Once and Future King of the Projects by Walter Giersbach

LeRoi always got pissed if you called him LEE-roy like some of the homeys do.  “It’s Le-ROI,” he’d shout like you were deaf.  “You talkin to the king!

I wasn’t deaf.  I was his bro.  Half-bro.  Same mama, different dads, but you wouldn’t know we’s family cause he stole from me, hit me, dissed me to my friends.  Many time I like to kill that summbitch.  I got a black eye to justify it.  Mama got a broken hand from when he swatted her for askin him to stop cursin.

LeRoi had the trade locked up all over our projects in Brooklyn.  Had a roll of money in his pocket that woulda plugged a sewer grate.  Drove a pimped out Lexus and strolled around with Keisha hangin on his arm.  That Keisha, her with the short shorts and her headlights hangin out of a blouse open to her bellybutton.

Jamal punched my shoulder while I was at the deli gettin some lunch.  “Why you let that pissant brother do you, man?  I’da whupped him long ago.”

“Jamal, you done whupped everbody in this neighborhood.”  That dude, Jamal, just tired me out.  “Just let it go.”

“No, that dude LeRoi is goin down.  Tonight.  Soon’s he steps out the door of the projects.”  Then he shows me his black Sig Sauer 45 caliber pistol.  .

“You one mean mutha, Jamal.  Same’s LeRoi.  But he’s the dealer man in this part of town.  Don’t you mess with him.”

“Just you watch,” and he strolls away to his Jeep Wrangler, which looks like it also needs to go down.

I argued in my head whether to warn LeRoi, then say ain’t nobody’s business worth buttin in.

Mama made fried chicken and okra and rice that night.  I was feelin good still tastin her corn fritters when I left her place.  Thought I’d have a smoke in the playground and see what’s shakin.  Stopped when I seen Jamal over by the swing bars and got all sorts of cold inside.  Same time  I see LeRoi walkin down Seventh Avenue out of the corner of my other eye.

It was like two ships gonna crash into each other.  Jamal stepped out with his pistola.  LeRoi got closer.  When he got near to spittin distance, I say, “LeRoi, you in trouble.  Gonna die tonight.”

“Whatchu talkin, bro.  Shut your mouth and get outta my face.”  He slugged me same time’s I pull my own gun and put two shots in his ribs.  Bang bang.  Cowboy style.  LeRoi went down soundin like a garbage bag full of slop.

Other side of the playground Jamal turned and ran.  Ran right under the camera the city put up to stop crime.  Well, I stopped crime this time.  Cops’d see Jamal runnin, carrying his piece and sweatin.  I might even call in the 911 myself.

Keisha came down the building steps, screamin “What happen, what happen?”

I say, “The king is dead.  Long live the king.  Let’s get us a drink.  I’ll get LeRoi’s car keys later.”

*

BIO : Walt bounces between writing genres, from mystery to humor, speculative fiction to romance with a little historical non-fiction thrown in for good measure.  His work has appeared in print and online in over two dozen publications.  Two volumes of short stories, Cruising the Green of Second Avenue, are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online booksellers.  He’s also bounced from Fortune 500 firms to university posts, and from homes in eight states and to a couple of Asian countries.  He now lives in New Jersey, a nice place to visit, but he doesn’t want to die there.

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