Act III (Darkest Before Dawn): Chapter V-Confrontations

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            Carla never came back to the house after that and she never called. Felicia went back to stay with Ruth, who stopped talking to us completely. You would have thought that I had had sex with Felicia or something. Me, Sylvia, and Oliver continued to drift apart afterward. All I wanted them to admit their mistakes and admit what they did to me so we could go on. I wanted them to acknowledge the fact that keeping me locked up, shoving a bible down my throat, and scolding me for embracing other cultures had turned me into a sociopath. I wanted them to admit that they had created a monster. As long as they were in denial, I was going to be in denial. One month passed and I was struggling with the fact that I couldn’t see her and the fact I couldn’t go anywhere. So one evening around five o’clock, I walked up to Key Mart to see if I could get some drunk to buy me some liquor. I was about to walk in the store when a man in his fifties, whom I had never seen before, approached me.

“You the Valentine boy?” he asked angrily.

  “Who wants to know?”

“Lloyd Rhodes.”

“What does that name mean to me, old man?”

“I’m Carla’s daddy.”

“Oh, shit.”


“Right, shit. ‘Cause that’s what you’ve done on my family. Me an’ that gal’s momma been workin’ all our lives to raise her up right. Sure, we hit a lot of forks in the road, but we was always there for her.”

“I appreciate that, sir, but you have to understand that what happened between me and your daughter wasn’t forced.”

“What kind of fool you take me for, boy? Look at you an’ look at me. Don’t play me son, ‘cause I know the game. She may like ya, but I know ya talked her into givin’ herself to ya. I feel it an’ I know it.”

“Where is she? I wanna see her.”

“At home sick, dammit! Sick ‘cause of yo jailhouse ass! You can’t see her! She been sick for the past coupla weeks. ‘Specially in the mornings. Y’know what that mean, dont’cha?”

“Yeah. She’s-.”

“Ya damn right, ya young fool! My lil’ baby is carryin’ yo baby!”

“How do you even know that, old man? You took her to a doctor yet?”

“I don’t told ya not to try an’ play me, son? Don’t take a whole lot to figure out what’s goin’ on wit’ her. She carryin’! Just as sho’ as shit stanks!”

“So what do you want, old man? Y’all won’t let me see her so what do you want me to do?”


“I been askin’ myself that question ever since that night she came home cryin’. As soon as she said you had had her, I started loadin’ my shotgun an’ my wife had to stop me.”

“Am I supposed to be scared?”

“Ya young motherfuckers thank y’all know everythang there is to know ‘bout death. Ya run ‘round here shootin’ an killin’ each other, for what? Y’all ain’t jus’ bad, y’all stupid, too.”

“I ain’t never shot anyone, old man, and I’d appreciate it if you don’t refer to me as stupid. It insults my intelligence.”

“But ya did stab that cop. It was all over town. You like a bad dream. Even if my baby wasn’t too young, I still wouldn’t want her fucking ‘round wit’ the likes of you.”

“Is that a fact?”

“Believe it, boy. When my baby started gittin’ sick in the mornings, my wife had to stop me from loadin’ my shotgun again. You should be down on yo knees, boy, ‘cause somebody is prayin’ for ya.”

“Is that a fact?”

“You is an arrogant shit. More arrogant than I have ever done seen in my life. But I prayed my damn self. I prayed an’ asked the Lord to help me forgive ya an’ to forgive myself. ‘Cause right now, we gittin’ by, but a baby only gon’ complicate thangs. Yo daddy my cousin but we gotta do what we gotta do.”


“Oh, I guess this is the part where you tell me y’all taking her to have an abortion?”

“You’d like that wouldn’t ya, motherfucker? You ain’t gittin’ off that easy. Good God-fearin’ folks don’t kill no babies. The only reason you ain’t locked up right now is ‘cause she gon’ have the baby. She gon’ have it an’ you gon’ take care of it.”

“Or else what? You’re gonna shoot me, old man? Look at me. Not a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. I’m already dead.”

“Naw, son, you ain’t dead. You alive. You alive an’ ya gon’ git a job to support yoself, my baby, an’ y’all’s baby. You do that an’ the good Lord might jus’ put it on my heart to forgive ya.”

“You know what? I think I’ve heard all I wanna hear from you, old man. I’m about to go and see if one of these drunks will buy me a beer or some liquor. Catch you on the flipside, old man.”

I turned around to walk away and the bastard grabbed my arm and spun me back around. I must say I was surprised because he was five foot nine and roughly one hundred and fifty pounds. Who knows? Maybe he was in the service or something. Anyway, he attempted to slap me and I grabbed his arm and twisted it around his back like I had done that faggot in Crimson Oaks and moved behind him. With my free arm, I grabbed the back of his neck and rammed his head into the side wall of the Key Mart. He went down like a sack of potatoes and as he held his forehead to stop the blood from flowing, I kneeled down beside him and my voice was almost a growl.


“Tell your daughter she knows where I am if she needs me. But . . . But, cousin or no cousin, you’re not going to force me into anything, old man. People have been forcing me to do shit ever since I was a little kid and I’ll be damned if they’re gonna do it while I’m a man.”

I quickly changed my mind about the alcohol, got myself together, and walked away. A small crowd had started to gather and in no time, the police would have been there and that would have been some more shit. I got off on getting the upper hand on that bastard. It wasn’t about old versus young or anything like that. It was about letting him know that since his daughter was having my child, I was a permanent part of their lives and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it. Also, it meant that since I was going to be a part of their lives, he wasn’t going to talk to me and treat me any kind of way. I had sex with my fifteen year old cousin and she was pregnant. Those were the facts and now we all had to deal with it. As I walked to the house, I tripped over a lot of shit and had to struggle to maintain my balance because the adrenaline was making my mind move faster than my body.

There was a car parked in the yard when I got back to Galilee Road. I got a little anxious at first because I thought it was the pigs but once I saw the Nevada license plate, I breathed a little easier. The adrenaline had me in what I like to call ‘demented mode’ because I knew who was in the house and what he wanted. It surprised me that it took him a whole month to get to me because the whole time I was locked up, Moms sent me letters telling me that after his wife left him, he started having visions and preaching to whoever would listen.



He stopped going off on people and started hanging out with Uncle Saul more, who was just beginning to make his connections in Las Vegas. When Saul moved out to Vegas permanently, he came with him to help with his ministry. Oh yes, my brother Nathaniel was quite the contrast from when I had seen him last. He was still aggressive but now that aggression was in the service of the Lord. Still, it made no difference to me because we had unfinished business and I was looking forward to getting some more shit off of my chest. I walked into the living room where he and Sylvia were sitting and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that they had been waiting on me.  They used to confuse him and Uncle Saul because they were both tall and light skinned. Now they could really be twins.

“Been waiting on you, man,” Nate started. “Carla’s momma just called us. Why did you bust Mister Rhodes’ head?”

“You know, a hello or how you doing would have been great before you started questioning me,” I snapped. “But then again, you always looked at yourself as some kind of authority over this so-called family.”

“Peter, this is not about me; this is about your bullshit. You slept with your fifteen year old cousin. Your fifteen year old cousin! Now you’ve gone and attacked her daddy for no good reason. What gives you the right to do that?!”

“That old prick shouldn’t have gotten in my face. I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, I didn’t rape her! That girl was the first person besides Grandma Eadie and Henrietta to look at me without contempt in her eyes. I had to have her!”


“You talk like a foolish man. Listen to yourself, Peter. Do you even hear what the hell you’re saying? God don’t want this, Peter. That’s why I’m here to help you, little brother.”

“Please, man, don’t start on me with that! Was it God who made you hit me in the mouth when I made fun of the pizza delivery man in Saint Louis? Was it God who made you threaten to beat my ass when I was twelve? Was it God who made you, Clara, and the rest of those dicks blame me when Larry raped Momma? Look at me when I’m talking to you! I know for a fact you can’t stand anything about me. You don’t like the way I dress. You’re probably upset that this shirt has a skull on it instead of ‘What Would Jesus Do.’ Every time I hear one of you talk about what a good Christian is supposed to be, I get sick to my damned stomach. It insults my intelligence when you try to sell me these fairy tales. See, you’ve always judged me and when I was little, you justified it because y’all said my daddy wasn’t a man so therefore, I wasn’t gonna be a man and since I wasn’t a man, I was a faggot.”

“Believin’ in Jesus is no fairy tale, boy,” Sylvia finally said. “Do ya even believe in him? Have ya ever believed in him?”

“I don’t know what I believe. I know that y’all hurt me all those years ago. Now you’re trying to sell me on some shit about forgiveness and going on with our lives because Jesus would want it that way. Y’all been hiding behind that Bible for years rather than owning up to your mistakes and taking responsibility for your fuck ups. I think it’s pathetic.”




“Peter, you need help, dammit! You talk about us hiding behind the Word of God but yet you hiding behind all of this hatred and anger. For what? For revenge? Our momma been better to you than she has the rest of us. I never could understand that because you were a whiny and arrogant little shit!”

“Go on, go on, and get it off your chest! Say it, damn you! Say it so I can finally have the satisfaction of hearing it! Say it and admit your guilt so you can finally be presentable to your friend Jesus.”

“W-What are you talking about?”

“Let’s cut the bullshit, okay? It’s taken me years to say this, Nate, but I am not afraid of you anymore! Look at your face! You act like you’re surprised I said that! I was afraid once. Never again, damn you! Never again!”

“Why do you think I want you to be scared of me, Peter? I’ve never wanted that.”

“Yes, you did. This is about my father. In looks and in attitude, I am just like him and it eats you up inside. It eats you up inside because my father stayed and yours didn’t. It eats you up inside because I don’t walk, talk, and act like you. But the truth is, I’m better than you, Nathaniel. I’m better than you because I like to think. I don’t go in with your so-called Christian lifestyle and I really think you hate me because of it.”

“I don’t hate you, Peter, you’re my brother! I love you, dammit! You’re my brother and I don’t wanna see nothing happen to you!”

“Now let’s rewind that statement you just made. You said I love you. There’s about, what, eight letters in that? There’s also eight letters in bullshit, too.”

“Oh my God!” Sylvia exclaimed. “Every day I watch you deteriorate more an’ more. Every day the demons get stronger and stronger. I know it and you know how I know it?”

“How? Please enlighten this heathen.”

“I prayed over some water and sprinkled it over yo bed! Something like mist or dust come up from it, like it was on fire! There’s something inside of you, Peter. It’s inside of you an’ you got to git rid of it.”

“I ain’t got to do nothing but get old. Get old? Yeah, right. Get old and die. That’s the only thing I got to do!”

“What about your cousin, Peter?” Nate asked. “You’re just gonna leave her to raise the child by herself.”

“First of all, you don’t know if she’s pregnant and if does turn out to be pregnant, I’m just gonna have to leave this place.”

“Where ya going?”

“I’m gonna open up my wrists. Ain’t none of y’all about to make me do nothing I don’t want to do.”

“You’re crazy, man, you are absolutely crazy!” Nate declared. “So she has the baby and you just gonna kill yourself? You just gonna be a coward like that? Don’t you know that there is no forgiveness for that?”

“I’m not worried about forgiveness. Not now nor ever. Y’all forsaked me when you let Prominence River rape me all those years ago. I used to want revenge. I don’t even give a shit about that anymore. You wanna help me? Then leave me alone. Leave me alone and in God’s name, stop judging me!”

“You’re not gonna stop me from praying and trying to save your soul, Peter. You may have given up on God but He hasn’t given up on you. Me and Momma about to pray. If there is anything godly in you, you’ll join us.”

“You’re on your own with that one, homie. I’m gonna throw on my headphones and forget we even had this conversation.”

“I feel the sorriest for you.”

“Don’t mind-fuck me!”

“I’m not, Peter, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are. Yes, you are. I needed your help years ago and you weren’t there. I don’t wanna hear about how much you care because that boat has passed now, preacher.”

“That was then, man, this is now!”

“You run your mouth about Abraham. You run your mouth about Jacob. You run your mouth about Job. If I had to go through even half the shit that guy went through, I would have ended up in an asylum.”


“You in an asylum now, man.”

“My ways are not your ways and neither are my thoughts your thoughts.”

“How dare you compare yourself to the Creator!”

“I’m not comparing myself to anything. I’m using your precious little book to illustrate a point. You are not changing me! I’m not changing for nobody!”

“It’s not about changing you; it’s about getting on one accord with the Lord.”

“Getting on accord with a guy who condemned the whole world because two people ate an apple?”


“That’s where you’re wrong again. I didn’t cuss God. I’m just saying that if you accept that book as the literal truth, then you’re nuts. Do you really think God, in all of His infinite wisdom, would put all of the answers in one book?”

“Who are you to question it? You just a human. You only think I’m crazy because scientists didn’t write it, Mister Intelligent.”

“Cut the shit, man, because scientists are full of shit, too. All I’m saying is flesh and blood men wrote that book. How do you know that God didn’t tell them one thing and they didn’t write down another?”

“That’s bullshit, Peter. The Word of God is in your heart, not in-”

“You see, I knew you’d say that. Don’t insult my intelligence with that easy answer garbage. You can’t give me a straight answer because you honestly don’t know and that eats you up inside, too.”

“Peter, baby,” Sylvia said with tears in her eyes. “Tell momma what you gon’ do. They takin’ Carla tomorrow so they can test her to know for sho’ if she pregnant or not. What you gon’ do?”

“I don’t know and I really don’t care right now.”

I left them in the front room and they both started crying and praying out loud and I honestly didn’t care. The way I saw it was that where were all of these tears and prayers when she dragged us all down here all those years ago? That was when the prayers should have started. Instead, they ridiculed me and they hounded me. They called me white and everything else under the sun. They did everything they could in order to break me down and accept Prominence River. Let me talk some more about this religion thing for a minute. I don’t know whether God is out there or not. If he is, then he is one cat that I just don’t get. So when they bring all of that Bible stuff in my face, I have to use it against them because the smart warrior can turn his enemies’ weapons against him and achieve the better victory. Nathaniel could talk all the shit he wanted about changing our lives and it didn’t make any bit of difference to me because I remember what he did to me and I’m still pissed about it. Now they were claiming that they didn’t know who I was anymore and I’m like, did they ever know me to begin with? Their feeble, country, and isolated mentality would never allow them to accept anything but the norm. They accept and believe in the norm and if the rest of the world can’t get with that, then the rest of the world be damned.

Created: Aug 19, 2012

Tags: isolation, atheism, wrath, shakespeare, african-american, violence, agnosticism, rage, alienation, sex, incest, statutory rape, nihilism, religious fanaticism, hypocrites, suicide

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