by Zane Castillo
Malcolm stopped in front of the derelict building and immediately felt a sense of anxiety. He knew that Jackie's baby had to be here. This was the last place he heard she was living before she died two days ago. He heard Terrell come sidling up to him.
"Man, why are we here? Why do you even care? She wasn't nothing but a crack head. That kid is probably dead," Tyrell stated as he looked around the area.
"I have to see if Angela is here. I just can't let that baby die," Malcolm replied then entered the building. Instantly they were both hit with an overwhelming stench of piss and feces. He saw squatters lying on the ground and on mattresses with needles in their arms. They didn't seem to notice Malcolm and Tyrell as they sidestepped them. One man looked up with bright red eyes in fear as they walked by then went back to sleep.
Malcolm looked around carefully to see if there were any signs of Angela. Glass crunched underfoot as he tried to sidestep syringes and crack vials that lay scattered all over the ground.
Malcolm pointed upstairs and Tyrell nodded. They walked up the trash strewn stairs to the second floor where there were rooms with a few people inside lying on the floor. Malcolm heard a whimpering sound and entered one of the rooms where a makeshift crib stood. He sidestepped the dirty mattresses inside and looked in the crib. Angela lay on her back in the crib completely filthy. She wasn't wearing any pampers and was lying in her own excrement.
"Fuck man! She fucking stinks!" Tyrell exclaimed as he covers his face with his arm and steps back from Malcolm and the baby.
"What you going to do now?" Tyrell asked him as he looked at the baby in disgust.
"I'm going to take her to Jackie's sister Debbie. That's all I can think to do," Alex replied.
"I still think you should forget about it man; it aint your problem," Tyrell stated.
"You forget that we both knew Jackie before she became addicted to that shit. I gotta do this." Alex states as he reaches into the crib and lifts up Angela. There is a strong stench that hits Alex's nose from Angela. She hasn't been bathed in days and her skin is very dirty as it rubs off onto Malcolm's hands.
"Pass me that blanket over there." Malcolm points to a blanket that is lying next to the crib. Tyrell grabs it and tosses it over to Malcolm from a distance. Malcolm wraps Angela in it as she stops crying.
"Yo what you doing with that baby?" a voice shouts from the doorway. Malcolm turns and sees a short man in dirty clothes and a full beard glare at him. His hair is matted with dirt and his eyes are red. He scratches at his stomach as he looks at Malcolm. Tyrell stares the man down.
"I asked you what you are doing with that baby," the man states as he begins to walk into the room.
"None of your business motherfucker," Tyrell states as he moves to block the man from coming any closer. The man looks at Tyrell as if noticing him for the first time. He continues to scratch himself.
"This is Jackie's baby and I'm taking her to her aunt," Malcolm said as he holds Angela to him.
"No you ain't. Jackie left me that baby. It's mine now," the man declares as he looks back and forth between Tyrell and Malcolm.
"The fuck it is bitch," Tyrell retorts to the man.
"Oh it is. So you little motherfuckers get out of here and leave that baby alone," The man says angrily. Malcolm begins to walk towards the door.
"I said leave that fucking baby in that crib!" the man shouts. He steps towards Malcolm. Tyrell punches the man in the stomach. The man tries to grab Tyrell but Tyrell dodges his hands and punches the man in the face. He falls to the ground moaning in pain.
"You little bitch," Tyrell shouts as he kicks the man in the stomach. He continues to kick him as the man tries to protect his body.
"Tyrell that's enough!" Malcolm shouts.
Tyrell stops and looks down at the man with contempt on his face.
"Let's go." Malcolm heads towards the door as Tyrell kicks the man one more time then exits. There are a few people who have stepped into the hallway during the commotion. They look at the three of them then scamper back into their rooms. They head down the stairs and out the building.
"That fool thought he was just going to keep that baby. You think that was the father?" Tyrell says as they walk down the block.
Malcolm looks down at Angela who is staring back at him. "I don't care if he was. She is not staying there," Malcolm replies.
They arrive at the apartment building where Malcolm lives with his mom and walk up to the third floor. He opens the door and enters. He walks into the bathroom with Angela and begins to run a bath. He starts to undress her as she fidgets and starts to cry.
"We need diapers. Could you run to the store and pick up some diapers?" Malcolm asks Tyrell.
"What? Why do I have to go to the store?" Tyrell asks.
"You rather bathe her then? I can go to the store," Malcolm replies.
"Nah I'll get the pampers real quick," Tyrell states then heads out the door.
Malcolm makes sure that the water is warm enough then slowly places her in the water. Angela begins to cry even more. Malcolm tries to comfort her by making cooing noises. He washes her gently but firmly with a rag. The tub water begins to become dirty. He lifts her out and drains the water then rinses her off. He then towels her dry.
She is still crying as he carries her into the kitchen and grabs a baby bottle from a cabinet. He fills it with milk from the fridge then places it in a pot of boiling water till it warms.
Tyrell comes back inside with a plastic bag. "Here you go," he says as he hands over the bag to Malcolm. Malcolm takes it and places her on the table and puts the diaper on her.
"Wow, she looks way different. Actually smells good." Tyrell says.
"Here hold her for a second while I get this bottle." Malcolm hands the baby over to a hesitant Tyrell who grabs her very cautiously and holds her. He looks at her as she cries. Malcolm makes sure the bottle is warm then gives it to Angela who instantly quiets down and begins to drink deeply from the bottle.
"God, who knows how long ago they fed her," Malcolm states. They watch as she drinks from the bottle.
"You know where Debbie lives." Tyrell asks him.
"Yeah I think so," Malcolm replies. Angela watches both of them as she drinks.
Malcolm grabs the dirty blanket that Angela was in and throws them into a black bag and then they leave the apartment. Malcolm throws the bag in the trash. They walk a few blocks with Angela still drinking the milk. They arrive outside an apartment complex and enter the building. They walk up to the 4th floor and Malcolm knocks on a door. There is music playing inside and loud noises in the back.
He hears footsteps then a big woman with red hair opens the door. "Yeah, can I help you?" she says in a raspy voice.
"Hey, I'm not sure if you remember me but I'm Malcolm. Jackie used to babysit for me sometimes when I was younger." Malcolm says.
"Oh yeah I remember you? What's going on?" Debbie asks.
"This here is Angela; Jackie's baby. We just got her from that abandoned building that Jackie was staying at. She was completely dirty and hasn't eaten in days. We didn't know where else to go so we brought her here to you," Malcolm states.
Debbie looks at the baby for a moment then at both of them.
"What you think I was going to take her? I haven't talked to Jackie in years. Plus there aint no room in this house for no baby. I'm sorry but you came to the wrong place." She says firmly.
"What?" Tyrell exclaims.
"Where else are we going to take her?" Malcolm asks her.
"I don't know. Try to find her father or something, but knowing Jackie that could be anybody. I don't know man, it's not my problem. I'm sorry but I gotta go." She says as she closes the door.
"Ay yo! You need to get this baby!" Tyrell shouts.
"Come on man let's go. She ain't taking Angela." Malcolm says. They turn and begin walking down the stairs.
"What we gonna do then man?" Tyrell asks him.
"I don't know." Malcolm states.
They exit the building. Angela is almost halfway through with the bottle. Tyrell still has her in his arms and glances down at her ever so often. Malcolm is surprised Tyrell hasn't given her back to him. They walk back to Malcolm's place and sit down on the stoop.
"You're mom will be home soon. What'll think she'll do?" Tyrell asks him.
"I'm not sure but she definitely won't get rid of her. We'll keep her till we figure out what to do".
"You know she's kinda cute. Definitely looks just like Jackie," Tyrell says. He starts to make baby noises to Angela who looks up at him with a curious expression on her face. Malcolm sits back and smiles as he watches them.