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The Root of All Evil


    Brock Lane is an NBA superstar whose team, the St. Louis Trojans, was eliminated from playoff contention. He had an all-star season in his fourth year as a pro basketball player, and he received a lucrative contract extension for his efforts. However, Brock's stepfather is kidnapped by two hardened criminals after he came back to Chicago on the eve of Mother's Day weekend, and they demand one million dollars for his release by Friday at midnight or else he's dead. Will Brock raise the money in time or will he miss the deadline and meet a tragic end? The Root Of All Evil is an urban fiction short story novella.

Amazon eBook Price: $2.99














    I sat down at the bar inside Chili’s Grill and Bar in Calumet City, Illinois and ordered a beer and a shot of whiskey. It was unusually empty at first for a Friday night, and all the HD televisions had the Houston Rockets vs. the Phoenix Suns basketball game on. The Rockets disposed of my team, the St. Louis Trojans, in seven games, and I couldn’t bear to watch them play because the wounds of defeat were still fresh in my mind. My routine was to go to Chili’s when I arrived back in town from college or when I finished playing pro basketball by late spring. I haven’t tasted an alcoholic beverage in five years, but today’s drama gave me a good reason to drink.

    “Would you like some hot wings or some other appetizer with your drinks?” the waitress asked.

    “No, thanks,” I said, still mulling over what took place moments ago.

    “Are you okay?”

    “No, I’m not. I just want my drinks, please.”

    “What happened, honey?” the waitress inquired. “Do you want to talk about it?”

    She was a stunningly attractive young woman, who looked at me with eyes like a nurturing and concerned mother. She also looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her face at first. A lack of appetite coupled with no sleep equaled a clouded brain.

    “Look, I don’t mean to be rude,” I said, “but I need to get as drunk as humanly possible at this present moment. If you don’t mind, I rather not talk about it. Thanks for asking, though.”

    “Very well,” she said, looking very disappointed. “I’ll bring your drinks right away. Sorry I bothered you.”

    She had a perplexed look on her face, like she knew me and was baffled because I didn’t recognize her. Maybe she’s from the old neighborhood, or maybe we went to the same church, I thought. But then it hit me—this five-foot ten beauty was Naomi Hill. I had a huge crush on her when we were in college, but I didn’t act on my feelings because we were both attached to other people at the time. How was I going to save face now? She had changed her hair color from black to auburn brown and had gained some weight, and the once slim model-like beauty was now a curvaceous size 12.

    I looked and felt like a train wreck—the kind of feeling you get when you’re completely burned out. But this felt a hundred times worse. I was also angry and confused about what just happened to me.

    I suddenly reflected upon the street life I led when I was a teenager and how my biological father would beat me when I was a kid on a regular basis in an attempt to toughen me up. When I was eight, he showed me how to cook an eightball and taught me how to jam someone’s nasal bone into his brain before he’d slap me around for not properly reciting the definitions of words he assigned for me to memorize. He had groomed me to be an educated thug—a carbon copy of himself, if you will.

    “I want you to give me the definition of a coward,” my father ordered. “If you get it right, I’ll take you to get some ice cream. But if you answer incorrectly, I’m gonna beat you like a drum.”

    “Yes, sir,” I said, trembling.

    “Hurry up, dammit!”

    “Coward...a person who lacks courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things...”

    “That’s right, Son, very good. I’m not raisin’ any punks. You hear me?”

    “Yes, sir...”

    “You can’t be a coward in this world...these vultures will chew you up and spit you out for breakfast. Come on, let’s get you an ice cream cone.”

    I snapped out of my trance before Naomi brought my drinks, and I gulped down the whiskey shot without hesitation. The whiskey burned as it went down my throat, and it burned even more as it entered my stomach. I haven’t slept or eaten since Thursday morning, and I began to sweat profusely.

    “Thank you,” I said.

    “Let me know if you need anything else, okay?” she asked. “Anything.”

    I nodded as I wiped my face with a napkin. I immediately followed my shot with the beer and finished it in a minute flat. I sat still momentarily before I flagged down Naomi for another round. She just finished taking orders from people who arrived a few minutes after I did, and the crowd was starting to pick up. I was also trying to think of a way to smooth things over with her.

    “Hit me again,” I requested.

    “Okay,” she said. “Do you just want a shot or a shot and beer?”

    “Give me a double shot with the beer. Thank you.”

    “You’re welcome. I’ll bring your drinks right away.”

    Feeling inebriated would temporarily numb the pain I was feeling, but I knew I’d pay for it later. I also hoped no one would recognize me because I was in no mood for autograph signing. That wouldn’t have been a problem two seasons ago, when I was at the end of the bench. I would have just blended in with a t-shirt, jeans, and Nike Air Jordan 1987 edition shoes. I figured that, as long as I stayed in my seat, nobody would notice me. However, that was going to be next to impossible because I felt a bathroom break coming on very soon as the beer and whiskey began to take a toll on my bladder. I also started feeling lightheaded because of the alcohol and sleep deprivation, and I was certainly not thinking clearly because rage had totally consumed my mind.

    I was definitely at a crossroad. There I was, Brock Lane, a twenty-five-year-old NBA superstar, faced with the biggest decision I would ever make in this juncture of my short existence. Whatever happened next would change my life forever.

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