It was a post-card perfect Christmas day. The air was cold and crisp. It was a few minutes after sunset. We all piled into the Ford Taurus. You could smell our adrenaline. I drove: four Black men, four black ski mask, four semi-automatic weapons, and an uncompromising will to succeed. As the Taurus rolled over the streets it transformed from a family sedan into an urban gun ship. We felt both nervous and invincible. I imagined how incredible the Task Force must feel when they terrorize Black folks in the ghetto – dressed in all black, guns blazing, bright yellow letters displayed on jackets and hats; screaming police and commanding submission or death to anyone who chooses to resist.
Our plan of attack was simple. We would utilize the same technique the Task Force had used on my father and Uncle Richard. We would kick the door in, scream police, and storm the house. But the closer we got to our target, the more I doubted the correctness of my decision. But then I rationalized that it must be okay because the police regularly do it to Black families on less evidence than I had. Moreover, Mustapha had put his family in this predicament, and I refused to give him a pass, even if it meant someone innocent might get hurt… or killed.
When we were a few miles away from our target, Robot took control over the situation. “Listen up!” He demanded, “When we pull up, follow me to the back door! As soon as I kick it in, burst in and start screaming (Police) at the top of your lungs! Make everybody lay face down where ever they are! And I mean everyone, including the women and children. Once they’re down, make’em crawl to the living room! Do not allow anyone to look up! I repeat, do not allow anyone look up!”
“Should we hit the back and side door?” Daniel asked nervously.
“No! We all go in the back door! They aren’t expecting us and it’ll seem like more of us if we go in through the same door.”
I was uncomfortable with him commanding my men, but I appreciated his cool head. He continued, “Make sure you round up the women first! Them dumb ass bitches’ll do anything to protect the kids! Get all the women and children on the same side of the room in case we need to open fire or take a few hostages! Now this is important, so listen up! Do not say anything to anyone! I’m the only motha fucker authorized to talk and I’m not saying shit until we have everything under control! That way, if something goes wrong and we have to kill one of them stupid mother fuckers, they won’t have a motive to connect this shit to Jimmy! Do you understand me!”
We all nodded.
“Does everyone understand my instructions?”
“Yes sir!” We said in unison. My heart was racing so fast that I could hardly hear. My tongue felt like sandpaper. Every hair on my body was standing straight up.
“Everybody ready!” He demanded as he searched our faces for signs of weakness.
WE PULLED IN FRONT OF a large brick Tudor style home with forest green shutters and white eves. Christmas lights twinkled around every window. The front door was wrapped in gold foil and decorated with an evergreen wreath. There were several vehicles in and around the driveway. Mustapha’s blue Park Avenue was against the garage.
We pulled our ski mask down and scrambled toward the back door. When I took my first step onto the back porch, my gun suddenly sprang to life. It was slippery and slithering. As I wrestled to gain control of it, Robot kicked the door and it nearly flew off its hinges. We stormed in screaming Police! Police! Lay down on the ground! We fanned out over the house. Women and children dressed in their finest church clothes were gathered in the kitchen. A young girl with pig tails was spreading chocolate frosting on a round cake. Robot pushed her face to the ground. Family members were sitting at the dining room table. It was covered with turkey, dressing, gravy and all the trimmings. A brilliant Christmas tree glittered energetically in the living room. Marvin Gay played on the stereo. “Lay down on the ground!” I violently screamed. I didn’t recognize the sound of my own voice. It frightened me. “Lay down on the ground!” I repeated. It actually took a few seconds before the family realized what was happening. They were in shock. The women and children began screaming and crying. The men followed close behind. Commotion and pandemonium quickly ensued.
After a few dreamy moments, a young mother with a big forehead, circular glasses and dark brown skin stood up and said, “Ya’ll ain’t the police!” Robot rushed toward her and shouted, “Bitch get down on the ground before I kill you!” The young mother, apparently miscalculating Robot’s aggression, hesitated for a split second. Robot crashed his pistol against the young mother’s forehead with murderous brutality. The blow shattered her glasses and she dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes. As I watched the blood gush from her head, I thought about Awkabok. I’m not sure what was going on inside me, but watching the violence caused this unexplainable urge in me to hurt someone. Anyone! I looked up and saw my own deranged reflection in the mirror above the fireplace. I wanted to shoot him too. “Down motha fuckers!” Robot growled, “I’m a kill all you bitches and niggas who want to be heroes! Everybody cooperate and nobody gets killed! Does everyone understand!” No one responded. “Do you understand!” He roared. A heavy set older woman who appeared to be the grandmother meekly replied, “Yes sir, yes sir. We understand you sir. Please don’t hurt my babies. They ain’t lived long enough to do nothing to deserve to die.” I had never seen anyone so angry and frightening. Robot was practically foaming at the mouth. He was shaking and bouncing around the house like a raging beast. He was kicking men and dragging women around the rooms by their hair. I felt like the situation was becoming dangerously close to a murder and began shouting, “We’re here for Mustapha! We’re here for Mustapha!” Robot threw both of his hands up in the air and screamed a scream which indicated he was angry for my violation. The grandmother cried out, “Lord, Mustapha ain’t here. Dear Lord, he ain’t been here all day. Please don’t hurt my babies. We’ll do whatever you say.”
“Why is his car outside!” I shouted.
“He dropped it off this morning.” She said.
“Check upstairs!” I commanded.
After a few moments Andre and Daniel returned. “He ain’t here!” Daniel sputtered.
“You sure?” I said.
“We check every room.” Andre said.
“Alright let’s get the fuck out of here.” I said.
“Wait a second.” Robot said. And then to the victims, “I want everybody to give me your mother fuckin IDs!” They were hesitating. He kicked a frail grey haired woman in the stomach. Everyone started scrambling. The men were reaching for their wallets. He collected several and shouted, “Do not call the police! If anyone calls the police we’ll come to your homes and kill you and your families! Do not call the police! Mustapha did this to you!”
WE LOADED UP IN THE TAURUS. I drove. Daniel was up front, Andre and Robot were in back. This time, the car didn’t feel like an urban gun ship. It felt more like a dog sled being drug over concrete. I couldn’t stop shaking. We were all trying to catch our breath. Daniel couldn’t stop coughing. My ears were ringing.
“Stop all that fucking coughing!” I shouted.
Daniel continued to cough and gasp for air. After about three or four minutes, Robot casually fired up a joint. Its pungent odor fills the cabin. “Come on Robot.” I carefully admonish. “We ain’t even out the burbs yet.”
“You right dog.” And he took another long pull before extinguishing it. He didn’t like my advice. A couple blocks later and we pull up to a traffic light. I look in my rear view mirror and observe a police cruiser speeding up the road toward us. It pulls directly behind me and nearly taps my bumper. I’m sweating and shaking. My gun and ski mask are in my lap. “Do not look back,” I say as calmly as possible. “But popo just pulled up behind us.”