On June 21st I shared the opening of Inner City Blues. Here's another unedited excerpt from Chapter One...
* * * * * * * *
Two days later, the family gathered at his parents’ house for their annual July Fourth breakfast. Before they needed to start setting up the tables and chairs under the tent their mother rented every year for the barbecue, the brothers met in the kitchen early to share a rare cup of coffee and conversation.
“How long are you staying?” Jesse asked, directing his question to Marc and Greg who’d arrived with their families the night before.
“Well, Gianne is out of school until the first of the year, so we’re taking the week off. When we leave here, we’re going down to Miami for a couple of days,” Marc replied. “Lance is handling the studio while I’m gone, so I can take my time.”
“Lucky you. Between the practice and the clinic, I haven’t had a week off in ages.”
Nick wore a confused frown. “And Cyd doesn’t get upset?”
“You know, Cyd. She doesn’t complain about much.”
“Neither does Cher, but she’s made it plain that we need our time away together. We haven’t been away for a whole week, but she makes sure we take weekend trips.”
“You have to get it in,” Vic agreed. “Mona and I both are crazy busy now since she’s started her business, but we make it a point to get away with and without the boys. And you have three kids. Cyd needs a break sometime, man.”
Jesse nodded his agreement but said, “Do you know Cyd told me she never had a vacation until we started seeing each other? She said to her a vacation was just days she didn’t have to go to work. Her first real vacations were when I took her down to Miami for the weekend when we were dating and when went to Vegas for Marc and Gianne’s wedding.”
“All the more reason to show her what it’s supposed to be like,” Greg chimed in. “And you two need to go someplace where you can get loose and get loud, if you know what I mean.”
Jesse gave him the side eye. “We always know what you mean.” They all laughed, but their smiles faded as their father entered the kitchen waving a newspaper in the air and wearing an expression like a storm brewing over an angry sea.
“Jesse, do you want to tell me what the hell this is all about?” He threw the folded paper into Jesse’s lap.
He swallowed hard, gave Vic a fleeting glance and then gazed down at the article his father had so helpfully circled with a bold marker. The headline read, Dozens of arrests at Hollowell Parkway protests. He cleared his throat and answered. “I didn’t think it was worth mentioning.”
“Why the hell not? Your name is in that list. What were you thinking? First it was Gregory; now you. What is wrong with you boys?”
Greg snatched the paper from his lap and the brothers huddled around him to read it.
“First of all, we’re not boys. Second, it’s only considered news because of the recognizable people who participated. I’m the least well-known of the bunch.”
“But you’re a prominent physician in this city, son, and people talk.”
“That’s fine with me. I don’t mind them talking about me for something like this.”
“So you’re proud of getting locked up?
Jesse raised his chin. “Yes, sir, I am. Darren Givens was killed in cold blood. The police involved all got off. If we don’t stand against police brutality, it will just accelerate.”
“It’s bad enough you were Twittering about it. You have a career and reputation to protect!” The elder man bellowed.
“It’s tweeting, Daddy, “Jesse replied equally as loud. “You were very proud of yourself for participating in demonstrations back in the day. Wasn’t it you who used to tell us if we didn’t stand for something, we’d fall for anything? Why is it different for me?”
“It was different back then. Nowadays everything you say and do is plastered all over the Internet. Do you think your patients want a jailbird for a doctor?”
“For God’s sake, Daddy! Nobody cares. If they do, they can find another doctor! You don’t understand how out of touch we are.”
“Who?” His father asked.
“All of us. Our major concerns are which private school we’re going to send our kids to, or whether we’re going to put in a pool or tennis court in the backyard.”
“You think that’s something we should be ashamed of? We all worked hard to earn that right. Nothing was handed to us.”
“I know that, Daddy, but look at us. We’re here getting ready for a holiday banquet, and haven’t given a single thought to the people in our community who are literally trying to figure out how they’re going to feed their kids today?”
“Are you saying we don’t care because we aren’t sitting around agonizing over their plight? I resent you getting so high and mighty. All of us donate our time and money to a variety of causes that benefit our people.”
Their argument came to a screeching halt when they saw his mother standing in the kitchen doorway with her hands on her hips looking as though she were about to explode. “It’s Christmas morning. I can’t believe you two are acting this way!” Her flashing gaze bounced from his face to his father’s. “If you continue carrying on, you can both find somewhere else to eat. Now get out of my kitchen so the girls and I can cook!”
“We’re not done talking about this,” his father groused as the male procession moved into the family room.
Coming to Kindle, Nook and Createspace in late Fall 2016