The Projects

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Social Justice Shah
Social Justice Shah
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The Projects

Post by Gesar » 16:41:29 Friday, 11 July, 2014

There's graffiti on the side of the public housing project, crudely drawn words in red, black, and green spray-painted over the tags of former gangs from the Lincoln and Harbor neighborhood. “NO Pushers NO Pimps NO Pigs.” The woman inspecting it -young, in her late twenties at best, though there's an air of maturity before her time about her- smiles slightly to herself when she sees the newest addition to the graffiti, an intricate sketching of a lioness with her cubs. Tossing the remnants of her menthol cigarette to the side, she makes her way up the stairs to the house, sighing to herself as she mutters, “I need to quit.”

Inside, the relative quiet of the projects, not a strange occurrence since NALA has become active, quickly disappears. A half-dozen people are gathered around an old record player, nearly but not entirely broken down. The group looks toward her as she enters, slamming the rusted deadbolt shut on the second try. As she gets a whiff of what they're smoking, a small frown settles on her face, but before she can say anything, they all speak up, seemingly at once.

“Sheeeit, look who it is. Hey hey baby girl, what's the commotion this very fine evening? How's my number one mother of all the local brothers toniiiight?”

“Where've you been, Tima? Antwaine from down next door came by, saying his momma's looking for you.”

“Harold left an hour ago. Didn't say where he was goin'. He was with those boys from IVC, though-”

“Girl, look at your hair. You been runnin' miles or some crazy shit? That sure ain't the dress you wore to work today, neither.”

“So what? We gon' listen to Sly all night or you got work for us?”



Fatimah's frown becomes a smile again. It's a little overbearing, but these are her people. Her sisters by blood and sisters in the struggle. And Tony. “You all are too much,” she finally interrupts, talking down the group with a patience beyond her years. “There's always work to do, sisters. Ray, Aisha, why don't you go on a patrol? And has anybody seen Jane?”

Her younger sister's the first to speak up, innocently as a lamb. “She was crying again when she came over. I told her to wait in your room.”

“I'll go talk to her. And Tony? I don't give a damn what you do in your free time, but stop bringing my girls that Baja-grade indo. It's poison for the mind.”

Tony raises his hands defensively, but brusquely gets cut off by Malia. “You still ain't told us where you been.”

“Out.” Fatimah doesn't bother to elaborate on whether that's an order or an answer, instead making her way to the small bedroom and seating herself on the side of the bed. A protective hand reaches over to Jane, the former prostitute doing her best to muffle her sobbing. If Fatimah seems older than she is, it's the opposite with the young woman. “Jane? Honey? What happened?”

In between gasps, Jane tries her best to explain. “I...I saw him again today. At the...gas station. End...of my shift. He had...friends with him. Korean.”

“You what? Did anything to you?”

The crying stops, but her expression goes blank. “N-no. He just- he just said that just 'cause I got new friends don't mean that he- he's forgotten. Says I...I still owe him.” She looks up and over at Fatimah, propping herself up on the pillows as she does so. “You- you'll protect me, right?”

The Den Mother nods slowly, pulling the girl into her arms and murmuring quietly to her. “Hush, honey. Of course I will. We all will. You've got me...the girls, even Tony. You're safe with us, sweetie.” Jane said nothing, instead burying her head in Ashanti's shoulder, not noticing how the leader's gaze had begun to pass over the closet where the guns were kept. “I'm not going to let anybody hurt you anymore.”
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