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An Average Day in South Side Chicago

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Malik was shaking. His palms were sweating with the Glock 19 in his hands. He had never thought of doing anything like this before in his life. I have to do this. I have to do it for my family. He thought of his brother crying because he was so hungry. He thought of the look on his mother’s face when he came home the day she got the letter for eviction. If I do this we will have a whole new life. I don’t want to go back to the cold streets or the hungry nights. My momma and lil’ bro would want this. Malik was so caught up in his thoughts that he jumped when he heard footsteps nearby.


He was in a dank, creepy little alley in the slums of south side Chicago. It was dimly lit in the middle by a single street lamp. It reeked of trash and dead rodents back there but Malik barely noticed with all the adrenaline pumping through him.


The sounds of footsteps got closer and closer as the person approached the alley. Malik tried to steady himself as he raised the gun at whoever was about to round the corner. The person stopped moving once they rounded the corner and looked down the alley to see if anyone was there.


“Hello?” Malik heard a familiar voice say, “Mr. O are you here?”


Malik didn’t say anything and slowly approached out of his dark corner, gun still raised. He wondered if it was actually the person he thought it could be. As he got closer he began to make out the details of their face. Malik nearly dropped his gun when he saw who it was. The person also noticed him as he stepped into the light of the street lamp.


“Malik?” said the person, “I-is that you?”


************************************

 


(Two weeks earlier)


Malik Ferguson walked home from school with his little brother Tyrone just like any other normal day. Since his mom had recently been laid off, she was waiting at the front door for them. However,  Malik noticed that there was something off with her. She wasn’t as smiley as she usually was as she had a grim look on her face.


“Hi Momma,” said Malik.


“Hi mom,” said Tyrone.


“Hello boys,” she sighed. Malik definitely knew now that something was wrong. He wondered what it could be as they walked into the house. Then he saw it. His mom didn’t even try to hide it like the last two times. It was there sitting smack dab in the middle of the table. He almost cried when he saw the eviction letter, but he held his emotions in check. However, his mother noticed his facial expression.


  “I can’t pay the bills on my own,” she said, “especially since I lost the job at the deli. I know you kids deserve better than a lousy motha’ like me and that old pig of a father. I could put you up for adoption in hopes you would find a better motha’. “


“Momma don’t say that,” said Malik. “We gon be aight. Everything will be fine. You’ll get a job and we’ll be livin’ in a better home than this soon. I know you can do it. I can even drop out and help pay the bills momma.”
“Oh no, you don’t go doing that young man!” she said angrily, “You need your education. It’s up to me to pay the bills ‘round here.”


“Yes momma,” said Malik, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright honey,” she said, “I’ll find a job in no time and we’ll all be fine.”
“I know momma,” said Malik.


It had been a week and Malik’s mom still didn’t have a job. Malik had continued to go to school but he had a very hard time focusing in class. He was too busy thinking about the all too familiar discomfort of sleeping on the cold cement of the sidewalk. This was not his first time being evicted. He had been evicted twice before and he was not ready to have his home taken away again. Malik didn’t want to go back, and he didn’t want his brother or mom to go through that again.


One day Malik was deep in his thoughts at lunch that he didn’t notice someone that was calling his name. One of his lunch buddies tapped Malik on his shoulder. Malik looked up and immediately looked down once he saw who it was.


“Hey chocolate,” said the person. Malik continued looking down. “Hey I know you can hear me. Why don’t you look at me?”


“I don’t want any trouble Rick,” said Malik.  Malik never knew what he did to Rick Johnson that made Rick hate him so much, but Rick hated him nonetheless. Rick was Malik’s bully.. Rick had the perfect life, and he felt it was necessary to make fun of people for not being like him


“Well a little birdie told me you’re already in trouble with the bank again.” said Rick, “I’m just here to tell you to pay up. You people never learn, do you?  You always expect everything to just be handed to you. You’re ju-”
“Shut up!” shouted Malik. He immediately looked down after he said it. What right does he have? He doesn’t know what hard work is. He’s been given everything. Malik was seething and it only helped fuel Rick’s verbal onslaught.


“Yo mama so poor that I saw her running after a garbage truck with a shopping list,” said Rick. Rick’s goons all laughed hysterically. “What, you’re not gonna say anything?” he waited for a reaction and continued to say, “Oh wait, I’m sorry. Malik is so poor he can’t afford to put his two cents into the conversation.”


Malik had had enough of him. He got up immediately and walked straight to the door to leave school. Behind him he heard Rick’s goons laughing and Rick telling more poor jokes. A tear ran down Malik’s cheek, then another, and another. Soon enough Malik was full on crying. He bolted out the door and and started running down the street. Why? Why does he feel the need to do that? Why does a mean person like him get everything in life, and I get nothing? Why God? Why?


Malik could barely see with the tears in his eyes. He ran all the way home because his house was only a couple blocks away. When he was almost there he looked up and saw a man in a suit standing in front of the house, looking at it. Bank people. Malik ran at him angrily. The man heard Malik coming and turned just in time to dodge Malik’s punch. The man grabbed Malik and put him in a headlock. Malik kicked and squirmed, but it was pointless. The man had him subdued.


“What do you people want?” screamed Malik, “You’ve already taken away my family’s life!”


“Woah there buddy,” said the man,, “I’m only here to help. I’m not one of those bank people. I’ve actually come here to give you an opportunity at redemption.”


“What are you talking about?” said Malik.
“What if I told you I knew a way for you to make $10000 in a matter of a couple of days,” Malik, shocked, relaxed his body and stopped trying to free himself from the man. The man then let him out of the headlock. Malik stumbled to the ground and picked himself up. “The name’s Bill O'shaughnessy. You can call me Mr. O. I’m guessing you wanna hear my proposal.”


“Y-yes sir,” stuttered Malik.


“Well you see young man… wait what’s your name,” said Mr. O.


“Malik,” said Malik.


“Well, Malik, I run a business that is quite lucrative here in Chi-town, and I ran into quite the predicament about a week ago. You see, one of my clients has been... How do I say it… Screwing me over. See in my business there’s an honor code. You give me money and I give you the product no questions asked. Well, my client has been complaining about the prices and has been STEALING my product. A kilo here a kilo there and pretty soon I’m down quite a large sum of money. Anywa-”


“What do you want me to do about that?” interrupted Malik.


“LISTEN” shouted Mr. O angrily. Malik flinched quite bit. He realized that Mr. O had a short temper and shouldn’t be reckoned with. “Look kid sorry for yelling. I just get a little angry at people's ignorance. Anyways I want you too… uh… well… take care of him, if  you know what I’m saying. Take him out.”
“Y-you want me to kill a person,” questioned Malik.


“It’s the logical decision for you,” said Mr. O. “Look kid, this person is not a morally just human being, and he is anything but innocent. I’m just asking you to take him out before the mighty lord smites him and his evil ways. Besides kid, you should do it for your family. You don’t wanna be out on the street again do you? The amount of money I’m giving you is more than enough to get you guys back on your feet. Look, I told this client to meet me at our business spot to discuss a few mishaps in our deal. You could wait for him there and that’s when you can take care of business. Before I tell you more information I need to know if you are in. Are you?” Malik thought for a second, but the decision was clear to him.


“Yeah I’ll do it,” he said.


*******************


(Flash forward to scene in the alley)


The person was Rick Johnson. What kind of business did he have with Mr. O? Was he sent here to kill the same person? However, Malik knew that that was not why Rick was there. Rick was the person he needed to kill. It made sense. Malik had heard that Rick had a drug addiction.


“Rick, what are you doing here?” said Malik.


“I could ask you the same,” said Rick, “W-what’s that in your hand?” Rick seemed wary that Malik had a gun in his hand, and rightfully so.


“I could ask you the same,” said Malik. He was hinting at the wad of money in Rick’s hand, which was probably for the drugs.
“It’s nothing. I j-just don’t want any trouble,” stammered Rick.


“I’m afraid trouble is all you’re gonna get,” said Malik firmly. Malik raised the gun and pointed it at Rick’s chest. Malik had his finger on the trigger and was about to pull in until he began to think. Is this what it’s come to. I’m going to murder somebody for money. Mama would not approve and the good Lord sure wouldn’t either. I’ll starve. I’ll live in the streets. I’ll listen to my brother cry because of hunger and my mother tell herself she’s not good enough, but at the  end of the day I’ll be able to look her in the eyes and tell her that I love her and I am a good person.


The standoff went on for a few tense moments, but Malik couldn’t do it. He lowered the gun, looked Rick in the eyes and walked the other way. A tear ran down Malik’s cheek as he realized that his family would be homeless again. It’s for the better. I will not abandon my morals for the greed of money. A smile drew across his face as he knew that he had made the right decision.


The Lord will reward me he thought, but his thoughts were interrupted by a loud pop. Now, this wasn’t like the pop of a popcorn kernel or the pop of bag of chips as you squeeze it open. This was much louder. It was a deafening sound, especially in a small alley. Malik stopped dead in his tracks. However, this was not because of the sound. Malik  tried with all his might to keep moving forward, but he couldn’t. Instead, he felt a sharp pain in his torso. A pain so sharp that he could barely feel it. He put his hands over his stomach and where the pain was coming from. He felt wetness. He looked down to see his hands and torso covered in red. Malik unwillingly dropped to his knees. As his body fell onto the cold ground and Malik took his last breath, he could see only one thing... darkness.




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