THIS IS A YEAR OF THE DRAGON CONTEST ENTRY
Lucky returns home looking for his brother who he feels is in some sort of trouble. --Year of the Dragon June Entry
I come storming into my sister’s house all pissed off; I want to know where Jeff is. Her kids are sitting at the table waiting for her to serve them dinner and she’s facing away from me, standing over the sink or something.
“Lei,” I say. “Where’s Jeff?”
She twists around super fast with a surprised look on her face.
“Oh my god, Lucky,” she says, dropping a spoon on the floor and not even worrying about it. Her eyes are locked on me. “What are you doing here?”
“I got a bad feeling about Jeff,” I say. “He’s in trouble Lei, I can just feel it. Where the hell is he?”
“But…uh, like…” she stammers. “Lucky, how’d you get here? I thought you were, like…”
She's confused because I haven’t been home in years. I left all this behind me for a reason—the drugs, the poverty, the violence. This fuckin' neighborhood is like quicksand if you don’t have goals in life to pull you up out of it. But I love my little brother and I just know he’s in trouble. I’ve got this feeling. So I’m going to find him somehow.
“Just tell me where Jeff is Lei,” I say, getting kind of frustrated. The kids are sitting there at the table looking up at me blankly because they don’t even know me. Lei and I haven't spoke in years because of her shithead cop husband. And because of me I guess.
“Lucky,” she says, “Pi’o is in the shower and he’s not going to be happy to see you.”
I step up to the kitchen table and slam my fists down on it real hard.
“Then tell me where Jeff is goddamnit!”
The kids both start balling instantly and Lei starts screaming for Pi’o. I just turn around and walk out the door. She’s not going to help me.
Last I heard, Jeff was hanging around my old homie Joey and his crew. These guys roll deep and move major weight, so I’m hiding across the street from his house scoping things out to make sure it’s safe to approach. I’m standing behind this big monkeypod tree for about 15 minutes before I see Joey come rolling up in his old suped-up Honda. He’s got some other dude with him that I don’t recognize, but he's just a youngster. They head inside so I cross the street and approach the door. It’s open. I walk in quietly and find them sitting in the living room talking about some stupid TV show. They're on the couch loading up a pipe.
Joey looks at me blankly, like he has no idea who I am and his friend starts getting up like he’s going to scrap with me. I clock the kid in the jaw before he’s even off the couch and he goes down on the floor.
“Damn Lucky!” Joey says. “What you doing here brah?”
He starts getting up, but I push him hard and he falls back on the couch. I grab the pipe out of his hands and toss it on the coffee table.
“Where’s my brother?” I say. “I know he’s been running with you Joey.”
Joey is holding his hands up like I’m pointing a gun at him or something.
“Brah,” he says, looking confused. “You serious?”
The look on my face and the fact that I just knocked his friend out cold tells him I am.
“I nevah seen Jeff for at least two years,” he says. “You should know that Lucky.”
“And just why the fuck should I know that?”
“Uhhhh… I thought, ummm,” Jeff says shaking his head in disbelief like he can’t believe he’s even seeing me—like he’s seeing a ghost or something. “You mean you don’t know?”
“Know what? I don’t know what?”
Joey's eyes drop to the floor and his face gets real solemn. Finally, he looks up at me.
“Jeff died two years ago,” Joey says.
My lip starts twitching. I’m staring at Joey, trying to read his face, trying to tell if he is messing with me or what. I’m starting to feel like I’m in a dream or something. All of a sudden I’m back in my old neighborhood being told that my brother has been dead for two years and I never even heard about it. How is that possible?
“How?” I ask.
“Dude, I can’t believe you don’t know. How long have you been back in the neighborhood?” he says, leaning back and taking a deep breath.
“What’s the fucking difference?” I say, looking around the room for something—a knife, a gun, a baseball bat. “How did Jeff die?”
“He was killed,” Joey says, sniveling. “Murdered.”
“By who?” I scream. I pick up the glass pipe off the coffee table and throw it through the window. The sound of shattering glass gets the kid on the floor stirring.
“You need to talk with Pi’o, because I don’t know any details,” Joey says. His voice is shaking real badly, like he thinks I’m going to kill somebody. "For real," he adds, sounding very serious.
For some reason I believe him; I should have guessed Pi’o had something to do with it.
“Sorry about your friend,” I say, heading for the door. I stop in the kitchen and grab a good-sized butcher knife that's sitting on the counter.
When I walk back into my sister’s house I can see that she and the kids left in a hurry right after our exchange. The table is still set with food and plates but they’re not anywhere to be found. Pi’o is though. He’s sitting on his recliner in the living room patiently waiting for me and watching the five o’clock news. I enter the doorway of the living room with the knife tucked in my belt behind my back so he can’t see it. He notices me and turns the TV off.
“Where’s Jeff?” I ask.
“You know where Jeff is,” Pi’o says. “How’d you get here?”
“How did he die?” I press. He’s so calm it makes me sick.
“He was killed,” Pi’o says. “You know that Lucky.”
“Yeah, actually I do know that,” I say. “But I wanna know who did it, and I think it was you Pi’o.”
Pi’o looks at me real surprised.
“You tweaking or something? You serious?” he asks.
“Why’d you do it Pi’o?” I say, my voice cracking. Jeff’s death is sinking in and I feel like I want to cry all of a sudden.
“Lucky sit down,” Pi’o says, gesturing to the couch. “I didn’t kill Jeff.”
“Well who the hell killed him then?” I scream.
Pi’o looks at me for what seems like minutes. He just stares me down with the coldest eyes I ever saw. I just stare back.
“Well?” I ask again.
“Was you,” he finally says calmly. “You killed him. You were high on that shit, thought he was a narc, and you bashed his head in with a tire iron. Your mind is gone brah.”
“Fuck you…” I say. "I didn't kill my own brother. You're crazy."
"Believe it or not, you're the one who's crazy," Pi’o says getting up from his chair. “You did too much. I don’t know how you escaped, but it’s time for you to get back to the hospital.”
“Fuck you!” I scream, pulling out the butcher knife and pointing it at him. “How dare you!”
I start running toward Pi’o and all of the sudden he makes a quick movement with his hand and there’s a loud noise—like the sound of a car door slamming—and I’m on the ground feeling very warm. I try to get up, but I can’t, and my shirt is suddenly soaking wet. Pi’o just shot me in the fucking chest. And suddenly everything is very clear. And I remember everything. I remember bringing Jeff into our crew. I remember a deal that went bad. I remember calling him a snitch. I remember scrapping with him. I remember he was down on the ground already when I hit him with that tire iron. I remember hitting him with it four times. I remember killing my brother. Now I’m smiling at Pi’o, who's standing over me, because I think he finally made things right.
“Thanks Pi’o,” I say.
And the last thing I can see is tears rolling down Pi’o’s face.