Read The Hate U Give Online

Authors: Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give (22 page)

TWENTY

Three hours. That’s how long I was in the grand jury room. Ms. Monroe asked me all kinds of questions. What angle was Khalil at when he was shot? Where did he pull his license and registration from? How did Officer Cruise remove him from the car? Did Officer Cruise seem angry? What did he say?

She wanted every single detail. I gave her as much as I could.

It’s been over two weeks since I talked to the grand jury, and now we’re waiting for their decision, which is similar to waiting for a meteor to hit. You know it’s coming, you’re just not exactly sure when and where it’ll hit, and there ain’t shit you can do in the meantime but keep living.

So we’re living.

The sun is out today, but the rain fell in sheets as soon as we pulled into the parking lot of Williamson. When it rains like
that while the sun’s out, Nana says the devil is beating his wife. Plus, it’s Friday the thirteenth, a.k.a. the devil’s day, according to Nana. She’s probably holed up in the house like it’s doomsday.

Seven and I dash from the car into the school. The atrium’s busy as usual with people talking to their little cliques or playing around. The school year’s almost over, so everybody’s goof-off levels are at their highest, and white-kid goofing off is a category of its own. I’m sorry, but it is. Yesterday a sophomore rode down the stairs in the janitor’s garbage can. His dumb ass got suspension and a concussion. Stupid.

I wiggle my toes. The one day I wear Chucks it decides to rain. They’re miraculously dry.

“You’re good?” Seven asks, and I doubt it’s about the rain. He’s been way more protective lately, ever since we got word that King’s still pissed I dry snitched. I heard Uncle Carlos tell Daddy it gave the cops another reason to watch King closely.

Unless King threw the brick, he hasn’t done anything.
Yet.
So Seven’s always on guard, even all the way out here at Williamson.

“Yeah,” I tell him. “I’m good.”

“All right.”

He gives me dap and goes off to his locker.

I head for mine. Hailey and Maya are talking at Maya’s locker nearby. Actually, Maya’s doing most of the talking. Hailey’s got her arms folded and rolls her eyes a lot. She sees me down the hall and gets this smug expression.

“Perfect,” she says when I get closer. “The liar is here.”

“Excuse me?” It’s way too early for this bullshit.

“Why don’t you tell Maya how you flat-out lied to us?”

“What?”

Hailey hands me two pictures. One is Khalil’s thugshot, as Daddy calls it. One of the pictures they’ve shown on the news. Hailey printed it off the internet. Khalil wears a smirk, gripping a handful of money and throwing up a sideways peace sign.

The other picture, he’s twelve. I know because I’m twelve in it too. It’s my birthday party at this laser tag place downtown. Khalil’s on one side of me, shoveling strawberry cake into his mouth, and Hailey’s on my other side, grinning for the camera along with me.

“I thought he looked familiar,” Hailey says as smugly as she looks. “He
is
the Khalil you knew. Isn’t he?”

I stare at the two Khalils. The pictures only show so much. For some people, the thugshot makes him look just like that—a thug. But I see somebody who was happy to finally have some money in his hand, damn where it came from. And the birthday picture? I remember how Khalil ate so much cake and pizza he got sick. His grandma hadn’t gotten paid yet, and food was limited in their house.

I knew the whole Khalil. That’s who I’ve been speaking up for. I shouldn’t deny any part of him. Not even at Williamson.

I hand the pictures back to Hailey. “Yeah, I knew him. So what?”

“Don’t you think you owe us an explanation?” she says. “You owe me an apology too.”

“Um, what?”

“You’ve basically picked fights with me because you were upset about what happened to him,” she says. “You even accused me of being racist.”

“But you have said and done some racist stuff. So . . .” Maya shrugs. “Whether Starr lied or not doesn’t make it okay.”

Minority alliance activated.

“So, since I unfollowed her Tumblr because I didn’t wanna see any more pictures of that mutilated kid on my dashboard—”

“His name was Emmett Till,” says Maya.

“Whatever. So because I didn’t want to see that disgusting shit, I’m racist?”

“No,” Maya says. “What you said about it was racist. And your Thanksgiving joke was definitely racist.”

“Oh my God, you’re still upset about that?” Hailey says. “That was so long ago!”

“Doesn’t make it okay,” I say. “And you can’t even apologize for it.”

“I’m not apologizing because it was only a joke!” she shouts. “It doesn’t make me a racist. I’m not letting you guys guilt trip me like this. What’s next? You want me to apologize because my ancestors were slave masters or something stupid?”

“Bitch—” I take a deep breath. Way too many people are watching. I cannot go angry black girl on her. “Your joke was
hurtful,” I say, as calmly as I can. “If you give a damn about Maya, you’d apologize and at least try to see why it hurt her.”

“It’s not my fault she can’t get over a
joke
from freaking
freshman
year! Just like it’s not my fault you can’t get over what happened to Khalil.”

“So I’m supposed to ‘get over’ the fact he was murdered?”

“Yes, get over it! He was probably gonna end up dead anyway.”

“Are you serious?” Maya says.

“He was a drug dealer and a gangbanger,” Hailey says. “Somebody was gonna kill him eventually.”

“Get over it?” I repeat.

She folds her arms and does this little neck movement. “Um, yeah? Isn’t that what I said? The cop probably did everyone a favor. One less drug dealer on the—”

I move Maya out the way and slam my fist against the side of Hailey’s face. It hurts, but damn it feels good.

Hailey holds her cheek, her eyes wide and her mouth open for several seconds.

“Bitch!” she shrieks. She goes straight for my hair like girls usually do, but my ponytail is real. She’s not pulling it out.

I hit at Hailey with my fists, and she slaps and claws me upside my head. I push her off, and she hits the floor. Her skirt goes up, and her pink drawers are out for everybody to see. Laughter erupts around us. Some people have their phones out.

I’m no longer Williamson Starr or even Garden Heights Starr. I’m pissed.

I kick and hit at Hailey, cuss words flying out my mouth. People gather around us, chanting “Fight! Fight!” and one fool even shouts, “World Star!”

Shit. I’m gonna end up on that ratchet site.

Somebody yanks my arm, and I turn, face-to-face with Remy, Hailey’s older brother.

“You crazy bi—”

Before he can finish “bitch,” a blur of dreadlocks charges at us and pushes Remy back.

“Get your hands off my sister!” Seven says.

And then they’re fighting. Seven throws blows like nobody’s business, knocking Remy upside his head with several good hooks and jabs. Daddy used to take both of us to the boxing gym after school.

Two security guards run over. Dr. Davis, the headmaster, marches toward us.

An hour later, I’m in Momma’s car. Seven trails us in his Mustang.

All four of us have been sentenced to three days’ suspension, despite Williamson’s zero-tolerance policy. Hailey and Remy’s dad, a Williamson board member, thought it was outrageous. He said Seven and I should be expelled because we “started it,” and that Seven shouldn’t be allowed to graduate.
Dr. Davis told him, “Given the circumstances”—and he looked straight at me—“suspension will suffice.”

He knows I was with Khalil.

“This is exactly what
They
expect you to do,” Momma says. “Two kids from Garden Heights, acting like you ain’t got any sense!”

They with a capital
T
. There’s Them and then there’s Us. Sometimes They look like Us and don’t realize They are Us.

“But she was running her mouth, saying Khalil deserved—”

“I don’t care if she said she shot him herself. People are gonna say a whole lot, Starr. It doesn’t mean you hit somebody. You gotta walk away sometimes.”

“You mean walk away and get shot like Khalil did?”

She sighs. “Baby, I understand—”

“No you don’t!” I say. “
Nobody
understands!
I
saw the bullets rip through him.
I
sat there in the street as he took his last breath.
I’ve
had to listen to people try to make it seem like it’s okay he was murdered. As if he deserved it. But he didn’t deserve to die, and I didn’t do anything to deserve seeing that shit!”

WebMD calls it a stage of grief—anger. But I doubt I’ll ever get to the other stages. This one slices me into millions of pieces. Every time I’m whole and back to normal, something happens to tear me apart, and I’m forced to start all over again.

The rain lets up. The devil stops beating his wife, but I beat the dashboard, punching it over and over, numb to the pain of
it. I wanna be numb to the pain of all of this.

“Let it out, Munch.” My mom rubs my back. “Let it out.”

I pull my polo over my mouth and scream until there aren’t any screams left in me. If there are any, I don’t have the energy to get them out. I cry for Khalil, for Natasha, even for Hailey, ’cause damn if I didn’t just lose her for good too.

When we turn on our street, I’m snot-nosed and wet-eyed. Finally numb.

A gray pickup and a green Chrysler 300 are parked behind Daddy’s truck in the driveway. Momma and Seven have to park in front of the house.

“What is this man up to?” Momma says. She looks over at me. “You feel better?”

I nod. What other choice do I have?

She leans over and kisses my temple. “We’ll get through this. I promise.”

We get out. I’m one hundred percent sure the cars in the driveway belong to King Lords and Garden Disciples. In Garden Heights you can’t drive a car that’s gray or green unless you claim a set. I expect yelling and cussing when I get inside, but all I hear is Daddy saying, “It don’t make no sense, man. For real, it don’t.”

It’s standing-room-only in the kitchen. We can’t even get in ’cause some guys are in the doorway. Half of them have green somewhere in their outfits. Garden Disciples. The others have light gray on somewhere. Cedar Grove King Lords. Mr.
Reuben’s nephew, Tim, sits beside Daddy at the table. I’ve never noticed that cursive GD tattoo on his arm.

“We don’t know when the grand jury gon’ make their decision,” Daddy says. “But if they decide not to indict, y’all gotta tell these li’l dudes not to burn this neighborhood down.”

“What you expect them to do then?” says a GD at the table. “Folks tired of the bullshit, Mav.”

“Straight up,” says the King Lord Goon, who’s at the table too. His long plaits have ponytail holders on them like I used to wear way back in the day. “Nothing we can do ’bout it.”

“That’s bullshit,” says Tim. “We can do something.”

“We can all agree the riots got outta hand, right?” says Daddy.

He gets a bunch of “yeahs” and “rights.”

“Then we can make sure it doesn’t go down like that again. Talk to these kids. Get in their heads. Yeah, they mad. We all mad, but burning down our neighborhood ain’t gon’ fix it.”

“Our?” says the GD at the table. “Nigga, you said you moving.”

“To the
suburbs
,” Goon mocks. “You getting a minivan too, Mav?”

They all laugh at that.

Daddy doesn’t though. “I’m moving, so what? I’ll still have a store here, and I’ll still give a damn what happens here. Who is it gon’ benefit if the whole neighborhood burns down? Damn sure won’t benefit none of us.”

“We gotta be more organized next time,” says Tim. “For one, make sure our brothers and sisters know they can’t destroy black-owned businesses. That messes it up for all of us.”

“For real,” says Daddy. “And I know, me and Tim out the game, so we can’t speak on some things, but all these territory wars gotta be put aside somehow. This is bigger than some street shit. And honestly all the street shit got these cops thinking they can do whatever they want.”

“Yeah, I feel you on that,” says Goon.

“Y’all gotta come together somehow, man,” Daddy says. “For the sake of the Garden. The last thing they’d ever expect is some unity around here. A’ight?”

Daddy slaps palms with Goon and the Garden Disciple. Then Goon and the Garden Disciple slap palms with each other.

“Wow,” Seven says.

It’s huge that these two gangs are in the same room together, and for my daddy to be the one behind it? Crazy.

He notices us in the doorway. “What y’all doing here?”

Momma inches into the kitchen, looking around. “The kids got suspended.”

“Suspended?” Daddy says. “For what?”

Seven passes him his phone.

“It’s online already?” I say.

“Yeah, somebody tagged me in it.”

Daddy taps the screen, and I hear Hailey running her mouth about Khalil, then a loud smack.

Some of the gang members watch over Daddy’s shoulder. “Damn, li’l momma,” one says, “you got hands.”

“You crazy bi—,” Remy says on the phone. A bunch of smacks and oohs follow.

“Look at my boy!” Daddy says. “Look at him!”

“I ain’t know your li’l nerdy ass had it in you,” a King Lord teases.

Momma clears her throat. Daddy stops the video.

“A’ight, y’all,” he says, serious all of a sudden. “I gotta handle some family business. We’ll meet back up tomorrow.”

Tim and all the gang members clear out, and cars crank up outside. Still no gunshots or arguing. They could’ve broken out into a gangsta rendition of “Kumbaya” and I wouldn’t be any more shocked than I am.

“How did you get all of them in here and keep the house in one piece?” Momma asks.

“I got it like that.”

Momma kisses him on the lips. “You certainly do. My man, the activist.”

“Uh-huh.” He kisses her back. “Your man.”

Seven clears his throat. “We’re standing right here.”

“Ay, y’all can’t complain,” Daddy says. “If you wouldn’t have been fighting, you wouldn’t have to see that.” He reaches over and pinches my cheek a little. “You a’ight?”

The dampness hasn’t left my eyes yet, and I’m not exactly smiling. I mutter, “Yeah.”

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