Brown-Eyed Heaven

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52


***


“I can’t believe she accused me of rape!” Zack told his friends.

It was after school. Zack, Tristan, DaShawn, Cain, and Noah were sitting outside on Zack’s lanai.

“That is messed-up,” DaShawn agreed.

“If I was you, I’ll get that bitch for filing a false police report,” Tristan said.

“She’s not a bitch. Don’t call her or any woman that,” Cain scolded Tristan.

“And there you go simping for these females again! They don’t do the same,” Tristan shot back.

“I am not! Black women have always and are supportive of black men while black men don’t reciprocate! That’s a fact, brother!”

The young men were silent for a moment.

“That doesn’t apply to us. We Go-Getters don’t do shit like that, man. That’s other random coon Negroes,” Noah remarked.

“She filed a report with the cops, they searched my place. Now we got a court date. Our lawyer Darrel said that the minimum is maybe house arrest and no jail time if it goes that far,” Zack informed them.

“What? No, you didn’t do anything wrong, bro!” DaShawn scoffed.

Tristan shook his head.

“Do you know if Paige was raped or sexually assaulted in her past? She could be suffering from a past traumatic event and maybe when you two had sex that triggered it. We all especially in the black community suffer from generational trauma and PTSD from hundreds of years from slavery and Jim Crow and even until today,” Cain explained.

Zack rolled his eyes. “Do you really think Paige had a traumatic event in her life? She never mentioned it when we were together.”

“Maybe she kept it a secret.”

“She was a virgin.”

“That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe she blocked it out,” Cain persisted.

Zack nodded and allow Cain’s explanations to simmer inside his mind.

“Your family getting ready to have a get-together this evening, right?” Tristan asked.

“Yeah, in about an hour. I’ma take a nap before the dinner cause I’m sleepy as hell. Francis and her family, my grandparents, my Aunt Angela, her husband, and their kids are coming.”

There all wore pants and slacks. Dress shoes, boots, and sneakers. They were all dressed in their designer gear, silk and cotton shirts. Cain and Noah wore their Go-Getter jackets. Tristan, DaShawn, Cain, and Noah got up to leave.

“Bro, if you need anything we got yo back,” Cain told Zack.

“Yeah, man, you can call us anytime. We’ll be at the courthouse if it comes to that,” DaShawn replied.

Zack nodded.

“This case ain’t going that far. It ain’t going nowhere. Paige doesn’t remember shit. Y’all were drunk as fuck especially her. She spent the night. The police ain’t got no evidence of rape. Who’s running the investigation? Did she even go to the hospital to get examined?” Tristan skeptically remarked.

“I heard she did but I don’t know what happened or all of the details. Our family’s lawyer Darrel is going to have more information about what happened and where we go from here tonight.”

“See you, man.”

“Yeah, bro, see you tomorrow.”

“Later, homie.”

“Yeah, catch y’all later. I’ll let y’all know more when I do,” Zack told them.

The other Go-Getters left but Cain was the last to leave.

“Zack, I’m sorry about what happened. I’ll pray for you and Paige. Do you want me to talk to Paige? I’ve always been good at interacting with people and giving advice. That’s why I want to be a mental health counselor and minister,” Cain was concerned for him.

“No, that’s alright, man. You guys have been awesome friends.”

Then Cain was gone. Zack got up and went to his bedroom. He laid across his king-sized bed. The curtains were drawn, the smart TV was off. The furniture was new and modern.

He hadn’t been on his computer all day. The bay window that opened to a balcony outside was locked. Zack thought back to when he and Paige were intimate. He heard a commotion downstairs and he dozed off before he could see what it was…


***


Sixteen-year-old Camille Johnson danced across Emille’s entertainment ballroom. Zack watched her with delight in his eyes. She was doing a mix of hip-hop and ballet.

“Camille, baby, you look amazing!” he laughed.

“I know I do, boo! I can’t wait for the senior prom! Marriage and babies!” she ran over to him and grind her hips against his waist.

Zack took her by her hands and danced with her. “I’m not the best dancer but I enjoy dancing with you, bae.”

“You certainly are not!” Camille cracked and smiled up at Zack.

Camille was petite and short, a little under five feet. Her dark, brown hair was styled in a messy but unique bun. Her makeup was polished perfectly as usual.

She wore tight, dyed capris, a denim low-cut shirt, and casual shoes. Zack wore grey sweat pants, a white t-shirt, and designer sneakers. His fade glistened under the bright lights.

They kissed for a long minute and paused again.

“I enjoy dancing with you too, Zachary, even though you are not the best dancer.”

They heard noises in the hallway. The rest of the Go-Getters—Tristan, DaShawn, Noah, and Cain and their girlfriends—were all talking at once. They were dressed in their usual fabulous designer gear.

“…Camille, I know you gonna be at the game tomorrow night. The whole school needs you!” La’Shayla teased her.

“Yeah, my baby gonna be there. She gonna cheerlead better than you, Shayla!”

La’Shayla stuck her tongue out at him.

“Girl, don’t get me hype! You know how I am when it comes to that tongue!” Tristan hollered.

“I gotta go, y’all! Mama sending me to Discount Grocery to do the shopping,” Camille said.

“You want some company, Camille?” Kerrie suggested.

“Nah, I’m cool, hon. I’m going to be there for a minute. I got a million things to do. I’ll see y’all at school tomorrow…”

But she didn’t get to see tomorrow.

“Why won’t Camille answer her cell phone?” Zack grunted.

“Maybe she’s busy, honey. She’ll get back to you later,” Paulena reassured him.

“I called her several times and left messages but she won’t pick up. She never did this before.”

“Hey, Zack, where are you?” Francis shouted, looking for him.

“What? I’m in the kitchen!”

“Reporters are all over downtown. There was a horrible wreck near Discount Grocery! When I passed by earlier, it looked like Camille’s car but I couldn’t be sure,” Francis replied.

“What, oh no,” Zack moaned. “Are you sure?”

“I don’t know. I said it look like her car…” Francis’s voice trailed off when Chad came into the kitchen.

“Dad, did you see the wreck that Francis was talking about too?” Zack asked.

“Yeah, it happened after my campaign event, son. Your sister was right, it was Camille’s car,” Chad informed him.

Zack’s eyes widened. “It was? Is she okay? Was she hurt? She’s going to be alright, right?”

Chad hesitated before answering. “No, she’s not going to be okay. She’s not going to be alright, son. They said she died instantly on the scene. She lost control when some debris fell off an eighteen-wheeler and it hit her windshield. I’m sorry, son. Life happens.”

Hot tears fell from Zack’s eyes. He hadn’t cried since he was a child. Zack had lost Camille, his first love, unexpectedly that day…


***

Zack woke up, drenched with sweat. The memory faded away from his mind. He saw an apparition stepped out of the shadows in his room. It looked like Camille. She beckoned to him. He got up.

“Camille, is that you?”

The ghostly apparition nodded.

She beckoned again. Wanting him to follow her. He watched her go outside and stand by his ride. The ghost looked up at him.

He turned around and didn’t see his family. Zack saw his family’s staff—Maude and Alfred. He followed the ghost to his ride and he got inside, cranking the ignition.

“Follow Me,” The voice sounded like a whisper of dry leaves.

Zack followed it through the winding streets of the District, busy townsfolks and vehicles weaving in and out of traffic.

Zack drove through lonely and desperate hoods throughout the city. He was driving recklessly and drivers hollered and blew their horns at him.

“Learn how to drive!”

“Get off the road, clown! You tryin’ to kill somebody out here!”

Zack threw up his middle finger and didn’t say anything. Night was approaching. His iPhone rang. He didn’t answer it, didn’t even acknowledge its existence at all.

The ghost led him to Emille Cemetery that Camile was buried. Zack hadn’t been there in over two years since she died.

The ghost moved quickly ahead of him. He followed it through the droves of gravestones. The dusk brought shadows and low moans.

Zack had heard as a child that the cemetery was haunted. Emille High School was haunted. Matter of fact, the entire town was haunted. The ghost stories went back to the end of the civil war.

The ghost stopped at Camille’s tomb. Zack walked up to it and looked down at it.

He remembered that multimillion-dollar lawsuit that her family received and they gave a lot of it to important charities. A light rain began to fall and clouds move over the sun and moon.

That light rain became a downpour in minutes. He watched the ghost of Camille disappear before his eyes. He read her birthday and expiration date, and the inscription:

She always loved and was loved.

Fat raindrops pounded Zack all over. He was drenched but was oblivious to the rainstorm. Thunder boomed and lightning struck repeatedly.

The wind roared and hail began to fall. Zack looked up again and saw that he was alone. Zack shook himself from his reverie. His iPhone rang again. This time he answered it.

“Son, where are you? The entire family is here and you missing the get-together,” Chad sounded worried.

“I’m coming, Dad. I left to do something.”

“Okay, hurry back now. Your mother and grandmother are getting concerned about you.”

Little did Zack know that paparazzi had been observing him on the other side of the street and was planning on reporting a sensational story about the Summerville family and Chad's reelection campaign.

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