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Who You Gonna Serve?

Who You Gonna Serve?

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Who You Gonna Serve?

226 страниц
2 часа
27 авг. 2020 г.


Andre Paul Zaayer, known to all as APZ, is a high-profile lawyer in his sixties who thinks in terms not of good and evil but of legal and illegal. He feels all he needs to understand is how to work around the law, how to dodge being caught, and how to slip out of the legal system when caught within it—helpful knowledge, particularly given his involvement in the sale of illegal narcotics.
Then there’s Dazz Brooks, an ambitious, talented young rapper. Freshly released from prison—where he had landed for his own involvement in dealing drugs—Dazz is determined to launch a legitimate career in the music industry. He knows APZ has connections in the music industry through his night club, so even though Dazz hopes to avoid any further involvement with the drug trade, he looks to the lawyer for help in planning his new start. APZ capitalizes on Dazz’s hope and poverty, twisting his ambitions back into a life of crime and violence that spirals both of their lives into devastation. Inspired by a higher power, Dazz yearns to break free of APZ’s bondage. But only time will tell whether he will succeed.
A modern take on the story of Pharaoh and Moses, this novel follows one man’s journey toward a new destiny as he makes choices that could change his life forever.
27 авг. 2020 г.

Об авторе

Aaron Pullins III seeks to provide inspiration, motivation, and direction to communities through mentorship and the arts. He has been a district outreach coordinator for the city of Cincinnati’s at-risk youth and young adults. He is also a minister, keynote speaker, and creator of positive infotainment. Who You Gonna Serve? has been previously produced as a play and used in a short documentary. Coauthor, Cathy Clark, is also Aaron’s wife.

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Who You Gonna Serve? - Aaron Pullins III

Copyright © 2019 Aaron Pullins III and Cathy Clark.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.


1663 Liberty Drive

Bloomington, IN 47403



Because of the dynamic nature of the internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

ISBN: 978-1-5320-8838-4 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-5320-8837-7 (hc)

ISBN: 978-1-5320-8839-1 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2019919352

iUniverse rev. date: 02/17/2021


Chapter 1 APZ Dreams

Chapter 2 Jazzy Grabs the Moment

Chapter 3 APZ’s New Millennial Player

Chapter 4 Welcome Home, Dazz

Chapter 5 The Barbecue

Chapter 6 The Landlord

Chapter 7 WWARR—Wrong with a Real Reality

Chapter 8 Next Level

Chapter 9 Surprise for Shae

Chapter 10 Club De Sizzle

Chapter 11 Robbery Boys

Chapter 12 Hot Tub

Chapter 13 The Studio

Chapter 14 Barbershop

Chapter 15 Party at the Prodigar

Chapter 16 Stone’s Call

Chapter 17 Miami Connection

Chapter 18 Hot Transaction

Chapter 19 The Warehouse

Chapter 20 We Lost Another

Chapter 21 Men Involved

Chapter 22 The Way of the World

Chapter 23 Lifeline

Chapter 24 New Direction

Chapter 25 The Healing

Chapter 26 In Transition

Chapter 27 Homegoing

Chapter 28 On the Fence

Chapter 29 The Boardroom

Chapter 30 Back in the Studio

Chapter 31 Drama Trauma

Chapter 32 Peace Interrupted

Chapter 33 The Long Night

Chapter 34 Emergency Room

Chapter 35 The Calm before the Storm

Chapter 36 Who You Gonna Serve?


Author’s Notes

Author’s Message


Author Contact

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain

the whole world, and lose his own soul?

— Mark 8:36 (KJV)



Sitting on the floor in the glow of the black-and-white TV with a coat hanger antenna, seven-year-old Andre and his five-year-old brother, Pete, leaned against the avocado plaid sofa, coloring in their Casper the Friendly Ghost coloring book on the coffee table. Pungent aromas of tobacco and marijuana drifted in from the kitchen. Curiously drawn by the unusually boisterous conversation, Andre got up and drew back the yellow curtain that separated the living room from the kitchen. Three men sat with his father at the kitchen table with chipped chrome legs.

Skinny Mr. Joe, with curly hair, yellow-tan skin, and arms marked with big green veins, nodded while clenching a cigarette that had become a three-inch cylinder of ash in his brown teeth. Mr. Jim, a short, chubby brown-skinned man with a deeply receding hairline, was sucking in lines of white cocaine like a vacuum cleaner. He quickly lifted a teaspoon of water and snorted like a dragon; it disappeared like magic above his walrus mustache. A younger guy with an Afro and a peace-sign emblem on his tie-dyed T-shirt leaned back, smoking a joint. As he sucked down smoke bubbles, his jaws looked like an inflated frog’s. Andre’s father’s large, beefy hands yanked at a belt wrapped around his arm. He pulled the belt tightly in his teeth like a pit bull and then pressed a hypodermic needle filled with heroin into a bloated vein. He sighed with satisfaction. Andre’s mother, an attractive, petite dark-skinned woman, was seated on a stool against the kitchen wall with her head buried in her hands.

Andre gazed, transfixed. When his mother raised her head of soft curls, he saw terror grip her face. She whispered fiercely, Andre! How long have you been standing here? Get back into the living room!

Her intensity heightened his curiosity. Glancing toward the bathroom off the kitchen, he said, I gotta pee, Mom! She scrambled toward him and immediately placed her hands as blinders beside his head while guiding him swiftly toward the bathroom. Standing guard, she waited for him to exit.

Andre peered anxiously from the crack in the door. He was relieved to see that his dad and the men appeared to be blissfully happy. When he stepped out, his mother spun around to block his view again, escorting him back to the living room.

He nestled next to his brother. You are coloring outside the lines and messing up Casper, he said, picking up a colored pencil. Pete, I saw Daddy stick a needle in his arm. He directed the pencil tip into his forearm. Like this.

Pete joined in mimicking him.

As they were giggling and nodding, the sound of feet came rushing toward them. Oh my God, no! Not that! their mother shouted. She snatched Andre by the arm. Not that! Not that! She emphasized every word she spoke with a pounding slap across his bottom. No! I don’t want you in that life!

Andre wondered, What is that life? He bit his lip as he watched his brother get spanked too.

Never in that life!

His dad came staggering in. What is going on in here?

They are imitating you! His mom stabbed her finger at his father like a knife. Our sons are pretending to shoot dope! Tears streamed down her face.

His dad gently clasped his shoulder and dropped to his knees, looking right into his eyes. Your mama is right. Don’t be like me! Go to school. Get educated. Make a better life for yourself. Then he suddenly winced and retracted with pain. He fell like a tree upon his face.

Andre’s mother turned his father quickly onto his back. Andre froze. His father’s pain seemed to subside, and a peculiar calm overtook him. If you live a life like mine, his dad said, speaking with a strange, godlike baritone, plagues will come upon you as in the days of Moses.

While his dad drew in a long, deep, stuttering breath, the men from the kitchen careened and wobbled into the living room, shoved his mother aside, knelt beside his dad, and began pounding on his chest. As Andre watched, the sounds of their pounding mixed with the reverberations of that strange, godlike voice.

* * *

At that point in the dream, the pulsating beat of childhood trauma usually led Andre Paul Zaayer, APZ, to awaken and grasp his own heart. On that night, his mind rushed away from the thumps of the scene, leading his dream by twist and turns into a familiar courtroom, where he currently practiced law.

Accompanied by the rhythmic beating of Judge Cole’s gavel on the bench, APZ’s body stretched and relaxed on the bed. He expected to enjoy this twist in the dream. He liked his present life.

As his dream beat forward, he saw Judge Cole’s piercing green eyes, soft white skin, and blonde-highlighted hair, which bobbed across her face as she bounced the gavel. APZ’s semiconscious thoughts mingled with his dream. She sure does make use of that gavel. She is a tough judge too. I don’t know why I like Judge Cole. He normally didn’t like tough judges.

You have been found guilty of double homicide! Judge Cole exclaimed. I sentence you to life in federal prison with a seventy-five- thousand-dollar fine. She slammed the gavel. Bam!

In a blurred flash, his dream jumped into the middle of another sentencing hearing. A new defendant stood before the judge. We have heard from the prosecutor, the victims, and your attorney, Mr. Brown, said Judge Cole. Do you have anything you would like to say on your own behalf?

Reggie Brown, a twenty-year-old with an athletic build, rose from his chair with his head hanging down. When he slowly looked up, he shivered as if it were a cold winter day. Your Honor, I know in my heart that I wouldn’t have committed that murder if I had not been taking those drugs and if I woulda been in my right state of mind. I ask for mercy.

Judge Cole said, You chose to take those drugs, sir. Her voice was strong and firm. You chose to enter into an altered state of mind. You will be held responsible today. You will not be receiving the death penalty. You will be serving thirty years to life in prison. She slammed the gavel. Bam!

A look of outrage streaked across the defendant’s face. Thirty years to life! he exploded. What?

Observing the defendant’s growing agitation, the six-foot-four, three-hundred-pound bailiff promptly cuffed the defendant as he turned angrily toward APZ.

APZ waved his hand dismissively. Calm down, bro! Calm down. It’s only thirty years!

Reggie bared his teeth. The veins in his neck throbbed as he hollered back at APZ, What! Thirty years? And you got paid?

The sound of Judge Cole’s gavel reverberated through the courtroom with finality. Court is now adjourned.

What? Reggie squawked at APZ. I thought you were going to get me off! This some bull!

APZ heaved a sigh and rolled his eyes. I did get you off. I got you off the death penalty.

Judge Cole surveyed all present in the courtroom, shaking her head in resignation. These are perilous times. Looking down at the bench, she struck the gavel again.

As his dream state continued to rumble through APZ’s mind, the sound of thunderous clapping swallowed up the reverberations of Judge Cole’s gavel. The scene within his dream shifted. This scene was unfamiliar. He found himself positioned behind a podium as a minister. What is this? APZ wondered as his consciousness swayed and bobbed in and out of the dream.

His view encompassed tightly packed pews of diverse people in dresses, suits, and jeans with their hands raised, clapping and shouting, Yes! Hallelujah!

In sequence with the praises, he reached up toward the microphone, lifting his head and his voice like a trumpet. We are living in perilous times, and there is trouble all over the land. He shook his head with angst, picked up the microphone, and stepped closer to the congregation.

"We are finding babies dumped in garbage cans. You better choose who you gonna serve.

And let me tell you what I really hate: watching mothers losing babies to the state. This system is like a circus ring. They give you dope; now you doing five to fifteen. You better choose who you gonna serve. APZ frowned and twisted inside the sheets as he questioned his own dream.

Some believe that the system has done no harm, but they are trying to fix it through welfare reform. You better choose who you gonna serve. We got tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods. We got people getting murdered by the police and the thugs. Black-on-black crime blows my mind. We got mothers against fathers and fathers against sons. You can’t hide, and you can’t run. You better choose who you gonna serve. APZ felt his whole body getting into the spirit as he broke into a heavy sweat and joined the congregation, exalting, Choose!

APZ kicked off the covers and leaped from the bed, dancing and shouting, Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Rising from the billowy pillow at Hotel Maesto, Jazzy slapped the bed. She clutched the Egyptian-cotton sheets as her almond-shaped mahogany eyes widened. Andre Paul Zaayer! What the heck has gotten into you? she shouted. The fine black hairs of Jazzy’s bob fell into her face. The soft beige of her supple thirty-eight-year-old skin shimmered in the morning light. Choose what?

Before he could shake off his dream and respond, Sting and Check, APZ’s two tall, heavily muscled bodyguards, burst in from the adjoining hotel room. As they stumbled in their haste, Check’s gun misfired.

What the hell? APZ shouted.

As the bodyguards quickly scanned the room, Sting’s long, thick braids bounced across his thick neck and shoulders.

Yo, you all right, man? asked Check as his tattoo-laden muscles flexed and twitched. That was a misfire. Good thing no one was hurt. My God. He examined the bullet’s entry point.

Jazzy, wearing only a sheer, lacy black teddy with a down-to- there plunge, gathered the covers around herself. Sting, an aspiring professional football player, and Check, an aspiring professional boxer, looked like covers of a bodybuilder magazine. APZ glanced back to see if Jazzy was distracted by their mostly bare bodies. He observed that her attention was still on him. Good.

APZ smiled broadly. Man, you all ain’t going to believe this. I was dreaming I was in a church, and I was preaching!

They all looked at each other in silence.

No you didn’t! exclaimed Jazzy as they all burst out in laughter.

Not you! Check chuckled.

Man, you a baller! You a mack! You are a lot of things, Sting said, but you sure ain’t that!

You ain’t no preacher in no church, whooped Jazzy while shaking her head with vigor.

Sting was cracking up. You are the biggest dope boy in da hood! A badass lawyer—a bad boy. You’re a lot of things, but you sure ain’t holy!

APZ turned toward the mirror framed in gold, flexing his dark chocolate muscles accentuated by his tank top. He slid his hands over his smooth silk pajama pants, patted his hair, and admired his face.

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