The Book of Mycah
Son of Man. Son of Marvin & Tallulah. Son of Flatbush & roti & dollar vans bolting down the avenue after six. The boy grew like a debt, & beautified every meter of the pockmarked, jet black asphalt which held him aloft on days he sped from much larger men along its skin. Godfathers & hustlers, Division 1 scholarship forfeiters, alchemists, liars, lasagna connoisseurs, Internet mixtape DJs & baby mama conflict consultants, each one appearing as if from the smoke of our collective imagination, Jordans laced, drawstrings taut, all of them gathered one by one to race the gangly, mop-top prodigy from the front of Superior Market to the block’s endarkened terminus, the same corner where Man Man got jumped so bad at the back end of last summer, neighborhood residents came to regard the place as a kind of memorial & it was like this every other afternoon, you know, from June through the final days leading up to the book drives & raucous cookouts which signaled our school year’s inauspicious return, this was the manner by which Mycah Dudley first gained his fame, dusting grown men without so much as the faintest scintillation of sweat to make the performance ethical. It was damn near unsportsmanlike, his effortlessness, mass cruelty in a New York City dreamscape, the laughter of girls with hip-length, straight-back braids & baby powder Forces making every contest an event worth leaving the perch of your bunk bed, stepping out into the record-breaking swelter that summer held like a trap door for kids with broken box fans & no mother home for at least four more hours to fill the quiet with discipline.
We gathered in swarms to gawk at our boy before takeoff. His flesh maroon-clad from head to foot like an homage to blood, black plastic afro pick with a fist for a handle jutting from the left side of his high-top fade, his high-top Chuck Taylors, size 12, sounding like ox hooves once he entered the groove of a good run & the distinction was basically moot at that point is what I am saying, the line between him & any other mystical creature, any worthwhile myth, any god of prey or waning life.
The entire block was out that night. Firecrackers packed the blackening air, their fury matched only by the exorbitance of dope-boy convertibles turned mobile dancehalls by the moment’s weight. Which might explain why no one quite remembers when, or how, the now-infamous brawl began. Only that Mycah was in rare form earlier that evening, having just embarrassed Mars Patterson — so named, it bears mentioning, for the chocolate bars he loved to steal & trade on the 4 train, not the red rock planet or lord of war — but was now in his everyday mode, seated on the stoop, a seer with so few words for devotees & passersby, each eventually stopped asking for his backstory, for his praise or functional wisdom, & instead were content to let him eat his veggie patty with cheese without interruption, which he did, which he was, when the din that always accompanies someone’s son’s public pummeling rang out, cut through our scene lengthwise, compelled the boy, for the first time on record, to leap from the steps of the brownstone his nana died braiding hair inside of, enter the scrum, thresh the crowd for signs of the conflict’s center.
General consensus has it he was looking for his little cousin, & found him, even before the initial cop car ran like a living ram through the people. Before the boys in blue sprang, a spray of navy fléchettes, from behind its doors. Before they were caught in the scuffle, released ten to twenty rounds of ammo into the crowd without warning, bullets glancing off of Cutlass doors & corner store glass built for battle, all but three or four of which entered the boy mid-stride, lifted his six-foot frame from the ground, legs still pumping. For a second, you would almost swear he was running through the gunfire, preparing for liftoff or something, baby cousin held firmly in his arms, shielded from the onslaught. They never would have caught him if he hadn’t been holding that child, said no one, though we all thought it during the weeks following that moment we each froze, the moment his body collapsed slow as petals upon the unremarkable cement, & we stared at our champion felled by an outcome so common we don’t even have a special name for it. Still. No one standing ran that day. Most of us turned to face his killers, hands at our sides, determined to make them make it a massacre. But all that was before we heard Man Man let off a scream so full it rent the crowd in two, split the circle we had built around the boy’s corpse, our human wall parting to watch each casing fall from Mycah’s still-wet, dark red sweatshirt onto the street. Hear me. I heard the gunman’s greeting. Saw hollow points etch apertures into the boy’s clothes. They shot Mycah Dudley, quite legally. He died that night. He rose.