House of dilemmas short story (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)

  • I’ve been working on this short story 2 years ago. In the meantime I put it aside and began working on poetry, blog entries, and collaborations, but now I think I found the direction in where I want the story to go.
  • What I’m presenting here is chapter 1, 2 and chapter 3 which is still under construction
  • As this is fiction some things are truths that I fabricated, so the characters are not exact representations of myself or people I know.
  • Leave a comment if you feel the need too, and any feedback would be appreciated. Thank you for reading and PEACE.


Chapter 1: House of dilemmas

 I love to win. I mean who doesn’t love the feeling of winning, and the taste of it keeps me savoring for more. However, I just realized I just took a lost and need to a find a way to redeem myself. I accepted nothing but returning back home to Boston, but I know that victories always have their trials and tribulations. You are probably wondering how I took this lost, well here is how it all unfolded. It was the end of the spring semester, and grades were submitted, and the University of Massachusetts Boston had a strict policy of students not meeting the school’s academic requirements which carries the penalties of either being on probation, suspension, and the worse of them all expelled. I was in the suspension stage and had the feeling that under review, the admission board would give me a 2nd chance to improve my grades. That would all come to a halt when, I opened an envelope from the admissions office. Slicing a paper cut into my index finger, the pain echoed within the disbelief of the unexpected cost of my financial aid not covering my tuition for the next semester. So now my financial aid was temporary relinquished and I had no way of paying for it because I wasn’t making any income after being laid off from my job. I needed money and needed to make it fast! It was difficult to fathom what my next course of action was, and to make matters worse I realized that my mother was diagnosed with osteoporosis. Luckily she was in the early stages but within time the condition would worsen and seeing her bedridden like my late father would tear me apart inside.  Her health care plan wasn’t able to cover the cost for the treatments and the rehabilitation. Man it felt like I couldn’t catch a break. I would tell myself there’s always some underlying bullshit underneath the surface of everything we do in life, and being a young black man in America those issues that are underneath the surface stay above and torment you daily. Entering my bedroom my fan was on its highest cooling level but that did no justice. The humidity from earlier that summer afternoon already smothered the entire room, which caused the air to feel very thick for me to breathe in my strategies into existence, but I knew this minuscule obstacle was nothing compared to what was on my plate to endure. I sat at the side of my bed with my face in front of the fan inhaling the humid winds and contemplated my decisions, wanting to make money without having to put myself in danger or behind bars, so drug dealing was out of the question. One game that I love playing and knew that I could win big in was poker especially Texas Hold’em. My first introduction to the game was through my close friend Johnny. It first began with online games that didn’t use real money, but I eventually wanted to play with actual money. I decided to meet Johnny in person on Monday his day off. It was around 6PM and the drowning floods in my mind accompanied by the fire rapidly building up into heartburn made the humidity from last night feel like child’s play. I walked into Johnnys neighborhood, Henderson Circle which was across the street from where I lived at Pondwoods avenue. Johnny’s neighborhood was gritty but somewhat cozy for me to walk through after living near the area since a child. The projects around our areas were being gentrified with white folks, who began living in two decker townhouses. Walking past one leaving from either one of our neighborhoods had me usually doing a double take. If you were to look at the double decker Henderson Circle apartments, it would look plain with its crimson bricks, but once halfway into the complex the colors become vibrant. Graffiti decorated trash dumpsters, which would upset maintenance but it cost them too much to replace them after every vandalism. If replaced youngins’ would go right back to art “class”, so they let it be. The hallways usually reeked of charred blunts, cigarettes and occasional stale malt liquor that seeped into the linings of the tiles of dark gray concrete.

“Sup Malik”, said Johnny as he came sliding effortlessly downstairs on the hand railing of his apt building.

Greeting him with quickness with my sweaty palms I rushed into my compounding dilemmas.

“I’m in some real serious shit”. “My school is trying to screw me over; they’re allowing me to stay only if I can pay the tuition within the next 2 months.

“You can’t write another one those appeals you’ve written twice?”, as he put on his glasses and began inhaling his vaporized mod.

“You got the whole summer to gather as much money before the fall semester begins”, you applying to any jobs?

“Fam even if I find one that shit won’t be enough” I need around $13,000”!

In reality a mediocre minimum wage paying job wouldn’t have sufficed and I definitely would not have had enough time to pay it off since the semester began on the first week of September and it’s now the beginning of July. In desperation I asked him if he could help me get money playing poker.

“What the fuck, you serious”?, the request caught him off guard because he coughed out vaporized smoke which was very rare for him.

“Yeah I’m serious we play it all time and I feel that your skills with mine can help me get the money I need.

“Aight I’m down to always help, but it’s going to be a huge risk once you start entering the higher stakes

that’s if you even if you make it there”, gathering himself after his rare coughing attack” and smiling.

Jonathan “Johnny” Axel and I were the same height at around 6’1, but with his long silky black hair that went to nearly to his tailbone and his slenderman lankiness gave the appearance that he was an inch or two taller than I. We first met when were in high school, I was a senior and he was a junior. He would hang around the crowd I frequented with after school, usually around a Antonio’s pizzeria across the street from the high school and the city’s main library. When he first told me he went to school in East Boston, a predominately Latino location of Boston, I assumed with the other guys in our crowd that he was Latino due to his borderline olive tone features, but he wasn’t. He was mixture of white and a few southeast Asian countries. It could have been the Asian in him that balanced out the white features that made us to believe he was Latino. We found common interests in basketball, music especially Hip Hop, and video games, which bonded us to the point where we made new homies in the process to join a collective “Wolfpack”. Making our way out of the house of dilemmas, we headed onto a train platform waiting for the train to arrive to take us to Downtown Boston, he turned to me and said before the trains arrival interrupted…

“You’re going to need some serious practice before walking into the casinos because with your current skill level it’ll be suicide”.

His remark didn’t bother me, I knew that he played the game years before I had, and with actual money during his days in East Boston,

With the trains screeching arrival in front of us I shouted,

“I know I’ll take my time before I get to that”!


Chapter 2 : Long over due

“Only 257 dollars! This shit doesn’t seem right”?

I shouted looking up from the blue bold tax return, the state emblem covering the left side of the page that was long overdue. I filed my taxes the first thing in April and I figured I’d received them sometime in May as would my fellow peers. We were coming near the end of July. However, not long before, letters came periodically with the bold phrase incomplete information from the Massachusetts department of revenue which resulted in a gradual dying desire to ever see that return in my hands.

“Read it over, that’s the state refund Malik,

Even though my mother Zara Brown always worried constantly of my well-being, it surprised me that she didn’t show the same anger for the returns long arrival

“The rest that you’re owed will soon come once the department of revenue determines the errors and corrects them”

“There’s always some underlying bullshit underneath the surface I exhaled”

“The government always trying to fuck with a niggah”.

“What was that”? She said in the motion of answering her cell phone, the hypnotic disco ringtone playing that I began to despise after I changed it for her 3 days prior,

She turned her back to me in her black and rose gold romper that I got for on Mother’s day, which complimented her caramel skin. I was glad she was finally able to get sometime outside after spending 2 weeks indoors due to the medication. Knowing she would be out past midnight I had the house to myself. She was ready to go out at the genesis of a new night and conquer it with her girlfriends which she put off for weeks after the diagnosis. I sucked in my teeth as my eyes followed her leaving my bedroom with a trail of incense she burned in her bedroom making its entrance into my room. Presenting me an olfactory collage that cause me to smile at the Egyptian musk’s creaminess. The incense caressing the air and in the moment capturing everything into perspective. Ascending in different directions but still coming from the same source of light.


Chapter 3 : Static

“Yo I’m open”, I shouted

Staring at the basketball I looked for a pass so I could drive and glide my way like Clyde Drexler to the basket, uncontested and still looking handsome. The problem was Johnny didn’t see me open in time amidst a towering double team that covered any daylight for his vision to bypass for an assist and basket. The ball kept changing hands in that 5 on 5 full court game at Donley Jefferson basketball courts, where the pine green coloring of the concrete was more candescent than usual on that August afternoon. Every single one of my teammates who had possession of the ball reminded me of the people in “power” who held onto my outcomes and passed along the somber news that always began with the word, unfortunately.


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