by Shawn Kelley

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Was the memory faded from his mind... Cross pulled into the driveway of the apartment complex. He drove slowly, glancing around. After quickly finding the apartment Keisha lived in, he parked in front of the door. Knowing this will be the first time seeing Keisha since his trial, Cross had to push his true feelings aside. It had taken him years to forgive her for reporting an anonymous tip to the police, or so he thought he had forgiven her. But Fatimah came first in his life and he would never hurt his only daughter by murdering her mother.

     He walked up to the door, knocked, and waited. He could hear a familiar voice through the door. Moments later, it opened, and standing in front of him was his sixteen-year-old daughter, Fatimah. At sixteen years old, Fatimah stood at 5'7, with caramel skin, like her mother. Her curly hair was braided and flowed nearly to the center of her back.

    Her hazel brown eyes lit up at the sight of seeing her father. A smile spread across his face. Fatimah smiled as well, and said, "You're home", surprisingly. "Hey, Princess." Fatimah stepped through the door and embraced her father tightly and in a soft tone, "I'm so glad you're home, daddy", she told him. "Me too, Princess."

    They broke their embrace and Cross stood smiling as she wiped tears of joy from her face. "I just came to visit two weeks ago. Why didn't you tell me you were getting released? I know Porche knew and I'm mad she didn't tell me." Cross smirked and asked her, "Is your mama here? Or you here by yourself?", as he looked inside through the opened door. "She's not here, daddy. You can come inside." "Naw, babygirl. I'm good. I actually came to get you. Let's go."

      Cross and Fatimah cruised the streets after enjoying an expensive shopping spree at the Mall Of Louisiana and an early dinner. Throughout the day Keisha had called Fatimah several times on her daughter's whereabouts. Especially, after learning she was with her father. Cross glanced over at Fatimah as she moved her head to the rap lyrics coming from the speakers.


    Fatimah loved and admired her father, even though she knew about the lifestyle he lived, and for that reason, she respected him even more. She had heard the stories of the "Bloody Summer War", and her father was referenced as a "Street Legend". For this reason, she was respected among her peers, who gave her the name of "Princess". She also knew her mother was the person who placed an anonymous call to the authorities leading to Cross' arrest. Fatimah loved Keisha, but also hated her for removing her father out of her life.

   As evening quickly approached, the sun was setting marking an end to a beautiful day. Suddenly, a familiar face caught his attention inside a passing vehicle. As soon as he pulled into an empty parking space, Keisha's front door opened and she exited. Much to his surprise,   she was still as beautiful as the last time he saw her. She had lost a few pounds from years of sniffing cocaine, but still, she was beautiful. Her hair was freshly done, as well as her nails.
   

She stood with crossed arms, staring him directly in the eyes, with a sly smirk. Fatimah opened the door and stepped out. After retrieving her shopping bags from the back seat she went around to the driver's side. Cross lowered the window, "Hey, Keisha. It's good seeing you. You looking good", he spoke. "Mmm-hmm. When did you get out?" wanting to know as she walked towards him. "A few days ago." Fatimah kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you for the clothes, daddy. I had fun", she told him.

    "You know daddy's going to always take care of his princess. Call me tomorrow. Maybe we can do this again real soon." "I hope so", replied Fatimah. She turned as Keisha approached and went into the apartment, leaving her parents alone. Cross opened the door, exiting. He leaned his back against the door and lit the marijuana blunt in his hand. Keisha's eyes narrowed and the two stood quietly for a moment.

   It was as if they were trying to think of something pleasant to say to the other. Finally, Keisha broke the silence, as Cross blew smoke from his mouth. "Look, Cross. I don't know if you believe me, but I'm really sorry how things happened. I apologized over and over and you will never understand how bad I felt for doing what I did. I know you..." "You good, Keisha. That was the past", he assured her, cutting her words short. "I'm home now and that's all that matters to me. I just know where we stand. I don't trust you and that's the way it is and that's the way its gonna be."

 

 He offered her the marijuana blunt and she gladly took it. She inhaled and blew out the smoke. Cross took the time to question her about a rumor he'd heard. He asked, "What's this I'm hearing? The streets saying you're messing around with cocaine and popping pills. And you're riding around with all these different dudes. I know you're not out here like that, are you?"

   The moment quickly took a turn for the worst. Keisha rolled her eyes and sucked her teeth at the accusations. "Look Cross. I don't need you coming out here questioning me about what I'm doing. I'm grown and I'm not your woman anymore. If you're so worried about me, why you never send me money to make sure my bills were paid? You made sure Porche gave Fatimah money and was taken care of. I bet you made sure that your other baby mama was taken care of. Didn't you?"

    "Hold up, right there Keisha", he barked. "You're grown. Isn't that what you just said? So, you don't need me to take care of you and I don't need you coming at me like that. Fatimah's my daughter I'm supposed to take care of her. And as far as anybody else is concerned, it's none of your business what I do for them." He snatched the blunt from her and looked at her angrily. "You should've been smarter and kept your mouth closed. But you want to be a Crimestoppers. So deal with the consequences."

   He opened the driver's door and got in. He started the ignition, eyeing her. "I'ma holla at you Keisha. I have a business to take care of and it's not going to get taken care of wasting time here with you." As he drove away he glanced in the rearview mirror. Keisha stood in the same spot watching as he sped off. Cross didn't get far before his phone began ringing. Porsche's number flashed across the screen. Before he could answer, the sound of gunshots rang out, shattering his rear window.

 

"What the..", lowering his head in a panic, dropping his phone as shots continued to ring out. 
 

SHORT STORIES

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