Late spring in 1988, it was a dark and muggy night in Atlanta. The rundown neighborhood was quiet aside from the dog barking behind one of the homes. The laughter from a sitcom blaring through the screen door, and rainwater kicking back up from tires as cars passed by.
Just underneath the streetlight where the STOP sign leaned was a parked Corolla. The headlights blinked off as a flustered pregnant woman by the name of Angela Wright, also known as my mother, stepped out with her keys in her hand. A head full of thick curls, wide chocolate nose and red eyes from crying, she tried to get herself together.
“Lord be my peace,” she breathed silently to herself as she exhaled. She looked up at the dark sky seeing trickles of light rain disappearing in mid descent. “Be my strength, and be my peace as I face this man.”
A second car pulled up; a pearl white 1987 e300 Mercedes-Benz right in front of her as the window pulled down to expose two other pregnant women in the front seat. Jacqueline Jones was behind the wheel, and reapplying red lipstick on her lips as the chunky gold earrings tapped against her light brown cheeks while Terri Shaw flicked her cigarette bud against the steering wheel and cut her dark sharp eyes towards my mother.
“I’m shocked you showed up, scaredy cat,” Terri let out as Jackie smiled through the pain. She was undeniably the beauty of the two with Terri always making sly comments about how light Jackie is, or how long and straight her hair gets. My mother told me it was because Terri was jealous. Even though the two of them were as dark as they come in the south, my mother was never the type to put down someone else to make herself feel better. She didn’t need to.
“Have you been crying? Over him, Angie? Lu ain’t shit, won’t ever be shit and that’s why we’re all here now about to confront his dirty ass,” Terri went on as they parked the car in the middle of the street. She was the first to get out with her stomach protruding as she lit one final cigarette to inhale before tossing to the side. Her short bob cut was tapered against her neck, dark circles underneath her eyes and ripped jean shorts that had week old stains on them.
“Funky ass nigga can’t even pick up the phone,” Terri let out as she turned to face the brick home with her hand on her hip, “but can sit here and knock three bitches up at the same time! NIGGA FUCK YOU!” she hollered with a wave of her hand.
“I’m not doing all that arguing and huffing and puffing,” Jackie said as she stepped out with a flip of her hair. She tucked her gun inside her Chanel bag, applied black lip liner and batted her light green eyes towards mother. “I found me a man with bank, and he’s going to help me take care of my daughter,” she said as she rubbed her stomach, “I don’t need Lu for shit.”
“Speak for yourself,” Terri spat angrily as she leaned to the side to let out a thing of spit, “speak for your mothafucking self. Yall ready?”
“Wait a minute,” Angela let out nervously, “just wait a minute...Can’t we–––”
The two were already crossing the street as the rain began to come down. Angela quickly caught up with them as Jackie cocked her gun to check for bullets while Terri was the first to wobble up to the door and bang on the frame. Just underneath the small light that hovered above, you could see her stomach pressing against the door as she continued to bang.
Jackie turned to Angela with a forced red painted smile as she went on about her new man.
“Maybe after all of this is over, I can hook you up with one of his friends. He got a real nice job, like one of them big wigs up in New York...He’s a real somebody Angie, you should come up there with me sometime…You won’t have to worry about a damn thing with him…Nothing like these country ghetto boys we’re used to dealing with. These men have culture…They’re worldly up there in New York, and they love them a southern girl. You’ll see,” she promised with an uncertain twinkle in her eyes.
“I know this nigga hears me,” Terri mumbled as she reached in her back pocket to pull out a butter knife. The two of them moved like clockwork. Jackie pulled out a debit card without so much as being asked as she stepped up. The door popped open with a thick cloud of smoke piling out and all you could see was the kitchen light and hear the bass bumping from the basement below. Terri was the first to rush in, cutting the lights on and running straight for the back room they were all familiar with. Same place where this man told each of them that he loved them, they were the only ones and nothing would come between them. That is until Terri kicked the door down to the bedroom and saw my father laid up in his high with another woman.
My mother barely remembers what happened from there so I’m just going to make up the rest from pure imagination and rumors of that night. Okay, back to the story.
“You sorry lying piece of shit!” Terri shrieked, jumping on the bed with the knife waving erratically in her hand, “you sorry no good piece of shit of a man! Yo mama should have swallowed yo bitch ass, and who is she?!”
“Angie! Grab a bag and collect!” Jackie demanded, cleaning out his drawers as she searched for money, drugs, whatever her thieving ass could get her hands on.
“FRANK!?” Lucas yelled out, grabbing the sheets to cover himself as the woman in the bed tried to knock Terri down. Big mistake. Terri who had no intentions on attacking the woman turned her attention to her and began to swipe at her face.
“Oh, you think you something because you sleeping with his ass?! Huh?! Bitch I was with him last week! I just had this nigga! I’m having this nigga!” she pointed towards her stomach, “we all are! We’re all pregnant by this nigga at the same damn time!”
“Terri?! Get the fuck outta here! I’m not gonna say this shit again! GET OUT!” Lucas yelled as he yanked his boxers on, almost stumbling over to shove his legs in. “GET OUT!”
“Or what?!” she spat.
Now, Lucas Godfrey wasn’t a man to be played with. That is until he met these women. A high yellow man with pretty dark hair, wet curls that the women went crazy for, Lucas was a pretty boy with a problem. He and his entire family were funding their music dreams at the time by running an entire street empire. Whether it was running weapons, drugs, or women, Frank and Lucas Godfrey were the brothers you didn’t want to cross. That never mattered to these women, especially Terri.
He gripped her by the throat and yanked her off the bed with one swipe as my mother screamed from the doorway. Jackie reached in her bag and pulled out her gun to aim towards him while Terri was on the floor hollering in pain.
“Touch another bitch in here,” Jackie threatened with tears in her eyes, “you were supposed to take care of me…. You said you loved me, you would never do me wrong and I find out you…”
Her jaw began to lock as tears came down and her leg began to shake uncontrollably. One of the first of many mental breakdowns she had.
“You said we were gonna make it big,” she whined. “We were supposed to blow up in the music scene and we were gonna be rich together…”
She fired off one shot as everyone ducked, hearing the glass shatter into pieces. Terri was still screaming in pain on the floor while a group of men nearly pushed my mother out the way to get into the room. Terri was the firecracker. The girl born and bred from the projects, and she could keep up with the meanest men on the street. Terri would be the one to get it started but Jacqueline was the wildcard. The good girl with the good hair and decent upbringing, but chose to chase and fall in love with every bad boy with money. While Terri ran off strength and power, Jackie moved based on her emotions. She swerved the gun towards everyone before aiming it at herself as the woman on the bed screamed.
“I will do it Lucas Godfrey...You know I will,” Jackie threatened with a quivering lip. “I will kill me and this child right here and now, and let the blood be on your hands...You laid with me in this very bed telling me the same...fucking...bullshit you’ve told every woman in this room…”
“Jackie listen, baby listen,” he pleaded. “You are the only one...Out of everyone here, I never said love to anyone else but you...I never said it to any other woman but you. You know you have my heart and I want to raise this baby with you–––”
Terri screamed again, crying out in pain but Jackie fought like hell to keep the attention on her as she placed the pistol in her mouth and closed her eyes. Even in the wake of confronting him, they still loved and fought for his heart. Lucas screamed out for her, jumping across the bed to grab her, pleading with her to not do it.
Of course, with Terri being the firecracker, and Jacqueline being the beautiful wild card, that just left my mother, Angela. She was the heart, the foundation and soul. The one Lucas Godfrey screwed over the most. His first love, his first kiss, and first his childhood best friend. She tried like hell to get him to look her in the eyes while he spewed off his lies to another woman but he couldn’t do it. Knowing she was there, knowing she was the one woman he couldn’t face or lie to because she would see right through it. Instead, Angela disappeared amongst the chaos, she ran outside unable to take it anymore. She gripped the railing, almost blinded by this sudden sharp pain while hearing Terri’s screams and Jackie’s cries through the shattered window.
The Cosmic Ghetto Gods in the sky saw fit for each woman to go into labor that night at the same time, starting with Terri giving birth to my brother David Godfrey.
David Junior Godfrey 1:55am 5-31-90
Mother: Terri Yunelle Shaw
Father: Lucas Emanuel Godfrey
“I SAID STOP IT!” I screamed, hands slapping at the rough hairy face of this boy named Tez Mahone.
“Only way I’ma leave you alone is if you give me what I’m asking for,” he let out against my neck. I tried pushing at his shoulders when I felt his hands undoing my jeans but the weight of his body was suffocating. “Aye, grab her hands Lo.”
I remember screaming so loud that he ended up taking one hand to cover my mouth and nose while pressing my head against the wall of the stairway. We were in the basement of the high school. Long after the school buses left. Tez and Lo were two brothers that hung around the school after dropping out a year ago and still chasing after the girls, including myself. I tried sliding against the wall only to end up in Lo’s grasp as I bent down, feeling them take off my shirt, exposing my pale bra and stretch marks on my sides. Just the sight of naked skin being exposed excited them to the point where they were unbuckling their jeans.
“I got her, I got her,” Lo let out, already shoving his hand down my pants as Tez came for my neck with hot sticky saliva smearing against my skin. “Oooo and she wet too boi! She ready!” he laughed before calmly letting out, “if you keep fighting it, its just gonna be harder for you, more painful. Just let us do this and we’ll leave you alone D, we promise…”
I shook my head as Tez brought his hand to my face trying to wipe my tears. Mistakenly, at that age, I started to confuse the touch for comfort as he gently cupped my chin up to make me look up at him. Can’t remember his face, I just know he had a beard and hooded eyes that looked down at me in the softest way. At that moment, everything I thought I was supposed to receive from a boy at the time, a male, a man, was wrapped up in two overgrown high school boys.
“You gon be my lil shawty,” Tez whispered against the side of my mouth before pulling my chin towards his lips for a kiss.
My first kiss ever made me give up the very thing I should have protected. I remembers staring at the ceiling with tears silently coming down as the pain shot through me, intruding my body repeatedly but I gripped his shoulders, and held on thinking this is what its supposed to be like. This is how a boy shows he likes a girl. What if I just held his neck here like in the movies and books and pretend his friend wasn’t there. He kept asking me if I was okay and I would just nod my head in the corner of the stairwell and bury my face deeper into his neck, trying to find any type of comfort until it was over.
“See?” Tez laughed, wiping my face down, “it wasn’t so bad. You mine now baby girl…Can’t nobody, not even Lo can have you.”
“Nigga what?” his friend let out with his jeans already halfway down, but one look from Tez made him buckle and zip it right back in.
“Don’t tell nobody, this is just our little secret aight?” Tez whispered as I quickly nodded, and tried to get myself together.
Three things wrong with that last statement. My dad was becoming well known in the music industry with artists currently out on the charts so money was behind the last name Godfrey. Lucas Godfrey the mastermind behind Money Music Mafia and it only grew to be bigger. Secondly, my mother never got over how he did her so I didn’t have his last name. Very touchy subject, I can barely speak about my dad around her and he hardly ever came around on his own. Lastly, my brother David was well known in Atlanta, on and off the streets, in and out of school, and just a hell raiser you didn’t want to cross.
It might have been that weekend when my brother came swerving into the apartment complex in a black Accord with a fresh paint job and new sound system bumping from the speakers. He was in the front seat bobbing his head to a song when he reached over to pop the passenger door open for me. I grabbed my overnight bag and stood up from the porch steps to meet him, keeping my head low and tugging at my shirt to cover my stomach. My hair was pulled back in a ponytail and my jeans barely kept my baby weight together as I sat down, and closed the door. It was always the same, black shirt, black jeans, and some crazy color sneakers. A simple gold chain and another gold necklace that had Godfrey in cursive hanging down his chest. One pierced ear with a giant square diamond and his bright blue boxers were exposed to the point where I could see his junk. We were the same dark brown complexion but he always smelled good, and had one of the brightest smiles that became addictive if you had the rare chance to see it. Now David was a lot of things to most people. Selfish, arrogant, mean, and a downright hoe, but he was my brother. He reached in the back to grab the bag of Mc Donald’s breakfast platter and sat it on my lap before turning the music down.
“You know I’m supposed to be losing weight,” I told him softly, staring at the food but he brushed me off.
“Ain’t nobody tryna hear that,” he said, voice deep and raspy, “I sat in that fucking line all morning to get this shit so eat it. Mama ain’t got shit on the stove no way. Did Pops call the house for you? Angie was going off because you came back later than usual from school. He was supposed to talk to you.”
I shook my head as David sucked his teeth, leaning forward before laying back in the seat as he let one hand loosely hold the wheel to drive. I didn’t realize he was looking at me until we came to a red light and I felt his gaze so I nervously looked back at him, catching his eyes before tears began to build up. I could never lie with him. He immediately sat up, gripping the wheel at the top and hit a hard U-turn before pulling into the nearest parking lot, and cutting the car off.
“What happened?” he immediately asked, voice eerily calm, “and please don’t lie to me because if I find out on my own–––”
“Nothing happened, David,” I said with a sniff, wiping eyes, “nothing happened.”
The way David stared me down, I felt like I was witnessing a murder about to take place at any given moment. His dark brown eyes hardened, and nostrils flared as I dropped my head even lower and mumbled what happened the other day.
“So these niggas raped you?!” he barked.
“No! It wasn’t like that!” I immediately defended, “I wanted it! I…”
“You wanted what?! Mannnn!” throwing his hands up before calming himself down, “you wanted what, Danielle? Huh? What the fuck could you want with two niggas cornering you in the fucking hallway? That’s why you wasn’t home?”
“They’re always bothering me. You don’t know what its like because nobody has ever picked on you before. I wanted them to leave me alone. I did it because Tez said he would–––”
The way he cut the car on and immediately stepped on the gas, my body whole fell back into the seat as I screamed his name.
“David calm down! You’re going to get us into a car accident!” I shrieked at the oncoming car that he pulled out in front of. He pulled out his phone he kept in the glove compartment along with a glock and started to make phone calls. It didn’t take long to find out exactly who Tez was and where he stayed. What hood he belonged to and who his people are. That was the day, first of many that I witnessed my brother in his truest form at 16 years old. We pulled up to an old apartment complex where I could see a gang of boys from school hanging around a car with music blasting. I immediately saw Tez laughing it up, being the center of attention against the car door with a blunt between his fingers. There were a few girls clinging around him, some I recognized from school, and others I didn’t but David parked right in front of the group, almost hitting one of the girls against her leg before putting the Honda in park, and looking at me.
“It’s that nigga right there with the beard?” he pointed, tone ice cold, eyes staring Tez down through my window but his question was towards me.
“Yes but don’t–––”
David popped open the glove compartment again, grabbing his gun and tucking it behind him as I began to panic. I tried to grab his arm to keep him from doing something stupid when he stood up and leaned over the roof of the car with a sudden charismatic smile.
“Aye nigguh!?” he barked, before smiling, “how you know ol girl sitting in my car?”
“David, what’chu doing here?” one of the girls asked, immediately switching gears with her attention.
“Bruh, didn’t I say Big Dani would get around once I get to her?” Tez said with a laugh as he pointed at me, “you know me and my boy just ran through her ass the other day…”
“Ohh my God,” I muttered, sinking further into the seats.
“Ain’t you supposed to be David Godfrey? You can get any girl you want but you riding with my sloppy body seconds,” he laughed.
“David can we please just go?” I whispered, trying to reach for him to get back in the car but he closed the door and let out a spit as he walked around the hood of the car.
“Oh for real?” David let out, pretending to act shocked.
“How you know her? Sheeit, or how she know yo ass, real talk,” Tez laughed. “You supposed to be the street legend’s son around here…”
David’s head tilted to the side for a second like he was thinking about it before he ran up on Tez and swung twice, knocking him to the ground. Before anyone else could jump on him, he reached behind him and pulled out a gun, keeping Tez between his legs, whimpering and pleading for his life.
“That’s my MOTHAFUCKING SISTER! BLOOD SISTER, NIGGA! Don’t let that last name get you fucked up out here because I play all mothafucking day behind mine! Who you ran through again?! You and who, ran through Danielle Godfrey!?”
Tez’s shocked eyes looked back at me, pleading but I just sat in the passenger seat, watching everyone crouch down, unmoving.
“I did…didn’t…didn’t know she was your–––”
I gasped, gripping my stomach at the sight of Tez’s body jolt against the ground as David let out one shot, hitting the side of his stomach. He bent down even further, commanding the attention of everyone there and pressed the gun against his forehead.
“I’m doing yo bitch ass a favor,” he dared, “be glad she told me and not the so called” mocking tone full of hatred for our dad, “street legend. Fuck with my sister again and that’s yo life nigguh.”
Just as fast as he got out, David Godfrey jumped back into the car with the biggest grin and erratic laughter, looking crazily at me and swerved off. After that day, nobody really talked to me in school after that. Rumors started to circulate that I was either fucking David Godfrey or fucking his dad. Some got it right that I was his sister but most just assumed the worst and left me alone. Any time a girl wanted to approach me, it was usually just to get close to David who eventually ended up getting arrested. Tez spoke out saying he doesn’t remember what happened, none of them do but I knew that was my dad’s doing. People were threatened into silence and paid off while it became the start of David’s rap career with all the attention he was starting to get. That was our dad’s doing. Only thing worse than having a monster for a brother is a sister of the same damaged cloth.
Briana Sade Godfrey 12:17pm 5-31-90
Alias “Genevieve Godfrey”
Mother: Jacqueline Jones
Father: Lucas Emanuel Godfrey
I was the only one to graduate from college and I took that accomplishment with pride along with the rest of my family. So much so that my dad decided to throw me a graduation party. First of its kind in our family. I was dating my then boyfriend Eric Moore who I thought was ready to meet my family. I thought this was going to be the man I married right out of college. We get our life together, later on down the line, have children and whatever else comes with that fairytale.
“Are you nervous?” I asked quietly in the car, pushing my curls back from my face like my mother always used to do when I was younger. After shedding a little bit of the baby weight off, I wasn’t too shabby. Not perfect and shapely like men claimed they desired but I could hold my own against the best of them. I looked over at my boyfriend who reached down to grab the bottle of wine and liquor in both hands before he cut his eyes towards me through his glasses.
“And you’re sure this is okay to bring?”
I smirked at the bottle of white Hennessey before nodding.
“They’ll like you. The wine is for my aunt Jackie…and the henny is for Terri and my dad. My brother’s mom.”
“That’s crazy that you were all born on the same day, three different mothers,” he said in awe, “and I used to play some of his songs back in the day. Everyone knew about the Godfreys…”
“Yeah well, you’re really about to know them,” I muttered through my teeth as I turned down a block in the Altima.
“And you never wanted any part of that money? That life?”
“Nope,” I said with a laugh, “my mother didn’t want me near that lifestyle and so I had a normal childhood, for the most part. Aside from a few fights…and drive-bys and burying a couple bodies here and there…”
His mouth dropped as I burst out into laughter before shaking my head.
“I’m kidding, Eric.”
“I know,” he retorted, pushing his glasses up.
“My family is harmless… My brother David–––
“I know all his music, listened to most of it on the way, he’s going to really blow up,” Eric jumped in as I nodded.
“And my sister Genie,” I started. “She’s…a drama queen to say the least, will definitely put on a show for you, but my dad is the one you’ll have to worry about it. He’s got this weird point to prove to my mom…and…” shaking my head, “just watch out for him. You get in with him, your family.”
We turned the final corner before coming up on this big brick mansion that was considered the family home, and place of business from studios to private industry parties and more. None of us grew up here but its where David and Genie spent time with our dad. Still, I wanted to reach over and close his jaw up so he can look like he’s been somewhere when I parked in the long winding driveway. Security wasn’t too far off when we stepped out with the bags of drinks and I tugged at my dress. Eric was pretty much the guy you would want in a man. Funny, smart, attractive, tall, and did I mention smart? Stimulating conversations, kind personality, and rarely did we argue. We just made sense, maybe too much sense now that I look back on this memory. The house was well lit and you could smell the weed and grilled meet drifting in the air from the back as I walked up to the door first. Eric was getting himself together and just as I was about to knock, the wide double doors pulled back and there stood in the devil’s red dress, my sister Genevieve Godfrey. A bombshell of a beauty who had the faint caramel complexion, bright green eyes with flecks of grey and blue, long sandy brown hair that fell into loose curls. She was tall and lean, and built for modeling and the film industry. Her curves were just enough to hold a man’s attention when she set her eyes on my boyfriend with a devious smile, just like her mother.
“And who is this?” she asked, eyes never leaving Eric. I cleared my throat once I saw the two staring at one another and he immediately tightened up, stepping up to the door and nearly tripped on his own two feet.
“I’m Eric Moore,” he said.
I waited until I cut my eyes towards him before looking at my sister.
“He’s my boyfriend,” I said.
“Boyfriend,” she repeated, one single brow gently raised in my direction before stepping aside, “this is the one you were telling me about?”
I caught the hidden sarcasm before stepping past her. I looked around the home, anxious to show it off to him.
“Go and see everyone in the back sis,” Gene said. “They’re all outside waiting for the precious golden child who finished college,” she mocked dryly as I smiled proudly. “What kind of drinks do you have, Eric?”
I walked off, heading towards the back of the house as I looked at all the plaques and photos of different artists, award shows, red carpet moments and more scattered against the wall. Just for that brief moment, I thought about what it would be like to grow up with my dad and the fast life but immediately scratched the idea out when I heard his loud cackle. I stepped out into the backyard seeing the well lit up backyard and pool. My Uncles and Aunts, cousins and all in one place as everyone congratulated me. Balloons in my school colors, gifts stacked up high against the chairs and my dad getting up from the table with his family, putting out his cigarette, came walking over to me with proud eyes. He was still tall with those wet curls plastered about, thick mustache and the finest suit you’d ever seen draped on him. He wrapped his arms around me and just held me close. Didn’t say anything, but I got the feeling this was the closest he would ever get to my mother so I hugged him back and smiled as everyone clapped.
“I’m so proud of you baby girl,” he said, pulling back as he looked down at me, “Ya mama did right with you like I knew she would…”
The hurt in his eyes was obvious when he looked behind me.
“Did she…come with you?”
“No but…” slowly smiling, “I have someone I want you to meet. You promise to be nice?”
“Of course,” he said softly before knowingly saying, “bring him here so I can get a good look at him, but first go speak to everyone. Whether you wanna believe it or not, these folks played a role in your life to get you to where you are today so go speak.”
I did as told, never wanting to be rude but the moment I was able to get back into the house, I started to call out his name until I heard Gene’s soft giggle that always let me know she was up to something, even as children. I crept closer to the hallway before turning, seeing every room door open until I heard her speak.
“But you want me instead, don’t you?” she whispered. “It’s okay to admit it, I won’t tell her. I never do. You’re not that first boy she’s had that wanted me…”
My mouth dropped as my entire body became numb with hurt as I stood just outside one of the room doors to see Eric’s back towards me with my sister up against the wall holding on to his back. Her bright green eyes slyly cut towards me before she gently pushed his body forward to show her hand was inside his jeans rubbing on him.
“If I could have you I would,” Eric said in a low voice.
“So have me then,” she popped playfully against his skin.
Gene kept her eyes on me before mouthing,
“He’s not the one…”
She smirked as she gripped the back of his neck while reaching to close the door hard in my face and locking it. I stood there like a fool with tears in my eyes, but I learned a hard lesson that night. Eric never spoke to me again. It wasn’t the other way around like it should have been, I was the one calling him over and over but he refused to talk to me. Nobody in the family said anything about what happened that night, not even my brother who believed in staying out of his sisters’ business. My own father said nothing about it and when I forcibly brought it up, all he said was,
“She did you a favor. He would have gotten a hold of her sooner or later,” he huffed distractedly as he texted on his phone, “I can’t have my daughters fighting. It’s bad for business, bad for her brand. Yall are daughters of Atlanta, born and bred of this city. Fucking act like it. Find you a nigga that won’t pay her no mind and you know you got a good one. Family over everything.”
That’s it? That’s all you had to say?
Yeah…Family my fucking ass. I pulled away from everyone after finding my place in society with a decent job, never mentioned the name Godfrey to anyone or the fact that in 2019, I was related to the daughter of one of the most powerful music executives and producers in history. Never mentioned my brother was a famous rapper strung out on drugs and in and out of the media for some mess or that my sister was a popular IG model and escort within the industry, having every teen girl wanting to be like her sorry life. I never spoke to either of them and if I did, it was brief and years in between. My life is my life, private peaceful and uneventful with my friends. Yet somehow, my family’s lifestyle seems to always find me one way or another.
“Excuse me miss? Miss lady? I know you hear me talking to you.”
I kept walking, jingling my car keys in my hand for effect, and refused to turn around. One trip to the damn grocery store without being pressed, is all I asked. I was still in my
Work currently in progress. Early 2022 Release.