Black U: Truth or Death (II)

Truth or Death Part I

Atlanta, Georgia:

June 2017.


Jackie packed the last of her make-up into her purse. For the occasion, she’d chosen a passionate red for her lip. She ran her fingers through her short wavy hair a few times for volume and stepped back to look at herself in the mirror one final time. Jackie always loved the Relays and the excitement they brought to Atlanta. 35 years ago, when she stepped on the campus of Truth University (Formerly Truth College), it was her introduction to the university, the relays, and all of the excitement that came with it. She and her sister had come to Truth in the summer of 1982, less than 2 weeks after they graduated high school. For Jackie, the small town of Cleveland, Mississippi had just about offered everything it could to her. The alluring lights of the big city of Atlanta had been calling her name since two years prior when she and her sister snuck off on what was supposed to be a church trip but ended up being a wild night at the Atlanta Collesium with Teddy Pendergrass & Staci Lattisaw.

“You almost ready, babe!” Jackie’s mind had wandered off. She quickly came to at her husband’s voice.

“I’m on my way down, now!” she called back to him. Jackie gave herself one final glance over in the mirror and headed downstairs.


“Are we really headed to our 35th class anniversary right now? Is that what’s happening?” Nathaniel merged unto 75 but was met with Atlanta’s horrendous traffic. Between the influx of people coming into town for the Relays and the recent collapse of I-85, traffic had been a nightmare the past few months.

“The invitation says, ‘To the Freshman Class of 1982, babe,” Jackie replied jokingly. “So, yeah. That’s where we’re going.”

“35 years though?” Nathaniel repeated. “When did that happen? Seems like I just graduated high school!” He had been torn about the upcoming Relays and class reunion festivities. Matter of fact, if he wasn’t for Jackie, he probably would opt not to attend.

“Well,” Jackie began patting his hand from the passenger seat. “You graduated high school 35 years ago. So maybe part of the problem is you can’t read a calendar.” Nathaniel glared at Jackie over his shades, prompting her to gigle.

“You know what I mean, babe,” he continued. “Seems like I was just shining the El Dorado behind the rec center because it was the only hose on campus that had decent pressure on my way to pick you up and head to The Food House. Now, we’re all…old…and elderly.”

Jackie pulled her hand out of his. “Who you calling old and elderly, man?” She corrected, pulling down the mirror and visor to check her make-up, but mostly for daramtic effect.

“I may be 53 but I am as bad now as I was then, Nate,” she said confidently. “And don’t you forget it.”

Nathanial grabbed her hand, kissing it softly.

“Yes, you still bad,” he began, kissing her hand softly. “ God forbid, you belonged to another, and I had to steal you.”

Jackie laughed out loud. “Babe, it’s been a year, how long are you going to randomly quote Prince songs to me?”

“Always,” Nathaniel replied earnestly. “I’m not over it.”

“Awwww,” Jackie said playfully. “You should. Prince didn’t have anything on Michael anyway.”

“We’re not going here today with your blasphemy, woman,” Nathaniel answered. “Prince was a musician.”

“And Michael wasn’t?” Jackie retorted.

“A musician? No.” Nathaniel answered flatly.

“Whatever,” Jackie said dismissively. “We’re not getting into that this fine Saturday afternoon. I won’t have you and your poor taste in music putting me in a bad mood before I see April and DJ today.”

“I’m actually excited about seeing my nephew this weekend,” Nathaniel answered.

“Me, too, baby,” Jackie answered. “April, too. I am so proud of them. 10 years ago, we didn’t know what we were going to do with him when your sister sent him to us — now look at him. Married, career man, and taking care of his woman.”

“Well, what do you expect, Jackie?” Nathaniel asked. Traffic had finally resumed and they were now moving at a good pace. “He’s a Williams; we know how to treat our women.”

Nathaniel and Jackie

“And steal them, too apparently…” Jackie said with a grin. Nathanal smiled back. “Which reminds me,” she continued. “I don’t want no mess tonight between you and William, okay. It’s been 30 years; yall have to let that go.”

Y'all?” Nathaniel repeated. “What I need to hold on to that tired ‘fued’ when I get to hold on to you every night?” Nathaniel anwered. “He just better be glad his punk ass let DJ back in school. Man, I swear to God if it wasn’t for you-”

“You see? That’s what I mean,” Jackie interjected. That happened over 10 years ago. Me and William was over 30 years ago. You two grown men have to squash this nonsense.”

“Humph,” Nate answered with a huff. “As long as he don’t say nothing to me, DJ, or you, than I can be a man about mine.”

“Really, Nate?” Jackie asked.

“Yep.” he answered.

“I’m serious, Nathaniel,” Jackie said sternly. “Lets have a good time this weekend without having to worry about you two making it uncomfortable for everybody-especially April.”

“Babe,” Nathaniel began as traffic came to a standstill. “You got my last name. The only beef I’m concerned about tonight will be between two pieces of bread — das it.”

“Alright, now,” Jackie said suspiciously. “I need you boys getting along. I mean, I know I’m fine and all, but good Lord! It’s been 30 years.”

Nathaniel turned the radio up, ignorning his wife. “You’re delusional, woman,” he answered.

“Delusional…and fine,” she answered. “Now turn that ALL the way up! Didn’t the band play this our first-”?

“Yep,” Nathaniel finished. “Our first Relays. Hearing this kinda brings everything full circle, huh?”

“Yes, it does,” Jackie answered. And with that, Nathaniel turned the volume all the way up as he and Jackie sang and reminiced.