Tyrone Jenkins, reformed addict, born again Christian took great joy in his new found calling as a street preacher and leader of a small ministry aimed towards helping the youth to avoid the allure of crime and drugs by sharing his love of Christ. Night and day he stood on the corners of Mercy Drive and Ivey Lane preaching the Gospel with great zeal and passion. Scripture he shared enthusiastically but unfortunately most of what he said fell upon deaf ears. Fearless was Mister Jenkins in his pursuit to save souls; his fearlessness sometimes placed him in perilous predicaments. On his soap box he stood, bullhorn in hand sharing the Word with all in earshot. Scoffed at, scorned even threatened he was but never would he stop doing the Lord’s Work for he believed Jesus would forever protect him, if not in this life then in the next. Drug dealing, thievery, prostitution, robbery and government funds were Pastor Jenkins’ congregation’s main sources of income which they spent almost all on their vices of choice. Being a former drug addict, thief, pimp and low level drug dealer himself he felt it his duty to reach out to the “street people”. Tyrone reached some of the people in the streets, helped them into rehabilitation centers while sharing the story of his enlightenment and how Jesus saved his life.
“If you only believe, God will deliver you from anything. I am a prime example of that. If Christ can save me, HE can save anyone. I am HIS instrument and I will do HIS will until my days in this place are done.”
Inspiration and enlightenment he offered while encouraging change in all the wicked. There were many antagonists on the streets discouraging the works of the righteous but the good pastor pushed on, rain, sleet or in the Florida burning heat.
There were two youths who were particularly persistent in their tormenting of the man of God. Buzz and Bug were two teens who hung out together everyday finding mischief as often as possible. They loved to curse and degrade the street preacher whenever he found himself in their presence. Minister Jenkins didn’t know either boy’s real name only the names given them by the streets. Bug got his nickname because he was a very un-hansom extremely dark skinned boy with bad posture. He reminded folks of a cockroach or palmetto bug so they simply called him Bug. Buzz got his street name from the children in his sixth grade class because he was always intoxicated. The kids all said that he “always had a buzz on” so he was called Buzz. Buzz dropped out of school a year later and made getting high the core of his existence. The two didn’t have a drug of choice per say they just loved to get high on whatever was available. The dealers called them a couple of hypes because of their lack of preference in drug choice. To support their habit the boys would snatch purses, burglarize homes for prescription drugs or small businesses for items to pawn, steal from unsuspecting relatives or friends, sell fake drugs or mug the elderly, anything to get their next fix. Buzz and Bug would hang around trying to figure out where the drug dealers would hide their stash; they sometimes used harassing Tyrone as a cover.
“Hey old man why you out here preaching that old bullshit when ain’t nobody listening to ‘yo dumbass anyway?”
Buzz snickered and bumped Bug on the shoulder encouraging him to join in.
“Yea, you think you finna get people to listen to what you saying while you standin’ out here in this hot ass sun. Everybody know you a jug. You used to smoke hard wit my Uncle Harry back in the day. Fuck what you talkin’ ‘bout man. Ain’t nobody tryin’ ta hear that shit!”
The boys being the most defiant and insulting made Minister Jenkins that much more determined to reach them.
“Son I’m here everyday because it’s my calling. The Lord called on me to save you and that is how I will spend the rest of my days on this earth. I’ll preach until I no longer have breath. I’ll preach to a thousand for the opportunity to just save one. You may eventually be that one son; I’m praying for the both of you everyday.”
The two just waved their hands, said some curses under their breaths and walked down the road. No dealer was careless enough to stash their drugs where Buzz and Bug could get to them so they schemed and plotted other ways to get high.
One spring afternoon aspiring ministers and missionaries toured the impoverished neighborhood spreading the Gospel door to door. Many of them happened upon Pastor Jenkins doing his work standing upon his make shift tiny stage and podium. At the base of his stage sat a coffee can in which people would drop small bills and coins as tithes, gifts or donations so that he may continue the Lord’s work. Word spread amongst the Christians visiting the community of Mercy Drive and each made their way to where Tyrone was preaching. The soon to be graduates of the seminary were very generous in their tithes and offerings to the Street Preacher. They felt it their duty to help their brother who gave so much of himself to a community in much need of spiritual cheer. The coffee can filled twice over with large bills before the students returned to their Holy School.
Tyrone was fearless but he wasn’t foolish; during the course of the afternoon he made his way to his bank to make a deposit into his ministry’s fund. The fund almost doubled in one afternoon. He paused in the bank lobby to pray.
“Lord Jesus I want to thank you for this Blessed Day and your children who saw fit to tithe towards this small ministry you have Blessed us all with. I ask for your wisdom and guidance Lord on how to manage your funds. I pray for the success and prosperity of each of those young Holy Men and Women. I thank you for the opportunity to serve you Jesus as I proudly retake my post. In Christ Holy name I pray. Amen.”
Upon completing his prayer Tyrone made his way back to his corner of salvation on Mercy drive. Word spread through the streets about the Preachers knocking on doors in the neighborhood and also about them stopping by the street preacher and donating to his cause. Buzz and Bug got the word same as everyone else. By dusk they were hurting for a high and ready to do anything to get it. Tyrone set up his night lights and tent then stood back upon his stage and began preaching once again. The spirit flowed through the streets that night as a small crowd gathered around to see hear him preach. Coins and small bills hit the bottom of the can as Pastor Jenkins preached on. Through a wooded fence across the street stood Buzz and Bug weary yet anxious after exhausting all of their options for obtaining money for drugs. Their ill little minds raced and plotted on a new way to get high.
“Hey Bug you know that dumbass preacher been getting’ money all day. I know that can gotta be full by now.”
A wide grin covered Bug’s face, his dark brown and blackening rotting teeth shown as devious thoughts danced through his head.
“Yea Buzz we should go jack him as soon as that crowd clears out. We’ll act like we want him to pray with us so we can get close to him. He gonna thank he ‘bout to save us or something so he gonna be glad to talk to us.”
Buzz added to the plan.
“Bug we gotta wait to he break his shit down and turn off those bright ass lights. You know he ain’t gonna preach much pass nine. As soon as he turns off the light we’ll go over there. You still got that fire?”
“You know it.”
Bug pulled a rusty 38 special out of the waistband of his dirty, dingy grey sweatpants.
“Good if he try ta tussle wit us just pull that gat on him. That’ll slow his ass down.”
The two addict criminals slapped hands and shared an evil laugh while scratching and shaking due to the withdrawals they were experiencing from lack of drug consumption. Buzz and Bug sat hidden behind their fence digging through the cool evening sand trying to find half smoked cigarette butts to curb their cravings. None were found; the two grew more anxious. An hour later the preacher finished his sermon and began to break down his equipment. The two scuffle up out of the sand and made their way across the street to where Minister Jenkins now stood alone in the dark packing up his lights and podium.
“Hey preacher man, you got time to pray for us too?”
Bug started in as Buzz inched closer so that he could look down into the coffee can. It was dark so he couldn’t see what was on the bills, only that there were bills in the can along with some coin change. Tyrone was happy that the two delinquents asked him to pray for them and he was grateful for the opportunity to finally reach them.
“Yes son I would be more than happy to pray with the two of you. Jesus loves us all the same; HE wants to save your soul just as he has wants to save mine.”
As Tyrone started to preach Bug pulled out his rusty 38 and pointed it at the Holy Man.
“Shut up, don’t nobody want to hear that shit. Buzz grabbed the can and get the money.”
Tyrone stepped back with his hands in the air but offered a word of warning.
“Boys, you shouldn’t steal from God; you will feel his wrath.”
Buzz counted the money and saw that there was less than ten dollars in the can, coins included. He was infuriated as he showed Bug how small of a take they were going to walk away with. Bug raised the gun, hand trembling and demanded more money.
“Where, the rest of the money at?! Give it up now!”
Tyrone tried to explain that he had made a deposit earlier but before he could get the words out the gun went off and a bullet had lodged itself in the middle of his forehead. The two dope fiends were more exuberant than fearful upon seeing the back of Tyrone’s head blow open with great force. Brain matter and scull fragments flew all over Tyrone’s lights and podium before his body slumped and fell to the sidewalk.
“Damn Bug you bust that nigga’s head wide open boy. Look how small it went in and how big it came out, damn!”
Bug smiled wide, proud what he had done somewhat accidentally. The rush was almost as good as a crack high. He looked down at the rusty gun he held in his palm and slowly nodded. For the first time in his life he felt power. Bug was in a euphoric trance. He was snapped out of it by Buzz’s yelling urging him to flee the scene.
“Yo Bug c’mon man lets dip. Somebody coming.”
Bug snapped out of it and he two took off down the block to see if they could find somebody to sell them a dime rock as Tyrone Jenkins soul ascended to heaven. Buzz and Bug ran to the back of the Palms Projects where they found a low level drug dealer named Run Run who they went to middle school with before the three of them dropped out.
“Yo what up Run Run, let a nigga get one of dem jumbos. We know you got the fattest dimes around here.”
Run Run stepped back from the two knuckle heads then smiled before responding.
“You know I got you homeboy. Wait here.”
Run Run went under the stairwell to retrieve his stash when Bug got an idea. Why pay for one rock when he could rob Run Run and get the whole stash. Killing Tyrone helped the young drug addict to become more brazen and courageous in his criminal behavior. Bug ran back to where Run Run was kneeling down under the stairs separating his rocks. Bug put his pistol to the back of the boy’s head then ordered him to give up all the drugs. Run Run didn’t take him serious at first.
“C’mon Bug stop playing man I got you a fat dime right here.”
Bug responded in a dead serious tone.
“You think I’m playing homeboy? You better give it up now for I blow yo’ head off like that preacher down the block.”
“What you shot the preacher man?”
Buzz chimed in warning Run Run just how serious Bug was.
“Yea man he just smoked dude a few minutes ago. He ain’t playing, give it up!”
Bug pressed the barrel against the back of Run Run’s head anxious for him to resist so that he would have a reason to murder him. Run Run realized quickly that his life was in danger so he handed over the drugs with no further protest. But he vowed silently to get the two of them back one way or another.
Bug snatched the bag of rocks and the two ran on down the road then tucked into the woods so that they could get high in private. After smoking two rocks each they were both beaming and paranoid.
“Yo buzz we gotta get outta of here. They gonna be comin’ for us. You here that? That’s them crackers, they comin’.”
Sirens could be heard as police and paramedics rushed to the aid of the fallen preacher. Soon after the corner was called in. The soul of the Lord’s loyal servant had made his journey home almost an hour earlier. People gathered in the streets to find out what was going on and as always word traveled fast about what had taken place. Run Run, never a snitch, was more than happy to break the code of the streets and inform on the two perpetrators. He figured that if he couldn’t get revenge on Buzz and Bug by his own hands then he may as well give them up to the cops and let them deal with his new adversaries. Buzz and Bug ran the opposite way of the scene, away from the noise confusion and witnesses. The two slowed their pace and walked until they reached a convenience store on Silver Star Rd. in Pine Hills. They ducked behind the store to smoke some more and think of a plan.
“Yo Bug we need a car so we can get outta here.”
“Yea lets jack somebody while they’re filling up they gas tank so we got plenty of gas to ride out.”
“Yea you right Bug let’s get a cell phone too so we can call those hoes in Ivey Lane. Maybe we can stay at yo’ bitch Keisha’s house.”
After formulating a plan the two lay in wait for an unsuspecting victim. They spotted two men getting gas and buying beer but thought better of it. They didn’t want to be overpowered and have their firearm taken from them. They needed an easier mark. Finally they spotted a woman by herself paying at the pump. This was their chance. They waited for her to finish pumping her gas and as she waited for her receipt they walked across the parking lot. Like they were merely trying to get to the corner when suddenly they changed direction and ran right for her ambushing the poor woman. She was struck across the back of the head with the pistol and then kicked while she was down. Cell phone, purse wallet and car keys were all taken and within seconds the duo sped down the street towards their destination. A call was made to two girls in their early twenties who also happened to be strung out on drugs. The girls were squatting in a house on Ivey lane that one of their relatives had been evicted from a month earlier. They welcomed the boys over after learning they had a bag full of crack.
“Tonya, Buzz and Bug comin’ over here and they got some D. Let’s chill with ‘em for a while, you got some more squares?”
“Yea girl, I got two packs that I ganked this mornin’. I’ll chill wit Buzz ass long as he holdin’ somtehin’.”
There was no electricity in the house but there were plenty of candles lit for light. The girls lit every one and tried to tidy up a little bit before their guests arrived. They peered out the windows anxious for the drugs to arrive.
“Damn girl they need to hurry up.”
“You gonna give Buzz some when he get here?”
“Yea, if he got some D, he can get whatever he want.”
The girls slapped five and shared a laugh when they spotted the headlights of the car as it pulled into the driveway. The girls rushed out to greet their drugs… and their guests.
“What’s up Keisha? Yo let me pull the car in the backyard behind the house.”
Bug and Buzz looked around nervously as Keisha agreed. They pulled the car in to the backyard then the four of them hustled into the house to smoke and smoke they did. The boys visited the bootleg man and bought six quarts of beers with the money in the woman’s purse they robbed earlier in the night. The foursome got high and sexed until dawn. Hung over and hungry Bug thought about the trouble he and his comrade might be in and what they might do to escape. During the course of the night the boys bragged about their exploits to the young junkie girls and they were very excited by what they heard. They found it very romantic in an “us against the world” kind of way. An agreement was made by the four to run away together and go out in a blaze of glory if need be.
Bug met Keisha through her brother Tiny who he spent some time in the juvenile detention center with. Tiny wasn’t a seasoned criminal; he worked part time for his Uncle Joseph’s lawn care service. The youngster got in trouble just the one time and hadn’t been locked up again since. Tiny wasn’t a heavy drug user either, his greatest vices were alcohol, marijuana and fast girls. Bug used his stolen cell phone to place another call.
“Yo what up man?”
“It’s Bug nigga, what up?”
“Oh ain’t nothin’, I just been out here cuttin’ these damn yards all day tryin’ ta keep my pockets right.”
“Well me and my homeboy Buzz over here chillin’ wit ‘yo sister and her homegirl Tonya.”
“Yea man, how many of yo’ sistas you thank I be chillin’ wit?
“Oh so what y’all getting’ into, smoking hard?”
“Naw man, why you say that?”
“You know why ‘cause that all my sister do.”
“I just wanted you to help me out and I’ll get you some money. More money than you make all week cuttin’ dem damn yards.”
“Well what you got in mind?”
Bug formed a plan involving getting hotel rooms and money using the bank and credit cards of their victim from the night before. Bug agreed to pick up a chick for Tiny too before they hit the road. Tiny was all for it, looking forward to a little bit of excitement while relishing the opportunity to impress his new lady friend. A week earlier Tiny met a sixteen year old girl on Face Book named Karen Jones. The two had yet to meet in person but did much sexting and exchanging naked photos on their Face Book Pages. Karen’s parents died in a horrible car accident when she was five and she had been raised by twin sisters Ella Mae and Edna Rae. Ella was the orphan child’s grandmother and Edna her great aunt. Both women were God fearing Christians who attended church at least twice a week. The women had their adopted daughter in church since she was a young child but the girl became resistant and disrespectful to the loving elderly women about the time she entered middle school. Karen would curse, threaten, spit at and even assault the women whenever they tried to prevent her from doing something destructive that she wanted to do. Once in her teens, Karen refused to ever attend church and rarely went to school. She became a terror in her small Titusville Community getting in fights with the local girls, drinking, smoking cigarettes and marijuana. One of the main dangers the sisters tried to warn young Karen about was her use of the internet and especially social media. Karen collected many online friends; most of them were older men, some of which she had physical relationships with. Karen when asked by Tiny to join him and his crew on the road she jumped at the opportunity to get into some mischief and dangerous fun.
As the five hit the road on their way to Titusville to pick up Karen, Florida’s US Marshals were coordinating with the Orange County Sheriffs and Orlando Police Department. The cell phone that the youths were using was contacted by the US Marshals and the young criminals responded with jest and disrespect.
“Hello, I’m I speaking to Bug?”
“Yea dis Bug, who dis is?”
“I’m Marshal Terry Hunter with the US Marshals. I’m calling to inform you that we have a warrant for your arrest. Is your friend Buzz with you?”
“Yea Buzz here, he getting’ his buzz on.”
Bug laughed and the others in the car joined in with him. The chase was apparently on and that excited the young criminals. Tiny turned onto the highway and they all chuckled on as the Marshal continued.
“Listen Bug, I think it would be best if you turned yourselves in to avoid anyone else from getting hurt. We want you to be brought in safely and without incident.”
“You must be crazy if you crackers thank we finna just let y’all lock us up. We ain’t gonna do your job for you. You wanna catch us? Well then you better get on ya job nigga.”
With that Bug hung up the phone and the car erupted in laughter once again. Meanwhile the authorities were tracking and tapping each number that had been dialed from any and all of the phones that were being used by anyone in the vehicle. The furious five arrived in Titusville to collect the sixth member of their crew. Karen ran out of the house excited to get into something. Tiny got out of the car to great her with a hug and a kiss. Karen piled in the car all smiles.
“What’s up y’all?!”
Everyone returned her salutation then Tiny chimed in.
“Y’all this my girl Karen. Karen this is Bug, Buzz, my sister Keisha and her homegirl Tonya. Yo Karen wont you drive so that we can take the back roads back to our hood then out of town? ”
A wide smile covered her face at the thought of being the wheelman. Karen had been waiting for a chance to be involved in something as idiotically criminal as this for most of her wretched teenage life.
“Hell yea, I’ll drive. I can y’all to Orlando in no time.”
Tiny gave Karen a slap on the butt, handed her the keys then walked around to the passenger side of the car. She climbed behind the wheel and they were off. Windows up, air conditioning blasting; they all got high. In the front Karen and Tiny shared a blunt and in the back the four junkies shared hits of crack. Bug cracked his back window and a stream of toxic smoke poured out of it. They all giggled looking back at the smoke that trailed their stolen vehicle, eyes glassy and hearts full of sinful joy.
Karen received a text on her phone from the Marshals who were in pursuit of them and she laughed.
“Look Tiny, them dumbass cops trying ta text me in shit. I ain’t got shit for em. I’m just gonna tell them get on ya job bitch. They trying to tell me I’m puttin’ myself in a dangerous situation, shut up bitch. Nobody don’t tell me what the fuck ta do!”
Karen texted back her profanities to the authorities then laughed with her new friends. The Marshals then tried calling and texting each of their phones while tracking and triangulating their movements. They were all completely unaware of how close they were to being captured. Each call and text was answered and dismissed; none of them took it seriously.
“Those cops is dumb as shit. They think they can just talk and we gonna just stop and let them cuff us up. That shit ain’t happenin’ I’ll smoke anybody in my way.”
Bug held up his pistol and everybody nodded in agreement. They were all deliriously following blind on a mission to nowhere for reasons unknown to them all. Now back in Orange County they exited interstate-4 and headed cautiously towards Mercy Drive. A light rain had been falling all day making the road slippery and braking difficult. Once they turned on Princeton Blvd. they spotted police cars and undercover SUVs. When the light changed Karen punched it then turned towards Silver Star Rd. on Tiny’s direction. They pulled to the side of the road. Tiny ordered Karen out of the driver’s seat.
“Yo, I’ll drive now, we’re in my town. I know how to get around these crackers.”
“Ok Baby, whatever you say.”
When they got back in the car Keisha snapped out of her crack induced trance temporarily having a moment of clarity. She touched Karen on the shoulder and spoke to her in a sincere tone.
“Honey if you want to get out and go home you can. You kinda young and you don’t really know what this is all about.”
Karen responded in a flip almost angry tone.
“I’m good, shit I ain’t scared of a few cops talkin’ shit and damn sure don’t need you tryin’ ta act like you my mama.”
Keisha continued to reason with the girl.
“Yea but what is yo’ mama gonna say if she find out you here in the car with us?”
“My mama dead so I ain’t got to worry about that shit and you don’t either.”
“All right honey you ain’t gotta get all shitty about it. I just wanted to make sure we wasn’t keepin’ you from leaving if you want ta go, that’s all.”
Tiny chimed in.
“Damn Keisha, my girl said she cool now let’s go!”
Tiny stepped on the gas and they sped off down the road clipping two cars along the way. No one was injured in either of the minor accidents. Unfortunately for them the authorities were ready for them. There were police vehicles positioned in different places around the road they were driving through. Stop sticks had been placed across the road and Tiny didn’t see them until he was less than two hundred away from them. Traveling at an excess of 70mph the boy could barely control the vehicle. He tried swerving to his right to avoid them forcing the car down the wet embankment. Tiny then over corrected the vehicle trying to force it back onto the road. The car went airborne after heading up the slope missing both lanes of traffic completely. Once in the air the vehicle turned on its side and the passengers all screamed in unison. The gravity of the moment finally sank in on them sobering each of the young addicts up.
Those were the last words most of them uttered as the car crashed through a tree and into a shallow creek on the other side of the highway. The car lay on its roof and most of its passengers lay in a watery grave. Brain matter oozed out of Buzz’s nose and Bug’s heart burst upon impact. Keisha and Tonya were crushed under the weight of the vehicle and Karen drowned in the shallow creek after suffering serious internal injuries and several broken bones. Rescuers couldn’t reach her in time as her screams came out as gargling noises barely audible to those trying to save her life. The young girl let out tears of pain as her lungs filled with water eventually terminating her life. There was one survivor, Tiny the driver. Tiny made himself complicit in the crimes by driving the car and trying to avoid the authorities. His only injuries were a few broken bones and the awful sight of his friends and sister dying in a most horrific way. The officers made him sit on the side of the road and watch as they pulled the broken bodies from the wreckage. They wanted him to see the damage his recklessness had caused. Later Tiny would try to explain that he hadn’t shot or robbed anyone; he was just with the guys who did. More than a day after the initial crime did Tiny join the bunch but he was still charged with five counts of murder. Tiny was dumbfounded but the officers explained to him that because people were killed in the commission of a crime he was committing he was liable for their deaths. The boy’s world caved in on him when he received that news.
“Son if you weren’t driving that car you may have been able to get out of this with far lesser charges but you decided to get behind that wheel and drive fugitives around trying to escape the law. You could have killed many more people on this wet slippery road today; I’m just grateful you didn’t. For the bad choices you made today you not only have to deal with the fact that you killed all of your friends but now you may pay for that decision with being incarcerated for the rest of your life.”
With that being said the marshal turned and walked away from Tiny as he watched them lift the vehicle off of his lifeless sister. Tears streamed down his face, blood and mucus poured from his nose as he sat handcuffed on the wet asphalt. The, oh so defiant Karen finally found the trouble she so desperately sought out. Ella Mae and Edna Rae shed tears and prayed for the poor child’s soul. Bug and Buzz traveled the highway to hell and that is just where their actions led them. Keisha and Tonya, denouncers of Christ, joined them in their eternal darkness. After graduating from the seminary Tim Thompson, one of the young preachers who had the fortune to speak with Tyrone Jenkins on the day he returned home to be with Our Father who Art in Heaven, took on Tyrone’s calling. Tim took to the same streets and even preached from Tyrone’s favorite Bible. Young Thompson was well received in the community and eventually became the pastor of a church of his own as Tyrone smiled down on him from heaven. The Lord’s work be done and unfortunately the devil’s too. Decisions lead to destinations and actions make life situations. Praise be given to the Tyrone Jenkins of the world and prayers go out for the Buzz and Bugs.