I won third Place in the Writers of Kern Fall writing contest and I wanted to share the story with all of you.
Here it is
BATTLEFIELD by Donnee Patrese
“Please get help!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
I put my hands over the bullet hole trying to stop the fountain of blood that flowed onto the dirty concrete. Gurgling sounds came from his mouth. I looked at my hands covered in blood in shock. Who survives after losing this much blood?
His hand grabbed my arm and he squeezed. I thought for a second that he would be okay. Then his grip loosened and his arm went limp. He lay motionless. No more gurgling, no more noise.
He was gone.
The violence of the hood has taken another one.
11 hours earlier…
It was a blistering summer day. Kids lined the street playing kickball or basketball with a milk crate for a rim. The old wrinkled black lady on the corner with her cocoa colored eyes sat with her feet in a bucket of ice just watching the kids play. This is the most peaceful you will ever see my neighborhood. At night, it is nothing but gunshots and police sirens. At night, the hood becomes a battlefield and not even the U.S. Army would survive out here.
We were at the playground where we always met up. When we were kids, we used to play here all the time. Our favorite thing to do was sit on the swings and see how high we could go. He always won because I was too afraid these ghetto ass broke down swings would break and send me flying across the yard.
As we grew up, we drifted apart. The hood couldn’t hold him down. His smart ass finished high school as valedictorian and was accepted into one of the rich people’s colleges.
I…took a much harder path. The hood swallowed me whole and I was too defeated to find my way out again. I hooked up with a drug dealer named Juno and started helping to sell drugs and give him sex when he wanted it. By my sophomore year, I was pregnant and school was nonexistent.
Once I was pregnant, I couldn’t leave him. He beat me regularly and I knew he was messing around with these hoes, but I needed to support my child and she deserved her daddy in her life.
Jason hates Juno. He sees the bruises and the black eyes and goes ballistic. They had a knock out drag out one time. They both ended up bloody. It was too violent for me to break up. I was told never to see Jason again after that.
Yet, when Jason comes home for the summer, he always finds me and we always end up in our spot…on the swings at the playground. Besides my daughter, he was one of the most important people in my life.
“Remember how often you used to hurt yourself here?” He said chuckling. “I remember you flying off the merry-go-round and getting a black eye.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“Boy, you trippin’. You the goofy one who fell off the monkey bars and broke your damn arm not me,” I retorted.
“Ok, I’ve had enough of this sun. I need to get a cool glass of lemonade.” I said walking over to grab my daughter.
We walked up the street to my apartment building laughing and talking along the way. When we reached my apartment, I entered expecting to relax and watch a movie with my daughter and Jason when almost as soon as I entered, I was grabbed and thrown clear across the room knocking my head into the wall. Luckily Jason was holding little Asia.
“That’s for being with this fool after I told you not to,” said my drug-dealing boyfriend Juno.
“Don’t you ever touch her again you fucking psycho.” I heard Jason say over the cries of my daughter.
Though my vision was a little blurry, I saw Juno pull out his gun and point it at Jason.
“You better get the fuck out of here college boy before mommy has to bury you in your university hoodie.”
“Jason,” I said weakly. “Just go please.”
I could see the look in his eyes. It was unadulterated hate. This is not the first time he has seen this. He placed my daughter on the floor, turned and left. Juno kicked the door closed and put his gun away.
Later that night Jason called me and asked if we could meet. He said it was something important that he needed to tell me.
I met him at the park leery because nothing good can come from being out in this neighborhood at night.
He was sitting on the swings when I arrived. He was pushing himself so high I just knew the swings were going to break.
“So, you really want to break your arm again, huh?” I said approaching him.
He started to slow down until eventually he came to a stop.
I sat on the swing next to him kicking my feet back slowly so as not to swing too high or go too fast.
“So why are we out here?” I asked.
He took a deep breath and began.
“I wanted to tell you that…
“I see you two don’t learn. Looks like I have to kill both of you.”
We both jumped off the swings and turned to face Juno. He was standing there in a wife beater, jeans and a gun pointed at Jason
“Juno put the gun down.”
“Oh so now you telling me what to do?” He said with the gun still pointed at Jason.
“Bring your ass over here and let’s go.”
He turned his back to walk away. I went to follow but Jason held me back. I saw Jason reach into his jacket. The moonlight reflected something shiny. Before anyone could react, He pulled out a gun and aimed it at Juno.
“Jason, no!” I yelled.
Juno turned around. His gun was still in his hand and when he saw what Jason was pointing at him, he attempted to raise his. Then Jason’s gun went off. The bullet pierced Juno in the chest. It was a fatal shot. I knew it was from the amount of blood oozing out of the wound. I stood frozen for a second. My mind in shock.
I hear the voices of others coming out of their houses. Trying to see what was going on. Nosy bitches, I thought.
I looked for Jason.
He was gone.
I screamed for help. I hated him sometimes but I didn’t want him to die. My daughter needed him.
As I tried to stop the blood from gushing from the chest of the father of my child, I thought about raising my child in a place where the model is “survival of the fittest.” It is rare that someone makes it out. Jason made it out only to return and kill someone because of me.
The hood is a nasty place. No mercy, No sympathy. Only death, pain and defeat.
The hood is a battlefield.