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Something must be done.

Harlem, New York

Welcome to the Capital of the Hustle and Bustle. Raindrops fall but that doesn't stop the dollar bill from exchanging at all. One way or another you're going to spend some money in New York City. No matter what. Ain't no escaping. There's bridges, tolls, tunnels, tokens, vending and worst of all parking. Odds say that a person has better chances of finding a random hundred dollar bill down on the ground before you find a parking space anywhere around Amy Ruth's Soul Cafe.

While Summer rides around looking for a parking space, she has her iHeartRadio station blaring through the Bose stereo system. The Breakfast Club is on and Mr. Larry Hoover's son, Tyree Hoover is speaking clear and direct. DJ Envy, Charlamagne Tha God and Angela Yee pay close attention to what the intelligent brother has to say in response to the keynote question. What is the solution to stop all the violence in Chicago?

"Larry Hoover can stop the violence in Chicago. Please understand that I'm just a vessel that my father speaks through. The streets relate to and respect my father. His message has always been unity. If you listen to his words closely from the Ghetto prison track on the Geto Boys Resurrection album, it's clearly calling for unity. The lyrics are as follows: 'The truth is brothers in the streets got to get together all around the nation, we got to get together in Chicago, we got to get together in L.A., we got to get together in Houston, we got to get together in New York, we got to get together in Detroit. Brothers got to get together all over this nation.'"

Summer is impressed with Tyree Hoover. He and Robbie are similar in many ways. They're both conscientiously aware and patriotic reminds her of Robbie. She has to help her only child get out of his situation. She hates the justice system. They've failed her. They've perjured and falsely accused her son.

Wrongful convictions are nothing new in America's justice system. There are many who've been acquitted of crimes that they didn't commit all around this country: The Trenton 6, The Central Park 5, The Englewood 4, The Dixmoor 5, The Scottsboro Boys, Ronald Jones, Julius Ruffin, Arthur Lee Whitfield, Tim Cole, Frank Lee Smith, Ed Brown, Arthur Ellington, Henry Shields and Rubin Hurricane Carter just to name a few. We could never accurately account for how many wrongfully convicted there are. Just know that one is too many. Something Must Be Done. Summer finally decides to abandon the efforts. This is her third time circling the block. This is her third time getting stopped at the same light. This is also her third time refraining from using obscene language out of frustration. Unfortunately, she has no choice but to park quite a ways away. This means she has to foot it in the rain for a longer than desired.

Summer's thigh-high leather boots pat, tap, click, and clack as she rips the legendary Harlem sidewalks. She's strutting her stuff with noble elegance. Summer is fit for the red carpet. Despite the crappy weather conditions, she knows how to work it. She's all ass and hips, with an amazing figure that suffocates and squeezes whatever she wears into submission. There's whistling, complementing and reckless eyeballing. She has seen every illusion and heard every proposition. Once they get in the panties and things progress into responsibilities. It's always a different story. Where are the real men? She thinks to herself. Summer knows her self-worth.

Summer ignores all of the small-minded remarks. Actually, she is disappointed. She at least expects whatever's said to be something soothing or amusing. Come on, she thinks to herself. Summer gets a taste of the sexual vultures every time she comes to Harlem, still, their lines haven't gotten any smoother. Only today there's more congregating. Must be a free-bail-program, or a cops-ain’t -working- day in Harlem, because of the high volume of handsome young men outside hustling. Nevertheless, Summer minds her own business. She doesn't have a problem with how anyone generates their income. Her problem is where does all their money go. There's no unity or plan to escape economic slavery.

"Yeah, she looks like she has some good stuff." Another lame with absolutely no game interjects his two cents. You’ll never find out. Summer thinks to herself. Although she secretly does admire the compliments. Every once in a while it's nice for her to hear that she still looks good considering her age. Summer is almost 42 years of age but she can easily pass for 22. Therefore she attracts younger men. They're welcomed as long as they're not 18-year-old babies, wait…

There's more requirements:

  1. They must be superbly intelligent.
  2. They must be street smart.
  3. They must be financially mature.
  4. They must be long winded.
  5. They must be Afrocentric.
  6. They MUST bring something to the table that's tangible, valuable and viable. I think that just about does it.

Amy Ruth's Soul Cafe

Gospel music ballerinas quietly, traveling through the restaurant's atmosphere with every intention on stirring up a positive aura. The establishment is always filled to capacity. Trust and believe Amy Ruth's chicken, waffles, ribs, and layer cakes are well worth hooking up and grubbing out.

Summer strolls over to the reserved booth that her best friend Ruah is occupying. Ruah's undivided attention is focused in on what Bro. Waters Sr. has to say in today's edition of The Brick City Ledger. The article reads in bold lettering: Massacre and natural disaster plague America. Have America's sins finally caught up with her? El Halconazo, Mandalay Bay, Irma, Katrina, Harvey, Tulsa. Tragedy has no color barrier. We must come together. Something Must Be Done.

Summer clears her throat disrupting Ruah's chain of thought.

Ruah is slightly embarrassed, for not giving her bestie a Dells standing ovation. Better late than never. Ruah springs to her feet. "Hey, how are you?"

The two attractive women immediately embrace. Ruah instantly senses that something is troubling her friend. Ruah has always been a straightforward, straight to the point sister what comes up comes out.

Once they are seated. Ruah doesn't hold back any punches. "Something is not right. I can always feed off of your vibrations, and I sense that something is wrong."

Moisture fills Summer's worrisome eyes. She tries to hold her present dilemma bundled up inside, but it kicks and pains her like a starving fetus that's already been in the uterus nine months.

Summer just isn't strong enough to hold it suppressed any longer. The tears finally spill with her statement, "Robbie is in jail charged with murder."

The entire room appears to cease motion. The music stops playing. Time stops ticking. Heartbeats stop pounding. People stop conversing. Air stops circulating. Aroma stops seeping. Blood stops flowing. The waitress and waiters stop serving.

Ruah is appalled, "Did he do it?"

"Of course not. But he did sign a confession."

"He did what!" Ruah's voice rises over the chattering customers.

"My son is not accustomed to being pressured. He was taken advantage of by those S.U.M. Detectives!"

"That makes his confession inadmissible." Ruah's drum begins to beat. She's now eager to defend her godson.

"First he has to prove that to the courts," Summer replies.

"Have you retained an attorney yet?"

"I intend to. It's just that I’m not familiar with any criminal attorneys besides you."

"I'm not practicing law anymore. When I was practicing, it was civil, not criminal. But, I do have someone in mind who can help us. His name is George Ellison aka True Bangs. It's hard to explain, but I'll try. He was a resident at the halfway house quite some time ago. Remember when I was a counselor at Kintock Halfway House?"

"Yeah," Summer recalls.

"Well, that's where we met. I was his counselor. His story was devastating. He needed a friend, I was there for him. I'm sure he will be there for me also. He's very knowledgeable of the law. This may sound like something only in the movies, but he’s been acquitted of quite a few homicides. I still don't know how he does it but he gets it done."

"I'm sorry for putting you through all this trouble. Especially with your campaign coming up, and your reputation on the line," Summer apologizes.

"We are family, we are human. We all have problems, I ain't ashamed of any one of them. What doesn't kill us can only make us stronger."

Summer is just a character that represents the countless sad mothers all around the United States of America. The mothers whose children are in captivity including the mothers who've died without enjoying their children's freedom. We the people are speaking on behalf of all the grief-stricken mothers. We are no longer going to sit here, and do nothing while Y'all keep our children in prison based on circumstantial and unfactual evidence. Something must be done.

Readers, I have decided to spice things up by interviewing a death row prisoner:

Toforest Onesha Johnson AIS#0000Z651
Holman Correctional Facility
Holman 3700
Atmore, Alabama 36503-3700

Toforest is a personal friend of mine. We've known each other 27 years. He has been incarcerated 22 of those years. During that time, our friendship has evolved into a brotherhood. Toforest has been sentenced to death by the Alabama judicial system. He's been falsely accused of allegedly murdering a police officer. He is in his sound mind and remains to proclaim his innocence. He also continues to fight for his freedom. I have inserted the complete interview below.

Author Faheem: How long have you been incarcerated?

Toforest: I don't count the Country Jail time bro, but I have been here inside Holman’s Maximum security death row unit 20 years going on 22 this month.

Author Faheem: I never stopped writing or sending you pictures. I never stop loving you. I want the world to know that you are innocent.

Toforest: I truly appreciate you bro, and you know I love you. I'm ready to get out there man and help the youngsters because they are truly lost.

Author Faheem: It won't be long before you are free.

Toforest: I'm supposed to be going back to court this month.

Author Faheem: They going to free a real one. I would like to ask you a few interview questions. Lots of people will see your response. Is that cool?

Toforest: Yeah it is.

Author Faheem: How does an innocent man on death row maintain his sanity?

Toforest: People deal with it in different ways. Personally, it was my family support mom, brother, kids, and grandkids. They kept me strong. I have never lost hope that is something I will never do. I know that justice will prevail in my favor. Let's be clear I have my bad days. There are days that I shut down, and don't talk to anyone.

Author Faheem: Have you been treated unfairly by the guards because of the nature of your alleged crime?

Toforest: I have not been mistreated by any of the guards here. I think it's because of my initial introduction upon arrival. I immediately spoke to a few guards, explaining to them that I was not there to make their jobs difficult. I also emphasized that I was not going to let them make my time hard. Respect is earned not given.

Author Faheem: What's life like on death row?

Toforest: Life on death row is hell on earth to me. Could you imagine waking up every morning getting closer and closer to death? It's documented that the state of Alabama's intentions is to kill me. Let me go into more depth. There have been cases when I have befriended prisoners. As time progressed we became family. Could you imagine how it feels when my relatives executed? I watch them marched around that corner never to return. The extent of my pain can't be totaled in words, but I will say that it hurt tremendously. The State of Alabama killed my brother, and they plan to kill me next.

Author Faheem: I've noticed that most guys who are incarcerated for a long period of time feel that it is their responsibility when released to work with at-risk children. Is that something you're interested in doing? How will you be a positive influence in your community?

Toforest: The ultimate goals for me and most of the guys I deal with are similar. We are determined to get out and try to reach the kids. This cycle must be broken. Someone has to bridge the gap between the youth and the seniors. I'm not going to give up on them. My objective is to penetrate the alpha males in the packs. If I can reach them the rest will follow.

Author Faheem: Tell us about the Injustice that was done to falsely convict you in court.

Toforest: If you are familiar with the law, you know the value of a competent investigator. I couldn't afford a lawyer so one was appointed by the courts. The investigator came along with the package. An adequate defense team made it relatively easy for the prosecution to convict. In my case, there was only one eyewitness testimony. The eyewitness stated I was not the person he saw commit this crime. I was railroaded.

Readers, the term railroaded means a scapegoat, fall guy, and falsely accused on circumstantial, trumped-up inadequate, evidence.

Thank you for your valuable time and attention. You've helped me a great deal by reading my story. If you wish to further extend a hand tell a friend and/or kindly leave a tip. All contributions will be used toward the spread of a positive message. Please stay tuned for much more.

Read next: Nyx (Ch. 1)
Author Faheem
Author Faheem

Self-published author of the Vicious, These Boots Too Big, Generational Curse & Rough Stuff. Faheem is a native of Newark, NJ. His works contain a strong positive message & shines light on struggles that all readers can relate too.

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