Wildflowers


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It’s a cool Saturday in October and Peter Jenkins, age 11, is bouncing the basketball in the ball court, of Capital Public Houses, where he lives. The chubby, caramel-colored Black boy plays ball every Saturday, to avoid doing chores.  Peter is thinking about how long can he avoid doing chores since his mother isn’t home. “I hope my mom isn’t home yet from work. I can’t stand doing dishes and that bleachy smell of that cleaning powder.” Peter dribbles the ball and tries his Carmelo Anthony jump shot, but he missed the basket. “Aw man. I gotta work on my aim!”, says Pete as he’s frustrated with his 50% record on shots.

Peter moved to the complex three years ago, after his father was killed in the Iraqi War. Getting out of chores is his not the only reason he plays balls religiously. It was his favorite way to bond with his dad, Pete Sr. Pete Sr. played college ball at St. John’s University and was a freshman phenom. In his second year, he blew his knee out when a 7ft, 300 lb center landed on his knee after blocking his shot. Being the man that he was, Pete knew he had to make a living and joined the ROTC in his third year and made the Army his life.

“Pete Jenkins! Get yourself in here and clean these dishes! Give your body a rest ‘cause your jump shot is tired.” Yolanda Jenkins, Pete’s mom, gives her son his marching orders from her 3rd-floor apartment. Pete then hangs his head in shame, as the other kids in the playground laugh at his mom dissing his ball moves. Pete, the oldest of two, is too embarrassed to speak and just walks in the building. As he walks in the building, Tyrone, his main homie, walks up to him with his hand in his coat like a gangster with his finger on the trigger. Pete then states the obvious.

“Hey Ty! You acting like you about to smoke somebody.” With a sly smile, Tyrone, who usually is never speechless, slowly pulls out a silver Magnum 45. Pete’s eyes bug out of his face, steps back in fear, and responds in a loud whisper.

“Yo Ty! You not a gangster! What you tryin' to do.” 

“Look, man! I can’t have nobody clownin' me! After Tyquan talk trash about me and calling me stupid for being left back, I gotta show ’em who’s boss.”

“Hey Ty. You said you don’t like those tests and you were sick that day. Don’t worry.

“ No man. I'm handlin' mine.  See you Pete Rock.”

As Tyrone walks off, Pete sees his friend walk off thinking he might not see him again.

Pete enters his apartment home sluggishly moving his feet. His eyes are in a trance state as he walks into the living room. His mother sees the state of shock on his face and gets curious. “Are you okay? You look like you saw a ghost or something.” Pete sits down in the chair across from his mother and 8-year-old sister, Jasmine, on the sofa. Pete struggles to find the words that he saw his best friend with the deadly piece of metal 10 minutes ago.

He is not sure if telling his mother, or anyone else will help the situation. He responds to her question out of respect and spanking prevention.

“What’d you say, Mom?”

“I asked you what happened since you looked scared or confused.”

“Um, well.” Pete stumbles a bit not sure if telling his mother will escalate things. Then he thinks his mom could help save Tyrone’s life. Pete decides to tell his mother to take the load off of himself. He starts to speak slowly.

“I saw Tyrone, with a gun today. He was mad at someone for laughing at his test scores.”

Ms. Jenkins walks toward Pete and sits next to him on the love seat. Jasmine stays on the couch putting her hand over her mouth as fear consumes her eyes. Ms. Jenkins starts to speak in a low tone.

“Did you just say Tyrone had a gun! What kind of gun! What is he doing trying to hurt someone because he was teased!”

“I don’t know. I’m afraid he might use it. What should we do?”

“We need to find Tyrone’s parents or family and get to the bottom of this.”

Pete took a sigh of relief knowing that his mother feels his concern and fear of his friend hurting someone with a gun.

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