Drafts & Excerpts
Fast Break from Liberty
I’m the only one back on defense and my teammates yell, “foul.”
They assume if I don’t foul, the Eagles will get an easy layup and win.
They just want to survive. But I’m tired of not winning and just surviving. I followed the gov’s order and left my home peacefully and came to this camp.
I’m not fouling and giving them a chance to sink a free throw.
If there’s one truth that I learned in this camp is that freedom doesn’t exist for any of us here.
When the Eagles point guard leaped towards the hoop, I block his shot.
The gov. can get away with everything just as long as they call it WAR.
The ball bounces off the back board and to another Eagle’s player. Where are my teammates? They shoulda caught up by now. The Eagle’s forward slams it down.
And my teammates are still standing on the other end of the court.
They never thought there was a chance that I, we, could defend the fast break. That we could even win this game. And once again, I felt the pain that comes when your fellow “teammates” fail you.
Broken Glass Syndrome
"Broken glass syndrome is contagious," the developers, the greedy ones 'tell you.'
"Wait, hold up," the blamed boys of 26B are quick to correct. "They sell you, not tell you."
The lawmakers say, "If we invest in just one property, fix just one window, the neighborhood will follow suit."
But the broken glass and all the pollution are only symptoms of a fast-spreading and fatal disease. "Fixing a window is like stuffing tissue up a bloody nose," Jamal from 26B tells anyone that would listen. "You might stop the bleeding…for a minute, but that's not what's causing the blood."
Nobody hears him, and the fines for pollution go up – double – then tripled. A task force is created to prevent the onslaught of graffiti. A crackdown against code violations forces the few remaining property owners to decide between bankruptcy and selling to "out of town" investors for bargain rates.
If their homes and stores weren't enough, a new ordinance passes, making their outdated hunkers of rides illegal to drive on the city's roads. "All their vehicles have to do is past emissions."
"But this ride is running fine, and I can't afford the repairs. And I damn sure can't afford a new ride."
"Then you must not care about the environment?"
The Judge, a distinguished lady in the eyes of the community, grills Jamal for his crimes. "Did you not deface the storefront? Huh? Did you not flipped over the trash cans aligned across the streets? Did you not throw rocks through the windows?"
Jamal says, "I did," almost with pride.
"Well…well, I don't know why anyone would destroy the place he lives in, his own neighborhood."
"Because it's not my neighborhood," he interrupts the Judge. The gavel slams, but Jamal keeps speaking to the reluctant audience. "We live in this neighborhood for now…until you move us like we are the dust you need to sweep under the couch before the guest arrives."
"Enough," the Judge yells.
It's a myth that you can end pollution by eradicating glutenous greed and outlandish laziness. "You need to end poverty," Jamal says while cleaning the same streets he trashed as part of his mandated community service. "You need to end discrimination." The new residences and store owners of a neighborhood he used to call home watch as he picks up a plastic bottle tossed aside in the street. "You can't keep dangling what I don't have in front of me and then think I won't do something about it." He grabs a handful of used plastic straws bundled up against the street curb. "If I can't have what you have, then I'm going to destroy it."
The now-retired cop, who arrested Jamal and others from 26B, has seen this played out for over 25 years. Like Jamal, he tried telling the truth to deaf ears. "If you kick a person out of his house and then don't let him in, he has no choice but break-in."