I shoulda knew they was gonna send us to the Bennett Motel. Some niggas I was talking to last week told me ’bout this place. They had me rolling, talking ’bout how Bennett got rats the size of cats and shit. One dude said his room had bullet holes in the walls and bloodstains on the rug. This other guy said the roaches was getting paid to run Bennett, that the roaches signed you in and took you to your room, and that Bennett even hired roaches that would come to your room to kill other roaches. Man, that shit was funny.

But there ain’t nothing funny no more. The place look like a bombed-out building from the outside, like something you see in them war movies. Inside it ain’t no better. The place stink like old sneakers, probably ’cause there ain’t no fresh air in here. That’s the first thing I notice.

The next thing I notice is how busted the lobby look with all these old chairs and couches that got holes with stuffing hanging out of them. The floors is dirty and look like they ain’t never been mopped. In one corner of the room they got Burger King bags, food wrappers and soda cans and shit all over the floor. Then they got these plastic flowers on all the tables like that gonna make the place look nice, like that gonna make us feel right at home here. Assholes.

The women line up at the front desk to sign they family in. Jasmine don’t say nothing ’cause she probably in as much shock as the rest of us. Even them guys from the bus ain’t making no jokes now. ’Bout ten minutes later Reyna come over and tell Jasmine they going to room 207. “C’mon,” Jasmine say.

Jasmine give me a little wave and whisper, “Come over later.”

I don’t say nothing. I just watch her walk away. Damn. Her ass could make a brotha forget his problems for a little while, but I gotta stay focused. Keep my shit together.

The second we get in our room, my moms shake her head. “Ty, can you believe this shit? Why they got us here? I got a seven year old child!”

I don’t say nothing. This whole situation got me so mad I know I gotta keep my mouth closed. I need to keep all this shit inside and wait ’til it all settle back down again.

“How they gonna do us like this?” she ask. “They gonna have children sleeping here for three nights? I don’t get this.”

My moms go on and on, and I just stop listening. I’m tired of the way she act, like everyone s’posed to do everything for her all the time. Even if she don’t do nothing. Even when my pops was home, she never did nothing for herself. She just sat ’round expecting him to do everything for her and buy her things. No matter how he got them.

Troy start crying and my moms don’t do nothing to help him, so I go through the garbage bag and find some sweatpants for him to sleep in. Then I tell him to go to the bathroom and get ready for bed. Five seconds later he call me ’cause there’s a roach in the sink. I take off my beat-up old jacket, then go in there and kill the roach with some toilet paper. While I’m in there, I kill two more I see on the wall. Then when I come out, my moms is on my cell talking to one of her friends.

“That’s my phone,” I say and try to snatch it from her.

She push me away, “Get out my face, Ty.”

“You using all my minutes. Damn.” I sit down on one of the beds, mad. How she gonna go through my jacket and take my shit without asking? I hate that.
Troy come out the bathroom. “Go to bed,” I tell him. I don’t want him staying up and seeing how jacked up this room really is.

“I wanna watch TV,” he say.

“Just go to bed. You can watch TV tomorrow.”

He so tired he don’t even fight me. He just lay down on the other bed and pull the blanket over him, which is good ’cause a big roach is crawling on the wall right by his bed. I don’t kill it ’cause I know it ain’t gonna matter. This motel got more problems than just some roaches.

Our room ain’t got no bullet holes or blood or nothing like that, but the paint is all dirty and peeling and the rug is all worn out and shit. They got two double beds in this room with blankets but no sheets, and the mattresses is tore up. Bennett is the worst. So far.

My moms use up the last ten minutes on my prepaid and throw my cell on the bed. Then she just turn on me. “What your lazy ass doing?”

“What that s’posed to mean?” Man, I ain’t got time for this.

She fold her arms in front of her. “It mean, what you doing for this family? Why ain’t you doing something so your mother and brother don’t gotta live like this?”

For a second I try to hold it in ’cause I want Troy to sleep, but I can’t this time. Before I know it, I’m off the bed, screaming back. “What I’m s’posed to do?”

“You never do nothing. Look at you. You don’t go to school ’cause you too damn lazy and ign’ant. And when you do get your Black ass to school, all you do is fight and get in trouble, and I gotta go down there every other day to talk to that goddamn vice principal.”

“What else you got to do? Don’t talk about lazy. What you doing for this family?”

She don’t hear me. She just keep on going. “You don’t go to school and you don’t even work. You damn near sixteen. What kinda man you gonna be? Some lazy-ass nigga?”

I get right in her face now. “What you want? You want me to go out there and sell weed? That what you want?”

She don’t back down none. “We wouldn’t be at Bennett if you was out there, would we?”

Troy start crying again, and my moms move away from me. She start walking ’round the room like she some kinda animal trying to get outta her cage. “Tyrell, you gotta do something. This shit is serious now.” She ain’t screaming no more, but she look real mad and real scared. “You spend all your time walking around the streets and screwing that little girl, but that don’t make you a man, you understand what I’m saying? A man gotta take care of his family.”

“Well, what your man doing for his family? You want me to take care of you ’cause your man can’t keep his ass outta Rikers. Well, that ain’t my problem. That’s your problem.”

I grab my cell and my jacket, open the door and I’m gone. I get in the hall and just wanna punch or kick something. I make a fist and rub it into my other hand, but I really wanna put my fist through the wall. I can’t calm myself down. I can feel the blood pounding in my brain. I gotta do something. I wanna go somewhere, but I don’t got nowhere to go.