“Woman’s Work”

by Michael A. Gonzales

With his rep of being a bad motherfucker, Joyland was one of the few places Hawk Brooks could go and be at peace. After a busy night at the crack house, he drove out to the abandoned amusement park and practiced shooting at the decayed carnival game booth. There wasn’t a lot to do in Peterson, Virginia, and Joyland was a once a popular spot where he used to blast clown targets with a toy pistol when he was a kid. A reddish bronze complexioned black man who stood six-feet tall, much taller than he was in those yesteryear memories, he sometimes brought along his girlfriend Jenny who was good with a Smith and Wesson 9mm as she was between the sheets. 

“You shoot pretty good, for a chick,” he teased her. She’d pretend to be insulted and snapped back, “Hell, it’s 1987, Hawk. Women can do a lot of things besides fuck and cook. I told you my daddy used to take me shooting when I was a girl.” 

Hawk liked having a woman that knew her way around firearms and imagined her as a young girl creeping through the woods with her pa, in search of deer or possum. However, that night, for sentimental reasons, he came to the Joyland alone. 

The park had closed down a year before he started high school in 1980, the same year his mother Katie died from cancer. It was their “special place” and she made an effort to take him there a few times a year. It was damn near poetic that they both died the same year. 

Dressed in a black and red Troop jacket, a black button down shirt and a dookie gold chain, he reached into the back of his jeans and slowly removed the platinum plated piece with his right hand and aimed it had the red star targets he’d posted up a few minutes before. As usual, he hit every bull’s-eye perfectly, each shot reminding him what of he’d become. 

Afterwards, he walked around, passing the rusted bumper cars, collapsing rollercoaster and a giant slide covered in vines, he recalled how lively Joyland used to be. Hawk didn’t believe in ghosts, but still he felt his mama’s presence as he made his way across the deserted grounds. He’d rather visit her there than at the graveyard. 

For some reason Hawk never told Jenny about the connection he had with his mother at the park, but one day, when he felt he could really trust her, he’d reveal that one secret. 


Four years after Hawk’s mother died, he was still mourning. The few friends he had, he pushed away, choosing to fly solo. After school he sometimes walked down to Red’s, his dad’s bar on Washington Street that the old man opened with Katie, both of them taking pride in building a family business. The Broadway of Peterson, Washington Street stretched from the poor section of the city to the more upper class community. 

Mostly, Hawk spent hours playing pinball downtown at the Greyhound terminal and it was at that joint where he became friends with Keith Williams, another kid running away from home on a daily basis. A year older than Hawk, who was seventeen, he never knew his mother, who fled when he was two. His drunken dad was always in a fog. He never put hands on the boy, but Keith often had to nurse the old man when he came home from Red’s bar after working days a local car parts factory. 

“Your daddy pours them, my daddy drinks them,” Keith joked more than once. 

Inside the game room there was a short order grill that served breakfast, burgers, various sandwiches and a fountain soda machine that only served Coke and ginger-ale; for any other flavors they had to go to the Shell gas station across the street and get it from the machine next. When they got tired of cola, Hawk and Keith crossed the gravelly road and treated themselves to an orange, their second favorite flavor. 

The boy’s criminal minded ways began gradually, more out of mischief than anything. They had run out of quarters for the pinball machine and were chilling outside puffing cigarettes when two white boys, dressed in jeans and rock star t-shirts, left their mud splattered motorbikes parked in front of the garage while they ran into the bathroom. “What the hell,” Keith mumbled, “Let’s take a little joy ride.” Hawk chuckled. “Sounds good to me,” he replied. 

Before either of them could think too deeply, they were racing across the road. Within seconds they swooped-up the motorbikes and roared off. They were just fooling around, but by the time they arrived back at the gas station, the burly sheriff was already on the scene and the two white boys were screaming and crying. Hawk knew they were going down. 

Sheriff Daniels had known all the boys since they were kids. It might’ve troubled him he to take Keith and Hawk into custody where he held them until their respective daddy’s decided to pick them up. 

When Red came to retrieve Hawk, the boy just knew it was going to be clobberin’ time when they got home. Red drove back to the house in silence, but the second they walked through the front door, he screamed at his son, “Sit down.” Hawk did as he was told, folding his hands in his lap. “Look, I know it’s been hard since your mama died. I done tried to give you space and let you deal with this in your own way, but that was a mistake. You stopped playing football, you barely going to school. Well, starting tomorrow you gonna be working with me at the bar. You got too much free time. I’m going to take care of that.”

Though Hawk didn’t find out until later, Keith’s dad never showed. Instead of going home, his homeboy, who was eighteen and considered an adult by the state, was sent to big boy prison on the outskirts of town. For the next year, while Hawk was finishing high school Keith was doing real time.


In the beginning working there was all good. Hawk liked being at the bar helping his dad the way Katie used to do: stocking the shelves, bussing tables, empty ashtrays and sweeping up near the pool tables in the back where sticks were in the racks mounted on the red and black wall. He got to hear the many stories of old heads, dudes who lived in town before he was even thought of. He also witnessed more than a few messy situations that included bloody fights between friends, wives busting their husbands (or vice versa) with their side pieces and the bad break-ups that usually involved him sweeping up shattered glasses or broken beer bottles. 

Hawk jumped in more than a few times and developed a rep for being a brawler who’d knocked-out a few folks while throwing others down the stairs and onto the street. He wasn’t gentle and often had to scrub-up blood stains from the sidewalk. 

He should’ve kicked some ass that scandalous night his old pee wee football buddy Chunky Ellison broke the heart of neighborhood cutie pie Jenny Youngblood. If anybody deserved a beat down it was Chucky, for the way he broke that young girl’s heart. The two had dated all through high school, where she’d been a hyper cheerleader to Chunky’s football star prowess. 

Back in them days Jenny dressed like she was one of the Pointer Sisters, wearing vintage dresses she’d bought at the Goodwill and fixed up. A skinny, but sexy girl with long legs and full lips, she was also a romantic who believed that the boy she’d given her virginity and stayed true to for years was coming home on Christmas break to purpose. 

For weeks she was going round town hinting that her days of being called Miss would soon be over and she’d be flashing her diamond engagement rock. However, when Chunky came back to town, he and Jenny met at Red’s for what most in town, including Hawk, thought would be their big night, but when Hawk heard her scream, “You bastard! You bastard!” followed by the sound of breaking glass, he knew that something had gone terribly wrong. 

Seconds later Jenny ran by crying. In that moment he hated Chunky more than he’d hated any man while at the same time wishing he could embrace Jenny, assure her that the sky wasn’t falling and sun would come out tomorrow. The moment Jenny slammed the bar’s door behind her, Hawk vowed to to make her his woman. 

However, in order to compete, really compete, he needed to step up his game which meant styling a different wardrobe, driving a better car and clocking more dollars. Once he figured out the last part, everything else would fall into place. The following day he was at Keith’s telling him about the night before while also speculating on how he was going to make more money. 

“I keep telling you, get down with me and it will set you free.” While locked-up, Keith got in deep with cocaine crew out of Baltimore run by a dude name Lewis Kato. A short, but muscular cat with crazy eyes and a Jerri curl, he was serving a year sentence for assault when they met. 

He and Keith were cellmates, and though their friendship started off rocky, with Kato having to smash the newbie’s face against the paint chipped bars, by the end of his stint the two were cool as ice cubes. The night before his release Kato said, “I expect to hear from you when you get out.” Keith wasn’t sure if that was a request or a demand, but he wasn’t taking any chances. 

Baltimore was only a two-hour drive away from Peterson, and, upon Keith’s release he went to see Kato at the North Avenue nightclub where the little man conducted business. Ten years before, cocaine was an expensive high sniffed by rock stars, disco divas and hustlers, but the ’80s changed all that; low prices and high quality made it the people’s drug. By the end of their meeting, Keith was a small town dealer. 

For the next year he’d sold $20s and $50s of coke to friends and the upscale clientele at Girard’s Disco way down the highway. That was the bottom line he was trying to get across to Hawk. “I’m making a mint. All you gotta do is what I do.”

“I don’t know nothing about selling drugs,” Hawk replied. “Where would I even do it?”

“Man, you crazy? You work every night in the most popular bar in town and you talking that dumb shit.”

“Red’s? If you think I’m going sell coke in my father’s bar you got another think coming.”

“I’m not telling you to move kilos, just sell it on the low to people you know. Don’t be obvious and your daddy won’t suspect jack.” 

“I don’t know a lot about that Miami Vice shit. I’m not Calderone. I’ll have to think about it.”

Keith laughed. “Yeah, OK…you think about it. Just remember, work money and drug money are two different kinds of monies. Meanwhile, someone else will be plotting to lay pipe to Jenny.”

“Do you always have to be so crude?”

Keith laughed. “Don’t you mean, why do I always have to be so right?”

By the end of the week he and Hawk were in business together, a partnership that began with Keith taking Hawk with him to pick up the blow in Baltimore and introducing him to Kato. “Some weeks Hawk will be coming to pick-up,” Keith said after introducing his best friend to the connect; Kato eyeballed his for what felt like forever. Finally, he smiled.

Bringing the brick back to Peterson, Keith cut it up and got the blow wrapped in pyramid paper bundles. Hawk sneaked them to customers through the night; that first week he’d made damn near a thousand bucks and thought himself slick as a can of oil for fooling his old man. 

Six months into Hawk’s life as a drug dealer, his slickness ran out. One evening when he came into the bar, his dad stood in front of the door with a sullen expression. “Come into the office, we need to talk.” The windowless room was a mess of papers cluttered on the desk, cases of beer and liquor stacked against the wall and a ratty brown plaid couch. There was a smiling picture of his mom on the wall, but it pained him to look at it too long.

“You selling drugs out of my bar, boy?”

“No, sir.”

“How can sit in front of a picture of your dead mama and lie so easy?” Red reached into his pocket and slammed down two 20s. “I found these on the floor behind the bar. You must’ve dropped them.”

“I can explain.” 

“I want you to get all your shit out of my bar and out of my house.”

“Where am I supposed to live?”

“You grown enough to be a drug dealer, you grown enough to figure out where you going to live.” Hawk sucked his teeth and stood up from the chair. Before he knew what was what, Red punched him and Hawk felt his chest folding. The punch hurt like hell, but Hawk refused to show any real pain. Slowly, he walked out of the door and disappeared into the night. 

That night he moved in with Keith temporally and they continued their partnership, sold out of Girard’s, delivered to a select few and made a nice piece of tax-free change. 

Two weeks later, on a trip to Baltimore to meet with Kato, he told them about this new coke powered drug called crack. “It’s the latest sensation in Los Angeles and New York City, and it’s slowly making its way to our side of the world,” Kato said. Sitting behind his desk, he lit a cigarette. “It’s made from cocaine, but stronger than Superman; this shit just makes them greedy. They be like, ‘Give me more, give me more.’” 

Kato gave them the recipe and that was how crack crept into Peterson, Virginia.


As partners, they split up the chores with Keith running the street action that included recruiting the teenage dealers and regular visits to their territories. Hawk ran the houses: the stash house, where the crack was kept, prepared, cut and bagged. There was also the cash house, where the money was stacked in a safe. Hawk made sure the product was perfect. By the end of the year they were selling hundreds of vials a day and had a crew that was big as a football team scattered throughout town. 

Sheriff Daniels and his deputies had no idea how to handle it, and settled on taking bribes and turning a blind eye as long as the dope stayed on the colored side of town. Of course, that was impossible. By the time they realized some of the white kids were also becoming crack heads, there was nothing they could do. 

As their business grew, Hawk stayed keeping tabs on Jenny. It would’ve been a mistake to move in too quick after Chunky dumped her. Those two had been together so long that he knew she’d need time to cry it out while lying in her room listening to Luther Vandross songs. She’d always been a thin girl, but in her depression ice cream and chips were her comfort foods, and she began putting on weight in all the right places. 

Jenny changed, and the naive teen that once inhabited her body was gone and replaced by a woman. Hawk saw her walking down the street, no longer styling old fashion dresses, but instead wearing fresh gear and new sneakers, fine as a full-figured Whitney Houston. On other days he’d see her at the playground with the hollering, sugar high kids from the pre-school where she worked. 

Seven months after she and Chunky’s break-up, Hawk drove his new silver Benz over to the supermarket and accidently on purpose ran into Jenny inside the always cold A&P. “This is the last place I thought I’d see you,” she said.

Hawk laughed. “Why’s that?”

“You never struck me as a supermarket kind of dude.”

“Hey, a brother gotta eat. It gets kind of expensive eating out every day.”

“You can afford it.”

Hawk got serious and snapped, “What you know about what I can afford?”

“I’m just saying,” she teased and smiled.

Hawk forced himself to chuckle. “I guess it’s no secret what my business is, huh?”

“You know this town. Your business is everybody’s business.”

Hawk looked her up and down, and cocked his head to the side. “I was wondering, how you would feel about going out on a date with me. We could do something cool?”

“Oh, like what?”

“Well, I have to drive into Baltimore on business. Why don’t you come with me on Friday and we’ll make a night of it.”

“Really?” She smiled. “I never would’ve guessed that you liked me like that? You never said anything.”

“Hell, you always had your bodyguard with you,” he laughed. “Nobody else could even get next to you if they wanted to.”

“And you wanted to?”

“More than you’ll ever know.” 

“Let me think about it.” They talked for awhile: he joked, she laughed and, a half hour later, Hawk bopped through the automatic sliding doors with Jenny’s phone number in his pocket. Floating on air with a natural high, he wanted to break into a song and dance like Gregory Hines in The Cotton Club. They spoke on the phone a few times that week and come Friday afternoon Jenny sat next to him as they made their way down the highway, zooming towards Charm City. 

First they dined at a seafood joint at the Inner Harbor and afterwards he surprised her with a Luther Vandross concert at the Civic Center. Personally he’d rather see Whodini or Run-DMC, but even he knew that a way to a woman’s heart was through ballads, not rapping, cutting or scratching. After the show, as they walked to the parking lot, Hawk casually put his arm around her. They took a few more steps and, as though in synch, they both stopped walking. 

The street was quiet as they kissed passionately, sinking into one another, finding joy and comfort in each other’s arms. Twenty minutes later, Hawk cruised up Charles Street. Stopping at a red light, he said, “We gotta make one more stop. Maybe get a little dancing in.” 

Turning right on North Avenue, they parked and walked over to Oshell’s, the nightclub Kato worked out of; Hawk wore his leather coat from the car. From outside they could hear the music blasting. After paying the cover and stepping through the door, the DJ segued into “Set It Off” and they danced wildly. A half hour later, one of Kato’s boys tapped him on the shoulder. 

“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” Hawk told Jenny. Seconds later, he and Kato’s worker walked up a short flight of stairs to the office. The TV was on, and Kato was watching a video of Pink Panther cartoons. Beside him stood his bodyguards, two mean giants; one black and the other white, they were equally as big and ugly. They reminded Hawk of the black and white dogs on the liquor bottle, but not as cute. 

Keith sat there silent until the episode went off and Kato paused the tape. “Man, I love that fucking Pink Panther. Besides Snoopy, he’s the coolest cartoon character. Dude don’t even talk, that’s all cool he is.” Kato poured them drinks from a bottle on his desk. As usual, he was dressed in a custom-made suit looking like stock broker. He passed Hawk a snifter of scotch. 

“To the game,” Hawk toasted, “and to you, my brother, for always looking out and for having good taste in hundred year old scotch.” While they chatted, Hawk reached into his pocket and pulled out a few stacks of hundred dollar bills in exchange for a brick of cocaine. He stashed the brick in the lining of his coat and bid farewell. Minutes later, he and Jenny were back inside the car. 

“Well, that was a fast nightclub visit,” she said. “I thought we’d get a least one more dance before the night was over.”

“Who said the night was over?” he replied. “We have a long drive back.” 

Five blocks away from the club, there were flashing lights behind them. Hawk reached into his jacket, retrieved the brick of coke and threw it into her lap. “Hide this shit.” Without saying a word, Jenny put the brick up her dress, sat on it and arranged herself very ladylike in the seat. The policeman stuck a flashlight in the window, looked around the inside of the car and told Hawk to get out so they could pat him down. 

The cherry on top was the hundred dollar ticket for, they claimed, running a red light. Through it all Jenny was calm. For twenty minutes after Hawk drove away from the scene they were both silent. It was as though they were under water holding their breath. Finally, when they got on the highway Hawk exhaled. “Jesus Christ,” he laughed nervously, “have you done that before?”

“I’ve never dated a drug dealer before, so, no.”

“You were so natural,” he said, “didn’t even look scared.”

“Believe me, I was petrified.” Hawk laughed loudly. He drove the speed-limit all the way to VA and pulled up to her house at two o’clock in the morning. “Am I going to see you again?”

“I was going to ask you the same thing.”

“Sure. We had fun. Just don’t take me on anymore drug runs without giving me a heads up.” Sitting up a bit, she handed him the brick. 

“I promise.” He leaned over and kissed her. “I hope your parents won’t be mad I’m bringing you home so late.”

“Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I’m a big girl now.”

“Oh, I noticed all right,” he whispered as he sped away from the curb. 

Minutes later he pulled up in front of the house he shared with Keith. Opening the car door, he picked-up the coke and looked at the ground. He never knew when a rat, raccoon or some other nocturnal creature might scurry by. He wasn’t afraid, just cautious. “If you don’t mess with them, they won’t mess with you,” his mother used to say. It was a shame humans didn’t adhere to the same rules. 

Within weeks, Jenny and Hawk’s bond grew tighter, and he began bringing her more into the business. Jenny the pre-school teacher soon quit that gig to watch over the crack house girls doing the cooking and cutting, bagging and tagging. The first week-end Jenny worked in the house Keith came by to drop off some loot and was surprised to see her. From across the room Hawk noticed how Keith looked at Jenny as though he didn’t trust her, as though he just knew she was a sneaky bitch who’d steal the milk out of his coffee and the bread from his table. 

“I’m not sure about this set-up you got with Jenny,” he told Hawk later that night when they were drinking at Girad’s. “I don’t like having bitches all up in my business.”

“Look, man, it’s OUR business and she’s my girl. Don’t disrespect her. I told you how she saved our ass that night in Baltimore. I trust her.” Although it was Keith that brought him into the business, Hawk had become the dominant force in the partnership. Keith didn’t do or say anything more, but his distain was obvious. 

Hawk soon moved in a place of his own on Washington Street. A few weeks later, while he sat on the couch flipping through an issue of Daredevil, the phone rang. “I need to see you, quick,” Keith blurted in his ear. “Meet me at the Dixie in an hour.” The only strip club in town was a former biker bar called Dixie Sweets. The club was one of the few places in town beside the factories and mines where an equal number of whites and blacks gathered without fuss. Every time someone opened the front door light streamed onto club like a flicker of sunshine in a cave. 

Already seated, Hawk recognized Keith’s lanky silhouette as he stood in the doorway. When he finally spotted Hawk, he let the door close and came over to rear of the bar. 

“What up, man?”

“Chillin’. What’s going on with you?”

“I’m good, but we got some problems.”

“I don’t like that word.”

“It appears we got some competition.”


“Yeah, some New York boys been rolling up and moving into the projects with their own product.”

“How many are there?”

“A few, but they like roaches…there’s more every day.”

“How long this been going on?”

“A couple of weeks. It happened fast. I thought I had it handled.”

“But you didn’t.” Hawk looked crossly at his friend. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“I thought you were busy.”


“You know, with Jenny?”

Instead of using words, Hawk simply glared at Keith. If it were anyone else, they would’ve been slapped. “These dudes have a name, a gang or something. They flyin’ colors?”

“No. They just on that New York City shit. They think we backwards because we’re southern.”  

“You’re holding back. What’s up?” 

“It’s your dad. Them New York boys done taken over his bar.”

“Who’s the boss?”

“Calls himself Snoopy; he’s supposed to be a big shot from Harlem.”

Hawk chuckled. “How them big city boys hear about what we doing? Peterson is barely on the map.”

“From what I hear, Up Top dudes been making their way down south for a minute now. They heard we down here making loot.”

“Up Top?”

“That’s what some people in Baltimore call New York…Up Top.” Hawk looked at Keith like he was crazy. “I heard Kato say it once.”

“The problem with New York City people, they always think they smarter than everybody else. They come down here because they think we slow, easy pickings. We have to educate these fools. Let’s take a ride over to Red’s.” 

Hawk hadn’t been inside the bar or seen his dad since the night the old man tossed him out. Staring at a beautiful blonde on stage wearing boots, both men stood up. Hawk threw twenty-bucks on the bar and led the way out the door. The sun was bright, forcing him to squint like Clint Eastwood. 

Seconds after stepping outside, the quiet was shattered as bullets soared like tiny missiles above their heads. They hit the ground as the Hawk crawled in front of his parked car and pulled out his platinum piece. Hawk stood up suddenly and began blasting. He heard a car zooming out of the parking lot and skid into the street. Jumping into the Benz, he threw the car in reverse and attempted to follow the shooters. 

“Who knew we were meeting here?” Keith screamed. “Who?”

“Just Jenny.”

“I told you, man…this is some bullshit.”

“Jenny wouldn’t set us up?”

“Bitches are evil.”

“Look…just because your momma left you when you were little, don’t mean all women are like that.” 

Hawk realized he’d gone too far, but it had to be said. Suddenly the shooters stopped their car in front of his father’s bar and ran upstairs. Hawk drove up on the sidewalk, and dashed out of the ride. He and Keith were directly behind them. 

However, the moment they ran through the front door there were guns aimed at their heads. Neither man knew what was going on as the goons took their weapons. Hawk looked behind the bar and saw his father standing there looking nervous. At the pool table area were a few Fila track suit wearing guys he’d never seen before. 

It was then that Hawk heard a voice that he recognized. “Gentlemen, please come and sit down so that we can talk.” Turning around, Hawk saw Kato sitting at a big table, a body guard on each side. Next to him was a brown skin man with a Jerri curl and a Dapper Dan/Gucci jacket that Hawk assumed was Snoopy.

“I prefer to stand,” Hawk hissed. The gun guys pushed him and Keith toward Kato and shoved them into seats in front of him. “Keith tells me some New Yorkers was into our business.”

“That’s what I was told,” Keith said.

Kato chuckled. “It’s more like a NYC/Baltimore partnership. I was telling my homie how good you small town boys had it and thought ya’ll might want to share.” Kato lit a cigar, blew the smoke in their faces. “You know, I’ve known you guys for a while now, and you’ve never invited me to your little town. Not for drinks, a birthday party or nothing. Why is that?

“Why are you doing this?” Keith asked. 

“Doing? I just decided that since you and your homeboy never saw fit to invite me down, I’d just come myself and see what you were hiding. Sent a few of my crew to scout the landscape and they told me there’s gold in these hills. Don’t seem fair that you candy asses should make ALL the damn money.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Who looked out for you in prison? I did. Who set you up in the coke and crack business? I did. Now that the pie is baked, don’t you think I deserve a piece?”

“There’s enough for the three of us,” Keith mumbled.

“Yeah, but now I want it all. You guys are leaving town. Tonight.”

“Is that what you think,” a woman’s voice screamed from the back. Hawk glanced behind him and saw Jenny dressed in a black bodysuit, black Fila sneakers and holding one of his platinum plated guns. On either side of her were girls he recognized from the stash house: two cooks, two cutters, everybody strapped. They’d come quietly through the rear door. No one knew nothing until the lioness roared. The women were carrying the Uzis he’d left in the stash house for protection. There was deep silence followed by the click of someone removing the safety on their weapon. 

Hawk leaped-up and backward head butt the dude behind him. Suddenly, without hesitation, the guns went crazy. Bullets were flying as the Uzis roared. One of the guys by the pool table jumped on the green felt in his white sneakers and started shooting at the women. One was hit in the arm and blood splattered on the wall. 

Glasses shattered, chairs fell over. The head butted guard dropped his piece and Hawk retrieved it quickly. Kato’s white body guard flipped over their table and the trio ducked behind it. Keith pulled out his own piece and blasted the goons. 

Kato picked up the gun from the floor jumped over the table screaming like Bruce Lee as Jenny swung around and rapidity fired six shots into the cocaine kingpin. Stumbling backwards, he fell into the window and cracked the glass before falling through to the ground below. Hawk heard the loud thud of the bullet ridden body landing on the hood of his car. Tomorrow he’d have to convince the police that his car had been stolen.

When it was over, the room was still, but filled with smoke. In the distance sirens blared. Somehow only the Peterson crew survived. Standing behind the bar, Red was obviously shaken, but alive. He looked at his son and shook his head. 

“Ya’ll better go out the back before the sheriff gets here. They know all about these New York bastards being in town. I’ll make sure they think these fools done killed each other.” Red laughed nervously. Hawk went behind the bar and hugged his father tight, both of them tearing up. “I love you boy. Now get up out of here. Quick.” 

He and Jenny were the last ones out of the door. A cat meowed as they silently crept through the back alleys that led to their house a few blocks away. Like wounded warriors, they dragged themselves the distance.

“How did you know what was going down?” 

“I didn’t,” Jenny replied. “I was at the house when I saw them cars racing down Washington Street and I just knew that something was wrong. I called the girls at the spot and the met me in the back of your dad’s place.” 

Hawk held her tightly. As they limped in the shadows, red and white police car lights bounced off the houses. If they were still free at the same time tomorrow, Hawk planned to spend the day at Joyland with Jenny, where he’d tell her stories about his mother.

© Michael A. Gonzales


Michael A. Gonzales, a Harlem native, is a short story scribe and essayist who writes regularly for CrimeReads, Soulhead.com, Longreads and Catapult. His fiction has appeared in The Oxford American; Under the Thumb: Stories of Police Oppression edited by S.A. Cosby; The Book of Extraordinary Femme Fatale Stories edited by Maxim Jakubowski; Dead-End Jobs: A Hit Man Anthology edited by Andrew J. Rausch; Get Up Offa That Thing: Crime Fiction Inspired by James Brown edited by Gary Phillips; Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine; and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.