Spillage - Freeing Nieem (Urban Tales) - "Who are you here to see?"

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The sound of the alarm clock whistling woke Nieem from his sleep. Painfully, he’d relived the same memory while resting at least twice a week since being home. For the life of him, he couldn’t understand why it remained in his life –even after he’d given his freedom to state. Wiping his eyes, he adjusted to the light of day. After a good rub, Nieem’s sight improved, but his vision still proved to be weary. Months of freedom, yet he still hadn’t adjusted to the change in scenery. So accustomed to waking to a hard cot, unflattering cemented walls, bars, and a few options as to how he would spend his day, Nieem was having difficulty readmitting himself into society. Ten long years, he’d been locked down and it showed in every single thing that he did.

Lifting from the bed, he remade it before lining the cover he’d used while asleep to line the bottom. Nieem sought after a fresh face and tightened up his hygiene before returning to his bedroom to dress. Yesterday had proved to be difficult, searching for residency outside the walls of his grandparent’s home, and far from the gates of Southside. Though he loved his people and his community, the time he spent alone all those years had given him more peace than he’d ever experienced while free.

Dressed in a Coogi sweater with a pair of denim, Nieem pulled down the matching cap to his top and headed out of the door. His first stop was his son’s bedroom, which used to be his own. However, he, now, occupied Navee’s old spot. Nieem was pleased to see that his son, Second, was dressed and ready to hit the door.

“What’s up?” Nieem tossed his head backwards, greeting his son.

“What’s good, Pops?” Second questioned. “What you think about this? Vest on or vest off?” Second was sporting a red bubble vest, jeans, and a long-sleeved turtleneck beneath. Taking his vest off, he demonstrated the look without it before pulling it back onto his shoulders.

“Keep it on. And here… This will set it off.” Nieem closed in on his son, lifted the single chain from his neck and placed it around his son’s.

“Really. I can rock this, today?”

“Now that I think about it… Nah. Give me my shit back, youngin.”

“Aw man.” Second’s frown was comical.

“Just fooling around. You can keep that around ya neck as long as you remember who you’re representing with it on.”

“I will.”

“Who that?” Nieem questioned.

“The Mercers.”

“Don’t ever forget that, either.” 

“I won’t.”

“We leaving in five. Let me holler at your old man.”

Pure joy sparked Nieem’s peaked interest as he neared the kitchen where there was laughter and cooing. The smell of breakfast caused his stomach to rumble and remind him that he’d gone to bed on an empty stomach. But none of that mattered. The sight of his darling sister along with her mini trailing behind her and a second on her hip, Nieem was overcome with delight.

“Laikleigh!” Nieem kneeled and stretched his arms, sure that Laikleigh would come crashing into his chest as she always did.

“Uncle Neem.” She mispronounced his name, but he wasn’t bothered by it a bit. Frankly, he was just happy that she’d finally stopped calling him Uncle Nabee.

“Morning, baby girl.”

Most mornings, Nieem woke to her small hands picking at his face, her frame hoisted on his back or her presence lingering as she waited at his door with a book in her hand. Story time was often and eventful. Laitleigh brought over a new book each week just to keep things fresh for the uncle and niece duo.

Clutching her in his arms, Nieem straightened his legs. Towering over his younger sibling, he reached out and grabbed her second offspring. Laikland was still a newbie, fresh from his mother’s womb. Yet, he was a cool little dude. He was barely noticeable in a room unless it was feeding time.

“What’s up, little dude?” Nieem stared down at his nephew, who bare resemblance to himself and his father.

Laitleigh was nowhere in the equation. His skin was darkening by the day, a sign that he would be charcoal like his father. That was cool with Nieem. Light skinned niggas had it harder. They were forever trying to prove themselves, and that was something that Nieem had no interest in for his nephew. Besides, it would save him, Laike, Navee, and Lodie a few fist fights.

“I’m about to head to the shop.” Laitleigh reached over and grabbed Laikleigh before placing her on the ground. She was afraid that Nieem would lose hold of the baby due to Laikleigh’s unpredictable moves.

“You good?” Nieem questioned, leaning in and pecking her on the forehead. She appeared flustered, but Nieem could be mistaken.

It was still taking some time to figure Laitleigh out, but he was enjoying the process. She was coded. Guarded. Reserved in a way that he was unfamiliar with. The ease back into her life was quite the task, but she was worthy of the patience. It wasn’t that she was making it difficult for him. The fact of the matter was that she wasn’t the little girl that he’d help to raise, anymore. Laitleigh was still trying to figure out marriage and motherhood while Nieem was left chasing behind –utilizing whatever energy she had left to probe her for personal information that could help him in his mission.

“Yeah. I’m just tired is all.” Laitleigh sighed.

“You getting proper rest at night?”

“As much as I can. Laikland doesn’t take a bottle from me at night, so there is that. He is adamant about nursing, so I’m up whenever he is.”

“I tell you what…” Nieem started, staring down at Laitleigh as her face fell to the floor. “Hey… Hey… Look at me when I’m speaking to you, sis.”

“Sorry.” The shame that Laitleigh felt – paired with guilt – had yet to subside. Laitleigh had turned her back on the one man that she loved the most when he needed her in his corner. For ten years, she hadn’t spoken to her brother, but they’d been making progress since his release.

“No need to be. I was thinking that you could go on home after work and not worry about the kids. Between me, Lodie, and…”

“Uh Un… Lodie who? You must be talking about someone other than our brother.”

Chuckling, Nieem nodded in understanding. “I feel you, but don’t count him out. Even if he can’t handle Laikland, he can hold it down with Laikleigh.”

Pausing for a brief second, Laitleigh nodded her head. “You’re right.”

“Plus, it’s Friday. I know you’ll be there all night, anyhow. You could use the few hours to yourself.”

“I’ll think about it, Nieem. Laikland be fooling y’all. He’s a booger at the house.”

“Cause he knows he can get over on you.” Neo came into the living room with his hands out, beckoning for Nieem to hand over the baby.

“Whatever.” Laitleigh waved her grandfather off. “I’ll consider it. I have to go, now. Be good to my babies.” Laitleigh yelled behind her. “And come lock up. Tell my nephew I love him to pieces.”


“Pops. Navee left a little package for me. I need that.”

“You heading upstate, today?”

“Everything is lined up. I’ll be gone for four hours, top. I’ll be back in time to see Nieem from school. If not, then look out for him to be knocking on the door.”

“I will. Come on in here… I have everything you’re going to need.”

Inside of his grandfather’s bedroom, Nieem was led to the chest before being handed his nephew. “Take him. Let me get this out for you.”

After a minute or so, Neo appeared with a plastic bag and a card. “Here’s the identification that you’ll need to get you through. This is the name that is already on the list, right? Double check it. Lay him on the bed. He won’t budge.”

Doing as he was told, Nieem rested Laikland on the bed and went to his grandfather’s side. “Yeah.” He nodded. “The chemical?”

“I have it right here.” Neo spoke. “Listen, be careful with this. It’s deadly.”

“No shit, gramps?”

“Well, I guess you would know that, huh?”

“That’s kind of the point.” Nieem chuckled, displaying his handsome smile.

“Well, anyhow. It’s a plastic vial. Don’t break it until you are ready to use it. Don’t let that stuff get on your hands or any part of your body for the matter.”


“I’m just making sure, boy. You’ve been gone for ten years. I’d hate to have to bury you before you’ve even been out a year.”

“You won’t. “

“Good. Now, that plastic should get you through that metal thing they have at the doors.”

“Metal detector.”

“Yeah. That thing.”

“Pops, I appreciate you, but you’re holding me up. Second is due at school soon, and I need to hit the road.”

“Alright. Drive safe. Remember, don’t open that vial until you’re ready.”

“I won’t.”

An hour later, Nieem was stretching his legs on the parking lot of Middleside Federal Facility. The raging sun was disturbing as he tried shielding it’s deadly rays with his hand. Removing his jewelry and unwelcomed extras, he made sure that he’d past through the security check without a hassle. The vial that his grandfather had given him so much grief about was tucked carefully into the extra pocket that he’d had his grandmother sew on the inside of his jeans just the day before.

The eeriness of returning to a holding facility – although it wasn’t the one that had held him captive all of those years – was unnerving as Nieem waltzed through the doors and marched to the line of women waiting to see their loved ones. With confidence soaring through his vines, he waited for his presence to be summoned at the counter. While waiting, he noticed the tens of young children crying or sitting with their mothers uninterested in the day’s events.

Some hid their distress well while others wore it as a badge of honor. Mothers of inmates surveyed their surroundings – much like Nieem – with disdain on their face, wishing to be anywhere but visiting their criminal son in prison. For every reason he had just witnessed, Nieem had barred his family from visitation. His only wish was to do his time and come home. He’d much rather them see him when he kicked the can. Adjusting to prison was hard enough. Meshing the outside world with the hell his was living in would have been pure torture. At the conclusion of his dissection of the facility, Nieem’s presence was beckoned for.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes.” He stepped forward and handed the identification to receptionist with oversized breast and a smile that she shouldn’t display often. Years of cigarette smoking had tarnished her teeth.

“Who are you here to see?” She questioned Nieem.

“Antlo Smith.”




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Mercy B CarruthersComment