A personal note from the author:
I’ll admit, I have started and stopped putting pen to paper many times when it comes to this book out of fear. Fear that once I have opened Pandora’s Box there will be no turning back. All of [my] our deepest, darkest most intimate secrets will be on display for all to see. But you see, the problem with keeping secrets is eventually they begin to eat away at you leaving behind nothing but a pile of secrets and lies. So that when you are dead and gone your tombstone will read “Here lies Harlem, a pile of bones, lies and secrets she kept.” So before that happens, this is my story, our story. A collection and series of events that would intertwine the lives of several people who otherwise never would have crossed paths. These are our truths.
*This is just the preempt to “Sleeping with the Enemy” Simply a glimpse into what is to come. Any resemblance to those persons living or deceased are strictly coincidental*
“I want all shooters at my funeral Only real niggas at my funeral It’s gonna be 10, 000 bitches at my funeral Niggas gonna have them pistols at my funeral It’s gone be some superstars at my funeral” ~”Funeral” by Shy Glizzy
I sat alone on the front pew of the church staring at the lifeless body that lay in the casket covered in flowers. His skin darker, his hair an unnatural texture and color, his spirit long gone. I was speechless, motionless and alone staring at the empty shell of the man I loved. It hadn’t been but a mere five days since I opened the door to his tenth floor apartment on 5th Avenue in Harlem and found his lifeless body lying in a pool of blood from a single gunshot wound to the chest. According to the city medical examiner this was a clear cut case of suicide. Her report had his cause of death “self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. I knew better than that, Bishop would never take his own life; in his eyes that was the cowardly way out.
I sat silently and alone; remembering each passing moment of that day as if it was happening in that very moment. My nose filling with the smells or fresh blood and gun powder. But it was the sounds of the blood curdling screams that infiltrated my ears that day that were haunting me the most. I vividly remember wondering who was screaming and yelling out for someone, anyone to just make that bitch stop screaming! Please! Make her stop! Only to realize that those disheartening screams were coming from me, as I sat there covered in the blood of Bishop Stanton, a man I’d loved since I was sixteen years old. The terrifying screams were coming from me and ultimately I was alone.
The first time I met Bishop it was at a house party somewhere in the ghetto part of Brooklyn in 1993 I had just turned sixteen. We locked eyes from across the room but I really wasn’t all that interested, unlike my faux ghetto best friends Chanel and Kimberlie the “hood nigga” persona didn’t do anything for me. I wasn’t exactly repping for the low life bottom boys from Brooklyn. I couldn’t help that my father had me so jaded back then, I mean what did I know about lower class? Both of my parents made decent livings and I rarely wanted for anything. Despite all of that this boy was fine and there was something about him that made me want to get to know him a little bit better; it was similar to a moth being drawn to an open flame. But I was a lady and wasn’t no nigga from the bottom of the barrel in Brooklyn getting at me that easy. As the night drew to an end and my friends and I were headed out the door I felt someone kick me from behind; I turned around to see it was Mister Bottom of the Barrel Brooklyn. “Damn! You gone say excuse me or what nigga?! You just kicked me!” We’d only been in Harlem for a couple years since moving from Saint Louis so my attitude was nothing but Midwest gangsta. “Yo my fault shorty I ain’t see you there and my mans a little drunk so he all over the place. Please accept my sincerest apologies with your beautiful self. I ain’t mean to dirty up your Jordache jeans.” His smile made me forget whatever smart shit I was ready to say next and all I could utter was, “Don’t worry about it. It is kind of crowded in here. Have a good one.” Before I could take another step he had my hand in his and was starring me down. “Why you in such a hurry? Curfew?” “Why you pressing me? Nosey? You the police?” That Saint Louis attitude was on fire.
“Naw I just don’t want you to turn into a pumpkin just yet. I’m Bishop, and you are?” His persistence intrigued me just as did his gentlemanly ways. He wasn’t pushy like most of the boys I’d come across hanging out with Chanel and Kimberlie in New York and I was digging that about him. “Demi, Demi Outlaw. It’s a pleasure Bishop but I really do have curfew or my father will send out Benson and Stabler to find me if I’m not home by one-thirty. I don’t mind exchanging numbers though.” That night forever changed my life, we exchanged digits and spent the next twelve years of our young lives planning for the rest of our lives.
My thoughts of happier days gone past were quickly interrupted by the funeral director entering the sanctuary. “Ms. Outlaw, I am sorry to bother you but others including the family have begun arriving, are we ready?” His question was both odious and insulting but I composed myself and responded anyway. “Are we really ever ready?” I questioned quietly replacing my dark designer shades to their rightful place on my face. Adjusting my hat and veil on my head I turned and faced the director to receive his response.
“No ma’am I guess we aren’t every really ready, but shall I allow my staff to open the doors?” I wasn’t ready to say my final goodbyes to the man who had taught me so much in our short time together. Our forever had been cut short and I just wasn’t ready to accept that GOD would be so selfish as to take him and leave me here alone. I wasn’t ready to share my last goodbye with so many others, I just wasn’t ready. “Give me a minute please.” I walked over to the casket, the final resting place of my dear Bishop, I leaned in close enough that I could smell the embalming fluid and the cheap hardware store spray paint they used to fix his hair and whispered ever so softly so the funeral director couldn’t hear; “If it’s the last thing I do, I promise them niggas gone pay! You have my word. Until we meet again my love.” Leaving him with one last kiss as if like in some Disney inspired fairytale he would awaken.
That was the last time I would ever see the love of my life laying in a physical state, although I’d made all of the arrangements I had no intentions on attending his funeral. Sitting among a group of people who are pretending to mourn the life of a man they barely knew while he lived let alone giving a fuck about in death was not high on my agenda; I had a few degrees but never graduated into being a phony. I sat parked in the front of the church in the back of my car watching closely; watching each person as they entered with their forced tears and rehearsed condolences for Bishop’s mother. But it was one person in particular I was keeping an eye out for. It was almost as if I could set my watch to the predictable bitch, because just like clockwork she walked up the cathedral steps weeping like a willow. My mark had been made. I motioned to my driver, “We can go now Vivian. Take me to the gallery on 125th please.” And just as quickly as I’d come, I was gone leaving everyone to question; “Where is Demi?”
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