CHAPTER 8

 

Finesse burnt up the phone lines.

“Yo, Leek. Y’all at the crib yet? Oh, y’all swung by White Castle? Well snatch Rah outta the muh-fuckin line and y’all circle back to the crib, man! Hell yeah I’m serious. Nah, I ain’t got no new info! I got something better than that, baby. Yeah, my niggah. We got us a Monster breaking shit up in this joint again, man, and he’s calling for a meeting.”

Two minutes later he had Kadir on the line. “Check it out, bruh. You on the Pike? The Garden State? Don’t matter, son. Dip at the next exit and turn that whip around. That’s right. Head back in, baby. We got some work to put in, homes. A Monster busted up in the crib tonight, man, and he’s hungry as hell.”

An hour later they sat around their mother’s dining room table holding court. The Monster was wearing a red and white Phat Farm shirt and a pair of jeans.

“Farad was right. It was Borne and his niggahs,” he told them quietly. His voice was calm, but each of his brothers could see the fury bubbling just under the surface of his skin. It ran up and down the side of his face, his veins throbbing. It was squeezed in his clenched fists and lurked madly just behind his eyes.

“He had his boys out there playing them initiation games. His kid blasted Sari, then let Baby Brother take the fall.”

The Monster looked around the table and saw identical rage in five pairs of eyes.

“But Borne’s hand is on this shit even deeper than that. Those was his goonies on Rikers too. He cosigned that shit.” He glanced at Raheem, who sat there tense and pantherlike. “They back out on the streets now, but they killed Baby Brother for some get-back. I heard ’em say something about crawling on the floor and drinking out of a dog bowl.”

Farad was on his feet. He looked at his twin and cursed. “I knew I shoulda popped that bitch niggah when I had him in my crosshairs! That fool don’t know fuckin’ get-back! I’ma kill him, man!” Tears of frustration were in his eyes as he battled his guilt. Baby Brother had had his throat cut by some come-up niggah. A coward who couldn’t even handle his on the street. “I swear, I’ma kill him!”

The brothers stayed in a huddle for most of the night. They came up with a master plan, scratched it, argued, got mad, came up with something better, refined it, killed certain aspects and agreed on certain others. In the end, their shit was tight and they deferred final judgment to the biggest and the baddest amongst them.

“Good,” the Monster growled. “Everybody on point?”

All heads nodded.

Then Farad spoke what was on all their minds. “Yo, I’m down with all this shit we talking about Borne and his crew. I’m on it, sons. But I’ma tell y’all this right now. One of us need to slump that niggah Acqui too. That bitch gotta get smoked.”

 

The twins were ready to get shit started. The first thing they did the next morning was roll down Linden Boulevard to sit down with Tony Santos.

“We takin’ a bitch?” Farad asked his brother.

Finesse shook his head. “Nah. No burners. No backup neither. Just me and you.”

Which could have been a big mistake.

“You steppin up in my crib to confess for your brother or to drop a dime?” Tony sneered. Sari’s death was eating at his bones and he’d sworn the worst kind of vengeance on her killer. He snorted in disgust at the sight of the two tall black men standing before him. Farad and Finesse were fools to roll up in East New York naked. His men were lined up and ready to blast these two niggahs all the way back to Africa. All they needed was the word.

“My brother was innocent,” Finesse told him. “And you know that shit. But this ain’t no muh’fuckin’ dry snitch. This a wet one, homey. Borne Reynolds had ya baby sis popped. He sent his sons out there with orders to take down some Puerto Ricans,” he said.

Tony played with his knife. His jaw twitched as his ire churned furiously. As much as he had fucked with Zabu, Tony knew the kid had really dug his sister. Besides, Borne had been encroaching on him in minor ways for a minute now, trying him on the low, annoying him like a gnat. The twins were speaking the truth and Tony knew it. “That fool will never learn,” he said finally. “The last time he tried to fuck with me I rearranged his bitch’s face. For that he comes after my sister?” He laughed bitterly. “I coulda crumbled his whole house…just like that. But I didn’t.”

“Them the same cats who been breaking into them houses over on Berriman Street too. That old Puerto Rican lady they found strangled a few months back? The one who’d lived in the hood feeding kids for sixty years?” Farad shook his head in disgust. “Who you think raped that old woman? Who choked her? That’s one of Borne’s too, man! He didn’t send nobody out on that shit, though. That’s one murder he committed himself.”

By the time the twins left East New York, Tony Santos and his Barrio crew had declared war on Borne and his click.

“We got ya back,” Finesse had told him as they walked out the door. “Matter fact, gimme twenty-four hours. We got some firepower for you too.”

 

Right about this time Kadir was standing in a warehouse watching two white boys pull an assortment of heat out of a stolen Mafia shipment. There were two crates filled with gats. Some were .45’s, some were Sigs, a few Glocks, and even a couple of 9mms.

“All of this fall off a damn truck?”

“Nah,” the short cat answered. “One was donated by a friend of mine named Seven. I did a favor for his Get-Money Crew down in Virginia a while back, and he tore me off a few pieces from his stash.”

“So are we cool?” the taller of the two asked. The last time Kadir had seen him he was red-faced and scared as fuck, pissing down his own leg.

“Yeah,” he told them, eyeing his new arsenal of firepower. “Almost. Y’all mothafuckas wasn’t on time tonight. Two minutes could make the difference between your life or your death. My little package needs a ride, son. A ride to Brooklyn. Handle that shit for me and we’ll be straight.”

 

Raheem drove into Queens and crossed the bridge to Rikers Island. His mood was pensive, and a hard Reem Raw cut with a gully beat blared from his speakers. Earlier in the day he’d gotten a heads-up from his boy Joppy that he was down on his team. He’d squeezed Dirtbag and found out which other cats had participated in Baby Brother’s murder, and he was ready to help however he could.

They’d met outside Jop’s moms’ crib, and drank a beer while they tossed info around.

“It was that red niggah Borne,” Joplin said, confirming what Raheem and his brothers already knew. “That fool lost control of his sons. He didn’t pull no triggers or swing no blades, but them cats belonged to him, so he’s responsible.”

Raheem nodded, his eyes cold. “What else, Jop? I know you got sumpthin’ else for me, man.”

“Yeah. I do.” He took a long pull from his cigarette and then flicked it into the bushes. “The cat who did Zabu? Him and his man already walked. Zab killed one, but I found out the names of the other two who are still on The Rock. Them fools riding it all the way, though. Dummied up. Don’t know shit. But we can get ’em.”

That was all Raheem needed to hear. He drove with extreme purpose, going over his plan in his head. He arrived on The Rock and reported for his shift as usual. A couple of his fellow officers had heard about Baby Brother, and they gave their condolences and promised to keep their ears open and let him know what they heard. All inmate deaths were thoroughly investigated, and one of Raheem’s boys who worked prison investigations was also down on his team.

“Rah. Don’t worry ’bout it, baby. We gonna find out who did that shit. Two inmates got bodied on our watch that day, and we know for a fact there were at least ten inmates in the kitchen who knew what was going down. All them niggahs either went blind or got amnesia, and they swearing to God they don’t remember seeing a goddamn thing. But trust. We gonna work it out of ’em.”

Raheem had dapped his boy hard and all, but he had no intentions of waiting around for some internal correctional system to exact justice for his brother’s life. He was out to get street justice for his. That was truth.

Two hours later Raheem and Joplin were in position and ready to orchestrate their plan. Inmates were constantly being called down to the medical screening room. Sometimes blood tests needed to be run, other times they were asked to update their medical histories. Jop was banging one of the reception center nurses and knew she made a daily run to the other side of the complex for a meeting each Thursday.

He used her computer to send up a request for the two prisoners to report to the nurse’s office, then waved Raheem inside and left, closing the door behind him as he walked off whistling down the hall.

Fifteen minutes passed before Raheem heard a knock. He stood behind it with every muscle in his body tensed and ready to spring. It didn’t matter who was on the other side of that door, he thought. Whichever one of them niggahs got here first, he was gonna die.

Instead of calling out an answer, he twisted the knob and opened the door, careful to stay hidden behind it. A leg swung forward as the man entered the office, and the moment Raheem saw the fresh sneaker and the telltale prison pants, he swung his right arm in a low roundhouse, catching the inmate by surprise as his prison-made shank sank deeply into the man’s belly. His hand moved in a flurry. Once, twice, three times.

“Umph!” was all the niggah said as he clutched his stomach in surprise. Raheem moved swiftly. He grabbed the cat’s neck with his left hand and kicked the door shut at the same time. Swinging him around in a yoke, Raheem crushed the inmate’s windpipe with his forearm, bending him backward and lifting him off his feet.

“Bitch.” He breathed his menace into the struggling man’s ear. “That niggah y’all hit in the freezer?” He tightened his grip as the inmate clawed at his arm with one hand and clutched his gutted stomach with the other. “That was a Davis boy, mothafuckah. That was my baby brother.”

Raheem pressed the shank into the inmate’s temple and pushed hard. The guy would have screamed if he could, but instead his body shuddered for several long moments, and then went still. Raheem’s arm trembled as he continued to squeeze the inmate’s neck until he was sure there was no life left in him.

A minute later he slung the bloody body to the floor and tossed the shank down beside it. He stood above it looking down in disgust.

One to go.

By the time he heard the next knock at the door he was back in position.

Raheem pulled the door open once again, but this time when the inmate walked in he chilled until the cat was fully in the room. Kicking the door closed, Raheem grabbed the kid from behind. He spun him right, flung him down on top of his dead partner, then landed heavily on top of them both, knocking the air outta the inmate’s lungs.

“Yo!” The dude gave a short yell, but Raheem was all over him. He grabbed the inmate’s hand and closed it over the shank, crushing his fingers in a vise grip until they closed around the handle. The inmate screamed, both from the pain running up his arm and exploding in his shoulder, and from the sight of his man, dead beneath him on the floor.

Sandwiched between a corpse and a killer, he squirmed and fought, pushing against the warm bloody body as he tried to free his hand from Raheem’s deadly grasp.

Raheem grabbed the back of the man’s head and smashed his face into the floor, trying to shatter it like an egg. The inmate slumped on top of his friend, down but not out.

“What the fuck are you doing, man?” he whimpered, stretched out helplessly between a rock and a dead man.

“Killing you,” Raheem whispered.

Seconds later the door opened and Joppy rushed in.

“Officer down!” he screamed into his walkie-talkie, then jumped on top of the heap as the inmate wiggled weakly beneath them both. “Easy,” Joppy cautioned his friend. “Don’t go too far, now. We need this motherfucker alive, man. Ease up now, bruh.”

The first three officers responding to the call saw exactly what they were supposed to see: a dangerous, bloody scene. A shanked inmate. And two of their most trusted fellow officers on the ground struggling to restrain an armed killer.

“We got him, fellas.” A veteran white officer got on his knees to help. Raheem continued to squeeze the inmate’s fist inside his own.

“No! No! No! NO!” the inmate whispered, unable to even move his fingers, let alone escape Raheem’s killer clutch.

“Watch the shank!” Raheem shouted. He flailed their arms up and down, back and forth in a mock struggle. “He’s still got a shank!”

Minutes later the inmate was restrained and led away and the three officers were standing on their feet, breathing hard and covered in blood.

“We got him,” Joplin sighed, clapping Raheem on the back as they waited for the prison investigators to report to the scene. “He won’t be hurting nobody no more.”

The older white officer wiped his bloody hands on his pants legs and agreed.

“He sure won’t. That guy’s been through here a few times. He’s a three-time felon, you know. That’s automatic life.”