I was lying on my bedroom floor naked and screaming in agonizing pain, drenched with sweat. I cried out for help but no one heard me. Obviously I had waited too long, shit I thought the pain I started having earlier was nothing to be tripping over but hours later labor had snuck up on me and paralyzed me. There was no phone I could get to because it had been turned off for weeks.
The neighborhood seemed to be particularly loud this scorching Fourth of July summer night with gunshots, people arguing, police and ambulance sirens, so no one heard me or came to my rescue. Daisha was barely one year old and though she stood in her crib crying and calling out to me from her bedroom across the hall, she without a doubt couldn’t help me.
Through my screams I was able to rationalize that something terrible was happening, so I reached my hand down between my bloody legs and felt the top of La La’s head and that’s when it happened. I looked up to see a beautiful woman sitting on my bed watching me expressionless. The pain caused me not to wonder how she got there or why she was there, I just reached out my arms to her signaling for help because I felt myself becoming increasingly weak as if the blood that poured from my body was my very soul leaving me.
The woman’s eyes were like looking up into a blue sky on a beautiful summer day. She looked as if she was a combination of every nationality, and her skin appeared to be soft and smooth. She was every beautiful woman that I had ever seen pushed into this one flawless frame. I mean… she was built like a supermodel, she was un-humanly perfect.
She wore a white body suit that hugged her curves seductively and she seemed to be strong but I could tell that she was longing for something as well because she was a bit anxious or desperate in a way.
She stood up on her bare feet and circled around me a couple of times, walking ever so gently but leaving perfectly shaped footprints on the dingy gray carpet. I cried out in a desperate whisper, “Help me please,” but she just continued to stare at me as she sat down beside me on the floor and began to wipe my tears with her long flowing beautiful multicolored earth toned hair, which was like the softest cloth I had ever felt.
The woman asked in a peaceful soft voice, “You left me before and I missed you so much and now you cry for my help?”
“I don’t know you, who are you?” I said between grasp for air.
Then she laid beside me facing me with her head rested on her hand and began to whisper in my ear, “You know me but you’ve forgotten me… I’ll remind you though… My name is Life, do you remember me now Sunny?”
“No, I’m sorry but please just help me, I’m dying,” I pleaded.
“I would never let you die, I love you,” she said as she laid her head on my breast. “You are my Sunshine, your mother’s gift to me. You’re still so beautiful, long luxurious fine hair, beautiful brown eyes. Even in agonizing pain you are still so beautiful. Your breasts are like perfect firm mountains, covered with sandy colored cashmere or silk. Even with child you have the body of a goddess. You are captivating like sun rays filling the earth, which is why I named you Sunshine, my Sunshine. You loved me once Sunny and I fed off of your love, we need each other. I’m saddened that you’ve forgotten me and all the fun times we’ve had and how good I’ve made you feel time after time after time. But you’ve betrayed me my love and now you cry for my help?”
“I’m sorry,” I faintly replied.
“What will you give me so that I may repair my broken heart… if I help you?” She said almost childishly.
“Whatever you ask, whatever I have. Just please don’t let my baby die.”
“You will come back to me?” Life asked.
“Yes…,” I said desperately.
“You have to ask me again, three times will make it official and I desire that you call out to me with your request.”
“Life, please help me!” I cried out.
“So be it,” Life replied seductively.
When I said those words, wind seemed to blow around her and through her hair but I couldn’t feel it at all and she seemed to be getting strong. No longer was she desperate or longing. Then a calm and peaceful feeling came over me as she positioned herself between my legs. I could feel her hands pierce my body and grasp hold of my baby.
“This one has a gift like you. Give her over to me,” Life snapped.
At that the pain I felt increased ten times and all I wanted at that point was relief or to die.
“You want my baby?”
“Yes but I will allow you time with her, many years, and call this one… Ladia.
"Ladia…,” I repeated almost completely drained of energy.
"Yes, in turn I will give you pleasure in a way that I’ve never given it to you before and I will keep the pain away as long as you stay with me? Or you and your baby will die right here, right now,” Life empathically pleaded.
“Please take the pain away,” I said breathlessly.
“If you betray me again, I will punish you. I will banish you to a cold corner like a child my love but I will give you a window to watch life pass you by... Now Sunny give me your tongue!” Life nearly whispered.
I felt the most intense pain I had ever felt between my thighs for a split second and when Life put her fingertip against my tongue the pain turned into the ultimate burst of pleasure. Every good feeling a person could possibly have came over me. I felt willingly stuck somewhere between the height of an orgasm and what it might feel like to be embraced by god himself. At that moment there was no bad in the world at all, no rainy days or lonely black nights. Pain of any and all sorts had left from me. I was lost in a euphoric ecstasy that some will never experience and some should never want to. Life had taken all the pain away as she promised but she had charged me with the life of my baby.
Oblivious to time I woke up in a hospital room. I began to panic realizing that the heaviness that I had carried for months was gone from my belly. As I ripped the hospital equipment from my body, I wondered had Life taken my baby and I began to yell, “Ladia! Ladia! She took her and I never got a chance to see her face! I never got a chance to say goodbye! She promised me time!”
The nurse rushed into my room and tried to calm me, “No one has taken your baby, she is in the NIC unit. You can probably see her soon, she appears to be doing fine.”
“How did I get here?”
“Your sister found you nearly overdosed, with your baby laying on the floor crying. Miss Starr, you could have killed your baby with those drugs.”
“I never did drugs while I was pregnant.”
“Oh really,” she said as if she didn’t believe me at all. “Well what made you wait until the day you were in labor to shoot up?”
“I shot up? What did I shoot?”
“What? I’ve never done heroin before. I snorted coke for the first three months I was pregnant with my oldest daughter Daisha but as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I stopped.”
“Oh so you just mysteriously got a hold of some heroin and shot up for the first time today? Yeah, well don’t try to convince me, save it for the authorities and the social worker. You just better be glad that your baby is okay. I’m not supposed to say this but woman like you really get under my skin. Drug addicts popping out babies left and right when good, clean, loving women can’t make a baby if they had sex for 24 hours a day. Women that would be so dedicated to a child and love it immensely. Yet two bit crackheads are the most fertile beings I ever seen. Then what? Throw these beautiful precious babies off on someone else and then you go chasing after the dragon again. Don’t you know you’ll never catch it? But blame that on what huh… Life? Yeah, yeah I’ve heard it all before!”
“Yeah… that was her… Life… You know her? She came to you too before?”
“You still trippin huh? Just buzz if you need me,” she said as she threw the buzzer at me and walked out of the room.
When I finally got to see Ladia, my La La… I immediately started crying, she was such a beautiful baby. At first I thought they had brought me the wrong baby because she was so light. She had this long, bone straight full head of black hair like she does now and light brown eyes. She hasn’t changed at all, she still looks the exact same, she just went from 5 pounds eight ounces to 5 foot 6 135 pounds!
I promised myself that I was going to get myself together and be right for my babies, and I tried for a while. I did everything everybody said but the courts still ended up giving my babies to my sister Niecee. I mean hell I wasn’t really tripping about that because at least they were not in foster care with some strangers. Besides they all live right next door so I’m still with them, they just don’t live here. As far as Life, I don’t know, I just don’t know. I’m not going to let her get my Ladia though, I’m not. Ladia is a fighter but even over my damn dead body Life won’t get her.”
It was a while ago when I sat on the porch outside of my mother’s living room window listening to her tell that story about the day I was born to her new crack buddy. She often talked about this "beautiful" woman that came to her at her most desperate moment, and she always told the story so convincingly.
Personally, I just thought it was an excuse she used to justify her doing crack and heroin. However, whether I, my sister Daisha or my aunt Neecie believed it, it was apparent that my mother, Sunshine or Sunny as we call her, believed it.
People have always asked me why I call my mother Sunny. I call her mom or mommy sometimes because no matter what she gave birth to me so that makes her my mother but I don't hesitate to tell no one that she is more like my sister. She didn’t raise me and Daisha and she doesn't act like any other mothers I know. She's a crackhead and she has been since as far back as I can remember. However I never doubted that she loved us but I knew that she just loved drugs more.
Sunny and Niecee were raised in an extremely strict household. They grew up in a big beautiful house in an upper middle class really nice neighborhood. Though my grandparents were strict, I heard that my grandfather used to preach to his church all the time about how he used to be a pimp and he changed his life, and from the pictures I’ve seen it appears that grandma was one of his hoes. My mom even told me that my grandmother was strung out on drugs before “grandpa saved her,” whatever the hell that means.
It makes sense that they were strict if that’s the kind of lifestyle grandma and grandpa was into because most of the time when grown ups are fucked up they usually do everything in their power to make sure their kids turn out right, well at least the good parents. I get that whole idea of wanting your children to turn out better than you but it seems like they were crazy with it. For example, Niecee and Sunny could only play with each other or church kids, they couldn't go to any school functions, they dressed like some goddamn Amish kids and they couldn't even listen to any kind of music other than gospel. This was particularly hard for Sunny because Niecee said that my mother had a naughty little song bird in her throat that she desperately wanted to get out. Being the overly obedient child that Sunny was, she tolerated singing in the church choir until she could write and sing her own music without grandpa breathing down her neck.
Niecee’s theory is that Grandma and Grandpa were so strict because they were too old when they started having children, and by the time Niecee and Sunny were born their patience had long run out for dealing with kids. Grandma was forty seven when she had Niecee and my grandfather was sixty two and then two and half years later Sunny came along. I don't remember my grandparents that well but to imagine two old bags like that getting busy is disgusting!
From what I heard there was a time when my mother was a force to be reckoned with. Not only was she cute and sassy but she could sing her ass off. Sunny told me that all her life she felt like she was busting at the seams and couldn't wait to get away from home. Then finally on her eightieth birthday before the sun went down and her birthday party was over, Sunny was all packed and moving into a real nice apartment in a trendy neighborhood far from the neighborhood she grew up in but still in Washington, D.C.
She had tons of boyfriends because she was so beautiful but she stayed a virgin until she was twenty. She told me that all she did was go to school, come home and write music. Even though she was on her own she still wasn’t wild, she said that she wanted to be but she just didn’t know how. That was until she met Raymond, Daisha’s father, one look between them and it was history, she said. He had his own band and he played at a jazz club she always went to. Sunny said she was amazed that he was able to stare at her all night while never missing a beat on the drums.
Sunny only told me and Daisha the good things about Raymond, like it was some kind of damn beautiful love story but I found her dairies and I read a totally different story in them. Yeah they met at a jazz club, they had dinner the following night and their food wasn’t even digested before he was banging holes in her.
Then one day Raymond heard Sunny singing while she was cooking and right after that he fired his lead singer and put my mother to work. People packed the club to hear her sing because she was astounding and even now all beat up and drugged out, hearing my mother sing gives me goose bumps and brings tears to my eyes. She was sharp and captivating on stage at that time in her life. She also had a lot of class and style and therefore she never needed a stylist because she was the one in charge of dressing the whole band.
I would look at the pictures of Sunny from back then and I found it hard to even believe it was the same woman. However, my mother never stopped taking up time in front of the mirror. I can honestly say that she was the most stylish and prettiest crackheads that ran around our neighborhood. She makes it a point to go shopping, even if she spends $50 on herself so I can only imagine how she was back then when she had her head together.
Eventually their band got so popular that a record company took notice of them and ended up offering them a record deal that they didn’t hesitate to accept. Sunny, Raymond and their band traveled all over the world, they made a lot of money and had everything from popularity, expensive clothes, to nice cars and houses and eventually Sunny and Raymond got married.
Sunny was so in love with him that she found herself doing things that she could have never even dreamed of growing up a church girl, he truly turned her ass out. He would talk her into doing threesomes, watch her have sex with women, they would have wild parties and would drink and smoke weed all the time. She even got arrested a couple of times for fighting. She would beat the ass of any female that tried to take her man but there were a few times that she would fight females at his request, after he claimed that some woman had disrespected him. Sunny said in her dairy that she thought he got off on seeing her fight and even more so fight for him. Finally of course he introduced her to cocaine, and with the drug and him by her side she wasn’t afraid of anything anymore.
Then staying true to what goes up must come down life changed. With all of the trouble Sunny and Raymond was getting into, their music suffered and they lost their deal after only two and a half years. They were so strung out that they couldn't make records if they wanted to. In fact, they got so down and out that Raymond ended up committing suicide and Sunny was left ass out with nothing, so she started to get more into drugs until she found out she was pregnant with Daisha. As soon as she dropped that load, my mother lost her damn mind. All she wanted to do was get high and since she couldn’t easily get her hands on the good powder cocaine anymore she started doing crack.
At some point Sunny got the bright idea to fake being crazy so that she could get a crazy check and not have to get a real job. So one afternoon she decided to get butt-ass naked, put on a trench coat and go into a nursing home where she then tried to sell old beat up wigs to old men and women, all while sobbing. Then by the time the police arrived she was sitting in a corner naked with a knife to her own throat and slightly bleeding. So without hesitation she was committed for a little while to a mental institution. She laughed about beating the system for the longest time. Her scheme worked because she started to get a nice crazy check every month. However, I guess she didn't realize what she might have to sacrifice because as a result of Sunny’s secret prank the courts took Daisha from her and gave legal custody to Niecee.
With money in her pocket and no responsibilities she boiled down to the average crackhead on the corner itching and moving fast. She eventually couldn’t even maintain her home so before Sunny ended up homeless and living on the street, Niecee found Sunny and brought her to live in the big beautiful side by side duplex house their parents had left them in their will. It was good that Sunny was now living next door to Niecee but bad that now she only had to worry about keeping the lights and gas on. Niecee hoped living there would help her to remember a better way of life or standard of living but unfortunately it just gave her a nice, clean and comfortable place to enjoy her highs.
Unfortunately by the time Sunny moved next door to Niecee the neighborhood had gone from upper middle class to almost ghetto. One end of the street where their house was, was nice and quiet and the majority of their neighbors were older white people. On the other hand, starting just at the corner were drug dealers and fiends hanging out in front of the old abounded penny candy store. Even the houses from the corner on down seemed to be old, dingy and falling apart or just totally abandoned and boarded up. If that wasn't bad enough there was a crack house for every two that wasn't one. So if a person stood facing one end of the street they would think they were in a nice suburban neighborhood but facing the other way they would think they were in hell. The scene reminded me of a spreading disease that hadn’t yet passed the corner but surely in time it would. Therefore, Sunny was in the right place for her addictions to grow.
I arrived a year after Daisha was born and Sunny said that when she looked at me for the very first time a melody came to her and her mind raced with music and all she wanted to do was write and sing because I inspired her. I still repeat a song to myself that Sunny made up for me and has been singing to me since I was a baby. I would have to hear the story over and over again at family reunions or family birthday parties about how whenever she sang this little song to me I would stop crying immediately. Sunny calls it our courage song and said that when we sing it everything will be better for the both of us. The words are; Who makes the Sunshine bright? La La... Who makes my heart skip a beat? La La... Who makes my life complete... La La… Who’s as precious as a golden pearl, La La! Who’s going to conquer the world…? La La...” This little song meant everything to me and my mother and it always made us feel close and reminded us that no matter what we loved one another.
Of course I hated that my mother was on drugs but I didn’t hate her because even though most of the time Sunny was high, she still tried to show us love and she had the type of personality that wouldn’t allow a person to hate or even stay mad at her. She was always making us laugh by being silly or saying or doing funny off the wall things whether she was high or not. Sunny was always the life of the party even when no one wanted one. Besides that, she's the only biological parent that I have and know. No one really knows who my father is but Sunny believes that he was an old Italian man that had a heart attack and died while right on top of her. Quiet as kept, she's had so many boyfriends and miscarriages from being an addict that I don’t think she really knows who my father is. Sometimes I look in the mirror and suppose that I could be half Italian but grandma was a light bright with silky hair and funny colored eyes so maybe I just got my features from her. I don’t know and it really doesn’t matter who my father is because I always felt that if my father is dead, may he rest in peace but if he is alive and knows anything about me, well as long as I know who I am and obviously can make it without him... fuck him!
Niecee was a good role model for us, she worked two jobs and went out of her way to make sure we were taken care of mentally and physically and she never tried to act like she was our mother, even in my mother's condition Niecee respected the fact that she was our mother. Niecee was no joke though she could go from sweet to maniac in 3.9 seconds, her tempter was out of this world and if anyone disrespected us she would not let it go. As pretty as she is, she would wrap up her hair, throw on some tennis shoes and be ready to go at it with anyone, male or female. There were so many times that she would demand me or Daisha to go out and fight some girls that were calling us out, and losing was not an option and I can count on my fingers the times someone got the best of me or Daisha. She kept weapons everywhere and dared someone to try to break in. I think that Niecee is the reason why I grew up a hot head but to me that was better than being a wimp any day.
Once Daisha and I became teenagers Niecee allowed herself to have a boyfriend and she was at his house most of the time, she said she didn’t put anything past any man so she didn’t really bring him around us, especially for overnight stays. She always went far and beyond in trying to protect us and for most of her life she tried to protect my mother just like I tried to protect my sister Daisha.
Daisha was very different than me, she was quiet and could easily be bossed around. Even though we have different fathers’ people say we look alike except she has dark skin and shorter hair than I do and a little more voluptuous in areas I can only wish I was. On her lazy lounge days, to me she is pinch your cheeks cute, when you look at her you want to pinch her cheeks. However, when she puts some extra effort into herself, she is nothing short of beautiful.
Even though she is the oldest I have always felt like the older sister. She didn’t catch on to things quickly like I did and sometimes I believed it had something to do with Sunny doing drugs while she was pregnant with her. We were in the same grade because she was left behind one year so we were extremely close.
Daisha was very emotional and would cry at the drop of a dime. She thought if she loved my mother enough that she would get off drugs. I often had to stomp across the neighborhood to pull her out a hallway of a crack apartment building waiting on my mother to come out. She would just be sitting on the floor, against the wall, just waiting and crying. I would always yell at her and tell her how dangerous that was but she kept going. One time I went to get her and both Sunny and Daisha were sitting on the floor and Daisha had her head in Sunny’s lap while Sunny was rubbing Daisha’s hair, all while Sunny still had a rubber band tied around her arm from shooting up. She was so high she forgot to take it off before she came out. I snatched Daisha up so fast and yelled at her not follow my mother anymore.
Even though Daisha is a little different, she is not to be taken for granted because she has a hot head inside of her too. She would never ever start a fight but she will surely finish it if she was pushed and pushed and pushed that far. There have been plenty of times where Daisha started off an emotional maniac realizing she was going to have to fight but some time later she would be beating a bitch to a pile of mush. Then other times I couldn’t begin to figure out how or why she would let a person that was bothering her get away with it.
Daisha had an undying need to protect everyone. She first saw the good in people when everyone around us was anything but good. In fact we were surrounded by wolves but she refused to see it so I felt it was my responsibility to keep my sister safe. So while Little Miss Riding Hood Daisha was preparing to bring grandma cookies, I was the one that would have to sneak in and kill the wolf then tell her that grandma moved to a nice retirement community in Florida and that we would visit her soon.
When I was sixteen, while Daisha was following my mother around trying to save her, I was living my own life and doing my own thing. I started singing as soon as I could talk and from there it came so naturally. People in my family said that I could out-sing my mother effortlessly or that if I didn’t sound better than she did when she was a performer then I at least sounded just like her. People would hire me to sing at their weddings and birthday parties and I was in every talent show at school. Anything that had to do with music, I was there. Up to this point I had never really done anything really serious to pursue a singing career because I really didn’t know where to start. I knew that I wanted to someday be a superstar and everything I did in my life was a superficial effort to reach that goal. I believed the first step was finishing school.
My family was popular in our neighborhood, everyone knew my mother was “that pretty crackhead,” they knew my aunt didn’t play and to stay away from her house, they knew my sister was the nice one that would give you the shirt off her back, literally, and they knew me because I could sing and because Sysco was my man.
Sysco and I had been in love since I was in first
grade and he was in third. Somebody should have beaten my fast little ass because as soon as I saw him on the playground, I thought, mmm his fine Puerto Rican ass is going to be mine. I didn’t know what I was saying at that age, I just thought we were going to hold hands and kiss and he would carry my books or something. Instead he threw rocks at me and pulled my hair. However, we started playing like adults soon enough because when I got in seventh grade, I snuck Sysco in while Niecee was at work and Daisha was gone and we got busy. I learned how to tongue kiss, give oral and take anal all in one afternoon. I’m sure we didn’t do it right but we practiced until we did from that point on and I loved Sysco unconditionally.
All the girls in my neighborhood wanted Sysco and I had to watch my back because they were jealous of me and was always looking to catch me slipping in some way. Over the years I had fought most of them and won so they pretty much stayed away from me but I still had to watch my back. Not only that but Sysco was a big time drug dealer, he had a nice car, was always dressed nice and always had money on him. He said he was just doing that until he got picked up by a record company. He was trying to be a rapper and he was good at it. I couldn’t believe the shit that came out of his mouth off the top of his head. Plus he had that slight accent that made it all the more unique and hot. Right in the middle of his flow he would bust out in Spanish, nobody else in that studio could do that. None of those other wannabe rappers in our neighborhood could get with him so he had a lot of jealous cats plotting and planning against him as well, so he too always had to look over his shoulder.
According to Sysco there was only one person other than his family and me that he could trust and that was his bother Javier. Javier was doing life in prison for murder but Sysco used to joke that Javier had so much clout on the street that even from prison he could still make things happen. He promised Javier that when he made it big he would hire the best attorneys to get him off of death row. He knew that wasn't possible because Javier had viciously murdered a guy that had molested his sister and Javier confessed to doing it, but Sysco loved him so much that he really believed he could save him and was determined to try.
Sysco promised me that once he got a deal that he was going to get us out of there and we were going to live like we were supposed to, like superstars. Of course I would bring my mom, Daisha and Niecee with us and none of us would have to worry about anything anymore. I could taste it and nothing was going to get in the way.
I spent a lot of time at the studio with him and once I started singing on his tracks I was anxious to make my own demo. Prior to Sysco starting his demo, I had no idea about laying tracks in a studio or even where one was. However, Sysco was teaching me everything and the plan was that after we got his demo together then we were going to start on mine.
Most of my music came to me on the spot, right from my heart. I wrote when I could but it was hard trying to focus on writing when I had to look after my sister chasing after my mother, get my school work done and keep Niecee’s house in order while she was working so she could put food on the table for us. Sysco kept telling me that I should drop out of school and focus on my music. I wasn’t trying to hear that because I wanted to get my education and coming up that August I was going to be a senior. I was already embarrassed because I was a little order than everyone else. I was one of those kids whose 5th birthday came before kindergarten so I always felt like people thought I failed a grade or something so being the drop out was not an option.
Sysco always said that he would take care of us. He had the money but he was living the type of life that could take him out at any minute, be it jail or death. I often thought about having to choose between riding with him for life and possibly dying with him or living for myself and without him but I loved him too much to leave him.
Late one night while Sysco was driving me home from the studio the cops pulled us over. He had a bag of rocks on him and he passed them to me to stuff in my panty before the cop got out of his car. My heart was beating fast and I was trying to look and act normal but all I could imagine was my ass going to jail. I couldn’t believe that Sysco had put me in that situation. To him it wasn’t shit because guys did it all the time and they think that since their bitch doesn’t have a record that if she gets caught that she will get off easier. Reluctantly, I did as he asked because I knew that Sysco had felonies out the ass and was on probation so if he got caught he was going to do some time and I certainly didn't want that.
After the cop wrote Sysco a ticket for a broken taillight and left, I went off, “Sysco, what the hell was that? Why would you be carrying around this shit and you know your taillight is broken?”
“I totally forgot about that, damn I’m sorry.”
“Don’t ever do that to me again!”
“So what are you saying, you wouldn’t look out for your man?”
“I would, you know that, but not when you are being careless. I don’t want to get in trouble.”
“La La you know you don’t question me, you just do what I say and I won’t let nothing happen to you. If you were to go to jail, you know I’d be bailing you out before you even made it downtown. I need to know you got my back, if you get shaky on me then this ain’t gonna work. I need a real bitch in my corner.”
“You know I got you Sysco but I just don’t like that. I mean, I got too much on me. Daisha, my mother, and Niecee would kill my ass as soon as you bailed me out of a jail anyway. Then too, I got goals, you know I’m not one of these hood rats. I’m going to be a superstar someday and nothing can ruin that. You know I was born to be a star, Starr is my last name!”
“You talk like I’m not going to get us there Miss Star,” he said sarcastically. “Who’s going to sing on my tracks? Nobody does it like La La… You my baby and I would never let anything happen to you or your familia. You see I’m blasting on any nigga trying to sell to your moms. Now that Bonita Niecee, yeah you going to have to deal with that chica! I think she can beat my ass.”
“Ahh that’s some funny shit right there! You right though.”
“You just gotta trust me mommy… My demo is almost done and I got my main dude ready to take it to his connect at the record company. He said he sure that they are going to sign me. So it’s just a matter of time but you gotta trust me. You trust me La La?”
“Yeah baby, you know I got you and I trust you.”
“Good… Now take care of Papi, all that excitement woke up hector,” he said as he pushed my head down into his lap.
I did trust Sysco but a part of me felt like I needed to do it on my own and not rely on him but without him I couldn’t pay for studio time. I knew that he would always take care of me but I also knew it could mean a lot of unnecessary trouble like jail, fights or other illegal and dangerous activities. Yeah I knew for sure he would pay my hospital bill if I got shot but what the hell did that mean if I was paralyzed and in a wheelchair for life, or yeah he would keep money on my books if I got sent to prison but what would that matter if I was in there for fifty years? I’d be locked up while some other bitch had taken my place and he was free to do whatever he wanted. Somehow that just didn’t add up to me and I thought about it day and night but like a script, each day we would start back at square one. Part of me wanted to let him go but I just didn’t know how.
Sysco finished his last track and we were all bopping our heads as we sat listening to it in the studio. At the end of the song we all started yelling and screaming and clapping because if that song wasn’t a hit then nothing else in the world was. That was it, it was done and one of Sysco’s friend suggested that we all go out to celebrate but Sysco said, “We not finished man.”
“What do you mean, those tracks are hot, they don’t need nothing else. We worked hard day and night so now we gotta celebrate. What else is there to do?”
“We gotta work hard day and night on my girl’s demo. It ain’t over, it has just begun.”
Everyone came back in the studio and took their places. Sysco had followed through, he wasn’t thinking about celebrating, he was only thinking about me starting my dream. I looked at him with wide eyes and hugged him tightly and he said as he slapped my ass, “Time is money La La, get your ass in that booth.”
By the end of the next day I was able to complete two tracks. The studio was packed with people just wanting to listen to me, even the owner Oddy was there and he never listened to any of the artists. He always had a thing for me and Sysco was just waiting for him to say or do the wrong thing. It was obvious that Oddy was a pervert from the way he looked at the girls in the studio or by the things he would say to them, but he never disrespected me. Sysco always joked about how he wanted to pop him one in his big blubber stomach just to see what would happen. Like the fat would miraculously catch the bullet and swallow it or something.
We were working on the third track when I noticed Sysco and his friend that he called his main dude from New York, Charlo in the corner talking. I started to get upset because neither of them was paying attention to me and Charlo had been missing from the studio pretty much all day so I stormed out of the booth and irritably said, “What’s up? I’m not feeling this song. The words are right but it’s something about that beat. These dudes are all about raps and rap beats, not what I’m trying to do and yawl not even paying any attention.”
“Calm down mommy we are going to take care of it,” Sysco insisted.
“What are yawl talking about Sysco?”
“Charlo has to go back to New York. His boss is going to be tied up for six months so he gotta get my demo to him as soon as possible.”
“Charlo! I need you! You can’t leave now, I got three tracks to go!”
“I'm so sorry but as soon as your demo is ready just send it to me and I guarantee you’ll get on, I know talent when I see it. But I had only planned to stay here three months and it turned into six so baby I gotta go. Best I can do is take the tracks you have and pitch them. Those are hot, especially since one is R&B and the other is Pop. You gotta finish the rest though because if they ask for more and they still not ready to see you, I’m gonna need to have the whole demo. You all got at least until the end of next month before Big Man leaves for six months and when he comes back he is going to be so swamped so I got to put all this on his plate before he leaves.”
“Charlo, don’t worry about it we are going to get on that. I promise you this shit is going to be done and right by the end of month. Her ass ain’t gonna sleep, she is going to eat, breath and shit this music. We on that! La La, I take care of you right?”
“Yeah Sysco but…”
“No buts, now get your ass back in that booth, we got work to do.”
I went back in the booth but I wanted to cry when I seen Charlo walk out that door. He was the only one in that room that really knew about beats and how to tweak things just right and besides Sysco he was the only other person in that room that seemed to care about my demo. I really became nervous but I just tried to stay focused and do my best to make what was coming out of my mouth hot. I tried to believe in it but something was missing and I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
Sysco didn’t lie though because we lived at that studio. He even gave me my seventeenth birthday party there and right after I blew out the candles he told me to get my ass back in that booth. He was serious and I was feeding off his determination so there was nowhere else I wanted to be but in that booth.
A little time had gone by and we were still stuck on the third track. I was frustrated as hell, Sysco was evil and frustrated and everyone else was sitting around looking as stupid as kindergartners in the twelfth grade. I was just about to hit that high note like Mariah when Sysco’s little sister Ana ran into the studio. I could tell from her facial expressions and the way that she was waiving her hands and yelling to me that something was wrong so I rushed out the booth to hear her yelling, “La La, your mother and your sister are in trouble! Hurry! Hurry!”
I took off out of the studio and Sysco followed me. Ana led us to a fight on the corner and as my eyes focused I could see Doe, the other big time drug dealer in our neighborhood with his arm around my sister’s throat restraining her while one of his hoe’s named China was beating on my mother. I felt my blood pressure hit the roof, and both Sysco and I started yelling and instantly the situation turned into mass chaos. The first thing I did was grab China by her weave from off the top of Sunny because she was pounding the shit out of my mother. I knew Sysco was about to deal with Doe so I wasn’t immediately worried about him having my sister. Then I noticed my buddy Ciara from elementary school was in the crowd and she put her head down in shame when we made eye contact. Even though she was a couple years older than me, I used to take up for her because she used to be very scrawny but really cute, and so all the big ugly husky girls picked on her. I had even got into a fight taking up for her one day and since then we somewhat kept in touch and every blue moon we spoke on the phone, so we were cool enough that she could have texted or called me to let me know what was going on but she was one of Doe’s main girls and I didn't really have time to think about that right then.
There was so much yelling that I couldn’t make sense of anything. That was until Sysco pulled out his piece and everyone immediately got quiet.
“What the fuck is this? This is my family you fucking with Doe,” Sysco yelled.
“Then you need to take care of the debt! This bitch not only just stole from me but she owes me money. So she either gets sentenced by me or you handle it!” Doe yelled.
“I will handle it but you disrespecting mine?” Sysco said.
“I don’t give a fuck! I've been making exceptions for this crack hoe because I know she your bitch’s moms but this bitch stole from me so no more exceptions. I want all my money and my shit back.”
“You should have came to me first Doe, money ain’t shit.”
“Man fuck you Sysco, you ain’t running these streets… check the numbers motha-fucka! You gone pull out on me in front of my people. Man fuck you! I run these streets. I’ve been seconds anyway from getting rid of your ass anyway. You need to get out the flow of my money!”
I could see that Sysco was ready to start poppin, I knew him well enough to know that look in his eyes. Then on queue when blood was about to be shed, he started yelling in Spanish and focusing his eyes so he could aim and pull the trigger. I grabbed my sister and turned to grab my mother but she was already long gone. The words that Sysco and Doe had already exchanged meant it was war and I really didn’t want to see bullets fly because of something my mother did. My sister was innocent but I had told her ass to stop chasing after my mother. My mind was racing with thoughts of how I could get the situation under control without disrespecting Sysco so I yelled, “Sysco let me settle part of the debt my mother fucked up, this is my problem.”
“What’s the debt Doe?” Sysco yelled.
“She owes me five hundred.”
“Bitch ass nigga I got that for days! You about to lose your life over five hundred? You need to check the numbers! Here motha-fucka, take two stacks!” Sysco said as he threw money at Doe.
Sysco quickly put his gun away because we could hear police sirens swiftly approaching but the cop cars sped right past us.
“That just ain’t it, nobody fucks with me and these other crackheads need to understand that. So either you find her or I’ll find her and China can finish this.”
Doe sneakily pulled out his piece but I seen him do it as clear as day and he kept it tucked to his side and that’s when I knew what I had to do to end all of that right then and there. I could predict Sysco but I had no idea what I was dealing with with Doe, so I stepped in front of Doe’s and said, “I’ll handle it, if I beat your bitches ass you drop this with my mom, and if she gets the best of me then you still drop this with my mom.”
I wasn’t about to let Sysco and Doe go at it like they were some cowboys in a fuckin western and my sister was hysterical so she wasn’t worth shit, so I knew it was on me.
My heart was pounding though I wasn’t afraid but I sure as hell didn’t feel like fighting, all I had planned on doing that day was laying tracks. China was a little bigger than me but regardless I was going to give her a run for her money because I always fought with everything I had in me. I tied up my hair, kicked off my sandals and before she could even position herself I kicked that bitch in her stomach and just started going crazy on her, not that crazy wild woman fighting like most girls do but I mean some real one – two type shit. I had had too many fights in my life and watched too many boxing matches on television to not know how to fight for real.
We were going at it and this bitch had a heavy hand and hit, some of her blows made me just want to throw in the towel, get in a fetal position and cry. Then out the blue I heard Niecee say, “I don’t know what this shit is about but I sure as hell know how it’s going to end.” Realizing my auntie was there, I got some extra courage and strength and I finished that bitch off. I got her down to the ground and then went windmill on her ass, yeah that crazy girl fighting seemed appropriate then. I would have kept going for days but Sysco grabbed me off of her and Doe picked up China by her neck because he was so mad. He was pissed off that she lost the fight and I was happy it was over and no one got shot. However, I could tell by looking at Doe as he watched us walk away that the fight was over but the war had just started.
As soon as I got home I busted into Sunny’s house to see her sitting on the couch high. I began to go off on her because I was so angry. I was fighting for her ass while she had snuck off with the drugs she stole and went home to get high.
“Sunny your stupid ass almost got all of us killed and you just left us there!”
“I’m sorry La La, I just had to go to the bathroom and Doe wasn’t going to do nothing to nobody.”
“You need to go away! You need to get some help! You are going to get Daisha killed. And Daisha how many times do I have to tell you to stop trying to be her guardian angel? You cannot save her! She has to save herself. You running after her is only going to cause more problems.”
“La La you are so damn dramatic! Why are you bleeding baby?” Sunny said.
“Clean your ears Sunny, from fighting so Doe won’t kill your ass! I don’t even know why I’m talking to you right now.”
I turned my attention to Daisha as her crying became unbearably annoying, “Daisha, would you shut the hell up with all that goddamn crying! From now on you are going everywhere with me. I’m not going to lose you too.”
“Yeah Daisha, it’s enough that I have to work all the time but to know that you out here with your mother is more than even I can bear. Sunny, when are you going to be a mother to these girls? They are practically grown women. Daisha will be eighteen in a couple months. Do you want them to see you your entire life like this? One day they are going to go away from here, have their own families and not even be bothered with you. I’m tired of this Sunny! If you want to get yourself killed that’s one very sad and very tragic thing but you stooping so low that you would put your daughters’ lives in danger? We try to keep a low profile and you stole from Doe, do you know the kind of heat that could bring around here?”
“Why are yawl always ganging up me? Why don’t yawl just leave me alone! Everyone hates me except Daisha, she is the only one that loves me, only Daisha, my baby. Daisha, pass mommy that cigarette pack please.”
Sunny pulled a joint out of the cigarette pack and I got so mad that I stormed out of the house and Niecee and Daisha followed me to attempt to calm me down. I assured them that I was okay but later that night as I laid in bed, I couldn’t help thinking and contemplating, thinking about the day and my music. I became even more determined that I would finish my demo and get my mother some good help and take care of Niecee and Daisha. I felt it was no one’s responsibility but mine. We were one step closer since Charlo had Sysco’s demo but I had to get on my grind even harder and so I jumped out of bed and started writing and rewriting my songs. This was the beginning of the rest of my life.
Daisha had a temporary get out of jail free card from being glued to my side for the rest of her life because she was sick, but the day she was feeling better Sysco picked us up after school and we all headed straight to the studio.
We were listening to beats trying to tweak them for this one song I had been working on for the longest. I didn’t really like anything I heard and I was becoming disappointed and frustrated thinking I wasn't going to be able to use the song at all. Out of the blue from the corner of the room, Daisha in her soft voice interrupted us and started to tell us to add this, do this, put that back, turn this down, and before I knew it, the beat was hot. It was what I imagined in my head but didn't know how to articulate. Daisha had fixed it in like 2.5 seconds and everyone was amazed, and with that I was done with that track in less than an hour. Everybody in the room mattered but the force that Daisha, Sysco and I made was unbelievable. I was sure that I was going to be finished with my demo by the end of the month like Sysco told Charlo because now all the elements were in place.
Later that evening before I went to bed Sysco called me overly excited, "Hey Baby Doll, I got all these new beats, I forgot I had them. This shit is hot and once Daisha does her voodoo we in this bitch! I want to come by and let you listen to them now. Where is the butcher Niecee?"
"She here silly! I'm excited! If we have the right beat everything else just flows. It's just a matter of matching the right beat with the right words and shit that's the easy part. You want to just come by tomorrow because I really don’t feel good? I think Daisha may have given me whatever she had. I don't even think I'm going to go to school. I'll just call you when I feel better tomorrow."
"Alright mommy, feel better baby. Rest that throat and I'm not saying so you can sing…."
"That's all you think about greedy!"
"Nah for real get better... Just call me when you wake up but don’t forget I have to go to court in the morning for that taillight ticket."
“Oh yeah that’s right. Why are you going to court when you do have a broken taillight, why don’t you just pay it?”
“Broken taillight, what broken taillight, I don’t know what you are talking about. My taillight wasn’t broken that cop was trippin, especially if he don’t show up to court.”
"Oh my god Sysco you are such a criminal! What am I going to do with you?”
“Just what you been doing with me. I gotta go handle some business so I have to get off this phone.”
"You love me La?"
"You know I do Sysco."
"Well say it..."
"Yo te quiero Papi"
“Whew!! I love it when you say it in Spanish! I love you too beautiful, get some rest."
I woke up the next morning feeling sluggish even though I had slept till noon. Eventually after lounging around for a few hours I called Sysco and when he answered the phone I could tell something was wrong, “What’s wrong baby? Did something happen at court?”
“Not really but I just ran into that punk ass Doe and we had some words. But get this shit La, I come out to my car right and all my tires are slashed! I swear I’m going to kill that…”
He started rambling in Spanish so fast that I could barely make out the curse words.
“Sysco, calm down. Speak English, what exactly happened?”
“We both walking out the courthouse at the same time, right? So I go in the bathroom just so I don’t have to even see his face because you know I will lose it and the courthouse obviously ain’t the place. I walked out and he blocking the door, we just standing there man to man. To anyone looking on it probably looked like we were taking or something. He standing like two inches away from my face, so I step back into the bathroom and he followed me. So I said, what’s up Doe, what you want to do? I’ll go to jail but let’s just get it done. So he swung on me La, then I got one in… Then a cop walked in so we acting like ain’t shit going on and then he got in my face and said some shit like he own me or something. I spit in his face and then he said, I’ll let you get that one… but I’ll get the next and the last one, and walked out the bathroom. That was it. Now I come out here and all my goddamn tires are flat.”
“Oh no Sysco, you said yawl had some words not a fight? This is bad and all because of my damn mother?”
“Hell nah mommy, you know me and Doe ain’t never been on good terms and since my numbers are better than his, he wants to get at me. This really ain’t got shit to do with your mother, just about dollars. I don’t even want to talk about Doe anymore. Let me get this tire thing sorted out then I’m going to swoop you up so you can hear these beats. It’s going to be a few hours so be ready, let’s go to the show and out to eat or something. We not going to make it to the studio today, I just want to chill with you anyway. Is that cool?”
“Yeah that’s cool. I’ll be waiting for you. But what if Doe come back?”
“La La! You doubting me, you questioning whether I can handle mine? Fuck Doe!”
“Sysco, no, I’m just worried, I don’t want nothing to happen. I know you can take care of yourself.”
“Don’t you worry about that shit. I’m going to be alright, don’t ever worry about me. I have dealt with worse than Doe. I don’t ever want to hear you worry. You understand?”
“Yes, I understand. I’ll be ready when you get here. Bye Sysco.”
“I love you.”
“Yo te quiero Papi.”
Even though Sysco had told me not to worry, I was worried and I began to feel angry at my mother again so I went over to her house to yell at her and tell her the trouble she caused but when I walked through her door I could see Daisha sleeping on the couch and Sunny sleeping on the floor with a cigarette burning next to her in an ash tray inches away from her hair. I went over to put it out and I began to stare at my mother sleeping. She looked so peaceful, and even though her face was scared and her hair was messy, she was still beautiful. I laid next to her for a while and just watched her sleep. As angry as she could make me and as disappointed as I was in her, watching her made me remember just how much I loved her. She looked helpless and hopeless as she laid there and most of all she looked harmless. As I rubbed her fine little baby hairs and gently tried to put her other fly away hairs in place, all I could think about was wanting to see her at her best and wanting to forgive her. Then over my mother I could see Daisha laying on the couch, and even in her sleep she was somehow guarding and protecting my mother, pretending that she didn’t need to be guarded and protected herself. There I was, awake and alert watching over the both of them, this little scene was the big picture of how we lived our lives.
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a horn and my cell phone vibrating. It was Sysco letting me know he was outside. I slipped out the door and locked it behind me and secretly prayed and asked God to keep them safe until I returned.
Sysco and I had a great day, we went out to eat and to the movies and he must have spent five thousand dollars between the both of us at the mall, and we even snuck in a quickie in a department store dressing room. For the first time in a long time I wasn’t thinking about my mother or Daisha or looking over my shoulder and it felt so good to be carefree for a change with my man.
I felt myself becoming sad as we approached the neighborhood. I didn’t want to go back, at least not so soon but it was late and I had school in the morning. As we pulled into my driveway and I saw that Niecee’s car wasn’t there, I was pleasantly reminded that she wouldn’t be home until the following evening so I begged Sysco to put aside his business for the night and stay with me. For some reason that night I didn’t have to beg much at all. It was weird because Sysco never put his business aside and even more so he never turned off his phone but this night he did.
When we made love, it seemed to be more passionate than ever, maybe because everything in our lives seemed to be more intense, from him finishing his demo and it being on the table of some record exec to his altercation with Doe. When things were rough he was who I turned to and vice verse, we were in a way all we had.
Before we fell asleep that night we talked about the big house we would have in some city where it’s warm all the time. Also, how no matter what we were doing or where we were performing, we promised each other that we would always drop everything to be there when the other needed it. We talked about all the things we would do with our money. Most of all we talked about how it would feel to be on stage and to be able to do what we loved most. We fell asleep in the middle of our dreams, and in each other’s arms under the promise that no matter what, we would always be together.
The next morning I woke up before my alarm clock went off and Sysco had already left. It took everything I had in me to get out of bed because nothing in me wanted to start this day. However, I managed to pull myself together and go to school.
I had two more classes to go and I was counting down the minutes until I could go home. I stopped to put some things in my locker when Daisha snuck up behind me and scared the mess out of me, “Damn girl, are you having evil thoughts you nearly jumped out of your shoes.”
“Daisha you are as quiet as a ghost, you’d scare anyone.”
“Your outfit is cute, is that new?”
“Yeah Sysco bought if for me yesterday.”
“Yeah and you sure have a way of thanking him. I heard you thanking him for about three hours straight last night!”
“Ah shut up! I thought you were going to stay at Sunny’s house all night,” I said blushing.
As Daisha and I were walking down the hall talking, I noticed this Puerto Rican chick named Osha staring at me along with about five other girls. I had seen her around but we never spoke, I didn’t know her to have a problem with her so I didn’t understand why I was getting dog stares from her and her girls all of a sudden. Apparently, this day I was on her radar for some reason and she had that look in her eyes like she was coming for me. I could feel trouble brewing but I just tried to walk past her and not acknowledge her or any of her girls. However, she stopped me by grabbing my arm and said, “Did I hear you say Sysco bought you that outfit?”
“Business?” I said snatching away from her and continued down the hall.
She laughed and spoke loud enough so that I could hear her, “That’s Sysco’s main bitch but I wonder does she know about how he loves climbing into my bed. She think what she got is special but you not special bitch you just the first bitch, bitch!”
Her words were awakening the beast in me and her voice seemed to be in stereo in my ear. It took everything in me to not turn around and mop the floor with her because she was calling me out for no reason but I also felt a little proud of myself because I managed to keep walking. Then she ran up behind me and asked, “Did you hear what I said, you think you special? You weren’t special last night while I was pushing his face all up in my chocha.”
“Whatever, yeah I guess I wasn’t special.”
I tried to walk away again but she stepped in front of me and said, “What did you say?”
“You heard me, he wasn’t with you because he was with me all day and night. So whosever face you were pushing all up in your chocha, wasn’t Sysco’s. You sound dumb, dumb ass.”
With that she threw her red pop on me and on queue Daisha started crying and I lost it. Osha and I must have fought for 2 seconds before security grabbed us.
We were allowed to finish our last two classes and for the rest of day I walked around with a big red stain on my new clothes and every time I looked down at it I got mad but I just wanted to go home or better yet to the studio where I could sing out all of the tension and drama of that day. However, the funny thing was under normal circumstances I would have hit that bitch for just looking at me wrong but I really wanted to change. I was thinking about my future CD cover and I didn’t want to have to be drowned in makeup from being all scarred up from fighting all my life so I was more willing to just let it go and chalk it up to that bitch having a bad day.
Both Osha and I got suspended but I was actually happy because this meant I could spend more time in the studio for the next three days. As Daisha and I walked to Sysco’s car out of nowhere someone jumped on my back and made me fall to the ground, and I could hear Daisha screaming and I could see a couple of girls trying to beat on her as well. I finally began to realize it was Osha and a host of other girls jumping my sister and me. I was worried about myself because Daisha was handling the two girls she was working with but it was about five plus Osha on me. Suddenly, out of the blue I was relieved to hear Sysco yelling and trying to take control of the situation which brought me some comfort as I tried to plant my feet so that I could fight. Then like superman coming to rescue me, I felt Sysco’s firm hand around my arm as he pulled me from the midst of the crowd. When I came up I could see that he also had Daisha. I was relieved because there was just too many of them. He threw both of us into the car and he took off.
As we drove past the rowdy mob, I noticed that Osha had separated from the crowd and her standing alone a little ways down the street on the curb was so weird to me because she had orchestrated the whole thing, but I brushed it off to her trying to get away from things in case the police or school security guards showed up.
We pulled into an open parking lot to make sure that everyone was okay because those Puerto Rican girls were good for having razor blades in their mouths and sure enough I bleeding and so was Daisha. Daisha was bleeding from scratches but I was cut really deep on my arm which I started to recall was from blocking my face. Sysco was frantic and he went to pull open the glove compartment to get tissue and no sooner than he bent down we heard screeching tires and everything from that moment seemed to go in slow motion. The car pulled up beside us, Osha was driving and Doe was on the passenger side, Sysco turned to look at me then turned back to look at Doe that was now pointing a gun at us. Daisha screamed, Sysco grabbed my head and pushed it down and went for his gun with his other hand but he wasn’t fast enough. Doe fired one bullet that went through Sysco’s head and threw my headrest, past Daisha face and out the side window. After I heard the window shatter everything went from slow motion to super fast motion and as if in an instant Osha and Doe where gone.
I looked up at Sysco and he was peacefully looking down at me and he still had his hand, as if an endearing embrace on the side of my face. I called out to him but he didn’t answer me or move. I yelled for Daisha to call 911 as climbed on top of him. I put my hand over the hole in the side of his head that was smoking and it looked like his spirit was seeping out through it. I wanted to stop it, I wanted to stop the bleeding but I couldn’t, it seemed like he was literally slipping through my fingers. I whispered in his ear, Yo te quiero Papi and I begged him not to die. I kissed his lips and I held him and begged and prayed. I yelled at him that he told me not to worry and that he promised that he would be alright but I could feel that his body was lifeless, he was cold, he was not breathing and his heart wasn’t beating, Sysco was dead. I continued to hold him and whisper in his ear until the cops had to rip me away from his body, Yo te quiero Papi, Yo te quiero…
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 18.11.2010
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