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An American DreamThe Life
By Tony Thomas
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Tony Thomas
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Jones'
It was the year of 1978, on a hot summer morning in mid August when two twin boys were born. However, some may look back and consider it a cold day in hell. These twin boys were born to an Italian-American mother and an African-American father in Winston Salem, North Carolina. The first born was named Antonio. The baby boy was, Sizalino. Antonio and Sizalino's parents were a typical young couple. They got together right after graduating from high school. In which Sizalino's mother, Carmen, got pregnant in the early winter months of '78, by none other than the playboy himself, Anthony Jones.
Carmen was somewhat of a drama teen. She was wild and adventurous. So Carmen's parents sent her to live with her aunt in North Carolina during her senior year because of disciplinary reasons. Shortly before being sent to North Carolina she was torn apart by the death of her father, a veteran from the Vietnam War. As a result, she became unruly. Being withdrawn from others, even running away to Washington D.C. where she got with a bad group of winches who had her doing drugs and not to mention, she was raped. This was unacceptable behavior for a catholic girl from Martinsville, Virginia. So Aunt Sissy (Sicilia) was the answer. She was a strict, no nonsense kind of lady and a firm throwback from the old days in Sicily, with all of the solid traditions. It was because of this transition that Carmen met the love of her life, Anthony. He was a true father figure type.
A few months into her pregnancy, despite her family's wishes, Carmen married Anthony (Tony). Becoming Misses Jones. She would erase the existence of her family name, Cruzano, especially since her mother would no longer have anything to do with her or her new family. Anthony was a wild country Negro, who grew up in the South fighting segregation. White people! In his early years of school, on into junior high, blacks went to separate schools than whites. He fought with whites for most of his life. His brothers, sisters, cousins, and uncles all fought along with him. It was finally a breakthrough in his second year of high school after a big riot of violence and injury had broke out from the previous school year. It was so disturbing that not only did it make the news and newspapers, but it also forced a change in all schools of the South. Blacks could now attend the same schools as whites. They were now entitled to equal and efficient education.
It was a new day for Anthony and all other blacks across the South. Anthony still had a grudge against most whites, but there was a stunning 5 foot brunette who had captured her attention. She didn't act like most of the other white girls who attended his high school. She was talkative and open to blacks. She even hung with some of the black girls and tended to seem just as one of them. At times she was degraded by white students for this, but she didn't seem to care.
Anthony did his research on this mystery girl, who he felt always gave him the eye, and found her to be a Miss Carmen Cruzano. An Italian-American! That explained it. She was somewhat a misfit herself to white folks. Well, he had to have her. He made an introduction and they were soon well acquainted. They dated for the rest of the year. Secretly somewhat, due to the forbidden wishes of Aunt Sissy and the fact that back then, interracial relationships caused serious drama.
After high school came the twins and eventually the marriage. Anthony moved Carmen and the twins in with his mom near Wake Forest. He got a job doing maintenance work but thought he did better supporting his family by gambling playing hoops almost every evening. Some he won, but most he lost. Frustration began to build. The pressure of living at home with his mother and complaints by Carmen that he was always running the streets with friends, chasing women and not spending enough time at home resulted in Anthony using his wife as a stress reliever, kicking off in her ass whenever he was in the mood. She eventually tried to leave him, but he somehow met her at her cousin Norma's in Newport News, Virginia, begging and pleading with her to come back to Carolina. Swearing he'd change, saying that his actions were a sickness from being an abused child himself. She agreed, and they eventually moved to Dallas, Texas, after Tony got plugged in with a job making $25 an hour; a job that his cousin Leon from New York hooked up, which also required Tony to fly to N.Y. every couple of weeks.
Tony and his family were living better than ever, until Leon got popped in the skull by a rival organization; right between the eyes, execution style. Tony flew to N.Y. for his cousin's funeral, and then vowed to plot vengeance. Carmen begged him to let it go, telling him he had a family. In all the while she was enjoying their good fortune; she hadn't even realized that her husband was engaged in illegal activities.
Shortly after Leon's demise, Tony found out that his mother had moved to Columbus, Ohio. She was following her sister's advice that raising her 5 children in the city, the last of her 13, would be best for her and the children.
The city offered convenient housing, welfare/social-security, and all the other false dreams that city life promises. It turns out that the kids got into trouble, and stayed in it. Misses Jones' health had gotten dramatically worse due to stress and partially to age; and generally to a rough life. On top of all this she continued to chain smoke. She ate salty, greasy foods, and cursed anyone who warned her about it and the effects it could have on her high blood pressure.
After about a year or so, Tony's conscious broke down, sending him and his family to Columbus. When he arrived, he was informed that his mother was dying and that she was on a respiratory machine. Finally after a few months went by, she quietly passed through the end of the night. On the morning of April 10th, 1989, Misses Jones was pronounced dead. Tony was enraged. He blamed everything and everyone. He was distant from all of his family at the funeral, hating them for ever being born. He claimed that he was not their brother, because out of 13 children, he had his own father. He became so bad after his mother's passing, that he cheated on Carmen more than ever before. And brutally beat her with no remorse, having no conscious about it. He sent her to the hospital nearly every week. There was once an incident while they were living on 17th Avenue on the city's north side, where little Antonio drew his father's 44 magnum pistol out of the closet and pointed it right at Tony. When he coaxed his son to put the gun down, he savagely beat him, claiming that Carmen put him up to it. So he beat her as well, giving her a matching cherry nose just as he had gave their son. Carmen could take no more. She packed up her and the boys' things late at night while Tony was at work. She left him for good, exactly one year after his mother's death. April 11th, 1990.
Chapter TwoYoung Murder
It was a windy spring night, in late March of 1993. I was walking down Joyce Avenue with my brother, Twin (Antonio) at about 1a.m.
"Hey bruh, you know pop's bitch of a wifey gon' rat us out for bein' out so late. Fuckin' wit you and ya lil' broad. And you didn't even fuck! I'ma cuss her homegirl out, though. I'm salty that hoe ain't slide through," I said.
"Yo, she got a fat ass, too. Don't trip about pop's bitch, though. You know she probably asleep, anyway. I'm telling you though Siz-o, the next time I get that bitch's panties down ..." Before Twin could finish I cut him off.
"Yo Twin, check these niggas out creepin' up on the sly, all hooded up wit they heads dipped down," I said.
Twin just made a gesture down towards his waist where he had Tony senior's 44 magnum tucked under his N.Y. Giants starter parka. "Just be cool lil' bruh, they don't want no drama," said Twin.
As we walked past this unknown trio, it was something about the deceitful look in the short one leading the pack's eyes that told me this was going to be a night to be remembered. Indeed filled with drama.
Once they were about 12 feet past us, the little short wanna-be-thug muthaphucka who also seemed to be the oldest and wore a Chicago Bulls starter parka with a matching Kango, stopped and muttered some, 'Hey homey' type shit, along with a click-clack. As we turned after hearing this definite sound of a death threat, the walking dead man said, "You with the Raiders jacket on! Check it in, dog."
I looked wide eyed at my bruh, heart racing a mile a minute as he said to me, "run Siz-o!" As I did just that, he pulled out the 44 and started busting. The 3 stooges tried to dip but the tall one caught a soft leaded slug to the hip as he hit the pavement like a scene from 'Boyz-in-the-Hood'. In the midst of turning the corner for safety behind the church, I caught a slug in the shoulder. I continued to run as I heard a few more shots. After jumping the fence into the backyard of a neighborhood home near Joan Park, I collapsed. I was startled when I looked up and saw my twin over top of me. Thank God!
"Siz, come on bruh, we gotta get you to the crib." Twin said. I just laid there as I heard his voice. "Come on, bruh! You gotta get to a hospital. You gon' make it. You ain't dyin' tonight, bruh," he said.
Something in his words allowed me to rise. As we ran through the park we had shot ball in, gathered with associates, and mingled with so many cuties daily. Within a few minutes, which seemed like an eternity, we reached the crib as I collapsed on the couch once we got inside. I was losing blood like a slaughtered pig.
"Yo Ann! Call 911, Siz-o just got shot," Twin yelled.
"What? What happened?" Ann said as she turned on the light and came down the steps rubbing her eyes.
"Just call an ambulance and call my pops. Siz-o got shot, he need help." Twin yelled again.
"Oh my God, he's bleeding everywhere. Let me get my coat," said Ann.
Twin helped me get to the car, but shot back into the house to stay with my baby sister, Samicia. We pulled off from Republic Avenue onto Joyce Avenue as a police cruiser sat on the corner, while 2 officers doing paperwork with their dome light on just looked at us. Ann informed them that I had been shot and that we were headed to Doctor's North at full speed. The blonde female officer said that they'd lead.
"Y'all didn't just hear gun shots a few minutes ago?" Ann asked.
"Yeah, but we hear gun shots all the time," said the officer. It turns out that they had been on the corner the whole time, just 2 blocks down from a fatal crime.
When I got to the hospital I was rushed into the emergency room where I was put on a gurney. I laid there lightheaded, replaying the whole night in my mind. I was losing a lot of blood, though; and getting weaker by the minute. 'Damn', didn't these muthaphuckas realize that I had been shot?! I started thinking about all of that '911 is a joke' shit and the rest of those hood sayings that applied to most lower class minorities.
They finally wheeled me into an operating room where I was given an I.V. and some medical attention. My pops eventually arrived, followed by my moms. The doctor started telling my pops some shit about how it would be best to leave the bullet lodged in my shoulder, saying that it would be too risky trying to remove it. My pops wasn't feeling that, though. He wanted a second prognosis. Another doctor with more years of experience from another floor said he recommended that it be surgically removed because the bullet was liable to travel into my neck or elsewhere; being fatal. Pops almost choked the first doctor until mom and the other staff members stopped him. Just then the laws walked in. Can you fucking believe that they wanted to question me in my condition?! I was heavily sedated and my parents were against it as well as the doctors. Saying that I needed to get into surgery immediately and that I didn't need any traumatic reminder of the incident. I was too unstable. I was too high to tell the pricks anything. I was fucking dying, I felt! They rushed me off to the 5th floor to perform the surgery. As my parents walked out to the waiting room, praying for their baby boy, one of the officers said that there had been two other shootings in the area that night.
He said that one young man, a Jamal Stevens (age 15), had been shot in the side and was in critical condition at Grant hospital. The other man, a Jason Parker (age 18), had been pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound to the chest. He died holding a 380 automatic in his right hand. The clip had been emptied. It was only when my pops heard the officer say that both victims were shot with a 44 magnum that he felt he could not take a normal gulp so the officer wouldn't see an evident sign of acknowledgement. He did not want to believe that his thirteen year old son could be responsible for such serious crimes. With his gun! What the hell had happened? He was sure as hell going to find out when he got home.
"Well officer, I'm sure my boys didn't have any wrong in this shit. Right now I'ma go in wit my ex-wife and wait while my son is in surgery. We'll get back wit y'all when he can speak to tell us what happened," said pop.
"Can we speak with your other son ...?" Mr. Jones rudely interrupted the officer saying, "Antonio! And 'hell no' y'all can't speak to him tonight."
They continued asking questions like, 'Why were we out so late? Did we own a gun?' And a bunch of other bullshit questions. Pops got so pissed that the hospital staff asked the officers to leave for upsetting the parents of a patient in their care. The officers got pop to agree to bring Twin down to the station to make a statement by the following afternoon. Then, after apologizing, the officers left.
Moms asked pop, "Tony, what's going on?"
"I don't fuckin' know, Carmen. I've been at work," Pop said.
They did their typical, domestic arguing, and then finally came together to be at peace while waiting on my outcome. Hoping, wishing, and praying for the best. Especially pops, because he had a real good idea as to what had happened, and had silently asked God to see to it that this tragic nightmare was not revealed to the rest of the world. Damn his hot-headed son, Antonio! He had to get home. The gun ... First, he'd see to it that Sizalino came through okay. And then, he'd deal with Antonio. These next 12 hours would be crucial.
Chapter ThreeRecovery and Concealment
Six hours later I was out of surgery and placed in recovery. Mom and pop were allowed to enter my room after the nurse confirmed I was conscious. She told them that my speech would be limited because of the sedative still wearing off. My mother spoke first, "How you doin', baby?"
I nodded my head, letting her know I was good.
"Boy yo ass is lucky. Six more inches to the left and it would've been yo thick ass skull. I'm glad you alright, though. You coulda ended up like that other boy, six feet in the dirt. What the hell happened, Jerele? (Jerele was my middle name that most of my family called me because it was easier than Sizalino. My black half was the only family I really knew). And don't lie to me, I'm ya daddy." Pop said in a low, but very strained and serious voice.
My mother looked at me hesitantly with tears in her eyes. Just then it dawned on me. Twin must have shot and killed the boy pop was talking about.
"I don't know," I whispered as I shrugged. "We was walkin' home from Josheema's house and some dudes walked past us; after that, one of 'em pulled out a gun and told me to check in my coat. So Twin pulled out..... yo' gun, and told me to run. So I did," I said to pop.
"I knew it! Damn that boy. What the hell was y'all doin' at some funky winch's house that late for?" Pop asked.
I just shook my head and turned to look out the window.
"Tony, just calm down. What if he didn't have the gun? They ..." Pop cut moms off by sayin', "But Carmen, the boy shot two people! One of 'em he killed! And wit my piece!"
We all just silently stared at each other for a minute. I had to think of something. I couldn't let my bruh down. Although we were juveniles, it would still turn out disastrous for my family, especially for my pops. So I came up with an idea. My pops was taking Twin down to the precinct later to make a statement for the folks. Our story would be that there were two other groups of guys out there that night on the same corner. Some words were being exchanged as we passed, and then, shots were fired. It was sellable because the Myrtle boys were notorious for gunplay in that area. I mean, fuck, we were only 13! Pops bought my devious idea after he got over the Good Samaritan mind fuck that he felt obligated to. My mother just gave a sigh as she looked off into space. We had our family pack. I mean, hey, it was justifiable homicide. As my mother and father hugged and kissed me goodbye, I was notified by the nurse that I would be released in 3 days. Mom said she would come and get me then. Pops assured me he'd be back after he and Twin visited the precinct.
Excerpted from An American Dream by Tony Thomas Copyright © 2011 by Tony Thomas. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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