The Spoken Word: Words of Life

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Chapter 13: The Hereafter

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Davidson County Correctional Facility

A voice from the near distance called out. “Mr. Harrison, you have a visitor.”

The cell that housed Elijah Harrison was opened by the correctional officer. The handcuffed man formerly known as Deacon was escorted to the visitors area. Unsure of who this visitor could be, Elijah pondered in his mind the possibilities. He thought maybe it was Jeremiah there to pay him another visit.

When Elijah had finally arrived at the specified area, he took a seat across the table from the visitor with an astonished look on his face. The officer removed his handcuffs and Elijah placed his hands on the table.

“I’m very disappointed in you, Mr. Harrison.” The intimidating, brash, southern voice came from an imposing figure in the opposite seat. “You made a bad mistake trying to rob my home. Never bite the hand that feeds you.”

The imposing figure was Mr. Ronald C. Burgess, president of IBA. He was clad in a dark navy suit and light blue tie. Designer glasses covered his eyes and expensive jewelry decorated his fingers and wrist.

“Why are you here?” asked Elijah.

“Elijah, the first thing you should know is that I ask the questions. You just listen and answer when I tell you to answer,” said Mr. Burgess in a stern, matter of fact voice. He continued, “Again, the first mistake you made was you trying to take from my home. But I’m going to forgive you on that. The second mistake was you letting that no good Jeremiah get away. I told you that if he ever stabbed you in the back that you take him out. He has been nothing but a headache to me.”

“And just how is that?” asked Elijah. “He has actually been a help to me over the past couple of months.”

“A help?? Your sworn enemy a help? You are crazier than I thought,” laughed Mr. Burgess. “See, I allowed you to have that no good Jeremiah in your clique. He was desperate and you needed the extra help. So I gave in and gave you permission to accept him.”

“And I should have never invited him in. There are just a lot of things I should have never done. But I done them and I don’t need any more trouble in my life. So you can dismiss yourself Mr. Burgess.”

“No, you’re going to let me finish. The set up was for Jeremiah to deal the drugs to me so I could see if he was worthy enough to even be a part of my team. You know, to see just how much bad he had in him, being Mr. Clean and everything. And I was going to give the drugs right back to you to deal to the regular customers. But guess where the plan failed?”

“Worthy enough? You fired the dude from his job at IBA. But then you talk about worth enough? What did he do so wrong to get him fired anyway?”

“Really, Elijah, that’s none of your business. You failed the plan, plain and simple. So guess what? I’m going to get you out of here. Give me a few days to work it out and then you will be a free man. Well, sort of… You are going to go back to work for me. And the first thing you will do is take out Jeremiah.”

“See, I can’t do that and I won’t do it. Jeremiah has helped me to see that I don’t need you or this life no more. I got something better now. I got God and with Him, my life is turning around.”

“Please don’t tell me you just said ‘God.’ Please don’t tell me that. Are you serious?” Mr. Burgess raised his voice enough that everyone else gazed at him and he slammed his hand on the table. “I AM your God!! I created you to be who you are!! I supplied everything that you needed and wanted. I was good to you Elijah!”

“I told you, I don’t want to do it.” Elijah wondered why no one would come and escort Mr. Burgess out for being loud and threatening.

“See, Elijah, I could hurt you right here and right now. And there would be nothing that nobody can do about it in here. You forgot, I got all power. I run this city. No….I own this city.”

“How many times do I have to tell you, that I got God now! Nothing you say or nothing you do is going to scare me. You just don’t intimidate me anymore, Mr. Burgess. I don’t need you or your filth. Now will you please get out of my face and go!”

“Not so fast!” retorted Mr. Burgess. “I still have five minutes. Let me ask you: What happened to the same mean person that done Jeremiah’s grandmother dirty? Huh? Where is he at? Where is Deacon? You have gotten very soft on me and I don’t like it.”

“He left,” Elijah responded. “You might think you own the city, but you sure don’t own me. I make my own decisions. And whether or not you like who I am becoming, that’s your problem.”

“Well, get him back. Because you’re going to be back on the streets in a week. I guarantee it. And if you know what’s best, you’ll do as I say. Because from the day you stepped in my presence, I owned you.”

At that time, Mr. Burgess had thrown an old picture on the table. It was of Elijah and his twin, Elson. He continued his pressuring towards Elijah. “See Deacon, if you decide to turn your back on me, I will find this brother of yours that you haven’t seen in years and I will hurt him first. Then I’m coming after you. But for right now, Jeremiah is on the top of my list. And I think I know just how to get to him.”

“Where did you get that picture?”

“Never mind where I got the picture. Why do you keep insisting on asking me questions, when you know good and well, I won’t answer them. Remember, you answer to me, not the other way around.”

“Don’t you dare lay a hand on my brother or Jeremiah or anybody else, or I will…,” said Elijah in a bold and angry way.

“Or you will what? You can’t do anything about it. Need I remind you of what I just told you? So just know that it is done. I will depart from you for now, but you will see me again.”

Mr. Burgess excused himself from the table and made his way to do the door for the guard to allow him to exit. He snatched the picture back up and had a devilish grin on his face as he looked back at Elijah. He then ripped the photo into two pieces and threw it in the trash can.

The correctional officer handcuffed Elijah, helped him up from his seat and escorted him back to his cell. Elijah was clearly angry at what had just transpired between him and his former street boss.

Confused about what to do, Elijah tried to think on a remedy to the problem that was Mr. Burgess. As he lied on the hard bed in his cell, Elijah thought about what he could possibly do from the inside in order to save his brother. And at the same time, he gave thought to a solution to spare Jeremiah’s life, his new found friend.

What do I do now?” Elijah wondered to himself. Who could he turn to? It seemed as though Mr. Burgess had the city of Nashville under his thumb.

At that time, he clinched his two hands together tightly to the point of his fingers turning red. He decided that this was a good time to pray for direction.

He then pulled down a book from the shelf above his bed. It was entitled “Sunrise” and it was a collection of inspirational poems from various writers. Some famous and some not as famous. But Elijah turned to one of his favorites in the book. It was “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Elijah held that poem close to him as it gave him inspiration from day to day. He made a note in his heart that his former decisions would not hinder him from who he could become. Elijah had hoped for that same inspiration this time around.

Elijah closed the book and put it up as he was stretched across the bed wide eyed. There was no way that he could sleep with all of this on his mind. His mind so cluttered, that any dreams that came to him would be that of Elson, Jeremiah, and Mr. Burgess.

Elijah was at a loss. But when the decisiveness of who Elijah could turn to would finally come into play, it will be speak now or forever hold your peace…


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