“What you reading, Cuz?” Tyrone walked over and yanked the book from Jayden’s hand.
“Man, this is some pussy shit!” he exclaimed. He threw a magazine into Jayden’s lap. Jayden picked it up and looked at the pornographic magazine. On the cover was a ‘model’ with her legs spread open. “That will get your cock hard,” Tyrone laughed.
Jayden reached up and snatched his book from his cousin’s hand. “You read what you want to read, I’ll read what I want to.” He handed the magazine back. “Although, I’m sure you don’t read this.”
“Fuck no, Man,” laughed Tyrone as he grabbed his crotch. Jayden looked at his cousin and rolled his eyes. Tyrone was a huge guy, like most of the members of his family. His arms were decorated with tattoos, and he wore the usual street gear like most of the gang members in his neighborhood.
Jayden had tried to avoid it; but as he was getting older, his cousins were trying to influence him and accustom him to the ‘ways of the hood,’ as they called it. He would much rather have stayed home and enjoyed a good book, instead of going out and getting drunk and high. However, his cousins were beginning to become more persistent.
He lived in a run-down area of the city known for gang violence and drugs. It wasn’t unusual for him to go to sleep at night to the sound of gun fire. Many nights he had laid awake waiting for his cousins to come home, fearing that they had been the target of a bullet.
Life had not always been so dangerous. He had lived a comfortable life with his mother in a city four hundred miles away. But an automobile accident late one night two years ago changed his life dramatically. After her death, his Aunt Harriet reluctantly let him come stay with her. He now shared a dilapidated house with her and his four cousins- three boys and a girl.
Tyrone was the oldest of the three boys. At twenty one, he was two years older than Jayden. Anthony was the middle aged boy. He was the same age as Jayden. Like Tyrone, he spent most of his days sleeping, and the nights were reserved for partying. He already bragged about having three children, or bastards as he called them.
Jarvis was the youngest. He was twelve and was already being introduced into the street life. He was paid to act as a lookout when Anthony sold his drugs blocks away. He suspected that his aunt was aware of what was going on, but she turned her back to their activities. From what he observed, they were paying most of the bills. His aunt received a meager government check each week. He knew the nice furniture and large plasma television in the family room wasn’t bought out of it.
Janelle was his female cousin. He didn’t see her often. She was twenty-two and lived with her boyfriend several blocks away. She had four children and she would often bring them over for his aunt to watch. On numerous occasions, the task had been given to him if she wasn’t home. He’d try to get out of doing it, but he was always reminded that he was there on a humble and he owed them.
Such was Jayden’s life.
After his mother’s death, he had put most of his dreams aside. She had always told him he’d be the first in his family to attend college. He was going somewhere. But now he realized that his life would probably be the streets, and that someday he’d probably die on them from a stray bullet or a gang beating.
He didn’t fit. He was tall and light-skinned. He was also extremely good-looking, characteristics that made his cousins and other guys in the neighborhood uncomfortable. His language wasn’t that of the street, either; something else that made others distrustful. His mother had tried to assure that he received a good education. He was raised to be polite and respectful. His cousins had spent the past year trying to re-educate him so he would be more acceptable to their friends, but their efforts had failed. Jayden had refused to give up the values his mother taught him. It was the only thing he had left.
Tyrone looked angrily down at him. “Get your yellow ass out of that bed.”
“I’ve got homework to do,” insisted Jayden.
“Shit, Jay,” replied Tyrone. “It’s fucking Saturday night.” He reached down and pulled Jayden’s lanky body off the bed. “We’re going out and have a good time.”
“Fuck if I know,” laughed Tyrone. “We’ll just cruise around until we find a party going on.”
“I think I’ll stay home and finish this book.” Jayden thumbed through the book trying to find the page he’d just finished reading before Tyrone appeared.
“Hell, no!” Tyrone reached down and grabbed his sleeve and pulled him up. “You’re going out with me and Anthony tonight.” He shoved him towards the bathroom. “Now go take a shower. You might get lucky tonight and find a bitch to go down on your cock.”
Jayden reluctantly made his way across the hall to the bathroom. It was a mess. There were dirty towels and discarded clothing lying all around the small room. He picked up a towel off the floor that appeared clean and smelled it. It didn’t seem like it had been used too often.
He stripped off his clothes and stood before the mirror. Looking back was a light-skinned young man with handsome features. If his life had been different, he could easily have been a model. His eyes were a deep brown, and he had a sloping nose, not wide like most of the others in his family. His mother had jokingly stated once that he must have the features of some white person several generations removed.
“Maybe Sally Hemmings is your great-great grandmother,” she joked.
“Who’s that?” he replied.
“The mistress of a famous president,” she laughed. “That would make us rich if we could prove it.” He later went to the school library and found out Sally had been a mistress to President Jefferson. He was thirteen at the time. Since then he’d read everything he could find on Jefferson. He had even thought of becoming a lawyer; that is, until his mother died.
Jayden’s life changed late one night. He’d just turned seventeen weeks earlier. His mother had given him a surprise birthday party. She had talked Vince, his best friend, to secretly invite everyone from school who were close friends of her son. His mother had sent him to the store, and when he returned, thirty-six exuberant teenagers jumped out and shouted, “Happy Birthday.”
It was the happiest day of his life.
He was sitting alone doing his homework, waiting for his mother to arrive from work. She was a clerk at a local grocery store and her shift usually ended at ten. He kept looking anxiously at the clock. It was almost twelve-thirty. Thinking she had worked late, he called the store but didn’t get an answer.
He jumped when there was a loud knocking on the door. He peered through the peep hole and saw a police officer on the other side of the door. His hand shook as he opened it.
“Is Mr. Henderson home?” The officer asked with a sorrowful look on his face.
“I’m here alone,” Jayden cried as he fell against the wall and dropped to the floor. He had seen enough movies to realize why the officer was at the door so late at night.
The officer knelt down and took him by his shoulders. “I’m sorry, Son,” he said sadly. “There’s been an accident.”
His mother had been broad sided by a car running a red light. The driver was drunk, and he walked away with only minor scratches. Jayden’s mother died at the scene.
It was the worst day of his life.
After the funeral, his Aunt Harriet agreed that he come live with her and his cousins. Since she was Jayden’s closest relative, the court awarded her custody. Jayden later found out that she only wanted to take him in because she would receive more money. He was waiting until he graduated in May so he could get out from under her roof.
The warm water cascaded over his thin body. It was difficult to gain weight when most of the food at dinner disappeared onto his cousins’ plate before it reached him. Tyrone sarcastically mentioned once that he and his brothers were the breadwinners of the house, and that Jayden was entitled to the scraps. So he ate what was left over and never complained.
He was startled when there was a pounding on the door. “Hurry up, Pretty Boy!” It was Anthony’s voice. “I got to get in there and take a shit.”
Jayden hurriedly finished and was toweling off when Anthony opened the door. He was wearing only his boxers. He walked over to the toilet, dropped his underwear to the floor and sat down. Jayden hurried from the room when he heard him let out a loud grunt.
He hated Anthony. He could tolerate Tyrone’s crudish manners, but Anthony frightened him. He was a street wise thug who was rumored to be the leader of a large gang in the neighborhood. They were known as the Westside Thugzz. Their name and insignia was spray painted all over the neighborhood. Word on the street was if any rival gang entered their territory they would be shot.
Once while looking for a pair of socks in Anthony’s dresser, he ran across a semi-automatic gun hidden at the bottom of the drawer. Anthony entered the room when he was examining it. He grabbed the gun from Jayden’s hands and threatened to kill him if he ever said a word to anyone. Jayden knew he would, so he had kept quiet since that day.
Jayden put on a green polo shirt and a pair of tan khakis. Tyrone walked in when he was putting cologne on his face.
“Damn, Dude,” he remarked as he looked at Jayden and sniffed the air. “You look like some white boy. No black girl is gonna want to chill with you.”
“I don’t care.” Jayden brushed past him and headed downstairs. He didn’t want to go out for the evening, and he definitely wasn’t in the mood to fight girls away from him all night.
Contrary to what Tyrone and Anthony thought, the girls found Jayden intriguing. He wasn’t like the other guys who hung around. He was polite and didn’t call them names like the others. He also didn’t try to constantly hit on them, although many wished that he would.
Sex was something that didn’t interest him, particularly if it involved a girl. He had been forced into several incidences in which he was forced into having sex. Many of the parties he attended involved sexual encounters. Most he tried to avoid, but on several occasions he had to ‘perform’ in order to satisfy his cousins.
Those encounters left him sick and disappointed. He had begun to question his sexuality when he was fourteen. Since he attended a predominantly white school, many of the girls were fascinated by his dark looks. As he got older and their fascination turned to desire, he began to withdraw from social situations.
Had it not been for his best friend, Vince, he would have completely withdrawn into a shell. Vince provided him cover and would usually step in when a girl tried to come on to Jayden.
One night when Vince spent the night, Jayden asked him why he was protective of him. He jokingly said, “You act like you’re jealous.” He was surprised when Vince got off the bed and went into the bathroom. When he didn’t return after ten minutes, Jayden went into the bathroom to see if he was all right. He found him sitting on the toilet crying.
“What’s wrong?” he asked as he knelt down in front of his friend, trying to comfort him.
“You wouldn’t understand.” Vince put his hands over his face and cried.
“Try me,” Jayden replied softly.
Vince looked into Jayden’s eyes. “I’m in love with you.” When Jayden didn’t coil back in repulsion, he leaned in and gently kissed him. To his surprise, Jayden returned the kiss.
They went back to his bedroom and locked the door. They lay across the bed and talked for hours how they had each been hiding their affection for the other one, fearful that they would lose their friendship if the truth was known. They laughed when they realized they had both been feeling the same way.
Jayden lost his virginity that night. He and Vince spent hours exploring each other‘s bodies. When they finally snuggled into each other’s arms after four in the morning to sleep, the last words Jayden heard was Vince telling him he loved him.
When Vince left the following evening, Jayden’s mother sat him down and asked him if he was gay. She’d been watching the boys all day and it became apparent that they were more than just friends. When they watched television, they rested against each other’s bodies. She watched from the window as they shot basketball in the driveway. Their hands were constantly in contact with the other’s body. Her suspicions were confirmed when she saw her son grab Vince’s ass and hold it longer than was necessary. Vince then looked around and quickly kissed Jayden on the lips.
His mother held him tightly that night as he cried. She told him that she understood what he was feeling, and that she still loved him. Vince became a frequent guest in their house. When she died and he had to move away, it ended his relationship with Vince. For months they called each other. Letters were exchanged. But over time the calls and letters became less frequent. Six months ago they stopped. In a way he was glad because he was afraid how his cousins would react if they found out he was gay. Instead, he’d occasionally have sex with a girl and then go home sick and disgusted.
“Let’s ride.” Tyrone threw Jayden his coat and headed for the door. Anthony was waiting outside in his van. Jayden could seem the smell of weed emanating from the window.
He pulled back the door to the old blue Chevy van. He had to throw the litter from the backseat into the back. He brushed the seat clean, hoping it wouldn’t soil his pants. Anthony pulled off before he even had a chance to buckle his seat.
“Where to?” he asked Tyrone.
“Let’s try Tisha’s house first,” suggested his older brother. Jayden shook his head. Tisha was Anthony’s some-time girlfriend. He liked her, but she had a friend, Coco, who was very attracted to him. She had seduced him several times, and the prospect of having sex with her this evening didn’t appeal to him.
“Why don’t we go to the arcade?” Jayden suggested.
Tyrone turned and gave him a scornful look. “Arcade?” he sneered. “Are you kidding? Only white boys will be there on Saturday night.” He grabbed his crotch and pulled on it. “Besides,” he laughed, “I need some pussy. It’s been a week.”
Anthony held out his hand and fisted his brother. “I heard you, Man. My dick is sore from jacking off all week. I need the real thing.”
“Aight,” replied Tyrone. Jayden let out a sigh. He knew the night wasn’t going to be fun.
There was loud music pounding from Tisha’s house when they pulled up. The driveway was filled with cars. As they walked up the steps, two guys came staggering out.
“They got some cool shit tonight, Ty,” said one of the guys as he stumbled down the stairs.
The living room was filled with people of all ages. Some were a few guys he knew from high school, but he hardly associated with them. There were some older adults sitting around a dining room table playing Bid Whist. They were shouting loudly over who had made the last bid. He watched as Anthony walked over to Tisha and whispered something in her ear. She nodded, then she grabbed his hand and they disappeared upstairs.
He sat down in a chair. The guy next to him handed him a joint. “Here, Dude. This one’s free. The next one will cost you.” The guy handed him a lighter and he lit it. Even though he hated using drugs, it sometimes made the evenings more bearable. If he could get drunk or high, then it helped him make it through the night. He never messed with anything but marijuana. There was always crack, cocaine and occasionally meth around; but he always refused to try them. His life was miserable enough. He didn’t want to have to deal with an addiction too. He saw what it did to others, and he didn’t want to waste his life wondering where his next fix was going to come from.
Tyrone walked up and handed him a can of beer. “Coco told me to give you this.” Jayden’s heart sunk. He hadn’t seen her in the house, and he was hoping that for one night he could avoid her.
He watched a basketball game that was playing on the big screen television in the corner of the room. The Cleveland Cavaliers were playing the Boston Celtics. Several guys were excitedly watching the game. They would stand and cheer each time their team made a basket. He wasn’t an avid sports fan, but he would enjoy watching a game on television if it was on.
“Hey, Jay.” His body became rigid when Coco walked up and stood beside him. She ran her hand over his short cropped hair and then sat down in his lap. “I brought you another beer.” She smiled as she placed it in his hand. He could smell the cheap wine on her breath; and by the look in her eyes, she must have just done a line of coke.
“I’ve missed you, Baby,” she said seductively as she teetered in his lap. “It’s been a couple of weeks since you’ve been around.”
“Yeah,” replied Jayden. “I’ve been kind of busy. You know, school and all.”
She started kissing him on his face and running her hand across his hair. “That’s what I like about you.” He tried to turn his head so he wouldn’t smell the odor coming from her mouth. “You’re so smart. You’re not like most of the men I know.”
Jayden laughed to himself. “I’m probably the only smart person you know.” He looked around the room. Most of the guys had already dropped out of school, and the few who were still enrolled seldom attended.
He jumped when Coco reached around and grabbed his cock through his pants. She then took his hand and placed it against her crotch. “You want some of this, Baby?”
He was going to refuse, but just then Tyrone walked up. “Aight, Jayden.” He held out his fist. Jayden fisted his hand. “My boy is getting laid tonight.” Coco giggled, then got up and grabbed Jayden’s hand. As usual, he was trapped. If he rejected Coco, it could be dangerous. He had witnessed her temper several times when she didn’t get her way.
“Come on, Sexy.” She held his hand and led him to the basement. It was cold and dark. It took his eyes several minutes to adjust to the darkness. They sat on a couch in the corner. In the dim light, he saw another couple having sex on a small bed across the room.
He felt repulsed when Coco lifted his polo shirt and started kissing his chest. She pulled off her top and removed her bra. Jayden thought he would vomit when she forced her tit against his mouth and asked him to suck it.
“That’s it, Baby,” she moaned as she rubbed her crotch against his. He felt embarrassed because his cock remained soft. He was afraid she’d become suspicious if he couldn’t achieve an erection. Several month earlier that had happened, but he had been able to convince her that he had masturbated earlier in the shower and he was unable to cum again so soon. He doubted if she’d fall for the same lie twice.
She rose up and started rubbing his flaccid cock. “What’s the matter, Baby? Don’t you want you some Coco?” She giggled as if she’d said something funny. He closed his eyes when she scooted down from his lap and started to unzip his pants.
“Please, God,” he begged. “Let me get hard.”
She took out his flaccid cock and started to lick it. He laid his head back and thought of Vince. He always thought of Vince when he was having sex with a girl. He remembered the first time they made love.
They had been wrestling around on the bed. Vince had him pinned him down and their faces were inches apart. He watched as Vince’s face went from one of amusement to lust. He remembered closing his eyes, wishing Vince would kiss him. He moaned into Vince’s mouth when their lips touched.
“Oh, yeah, Baby,” moaned Coco as she sucked on Jayden’s seven inch cock. “I knew you wanted you some Coco.”
Vince’s lips were soft. He could still taste the root beer he had been drinking earlier. Vince ground his body deeper and deeper into Jayden’s. He could feel his erection getting harder against his.
Vince opened Jayden’s shirt and nibbled on his chest. He let his tongue dart around Jayden’s dark nipples. Jayden raised his body and let Vince remove his pants.
“Oh, yeah!” Coco was pleased with the hard cock in her mouth. She was removing her pants so she could sit on Jayden’s erection and ride him as she had done in the past.
He could feel Vince’s mouth flick at his cock, and then he licked gently on his lips. Jayden gasped when Vince lowered his mouth onto his cock and started to suck him.
“You Mother Fucker!” Coco gagged and then spit out the cum onto the floor. “I told you never to cum in my mouth. I hate the taste of that shit.”
“Sorry,” Jayden apologized as he pulled his pants onto his body.
“Fuck it, Jay!” Coco was putting on her bra and shirt. “You could have waited for me, dammit. Now I have to go find someone else.” She gave him a disappointed look, and then she stormed up the stairs. Jayden rested his head on the back of the couch and sighed. A wave of disgust and humiliation swept over him. He had survived another sexual encounter.
He went back upstairs and got another beer. Someone passed him a joint and he hit it. He looked around the room and a couple of girls rolled their eyes at him. He figured that Coco had gone upstairs and told them what had happened in the basement.
He went into the living room and joined the guys who were still watching basketball on television. This time it was the Lakers and Nets. He couldn’t figure out who was the favorite because they would holler anytime anyone made a basket.
Tyrone walked up with his arms around a girl. She was one of the girls in the kitchen who had stared at him. “You ready to roll, Cuz? He squeezed the girl tightly. “This here is Tina.” She smiled and rolled her eyes again. “Me and her are going back to the crib. Have you seen Anthony?”
“Last time I saw him he was heading upstairs with Tisha.”
“Wait here, Baby Cakes.” Tyrone kissed Tina on the cheek and then headed upstairs. A few minutes later, he came back down. Anthony was behind him, pulling a tee shirt over his head.
“Let’s roll,” said Anthony. “Ty here can’t wait to get some pussy.”
They headed outside and got in Anthony’s van. This time Jayden sat in the passenger seat while Tyrone and Tina crawled into the back. They had hardly pulled off when he heard clothes being removed. He turned briefly to see Tyrone removing his pants. Tina was topless beside him.
He turned and looked pleadingly at Anthony. “Can you drop me off at home?”
“Why?” Anthony looked at the clock on the dashboard. “It’s only one. We’ve got a few more places to go to tonight.”
“I’d really like to go home,” he insisted. “I’ve got a headache.” His skin crawled when he heard Tina moaning from the back seat. He glanced back and saw Tyrone’s massive ass as he was plowing his cock into her.
“Please?” he begged. Anthony grumbled something and then did a u-turn in the street. When they were several blocks away, Jayden noticed a late model Acura parked along the street. He thought it was strange for a car to be there when nothing but abandoned buildings lined the road.
As they approached, he saw a tall white boy get out of the car and pound on the top. Anthony slowed down and peered at him. Jayden thought he was going to stop and help, but when the boy turned, he sped up and drove off.
Anthony dropped him off at home and sped away. When he entered, the house was dark. He thought his aunt had probably gone to bed. Jarvis usually stayed up late playing video games; but when he passed his room, it was empty. Jayden assumed he had probably spent the night at a friend’s house.
He went to his room and removed his clothes. He walked across the hall to the bathroom and turned on the shower. He climbed in and stood under the hot water, letting it rinse away the unclean feelings he had from the night’s event. As he carefully washed his cock, he wondered how long it would be before he’d pick up a venereal disease from Coco or some other girl.
When he returned to his room, he stood and toweled his head. Suddenly, he thought he heard a noise outside. It sounded like someone was crying out for help. He ran to the window and saw a figure stumbling down the sidewalk across the street. They appeared to be having trouble finding their way. As he looked closer, he realized it was the boy he had seen earlier at the car. He recognized the red sweater he had been wearing. The boy fell to the ground and lay motionless.
Jayden grabbed the phone and immediately dialed 9-1-1. After giving the dispatcher the information she’d need to send help, he threw on a sweat suit and rushed downstairs. The boy lay motionless on the ground when he reached him. Jayden knelt down and he could see that the boy had been severely beaten. Blood covered his face and his eyes were swollen shut. Jayden thought he was dead.
Suddenly, the boy reached out and grabbed his arm. “Help me,” he pleaded. He squeezed Jayden’s arm tightly.
“What happened?” Jayden carefully laid the guy’s head in his lap, careful not to move his body too much. He didn’t know the extent of his injuries.
“Some guys...” The boy started coughing. Jayden noticed blood oozing from his mouth. “Two black guys in a blue van jumped me,” he managed to mutter. “They took my wallet and cell phone.” He coughed again, and then his body went limp. Jayden was afraid he had died in his arms. He was still holding him when the ambulance pulled up minutes later.