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"BJ" A Novel of Suspense and Horror CHAPTER FIVE

The Haunting of Troy Shadale

“Sweetie, Mommy’s going to walk up to the corner store and get you some milk O.K.?”

“I wanna go Mommy.”

“Sweetie, Mommy will be right back. Grandma can keep an eye on you.”

“Kenya, you take your son to the store with you. I’m tired and I want to do exactly what I’m doing right now. Nothing!”

“Mama, can’t you watch him for three minutes?”

“Oh you mean more like three hours don’t you? I know you’re running around over there to see that man. LaJohn’s not even a father to Troy. I don’t understand why you have to run up under him.”

“It’s none of your business anymore Mama. I’m a grown woman.”

“Yeah, you’re so grown you went and got your fast ass knocked up at sixteen, and that was four damn years ago, and that man still ain’t put a ring on your finger. Now you take your son with you. You sat up there and had him and now you better take care of him, just like a grown woman, Kenya!”

Kenya snatched her son’s arm and stomped out of the door, slamming it behind her.

It had never been Dorothy Shadale’s dream to be a third generation welfare recipient. All though she had spent most of her life on welfare, she had wanted more for her children. On the day Kenya was born, Dorothy began whispering sweet dreams of a better life in her little girl’s ear—good grades, a chance to go to college, and a way to get out of the projects. Dorothy’s first child, Largett, had succumbed to the streets at an early age. Despairingly, she realized the influence she had on her only son just was not as strong as the pull of gangs and street life. Dorothy felt she and her disappearing husband had failed Largett, but she was not going to let her daughter make the same mistakes she had made by being married too young, having babies too early, and never completing high-school.

With Dorothy’s constant nurturing, Kenya excelled in high-school and blossomed into a beautiful girl. The future looked good for her despite the ups and downs of living in the projects. She took her mother’s advice to heart and studied hard. She became captain of the volleyball team, assistant captain on the girl’s basketball team, and vice president in her sophomore year. Dorothy could not grin wide enough when she boasted her daughter’s accomplishments to the neighbors.

Kenya had plans for the future—Spelman College was her first stop. Away from California and out of the ghetto, then law school and eventually her own law firm, specializing in criminal law. Living in the projects had shown her the dark side of life, and the injustice of it. Somehow she wanted to find a way to come back to her roots and help kids her age that needed understanding and education regarding the laws of the land. So many times she witnessed friends going to jail for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or receive a punishment that was much too harsh for the crime committed.

Her nickname as she walked to and from school through the King’s Mansion was “Little Miss School Girl.” The young drug dealers in the neighborhood respected the little girl who had lived her whole life here, and kept her nose to the grind. The older generation, the parents and grandparents, kept their dreams alive in her, and hoped that their children could follow Kenya’s footsteps, and not that of the streets. Kenya was not a naive girl—that was impossible living in the projects, and despite the oppression of her environment, she still maintained a positive outlook on life and the future. No matter how many times she heard gunshots through the night, or learned of another fellow King’s Mansion resident being killed in cross fire, or visiting her brother in prison, she never let the hopelessness of the projects get the best of her. She had strong determination that kept her focused, and a feistiness that she acquired from living here. Kenya also had a soft caring side to her that cried while she watched the news, worried about her friends that were not as strong as she and had surrendered to street life, and prayed every night that she could someday buy a house for her mother. At fifteen years of age, Kenya was an exceptional young lady and student. Also, at age fifteen Kenya’s hormones took a serious surge.

LaJohn was eight years older than Kenya, and also lived in the King’s Mansion projects. A number of women living in the projects and surrounding neighborhood, thought LaJohn was “all that and a bag of chips.” Standing at 6'5", with a professional fighter’s physique, smooth honey brown skin, thick black ringlets of hair, and expensive clothes and cars—LaJohn knew how to charm his way into knocking boots with just about any young girl in the hood that he so desired.

Kenya turned the other way if she saw LaJohn coming in her direction. If she could not take a detour she avoided his eyes as they slowly rove across her body as she walked past him. She always kept her conversations brief when he spoke to her.

Kenya knew all about LaJohn Chatman. His body was hard and muscular because of the time he had spent in prison lifting weights. His endearing charm was polished to perfection because for a time he had pimped women in Pasadena, and his expensive clothes and gold toned Lexus were paid for by selling cocaine. For LaJohn, Little Miss School Girl became a conquest. He followed her to school in his sleek gold Lexus, begging to give her a ride. He attended all of her volleyball and basketball games, and bought dinner at The Red Lobster for the entire team afterwards. Throughout all of this, Kenya remained cool as ice and kept her distance. Still LaJohn saw a spark shining deep within her eyes.

By the end of the school year, LaJohn had melted Kenya down to a cold puddle. The only thing that kept Kenya from giving in to her emotions was her mother’s constant dislike for LaJohn and anybody like him. Eventually, LaJohn even made that seem unimportant as he continued his ruthless attainment of her.

He confided in her his desire to no longer live in the projects. He had big plans, and the only reason why he continued to sell crack was so that he could save enough money to move out and start a legitimate business of his own. He told her everything she wanted to hear and believe, and Kenya, with her heart in her eyes, took LaJohn’s words at face value. She understood how hard it was to make it here—she knew the odds were stacked against you, but LaJohn’s ambitions matched her own. Maybe they were not achieving their goals at the same end of the spectrum, but she believed the outcome could still come out exactly the same.

Finally, Kenya gave into LaJohn’s charm and gave him her heart. Nine months later she also gave him a son, Troy LaJohn Shadale (her mother refused to let her name the baby Chatman, after his father). Now four years later, at age twenty, she was still waiting for LaJohn to keep his promises.

Instead of becoming the valedictorian at her high-school (because she was pregnant and not allowed to attend regular school) Kenya passed the GED. She did not enroll at Spelman College as planned—she had to stay close to her man, and raise her son. Instead, she attended Pasadena City College on a part-time basis. She also worked at the college part-time, in order to buy the things she could not afford on general assistance, for her son. LaJohn was not able to give her the money she needed for their son on a regular basis, but she forgave him. She believed he was saving up for their future.

Kenya still loved LaJohn just as fiercely and blindly as she did at fifteen. She knew she had let her mother down by the choices she had made, but she could not live her life for her mother. However, her mother understood one thing that Kenya did not—LaJohn had no future, and until Kenya realized this, her future would also be that of another generation of Shadales living on welfare.

“Mommy why are you and Nana mad all the time?”

“Cause your Grandma is a - I mean your Grandma and me are all right. Don’t you worry about it.”

“Are we going to the store Mommy?”

“Yes Sweetie, and then we’ll run on over and see your Daddy for a while.”

The little boy stopped and yanked his hand out of his Mommy’s.

“Troy now why did you do that? Come on.”

“I don’t wanna see my Daddy. He doesn’t like me.” Kenya grabbed her son’s hand.

“Troy your Father loves you.”

“Then how come all he says to me is hi and then he hits me on the back and doesn’t pay me any more ’tention? He won’t even play with me.”

“Troy, why do you have to ask so many questions boy! Don’t you worry about your Daddy. I love you don’t I?” “Yeah.”

“And Grandma loves you?”


“Then don’t you worry about anybody else. Mommy loves you Sweetie. Mommy will always love you.”

Kenya reached down, and lifted her son up to her face.

“Now give Mommy a kiss.”

Troy laughed and slobbered her cheek with kisses. Kenya pulled him close to her chest and hugged him tightly, inhaling the fragrance of Creme of Nature Shampoo in his black glossy curls. She gently placed him down on the sidewalk and took his hand.

“Hey Kenya Girl! What’s up?” someone yelled from behind them.

Kenya quickly turned around and waited as Ayana, a girl from the projects, ran up to them, her many braids swinging back and forth across her shoulders.

“Hey Ayana, where you been girl? I haven’t seen you for a while.”

“Girl, I been around, just trying to stay oughta trouble. And how you doing Troy?” Ayana asked.

“Fine,” he replied.

“You been a good boy Troy?”

“Yeah, I been good.”

Ayana smiled down at him and ran her fingers through his curls.

“Girl, your son is so cute. Wish he could be a little older,” she laughed.

Kenya smiled and shook her head, “Ayana, you got too many men as it is. You leave my son alone.”

“You hear ’bout Anita, girl?” Ayana asked, changing the subject.

“No, what’s up?”

“Girl, Anita done got kicked oughta her mama’s house.

She living over there on Lincoln Blvd. with her man. And girl he so cracked-out he sold all her baby shit. Just went and sold the crib and all that stuff we gave her at the baby shower!”

Kenya shook her head unbelievably, “You gotta be kidding! She ain’t had the baby yet has she?”

“No, but it’s due any damn day now Kenya, and she ain’t got nothin’ and her mama won’t talk to her!”

“Listen, I got a lot of stuff still left over from when Troy was a baby. You know the bassinet and some baby clothes. Maybe I should go on over to her Mom’s house this week and see if she’s over her anger and drop the stuff off for Anita. What you think?” she asked.

“Kenya, you always trying to help somebody. Girl you all right,” Ayana replied. “Let me see if I can’t get some stuff together too. Shit, my sister had twins, she should have a hell of a lot of stuff still lying around.”

“All right Ayana, you do that. I’ll talk to Anita’s mom. But I gotta get going.”

“Going to see your man, LaJohn, huh?” Anita asked with a wide knowing grin.

A smile crossed Kenya’s face and crept into her eyes, “You know it. You take care Ayana.”

Ayana smiled at Troy and ran her hand one last time through his hair. “See you two later.”

Kenya took a firmer grip of her son’s hand and continued walking. After a few minutes of silence Troy asked, “Mommy my friend at school said we live in the projects and we’re poor.”

“Troy you ask too many damn questions! Yeah, we live in the projects, and no we don’t have a whole lot of money, but Troy we got each other. And your Daddy’s saving up all his money so we can move out of here and live in a big pretty house. Don’t you worry Troy, your Daddy’s going to get us out. He’s going to get us out real soon.”

Kenya listened to herself as she talked to Troy and a pang of guilt crossed her heart, like a shadow blocking out part of the sun. She had been waiting for LaJohn to save up enough money for four years now. Hadn’t he saved up enough by now? And he still sold drugs, day in and day out, and every year he had to buy a brand new car, she thought.

She ignored the twinge of despair and pushed her thoughts as far away from her as she could, but her misgivings only dug a hole in the far reaches of her soul.

A white sixty-nine Mustang slowly rolled by. Kenya glanced at it quickly and continued walking. The car backed up and stopped. A light-skinned brother lifted his head out of the back seat window and yelled, “Hey, ain’t you LaJohn’s Bitch?”

“I ain’t nobody’s Bitch.”

“Yeah right, I seen your ass over there. You tell LaJohn he better watch his mother fucking ass!”

“You so bad you tell LaJohn.”

Another boy in the front seat, not more than sixteen, stuck his head out and said, “I got something for you to tell him.”

The boy quickly pulled out a huge silver hand gun and aimed it straight at her face. Kenya screamed, at the same time instinctively pushing Troy behind her. The boy with the gun smiled and slowly pulled the trigger. In an instant Kenya collapsed to the sidewalk. People hanging out at the projects heard the shot and began running in all directions, frantically searching for cover.

Globs of blood flew through the air and splattered across Troy’s cheeks and eyelashes. Chunks of pink brain tissue became stuck in his thick head of curls. He stood in place, looking down at his mother not realizing the clumps of blood and flesh covering him. He only saw his mother who now lay on the ground convulsing, her legs and arms thrashing wildly while a dark black pool of blood flowed from her head and soaked into the sidewalk.

The young shooter jumped back into the passenger seat and the driver of the Mustang hit the gas and the car spun out of control and slammed into an old Cadillac as it turned the corner. The Mustang backed-up almost hitting another car and jammed on the brakes. Eventually, the driver got the Mustang in gear and burned rubber. Troy could hear it as the Mustang careered down the street.

Troy stood there a moment longer looking at his Mommy lying on the ground and at the people yelling and running in either direction. Drops of blood leaked from her nose and the corners of her mouth. Her eyes became glassy and distant. Her body finally stopped thrashing, and only her hands clenched and unclenched in spasms.

Frightened, Troy got on his hands and knees and crawled to his mother’s side. The strong smell of shit and urine hit him as he got close to her.

“Mommy, Mommy, get up. Get up Mommy,” he cried. “Please Mommy, please get up!”

After a few minutes, realizing that his Mommy would not answer him, he stood up and looked around again. His Mommy would not get up, and no one came to help him. The terror of the situation engulfed him. He closed his eyes and began sobbing so hard that his slight body looked as if it were also going into convulsions. Frantically, he reached down and again attempted to wake her.

“Mommy, come on, Mommy we have to go to the store,” he pleaded. “I’ll even be good when we go to Daddy’s. I promise Mommy, I promise. You have to get up Mommy,” he cried hysterically.

Finally, he gave up and in tearful exhaustion, limply sat by his mother’s lifeless body. Confused and in shock, he stuck his thumb in his mouth, and silently starred at the patch of blood spreading across the sidewalk, and listened to the distant sound of approaching sirens.

A little over a year later...

“Troy don’t you go too far!”

“Troy do you hear me boy!”

Troy continued to ignore his Grandma, and sat in the sand box just outside the door of their apartment. His Grandma walked outside and knelt down in front of him.

“Now you don’t go any farther Troy. Nana is going to fix us some lunch, and I want you to stay right here. You hear me baby? Don’t you run off like you did the other day!”

Troy looked up at her. His light brown puppy dog eyes had a way of melting his Grandma’s heart. He shook his head up and down and went back to drawing in the sand. She kissed him on the top of his head, slowly stood up placing her hands to the small of her back and grimaced. She took one last look at him before she went back inside the apartment to her small but spotless kitchen to prepare their lunch.

She worried about that boy so. Today he refused to go to school. The special school that she and the psychiatrist had sent him to after his Mama’s death. His mother’s grisly murder had changed the sweet giggling little boy, into a silent and withdrawn child. He refused to talk. He had not spoken a word since the murder, a little over a year ago. A piece of her died when her daughter was killed, but a larger piece of her heart went out every day to her grandson. His silence was a torment to her.

She had taken him to the psychiatrist when she realized he would not speak. The doctor told her Troy’s test scores showed he had a high IQ. Troy could write simple sentences and he spent most of his time reading. He spent more time reading instead of playing with the other children in the projects.

The boy looked just like his Daddy, honey brown skin, a head full of silky black curls, and great big light brown eyes. His Daddy was the cause of all this mess. He did not deserve to have that precious little boy look so much like him.

She finished making the sandwiches and immediately washed the knife and sink with a soapy sponge. She then placed the loaf of bread, cheese, lunchmeat and condiments into the refrigerator. She did not want to attract any more roaches then she had to. She reached in the cupboard directly above her head and pulled out two worn and scratched plastic tumblers and filled them with Troy’s favorite—Blueberry Kool-aid. With the sandwiches on a paper towel in one hand and the drinks in another, she headed for her grandson.

Troy sat in the sandbox writing his secret codes, pretending he was a prisoner on an island—he had to pass a secret message to the guard. He was on a special mission to find his Mommy.

He knew Mommy had gone to heaven. The doctor and Nana had explained it all to him.

He liked the doctor—he liked visiting her, but she kept asking him to draw pictures, and he had grown tired of drawing pictures. He knew the doctor and Nana wanted him to talk, but he refused too, not until Mommy came back. Mommy was in heaven but that did not mean she could not change her mind and rejoin them. As an angel, she could do anything. He just did not understand why it was taking her so long to come and see him.

He continued writing his messages for the guard. The lines of concentration across his forehead made him appear much older than he was. When he had finished writing the secret code to pass on to the guard, he took a deep breath and examined his work. With a satisfied grin, he wiped the imaginary sweat from his forehead.

He noticed something out of the corner of his eye and slightly raised his head.

First he noticed the bare feet. They were smooth—a warm chocolate brown. He bent his head back blocking the sun with one hand and took a harder look. The person standing in front of him wore a black robe or gown, with red and green ribbons sewn into the hem line. The same color ribbons were also encrusted in the sleeves and neckline. The figure looked down at Troy and gave him a warm smile.

Troy slowly stood up, a look of surprise in his huge eyes. The silent figure bent down and looked at him with so much love that Troy thought he would go blind with happiness. He stepped closer, and the figure pulled aside a soft gossamer material and showed him what was inside.

Troy peeked at the object covered in fine gauzy material and gasped. A rush of warmth and peacefulness flooded over him. Troy clapped his hands together in wonder and silently laughed.

It was a baby. Smooth dark skin, the color of the darkest night, with enormous black eyes—eyes that resembled large shiny stones, surrounded by pure white sand.

The baby looked into Troy’s eyes and gurgled, showing off its deep dimples. Troy gently pressed his fingertips to the baby’s round cheeks. The baby’s skin was smooth and soft. He felt a small shock wave run through his fingertips when he touched the infant. As he continued to rub his fingers over the baby’s cheek, the shock wave quickly vanished, leaving him dizzy and breathless.

The figure stood up with the baby in arms. Again Troy saw the intense look of love from the figure. Tears slid down his face as he blew the baby a kiss. He knew the figure was about to leave him, but instead of feeling sad and unhappy he felt elated and breathless with excitement—as if he had just received something that he really wanted—like the dirt bike his Nana had given him last month. The same feeling of warmth and happiness entered his small soul and pushed out a warm smile across his lips, and a glow within his eyes. The joy he experienced now was much deeper and fuller than the gift from his Grandmother. Looking into the face of the figure that held the baby, left him feeling as if he were standing on top of the world, and the world was much like Disneyland. (A place where his Nana had taken him, hoping the wonderment of the day would make him talk. Instead he remained speechless). However, this Disneyland was filled with love—this new silent world of Troy’s was filled with his mother’s presence.

His Mommy smiled again, and tenderly blew him a kiss back, then she and the baby very slowly disappeared. Troy watched a moment longer and then turned around and ran to the apartment. He had to tell his Nana. Grandma met him at the threshold with lunch in hand.

“Troy, here’s your lunch,” she said.

Troy looked up, tears coursing down his face, making his eyes look like huge magnifying glasses. He grabbed her hand in a rush of excitement and laughing aloud he proudly exclaimed, “Mommy and Baby!”

A shrill of excitement slid up Mrs. Shadale’s spine. Her heart began beating wildly and the armpits of her dress immediately became wet with perspiration, as she listened to her grandson speak.

“Troy say it again, say it again,” she whispered in astonishment.

“My Mommy and Baby!” he said, with a contagious smile. Dorothy Shadale slowly got down on her knees, huffing and puffing, ignoring the cement and sand digging into her knees and gingerly placed the cups of Kool-aid and ham and cheese sandwiches on the pavement. Groaning at the pain in her back but trying to ignore it, she looked directly into Troy’s smiling face and slowly reached out her beefy arms. Troy jumped into her arms and she wrapped him tight in a bear hug. Troy smelled the sweat from his Grandma’s armpits and the soft powdery scent of Jean Naté.

Dorothy held him close, feeling the rapid beating of her heart against her grandson’s, and began sobbing. The day was September 6th, the time was 12:42 p.m.

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