Down a Darkened Path
“What you reading, Cuz?” Tyrone walked over and yanked the book from Jayden’s hand.
“Man, this is some gay shit!” he exclaimed when he read the title of the novel Jayden
was reading for his literature class. 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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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