Home > The Hate U Give(12)

The Hate U Give(12)
Author: Angie Thomas

His smile fades like he hears my thoughts. He puffs on a cigar and blows smoke from the corner of his mouth. Two tears are tattooed under his left eye. Two lives he’s taken. At least.

“I see y’all been to Reuben’s. Here.” He holds out two fat rolls of money. “Make up for whatever y’all spent.”

Kenya takes one easily, but I’m not touching that dirty money. “No thanks.”

“Go on, queen.” King winks. “Take some money from your godfather.”

“Nah, she good,” Daddy says.

He walks toward us. Daddy leans against the car window so he’s eye level with King and gives him one of those guy handshakes with so many movements you wonder how they remember it.

“Big Mav,” Kenya’s dad says with a grin. “What up, king?”

“Don’t call me that shit.” Daddy doesn’t say it loudly or angrily, but in the same way I would tell somebody not to put onions or mayo on my burger. Daddy once told me that King’s parents named him after the same gang he later joined, and that’s why a name is important. It defines you. King became a King Lord when he took his first breath.

“I was just giving my goddaughter some pocket change,” King says. “I heard what happened to her li’l homie. That’s fucked up.”

“Yeah. You know how it is,” Daddy says. “Po-po shoot first, ask questions later.”

“No doubt. They worse than us sometimes.” King chuckles. “But ay? On some business shit, I got a package coming, need somewhere to keep it. Got too many eyes on Iesha’s house.”

“I already told you that shit ain’t going down here.”

King rubs his beard. “Oh, okay. So folks get out the game, forget where they come from, forget that if it wasn’t for my money, they wouldn’t have their li’l store—”

“And if it wasn’t for me, you’d be locked up. Three years, state pen, remember that shit? I don’t owe you nothing.” Daddy leans onto the window and says, “But if you touch Seven again, I’ll owe you an ass whooping. Remember that, now that you done moved back in with his momma.”

King sucks his teeth. “Kenya, get in the car.”

“But Daddy—”

“I said get your ass in the car!”

Kenya mumbles “bye” to me. She goes around to the passenger’s side and hops in.

“A’ight, Big Mav. So it’s like that?” King says.

Daddy straightens up. “It’s exactly like that.”

“A’ight then. You just make sure your ass don’t get outta line. Ain’t no telling what I’ll do.”

The BMW peels out.

FOUR

That night, Natasha tries to convince me to follow her to the fire hydrant, and Khalil begs me to go for a ride with him.

I force a smile, my lips trembling, and tell them I can’t hang out. They keep asking, and I keep saying no.

Darkness crawls toward them. I try to warn them, but my voice doesn’t work. The shadow swallows them up in an instant. Now it creeps toward me. I back away, only to find it behind me. . . .

I wake up. My clock glows with the numbers: 11:05.

I suck in deep breaths. Sweat glues my tank top and basketball shorts to my skin. Sirens scream nearby, and Brickz and other dogs bark in response.

Sitting on the side of my bed, I rub my face, as if that’ll wipe the nightmare away. No way I can go back to sleep. Not if it means seeing them again.

My throat is lined with sandpaper and aches for water. When my feet touch the cold floor, goose bumps pop up all over me. Daddy always has the air conditioning on high in the spring and summer, turning the house into a meat locker. The rest of us shiver our butts off, but he enjoys it, saying, “A li’l cold never hurt nobody.” A lie.

I drag myself down the hall. Halfway to the kitchen I hear Momma say, “Why can’t they wait? She just saw one of her best friends die. She doesn’t need to relive that right now.”

I stop. Light from the kitchen stretches into the hallway.

“We have to investigate, Lisa,” says a second voice. Uncle Carlos, Momma’s older brother. “We want the truth as much as anyone.”

“You mean y’all wanna justify what that pig did,” Daddy says. “Investigate my ass.”

“Maverick, don’t make this something it’s not,” Uncle Carlos says.

“A sixteen-year-old black boy is dead because a white cop killed him. What else could it be?”

“Shhh!” Momma hisses. “Keep it down. Starr had the hardest time falling asleep.”

Uncle Carlos says something, but it’s too low for me to hear. I inch closer.

“This isn’t about black or white,” he says.

“Bullshit,” says Daddy. “If this was out in Riverton Hills and his name was Richie, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

“I heard he was a drug dealer,” says Uncle Carlos.

“And that makes it okay?” Daddy asks.

“I didn’t say it did, but it could explain Brian’s decision if he felt threatened.”

A “no” lodges in my throat, aching to be yelled out. Khalil wasn’t a threat that night.

And what made the cop think he was a drug dealer?

Wait. Brian. That’s One-Fifteen’s name?

“Oh, so you know him,” Daddy mocks. “I ain’t surprised.”

“He’s a colleague, yes and a good guy, believe it or not. I’m sure this is hard on him. Who knows what he was thinking at the time?”

   
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