Chapter 1: The Beginning
My name is Jabari Wilson, a 17 year old kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. See I was what they call a ‘good kid’; I got straight A’s in school with a 4.0 GPA and always have throughout grade school, middle school, and now high school. I was captain of both the football and basketball teams, a quarterback in the former and a point guard in the latter, and generally, I didn’t cause trouble and have never gotten detention, suspended, or any kind of punishment in school.
To describe myself, my appearance, I’d say that I was good-looking, 5ft 11 inches tall with dark brown skin, an afro, and a nice mustache growing. My build is somewhat athletic, though on the skinny side, though I still managed to be one of the stronger and faster kids on both of my teams. I lived with my mother and father in a relatively small apartment downtown, along with my younger 14 year old brother Jaheem. Jaheem followed in my footsteps except he was more aggressive, less willing to listen to others, and had occasionally gotten in trouble for back talking to teachers and other authority figures. Jaheem was a bit shorter, 5ft 8 inches in height, and was a shade lighter than me. He had his hair cornrowed and was skinnier than I was, even at that age.
Me and my brother were close, we hung out all the time, played video games together, talked about life, etc. I even drove him to school and picked him up whenever he needed it. Life was good, and I was on the path to become something special, possibly division 1 in both sports, getting a full ride to college, I was set. My future was bright.
In other words, I’ve never gotten in trouble, I’ve never done anything wrong before, so it was a shock when one day me and my younger brother were stopped by the police.
It was a fairly normal day, the weather was nice, and me and Jaheem were driving to the store to pick up some snacks, a drink, and some batteries. We were hungry and craving some sugar mostly, and the house was running low on batteries which were used for things like remote controls, flashlights, my electric razor, my electric toothbrush, and so on. We weren’t completely out yet, but better to be safe than sorry. So we were riding along in my red 2016 Chevy Impala with the black interior, just talking about basketball and girls.
“I’m telling you ’Heem, the most important thing you need to truly be great, is handles.” I spoke, discussing with Jaheem the intricacies of basketball.
“Nah, kill that noise bruh. Handles? Get all the way out of here. You need a jumpshot first and foremost. And to supplement that, next is defense. Handles doesn’t even come into the equation.” He responded, looking at me as if I was crazy.
“Really? With handle, you turnover the ball less, you can run fast breaks, get to the hole easier, break a team down with your skills alone, and you’re impossible to guard one on one. A jumpshot can be shut down by any decent defender just staying in front of you, getting a hand in your face. And defense is good, but most defensive players aren’t even well known or good in anyway.” I countered, defending my decision.
“I got one word for that. Picks. Let’s say you can guard me so well, that I never get off a shot. I just simply pass the ball away and/or get a screen from one of my teammates, leaving you lagging behind and me open for the buckets.” He said, mimicking the shot of a basketball player.
“Alright watch your hands, we’re not trying to get in an accident.” I warned him.
“And ,” He begins, ignoring my warning, “if I can shoot, that means 3′s. And obviously 3′s outclass anything you can do with handle no question. You hit 8 layups by breaking the defense down? OK, you got 16 points. I hit eight 3′s and I got 24 points. Not even close. We can even make it more even and I only hit one 3 pointer out of my 8 made shots, and still I have 17 AKA more than you. Just face it, a jumpshot’s better in every way.” He argued once more.
“Yeah well–” I began before suddenly slamming on the brakes. While we had the right of way and the green light, the car across the lane (a moderate sized black truck) and on the right (my left) had still turned suddenly, nearly causing an accident. If I had kept going, as I had the right to, we would’ve either crashed or gotten within inches of doing so. Reckless.
“Damn. People can’t drive for nothing.” Commented my brother, the sudden stop causing him to lurch forward a bit, though he was held back by his seat belt. Wasn’t that the truth? I always noticed despite driving well enough to pass their driving test, most people totally switched gears (pun intended) once they got out on the open road. No regard for the rules, for common courtesy, or common sense at all. It seemed like people were willing to crash and/or possibly die for their right to drive terrible. It made no sense. That’s why I always preached safe and cautious driving.
“Yeah man. That’s why I tell you, you got to be careful when driving. No matter how well you drive and how well you follow the rules, there’s always someone driving stupid out here, ready to cause an accident. You just got to be aware and act accordingly.” I explained, looking around for any more sudden cars, before continuing to the store.
“So enough about basketball, let’s talk about something else. I can clearly see that you’re too stuck on the importance of a jumpshot, acting like most great shooters aren’t simply roleplayers. So let’s move on.” I requested, throwing one last argument in there.
“And I can see you’re ignoring all the point guards with crazy amounts of handle that go absolutely nowhere. Really you’re talking about what YOU need more to play basketball, because you’re already fast and strong, and handles makes you nearly unstoppable.” Jaheem exclaimed. “And how’re you going to call for a change in subject and try to make some last ditch argument on it. That doesn’t even make sense.” He added.
“Well I did, so let’s move on. How about girls? I notice you talking to girls more and more when I pick you up. How’s that going, you got a girlfriend yet?” I half asked, half teased my brother. I really have noticed a big change in him though. Over the last few months, I’ve always seen him trying to spit game to a girl before I come pick him up. Sometimes I even wait a few minutes until it looks like he’s kind of lost, before showing up to save him. Don’t get me wrong, talking to girls is fine, more than fine actually; I just want to see where his head’s at and make sure he doesn’t get too caught up in it.
“Yeah I’m talking to girls more, and nah I don’t got a girlfriend yet. What about you, how’s Nia?” He asked, turning the question back on me. Nia was a girl that was in a lot of my honor roll and AP classes. She was one of the top students, behind only myself, and still was beautiful to boot. 5′5”, brown eyes, black braided hair (all natural too), a nice figure, she was a good pick. That’s why I made her my girlfriend.
“She’s good. But we’re not talking about me and Nia, we’re talking about you and your girl issues.” I retorted, changing the subject from Nia back to ’Heem. Me and her were good, so that didn’t need any discussion. We chilled from time to time, did homework together, and the relationship was fine. ’Heem on the other hand…
“Issues? Man I’m good with the girls. I don’t know what ‘issues’ you’re talking about.” He replied, face scrunching up at the perceived insult. I mean it wasn’t really an insult. Just an observation mixed with some teasing. I’m sure he’d do fine eventually, but watching him flounder like that was still hilarious on all levels. But for now, I had to calm him down and stop him from catching feelings.
“Not like that ’Heem, no diss. I’m just saying, you seem to be talking to girls more and I’m trying to see where your head’s at. Are you just doing it for fun? Looking for a girlfriend? Trying just to smash? And depending on those answers, I got to make sure you’re handling yourself right as to not cause problems for yourself down the line.” I said, informing him of my motives. It’s hard to tell these days. Most boys pretend they’re just trying to smash girls nonstop like they’re Hulk or something, but the large majority of them don’t even touch a girl. Then there are boys who actually mean it, and then some who only want a girlfriend. In my opinion he didn’t really need to focus on them much. He was still too young.
“Oh, alright then. Right now I’m just having fun, shopping around, know what I mean? As for smashing and ‘handling myself right’, don’t worry Fam, I got this. I know what you ’bout to say about condoms and being safe, blah blah blah. I’m good. I know.” He stated. I know he did, with how much I pushed condoms and safe sex and the idea of not just smashing any random girl. I basically burrowed it into his brain with how much I stressed it.
“Yeah but there’s more to it than that. I’d also say that you should pick and choose who you smash. I’m not saying to save yourself for abstinence or nothing like that, but make sure she’s worthy of you.” I replied back, looking my brother in his eyes as we’re at a red light. He looked back at me for a second, nodding his head as he seemed to get what I was saying.
“Yeah I see what you’re saying. Be selective and stuff. I’m not trying to be a man whore or nothing, believe that, so I see what you’re saying. Like I said before, I’m good.” He proclaimed. That worked for me. I just wanted him to be aware of how to conduct himself and protect himself properly. It was my job as the older brother to pass down my knowledge to him and protect him in life, and dealing with girls was no exception.
We drove another minute in silence, the scenery passing by in blurs, with a pretty much open road, before reaching the store.
“Alright, we’re only here for snacks, drinks, and batteries. Try not to go crazy.” I told him as I parked the car and started to unbuckle my seat belt. He said nothing and just gave me a look of annoyance as we entered the store. We separated immediately, him going for the snacks and drinks and me going for the batteries. I looked around the store, searching for batteries. First I looked in the back, near the random electronics that stores like this seemed to have, and then snaked my way up and down every aisle before finding them. They were near the register. Damn, I could’ve just gotten my snacks first and gotten the batteries after, basically making this a waste of time. Oh well, time spent and lesson learned. Well it’s only been a few minutes, and with that taken care of, I could now go look at the snacks. As I walked towards the food aisles, I saw Jaheem, all ready to go with snacks in hand. My brother had some chips and a fruit punch in his hand, and was already basically at checkout so I felt rushed a bit to get something quickly. Peering around, I saw a multitude of candy from gummy worms, to flavored hard candy, to gum, to an entire section of chocolates, caramels, nuts, and so on. But what caught my eye most was a chocolate and peanut butter candy bar. Swiftly I picked that up along with a bottle of water I had seen earlier to drink. Despite the rush I probably picked the better option between us (a healthier choice definitely. Plus sweets tend to taste better than whatever chips are), so I was good.
I walked up to the register, put my candy, batteries, and water down, and handed a five dollar bill to the girl at the register. I looked around as the cashier processed my purchase, and panicked for a second when I didn’t see my brother. Luckily I could look through the window and see that he was waiting near the car. I thanked the cashier for the change she handed back to me, grabbed my bag, and made my way to the car as well. It only took me a few seconds to catch up to him, but of course my little brother had a lot to say.
“Damn, what took you so long? Getting batteries held you up that much?” Asked Jaheem, joking somewhat, yet clearly bored from his short time of waiting.
“Nah, it only took a second. Not my fault you shop at super speed.” I replied, returning the joke.
“Super speed? That’s just you being slow boy. Don’t get salty ’cause you don’t move with the swiftness like I do.” He said smugly, as he opens the door to the car.
“Yeah, well watch your mouth before you end up walking home.” I retorted, before opening my own door and starting the car. I sat down, buckled up, looked around to make sure Jaheem’s buckled up too, looked for any oncoming drivers, and then took off. We rode in relative silence, Jaheem eating his chips and enjoying his snacks, while I focused on the road. We were about half way home when suddenly we heard a siren go “WOOP WOOP”; it was the sound of the police.
We both looked around vigorously, searching for something that the cop car could possibly be chasing. I didn’t see anything, so I turned to Jaheem. He just shrugged and I pulled over to the side to let the police car through. Strangely when I did, the car followed me as if...I was the target. But that didn’t make sense? I mean I didn’t break any rules, run any stop signs, red lights, nothing. I looked over to Jaheem and saw that he had his seat belt on so that was covered. I looked down at myself and yep, I was buckled in too. What could he possibly want from us?
“Hey Jaheem, I think the cop’s for us. It’s pulling us over for some reason. You see anything?” I asked my brother.
“For us? Come on man, that doesn’t make any sense. We ain’t do nothing wrong!” He exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air.
“Exactly. So I suggest we just get this over with and talk to the officer. It’s probably a misunderstanding.” I reassured him.
“I don’t know. I don’t like this, it seems fishy. We should just drive home, wait until we get there. That’s a thing you know, we don’t HAVE to pull over here. At home there’s less chance of...B.S. Happening.” He replied, clearly worried due to the less than stellar rep police had nowadays. Sure there were a few reports of police brutality and wrongdoings, but all cops couldn’t be bad. He was overreacting.
“Look there’s nothing to be afraid of. We’ve done nothing wrong, we’re not threatening in any way, so they have no reason to get violent. Just listen to the officer and stay cool and we’ll be off and driving back home in no time.”
“I don’t know man, I don’t like it. That’s all I’m saying.”
“Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.”