After the deaths and arrests of his entire crew and an informant-fueled investigation into his past, the man known on the streets as Animal relocates to Texas and finds fame and stardom as the newest act signed to the notorious Big Dawg Entertainment. His girlfriend, Gucci, is thrilled when she gets the news that he’s coming back to New York on a promotional tour, but when she discovers the hidden agenda behind his homecoming nothing can prepare her for the life-altering consequences that will come of it.
There goes the neighborhood . . . again.
St. Martin’s Griffin, September 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-53697-8, ISBN10: 0-312-53697-6,
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 352 pages
TRAFFIC WAS PRETTY LIGHT AT THAT TIME OF MORNING on the Saw Mill Parkway. The south-bound lanes were just starting to become congested with cars and people making the commute into the city proper to start the workday, but the north was wide open, which was a blessing considering the way Brasco was driving. The engine of the Honda Civic whined as he sped up the road, weaving in and out of traffic and occasionally checking his rearview for troopers. He didn’t give a shit about a speeding ticket, but it would be hard to explain why he had a sawed-off shotgun stashed under a blanket in the backseat. After spending the last eighteen months on Rikers Island on a probation violation he had no desire to be caged again.
That summer had been a bad one for his little family. China had been killed in a botched robbery, Silk lost her life in a shoot-out with the police, and Tech had been executed by a rival faction, leaving only the junior members of the group to carry on the legacy, but their reign was a short one. Acting on a tip from a confidential informant the police had closed the net on their little gang. Brasco, Nefertiti, and Ashanti found themselves snatched off the block and thrown into jail on what turned out to be a trumped-up charge offered up by a snitch named Rock Head from 140th Street. Brasco knew that they were clean and would beat the case, but what he hadn’t counted on was the warrant out on him. Needless to say it was considered a violation of his probation and an automatic ninety days. The extra five months came from a stabbing incident between him and a Crip who had been talking crazy. Brasco was eventually cleared of the crime, but it took time to prove his innocence.
Nefertiti didn’t have any priors so they let him walk with a slap on the wrist, but little Ashanti had gotten the worst of it. He was a minor with no relatives who would claim him so he became a ward of the state, sentenced to a boys’ home until he turned eighteen, which would’ve been in another three years had it not been for the letter Brasco’s aunt had gotten in the mail.
Resting on the dashboard was the latest issue of Don Diva. On one side there was a mug shot of a cat named Gutter who had been the Adolph Hitler of gangbanging before being murdered by his enemies. The reverse side was a crisp picture of Don B. and his Big Dawg Entertainment crew, which now included one of Brasco and Nefertiti’s closest comrades, The Animal. Animal looked like a little boy standing among the hardened soldiers of Don B.’s army, but he was arguably the most dangerous of them. Like all of them Animal had been a product of the streets and at the rate he was going destined to die in them, but fate had given him a pass. Brasco smiled proudly when he had received the issue in the mail and saw his friend posted up on the cover as a part of one of the biggest rap labels in the country, but it was the scribe inside the magazine that had him the most excited.
“How much farther is it?” Nefertiti asked while fumbling with the CD player. Plies’s “Hundred Years” was replaced by Murs’s “L.A.”
Brasco slapped Nefertiti’s hand like he was a child trying to touch a hot stove. “Nigga, have you lost your last mind?” Brasco snarled and switched back to the Plies CD. “Take Off ” blared through the speakers, rattling the rearview mirror. “Nef, how you gonna change the CD when my cut is about to come on? You know I ride to this shit.” Brasco began mouthing the words.
“Man, I don’t know why you listen to this country muthafucka. Shit, he ain’t even got a platinum album out,” Nefertiti said.
“Because this nigga is talking to the cats like me. Plies might not have a number one album, but I’ll bet you hear this shit bumping in every rock house in the hood. Nef, it ain’t always about what you sell, but what you represent. Although I wouldn’t expect a nigga like you to understand,” Brasco said and went back to concentrating on the road.
“And what do you mean by that?” Nef turned to face him.
“I mean what I said. Me and you are two different kinda niggaz, homey.”
Nefertiti turned the radio down and got Brasco’s full attention. “Brasco, you acting like we ain’t been jacking together since we was shorties. Don’t my gun go off like yours?”
Brasco looked at him, wondering if he should keep it a hundred or sugarcoat it. He reasoned that he and Nefertiti went too far back to dance around the subject so he spoke from his heart. “Yeah, ya gun go off, but you ain’t shooting to kill nobody. Nef, I ain’t trying to say you won’t lay your murder game down, but while I’m shooting to take a nigga outta the game, you’re shooting to get him off ya back.”
“So now I’m a pussy?” Nefertiti was beginning to get agitated.
“Never that, my nigga. Nef, I’ll take you and Ashanti in my corner going to battle over a hundred of the illest cats you can find, next to Animal of course. We family, blood, but I know if given the choice you would let a nigga live to keep that kinda evil off ya soul, whereas I’m going for the kill. A live enemy equals a loose end that you’ll always have to worry about. Nef, just because me and Ashanti are rotten doesn’t mean that you have to be. God makes us all different and I respect you for being who you are.”
“What ever, man,” Nefertiti said and occupied himself by staring out the window. For as long as he had been riding with the crew they had teased him about not being as bloodthirsty as the rest of the hounds. More often than not he would laugh it off, but he did have his moments where he could get caught up in his feelings about it. Nef was so caught up in his thoughts that he almost didn’t notice that they had exited the parkway. Brasco did the speed limit as they drove through the sleepy town of goodness knew where. They had gone west for about a mile when Brasco turned off on a dirt road that led deep into a wooded area. After moving deep into the shoulder he threw the car in park and started flipping through the magazine.
“What the hell are we doing back here? I thought we were going to see Ashanti at the boys’ home?” Nefertiti asked. He wasn’t sure how comfortable he was with the way Brasco had stopped them in the middle of nowhere. His mind suddenly began to have flashes of how they did the kid in Alpha Dog and it filled him with dread.
“We are,” Brasco said, never bothering to look up from the magazine.
Nefertiti was about to question him further when he heard shouting coming from somewhere on the other side of the woods. He looked over at Brasco, who was just smiling as the shouting grew closer. Nefertiti swung around nervously when he heard the bushes ruffling a few yards away. By this time his imagination had him so wound up that he almost shit his pants when Ashanti came bursting out of the shrubbery, with two angry-looking men hot on his heels.
Ashanti was dressed in a green sweat suit that looked like it was two sizes too small and a pair of strap-up sneakers. He wove this way and that in a complicated pattern like he was trying out at a football combine, occasionally bounding over logs and fallen branches. The dark- skinned man, who was wearing a blue shirt and khakis, tried to tackle Ashanti, but the lithe boy made a sharp cut and the man went skidding into the dirt. The second man, an older white gentleman with salt and pepper hair, managed to get out past Ashanti and stood between him and the car. He smiled arrogantly knowing that he had Ashanti trapped, but froze when the heard the telltale slide of a shotgun behind him.
Brasco stood wide-legged in the dirt with the shotgun braced against his shoulder, drawing a bead on the man’s back. “Break yo self, white boy,” Brasco snapped.
“Hey, take it easy, kid,” the man said. When he attempted to turn around Brasco pressed the shotgun in his back.
“They don’t pay you enough for what you’re about to do,” Brasco whispered in the man’s ear. “Let’s go, lil homey!” he shouted over to Ashanti.
Ashanti made sure that there was extra swagger in his walk when he moved past his former jailers. He stopped short of the man Brasco was holding at gunpoint and sized him up. All of the counselors at the boys’ home were assholes, but this one had been especially cruel to little Ashanti. Without warning Ashanti drew his hand back and slapped the man so hard that the sound scared off a family of geese that had been swimming in a nearby pond. Th e man went to the ground in a heap holding his jaw that had already turned bright red and was beginning to swell.
“I told you one day I was gonna get ya ass back, pussy.” Ashanti kicked him for good measure before jumping into the backseat of the car and making his escape.
“YOU SHOULD TURN THIS BITCH around so I can let one of them pussies hold something,” Ashanti said, stroking the shotgun with a look of lust in his eyes. It had been quite some time since he held a gun, and the feeling was akin to a junkie relapsing.
“Shut up and give me that damn gun before you shoot one of us by accident.” Brasco snatched the gun from him and handed it to Nefertiti.
“What the fuck just happened?” Nefertiti asked, looking from the gun to Ashanti nervously. He kept checking the mirrors to see if they were being followed.
“A jailbreak, what the fuck does it look like?” Ashanti laughed.
Nefertiti shook his head in frustration. “Only y’all two niggaz can cook up some shit like this and manage to rope me into it too. We’re gonna fuck around and go to jail.”
“Stop crying, Nef. Their system is so jammed up that they ain’t even gonna bother to look for me once we cross the county line. If anything I just freed up a bed for the next poor bastard they toss in that bitch. Brasco, I can’t tell you how happy I was when you sent word that you were busting me out, even if it did take your ass forever to make it happen. If I had to spend one more month in that joint I was gonna lose it.”
“You know you wouldn’t have been in there that long if we were still heavy in the streets. Dawg, a nigga was on twist when they laid me down. When I touched the streets again I had to build from the ground up,” Brasco explained.
“I thought Nef was out there holding it down from the kites he was sending me. Son, sent up mad pictures of him with mad bitches and popping bottles with some lame ass niggaz from uptown,” Ashanti said.
Brasco looked at Nefertiti and then at Ashanti. “Holding it down? Man, this nigga was working in the stockroom at B.J.’s while we were locked up.”
“Chill, son, you know with all the heat on us I had to keep a low profile. Me working up there was just a front,” Nefertiti boasted.
“Front my ass, Nef. The only reason your monkey ass ain’t still working at B.J.’s is because they caught you stealing them frozen shrimp and fired you!” Brasco laughed.
Ashanti shook his head. “Shrimps, dawg?”
Nefertiti tried to act like he was mad but couldn’t hold back the laugh any longer. “Shrimp, steak, and whatever else I could get my hands on. Every first, third, and fifteenth I’d be posted up right in front of the check-cashing spot getting my sling on. Th em government checks were going from the state to the broads to my hands. I was killing ‘em!”
“Nef, your ass is crazy,” Ashanti said, wiping a tear from his eye. “Yo, Brasco, let me see the kite, son.”
Brasco handed him the letter that had been tucked in the magazine. Ashanti was so shocked that he read it twice. “I can’t believe it, dawg. Son, do you know what this means?”
Brasco nodded his head and grinned wickedly. “It means that all these bitch ass niggaz are about to fall in line.”
Excerpted from Welfare Wifeys: A Hood Rat Novel by K’wan Foye.
Copyright © 2010 by K’wan Foye.
Published in 2010 by St. Martin’s Press
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.