Treasure E. Blue–acclaimed author of Harlem Girl Lost and A Street Girl Named Desire–is back with a heartbreaking urban love story of two star-crossed lovers up against the dirtiest dealer Harlem has ever seen.
Knocked up by a Southern preacher, Keyshia is sent to live with her aunt in New York, but after a horrific act of violence, the timid young woman becomes ice-cold–turning tricks and finding comfort in a crack vial.
Clyde and his two brothers find themselves living with a family friend after their mother is shot by their own father–leaving her institutionalized and unable to communicate, and him behind bars. Clyde’s older brother leads a decent life, working as a bank manager and trying to keep Clyde off the streets, but Clyde’s younger bro is the coldest killer in Harlem and takes every opportunity to involve Clyde in his infamous robberies-turned-blood baths.
When Keyshia and Clyde meet, they are instantly drawn to each other. Forced to pay back a large sum of cash to one nasty Harlem kingpin or risk the lethal consequences, Keyshia and Clyde use their tight game and their loyalty to pull off the impossible. And when Clyde is falsely accused of a bank hit, Keyshia vows to stick by her man–no matter the cost.
Praise for Treasure E. Blue’s A Street Girl Named Desire:
“Treasure Blue continues and solidifies his position as the true heir to Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines. A book full of gritty realism, violence, drug abuse, and hope; the book is simply off the damn hook!”
–African American Literary Book Club
“Drenched in drama, drugs, vengeance, power, pain, envy, love and hope . . . all the elements needed to satisfy [the] desire for a good read.”
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Treasure E. Blue was born and raised in Harlem. He formerly worked with the New York Fire Department as a supervising fire inspector in the Bronx. He now devotes himself full-time to writing and promoting his novels.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
“Keyshia, get your lazy black ass up and start making breakfast for the boys before I come in there and get you up myself,” yelled Keyshia’s aunt Ninny. It was five-thirty in the morning, and sixteen-year-old Keyshia barely moved off the couch where she slept. She knew from years of experience that her aunt’s warning was only an idle threat—for now—and that she had at least twenty-five more minutes before her aunt would come into the living room to make good on her promise; so she stayed just where she was. Keyshia had lived with her aunt Ninny for almost five years and was more than used to all her aunt’s threats, intimidation, swearing, and plain old evilness. Ever since Keyshia had come up to New York from Charleston, South Carolina, at the age of twelve, Aunt Ninny had seemed to despise her.
Keyshia was exceptionally skinny and dark skinned, with the kind of short, close-cropped hair that black folks were taught to despise. Her facial features were strong—keen and sharp—and her country accent, the way she dressed, and her out-of-place behaviors caused her to be ridiculed by her classmates the moment she was asked to introduce herself in class. Keyshia had long accepted that she was “different” and adapted to the loneliness of being an outcast. She was born poor and fatherless to a mother who bore baby after baby, six in all, in an effort to find acceptance in her small life. Keyshia became only a number, a number that was forced to vie for attention and survive on her own wit or starve in the interim. But it wasn’t only because Keyshia’s mother had a hard time raising her children that Keyshia was sent up north to live with her aunt Ninny. It was also that Keyshia had got into “a situation.” When a situation happened in the South, it was something that was not to be discussed. It was only to be dealt with, no questions asked. The Simmons household in the South needed relief from that situation, and the best way to handle it was to get rid of it.
When her uncle Polk, who had lived in New York for over fifty years, did the family duty of picking Keyshia up from the Greyhound, Aunt Ninny’s eyes seemed to light up with excitement at the arrival of her sister’s firstborn child. Keyshia stood wide-eyed and awkward as she held all her meager belongings in a pillowcase. Her aunt graciously whisked her in and said, “Come give your auntie Ninny a hug,” as she squeezed Keyshia lovingly in her arms. She told her two boys, Eric and Andrew, to come and give their cousin a hug and a kiss. They did.
Afterward, she helped Keyshia take off her matted and too-small sweater. “Welcome to your new home, baby.” As Ninny inspected the plaits in her niece’s hair, she frowned and said, “First thing Auntie gonna do is take you to Wilma’s on a Hundred Twenty-fifth Street and get that head of yours done.”
Uncle Polk was in his seventies and was the first member of the Simmons family to move to New York back in the fifties. Settling in Harlem, he rented a small room and went out looking for work. Not long after he arrived, he landed a doorman’s job at the premier Waldorf-Astoria in the heart of the city and became a permanent fixture at the hotel for the next forty years. He was good-natured and a very well-to-do black man for his time. He put his four kids through college and became the pillar of the Simmons family. Over the years, he became sort of a sponsor to the rest of the family, who wanted to move out of the dreaded South and find solace in the promised land, the big city, New York. He would pay the way for each and every family member to New York, find them a place to stay, and help them along until they got a job and on their feet. The only thing he asked in return was to help any family who wanted to come up north and help them out just as he had helped them. His niece Ninny was one such that he’d helped to settle in New York. It was time for her to return the favor.
“Uncle Polk, take off your coat and let me heat you up some dinner.”
He smiled and said, “No, I can’t. Doris is waiting right now for me to pick her up from church, and you know not to keep ole Doris waitin’ too long.”
Ninny chuckled and agreed, “Yeah, I know how Auntie Doris gets when she waitin’ too long; she liable to cuss you out soon as ya see her.” They laughed as they walked to the door.
“Oh yeah, I almost forgot.” Polk reached in his coat pocket and pulled out an envelope and handed it to her. “Just a li’l something ta help you out with some expenses.”
“Oh, Uncle Polk, you ain’t hafta do that.”
“Child, please, it’s my pleasure. We family gots to stick together.” She nodded and walked him to the door. “I’ll drop by at the end of the month,” he assured Ninny, “and drop you off something again.” Polk beamed down at Keyshia and said, “You in good hands now, you with family, li’l girl.” He kissed Ninny one last time and was on his way.
Aunt Ninny hollered good-bye again and closed the door behind her. She turned around and walked up to Keyshia slowly. She inspected her from head to toe, then suddenly, out of nowhere, she slapped Keyshia across her face, causing the girl to spin around and fall to the floor.
“You black little heifer, how dare your black ass fuck my home up.” Keyshia was speechless. “I want yo’ li’l black ass to know right now, you gonna earn ya keep to stay here.” Ninny scowled at her niece and yelled, “Bitch, when I talk to you I want you to answer me, do you understand?”
Keyshia, still holding her jaw, nodded as if her life depended on it.
Ninny yelled at her two boys, ages six and eight, and said, “I want both of y’all to go to the bathroom and wipe y’all face off and then change ya clothes. Y’all done hugged and kissed this black dirty heifer, and I don’t want her spreading what she got ta y’all.”
She turned her attention back to Keyshia and threatened, “And if you even think about opening your filthy little legs to any of my boys and offering them some of that stinkin’ pussy of yours, I’m gonna make you wish ya funky little ass was never born. Now try me.”
She stared Keyshia down and spewed, “I don’t know why I agreed to let yo’ black ass come up here. Yo’ damn mother ain’t shit! And don’t think for a second you gonna be just lying ’round here to eat, sleep, and shit. No, ya black ass is gonna do some work ’round here!” Ninny stared down at her frightened niece with cold, sullen eyes and shouted, “Now pick up that funky bag of yours and let me show you where you be sleeping.”
Keyshia followed her aunt and watched her open up a closet door near the living room. “Put your shit in there, ’cause this is where you will be sleeping, too.”
Even though Aunt Ninny was just as dark as, if not darker than, Keyshia, she hated Keyshia’s Negroid composition with a passion. Aunt Ninny was in her late thirties and did everything in her power to separate herself from her country Negro persona. She forced the country southern accent that she had out of existence and had Keyshia straighten her hair every single night with the hot comb before getting her hair relaxed with chemicals that burned holes in her scalp. She used skin-bleaching cream without fail until her skin pigmentation turned her a ghastly faded color. She even went so far as to pick her male impregnators by design. Only the lightest of light black men with soft straight or curly hair were worthy to mate with her in order to spare her children from a lifetime of ridicule, mockery, and persecution. And she adored her two boys because of their physical attributes.
Aunt Ninny made good on her promise over the years and made Keyshia a virtual slave. Keyshia did the bulk of the cooking, cleaning, and washing in the household. Her two cousins made it known to Keyshia that she wasn’t shit. They would purposely fuck up the house and make her clean it. Once, one of the brothers ordered, “Hey, black bitch, come clean this leak up on the floor.”
Keyshia came with the mop and asked, “Where is the leak?” Her cousins smiled and pulled out their penises and peed right there on the floor in front of her. Keyshia couldn’t stand their arrogant little asses.
The early years at her aunt’s were the worst because she was always lonely, scared, and nervous. But she grew to accept her position in life. Over the years, she learned how to hurt and manipulate them all, including her dreaded auntie. If things got too hectic around the house or the beatings became too much, she would fake sickness, as if she were about to die. Because Keyshia’s body was riddled with whip marks and iron burns and appeared malnourished, her aunt dreaded taking her to the hospital—she feared her abuse of her niece would be exposed. Besides, over the years she developed a dependency on Keyshia and at that point couldn’t function without her. In a matter of days following Keyshia’s “illness,” the whole house would turn upside down. The apartment would be a wreck, and the boys would complain that they were starving. In no time at all, they would take care of her by bringing her chicken noodle soup and waiting on her hand and foot as she recovered from the mysterious illness that had her bedridden. These were the moments Keyshia really enjoyed. The only other times she was happy was when she was alone and could watch television or put on DVDs and watch movies for hours on end. Her favorite movie was The Color Purple because she felt exactly like Celie, the character played by Whoopi Goldberg. Keyshia cried each and every time she saw the movie. She felt Celie’s pain, her hardship, and her quest for freedom. Keyshia also felt she was ugly, helpless, and torn from her family down south and that nobody from there would come rescue her. She also loved the movie Set It Off, which starred Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, and Vivica A. Fox. She loved the way the girls took control of their lives and went all out to get what they wanted by force. Keyshia would act and repeat everything the girls said while she watched them. I could never be so confident, she thought. Keyshia would get so caught up, so lost in the movie, that she would forget where she was at times. Whenever she acted out their parts, she spoke almost properly and just like the characters on-screen.
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