In a rundown hotel in downtown Orlando sat Shareef Johnson a failed man with failing health. On the beat up old television he watched two talented young ladies staring in a sitcom. One was a stand up comic and the other a former teen pop star. They were both born with the last name Johnson but since proudly changed their last names to Rascoe. The name of their father. As the credits rolled the manager of the roach infested weekly pay hotel banged on the door.
“Shareef! Boy you’re late with your rent again. You’ve got until tomorrow morning to come up with it or your ass is back out on the streets. You got that Shareef Boy!?”
Shareef hacked and coughed up yellow and brown phlegm before answering.
Shareef Boy is what his landlord called him because he behaved more like a boy than a man. Shareef became accustomed to the name years ago so he took no offense, what could he do anyway? He knew that he’d better get out and collect some cans or panhandle so that he could get the rest of his rent up. Maybe he would clean up his old clippers up and see if he could give a few cheap haircuts to get the money up. He reminisced on the days when he was a barber, the only time in his life he ever held down a steady job. He held it because the hours were flexible, he could get high on the job and it was untaxed income. As he tried to motivate himself to get up and out a news report came on about a new overpass they were building in the city. The head of the project was a gentleman by the name of Jalen Rascoe. Jalen was always fascinated with vehicles and traffic as a young boy so it only made since that he become a city planner. The young man excelled at his job, rising through the weeks quickly. Jalen showed great ease and calm before the cameras. Shareef Boy stuffed his fat swollen feet into his boots. Diabetes had taken it’s toll on “The Boy” over the years.
The mid day news continued on to the sports report there he was again the star second basemen for the Philadelphia Phillies Jordan Rascoe. He hit two homeruns and had four RBIs the night before against the hapless Miami Marlins. Rascoe was a three time all star in just his g fourth season, he projected to be a hall of famer. Shareef picked up his air bat and swung just as Rascoe swung hitting himself an imaginary homerun! The initial joy of his hit subsided as he watched Jordan trot around the bases then jump on home plate pointing up to the sky giving praise to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Shareef didn’t allow himself to get too low he quickly got refocused on the task at hand. He didn’t want to have to sleep on a mattress under a highway underpass. A cold front was coming in and it was supposed to get down into the forties. That could be dangerous for a man in his health.
As he trudged out into the sunlight he thought about his deceased mother. She took such good care of him, even as a grown man. The Boy never had to grow up and be a man because mommy was always there to hold his hand or be his safety net. Shareef fathered many children but never worked a day in his life to support any of them. Mama was okay with that she always stood by her boy. She even went as far as to pay $25,000.00 to an attorney to prevent her baby boy from having to pay child support to four children he fathered but never raise. They lied, lied about everything especially his income for the short period of time he worked in his life. The hard working mother of these four children was forced to pay him child support and he was given fifty percent custody after deserting the children for two years. He only kept up the schedule for one summer and during that time he physically, emotionally, mentally and psychologically abused those poor children who never wanted to be with him. He was only keeping them so that he could get money. His mother and sisters did more sitting with children than he did. They had to feed the children and lauder their clothes because he couldn’t or wouldn’t cook or clean. He would drop the children off with whoever and ride around in his mother’s car all day. In his entire life he never purchased a vehicle of his own.
The beautiful, hardworking mother of the children married the man of her dreams and her name changed. It changed to Rascoe. The child support magically disappeared. Shareef Boy stopped seeing the children despite being order to by the courts. He didn’t care, he just didn’t want to pay child support. Shareef Boy was too busy making more children that he would refuse to support. The Rascoes were a strong supportive Christian family focused on serving the world they lived in. The educator and writer worked hard in developing the young people they were charged with caring for. Activities, sports teams, parades, book clubs, projects and reports were daily activities in the household. They were a happy family who sometimes struggled but were still always happy believes in the brighter day that lay on the other side of this one. They attended church as a family and eventually the children took on the family name. Shareef Boy did not contest for fear of going back to court and possibly having to pay child support.
He would however pose on social media as a dedicated father as a way to try and get women posting dating pictures of the children stating how much he love them. The children had to got to counseling and work through issues because of the short time they were in his care one boy in particular, Jordan was physically abused the most and told that he was crazy. It took some time and a lot of prayer but he eventually overcame the damage done. His parents turned to the Department of Children and Families and even filed for an injunction to no avail. Lie were told and Boy Johnson’s attorney got it set aside. Protecting Shareef’s right was more important than protecting innocent children. These were dark times but the Rascoes never stopped believing in that brighter day. It had come everyone of those deserted children had become a huge success.
Shareef pan handled on the corner hoping to make a few bucks, he spotted cars that belonged to the city coming down the block. One of them stopped and opened the window. A boy he once called pitiful reached his hand out the window with a twenty dollar bill in it. Shareef quickly grabbed it but the hand didn’t let go, not until their eyes met. Shareef knew those eyes, he tried to call out. Just then the light changed, the hand let go of the money, the window came up and the car pulled off. Jalen said a silent prayer for the pitiful Boy who beat and tormented he and his brother and sisters. The Boy who assaulted, cheated on, deserted then lied on his mother he prayed for. The Boy who never tried to raise or provide for him he asked the Lord to please have mercy on. The Boy who disrespected his father and mother, cause their household financial burden by not only not giving but also actively taking away their families very much needed income he forgave just as Christ would want him to. The Boy always denounced Christ he would often say “Your God…” But he had no God of his own. He pretended to be Muslim but never went to the Mosque and even sold his Koran. That twenty dollars would be all the money Shareef Boy would get that day and it wasn’t quite enough. He was tossed out the next day and was made to sleep under his outdoor concrete shelter. He realized as he laid down shivering as the temperature dropped it was December fourteenth, Jalen’s birthday. Shareef Boy hadn’t bought him a present on his birthday ever and here he was giving him a cash gift on his birthday. The irony was not lost on The Boy over the next three days as he lost feeling in first his toes, then his fingers and eventually his hands and feet. They turned black due to lack of blood flow and oxygen. He knew that he was in dire condition so he called out to his fellow homeless for help, no one care enough to assist him. They were all too concerned with staying warm and surviving the night.
He was desperate so he rolled himself in the middle of the road on the hopes that someone would stop and help him or at least run him over and put him out of his memory. Thirty minutes later a Christian man and his wife rescued Shareef from the street and the dark cold night. The wife tried to testify to him but he would hear nothing of it. They took him into emergency and prayed for him on last time before leaving. Doctors made the decision to amputate. He had no insurance or money so there would be no surgery. The Boy emerged from the hospital in a wheel chair with both legs cut off below the knee. He also lost his index and pinky finger of his right hand and his ring finger off his left hand. It was fitting since he never intended to married any of the women he impregnated and deserted with child. Some kind people in the hospital donated a wheelchair for his use, he gladly took it along with some donated cash. Bask in a dingy hotel room he cursed the television set drunk off a fifth of gin. Again sisters Janiah and Janay Rascoe’s sitcom was on.
“They’re Johnsons not no damn Rascoes! Those girls came from me not that asshole. I’m their daddy not him, me!”
He threw his empty liquor bottle across the room knocking over the ashtray butts flew everywhere. One was still lit. In his drunken state he tried to get in the wheel chair and wheel to the other side of the nasty little room. Instead he fell over al the dusty drapes caught fire. The fire spread rapidly and smoke filed the room. Other residents started to smell the smoke and people scrambled up and down the hall. There were no smoke detectors to alert the fire department. People tried to get in The Boy’s room
But it was locked. He was quickly asphyxiated, slowly dying in his own inequity. The hotel was emptied all but one resident got out alive… The boy was burnt to a crisp. In the morgue he sat unclaimed until the county finished his semi cremation. None of his eight biological kids cried or even knew he died especially not the oh so talented Johnsons turned Rascoe. The broken body of the Boy’s burning had just begun, our souls are eternal.