Finding Forever a segmented memoir

a short story by Nakeysha R. Washington

Baby, you understand me now
If sometimes you see that I’m mad
No one can always be an angel
When everything goes wrong you see some bad
Well I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood 1
I met George by my grandma house when I was in
seventh grade. He lived in the Parklawn, projects around
the corner. He was a deep, dark brown. His eyes and his
hair were the blackest black. He was just a few
inches taller than me. We quickly became very good
friends. He was funny and sincere and I could depend
on him.
For years, George and I kicked it. He was like
a brother. We were either together or on the phone.
Ninth grade we started hanging with this gang new
in our city, the BGs or Black Gangstas, up from Chi.
It ended up that this gang was legit and doing much
more than I wanted to be part of. Just wasn’t what I
expected. I was all about fighting, known to pull hoes
and niggas cards here and there, but I was growing up. I
wasn’t going to jail or no shit like that. Some of
the stuff they want-ed me in turned me all the way
off– wasn’t for me. I began to distance myself, but
for George, these people became his family. Some was.
Like many niggas coming up after the crack epidemic–
Thanks, Reagan– dope got you cars, clothes, and
hoes. This gang, for him, was away to make it. He
would finally have all the things that he thought
reflected success.
From the beginning, the heads of the gang were
collecting money. Later, I realized it was to get dope.

Everyday adversaries were getting they head bust. Nig-
gas were volunteering for a higher status. George and I

still spoke, but not as often. He wasn’t at home so
much anymore. He had stopped going to school all the
time. He fought a lot.

He stood on the corner with the rest of them
Though he knew that this corner wasn’t the best of him1
He came to see me at a friend’s house.
“What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, Fonzie called me a bitch.”
“I’ll be back.”
He lived close enough to walk home and be back
within five minutes and he was. When he got closer, I
saw that he was clearly pissed. His demeanor and tone
had changed drastically.
“If that nigga come down here, Ima blaze his ass.”
Could not believe it. Showing me a gun, he said,
“He’s ain’t gonna disrespect you like that.”
“George! You can’t shoot him! What type of shit is
that? I’ve known Fonzie since I was in the first grade!
He’s just mad cause I said something to his girlfriend.
We’ll be good again tomorrow.”
He left. Something changed. Provoking fear was
everything. Made him feel powerful. He wanted people
to respect his gangsta –literally. He thought these
things made him. I just missed the person he used to be.

Hard streets and a life that crested him
Dirt police domestic beefs that’s festerin
He knew the President wadn’t addressin him
Though dead presidents was undressin him 1
Four months later, on a Fall morning, tenth grade,

I was getting ready for school. I switched schools be-
cause my momma was afraid about retaliation from the

gang. She wasn’t wrong, but my cousin took care of that
problem for me. I turned the television on. George’s
face was on the TV.
I turned up the volume on the TV and heard the
newscaster say, “Last night police say that Tommy George
Bell, a fifteen-year-old male has been shot by an officer

in a drug house. The police say that they saw a shad-
ow of a gun in his hands while he was standing at the

top of a staircase during a raid. …shots through the
chest… He was pronounced dead… The officers involved
in the shooting are… The boy’s mother has requested
an inquest… She believes her son was shot unjustly.
He allegedly was part… Black Gangster Disciples…
The police say that this organization is new in the
Milwaukee and has its roots in Chicago…”
He on the ground, he could feel God touchin’ him
He heard the sound of his moms sayin’ “Trust in Him”
At heaven’s gate, sayin’, “Lord, please let me in
Or send me back to tell my people to be better men” 1
And just like that, he was gone.

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