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Authors: Che Parker

The Tragic Flaw

BOOK: The Tragic Flaw
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The Tragic Flaw

Strebor Books
P.O. Box 6505
Largo, MD 20792

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of
the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or
locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

© 2007 by Che Parker

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means whatsoever. For information address Strebor Books, P.O. Box 6505, Largo, MD 20792.

ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-6848-3
ISBN-10: 1-4165-6848-4

LCCN 2007923863

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Tragic flaw
1913: a defect in character that brings about the downfall of the hero of a tragedy


This book is dedicated to my friend

Oshun “O.G.” Garner

rest in peace


Thank you to my mother, Shelley, and my aunt Onyta, the best
a young man could have.

Thanks to my father, Robert Parker, without whom my education would not have been possible, rest in peace.

And to my stepfather, Archie “Bobby” Miller, for providing for us and eventually kicking me out of the house. You will never know how much I needed that.

Chapter 1

outhful laughter permeates the old neighborhood on an unseasonably sultry winter day. Three-story homes and greening arbors line the streets on either side. The homes' aged and stately appearances clash with the sounds of adolescence. Older model cars dot College Avenue here and there. Most are well kept, washed and waxed, and parked close enough to the curb as to avoid the all too infamous sideswipe. Others lack hubcaps, or sport more than one tone—black and taupe, for instance—certainly not what the manufacturer intended.

Still others lack tires, or have been clasped with city-owned clamps that prevent them from doing what they're meant to do. Of course they're American made. Names like Buick, Ford, and Oldsmobile are commonplace. More than one flatbed truck lives here, and is used here, often to haul in bicycles that require assembly, or to haul out sofas when excuses no longer dissuade eager landlords.

The gold and red masonry of the homes stands strong in the face of frail innocence. The dwellings are seemingly paternal in essence, standing watch over tomorrow's dearest. Visible black bars of iron cover nearly every window on the ground level, hinting at unforeseen perils and dangers that might thrive in this community.

Most sidewalks are well swept, but a few could use sprucing up. They very often resemble the tidiness of the vehicles parked just in front of them. Wrappers with words like Coca-Cola, Jolly Ranchers, and Coors, and other colorful plastics with various titles are seen in gutters, not everywhere, but more than enough.

A single ringing gunshot is heard while children are at play. Nothing uncommon for this neighborhood, so the youth continue their games in the thick humid air. Some, mostly girls, are tossing rocks on quadrangles and hopping on unsteady feet. Others, sweaty boys in T-shirts and dirty blue jeans, thrust outstretched hands toward still others, boys and girls who flee as if their pursuers wished to transmit smallpox or leprosy. Several girls, not quite nubile, twirl opposing ropes as a single entrenched participant leaps in a battle against the encircling cords. Her laughter is infectious, as her beaded locks frolic about and sweat drips from her brow. They're clad in cut-rate shorts and tank tops with waning hues of pink and lavender, and off-white sandals that have had their fair share of rope jumping and inner-city jaunts. The other two partakers giggle with her and against her. They're not new to this game; they have played it many times. Each time it is pleasurable. The summertime weather beckons, even though it is only February. Another gunshot rings out, echoing against the urban edifices. There's still no reaction from the playing preteens as they chuckle and skip.

They have songs and chants and rhymes that usually accompany their rope exercise, but not this time. This time it's more serious. The middle combatant is a champion, and her compatriots wish to dethrone her. Even still, her feet seem to be magnetically repelled by the ground and the ropes. They smack the hot turf methodically while avoiding the merest brush with the composite twine.

A graying grandmother exits her front door and comes to sit idle on her stoop, observing the ever-changing world through wise, time-tested eyes. She has been a witness to Jackie Robinson's first base hit, lynchings, riots, and space travel. She's seen the persecution of quadroons and conversely, the invalidation of age-old taboos. She, perhaps unlike others her age, has no fear of dying.

Her faded floral housecoat and matching slippers appear as aged as she, and her brown, wrinkled, and calloused hands offer a glimpse into the difficult life she has led. Lovely roses of all colors begin to bloom in her yard, fooled by the early ninety-degree day. She has diligently tended to these flowers for years.

The glowing sun fights through the scattered clouds. Baby blue occupies the sky. Undeterred yellow beams of light strike the pavement. It is un-doubtedly a beautiful day.

A beam catches one young lass's light-brown eyes and long lashes, enhancing both, as she twirls her end of the two ropes with coffee-colored hands. Sweaty palms grasp the cordage as she fights to hold on.

Family gatherings bring the aroma of mesquite and charred beef and pork. Third generations are ordered to perform songs and dances for first generations. It's tradition on days like this. And with weather so lovely in the dead of winter, all wish to take advantage of it.

A badly lit mom-and-pop corner store sees a steady stream of at least three generations during the day and well into the night. The neighborhood's rambunctious kids are sustained with consistently stocked shelves of licorice and hot pickles.

Middle-aged and sturdy fix-it men in tattered coveralls stop by for D batteries, seventy five-watt light bulbs, nails, and flathead compatible screws kept on dusty wooden racks. They chat briefly with the owner about how their home team could go all the way if they just had a decent secondary and some semblance of a pass rush. Well-known rummies fall in for the inexpensive lagers and two-dollar bottles of
stored in lukewarm refrigerator units.

A cool breeze blows. A crackle of thunder interrupts the melodic chuckles, yet the play goes on. The flow of business at the bazaar is uninterrupted. A burnt-out drunk with a hardened face pours worthless suds from this empty beer bottle onto the sidewalk. He then asks the neighborhood's young hustlers for spare change, and they in turn laugh at him, as always. The abodes, while casting a regal shadow of protection on the area's most precious resource, hide a secret.

For just a few feet away, one turn to the left, a few paces down, and yet another swivel the opposite way, then down an alley where vermin reside and slime and sludge congregate, lies a dying shell. It is the shell of a man. The dying, bleeding shell of a man. That ringing shot was no accident. It has hit its mark.

Key aspects of his chest are absent. Maroon solution cascades down the side of his torso in a slow waterfall of despair and anguish.

Yet the children's laughter is still heard, ignorant that it fills the ears of the perishing, who is in no need of its sardonic prodding. The burgundy life force pools just beneath its reluctant spring. The giggling intensifies and is ubiquitous as the clouds open and it begins to rain. A mad scramble is made to every step, stoop, doorway, door, foyer, and elsewhere.

The stray yellow beams of light have been overwhelmed by the dark gray coming of the rain.

The relentless drops splash in the unsuspecting red sauce, pounding the man's body, which at this point has no say in the matter. Yet, sirens can be heard in the background. There is hope for him, as the rain pours. The sudden precipitation makes an overwhelming
sound as it coats everything in what appears to be insurmountable moisture.

The man wears exquisite garb from the Old World. Fine lines, evenly stitched, and thread counts in the hundreds, position themselves along sinewy flesh. The stench of forthcoming death lingers as his eyelids flutter. His breathing is weak and faint.

The brilliant powder-blue mainstay of his soaked shirt contrasts sharply with poignant crimson lines that intersect throughout it. Midnight-colored trousers, also of the Italian peninsula, rest comfortably on the drenched and ever more dampening pavement. The man's slip-on onyx loafers lie fixed in a conflicting state, pointing directly at each other in a supple and unsightly way.

Zeus is restless. The rain pounds it all. The man's black blazer now functions as a colander for heaven's tears. His earth-tone hands and fingers, furrowed by the wetness, are bent in awkward positions. The fingers twitch as if communicating via sign language prior to what looks like an inevitable trip to the spirit world. His eyes become securely closed, looking as if he is simply napping as the sirens get louder and closer. The lines on his face display a few years, but not many.

He would look peaceful, if it weren't for his contorted posture and weather-beaten exterior. His frame becomes cold, losing any inkling of heat or energy. Rivers of waste and other remnants are washed to the man by the driving rain.

Rubbish, like shattered glass held together by sticky labels, begins to gather near his feet. Used condoms collect fittingly near his midsection; his body locked in a fetal position. All things urban are flushed toward this once proud man, who now finds himself a filter for a city's precipitation and refuse.

And still, the blood pours. It gathers, and then is dispersed by the rain into several streams that flow down the black glossy alleyway in an artistic display. It is fluid artwork that has decorated ghettos the world over. This medium, unlike colored pencils or pastel chalk, is the medium that keeps Hell engorged with uncaring youth and malevolent adults.

An expiring heart pumps faintly in a rain-soaked alley.

But blaring sirens near. All is not lost.

BOOK: The Tragic Flaw
3.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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