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Volume IEdit

Carlos’s Black Box… 
Why can’t a woman just accept that, when a man says he’s got a lot on his mind, he’s got a lot on his mind? There’s so much jacking with my head right now, sometimes it feels like it’ll explode.

Lopez died on my watch, because of me. My mom… grandmom—I don’t even want to think about it, much less talk about it. Everybody, just like my brother and all my boyz, are gone. Damali wants me to talk about it to get it all out, but truthfully, what is there to say? Women just don’t understand. Who is she now, Dr. Phil? You don’t get over no shit like this, you just learn to exist with it and go on to survive, ask any vet. Rider hit the nail on the head. He knows. He’s been there. Much respect to the older brother for finally just telling D that so she’d back off.

The thing that’s eating me up from the inside out is, I never did get that bastard, The Chairman, like I wanted to, or got a chance to cut out Lilith’s heart. It wasn’t a clean kill, like Nuit. Left unfinished business. Damali got in the middle of that shit and cut a deal. I’m trying to resolve myself to that.

She has no idea there’s a lot of shit I’ve had to let go. Never had that little conversation that I needed to have with Jose. I’ll let that rest in peace for the moment, though, ‘cause the man’s got issues of his own. But I still don’t like how he looks at my woman sometimes.

Been telling myself to squash it; we don’t need the team dissention right now. Not when things are raggedy. My boy Yonnie is all hooked up with Tara—that’s their business, but half of me is like, cool. Good for you, man. I can dig it, understand where you was at. I woulda done no less, and would have taken the sister to V-Point and fed, too. But by the same token, Rider… he and I are brothers.

Everybody thinks they know how Rider feels. Sheeit, they don’t know the half of it. I made Yonnie, he elevated Tara, and then Tara nicked Rider so hard the brother turned. I can feel that shit. Everything Rider is linked to, I’m linked to, still—and don’t know why. The Light didn’t burn it away. Every time the Master I made feeds, I can feel it. Every time he takes Tara to V-Point, I can feel it… so can her ex, Rider… and I can feel his agony in just knowing what’s going down. Just like I can feel Jose’s burn worse than ever now. I finally saw the fucking dream Lilith sent him on the plane. But some things you just gotta let go. I’ve gotta find that foul bitch and take her head off to clean my mental palate before my head blows up, and way before one day, when I’m tired of the madness, I step to Jose. I can’t rightfully go there, because in all honesty, how can I blame a line blood-brother for feining on Damali, especially when a succubus added topspin to the mix?

In the old days, I would have, though. I suppose that’s growth in The Light. Whatever. Can’t roll like that, so I’m told, as a Neteru. I’m trying to heed Shabazz’s advice, take the high road, and get some knowledge. But I’m so damned frustrated, people have no idea.

The thing that’s messing with me, too, added on top of everything else I’ve gotta be worried about, is Damali is acting funny. What’s up with that?

Then again, truth be told, I ain’t felt like getting with her, either. That worries me. I keep telling myself that it’ll pass. I’ll get over it. I’ll be able to squash that madness that went down between us in Philly… but she called me a punk in front of the team. Hell no, I still ain’t right with that!

But I’ve got more important things on my mind than dealing with her female drama, namely, I need to get my power right. Gotta get my resources realigned. Gotta be ready for when The Chairman comes at us again—no, correction, I have to get my shit straight and then take it to him. Right now, with his crazy ex, Lilith, on the loose and him out there somewhere, I know it’s just a matter of time, and we’re sitting ducks. Damali needs to get with the fact that, we’ve kicked up the dust on Level Seven. What about that ain’t clear?

I’ve got a lot on my mind.

Not to mention, we’ve got all these unseasoned new soldiers to get ready. Bobby don’t know nothin’ about a ride or die imperative. Krissy… oh, shit. And if Marjorie is in a firefight, she’ll be the first to go.

Inez, though, girlfriend can hang. That sister keeps me laughing just thinking about the expression that must have been on Mike’s face when she pulled a switchblade out of her purse and slashed an Amanthra in the subway. Probably saved his life with split-second timing. Straight gangsta. She didn’t even have to think about it, didn’t have time to—just reacted all-warrior.

The difference is, Inez is a mother from around the way, and was going out swinging just to be sure she could get back to her baby. Much respect. She, I ain’t worried about, and I can see why Inez and Damali are tight. I can also see why she’s got Big Mike all messed up jonesing for her—girlfriend is right up his alley with her big butt self, and can cook on top of that.

But, Juanita… damn. Talk about putting a brother between a rock and a hard place. Damali has got to chill. I may never get in Jose’s world about the things on his mind, but a conversation with Juanita is something that does have to happen one day soon.

I need to sit down with ‘Nita, talk to her, and make her understand that it’s over. Period. We had some good times; I appreciate all she did for my peeps. Her brother and me was soldiers in the same war, so to speak, and she was always a good woman… but it ain’t like that no more. Hasn’t been for a long time. Won’t be again. Which is the only reason I ain’t up in Jose’s face. I’m linked to him, too. Can feel his conflict. I guess if I was in his position, I’d feel the same way. However, there remains a line that he needs to recognize.

I just wish Juanita would go on back to him, be his woman, would chill, and would take the edge off his soul. That way, everything could stay peace between me and him. Girlfriend needs to stop playing with his head like she’s doing, though. Why do women play games like that?

Don’t she know that she ain’t making me jealous; she’s making me tired? Plus, by her acting like this, all she’s doing is prolonging the inevitable… making it harder for Damali to ease up and let me sit down and talk to her. Then, I get caught with the residue, like coming down from a bad high.

Every time Jose mentally crashes, I feel it. Just like when Rider crashes, I feel it. Line blood brothers always feel each others’ shit. Then when Damali’s salty, I have to contend with it. When Juanita gets all horny and tries to leave little hints, I don’t just feel it, I smell it on her, just like Jose does, and I know that just makes Rider remember a female in heat that he can’t have—which causes a crazy loop… like bad amplifier feedback that shatters everybody’s nerves.

There are days when the pheromones are so thick in the air, between all the women who are on rations, the noses—me, Rider, and Jose, are done. We literally have to go outside sometimes behind it all. Rider is trying to deaden his sensory with Marlboros and Jack Daniels; I know where he’s at. But Jose ain’t got those kinda vices, and the poor brother suffers so bad there are nights he’s got tears in his eyes—those are the nights I definitely have to go find something to do before I rip his heart out. Most the time, the tactical brothers can’t even pick up a cup of coffee without arcing a shock. Then when the females start arguing, or worse, when they drop their voices and speak all soft when they’re in the mood, Mike gotta go to the bar to keep his head right. Most times, me and Rider go with him. The young bucks have no suave at all… ain’t smooth and practically slobber on themselves. None of the old heads can even watch it, least of all me.

Too much testosterone and estrogen in the same space. Is The Light trying to be funny? Is this some kinda test? I’m saying! Why it gotta be all this? It’s only getting worse, too, from what I can tell.

I ain’t trying to be selfish, but half the time I can’t pull myself up to even smile, the brothers I’m directly linked to are so damned depressed. Then, the thing that I don’t even want to think about happens… Shit, because neither one of them can get off with the woman they love down to their cores, I can’t really seem to get my flow happening right. That ain’t EVEN me! I have got to stop trippin’.

But while I’m sitting here nursing a beer, I can’t stop thinking about how when I go to step to Damali, move in on a romantic vibe, all this sludge… like a thick, black cloud of smoke gets in my way. My mind gets divided, when I should be single focused and rocking her world. Can’t halfway bust a decent nut, behind all this bullshit, and it’s pissing me off along with so many other things.

My nerves are bad. A brother is stressed. The team is raggedy for a motherfucker. My powers are slow to take root. We ain’t got a decent fortress… and the plan is to move into some raggedy old house in Arizona? That’s insane! All of us? I ain’t feeling NONE of this. Then The Vatican calls Father Pat and crew back to headquarters for some urgent summit that he ain’t even discussing.

Aw’ight. I can dig it. They lost one of their own, and I can only imagine there’d be repercussions. I wish I could turned back the hands of time to spare that young brother… my deepest prayer is that he went into The Light. I can’t feel him from my old life, so maybe God heard that prayer? But that’s also working my nerves, because as a Neteru, I should have felt him pass up and out of this plane and into the next realms above us. I didn’t, though. Maybe that’s just because all my senses are off, are coming in slow. Who knows?

All I do know is this—I hate living like this. I was never one to live in a state of vulnerability for long. That ain’t NEVER been me.

‘Bazz says be patient. Yeah, right. But he’s schooling me blind… he’d better watch his own back—Kamal ain’t no joke, and is gunnin’ hard for Marlene. Then again, it ain’t my place to cause speculation or to stir the pot between folks who’ve been together longer than I’ve been alive. The man is grown, can handle his bizness as he sees fit. Still… that’s also my brother. We tight. I don’t like it. But it ain’t for me to step to Kamal. That’s something between men, between him, his competition, and his woman to resolve. I ain’t in it… although I am seriously concerned, and I know my brother ain’t thinking clearly, ain’t focused on training these newbies like he should be. I can’t blame him; if the same situation was going down with me, I wouldn’t be focused, either.

That’s the whole issue—ain’t nobody focused on the primary issues at hand. We’re all trippin’, in one way or another. I have to pull up outta that. It’s a negative spiral. Somebody has to be on point. Somebody has to have their eyes on a strategy. Right now, I guess, that somebody has to be me.

So, hell no, I can’t get all wrapped up in no unnecessary madness. The drama has to wait. Whatever is wrong with me and Damali will have to wait. Maybe that’s where her head is, too? But it bleeds me out, just knowing that the girl has this impenetrable black spot in her head these days. Where did that come from?

Baby girl was always wide open for me… would always let me see right down to her core. That was the most beautiful thing about her. That’s what I loved to touch with my mind when I was with her… just caress that pure essence of who she is. It filed me up, took me places that even I didn’t know I could go. She has no idea how much that shit hurts, watching that steel cage drop behind her eyes when I go to kiss her.

It is what it is. Maybe, like all this other shit, it’ll pass one day… maybe one night. I keep hoping that one night, when it’s just me and her, and her gorgeous eyes are staring back at me, I’ll see her silver, will see all her colors swirling… will hear her the way I used to. Fuck a condom, too. She’s got me going there, like I’m some brother she just met. I don’t understand it. Didn’t the Queens give her some sorta protection that didn’t require all that? Why all of a sudden… Hey, I can’t even begin to try to work through that question—because then I know me well enough to know that, I’ll get suspicious, will start digging into things I probably oughta let alone. The one thing I’ve lived long enough to learn is, never ask a question that you don’t wanna know the answer to.

For now, I’ll accept her explanation that the Queens’ healing and protection was temporary, and she isn’t sure to what extent it will last. All right. Makes sense. One thing for sure, though, I know neither one of us is ready for a baby with all this drama going on. Much as I want to get her pregnant, not under these circumstances. Besides, she ain’t wrong about the fact that, my silver hasn’t burned since we were together in New York… I’m not even sure it came on when we was in Philly.

She’d pissed me off so bad, then. I still get mad just thinking about it. Never thought D would take me there, and never in my wildest dreams ever thought I’d do her outside a warehouse like that—pissed the fuck off. Blind rage… while with her?

Damn. What’s happening to us, to this family… to this team? Something definitely ain’t right, and I can’t put my finger on it… and there’s nobody to talk to. The issues are just too deep and too personal to discuss.

Only thing to do right through here is, keep my eyes open, stay sharp, be observant, get a strategy on lock, get us somewhere that has a solid prayer barrier that my boy, Yonnie, and his woman can cross in an emergency, and train the young bucks… gain knowledge… say a prayer at night, and hope I’m wrong about it all.

Knowing that, I have to go along with moving into the house. I hate not having options. Call me suspicious, but I feel like we’re all about to get played. I have to stop thinking about all of this, stop going into my own head so deep any more.

Doesn’t Damali know how much I love her? She’s my wife. Not being to sync with her righteous is tearing me up. It’s wearing me out. That woman is my heart, my soul, is the flesh of my flesh… but I ain’t gonna ever let her see me hesitate in battle again. She don’t even have to worry about seeing me weep in her arms again, no matter how good it is, because I will never have her call me a punk to my face again. In fact, no more entries into my little black box for now. I’m done. I cool. I’m over it. Everything is smooth.


All I need is another beer.