After the death of his parents at an early age, Julius 'JuJu' Payne Jr. finds himself lost and alone in a world full of hate and pain. While serving five years due to an act of heartless jealousy, Juju finds out his parents death wasn’t an accident.
After being locked up since the age of 18, he emerged from the penitentiary like the rose that grew from the concrete. As he reenters into society, he’s expected to take on the torch from the legacy his parents left behind but that only leads to another unexpected turn to his troubled life.
It seems like no matter how hard he tries to find his peace, he realizes that he won’t ever operate in his true purpose until he avenges his parent's death.
Julius ‘Juju’ Payne Jr.
Mom yells from downstairs. I can smell the aroma of breakfast, but I’m too busy looking myself over in her full body mirror.
I adjust my sleeve to make sure my gold bracelet shows. I then tuck my custom-made gold neckless the spells Juju under my shirt. Bang! I’m startled and look towards the bedroom door.
“Juju! What are you in here doing, boy!”
My babysitter Nay is joking. I have both hands up as if I were caught red handed doing something wrong.
I nervously stand still.
She slowly walks in the room, looking me up and down, nodding with an impressed grin.
“Ok, I see you on your grown man ish, with the fresh 7’s. You got your pants pulled up, and your uniform shirt tucked in.”
She smells the air.
“Is that Versace cologne.”
She squints her eyes.
“Wait a minute, who are you trying to impress?”
She then looks at my chest. I shrug my shoulders with a smile.
“Well, you know.”
I hurry past her to leave the room.
“Hold up, dimples.”
She pulls the back of my collar. I playfully stumble backwards.
“Whoa, whoa, what's going on here?”
As soon as she let go, I run, but I’m too slow.
“You think them pretty eyes and smile, can get you out of anything, boy.”
She wraps her arms around me from behind, picks me up in the air, and starts kissing both sides of my face. I can't stop laughing.
“What are you talking about? Are you crazy?”
She puts me down. I turn towards her. Nay places one hand on her hip, then holds out the other.
“Whaaaa, you wanna shake up? You gang-gang now? Oh snap.”
I extend my hand, she moves hers, then holds it out again.
“Unt un, come on Juju you are not wearing that necklace to school.”
“But it’s the first day of school, and I already told Ashely, that I would wear it for her.”
I hesitate to take it off just in case Nay heard me. She just turns up her lips and motions her fingers for me to hand it over.
“I'll arrange a date for you two this weekend, but your mom paid too much money, and you know she is going to be upset, if something happens to it.”
I unclip it.
Mom yells for me a second time.
“Who are you yelling at! Come eat this food before it gets cold! You’ll be the main one talking about how hungry you are when you get home.”
I give Nay the puppy dog eyes as I plead once more.
“Come on Nay.”
I hand my necklace over and grab my backpack on the way out.
“Here I come.”
On my way to school we are listening to “I love your smile.” By Shanice. I am in the passenger seat nodding my head and singing along.
“This is our part, Juju.”
Mom is singing the break down to the song. She has a beautiful voice.
“Aww-, look at the dimple twins.”
Nay jokes from the back seat. Mom pulls in front of her house. She turns the radio down then pops the trunk.
“How many in there again?”
Nay questions halfway out the car.
“Seventeen, and they are going for eighteen five a piece. I’m not coming back until I pick Juju up from school. So, if you run out, they’ll have to wait. I heard that nigga Killa-Wil is talking to them people. Baby daddy or not, if it ain’t about them kids, do not fuck with him.”
“Yes ma’am, have a good day at school, Juju, I’ll see y’all later.”
Nay gets out, as mom looks in her rear view, I’m looking in the side mirror. Nay pulls a big black duffel bag out the trunk. After Nay makes it in her house, mom drives off.
Arriving to school
“You have a good day, Juju; I’m having lunch with your father today. Is there anything you wanted me to tell him?”
“Yeah, tell him to come on home, and leave them pink toes lone.”
Mom bust out laughing.
“You need to stop listening to my phone conversations.”
I unbuckle my seat belt, then hug her, we are holding each other tightly.
“I love you mom, and tell dad, I love him too.”
Running towards the school building. I forgot to ask mom, what time she was going to pick me up. I turn around waving my arms.
She’s too far away. It’s a gloomy day, but the sun brakes through the clouds, and seems to only shine on mom’s car until she turns off the block.
It’s the last period of the day, I’m in gym class. Bishop my best friend and I are playing basketball against the varsity coach, who is also my gym teacher, and Josh a senior varsity player. They beat us on the last day of school. So, I worked hard all summer just to play them again. Bishop and I are drenched in sweat and out of breath.
“Juju are you sure this is going to work? It’s game point and I don’t want to lose to them again.”
“Just do as I told you, trust me, I got this.”
Bishop checks up with Josh then passes me the ball, I do a shake move that breaks my gym teachers’ ankles. He falls and the entire gym class is going crazy. Josh runs over to check me, so I pass the ball back to Bishop, as soon as Josh takes his eyes off me, I run towards the goal.
Bishop throws me an alley-oop. As I jump in the air, I grab the ball with both hands and slam dunk. The gym class goes off.
Bishop runs up on me excited we do a celebration handshake.
“Bruh! That was crazy!”
“I told you I can dunk.”
My gym teacher walks up on me.
He puts his hand on my shoulder.
“But I think you traveled.”
As he does the traveling play call with his hands. Everyone in the gym starts yelling out in my favor.
“What? I owned you that wasn’t travel.”
Principal Boatwright calls me out over the bullhorn.
“What the fuck does he want?”
Bishop looks me in my eyes.
“I don’t know, I’m about to go find out. Good game though.”
I jog over to Mr. Boatwright; I notice how his smile is leaving his face the closer I get.
“Mr. Boatwright! Did you see that dunk!”
He nods, and put’s his hand on my shoulder.
“I did, it was amazing, come with me into the hallway for a second?”
Ashely waves as I walk past. I just grin and nod my head what’s up. We make it into the hallway and there I see my dad, his wife, a male and female police officers. My eyes light up.
I wrap my arms around him.
He embraces me then kisses my forehead. Just like Mr. Boatwright, his smile goes away, but his eyes are flush red and flooded with many tears.
The male officer puts his hand on my dad’s shoulder.
“Take your time, councilman Payne.”
My stepmom places her hand on his other shoulder. Dad takes a deep breath. My dad hugs me again holding me tight and crying hard.
As he is about to speak, my stepmom hurries to intervene. She points toward her lips.
“Julius, I need you to pay attention to me. Your mom just died in a horrible car accident.”
“What? Is she serious right now?”
The female officer says, covering her mouth. She wipes the tears from her eyes and walks away. My eyes get big, I take a step back. I look to Mr. Boatwright, the male officer, over to my stepmom, then back at my dad.
“Lisa! How could you at a time like this?”
My dad puts his arm around me, but I yank away.
“Dad is she serious?”
My emotions are taking over.
“Mr. Julius Payne senior.”
More officers walk up from both directions of the hallway. My dad looks in both ways bewildered.
“Yes, I am he.”
The officers get closer and surround him. A detective walks past the other officers.
“Detective Brasi what’s this about.”
He holds up a piece of paper close to dad’s face.
“Put your hands behind your back, you are under arrest.”
I back up against the wall. It’s like I’m in the middle of a horrible nightmare. I shake my head thinking I was going to wake up.
“Under arrest? For what?”
Dad complies as an officer place him in hand cuffs.
“Extortion, money laundry, and now murder.”
“What, this is preposterous. Lisa, take my son with you. I’ll call you when they post my bond.”
My stepmom gives me a grin that I won’t ever forget.
“Don’t worry I’ll take care of him.”
“Wait, no, dad! What’s going on?”
The police are walking my dad down the hallway.
I yell until they walk him around the corner out of my sight.