secret weapon. Shi smart as a whip an a monsta inna dem yah streets (Your mama is gonna finish your training. They call me Beast, but that woman there is my secret weapon. She smart as a whip and a monsta in these streets),” he laughed, before breaking into a coughing fit. No one knew how savage Bianca, or as she was known in the streets, Beauty, could be. And he hoped that no one got stupid enough to try her when word got out that he was dead. If they did, though, they’d quickly learn that Beast was the nice one.
Ice grabbed the cup filled with ice water from the nightstand and held it to his father’s dark, cracked lips. He was the splitting image of his old man. Well, he used to be. Now his father was just a shell of his former self. His six-foot-three, 260-pound frame looked frail. He might not have weighed 190 pounds now. His eyes were sunken in their sockets, and his skin was pale where it was once rich, dark brown.
Ice couldn’t stand the sight of his father dying. His hero not being there with him any longer was unreal. He worshipped Beast. Wanted to be just like him when he grew up. He didn’t think this was a proper death for a boss like his father. All the money they had, all the power his dad possessed, and none of that meant anything when it came time to save Beast’s life.
Beast didn’t help matters, though. He had been stubborn and chose not to take chemo when he found out that he had breast cancer. He said it was Jah’s sense of humor because he’d always been an ass man. He even refused to go to the hospital. He said he wanted to die in the house he worked so hard for and hired a private physician, Dr. Simms and nurse, Brenda, who were there twenty-four hours a day, driving Bianca crazy.
Beast took a few deep pulls from his oxygen mask before continuing, “Truss yuh mama. Yuh hear mi? An protect har wid yuh life (Trust your mama. You hear me? And protect her with your life),” Beast paused again, giving his son a stern look. Even with the light leaving his eyes, he could put fear in the heart of the hardest nigga. Ice nodded. Beast put the mask back on his face. He couldn’t breathe without it at that point. His chest was barely moving, and he needed to make sure he gave his son this final lesson.
“Wen shi thinks yuh ready, she'll gi yuh yuh rightful empire. Yuh a God, memba dat. Nuh guh dropping yuh seeds inna any an every cornbread-fed ass bitch dat says hail. Temptation a madafucka. But di real prize finding a uhman dat wi care fi yuh heart, respect yuh mind, an remain loyal even wen shi nuh agree wid yuh (When she thinks you're ready, she'll give you your rightful empire. You're a god. Remember that. Don't go dropping your seeds in any and every cornbread-fed booty bitch that says hello. Temptation is a motherfucker. But the real prize is finding a woman that will care for your heart, respect your mind, and remain loyal, even when she don't agree with you),” Beast blinked slowly, and a tear fell from his left eye. He loved his family and hated that he would have to leave them, but he knew it was time.
He stared off, seemingly at the chair across the room and nodded. Ice looked behind him to see who, or what, his dad was nodding at. Seeing no one there, the reality of what was happening set in. He couldn’t hold back his tears anymore. He let them fall freely, wetting the collar of his oversized white tee. Nibbling on his bottom lip, he tried to compose himself to do what no child was ever truly prepared to do: watch his father die.
Beast’s breath clouded the small mask, and it was apparent that he wasn’t able to breathe normally. The fogginess came and went three or four times. Slower every time. He gave his son a smile that reached his eyes, his sagging cheekbones raising. There was a joyful peace in the gesture. But that only made Ice cry harder. His nose was running, and he was biting his bottom lip so hard he thought he would break the skin. His mind was running a million miles a minute. Beast raised his head slightly, letting out a grunt that snatched his son back to his worst nightmare happening before his eyes.
“Mi love yuh, son. Tell yuh mama mi love har, an mi wi be waiting fi mi rida inna zion (I love you, son. Tell your mama I love her, and I'll be waiting for my rider in Heaven).”
With that, Beast eased his head back onto the pillow, and his eyes slid closed. The machines that Ice hadn’t even heard beeping until then, told him what he already knew.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeppppppppppppppppp.
Thirteen years later
Keldric “Ice” Hemmings
“You stay with ugly bitches doin’ the most for your attention. If you had my swag, you’d be able to pull a ten, instead of these nickel ass hoes who be grinnin’ in ya face, my nigga,” my cousin Kawan laughed, on our way out of the Foot Locker. I needed some J’s for the club tomorrow night. It was First Friday, and I knew the thots were gonna be ready and willing to pop that shit for a real nigga.
“Whatever, bruh. I bet I ain’t pay full price for these J’s, though.”
“Yeah, but that hoe gone track your ass down with her hound dog lookin’ ass. You know she got your scent in her nose and shit. Ain’t gone be no shakin’ her, Ice. She gone hit every First Friday in the Ham tryna find her future baby daddy.”
I had to laugh. He was a clown ass nigga, always got some slick shit to say. I wasn’t worried ‘bout shawty findin’ me, ‘cause a nigga don’t be out like that. But he had a point. All the bad bitches in Birmingham and I was a magnet for the crazy hoes and the bitches with patchwork facial features. That’s why I stayed goin’ back home to the Islands. Nothin’ like a sun kissed, plantain-fed woman who could durty wine on a nigga wit’ no clothes on. Speaking of, I needed to make a trip this weekend.
“The fuck he doin’ here? I swear, I can’t stand that nigga, man,” Kawan said, outta nowhere, pulling me out of my thoughts.
We’d just been laughing about me getting the thirsty chick who rang me up to give me her employee discount, when his tone and demeanor changed, just like that. That shit put me on instant alert.
I followed his eyes and saw exactly who he was talking about. There was Keylo, standing on the second story, his gang of bitches standing on either side of him with Coach bags, tossing money over the edge. They were making it rain in the middle of the damn Galleria. The chickens were trampling kids, their parents, old folks, and each other, to get that little bit of money that he was tossin’ out. Nigga was about to cause a damn riot, and he was standing back watching with this dumb ass smirk on his face.
“This how a boss ass nigga do! Make it rain on they asses!” he hollered, looking down on the chaos that he was causing.
He looked in my direction and gave me a head nod like that shit was cool. I shook my head and turned to walk in the opposite direction. I didn’t get down with that flashy shit, and hated that I fell for his sob story and put him on. Some niggas just ain’t supposed to have shit.
“That nigga gone be a problem, man. Mark my words,” Kawan warned, and I kept walking.
I hated to hear the “I told you so” speech, but he had told me so. I was just tryna help the man out, and now, his head was too big, and I knew I was gone have to get rid of him soon.
We went down the escalator to the Food Court. I wanted some Manchu Wok and wasn’t about to entertain Keylo. I kept a low profile for a reason, so I couldn’t chance being associated with him.
“There go security, bruh. This nigga, I swear. Watch he be callin’ my phone to bail his stupid ass out. You gone make me do it, too, ain’t you?” Kawan fussed from behind me in line.
“Get the fuck off me!”
“Don’t fuckin’ touch me! My nigga can buy and sell y’all broke rent-a-cop asses! Ain’t that right, Keylo?”
“Keylo! Baeeeeee! Where that nigga go?”
“Where the hell he go?” he asked, looking around.
The women were being dragged off by security, like I knew they would, kicking and screaming. But, Keylo’s ass had gone ghost. Just like that muthafucka to let his bitches take the wrap for him, I thought, planning to get his ass handled ASAP. Bitches didn’t like bein’ locked up and left to rot, and I already knew that’s exactly what he was gone do. Bum ass nigga. I let out a heavy sigh, knowing what was about to go down. I needed to go out tomorrow night to get some of this fuckin’ stress off my chest.
I tried to ignore Kawan’s ass with his naggin’ and the commotion that was going on, keeping my eyes trained on the menu. He knew damn well I was gonna make him bail that fool out. As stupid as Keylo was, he was still one of my top earners, and I was just gone have to have a sitdown with his ass to get some act right in him.
Hol’ up, man. I’m so rude. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Ice Hemmings, descendant of the coldest Jamaican Plug in the history of this drug shit. My daddy, Beast, fucked around and fell in love with an American and moved to Bumfuck, Alabama. Most of y’all know it as Birmingham. I was the product of their union. I spent most of my youth travelling back and forth between Kingston and here. My daddy, and to my surprise, my mama, had taught me everything, from pollination to creatin’ hybrids of that shit to stay ahead of the competition. I took to that shit like a duck to water. I had no choice. That shit was in my blood.
When Beast died, mama ran that shit like the true ridah she was ‘til I was ready to step up. At seventeen, I took over and woulda gone back to live on the island, but I couldn’t leave Ma hangin’ like that. So, I got more frequent flyer miles than a stewardess in this bitch. And, even in my absence, they knew not to fuck with ya boy. I ran my shit with an iron fist and was a man of few words. Got that from the old man. One thing that he’d always taught me was to be seen and not heard. Silent but deadly.
See, nobody knew that I was the HNIC. My cousin Show, a local rapper, and boss ass nigga, was the Connect. But I was one of his many Plugs. Like I said, this shit is hereditary.
Show got his dog food and white girl from this Dominican nigga, Carmel, but that Grade A green was all me. You could say I was in love with Mary Jane, and she’s the only bitch that ever loved me back. Other than my mama, that is.
Show’s mama was my daddy’s sister. He’d brought her with him to keep them from fuckin’ with her while he was in the States cakin’ and being a family man. But she’d ended up dead behind of one of these country bumpkin niggas who couldn’t keep his dick to himself.
Show was the King of these Bham streets, and I usually chilled, traveling, tending to the second love of my life, my crops, back home. But, since Show was busy handling some shit that was goin’ on with his baby sis, Empress, I’d been left in charge til he came back. I’d made the mistake of lettin’ that nigga Keylo come to me and sell me some bullshit a couple months back, and this shit was the result.
I got my tray and turned to find a seat in the busy ass mall. I hated being out around people like this, because you couldn’t keep an eye on everybody. But Kawan had convinced me to get out the house, so I came to grab something quick, and after we ate, I was gone have my ass right back the hell outta dodge. I scanned the crowd and my eyes landed on this fine ass redbone with her nose in a Kindle. She was completely oblivious to anything or anyone around her. She was a little light for my taste, and I could tell she was nerdy. But, even though my type was more the dark brown bitch with a thick accent and even thicker in the hips, she definitely had my attention.
“She fine, ain’t she?” I heard a voice beside me.
Looking to my left, Keylo was standing beside me, looking at the same shawty that I was.
“Nigga, the fuck is wrong wit’ you? I looked out and told you that I like to keep a low profile, and you in the mall throwing money? Now, you worried ‘bout a bitch?” I said, in a low tone through clenched teeth.
“Man, cut that shit out. You know you just hatin’ ‘cause I came up on yo’ ass and you can’t live without me. Your operation has grown by leaps and bounds since a nigga been a part. You know it and I know it.”
I looked at the nigga like he had two heads. He had me fucked all the way up. The nigga knew I wasn’t about to cause a scene, especially since he’d already made it hot as hell in the damn mall and shit. I was gone show his ass what I was made of, though. I grilled the fuck outta him and all he did was smile and walk away.
I felt the heat rising in my body. I was gone have to lay this nigga out. But this wasn’t the place for that kinda shit. Too many witnesses. Shit, the Medics were still tending to the people who were trampled. I thought back on the day I was approached by Keylo, to see how I coulda missed this nigga’s lack of character.
I was sitting on the couch at the trap, whoopin’ Kawan’s ass in a game of 2k16 when there was a knock on the door. We looked at each other with our brows furrowed because no one was supposed to know we were here. We both put our controllers down and picked our straps up from the table. Being the down ass nigga that he was, he got up to see who it was. I wasn’t too far behind him, just in case some dumb shit was about to pop off. He looked over his shoulder at me and I nodded my head and cocked my shit.
“Wassup, my nigga?” Kawan asked him, the door cracked slightly.
“I was told that Ice was here. I really need to talk to him. I’m in a bad spot and wanna see ‘bout getting put on. I don’t care what he need me to do. I’ll clean toilets ‘round this bitch and work my way up,” the nigga pleaded.
“Who tol’ you Ice was in here?”
“Koonie the Crackhead. I been askin’ around and he told me he saw y’all come in here. I don’t want no problems, man. I just need some help.”
“Gimme yo’ number, and I’ll give it to Ice. And if he wanna talk with you, he will. But you might wanna be careful with that askin’ around shit. Makes you look suspect as hell.”
“Bet. I ain’t even that type of nigga, but, like I said man, I’m desperate.”
He’d given Kawan his number on a piece of paper. For some reason, I felt like the nigga had been carrying that shit around. Closing the door and tuckin’ his strap in his waistband,
“Ice, I’on know ‘bout his ass. Somethin’ in his eyes don’t sit right with me,” Kawan said, throwing the piece of paper on the table with the nigga Keenan’s number on the table and picked his controller up before plopping back down on the couch.
“Shut the fuck up, man. You see somethin’ in every damn body’s eyes. Yo’ ol’ superstitious ass.”
We went back to our game and after I whooped his ass and emptied his pockets, I put the piece of paper in my wallet, just in case, and headed to my mom’s to check on her.
Two and a half weeks later, when one of my Northside corner boys got himself killed for fuckin’ somebody else’s old lady, I picked up a burner and gave the nigga a call.
“Yeah, man. Who dis? Don’t nobody call me that shit.”
“This Ice. I meet me at Linn Park for a lil’ interview to see if I can help you out. Ten minutes. If you ain’t there when I get there, consider this a missed opportunity. I don’t give second chances,” I said and disconnected the call.
I arrived at the park half an hour later, on purpose. I sat there for about an hour, just watchin’ the niggas movements. He sat on top of a picnic table, with his elbows on his knees. Fine bitches passed by, he ain’t even look up. I wasn’t sure if that was a sign that he was focused or gay, but neither of them would be a bad thing. As long as he stayed in his lane if he was into niggas, I ain’t give a fuck what he did behind closed doors. What he did in the streets all I cared about.
There was nothing indicating that he was a fiend. He gave a few head nods, but didn’t spend more than a few minutes talkin’ to people, and it was only a few of them. He seemed to be a loner and his clothes looked like they came from the rack at Wal-Mart or some shit. His shoes looked like he walked everywhere he went. He ain’t check his watch or phone. He waited patiently, until I got out my Range and walked in his direction.
“So, what’s yo’ story, my nigga?” I asked him when I got close enough for just him to hear me. I ain’t take a seat because I wanted to stay at an advantage in case the nigga was on some bullshit.
“Man, on some real shit, I know you a busy man and I ain’t gone waste your time on no fuck shit. A nigga homeless. Livin’ at the Salvation Army and shit. I got a violent felony and a eighth grade education, so ain’t no legit job gone have me. I just got out and wanna get on my feet. Word around was that Show was that nigga, but I couldn’t find him, so I kept askin’ ‘til I found out ‘bout you. Ain’t nobody know shit ‘bout you for real and I had to give Koonie my last lil’ hundred for him to even tell me anything ‘bout you. He say he coulda been signing his death certificate for doin’ that shit, but he was willing to do that shit when I flashed that damn cash. You know a fiend do anything for his next hit.”
He chuckled before continued. “I’m dead assed willin’ to do anything to get on, man. I’ll be a janitor, muscle, corner boy. Anything, just gimme a chance.”
“Aight, look, gimme yo’ info, and I’ll look into you and, if shit check out, I’ll give you a call. But, know this, if I give you this chance and you fuck it up, steal from me, or become a snitch ass nigga, you through. I don’t give second chances.”
A background check and an ear to the streets confirmed his story, so I gave the nigga a chance. They say money bring out the true nigga. That shit was real as fuck. His ass pulled a Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde on me and shit. But he was makin’ big money, so I let his flamboyance slide. But the nigga started getting ridiculous and I’d given him more than a second chance.
This was his second times a hundred. He had me lookin’ bad in these streets. It was time to make an example of his ass. I just had to plan that shit out. ‘Til then…
“Man, damn. Lemme call J-Rock to get them hoes outta lockup before they bring heat to our operation,” I seethed. I dropped stacks behind this nigga’s shit like lap dances on a stripper. In the few months he’d been with me, I’d done more for him than I had for Kawan, and me and that nigga been rockin’ since the we came out our mama’s wombs. Shit, and he my blood. “I’m just gone take this shit out his cut. Maybe that nigga will get his shit together when his actions start hurtin’ his pockets,” I rationalized to myself aloud.
Looking back to the woman who’d caught my attention, I saw Keylo sit down in the seat at her table and try to spit game to her. I chuckled under my breath. This nigga just got a gang of hoes locked up, and he was already working on tryna fill a backup roster. But I could tell she wasn’t goin’ for it. Walking over to where Kawan had sat in a booth near the carousel, I had a perfect view of the female ignoring Keylo, her face balled up like he was bothering her.