“At night I can’t sleep, I toss and turn
Candle sticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned
Four walls just staring at a nigga
I’m paranoid, sleeping with my finger on the trigger”
– Scarface, Mind Playing Tricks on Me
The minister locks Mt. Zion Baptist’s front doors. He does this twice daily, never missing once. It’s been this way for twenty years.
Like yesterday, he opens the door and climbs into his Cadillac. He starts up his ride. A Stylistics song plays on the FM.
Behind the driver sits an empty collection plate. A few years ago it would’ve been teaming with dollar bills. It hasn’t been lately, and this is on the minister’s mind as he is driving. Bills are past-due.
35 years of living like the devil. 2o walking the line, and bills are due. God speaks in funny ways.
This too heaps upon the bill stack in the minister’s mind. Cars with families drive by. They go into restaurants. They appear on passing billboard signs. His voice is robust; you really should see the minister orate a sermon. People shake around and shit when he speaks. The lack of attendance has silenced his voice as of late.
The contrast of seeing people out and about while driving home from an empty church, juxtaposed melancholy in his mind. His face does not match those outside and pictured on signs laughing from above.
After twenty eight minutes pass, the Cadillac makes a wide turn into a driveway. The driveway belongs to the minster’s house. His home is one you really wouldn’t register on a drive-by. Nothing too shanty or too nice. The home has a garage door and the minster is opening it right now.
The Cadillac enters. He exits the vehicle to close the garage door. The Cadillac continues to run. After a brief pause, the minster gets back into his car.
Two gold ringed hands clutch the boat’s wheel. Reflective sunglasses return to their rear view resting place. His naked eyes stare into it’s mirror.
The car continues to hum along. The minister sits in the car while it continues to flood the garage with smoke.
Frank and Phil have been planning a burglary for weeks. Every week for three of them now, like clockwork, the two watch the Minister. In and out of the garage he goes. The two note this, and they note his cold blooded Cadillac too! Cadillacs get the girls and Frank and Phil fashion themselves as ladies men.
The minister’s daily ritual was to drown out the day with headphones; opening an opportune time to steal a car. This explains why they are standing on the other side, placing hairpins into the garage door lock.
Frank pops the door ajar. Phil turns and flees because of fear. Frank always knew his friend was a pussy.
Smoke floods into Frank’s eyes. He coughs and open’s the Caddy’s passenger door. As he sits, a gun cocks. Frank reaches for his too.
“Oh you didn’t know the minister was a G, did you? You car jacked the wrong dude, motherfucker” says the minster holding the revolver.
Smoke escapes from the door, filling the exterior with black air. The two men look each other face to face, before Frank speaks, “what are you doing sitting in your car?”
“Shouldn’t I be asking that of you? But by the looks of that gun I don’t need to. You was going to jack my ride, wasn’t you asshole?”
“Well, you were trying to -”
“To what motherfucker?”
“Nothing, man. Just give me your car and get out of here, we won’t hurt you.”
“Don’t you see my girl here,” as the minster flashes his metal piece, “how do you know I won’t hurt you?”
“I got a friend I came here with. He’s coming any minute. He just waits is all. He waits and when he sees how long it takes, he’ll storm in here with a fucking machine gun,” Frank says.
“So, who says I care if you shoot me, or if your punk ass friend shoots me?”
The burglar knew not to call this a bluff.
“Why would someone not care?”
“I have stopped caring about a lot lately. And did you know you where robbing a minster, motherfucker?”
“I did not. I thought I was robbing a pimp, we thought we were robbing a pimp. No bullshit, man.”
“Thems was a long time ago, young blood. Aint no pimping neither, I was a hustler, mutherfucker.”
“Well I suppose that’s what you would call me. I need a car so I’m hustling.”
“So take the shit, man. I don’t need no motherfucking car and their hastles.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah, man, I said it didn’t I?”
“Okay. Are you gonna get out or what?”
“Yeah, motherfucker, let me grab my personal affects and shit first — gather my motherfucking belongings as it were.”
The minister opened the glove box, retrieved another gold ring, removed an old picture from the visor, and then you know damn well he snatched up them Ray Bans from the rear view.
He put them on his face and grinned. The smile directed at jibing Frank.
“But what will you do? Your not gonna go, you know, off yourself are you?”
“Do you want me to comfort you or tell you some truth?”
“I’m going to continue to live a happy life. Just keep going about my business.”
“How did you manage to hustle with such poor lying skills, minister?”
“That’s why I had to quit the game, player.”
“Do you really believe in being a minster or are you another pimp in the pulpit?”
“I don’t know what that shit means. But I know I’ve stayed out of trouble for twenty years. And with my past, you would understand that that in itself is a miracle.”
“Then why where you sitting in here letting the car run?”
“I’m tired . . . I’m ready to sleep. The only thing that wakes me up is a sermon, and don’t nobody wanna hear no more sermons.”
“You’re supposed to talk people out of that aren’t you?”
“Suppose to –according to who?”
“According to your God?”
“Man, I’m not even sure he exists. I used to.”
“Don’t you want to know?”
“More than any motherfucking thing. But believing I will know is fool’s gold.”
“Asking the question is like playing the lottery.”
“You mean motherfucking impossible to win?”
“No, I mean not participating gives you no chance.”
“Yo your metaphor is weak.”
“So is your stomach. Have the balls to live. Even if that means robbing a man of his Cadillac.”
“You need my Cadillac to live?”
“No. But it makes life worth living.”
“Your world is worse than mine if you need a got damn Cadillac to live better.”
“Some might say that we need help.”
The minister and Frank remained at gunpoint for every one of the twenty four minutes it took for the two to drive back where the minister had came from. The minster unlocked the Mt. Zion Baptist front door. Frank walked inside, followed by the Minister holding a Bible.
Phil however, remained a pussy.