Tears Of Innocence

                         By Omari Jackson

    Amanda Jones’s eyes filled with tears as she turned the situation in her mind. How in the world did it turn out to be that way? How could Killen not realize the misunderstanding in their relationship?

   Relationship? The thought only made her feel uncomfortable, but then why not. It had begun as a mere friendship, a church brother. He had indicated his interest in her, which was true. But then Amanda realized she had never made her position clearer to him, and now it had come to a point where her relationship she had been building in the United States seemed to be now brought into question.

   Anger continued to well up in her, but then she realized she must deal with it, step by step. Nonetheless, her bleeding heart was not making the situation easier for her. But then, what else could she do? She had discussed the situation with a couple of friends, and all had considered the situation from a perspective that now made sense to Amanda.

   But then, what could be responsible?

   Her cell phone jingled to life, and placing the receiver to ears, muttered, as if she was feeling some pain in her gut.

   “Hello.” She could not believe her own voice, shrinking, and she gave a deep breath after that, when the voice at the other end sounded as if it was mocking at her with a low “High.” She wanted to scream; it was the second time he was calling. The sound of his voice appeared to torment her, telling her she was guilty as charged.

   In Omro’s earlier call from the United States, she had lifted her right hand and wiped a tear that was threatening to fall from her eyes; he wanted to know about the man who had left the strange message, on his phone, requesting, and begging him to discontinue his relationship with Amanda.

   “You can continue to help her in the story writing,” he quoted Killen, “but letters of love and things like you should stop, for God’s sake.” He even claimed when he called on Killen later, he had again pleaded with him, and revealed how much he loved Amanda.

   “I’m a man like yourself,” Omro had quoted Killen, “how can you treat me like that?”

   Now Omro was on the line and his voice was mocking at her; and it was clear to Amanda that the man she had proclaimed to the world to be in love, had believed a stranger like Killen, and was now questioning her motive. He wanted to also know why Killen was holding him responsible for what seemed to be the end of their relationship.

   “He explained too much about me,” the voice said, with halting indifference, “I’m not sure I know what is happening here.”

   Her voice had failed to put up an effective defense the first time. And it was like that the second time. Her eyes then stared at the empty wall in her apartment in this French city of Lyons, and she knew she must say something otherwise he would accept her silence as her guilt and weakness, and it would confirm his fear that something fishy had been going on, all the time she was professing her love to him.

   Turning her face in gradual movement to her right, her eyes settled on the alarm clock on her center table, and as the second hand moved with its tick, tick, tick noise, her heart synchronized with the movement of the clock and her eyes watched the time-maker with ease. How she envied the alarm clock, and how she wished she could change the current situation to suit it.

   “You need to trust me,” she finally found her voice, declaring in all its hollowness, “at least you must trust me, for I know the man to be a liar, for though he wanted me, I never agreed and did not make a commitment to him.”

   Omro’s voice had shot back with some fierceness, declaring, “How come the man could call me with information that should be between us?” That was what she found distasting; for she had confided in Killen to indicate her openness to a man she loved, with all her heart. But now he had used it as a means to her undoing, it was a test of her faith!

   But whether she realized it or not, she began to sniff, believing that as sincere as she was to him, tears of sincerity could be able to prove her innocence, and now unable to find her defense, tears came to her assistance, in apparent defense of innocence. But did he believe her? It was a question she was not prepared to answer.

   “There is no need for that,” Omro said, apparently in shock in regret, “all I want to know is how come this man insists he is in love with you and…” His voice trailed off, and that gave Amanda some relief to examine the situation carefully.

    But she knew she must speak and somehow clear her name.

She said, “I have no desire to cheat if that‘s what you’re thinking about.”

   “Why then,” he said, “should this man be so involved in your business, even telling me what you told him while he was on a trip to London?”

   There was an element in his argument that seemed to make sense, but she knew had no basis of fact. She reasoned along the lines of her fiancée that no one who would show a legitimate concern in your affairs, if there was nothing concrete going on between you both. “But the truth is there’s nothing going on here,” she thought. She wished she could demand him to place every confidence in her, for there were some men, as far she was concerned, who would stop at nothing to hurt someone they had been unable to win their love. And this was what was happening here!

   “I blame myself for that,” she said later as a consolation, judging from the reasonable manner her fiancée was handling the situation so far. She had hoped for a show of support from him, she said, “here I am in my room sleeping, but someone is claiming I’m his beloved; does it make any sense?” The answer might not have taken Omro by surprise, and she might have realized that he had too much understanding of such things in life to be worried about it. It could be a situation of some magnitude but from his reactions, he seemed to take it very well, despite her violent reaction at the moment.

   Amanda’s present case was having a telling effect on her, all because she had long come to realize the danger some people had on others. In all her life, men had always been her friends, since in her own experience women always involved in gossip. She never liked that. However, the men she had befriended had always had the courage to make advances on her. And it was similar in this case.

  This situation had worried her but she had not considered it as something to discourage until Killen had shown what a brute she could be. All she wanted with him was to remain a platonic friend, not anything romantic.

   Now she was learning about the dangers of allowing herself too much in the affairs of men. She could not admit, in any shade or color, that she had done anything wrong, just that she trusted some men too much, and it was a lesson learned the hard way.

   But Killen’s bravery to call her fiancée from France to the United States was something that told her volumes about what a love-struck victim could do to advance an objective they might have known was long lost.

   It was a betrayal of her trust, in which she was responsible for its occurrence, and now she must know better.

2

     Amanda Jones realized the magnitude of the situation and it was apparent that she had expected the worst. Seven months ago she had come in contact with Omro, and from their discussions they seemed to have been made for each other.

   That was why she had not stopped expressing her heartfelt gratitude to a relationship that she had considered worthy of sacrificing for. And she had always told Omro about it. Consider, even a day before the unfortunate phone call, she had sent him an email message:

 “My darling,

  I don’t mean to play with your feelings, or emotions, for I am sincere in my declaration that I am in love from the bottom of my heart. It may sound odd that as a woman I am acting a little bit strange, but as you may realize what I said to you about my past but unsuccessful relationships, I am not careful to love the person my heart has accepted as the darling in my life. Having I told you you’re a special person? Having I confided in you you’re the love of my life?

    Hence I am sure you will, and if you can put all my confessions together, you will know that I am speaking the truth from the bottom of my heart. I may have done something wrong to someone but I am not going to say it may be because of that I have had some hard experiences with the other sex, for I am a human and I must fight my own battle to fit in what society wants me, and what I want for myself.

    If, and here I must insist on your right to consider that, if you can find in all my confessions a way to love me more that I had imagined, please Omro do it with all your heart. I say this because I will never consider any idea to hurt you, like what you have already endured in a previous relationship that I am aware of. Till our love blossoms to the end of completion, give me cause to smile, for your love is more than anything I have ever experienced.

    Forever love

  Amanda”

    Now that she thought about her message to him, a smile came to the corner of her mouth, and out of the gloom she found a way to have some hope. And his reaction? She was still hopeful when she pulled out an email message, and turned to read the reply she had received a day after she had written the above communication, and which was sent to him.

“Darling Amanda,

  The wonders of love are strange in many places but I am sure you have heard it being said that when the heart decides, there can be no turning back. I made the above statement to mean that your love, your caring and your constant reminders have all convinced me of your sincerity in this relationship.

   It’s true, when you said I have been holding up my feelings, and not wanting to release them, for fear of being hurt again. I already told you about my recent relationship and how I had hoped for the best, but it turned out that the young woman involved was more of a viper than a lover. I am not in anyway trying to condemn her, since I know that vengeance is the Lord’s and I will wait patiently till the Lord carries out His work, for I know that the Lord’s patience is rather long that unless one repents and correct a wrong done, vengeance may come in the end, but slowly. I am not bothered at all of the Lord’s patience for I am aware that maybe that relationship was a testing ground and now see what I am having from you.

  I am not saying I am a perfect creature, for I’m a son of Adam with all the foolishness that come with our own imperfections and that’s why I think we should be more careful in our expectations so that whenever you come to know the kind of person I am, you may, to some extent, find yourself not discouraged in any way.

  I am sure of your sincerity and hence I am glad that you are the kind of person you are and I appreciate your sense of direction, but then why can I not be that? As far as love is concerned, please rest assured that I have it for you, and so please give me the chance to end here, while thinking of you every day.

  May the God of heaven bless your heart to continue to understand the wonders of love.

  Ever yours,

Omro”

     She had read his letter over and over again, and she felt he had also read her letter several times. Now that she was thinking about this, and remembering someone who she described as a secret admirer, and who was so love-struck that he could get her fiancée’s phone number and communicated negative news about her, was, she thought, an attempt by the devil to destroy what had been built in seven months.

     Since the phone had ended abruptly, she could not feel that her fiancée was satisfied with her explanation. Now the day was far spent, and darkness had enshrouded the city of Lyons, and therefore she could not go out to get a phone card to call him back, she would do that the next morning, and maybe she could find out his final decision. She could not even imagine that Omro would call off their relationship, but again she knew men enough to imagine what they would do in such a circumstance.

   The room temperature was normal but she was feeling chilly. She knew it was due to the anxiety on the current situation. Resting her head on her bed, she stared moodily in the ceiling. “What do you have for me?” her heart kept asking the ceiling, and her breathing became hard. “Am I having a fit, and if not then what is happening to me?” There were lots of questions on her mind, but she could not find any possible answer to them.

   It had been four hours now since their conversation ended abruptly, and he had not called back. She had not been able to close her eyes to have any sleep. It was pure torture, and she would as well deal with it. There was a part of her that was refusing to accept that Killen had messed up her life for now.

   “I’ll not let him destroy me,” she assured herself, but could not prevent the flood of tears to her rescue. “This is the time to fight back.”

3

      The meeting was brief but her friends did not play it lightly. Diane was twenty five, with a light on her face. She looked athletic and very understanding when she heard the story, and what Killen had done up to this time. Jocelyn, though barely twenty three, was filled with anger, and her only request was for Amanda to seek redress at the local police station.

   “People like that,” she said, seething with anger, “deserve to be punished.”

   “I’ve thought about it,” Amanda said with emphasis, now that her friends were rallying to her support, “I never felt humiliated in all my life.”

   “Have you told him the truth?” said Jocelyn, with her head up, “your fiancée should be a nice one to make sense of the current fiasco.”

    Amanda did not respond with any swiftness, and simply regarded her friends, who all relaxed in her room watching an African Movie. Her mind centered on the movie and wondered if what was happening to her could not be made into a similar movie.

     It could be an interesting thing to watch since she felt there could be a lesson there. What would be the story? “A love-struck man invades his secret admirer’s privacy and turns her fiancée against her, only to discover that their love is love-everlasting?” She laughed at the idea. Now her mind returned to her friends, and said, “I managed to speak with my fiancée but his reaction was somehow mature but I don’t know.”

     “Did he say anything at all?” Diane said, with outstretched hands, “I mean was he angry?”

     “Well,” Jocelyn said, “we can speak with him if you want us?”

Amanda moved towards the center table, munching on pop-corn, and then said, “There is no need for that, I think I can deal with him.”

     “You should be careful,” Diane, her plump body which was filled in the chair, said, “I wish it were to happen to me so that I can send some of these bumps to the police.”

     “Me, too,” Jocelyn said, “there should be no force in this thing, and I think you should tell him so that he can understand what he has done.”

     “From what my fiancée said,” Amanda said, her eyes moving from one friend to another, “he feels I should take it easy so I will take it lightly for now.”

      Amanda could deal with the situation as her fiancée had told her to, but what was his final position on their relationship? He did not say because his phone call had gone dead last night, and he had not called, which did not mean that he had ended their relationship.

     Usually they had called each other during the night hours, which would be morning hours in France, and late in Atlanta in the United States. She was waiting to call him and then at the time she would know what was happening to their union.

     She had of course felt some uneasiness at the thought of finding out from her fiancée if he was done with the situation and how, for she informed him with all sincerity that she was not involved in anything that could cause their relationship to end in disappointment. But did he believe her? Though he did not indicate the status of their relationship, just some reassurances and questions, Amanda felt it would be good that she left it just like that till she called again.

     Now her friends had joined in her defense, and she felt good inside. The African movie had run its course, but she had not seen any of it, and could not remember any of the scenes. She was a normal person, right?

     At the end of her friends’ visit, they all assured her of their support and reminded her that they would be willing to speak with her fiancée, about her innocence if the need arose.

      “I really thank you for all your support,” she told them, before they left her, to moan over her misfortune.

4

      A soft intonation of profound sorrow had gained control of Amanda Jones and there was nothing much to do to regain her composure. Difficult as it seemed, she would make the best use of her situation.

    She remembered several years ago, when she was moved by the affections of her ex-husband, and which propelled her into marriage. She was then at the tender age of nineteen, and initially the man had dotted on her, calling her ‘sweetie and darling.’

    It was a romantic period of life, and she did not know that a man who claimed you were a golden egg could turn around swiftly and brand you as an undesirable. In the beginning love was in her eyes, and the man had shown it to her.

   Amanda thought she was on top of the world till her first child was born, and the rest belonged to history. Now, remembering these thoughts made her think twice about her affairs with men. It had been three days now since her secret admirer had sent devastating information to her fiancée in the United States, and she had been afraid that that message, though untrue, could send her current relationship crashing to the ground.

    Though the relationship had survived into its third day, she still feared the worst. Her fiancée, Omro had not open up, and like his fashion, had kept his cool, only urging her to live with her experience.

    “But these men,” she said to herself in her apartment house, overlooking the seine river in beautiful Lyons, “they are a strange kind of beings.” She could relate to that. It was true her present predicament was as a result of one man’s determination to see her suffer, and then what had her lovely fiancée done in all this?

    He had normally asked questions, of which she did not have any problem with. Just that she had wanted him to share more concern, and even being bold to tell the other man to shut up and have a life.

   Wiping tears from her face, she resettled herself on the sofa and turned on the tv set. The news, which was one of her major interests, had no appeal to her anymore. Food had become sour, tasteless, and her appetite for food had deserted her.

    She sauntered towards the bathroom, and at the large mirror on the wall, stared at her image. “This is me,” she thought, “why am I suffering because of love?” She did not have any answer for it but then she remembered her earlier resolve not to allow the current situation to swallow her, and then she combed her hair with her hands, and straightened herself up.

    Now she was seeing Amanda Jones in the mirror. Though her eyes had lost their vitality in her face, as a result of the three days of tears, she could admit her eyes were however like those of angels. They sat proportionately in their sockets, and her hair dangled on her shoulders. Her lips were red and the eye lashes slept at their natural borders.

She consoled herself, “What good man will not love these?”   

Why should a woman of such natural beauty moan when others were having peaceful sleep every night?

     Then she thought about Tom, the ex-husband who never was. She had simply loved for love, and after her son was born, Tom had gone ahead and had had two more children that he brought home for her to raise. For several nights afterwards, after Tom got a job at a funeral home, he would stay away from the family, and she would cry with her children. Didn’t she survive that humiliation?

   “Since I survived that one,” she said, with apparent triumph in her voice, “I will, with the Lord’s help, survive anything.”

    With that promise she was prepared now to face her demons, and ready to live a life of promise.

5

     A solemn glee possessed her mind when the text message came. She could not believe her luck, but it was true. The strangeness of the message did not surprise her, for she had known of her innocence and God had proven her right to the end.

    “As far as I am concerned you’re history, and I have a wife that I cherish so much. What am I doing with you, Bitch….”

     She could not believe her luck. True, he was calling her names and had painfully called her a ‘bitch,’ but as far as she was concerned his violent reaction had indicated that he was a man in need of redemption. Killen had been going to the same church with her, and now he was cussing her, and saying all kinds of things about her.

    What happened to the Christian unity? Had she not seen this man in church, crying out his heart out to Christ? What happened to his sense of Christian unity? She was obviously angry at his action, when she read the text message, but now she was feeling sorry for him, and then she remembered the admonition in Scripture that when a brother or sister is suffering or is sick, elders must come together and offer prayers, and with the oil, the God of heaven may return what was missing and the brother or sister would be well again.

   Now that’s what she considered the current situation. Of course, Killen had sent a second text message and the message was also unfavorable to her. As a Christian she would consider the insults as refuse on the account of the Christ, whose sacrifice had redeemed mankind from the bondage of sickness and death.

    The night was cold, but she was not feeling it. She sensed some inner excitement, for she had received the evidence that could clear her bad name, since men being the queer type of people, they are not often prepared to accept a woman’s declaration of innocence as a fact.

   Though the time was far spent, she was feeling rather better. Her mind was filled with what she would say to her fiancée, and then she decided to forward the messages to him in the United States.

    That’s exactly what she did.

    For her, she would remain committed to her service to God, and continue to pray for those whose human weakness makes them behave as if there is no way to get help.

    Beneath the cold glare of the desolate night she could hear the voice of her fiancée. And this time there was no mockery in it.

  “Did you send me those messages?”

  She listened for a while before answering, “I did simply forward them to you.”

  “Oh,” he said, “why did he send such messages?”

  “I wish I know,” she said, “I told you he was planning to destroy me and thank God it did not work.”

   “I think he needs help.”

  “What help?”

   “This is a man that goes to the same church with you. This is the man, who should be treating others as he wants to be treated, and yet he has gone over his head and doing quite the opposite and this is where I don’t understand.”

   “I sent him a response,” she said, “thanking him for the text messages that stand as a memorial to clear my name and honor.”

   “This is strange,” he said, “I believe he has a distorted view of a relationship, for it is not a wise thing to do to insult another because you repulsed his advances. This is pure insane.”

   “I thank God that I am vindicated,” she said, “I feel honored and excited.”

   Her reaction did not elicit the kind of excitement that she had anticipated but she was filled with a sense of vindication. His voice was now louder, and it appeared to her that he received the reaction with a firm belief of her innocence.

   Though he was not saying it, and she could not detect it from his voice, she was more than glad that he did not have any negative opinion about her and what she was doing in France. It gave her a sense of elation, and contentment.

    A tumult of vehement feeling held her attention as she watched in amazement on how far the situation had gone. The whole episode did not seem to her something deserving, but since Killen had exposed his irresponsible behavior, she could live and deal with it.

   Now there could be no time rather than now for her to find a way to rejoice, if rejoicing was something she needed to do. But, had not the past couple of hours provided too much stress for her? Did she not find the entire situation distasteful? Should she not realize the unfair nature of the affair?

   She wished she could put the experience behind her, and even behind him. But, doing so would mean something else.

    Then a tumultuous rush of sensations filled her mind and she watched herself, and thought about things that were not necessarily to be considered.

     “At least I’m doing fine,” she said to herself, and moved towards the large mirror in the room. She gazed at her shadow, her herself, and attempted a weak smile.

     “I will not let this destroy my happiness,” she said, “whatever the outcome is I know my innocence.” The consolation did her some good, for in the next moment, she felt some peace within herself.

      “At least,” she said, throwing her head back, and gazing at her action in the mirror, “I’m doing fine.” By now the time was far spent and feeling exhausted, decided to let the world alone to chase its own burdens.

     The radio on her center table hummed audibly and she moved closer and tuned it a little louder. She did not forget that her room-mate, across to the other part of the room, slept soundly.

     “What a day,” she said, her spirit reawakening, and her heart filling with ecstasy, “what a day!”

       It had surprised her that she had allowed the situation with Killen to control her emotions, but what else could she have done?

       “I’ll not let it,” she said, her eyes weary, with sleep. She did not know what happened afterwards, for true it was that her soul was willing, but the body sadly was weak.

6

    Though waking up after a couple of hours, she felt a vague and wistful melancholy and her heart appeared broken. It could be nothing, but the adrenaline flush was great that she could only feel her heart thumping. This could not be happening, she thought.

  Then she saw the situation clear now.

  It was the morning after the final confession, and she seemed to be on the top of her world, and grimacing, she moved towards her apartment house, and when her eyes fell on the recliner, she found herself smiling, but could not determine the cause.

   So when her cell phone shrilled to life, she could understand her expectation and she was ready. Instantly, she scooped it with the effectiveness of a soldier at war.

   “Hello,” she could hear his voice in elation, and her voice, answer, broke off.

   “Hello,” she managed to say at last, “is everything clear now?” Her question echoed back at her, and she could hear her own breath rising up and down, like she had been running a hundred yards to pick up the phone.

   “Yes,” was the answer from the other end, “I knew the truth all along but I was making sure that nothing surprised me in the end.”

     “But at least,” she said, “you could have shown me some solidarity.” Her request even surprised her, and she decided not to pursue that angle since it was apparent that the evidence had vindicated her.

    “I know from a fact,” her fiancée continued, “that whatever happened, you allowed it to happen.”

    “I may have,” she countered, “but you should put some trust in me to the very end.”

    “But,” he said, “that’s exactly what I did.” That answer held her breath in check and she uttered a deep breath of satisfaction. She could deal with that, and then she heard him say:

    “I trust in your sincerity, “Amanda, and therefore I will be meeting you with a promise…”

    “A promise?” she interrupted him, “you’re kidding, right?”

     Then he said, “Wait a minute.”

     She waited on the line in what seemed like an eternity, before she heard his voice, “I will always love you, Amanda.” The echo of his voice brought tears to her eyes, as she responded, “And never shall I deceive you in anyway.”

      Her palpitating heart felt at home when her fiancée said, “I’ll be seeing you in France.”

The phone went dead, and while wondering the meaning of his abrupt end, her cell phone came to life again, and when she turned to check it, the text message read: “My flight will be arriving on Tuesday morning.” The calendar on her wall indicated he would be arriving in seventy two hours.

      She mopped the tears of joy from her face, and her radiant smile filled her with gladness. In the end, it was a victory she had fought hard to win. The dream of her fiancée’s visit held her with awe, and expectation, for shedding tears of her innocence was the best thing that ever happened to her.

                                                           THE END

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The Missing Bra

      By Omari Jackson

   Adriana Kabaso imagined she was doing enough sacrifice for herself. Standing at five-three or five-five, her one hundred and sixteen body lay on her bed, as the early morning cold seeped through an open window.

    Sleep was good for her, but she knew she had not been fair to her body.

    Now she wished she could sleep all day, for her desires had sometimes overruled her sense of realism. And in those instances, she had exchanged the time to sleep for partying, and she had known it was having a toll on her but she was not prepared to make changes in her life style.

   It was on a Monday of the week, the beginning of her struggle in Atlanta. Night was long past, and she knew the call would come and she would be struggling to open her eyes. So when it came, she was right about it.

   Her right hand moved across the middle of the bed. Plucking the cell-phone, she answered, her reaction showcasing her difficulty in waking up:

    “Hello.”

    The voice said the second time, “We’re coming, are you ready?”

 She wanted to yell into the mouth-piece, but something urged her to hold on. She then turned to look at the time on the phone and it told her:

    06:49A.M and it was time for work.

   “Are you ready, we are coming,” the voice again, and feeling like she had been beaten the night before, Kabaso said, “I’m getting ready…,” then saying, “I wish today is a holiday,” and turned the phone off.

   Moving away from the bed, Kabaso stumbled over a chair, and she cursed: “Who the hell put this chair here?” and walked on, feeling the switch on the wall, and turning the light on.

   She knew her friends would be arriving any minute, and she would have to force herself into the car, and stumbled into the back seat for the ride.

   She had been living at the Collins Apartment for several months. How many months? She did not want to be bothered with that. All she knew she was living here, and that was what counted.

   The Collins Apartment fronted the giant Department Store, and as she told a friend the other, “This is where I always walk about,” and she read some envy on the friend’s reaction. That was when the friend, Tonia, said, “Sometimes some people are lucky where they live,” and her reaction was somber, asking her, “Tonia, you’re not jealous of me, huh?”

   Tonia said, “How could I, huh?”

   “But your question means something is not right with me.”

    “You better stop that, girlie.”

    “Just look across from my apartment,” pointing her finger towards the department store Kabaso said, “and I know you don’t have such a thing in your area.”

    Tonia’s eyes brightened up, when she said, “I’ll be darned if I’m envious.”

    The conversation ended abruptly, when Kabaso said, “I know you’re unhappy with me whenever I am successful, and from now on I’ll be careful with you.”

     That was a week ago!

     Now she stared at the empty wardrobe and she thought about her recent uneasiness. Though she made it clear, she still could not get it out of her mind, especially when she said to all who had ears the other day on their ride home, that she would check herself up to make sure that she was not expecting.

   “Expecting what?” one of the men in the car said.

    Kabaso said, “I don’t want to feel sleepy and all that vomiting since there is an occasion coming and I don’t want to miss out.”

    Everyone in the car laughed, including the two men, especially when one of them said, “You surely checked yourself up, huh?’ and she simply laughed. After all what do men know about such things? she asked herself, and laughed.

   Now she must get ready for the ride. She shrugged into her usual jeans and grabbed a blouse from her center table. One thing about her, and this had been confirmed by any of the men who would take the trouble to pay her some attention; she was slicked in her jeans, and whenever she walked, it was said she slithered like a snake.

   The other day when she stood in the mirror and pretended she was walking back and forth in the room, the contours of her shape made her to look wonderful.

    “Oh these men,” she said, “I see why they will not leave me alone.” But did she enjoy such attention from them? A question she had not found it easy to answer. Maybe one day she might find the answer. But then she knew that such attention from “men” had been the undoing of many a promising woman. She could think of many stories about young women whose future lost the fires that were burning in there. She would not allow that to create any upset for her.

    Now the time ticked away.

   “Time to go,” she said, and swung her right hand to the closet to grab a bra, the one that fit her tightly and neatly. The one that would demand the attention of those men who would not leave the female sex alone. Yes, the one that…”What am I saying?” she wished she knew.

   “Since the men want to see,” she told herself, “they must be ready, lol.”

     But then, it seemed something was going wrong. The closet full of bra and other personal items was empty.

   “Where are my bras?” asking as if she left them with someone. Though there was Janet, her cousin and sister living in the apartment with her but she kept to herself Kabaso could not even imagine asking her about them.

   As if a door was suddenly left ajar into some world unseen before, she felt the rush of an inner energy surging through her. It could mean nothing but she did not like it. But when she felt a queer, uncomfortable perplexity began to invade her mind, she could no longer remain in her position. She must begin to act, now.

   She moved from one corner of the room to another, stumbling over chairs and tables, seething with anger.

   “Who could do this to me?” a question that was perhaps a chance inquiry into her actions. She knew she had not been practically consistent with the dream she had always wanted.

   But then, she always consoled herself that there was always a tomorrow and she would derive comfort from her own actions.

  Then her mind centered on the missing items: Who would want such personal stuff and for what reason?

  Back in Africa she heard how such personal items were the most effective effort if an enemy wanted you dead. Those personal items would be used in a ritual, and at least she could remember once, how a girl turned crazy when her personal items were reportedly used in a juju or black magic ritual.

     But, she said, “this is not Africa, but then where are my bras?” She glanced at the empty space where the bras stood, just yesterday, and what about the other items? She felt a chill and her stomach began to pinch her. It reminded her the period she was at the hospital to have her daughter. Hmmm…that pain! Then bitterness crept into her face.

    In all these happenings, she had one consolation: which was the fact that she was not involved in any multiple relationships, a situation that could force someone to harm her, as she knew the story back in Africa.

     It was after such self-examination the other day that she almost ran out of her job at NCR at its Suwannee location. What happened was spooky but now that she thought about it, she could only laugh. What happened was, she heard someone call her name.

   “Adriana, Adriana.” Then her cheeks furrowed by strong purpose and feeling. It was like death itself. The moment of action. That was when she endeavored to smile away her chagrin.

    It was now around 04:00pm, the very time she was leaving for home. At the time the weather had completed a drizzle and she was just coming towards the break-room when she heard someone call her name but when she turned to look and respond to the call, there was no one in sight.

    “Nobody is behind this door,” she said, as she made a desperate attempt to what she considered a prank, “and therefore who could be calling my name?” Her head dropped into her hands like a storm-broken flower. There was no answer, and that was strange!

     She was not particularly a weakling, and therefore she felt she must find who was apparently playing games with her name.

    She remembered that day, and still thought about it.

      Presently she must proceed to work, without the bra, to send those nosy men confused. There would be another day and another time, and wherever they were, she would find them.

    The knock at the door brought her back to the present. For the last several minutes she failed to locate any of the bras, and though it worried her to death, there was nothing she could do.

  Grabbing whatever she had left, she stormed out of the room, and entering the car dropped herself on the backseat.

   She did not even realize it till several minutes later.

   “Oh my cell phone.”

   “What happened to it?” someone asked.

   “I left it home,” Kabaso said. But she was glad that at least she had gained a measure of her self and was now on her way to work. It would not be an easy experience, but she knew life had always not been easy. “Since I made it the other day,” she said, “I’m going to make it today, too.”

   She was a strong-willed woman, oh a strong mother, she corrected herself, and wished her only daughter, for now, would emulate her example when she was a grown-up woman. As the car hummed along, she allowed her body to fall back, and then closed her eyes. In her mind’s eye, she could hear a song, a favorite one, in its droning melody in her ears.

    Few minutes later, she went into deep sleep, which her friends in the car noticed. But for her, nothing mattered anymore.

A Dollar For His Birthday

         By Omari Jackson

      Thadd knew the time was different. He was born twenty four years ago, and none of the last twenty three years gave him any sense of hope. He could blame someone, like a parent or a brother, but why would he? That he had failed to find any answer to such a pressing question did not make him feel as if he was not wanted.

    Transitioning from twenty three to twenty four, made him feel like a new man. And his mother had always told him he was born to win.

   “Win what?” he asked her, with a careful appraising eye, “what about my elder brother, heh?”

     His mother’s eyes brightened up, when she said, “You were born in this country,” meaning in the United States, “and that should give you a chance at life.” Thadd had heard that before. Was that statement true? He loved his mother, for she had always been there for him. So, then, how could it mean that being born in the United States was something he should consider a blessing?

    It only made sense to him when he considered the country of his parents, Haiti, just across the United States in the Caribbean.

   “Haiti is another country, right?”

   His mother said, a motherly feeling in her eyes, “Yes, but things are always not what they should be.”

  Thadd did not know what to make out of the conversation. He had always believed that his mother would not tell him any story that had lies in it. But he also knew his father had added his voice to it, and had even said, at a discussion, “I wish I were born in the US.” That statement had fascinated him, and now that he was thinking about it, he wished to God things could become clearer to him.

    In the local community in the Atlanta where the family resided, Thadd had struggled to live. The thought of struggling to live had always challenged him. The first of the many struggles began in New York. He was a little younger then.

    He was visiting his older brother, and for some strange reasons, a party there turned into a violent confrontation, and he could not stand aside and see his brother being disrespected.

     And what did he do?

     The melee sent many of the attendees scattering about, and Thadd had ventured outside to face any of those who wanted to engage in a fight.

     That night the summer weather had turned chilly, and he felt wonderful, just before the commotion.

     Thadd had come out, and faced one of the enemies. It turned into a hand to hand combat, and he felt confident that he could take care of himself.

      The thought that he was born to win came into his mind and he smiled to himself as he went after the opponent. The melee was deepening and though the police could come into the situation with negative consequences, Thadd was not thinking about that for now.

     The first blow from the enemy swung to his direction, and Thadd allowed the force to swing across him, and by that action the enemy’s face came closer to his position.

     Like some action scenes in a movie, a karate movie, Jacky Chan, Thadd instinctively swung his right hand which engaged the other’s head, as the enemy jolted and sprawled on the ground.

     Thadd could not remember where he had gained that strength for the fight. He could be a boxer, like the legendary Mike Tyson, and if that became possible he could fight for money…

     Just then, he felt a crash against his forehead, and he tasted his own blood, and at the same time, he lost his balance. Unaware of what had happened, for he could not feel any pain, he managed to get to his feet and went after the one who had crashed his head with a bottle.

    Initially he was dazed, but the fury of his reaction gained control over his feelings, as several of the people rushed here and there, and Thadd was on the enemy, swinging him here and there.

   As blood poured out of his head, Thadd kept the pace and rendered the enemy defenseless, especially when he heard his brother’s voice, crying out, “You hurt my brother, you hurt my brother…” several times.

    That incident was several years ago.

    Now Thadd was a man of himself. He knew several of his friends who were languishing in jails, and those who had been shot, and felt lucky to be alive.

    He remembered his mother’s admonition that he was born to win, and he could find some meaning in it.

    Now, his twenty forth birthday was arriving, and he was planning to enjoy it to the full.

   Lately, he had gained acceptance into the heart of a young woman of twenty four, and though she had a child from a previous relationship, Thadd had always told her, “I love you to death,” and he had wondered what exactly his statement meant.

   Not that he was not sure of what he always told her, for deep down his heart, he had never loved any woman like he loved her. This did not mean that things had always been excellent, between them.

   His own disappointment was that the young woman he loved so much had had the occasion to beat on him.

    “I will never stretch my hand against you,” he told her whenever he was assaulted, “I’m fighting hard to become a loveable man, with a sense of responsibility, as a father…I regret that you don’t understand this.”

    On several occasions, he threatened to leave her, and they were such moments that the young woman would take comfort in tears, and begged him, not to abandon her, and that she would change for the better.

   Thadd would tell her, “I’m aware that you’ve had such experience in the past, but I’m not the one who treated you bad and so why beat on me?” Personally, Thadd’s determination was not to pay back violence with violence, especially with someone he loved so much. But then what could make her to stop beating on him? He had toiled with the idea, and in fact many of his friends had suggested he must choke her and abandon her, which he had refused.

   On the positive side, the young woman in his life cared about him. The current job at NCR was because of her effort and the current car he was using was also because of her effort. He just realized that the young woman was fighting her past demons, and hence his decision not to leave her.

    He had decided to work with her, and maybe victory could crown his effort, and they could live together happily ever after.

   This morning, the blazing blue sky poured down torrents of light, as he fitted the strap on his sneakers. The time read 07:28AM, and with a smile on his lips, Thadd made his way towards the location the McDonald Team at the NCR assembled for their early morning meetings.

   With his two hands in his front pocket, Thadd felt better and very excited. What was interesting to him was that because it was his natal day, he had completed his dressing that morning with a flying tie, which marched his faded blue jeans.

    He knew there would ripples of laughter, but it was his day, and he must as well enjoy it.

     Eyes watched him as he approached his team leader, Jimmy Pope, and the rest of the gang for the morning review of security instructions before the day’s work.

    Laughter giggled towards him, but a radiant look came over his face, like a sudden burst of sunshine on a cloudy day. The day before, he had informed a number of them that his natal day was coming, and he would celebrate it with thanksgiving.

   As the giggle exploded, Thadd felt a gush of entrancing melody, when he announced to all, “This is my birthday,” and the gang applauded.

   Thadd endeavored to smile away the excitement, hoping that the road he had traveled so far was the sure road to his personal success. He would take the weekend off, and enjoy Friday and Saturday with his family.

    It was then, the young woman, a member of his team, directed her right hand to him.

    Thadd said, “What is it?”

    She said, “A dollar for your birthday.” A flush of emotions, mixed with laughter, surged through him. He was a man, and would not allow tears any chance, and therefore he did not allow it.

    “Thank you,” he told her. “I’ll not forget this.”

The Gold Earring

       By Omari Jackson

    Nathalie could not imagine the reason someone would want to offer her a gift of such nature. Was it because the young man had some motives? Had she given him, or had she indicated to anyone that she was free and needed a companion? She could not remember the last time she decided to; somehow, encourage another man, since she came to Atlanta into her life.

    How was it possible then that someone would want to go the extra mile to prove a point? But should that be her concern? Well, she figured the man was somehow showing to her he could care for another. She knew the earrings were not her favorite, even the color was not that appealing, but she gave him a plus, since he was a man making the offer, an offer she never requested for.

    She remembered what she told him the morning he waited for her in the break-room. She was going to get a cup of coffee when she heard steps pounding so close behind her.

    Then she turned around, when she was out of the exit door, and he was behind her.

    “Oh,” she said, and smiled, as the young man walked passed and moved ahead of her.

    “I was just behind you,” he said, with a smile.

    “You almost scared me.”

    “I did?”

    “What’s going on?” she said, when he got closer to her at the coffee table, “you…” she hesitated, and moved away from him.

      He followed her, then said, “I’ve something for you.”

     She said, “What’s it?”

     He could not speak for a while, and she thought it was because of other workers who were making their way to the break-room. NRC workers had not shown to her they were interested in other people’s business, but since she was in no business for anyone to be noticed, she did not care anything about it.

      She then remembered how this man had made a comment or two about her beauty, and like anyone, she thought his past comments were simply praising her beauty, like the others had done.

      She knew she had always come to work in her usual dress, and though she had been in Atlanta for a few months now, she found the attention from the male sex more challenging.

        But then…

       “I bought it for you,” he broke her thoughts, his hands outstretched.

      Unable to express her shock, she said, “You know I cannot take such a gift from you, though you said some nice things about me that I appreciate very much.”

       “They are gift from me,” he said, “if you refuse them, then it means you don’t appreciate what someone will do for you.”

        She said, “But I did not ask for them.”

       “I know,” he said, “as a Jamaican it is something we do, when we are in love with a woman.”

      She did not know what to think, since her heart, as far as love was concerned, was already taking.

      How could he imagine that she was in love with him, or she was a single woman? Maybe it was because she had no wedding band in her index finger, and perhaps from his estimation she was too young to be a married woman.

      “How could you tell,” she said, “if I am a single woman or I’m not involved with a man?” She heard him breathe hard, and she felt sorry for him but she knew it was not time to feel sorry for anyone.

       He said, “I know,” with the Jamaican drawl, which she had to strain her ears to understand what he meant.

    Though he was not really handsome, his eyes seemed to look through her, anytime she met him, especially when he began to take notice of her. On several occasions she had caught him starring at her, and she had wondered what in the world he was looking for. As a woman, she should have known the meaning when a man was giving you such attention.

     “Will you not take the earrings?” he said, his voice pleading for her to accept them, even if she was already in love with another man. But then she wondered what would happen, she did not accept his advances, would that not be a problem, a disappointment for him? As a Christian she was not prepared to be the cause for another human being to feel hurt, but in this case, it was a situation the man was creating for himself. She told herself, “I will pray for him,” and then decided to accept the gift. In fact, since she did not request for them, she felt there could be nothing wrong if she accepted the earrings from him.

       “Thanks for the gift,” she told him. His reaction was swift, laughing from ear to ear, saying, “I really appreciate you accepting these gifts,” and hurriedly walked away.

     It had been three weeks now since she received the gift from her workmate, and it was three weeks since she began to have dreams about the dead. On three occasions, she had woken up at midnight; shouting at the top of her voice, and now it was becoming a situation she could no longer accept.

     She told her best friend, Jasmine, about her experience.

    “How long since you took the earrings from him?”

    Nathalie said, “Two weeks now.”

    “And you always dream about what?”

    “Ghosts. I saw my late little brother in my dreams.”

   “And what else do you see?” Jasmine said, “do you find yourself at the grave yard or some other place?”

     Nathalie’s voice was inaudible, when she said, “On three occasions I was at the grave yard, and three women came from the grave asking for their earrings.”

     “Have you prayed about it?”

     “About…you mean about the dreams?”

     Jasmine said, “Yes, about your dreams.”

     Nathalie said, “Yes, and right now I always sleep with my Bible under my pillow.”

     “Has that changed anything?”

     “I started that since yesterday,” Nathalie said, “and for the first time in two weeks, I had a sound sleep.”

      Jasmine said, “So what do you think is the cause?”

      “I don’t know,” she said, “but I have decided to return the earrings to the man who gave them to me.”

       “Do you see him at work?”

      Nathalie said, “I searched for him yesterday, but did not see him.”

The sound came by in bit and pieces.

   At one time, Nathalie thought she was being possessed. For seven days, all her efforts at returning the earrings to their owner had not been successful.

    At the NCR offices on Shawnee Industrial Way, no one seemed to remember the young Jamaican who had presented her with the earrings, more than three weeks ago.

      She told Jasmine to help find him.

     “That guy always seemed so strange,” she said, “and I was not even surprised that he cannot be found.”

       She said, “What do you mean Jasmine?”

      “I mean,” she said, “when I came to this job, he was one of the men who approached me, telling me how pretty and sweet I was…” she broke off, when it appeared that someone resembling the man in question rounded a curve, walking towards the offices of the NCR.

      Jasmine said, “I think I see him,” at the same time Nathalie made eye contact with him. Both women rushed to his position, and Nathalie saying, “I need to see you, I want to see you.”

      At the parking lot, where many cars were parked, the two women could not see anyone there.

      Where was he? Had he gone underground? Nathalie’s mind was filled with questions, and then a young woman, about twenty two or twenty four marched towards them. In her hands was something like a picture. It appeared to Nathalie that, like many of the people who always came to the area, she was in search of a job, and was apparently needed them to show her the main entrance to the NCR offices.

        “You are Nathalie?” the young woman said, her eyes staring the two women.

       Nathalie said, “Yes, anything you want to know?”

      “I came to let you know something,” she said, and turned around as if to pay attention to someone.

      “Ok, what about?”

      “I found the earrings.”

       Both women said, “Found the earrings where?”

       Nathalie turned to look at Jasmine, and returned her gaze to the strange woman, but she was nowhere to be seen, gone!

       That evening when she searched for the earrings at where she had concealed them in her apartment, they were gone. Though the dreams were also gone, she held on to the Bible as her only companion, and from that day, she sang thanksgiving to God, for her spirit received the power that was beyond her physical strength.

A Gift For Mommy

       By Omari Jackson

      Khalia Woods felt the cold weather but she did not care so much. All she wanted was finding her sister Aniya and to discuss with her what they could find for their mom this Christmas 2010.

    But there was a problem.

    Khalia was four and Aniya was three.

    “How much,” Khalia said, after she found Aniya, “can a flower cost?” Aniya walked leisurely towards her sister, and said, “I don’t know.”

   That was the funny part.

   Their mom, Latonya Hunter was their best friend, and she was all they had got. That was what she told Khalia one day.

  “Mommy is our best friend,” Khalia said, “that’s what mommy told me.”

   Aniya’s face changed, and said, “Can a mom be a friend?”

  “Well,” Khalia said, “A friend is anyone who cares about you, and mommy does.”

    Aniya laughed.

    Khalia was surprised. When was Aniya, who was just one year younger than her, refusing to accept what their mommy told her?

    It was true; there were several of her friends at school.

   “Can Josie be a friend?” Aniya said to Khalia, “but…” she stopped in mid-sentence, and turned her back away from her.

   Their discussion had ended just how it had begun, with none, particularly Aniya not being able to understand what was meant when someone said your mommy could be your friend.

   Now they were thinking about finding a way to get some money for a gift for their mommy.

   Khalia said, “Lawrenceville is too big to find a gift.”

   “What does Mommy want?” Aniya said.

  “I have some money,” Khalia said.

   Aniya said, “How much?”

  “The last time Aunt Margaret came over,” she said, “she gave me a dollar and fifty cents.”

   “I have some money, too,” Aniya said, “it’s twenty five cents.”

  “Oh,” Khalia said, “if I add your money to mine, we can have one dollar and some cents.”

   “One dollar and how much cents, Khalia?”

   She said, “Let me count.”

   Khalia began to count, and Aniya sat by her side.

   Few minutes later, Khalia gave a deep breath and said, “Did you know what I did, Aniya?”

  “What?”

   “I added my money to your own and the total is one dollar and seventy five cents.”

  “Can it buy a gift for mommy?”

 “I think it can buy something.”

 “It can buy what thing?” Aniya said, “can it buy a doll?”

 “I don’t think so, but…”

 “But what?” Aniya said, “I want my mommy to have a doll baby.”

  Khalia laughed, and stood up, looking at her sister.

 “Mommy doesn’t need a doll baby like we do.”

 “Why?” Aniya said, “do you know why?”

Khalia waited for her sister to think about her question, and laughing, said, “I think we can buy a big gift for Mommy when we get big and get a job.”

  Aniya said, “I don’t want a job…but what is a job?”

 Khalia laughed again.

 “Do you know where mommy can do at NRC?”

  Aniya said, “What is NCR?”

  “You don’t know a thing, do you?”

Aniya looked towards the door in their apartment, where the baby sister was preparing some food for them, and said, “I love my mommy.”

  “Our mommy.”

  Aniya said, “No she’s my mommy.”

   “Say our mommy.”

  “No,” Aniya said, “she is my mommy.”

The two sisters went on for a while, and then Khalia said, “I know mommy will give us some gifts this Christmas.”

   Aniya said, “I don’t want any gift.”

  “Why, Aniya?”

  “Because we don’t have money to buy a gift for her.”

  Khalia said, “I will give mommy a gift when I work.”

   “Oh,” Aniya said, “now what is work?”

   “Not now, work is going to town in a car.”

   “When,” Aniya said, “you are just four.”

   “I know,” Khalia said, “and you are also three.”

The discussion went on for another five minutes, and the two sisters seemed to have exhausted in their strength for further argument.

   Their mommy, Latonya Hunter was already at work at the NCR, near Suwannee, and she would not be back till 5:00pm or thereabout. Meantime, the two sisters would wait for her under the care of the baby sitter, a twenty-something old woman, one of their cousins.

   By now the food was ready, and the table was set for the two sisters.

   At the table, Khalia told her sister:

  “We should pray before we eat.”

   Aniya said, “Pray, what you mean pray?”

   Khalia said, “It means we must ask God to bless the food.”

   “Will God come here?”

Khalia could not stop laughing, which unnerved Aniya, and she frowned her face, folding her hands across her chest.

  Khalia said, “My bad.”

  “You can be mean to me,” Aniya said, “mommy said you should not be mean to me.”

  “I am not,” Khalia said.

  “You are.”

   “I’m not.”

   “You are.”

Then the baby sitter, Julie, stopped what she was doing, and stared at the two sisters.

    “Stop the argument and finish your food,” she said, “I’ll tell your mommy when she comes home.”

   That seemed to have solved the problem for now, but not for long.

   Aniya told the baby-sitter, “Sister, can we have a gift for my mommy?”

   Julie said, “What do you want?”

   “A big doll baby for our mommy.”

  Julie said, “Okay, I will give you one for her.”

   Aniya smiled,

   Khalia felt a sense of warmth towards Julie for agreeing to provide them with a gift for their mommy. It would be a wonderful gift, and she told Julie about it. She wanted a big doll, with plenty hair and the doll must be able to say ‘Hi’ to their mommy when she came home.

   The love of children was a strange one. The two misses at such tender ages felt the need to recognize their mommy’s sacrifice to provide for them. Now that Christmas was here, they would want to do something nice for her.

   The cold weather increased in its intensity, and after dinner, Julie told the two young women to get into proper clothes to keep warm.

   Outside, voices echoed towards them, and that could mean it would not be too long for their mommy to come home from work.

    Khalia was planning to tell her mommy all that happened behind her, and she knew Aniya would add her own version.

    It would be a wonderful story, Khalia told herself, since her mommy was her best friend, and a friend in need was a friend indeed!

   Latonya Hunter’s voice filled the air as she her footsteps sounded towards the house. The weather had been unfriendly, and Ms. Hunter never felt strange about it.

   She had been away for the last eight hours, and now returning, she would hurry and check on the young women, say goodbye to them and send herself to bed. A little nap could do her a lot of good.

    Entering the house, Julie’s voice greeted her.

  “You should have been here to see for yourself,” she said, “your daughters were having a heated debate about their gift for you for the Christmas.”

    Latonya Hunter smiled, for she was no stranger to her children’s love for argument. She was like that when she was a kid, and therefore her two little ones did not steal from anyone.

   She said, “Like mother like daughters.”

   Julie could not avoid the smile, and after sometime said, “I told them I would give them a gift for you.”

    At length, Latonya Hunter identified with her children’s desire to show appreciation for her sacrifice to provide for them. It filled her with gratitude, and later from the bathroom, she could think on nothing but what she had been told happened between her two daughters.

    “I was like that,” she said, under her breath, and seated herself at the table to finish her dinner. “I was like that to my parents.”

Jimi’s Dream Lesson

        By Omari Jackson
    It never occurred to him that he could be scared to death. As far as he was concerned, Jim Poe believed in himself, for as an American, it would be simply unhealthy to demonstrate a sense of weakness, no matter what.
    But in the end, his stomach rumbled, and he began to lose it. Perspiration formed on his forehead, while he ran for dear life. Why should a man from the greatest nation on earth seek relief, and like what the late Bob Marley, cried out: “He who runs away…stands to fight another day?” It was not clear to him that because he was an American and also because he had been in the United States military or not, it would be foolhardy for him to fight back and hard, so he was sure to live another day.
   But to run away, as he was prepared to do, when he could fight another day, was a defeat for him. Perhaps, he reasoned someone could offer him some help from his enemies. But then if he escaped, where would he go? The number of people at the stadium kept increasing, and that was when he knew he was done.
   But how could that be? Why was he afraid? What did he do?  Questions assailed him and he was unable to provide any. He knew that was un-American in every shape and form.
   Americans, and here he believed in the invincibility of Americans, who were the leaders of the world, and had always been satisfied when his country took the leadership role in working to make the world a better place.
   Just look at the recent mass mobilization to help Haitians, after the earthquake, with its attendant deaths to thousands!
   But then he knew that all that glitters were not gold.
   The checkered history of the United States, its meddling in the affairs of otherwise sovereign countries was no secret to Jim Poe, since it was the only super-power, meant that his country had the world on its shoulders. History books, Jim Poe was aware, was filled with the exploits of his countrymen.
    In fact as recently as 2001, his country was involved in two major wars, one was to derail the evil regime of Saddam Hussein, who was eventually hanged by his countrymen, and the second, which was the most important one, denied Allah’s holy warriors, known as The Taliban, (Islamic students), and from holding on to power in war ravaged Afghanistan.
    But where was he?

    It was a huge soccer stadium, and as Jim Poe listened, everyone around him was shouting, in a local language that he knew nothing about, but he could hear under the hooting and shouting, “football, football,” which he knew they were referring to what was known in the United States as ‘soccer,’ and not American football. It was clear the situation was more confused the more he tried to make sense of the hauling and pulling.
  Jim Poe moved closer, making his way through the mass of men, women and children, as the afternoon sun wept its rays on them. There were hundreds of people and Jim Poe remembered any of the games he had attended back home in the US, involving The Falcons and The Braves. But a question suffused his mind: what had brought him here? How was it that he, and here he was alone in his world, doing on this part of the world? True, the mass of the people were Africans, and being African American, he did not think there was anyway that someone there could point him out as an American.
    That was where he was wrong.
    For, he heard them, or heard some of them saying ‘Things,’ about him, and to him, taunting him.
     “That man is American, but is he Rambo?” a voice said, “go get him.”
     Jim Poe heard that one clear, and he made a swift turn around but other eyes fixed on him and held him in check. He pretended he was unaware of what was happening and began to move away from them. At a nearby chair, Jim Poe lowered all his over one hundred and seventy pound body onto it, considering his next step of action.
    He gave a deep breath and looked about himself.
    “You American?” The voice came behind him, and initially he did not understand what they were saying, since they spoke with a strange accent, and he was getting confused whatever he considered it.
     Then, a woman of about twenty two, standing about five feet six, brandishing what he thought was an AK-47 assault rifle moved closer to him.
     Her voice, speaking in a strange language, was shaking the gun before him, and at the same time, her whole body began to shake.
     “What have I done now?” Jim Poe managed, and his question was so feeble he was not sure any one heard him, but he kept his eyes on the woman.
     He knew his life was in danger, and the women, speaking in a strange tongue, and some of them brandishing weapons of mass destruction; the scene was enough for him to get away. Jim Poe was not prepared to allow any crazy African woman the chance to turn him into meat.
       Of course he had heard many stories, mostly bad among the people of Africa, and whether they were true or not, he could not verify them. Was it not the reason there were always war, hunger, confusion and other killings in Africa? What about the recurrent hunger in Ethiopia? And the murderous war going on in Somalia? No, he was not stereotyping anyone. For here he was in Africa of all places, and what was happening? He faced an acid test, and knew he would either survive the ordeal but if he realize there was no way out of it, he would not hesitate to, at least, seek refuge in the Lord, and sing the hymnal, LORD I AM THINE NOW AND FOREVER, or he could sing his favorite song, HOW TEDIOUS ARE THE MORNING SUN, the one that was sung when his close friend passed; the songs would be for his personal comfort, and maybe it could give him the strength he needed to survive the tragic experience he was destined to suffer for being American in Africa.
    “American.”

    Jim Poe heard that one, too, and he turned to meet the caller eye to eye, and it was a woman, who held on to a military issued Ka-Bar knife.

     She was brandishing it, seeking what Jim Poe knew was human flesh, or human meat.
     As the noise increased he saw an opportunity to leave the scene if there was a commotion. Jim Poe managed to stand erect, and it was then that he felt a sharp pain on his right leg, and he gave up a sharp cry of agony.
    “Why did you do that for?’ His voice was becoming weaker, but not his willingness to survive.
    He lowered himself and with his right hand, felt the blood oozing out of his leg, as he gritted his teeth. These savages wanted his blood.
    There was a loud battle cry, and men and women in military uniform trooped across the field, and a swift motion swept across his wounded leg and he heard laughter, and it was so loud that he then decided it would unfair he remained for the savages to slaughter him.
    There was another swift motion to his right leg, and he could feel the blood pouring out, and he wondered how long he would stand on his feet. Unless he managed to perform or put his thinking cap on, he would be meat for the savages.
    And perhaps it was by instinct or by the desire to stay alive, a swift movement and Jim Poe had disengaged himself from those closer to him, and it was then that he heard another woman say, “You’re injured, come closer for help.” Her accent seemed familiar, like she had been well educated or maybe might have lived in the United States before. She was slender, and her eyes stared at Jim Poe like a soldier at war. Her teeth were pure white, and they began to make some impressions on him, but he had no stomach to allow any of them to even win. How he managed to appear at the stadium was still a mystery to him. He felt her eyes penetrating through him, and wondered what was about to happen.
     “With that?” Jim Poe stared at what seemed to be a bug, with its jaws wide open, and the woman saying, “See these clamps?” pointing to the bug’s terrible looking incisor teeth.
     “What about them?” Jim Poe’s voice fading, fast!
     The woman said, “The jaws of this bug will clamp the wounds together…” the rest fading the tumult of people rushing in each other, but Jim Poe was no longer interested for any of the savages to give him any help.

     Would the grim reaper make its final visit at this corner of the world? He could not be sure if it was a battle lost. He knew he did not deserve such an unfortunate experience, and therefore he held on to a flicker of hope and faith in God. What bothered him was how could it be that another people and on the other part of the world seemed more civil than the others? How could it be explained that here his blood was being sought by people who simply looked like him, and where his ancestors had been forcibly removed and transplanted in the new world.

    He knew the indignities that followed those who were forced against their will, but then why was he being tormented?

    What about the opinion that the entire episode of slavery was engineered by the Africans themselves? Whatever the case, he could still not be convinced that he was being hunted for any other reason other than being an American citizen. He could be mistaken, but didn’t the woman on two or three occasions stab him on his right leg?

    Here he looked down on his leg, and clamped his teeth together as the pain seethed through it.
     It was then that he heard a loud whooping sound. He struggled to make sense of what was happening. His heart beat increased, and he felt perspiration forming like a stream on his forehead, again. He lifted his right hand and swung it this way, and that way, but he could not find a handkerchief he had kept in his pocket.

     The blood flow now increased, and he was seeing it clearly. The pain was like a jolt of an electrical power. Meantime, many in the stadium held on to weapons, and there were shouts here and there, in a jumble mass of hysteria, when he attempted to run, he stumbled on another woman, and that was it.

     Suddenly, Jim Poe’s eyes flicked open and here he was, still at his Atlanta home and nowhere else.
    “So,” he said, “this was a dream?” He nevertheless felt guilt in his soul, for he imagined that Africans were savages, who could turn anyone, particularly Black Americans into dead meat, simply because they were Americans. How then did he come by such a dream? He could find no answer. But he knew that to get some justice for all the wrong thoughts, he must open his eyes clearly, for it was apparent there was something about Africans that he had not investigated. From now on, he would be careful at the information that came his way, and not ascribe evil to Africans, whose only request, as far his experience went, to be left to live in peace, whether that peace meant hunger or something else.
     He laughed at himself, but wiped the perspiration from his face and forehead. And realizing his familiar surroundings assured him that he had been thinking too much. Now Jim Poe was a new man, having gained a new understanding about those whose actions might seem a little strange to what he had been exposed.

    “The lessons of this dream,” he told himself, “will not be lost on me.” He would tell the story of his dream to some of the Africans, wonderful people, who were team members of the NCR’s McDonald staging and shipping group he was the Bench Lead.

    The clock at the corner of the room began to toll, and when he turned to look, it was 07:15am, time for him to drive to Suwannee, on Shawnee Industrial Way, where NCR’s office was located, for Saturday’s job to begin.

“Why I love My Mom”

 By Omari Jackson

    It was a truth he knew he must live with, and so when it mattered, he could not hide his feelings about it, and told her.

    Edd Yocum said, “My mother has been a positive influence in my life,” then he laughed, and it was so hard that Wendi Stack could simply watch him in surprise.

    She said, “That woman is your mother, the woman who lost her baby?” and that question turned his smiling face into a grimace, and did not want to give the impression that something was wrong, said, “Yeah that’s my mom.”

    Wendi Stack stared at Yocum, and Yocum lowered his eyes before he said, “You never heard anything bad about my mom?”

    Stack’s eyes did not leave Yocum, and when he saw it, he felt a little embarrassed, like he had been found with his pants down.

   He said, “I want you to trust me.”

  “How,” Stack said, “you told me the last time she was your real mother.” They stood near the Weekly Pound, the music center at the corner of Payne and Carey Streets, because Monrovia was bustling with people.

    Yocum felt perspiration on his forehead, and wondered if she had come to know the truth about his mother, and particularly about his birth.

      “Listen,” he said, grinning at Stack, “everything I told you about her is the truth.”

     “I don’t think so,” she said, “for when I heard that she was your mother; there was someone who had known your real mother and who insisted to me that you always hid the truth about your birth.

       Yocum wanted to laugh, but something told him not to, for it was a discussion about his mother and he must hold his ground.

     He said, “If there is something I need to say,” and then he hesitated, and watching her from the corner of his eyes, said, “you just don’t know her.” He could not measure what Stack knew about him, and who might have revealed some confidential information about him to her.

     The sun whipped its rays on them, and Yocum could sense the hungry curiosity in his friend’s eyes. He did not, for a moment, think he owed her any further explanation than he had given, but then he was trying to prove a point, and to also convince her that he was a real man.

       He could not admit it, but he knew he was in some kind of situation and his heart was being consumed by her.

       He said, “Stack you may have heard about her sickness, right?”

       She said, “Yeah, and so many others have heard it too.”

       Edd Yocum said, “I could never believe that other people have too much interest in what happens to others…this is a freaking thing I never want to know.”

       He did not know if his statement made any impression on his friend, for she started to say something and then decided not to say anything.

         Now Yocum wanted to be truthful to Stack, and holding on to her right hand, said, “I cannot hide anything from you.”

        She said, “Can you?”

       “I just decided to tell you the truth.”

       She said, “Go right ahead.”

       Edd Yocum felt the swelling tide of his memory coming to his assistance, and said, “My biological mother died when I was a baby, and my father could not find anyone to take care of me, so he arranged with my current mother to care for me.”

       Stack said, “What killed your mother, do you know?”

       He said, “I am told she died from complications from the delivery.”

       “So you were not the child who was found in the toilet?”

       Yocum said, “Many people thought I was the one, but truth be told, my father took me to the woman we are talking about, and she has been my mother all those years.”

       “Do you love her?”

       “Yeah,” he said, “I did not believe the story of my birth at first, till I turned eighteen.”

       “Who told you?”

       He said, “I had a fight with a boy at school and he told me in my face about my birth, and he even said I was found at the toilet house.”

       “Did it make you feel bad about yourself?”

       “Initially,” he said, “it sort of made me to feel unwanted, but when I learned about what happened, I knew it was not my mother’s fault, for death claimed her before she knew me.”

          Yocum felt a glacial pang of pain like the stab of a dagger of ice frozen from a poisoned well in his stomach. He thought about the biological mother he did not know, but now felt better about his options in life.

       For twenty five years, Mrs. Yocum and her husband had been the parents he knew. And for twenty five years, they treated him like their own, and had it not been the curiosity and gossip of neighbors in the community; he would have had hard time believing he was someone else’s son.

       He remembered the day Mrs. Yocum confirmed his fears about his mother, and how both of them had wept on each other.

       Now, discussing his situation with Wendi Stack brought memories of yesterday to him, but he knew he must face his demons, and live with them. It was the reason he did not blame Ms. Wendi Stack when she raised the story of his life, since it would make her to know who he was, and then she would know how to deal with him and with each other.

       In a deep concentration, a sweet voice caroling like a gold-caged nightingale sounded near him, and coming to reality he said, “I never forgot about you,” smiling somewhat.

      “I’m sorry,” she said, “but I think I know the man you are right now, and it makes me feel proud about you.”

       He laughed, and tears stood in his eyes as a powerful agitation oppressed him, when he said slowly, “It is good for you to know how much I love my mother, I mean, Mrs. Yocum, and I need you to treat her like that for me.”

      Wendi Stack’s smile completed Yocum’s expectation and holding on to his hand, they embraced each other, and pulling her right hand away, she lifted it to wipe away the tears that filled his eyes.

     In a moment, Wendi Stack stared at Yocum, who was absorbed in a stream of thoughts and reminiscences of the mother he did not know.

     Yocum in turn looked directly into her eyes, and he could hear her heart beat, pounding and announcing it willingness to live for each other.

      Yocum permitted himself a delicate little smile, and folded his hands around Wendi Stack. The sun poured its ray on the couple, and the world remained silent for a while.

Note: a reader sent me the title, WHY I LOVE MY MOM”  and this story was developed. Thanks

Why She Don’t Love Me

By Omari Jackson

I was shocked and felt empty after reading the letter. It appeared that I had reached the end of the rope, and like any of those who had called it, “the end,” I wanted to go and write my own, like jump over a bridge or throw myself from a high rise building. But the only difficulty was that none of the options were available to me.

   At the ripe age of twenty and two, I had always believed that love was a wonderful thing, and because of that those who were involved should always feel wonderful.

   I felt wonderful till Sara Croft’s letter came. My hands shook at the thought of opening it, and this was because three days before the letter was hand-delivered, she told me at our rendezvous, under the Forget Me Not tree, near our Gardnersville residence, that she could no longer spend her life with a jerk.

     “A jerk?” I said, “who is a jerk?”

     “You,” she said, and laughed, her eyes shining with seriousness.

      I said, “Sara this some kind of joke?”

      She did not offer any reply, but I could discern her artless and questioning position that something disappointing was coming to me. It was the first time in my life to be called a jerk, and I thought she was making some fun, despite the seriousness on her face.

     Suddenly, my face changed color, and a feeling of shame rushed through me.    

     I said, “Sara I’ve done enough for this relationship, and you have, too, why called me a jerk?” Her face flushed with a sort of stunned incredulity, and without looking at my direction, said, “My love is fading for you.”

      I thought it was some kind of dream.

      For three years Sara Croft and I had been intimate, and for all those years, we planned to live together as husband and wife, which meant to make it legit.

      I was in my final year at the University of Liberia, majoring in accounting, and Sara was my junior at the same school.

      Now I was in possession of her letter, and sweating it out. I wanted to examine the situation but I found myself speechless, and my strength leaving me. It was more painful when the one who brought the letter, her friend, named Doreen, had said, handling me the ominous document, “I think it could be the end.” And she said that with a grin on her face.

      The earth danced under the sudden cold of haze, and my eye-lids began to shake. The night was rushing on me, and I mustered courage to tear the edge of the letter to read the death sentence on my love, after the messenger had departed.

       Glancing at the envelope with the help of a streaking light, my drooping eyes caught the words:

       “I am not supposed to love you forever; for now I have decided to call it quit and be darned by anyone who would condemn me…”

       I began to have dreams and visions, and the twilight of realities failed to register on my subconscious. Then a gleam of light, bewildered like myself, struggled through the mist of darkness and it disappeared.

      “So this is the truth,” I said. I meanwhile struggled with my deft finger, and pulled the death message out. The handwriting was crooked, the familiar craw of her letters stared me in the face. My heart’s beat increased at an unusual pace, and having been able to wipe beads of perspiration forming there uninvited, I lowered my head to read the document but the question that I wanted an answer for was, “Why she don’t love me?” and I thought the answer could come from the document:

      Dear Gilbert Lew,

      It was true that some loves are wonderful as you have always said, but now I realize that I don’t have to go with your vision of what a wonderful love should be.

       I know my present action could cause you some discomfort, but do I care? And you may by want to know the basis for this action, but all I can say is I don’t have any. Is that also too difficult for you to understand? First thing, I was born for you, what I mean is, I was born to ‘waste’ my life behind you or with you. It may sound strange that I am being callous in my letter, but do I care now? I must confess to some degree that you are a wonderful person, but I am not so excited about people who are wonderful, and I want you to know that.

       Now, let me be frank with you.

       It was not until few days ago that I was informed by my aunt Linda Watanabe that it was your father who caused my mother’s death during the recent civil-war in Liberia. I normally don’t accept one-sided stories, but you know my aunt, for she lost her husband during the war, and how come would I be dating and even considering getting married to someone whose father had been responsible for my mother’s death?

      I always wanted to know about your father, but you would not reveal who he was, or what has happened to him. Did you think I would continue to mother you, and your likes? I just realized that I was under your spell, and while you professed your love for me, there was a part of me that insisted to know the truth about your parents. I could have been involved in one of the most “unhealthiest” relationships, since it could be argued that the blood of your father’s crime could be in your gentle hands. I used the word gentle, for there was a part of me that insisted I should give you another chance, for love should speak a language of peace.

     At the threat of being condemned by my aunt, I had allowed what was correct and what is expected of me to take place and do away with you. Crying blood would not change my current decision, and let me hope that you would be lucky to find someone to heal your bleeding heart.

    Be careful to yourself,

   Sara Croft

  Gardnersville, Monrovia

       If there was any time in my life where my mind was so confused, it was this night. I stared at the silent world with a sense of horror. Was this a dream? Was it a vision? I was in a quandary, and I could not bring myself to understand the trick that fate was playing on me.

      But was there any truth in the allegations? Did my father engage himself in the recent Liberian war? Was he a fighter? My mind was filled with intimations of unpenetrated mysteries.

      The anguish of losing her burned my heart, and tears of regret came to my assistance, but I knew it was a lost battle.

Seven days went by swiftly, and we assembled at the church service on Sunday. It was the memorial for all those killed during the Liberian civil-war, and I could not miss it for anything.

     Though the revelation by Sara Croft of my father’s involvement in her mother’s death had come as a shock to me, I was willing to attend the service and to join the rest of the community to appeal for God’s mercy on both the departed and the living.

       For obvious reasons I did not feel downhearted as the morning wore on and the service began. The officiating pastor held in his hands several letters, some of which he had announced the contents would be read to the congregation.

      There were many Liberians who had chosen to die so that others would live, and when those ‘called’ freedom fighters realized what others were determined to do, they simply decided to kill their victims, and those who sought their release with their lives.

      Surprisingly, twenty minutes into the service, I began to doze off, and a young woman sitting by me took the chance to bring me back to reality. I had had enough disguise, and I believed even Sara Croft would not recognize me. I was still struggling to remain awake, when I heard the announcement.

     It said, “Now let’s hear the story of Sam Lew, the hero of our time.” I pricked my ears, and wondered what my father might have done, to be described as a ‘hero’ of our time.

     An older woman about forty five marched to the podium, and to the surprise of the gathering, began to narrate how my father died.

    “Sam Lew was among several Liberians who arrived at the God Bless You Gate,” she said, her voice choking. The diminutive pastor walked from her back and placed his right hand on her shoulders, urging her on.

      “Among the people who was selected to be killed was, Elizabeth Croft, but then Sam Lew said that he would be glad to give his life for Elizabeth Croft.

       “The freedom fighter said,” she continued, her voice breaking, “Mr. Lew was apparently too much for himself.

        “The soldier said to Mr. Lew, ‘I will kill both of you now,” and she stopped momentarily, and then continued, as the church remained silent and the silence there was like that of a grave site.

        “So Sam Lew was killed because he wanted to replace his life with Elizabeth Croft,” she said, and by now tears poured out of my eyes, to know the truth of my father’s murder, which had initially come to the community distorted.

          The news came with a shock.

          Sara Croft had been rushed to the local John F. Kennedy Hospital and this time the bringer of the news was the same Doreen who had brought me the ominous note of disaster.

         “I’m sorry to tell you;” she said, her behavior a little composed, “that Sara is in a danger.”

         “What happened to her?”

         “Someone poisoned her last night.”

          I said, “You know who did it?”

         “I don’t know and…” she hesitated and said, “her aunt has been arrested.” It was not a surprise to me, for it was the aunt that she had mentioned in her letter. I was not acquainted with her, but I did not care. Then Doreen handed me a letter, and said, “She told me to give this to you,” and turned away.

         “But what is this…” was all I could say, as she hurried away. And as usual, my heart leaped in my chest, as I tore the envelope and glanced at the letter.

      My dear Gilbert Lew,

           I was fooled by my aunt, and now I am suffering and may not be able to survive this. I wish there was a way to retrieve my earlier letter to you, but I am going to tell you why I could not continue to love you, as I should have.

           I was at the church when your father’s sacrifice and his eventual murder was revealed, and when later I confronted my aunt about what she had told me, she was livid with horror. But then she had prepared food for us that night, and when I got through eating, I began to feel disturbed and my stomach began to hurt.

          It was then that she came out to confess what she had done, and how she did not want me to continue with you so she misled me to believe that your father was responsible for my mother’s death.

        After she confessed, I managed to rush into my room to pen you this letter and delivered it to Doreen for you. I am not sure what may happen to me, but whatever the case, I want you to understand the reason I could not continue to love you.

      Please inform the police about this, if I am unable to return home, for my heart is beating so fast that I am unable to know what may happen to me.

     Ever your own,

    Sara Croft

        Sara Croft was buried three days later, and I made the decision the fourth day to visit the local police director with Sara’s allegation.

                                                        The End

______________________

Note: A reader sent me two titles and I used one of them (the above title: WHY SHE DON’T LOVE ME,) and requested me to base a short story on it, and I wrote the above.

 

    

Eye for an Eye

By Omari Jackson

    TONY ROBERTS felt sick after he learned he was initially the target of the attack. The assault was led by Sam, an assassin, snuffing out the life of a younger woman, that reports said had turned twenty two, the day before. It was like a stab in his heart. How could they have done that? Didn’t they know she was an innocent woman?

   His eyes misted, and tears rolled down his tear-drenched eyes. His face was like someone suffering from one of those diseases that had been credited to Apollo and the days when the Americans were shuttling to and from the moon. He could feel the dusty itch tearing his eyes, and he wondered how long he could continue like that.

   He stood at his New Kru Town ramshackle house, near Monrovia, and he could hear the sounds of cars passing by. He could also smell the arcane scent of leaves and felt the cold weather on his face.

   The thought of the woman’s death scorched his heart. They killed an innocent child, and he could not accept the reality of it and he blamed himself, somehow. Now he was meeting Sam, and making up his case against him. Daniele, the victim was the daughter of his older sister, who died when she was three. The last time they were together, the young woman had called him, “Uncle Tony.” What would his sister thought of him? A failure? A disappointment? He was full of venom from here on.

 “You killed her and destroyed my life,” he told him with a sniff, “You will have to pay for it.”

  “I’m not afraid of you,” he replied, “be ready to follow her to hell.”

   “Why did you kill her?”

   “I was looking for you,” Sam said, “and when she would not reveal your hideout, I decided to teach her a lesson.”

  “You killed an innocent child,” he told him, with anger building up in him, “isn’t life for life?”

   “Then come get it.” The other said, and he positioned himself for the eventual combat.

    Tony launched preemptive strike against the man at the corner of the room. First it was his right leg, like a Chinese man in a Kun Fu movie. Then his left leg followed in rapid succession, and he could hear the man’s cries. It was like he was suffering from a heavy banter on his head.

   Tony did not really care any more. He felt enough pain and was now prepared to deliver the ultimate blow to his adversaries. He was not, to be fair, a violent man, but the days had changed and things were now different. Lawlessness had been in an open display, and he could not be counted out.

  If for that reason someone would describe him as a violent man, then so be it. At a time when young boys and girls had been armed by politicians to kill off their brothers, uncles and parents, there was no wonder that Tony had become a Jackie-Chan-type of character.

  The Chinese might not have deliberately chosen to make physical combat their national pastime. It might have been a strong reason for that.

  Now Tony was kicking butt, and who dared to interfere? By now the enemy had crumbled before him, blood oozing out of his head. Despite the poor visibility, Tony could see very well the damage he had caused the murderer.

  With a thud, Tony’s victim had earlier lost his balance and had fallen heavily on the ground. In the process, something had slipped out of his fingers. A closer look and Tony could tell it was what he correctly thought, a gun. For whatever the situation was, Sam could not bring himself to use the weapon, and died not able to use it.

  One down, and Tony was up and running to the next rendezvous. It was like an appointment with death itself!

    TONY WAS risking his life to fight John Keen. It happened before, and he only survived by applying some of his wits. That day, three months ago, he had been caught napping, and John Keen was in control. John was one of them, a man who was the second in command of a murderous gang. They had been terrorizing, and robbing the people off their wealth in the borough, two years after the end of the Liberian civil-war.

   The battle that day was tough.

  He had Tony’s head between his legs, and his large thighs held him tight, and John’s massive right hand banged on his head from time to time.

  “Say you are my master,” he ordered the vanquished Tony to say, “I will always serve you.”

  It was too much for him and when he decided to lift his head in a swoop, John, who by then had relaxed his hold on his head, vaulted backwards, sending himself into the deep gutter behind him. Now free, Tony took the turn and as he paid John in his own, he had wept like a child.

   Now they were meeting again.

  From the beginning, Tony pretended he was down and out. John thought it was an opportunity and he went for it. His right hand was outstretched and he was moving to hold Tony by the neck when the other reacted. His swift reaction threw John off balance, and he went down.

   Tony was standing over him, as the vanquished John crawled away from him. Tony had moved swiftly and had crushed his head into a pulp.

   It had happened suddenly!

   With John’s death things were turned out to be different and Tony did not think the enemy could be ahead of things no matter what happened next. He had disposed of Sam, one of the toughest guys in the Useful Gang and now John Keen was also gone. The gang was responsible for rapes and assaults on women in the Borough as well as in the Duala area, and since the law was slow in reacting, the former army (US) Sergeant Anthony (Tony) Roscoe, was doing it his own way.

    WESLEY DOLLAR tried to force Tony to join his group and when he refused, he decided to act tough on him. They were standing apart from each other and Tony sensed Wesley’s uneasiness. It was barely three hours after Tony’s encounter with John Penny.

   Tony apparently was enjoying the spectacle. He had vanquished the three men who had been sent to kill him. Their master was now before him and he was having fun, standing on the forth floor.

  What might have confused Wesley was apparently due to Tony’s presence. This man was supposed to be dead, but then what had happened? Wesley was the big boss, who had sent a couple of friends, assassins to complete his mission.

   The report said the gang raped the eighteen year-old girl and then killed her. Now he could see the event carefully.

  In fact Wesley had not expected to meet Tony here, for he had been told the job of killing him was a simple one. But those who thought Tony’s murder could be simple could not be found. He had not believed that Tony could have the strength to eliminate three of his best men.

   But why did he forget Tony’s strength? Did Tony not participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom? Did he not survive several attempts on his life, and when he returned to the United States, did he not earn the “Purple Heart” from G. W. Bush? But if Tony Roscoe was too tough a guy, where was he when his native Liberia was in flames?

   But everything being equal he would have to deal with Roscoe, and how well that would translate into action was anyone’s guess.

   One thing, he was without a weapon, and Tony had his right hand behind his back, what was he holding on to? Had he called on the police to come get him? Rumors indicated Tony was working for the law, was that true?

  “It’s the end, Wes” he heard it, and it was loud and clear. Tony’s voice never lost it vitality, and now he was urging him to end it.

  “What will happen,” Wesley said, “if I don’t?”

  “You don’t want to die, right?” The question had come with a strong voice. That was what scared Wesley Dollar now.

    Then he heard sirens blaring towards them.

   “So you did it?” Wesley said, “you called the cops?” He was moving backwards, and Tony wished he could order him to stop.

  “You don’t need to kill yourself,” he urged him, “be a man to face the law.” But it was too late as Wesley Dollar, attempting to find a space behind him, slipped, and fell backward to his death with a whooping sound and disappeared. When Tony looked keenly to see if he was still there, it was an empty space.

   “He put the end to it all,” he said, with a smile, and took the siren device from his pocket, and shut it off. “He thought the cops were coming.”

Miracle at the Church

By Omari Jackson

     “Jesus’ shed blood should cover you.” It was the voice of Apostle Tony Roscoe, his face tense, and his teeth bared, as his two hands clutched what she knew was the Bible, and other members in the room, continued to shout for joy in her deliverance.

  “This is the day the Lord has made,” Roscoe shouted himself hoarse, and his body shook violently. It had been two hours now since the action began to remove a curse that Tony Roscoe believed had been imposed on the woman.

   As Apostle Roscoe moved to and fro, he held his teeth together, and under it, his hollow voice could be heard afar off.

  “Lord this woman is under the influence of the enemy,” he said, his hands trembling, and the entire edifice shaking to its foundation. “We cannot allow the devil the chance to win.”

   “Amen, Lord show your power,” the almost twenty five members of both sexes, chosen for the occasion responded in a chorus. “This is our time, and this is your time.”

  The four-room shack, turned into a church-house by the members of the Holy Redeemer’s Church sat at a corner of the Ntensere-Sunkwa highway, a village on the Kumasi-Sunyani road and for the first time in many years, a miracle was happening here.

  Janet Border was at the end of an eight-year adventure. It was known throughout Breman in Kumasi that she was the one with the big tummy.

   “When are you going to have the baby?” was a taunt that she had had to live with. In a community that anyone seemed to know each other, Janet did not envy her experience.

  And a day before she began her ordeal under the authority of Apostle Roscoe, the twenty seven-year-old apostle who seemed to have more problems than what the woman was facing, had asked her, “We can only help you if you can confess your sins.” Having tasted global travel, Apostle Roscoe was never successful, and after six years in self-imposed economic exile, he decided to return home and lead a life with the garb of God.

   He had been blessed, for Ghana was overflowing with the abundance of human beings interested in the work of God. The difficulty in life had created a condition in which the almighty is looked upon for help in every endeavor.

  With fasting and prayers, Apostle Roscoe had been able to lead many of the sick back to health; those who were demon possessed had been cured, and on several occasions, when jesters had protested his miracles, he had quoted from the Bible, the portion that suggested that those who believe would even move mountains.

   There his fame and that of his church had grown in leaps and bounds. Now as he stared at the lost soul before him, Apostle Roscoe’s eyes misted, remembering when Jesus wept upon hearing of the death of Lazarus, a dear friend, and also a child of God.

  “I am a sinner,” she told the apostle at the time, who had looked into the heavens, as if for some spiritual support, “It’s been hard on me.”

  “I know,” the apostle said, “but I am seeing a revelation about some dark moments in your life about your sister.”

  “My sister,” she said, and began to sob, “I am guilty for killing her and her children spiritually.”

  “The Lord is aware of your deeds,” the apostle said, “It is true you have said you killed your sister and her children and now you are bearing her burden.”

  “Yes,” she said, her head bowed in shame, tears oozing out of her eyes, “My stomach began to grow after she died…”

   “I know,” the apostle said, “now the Lord can heal you.” After her confession, the chance was open for her salvation from the abyss.

   She was thereafter accepted by the church and the next day Apostle Roscoe began the process to invoke his Lord to free her from the curse, and to eventually deliver the load she carried for the past eight years.

  Now as the apostle and his church members invoked God’s mercy, the woman, who seemed to be in a coma, shook, and her body would lift from the bed she was laid on, and the next moment, it would come down to rest there on the bed. Though she was 47 years of age, she never had a child, and it was the first time in her life she had experienced parenthood, without the assistance of a man.

  “Ebalalalalalllllalalalalalalalala,” the apostle chanted, and beads formed on his brow. “Ebalalalalalalalallalalalalalalallalalal.”

    “Amen,” the members said in unison.

   “I command you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” the apostle shouted, as if to someone before him, “Release this woman and let the Lord’s will be made.”

  It had gone on for two hours and it was evident that either the apostle continued the battle and won or allowed the enemy to win. The Holy Redeemer’s Church had lately won the hearts of people in the area as a representative of the true God, and Apostle Roscoe had been credited for casting out demons, spells and other ailments that had baffled medical science.

  Now a woman had been pregnant for eight years under their care, the eyes of the people were on the church and it was clear that the apostle was under intense pressure. But believing in the works that had been entrusted into his hands, his personality was wrapped in calmness and faith that his request would be answered by the lord.

  Though it had been two hours now since the prayers began, there were signs that the lord was answering his request, and the devil or the enemy in the woman’s life was being defeated.

  After a back and forth movement, incantations and repeated instructions of, “I beseech thee…I beseech thee…” the woman at last lay calm, and somehow agitated, and her breathing began to soar higher and higher to the delight to all those present.

  Apostle Roscoe said, in a mild prayer, “Lord, for eight years this soul carried the children in her womb. Now it is your day and the time to let the devil know that you’re the king of the world and the entire universe.”

  “Amen,” the congregation said in chorus, “our Lord is able.”

Then a woman, one on the six among the congregation, raised a popular song of the church, her voice shrill and picking up power, as she raised her voice.

   “Oh Lordeeeeeeee, you’re………..”

   “You’re our king and master……..”

There was a shout from the woman, and the apostle, who had momentarily moved away from the patient, dashed towards her, reciting some verses from the Bible. The Bible was still clutched in his right hand, and a rosary of a cross, which hung around his neck, dangled on his left hand.

  His face registered what could be described as pain, but it was evidently clear that he was communing with forces beyond the power of man. And he was almost beside the woman when he yelled, “Owawawawawa….”

   The congregation began to clap their hands in unison, and the women among them rushed and circled around the fifty-four-year-old woman.

  One of the women, apparently a midwife, got herself busy, asking for little delivery pads, and other necessities for the job.

   As the woman engaged herself to complete the delivery, others began to sing. They seemed excited about what was about to happen.

   Then the first child, a boy, came out and his voice delighted the crowd, and then the second child followed momentarily, and there were cheers from the congregation.

   In the end, after eight years in labor, two beautiful children were born safely, and the news about the woman’s experience traveled throughout the world.

 

 

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