Chapter 5: Beginning of a Fall
Monday, May 24th, 2010
It was the Monday after Mrs. Emma’s funeral and Jeremiah had decided to go ahead and work. Perhaps it would help clear his mind of some things and even some confusion that found its way into his thoughts.
He was sitting down to his baked chicken and vegetable dinner when his cell phone rang. He didn’t recognize the number, but answered it anyway. “Hello?”
“You made the wrong move, church boy. Nobody ever jumps at me. You seriously don’t know who you are messing with.”
“Deacon? How did you get my number?”
“Don’t worry about that. The only thing you need to be concerned about is learning a little lesson for trying to be big and bad in front of everyone.”
“I’m not scared of you. What do you want? You have caused enough trouble as it is.”
“No, I will not. I have nothing to apologize for.”
“Fine. Have it your way. But while you are on your little adrenaline kick, I have decided to make your life a living nightmare.”
“What is your hostility towards me?”
“You’re breathing. That’s enough.”
“What about my grandmother? Why did you do what you did?”
“That’s for me to know, Jeremiah. All you need to know is you made a huge mistake jumping at me.”
“What do you want?” asked Jeremiah in a low, slow drawl.
“Patience, big boy. I actually have proposition for you. And I just made the decision a second ago to leave you alone if you take me up on it.”
“I don’t want it, Deacon. Goodbye!”
“One second. Hear me out. Huge money making opportunity here. I’m talking big money, no chump change. You do this for me and I’ll let your heart beat.” Deacon was definitely into some corrupt and illegal activity. But Jeremiah didn’t care to find out what it was.
“You’re threatening me? You know I could call the cops on you, right? And I told you, I didn’t want it. I get my money by working legally for it.”
“Yeah, you could call the cops. But it’s your word against mine. What you going to tell them? Plus, if you did, it would be the last words you ever utter.”
“I know you don’t know this, Deacon, but God says to not touch His anointed. To not do His prophets any harm. You know, it’s crazy that you’re nicknamed Deacon, one of the offices of the church. And you not even living your life right. You don’t even know what the inside of a church looks like. I’m going to be praying for you.”
“I don’t need your insults,” fired back Deacon. “And I surely don’t need your prayers. God ain’t done nothing for me. I do things for myself. I don’t care nothing about church. Don’t care nothing about your God. I’m Deacon, because I’m a leader. I’m the boss. And you nothing but a chump. For now, I’m going to leave you alone. But trust, I will be back.”
Deacon hung up. Jeremiah was left with the dial tone in his ear. He hit the ‘end’ button on his Blackberry and sat it on the coffee table. He put his back to the back of the couch and let out a deep breath. He placed his hands over his face and sat in silence.
Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
The next day at his job, Jeremiah went into his office as usual to begin his work for the day. He received a phone call from his supervisor, David Graff. “Mr. Washington, I need to see you in my office please, a.s.a.p.”
“Yes, Mr. Graff. I’ll be right there,” responded Jeremiah.
Jeremiah journeyed into the supervisor’s lush office and took a seat across from Mr. Graff that the glass top wooden desk that seemed to occupy half of the space. Mr. Graff spoke first. “Mr. Washington, how are you?”
“I’m good, Mr. Graff. I’m good.”
“I have important news that is pertinent to you.”
“Ok. What is it, Mr. Graff?” Jeremiah hesitantly asked.
“We think of you as one of our best and hardest working employees here. You have a great rapport with our clients and your co-workers are thrilled to be a part of this team with you. We are enthused with you, no question about it.”
“Thank you sir.”
“But due to cutbacks in this department, we are having to let people go.”
Jeremiah clinched to arms of the chair tighter and had a very uneasy look on his face, almost busting out in a minute sweat. But he decided to still listen attentively.
Mr. Graff continued. “You was one of the last ones hired in. And we have to go by seniority in who to keep. This is hard for me, but…”
“Let me guess. You are dismissing me?”
“Yes. I am very sorry, Mr. Washington.”
“Spare me the speech. I really don’t need to hear it. You decided to build me up before letting me down. That, in itself, was not cool. Not cool at all! I’ve been through enough as it is and now this.”
“I don’t know how to tell you how sorry I am, Mr. Washington. But you are out of line right now.”
“You know what? I’m not going to argue with you,” reasoned Jeremiah, trying to calm himself down. “I’ll start packing and I will get out of here.”
Jeremiah stormed out of the supervisor’s office and trekked back to his own. Or what use to be his. When he got there, he started to pack up all of his belongings. He looked at the wall where hung framed art that read the words “Faith, Hope, Love.” It was in reference to 1 Corinthians 13:13. At that time, faith was the main word that stuck out to him. He just stared at those five letters for a while.
Jeremiah sighed, fighting back tears, and removed the art off the wall. He walked out of his former office, turned off the light by the switch next to the door, and walked to the elevator. But during his leaving, he looked back at the door one more time to see his name on a plaque that recognized it was his office, his domain. ‘Jeremiah Washington’.
It was though he was walking to the electric chair as he made slow strides down the hall, with his head hung low. Jeremiah’s co-workers were staring at him, interested in what was going on. Some gave his words of encouragement. Some patted him on the back, while others decided to say nothing at all and tried to ignore the fact that IBA was losing one of its best accountants.
Jeremiah went to his car and sat there for a minute before sticking the key in the ignition to start it. He sat in disbelief in what just happened. Was this really taking place in his life right now? Why was he being faced with all of this? He wanted answers, but there was no one around to give them to him. Even God seemed to be silent at the time, which cause Jeremiah to question the very source he put the most faith in.
Jeremiah finally drove off, listening to a gospel cd on his way home. The word “faith” kept replaying in his mind over and over again. It would not leave him alone. Through the tears, he had to keep reminding himself that his trust had to be in the Lord in order to get through this. He wanted to convince himself that maybe, just maybe, everything would turn out just fine.
Thursday, June 24th, 2010
It had been several weeks since Jeremiah had been dismissed from IBA. He had traveled all over the city of Nashville looking for a job, especially in the financial sector. However, he decided to broaden his search and look at places he though he never would even work. During all of this, Jeremiah kept in touch with Darius and Michelle. Just not as much as he usually did. Jeremiah and Darius didn’t even discuss the trip they were planning to take to D.C. any further. It was pretty much an afterthought at that point.
Jeremiah need a job quick, because his severance pay wasn’t as much as he had hoped for. But even through all of the looking, Jeremiah’s search for employment came up empty. Door after door was metaphorically slammed in his face and it seemed no one was hiring. Jeremiah prayed and turned in a countless number of resumes. Then he would pray some more. Still, nothing changed. Nothing would surface. That was until he received a phone call on this Thursday morning.
“Hello?” answered Jeremiah.
“My I speak with Jeremiah Washington, please?” asked the polite female voice on the other end.
“This is him speaking.”
“Yes, Mr. Washington. This is Robin Adair, human resource manager at D&D Warehouse. How are you doing today?”
“I’m fine. How are you doing?”
“Great! We were wondering if you could start work on Monday morning?”
Jeremiah had applied with the warehouse company during his search. He had applied for the position of a Level 1 Warehouse Laborer, mainly responsible for the physical labor of moving inventory around. “Yes, ma’am. I can start.” Jeremiah’s tone was not enthusiastic by any means. It wasn’t the best option out there. But he needed a job. So he took the position.
A little thrown off by Jeremiah’s tone, Mrs. Adair responded back. “Ok. Well, we will see you on Monday at eight o’clock then.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Adair. See you on Monday.”
“Have a good day. Bye bye”
“You too. Bye.”
When Jeremiah got off the phone, he picked up his poetry notebook and started on a new poem. He had penned this one as “The Fire”.
“The flames of the fire
Consume my desire
To reach levels higher
God is the seller, but I’m not the buyer
See, the fire arises, surround
Me, having me bound
Positive feelings burned to the ground
At the ashes is where I’m found
Engulfed by the flames
Hiding the ferocious pain
Like a disease-ridden plague
Pour the fuel to the fire
Watching the situations become hotter
Looking to survive this trouble around
Just lay down
When tribulations abound
Ready to give up on this
What I’m going through makes no sense
The fire’s getting worse by the minute
I got this bad feeling
That God is not in it
Getting the best
Of me in my progress
If this is God’s best
Than I am unimpressed
The devil is the arsonist
Now I’ve got to become a quick change artist
Putting on a smile when it really hurts inside
My world is colliding, a sense of joy too hard to find
The fire is getting higher up
Fearful of life, ready to jump
Everything that is and everything that comes”
He closed the notebook, sat it off to the side and remained in a state of meditation for a while.
Friday, July 9th, 2010
Jeremiah had been working at D&D for two weeks now. He had progressed nicely as a warehouse worker, but it was still not where he wanted to be.
It was pay day for Jeremiah and he went into the main office to collect his paycheck. Much to his dismay, the net amount on his paycheck for two weeks worth of work didn’t nearly add up to what he made at IBA in one week. How was he going to make ends meet with this bit of money? He had his house. He had his Lexus. He had bills. This just wasn’t going to cut it.
“Thank you,” Jeremiah told his supervisor as disappoint filled the air. The aura of worry was so evident that it nearly left a stench behind.
Jeremiah came home after work and threw his keys on the kitchen bar. He commenced to turn on the television. He had deposited his check, ran errands, and not just wanted to relax. He reflected on a plethora of things, especially this new job. Or more specifically, this new paycheck. Exactly how was he suppose to survive off this minimum amount of money? That was his thought.
Then Jeremiah done the unthinkable. The unimaginable. He picked up his Blackberry and scrolled through the call history. Out of all the numbers that appeared on the screen, one stood out the most. The one he was looking for. He came across the number of Deacon and decided to call it back. So he hit the call/send button to dial Deacon’s number. What was this all about? Why was Jeremiah calling who seemed to be his number one enemy?
“Jeremiah Washington. Good to hear from you,” said Deacon. “You call to threaten me some more, big boy?” laughed Deacon.
“You know, I could. I’m still angry at what you done. But I’m not going to go there today. I’m not even calling you about anything like that,” countered Jeremiah.
“What do you want then?”
“I want to take you up on your earlier offer. Give me the lowdown on it.”
“I’m surprised you doing this, church boy. With you being holy and all. But I do know you lost your job. So now you need me.”
“No, I don’t need you. I need money. So what’s it going to be?”
“Fine. Meet me at 15th and Maple, nine-thirty, tonight. I’ll give you what to do then.”
Jeremiah hesitated for a minute. “Yeah, ok. I’ll be there.”
The two men hung up their phones and Jeremiah prepared to meet Deacon in a couple of hours. So he depressingly moved toward the kitchen to cook dinner. He just wasn’t happy with his situation at all. He wanted to be able to keep everything he had worked so hard for. So, it was “by any means necessary” at that point.
A little while later, Jeremiah walked out the door to his car so he could drive to the aforementioned meeting place. When he had finally reached 15th and Maple, he came to Deacon, sitting in his black Yukon Denali. ‘What was with Deacon and the color black?’ Jeremiah had wondered. But that thought quickly faded away.
Jeremiah walked up to the driver’s side of Deacon’s car.
“Jeremiah. So nice to see you. Get in,” demanded Deacon.
Jeremiah got in on the passenger’s side. His body language spoke of being uncomfortable. It was as though he was about to make a deal with the devil.
“I don’t have to time to waste,” said Deacon. “So, here’s what I got for you to do. I need you to deliver these. You will be my FedEx man. And you get to keep thirty percent of the cut.”
Deacon handed several plastic bags over to Jeremiah, along with a list of addresses to deliver this merchandise to. What was in the bags? Even Jeremiah didn’t know until he opened them up. They revealed boxes of prescription drugs. Deacon’s clients used them to get their fix.
So this is what Jeremiah gave up his Friday nights at Harmony for? He hadn’t been seen there since the Friday before the TSU Poetry Slam. He had no desire anymore. His brightly lit fire for the Word and for poetry was growing dimmer by the minute.
“Where did you get this from?” asked Jeremiah.
“That’s really none of your business. You just deliver the stuff. Are you in?” rudely spoke Deacon.
“I don’t know about this,” Jeremiah said, unsure of the deal.
“You came to me, remember? If you’re out, then you are in trouble for wasting my valuable time. But I would suggest you do it. You hurting for cash. Need I remind you about that precious Lexus?” asked Deacon, pointing at Jeremiah’s car.
“Ok, ok. Fine. I’ll do it.”
“Good. You start delivering tomorrow night. And if you miss one, just one, then that’s your life.”
It’s just like the devil to try and take what is most precious. He wants to do anything and everything possible to disrupt what God has progressed.
“Alright. I hear you. I’ll get it done,” Jeremiah pledged in a bold voice.
Jeremiah exited the Denali and made his way back to his Lexus. During the course of the movement, Darius was standing a little far off at the nearby gas station. He looked in Jeremiah’s direction only to find Jeremiah in what looked to him to be unscrupulous business.
Darius figured it wasn’t the time to confront his best friend. So he got in his car and drove away. He was highly disappointed that Jeremiah was even dealing with Deacon. But what was even more disturbing to Darius was what kind of potential trouble Jeremiah was getting into. Jeremiah was being dealt a dangerous hand.
Saturday, July 10th, 2010
The next day, Darius decided to give Jeremiah a call. It was about six-thirty p.m.
“Hello?” answered Jeremiah.
“Whatsup, man?” spoke Darius.
“Not much. Just hanging at the house.”
“Not getting out today?”
“Nah, D. Not today. Kinda tired, man.”
“I understand that. So did you finally get to Harmony?”
“Nah. Still not up to it. Haven’t had the zeal to even write.”
“Man, you got to get back on it. God gave you that talent and you letting it go to waste.”
“Nah, D, I don’t need to get back on it. As a matter of fact, maybe I should just let it go for good. Where has it got me? Nowhere. Poetry doesn’t help me to survive life.”
“Don’t talk like that Jeremiah!”
“Listen, D, I don’t want to talk about it anymore! Cool?”
“You know, you have been real good about cutting people off here lately.”
Then there was silence.
“Do you have anything else, Darius?” snarled Jeremiah.
“Yeah, I actually do. I was over on Maple last night and I seen you. I seen you when you got out of the Denali. Looks like you was doing something with Deacon. What’s going on Jeremiah?”
“Really, D, it’s none of your business. I’m just trying to take care of myself. That’s all.”
“By doing something illegal?!? What is happening with you, Jeremiah?”
“I lose Granny. I lose my job. And it was all in a matter of weeks. And you have the audacity to ask me what is happening with me? A little job at a warehouse ain’t going to cut it, D. So I have to supplement my income some kind of way.”
“Then get a second job! Do something besides getting money illegally. You are letting God down and you are letting your friends down. This is not you, Jeremiah! This is not the Christian man I have come to know, grow up with, and love. Many, you need to pray on this.”
“I’ve done enough praying. Now it’s time for action. Why would God give me these things only to take them away? Oh, wait. He took away the person closest to me. And a good paying job. Why, D? Why?”
“I can’t answer why, Jeremiah! But I know that God has something special for you. I know that much. God has a plan for your life. But you go down the wrong path and you won’t see what that plan is. You’ll just end up messing yourself up.”
“God has a plan? I thought my job at IBA was part of God’s plan. And now it’s gone. So don’t talk to me about God’s plan!”
“Where is your faith, man? Why have you dismissed God? Yes, Mrs. Emma is gone. Yes, your job at IBA is gone. But now is the time to move forward.”
“You call me judging me for my decisions. Then you want to question my relationship with God? I thought you was my friend, D? You suppose to be on my side. Why are you going against me?”
“I’m not going against you. I’m holding you accountable for your wrong actions. That’s what friends do.”
“To me, you’re not being much of a friend. For your info, I still pray and talk to God. But I can’t wait on Him for answers anymore. I’m going to do for myself.”
“You have kids at church that look up to you. You going to let them down, too?”
“You just don’t get it, D, do you? I can’t look out for nobody else anymore. Not you, not Michelle, not the kids, nobody. My own family turned their backs on me. And now you are doing the same.”
“No, you turned your back on yourself, Jeremiah.”
“What does that even mean? Are you done? Because I got to go.”
“No, I’m not. Jeremiah…”
“Jeremiah crudely interrupted. “Well I am. Goodbye!”
The phone hung up. Darius knew something was seriously wrong. He was so familiar with Jeremiah that he knew Jeremiah never said ‘goodbye.’ Darius leaned back in his living room chair and let out a heavy sigh. He hated having arguments with his best friend. But this one was the worst of all time. Then Darius done what he knew to do best—pray.
Jeremiah, on the other hand, tried not to let the conversation affect him. He picked up his keys off the coffee table and headed out to tend to his business for Deacon. He went to most of the addresses on his list, before calling it quits. He was going to resume the next day and finish his running. But was this running going to take him to an undesirable place of death or imprisonment? At the time, Jeremiah gave no thought or care to either one.