By Robert A. Williams

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Jesse held his timid posture inside the project’s hallway, absorbing the rumbling sounds from the apartment.  The loud stench of urine did not drown out the violent voices as he listened silently.  His slender frame, as a ship on bumpy waters, rocked steadily as he decoded the languages.  These evidently hateful sounds came from the apartment as always after multiple day crack binges.  Nevertheless, under the influence of crack, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts, Jesse with unbridled animosity ignited after hearing the scorning noises.  Pissed, he flushed his clenched fist down his mouth and screamed inaudibly.  While his character received rebuke from inside, he heard a voice say, “Jesse ain’t shit and never will be shit” pierced through the apartment’s peephole, and, as quickly as his rage had imploded; it halted.   The voice’s owner had never been among his naysayers but for this very first time he heard it clearly.  After recognizing the voice owner, his addicted frame collapsed upon the cement, as his emptiness filled him.  For the next two hours, inside the hallway, he furiously rubbed his convicted face, as he whispered again and again:

“I ain’t shit and never will be shit; I ain’t shit and never will be shit.” I ain’t shit and never will be shit.”

Later, in his deepened shallow voice, Jesse asked himself.  “What the fuck have I done?” He wondered had the addiction cost him his family’s hopes.  He snapped back! “I can’t stop, I’ve tried and not one person knows what I’ve been through.  How can they judge me?  What the fuck do they know; they have not walked in my shoes.”  Jesse invalid arguments from the past however were baseless again, but now because of that voice, he wondered was it true.  He mouth mumbled again, “I’ve never been shit” thus his final decree fell noiselessly onto the cement.  Jesse settled himself atop his size 12 feet; tucked his shirt neatly inside his dirty jeans and headed toward the building’s roof.  His mangled body for hours lay  unnoticed before the sunlight allowed the project spectators to recognized it.  The disfigured mesh of body and bones did not faze them; they’ve seen suicide by roof jumping before. “Cats can’t take it, and they jump the fuck off, it’s called ‘project sky rocket.’  The news reporter nervously listened to the hoodie wearing teen’s account, as yellow police tape restrained both; Jesse was a statistic now.

The funeral was uneventful, as most, concerning project residents. The family had to take donations, it’s a norm, no big deal.  A few friends stood with his siblings wondering why Jesse became a ‘project sky rocket’.  Hell, his sister let him stay with her, but they still wondered.  Sure she got on him about his addiction, “Jesse they going to put me out if they catch drugs in here, don’t bring that shit in here,”  But you know what, after each binge, she opened the door.  Jesse often listened outside her door as she would railed preparing for work, “His good for nothing Black ass”.  Nevertheless, she loved his ‘Black skinny ass’, like most siblings in those situations do.  Yea, she let him come back each time and this is why his suicide hurt her most.  Because, she promised to care for her oldest brother and she failed.  As foul-smelling and cracked out, she took him in, blitzed off some new drug shit, she took him in, fucked up on liquor; she took him in.  The morning of Jesse’ suicide however was different, the voice were different.  The voice convinced him he failed at life and disappointed everyone.  He heard that voice and it made him tired and apathetic.  No more fight in him, he was tired, so he jumped.

After several months, project’s natives produced a theory as they always do.  That early morning, a few residents saw Jesse outside his sister’s door before 4am as she undressed him on the other side.  Jesse and his sister kept their business in the street, like all residents of these prisons.  Nevertheless, most residents, like his sister, wondered aloud; why did he jump?  Well, as theory has it, that morning as Jesse crept up the project’s hallway, he was fine. But, as he gathered himself to enter his sister’s apartment, that one voice came from inside and into his head; thus, he freaked out.   Frightened and confused, he bugged out, as they say.  As such, he was whispering as he walked to the roof a few hours later.  His fellow addicts however warned him: Your mother has been dead ten years.

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