Can there be light without the dark? Good without the bad? Life without death? Can there be happiness in sadness? On the morning of September 11th, 2001, as concrete, steel, fire, and planes fell from the skies, a baby was being born. As the men and women made their decision to jump to their deaths to escape burning alive inside the first tower of the World Trade Center, Denise Lenora Barnes was doing her best to maintain her breathing as she entered her seventh hour of labor. With one final push, Xavier Michael Barnes had taken his place upon the earth. His first breath of air and screams of life in this world being the opposite of the thousands that would be taking their last, as at 10:28AM, just as baby Xavier was being raised up to be cleaned off by one of the nurses, the first tower struck by terrorists at the World Trade Center collapses. Taking the lives of thousands. Men, women, fathers, mothers, office workers, stockbrokers, lawyers, police officers, firefighters, and Xavier’s father.
Life was not going to start off easy for Xavier. The loss of his father Calvin, would hit his mother Denise hard. The joy she should have been enjoying with her husband over the birth of their child will be destroyed by the flood of news coming in about the attacks on the Lower Manhatten skyscrapers. Denise sat in her hospital bed crying while holding her young son against her chest. Calvin had left this morning as usual to his job at the World Trade Center. Unable to reach his cell phone, she can only imagine the worse. Staff continued to rush up and down the hospital halls as the day turned into night. Denise and Xavier end up crying themself to sleep.
Having no one else to turn to, Denise will decide it would be best to move the two of them into her mother’s apartment. Living with his mother Denise at his grandmother’s apartment, he would spend most of his time being raised by his grandmother. During the day, while his mother slept off several bottles of liquor, she would play, feed, and bathe the young child. In the evenings, she would look after him while Denise went off to work as a bartender. She had taken the job at the local pub as a way to fuel the alcohol addiction she had procured in her attempt to subdue the pain caused by the loss of her husband.
A massive stroke would take the life of his grandmother one month before his 5th birthday. The loss of any real parental figure in his life left him with his only his drunken mother as a guardian. Denise had fallen into deeper alcoholism. Taking more shots than she served along with being increasingly late and absent from her job will lead to her termination from the bar. With no income, they would lose the small apartment they were living in and wind up bouncing from one relative’s place to the next. Never staying at any one place for more than a few months due to his mother’s behavior. At the age of ten, and after several arrests for prostitution, drugs, and robberies, Xavier’s mother would be given a 20-year sentence for stabbing and killing a man who she claimed did not pay her for so-called services.
Child services were brought in and took custody of Xavier and he would spend the next several years of his life moving between foster homes. As time passes, Xavier spends his nights out on the streets as a way to distance himself from the family he was being fostered by at the time. The time on the streets will see Xavier learn to hustle quickly and a year later Xavier would be initiated into one of the Crown Heights gangs. He had found a family he lacked in the gang. Finding their company and way of life appealing, he will set out to prove himself at a young age. Using his hustling skills, Xavier will bring in loads of drugs, guns, and money into the gang. He would continue to do well until late in 2019, he was brought down along with several other high ranking gang members after several murders lead the FBI to investigate the gang. The investigation not only uncovered the people behind the killings but also uncovered the drug ring they had established. Barely eighteen years old, Xavier is handcuffed, tossed into the back of a police car, and taken to jail. The court cases against the gang members were swift in being resolved with a guilty verdict and a sentence for each person involved. Xavier would stand emotionless as his 12-year sentence is read aloud in the courtroom. With his sentence on the record and the trial now over, Xavier is lead in shackles from the courtroom, and soon after to a prison transport bus.
Seated several rows back behind the driver and next to another inmate clad in orange Xavier looks out the window as the bus navigated the city streets. Feeling a nudge on his leg, he will turn to face the man seated next to him. The Hispanic male will give Xavier a look and the two of them will nod to each other. Keeping an eye on the guards riding along with them, Xavier will cautiously spit out a handcuff key. He catches the key just as one of the guards turns to look at him. The guard did not see the key but will give Xavier a glance as the man shifted in his seat. Xavier will look back at the guard and laugh. “ What? You ain’t never seen a brotha before? “ he will say sarcastically to the guard. The comment will cause the guard to roll his eyes at the other guard with him before the two guards continued on with a conversation they had been having previously.
Unlocking his restraints first, Xavier will then hand the key over to the inmate beside of him. The man quickly releases himself from the cuffs and shackles. Reaching inside of his pants, the man will take out a small device. It looked like it was nothing more than a battery taped to an old radio antenna. Giving Xavier a Nod, the man will wait a moment before standing up from his seat. Following him was Xavier, and the two men quickly dash up the aisle toward the front of the bus. Seeing the inmates on the move in his mirror, the driver of the bus will yell out alerting the two guards on board. Before the two could react, Xavier and the other inmate stood at the metal door and wall screen that separated the inmates from the front rows of the bus and the guards on the other side. “ ¡Come mierda y muere! “ the inmate holding the device yells before connecting the antenna to the battery.
An explosion rocks the rear of the bus and two rows of seats along with the inmates seated in the rows are blown clean away from the rest of it. Their blood splatters everywhere and coats the entire rear half of the bus. The explosion also will cause the bus to lose control, strike a parked cab, and then flip onto its side. The driver, the guards, and the inmates all alike flung around until the bus came to a stop several moments later. Laying on top of two other inmates, Xavier will push himself off of them and rise to his feet. The inmate who had set off the explosives also rose to his feet before looking toward the rear of the bus. “ Come on man! Time to go punta! “ the man says to him before clambering over the rows of seats. Following quickly behind, Xavier will yell at the other inmate “ The fuck is wrong wit’ you Javier? You didn’t tell me you had a bomb! “
Climbing out of the blown open rear of the bus, Xavier and his accomplice Javier will jump out into the street. A nearby black SUV pulls up and the two inmates scramble for the vehicle. Jumping in the back, Javier will direct the woman waiting inside to drive away. The doors to the SUV are quickly slammed shut and the woman does as she is told speeds off. Making several turns through alleys and side streets, the woman will drive as fast as she could away from the scene as the two men in the back caught their breath.
“ You are one crazy son o’ a bitch if I ever knew one! “ Xavier will exclaim stomping on the rear floor of the SUV. “ Shut the fuck up and listen! We don’t have time for this! “ Javier will reply to Xavier before leaning up toward the woman driving the car and placing his hand on her shoulder. “ Did you bring it? “ he will ask her before she reaches over and hands him a duffle bag. Watching as the man tossed the duffel bag onto the rear seat, Xavier sees Javier take out a change of clothes, cell phone, a Glock, a bundle of money, and a business card for a cab company. Handing each item taken from the bag to Xavier, Javier will begin to explain what was to happen next. “ This should be enough money to get you going in Hathian. A guy like you should know how to hustle enough to keep yourself going until we can meet you there. Call the number on that card and tell them I told you to call. They will send a cab for you that will take you all the way to Hathian. “ Javier says before taking a gun for himself. “ What about chu? What you gonna do? Gonna handle those fucking snitches eh? “ Xavier will ask while slipping into the change of clothes he was given “ Man! Let me come ride on these fools with chu! “ he then adds.
Shaking his head, Javier will reply “ No, we need to get out of here. The best thing you can do is get things set up in Hathian. Once we settle the score with the cabrón who sold us out, then we can move in down there and take over. “ Pulling down another alley, the woman will stop the car near the rear entrance to a parking garage. “ This is your stop. Go. We will meet up with you soon. “ Javier says to Xavier before the two of them exchange a choreographed handshake used by their gang. “ Alright my brotha! But chu better not keep my ass waiting. Motha’ fucka’ I am getting any younger if ya feel me! ‘ Xavier says to Javier before he opens the door to the SUV. “ Younger? You’re still a Niño! “ Javier yells out the door with a laugh. Closing the door behind him, Xavier will begin walking through the parking garage.
Pulling the phone out that Javier had given to him, he will dial the number listed on the card for the cab company. A few rings on the other line are heard before a man answers. “ Sup fool. Motha fuckin’ Javier told me to call you. “ Xavier says over the phone to the cab employee. A few moments pass and Xavier can be heard replying with a few acknowledgments of what was being told to him from the other end of the call. “ All right my brotha. I’m at the parking garage on Crosby and Jersey Street. A’ yo’ git dat punk-ass driver here quick before the cops find my ass! “ Xavier says into the phone before ending the call.
Having time to think while he waits, he will begin to ponder about the small Lousianna city he was headed to. Growing agitated at the thought of leaving the big city, he will begin to complain to himself. “ Hathian? Where in the fuck is Hathian? It’s probably some red neck, Lousianna pecker wood motha fuckin’ town out in the middle of god damn nowhere that’s where! Deez gumbo eating cracka’s probably don’t even know how to use a scale! All I know is, deez motha fucka’s got me trippin’ going all the down here to bumpkin ass Hathian. Best be worth it is all I got to say. “
The cab sent to pick Xavier finally arrives and he will quickie jump into the back of it. “ Man! The fuck took yo’ ass so long? “ he will yell at the cab driving before slamming the door closed behind him. “ Know what? I don’t even giva’ fuck. Just get me to fucking Hathaiana or whatever the fuck it’s called already before I shoot yo’ ass. “ Xavier then adds waving his arms in dismissal of anything the driver had to say. The cab then drives off, heading south with Xavier as he begins his long journey to Hathian.
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