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News & Features » July 2015 » “Relief” by Adeola Adeniyi

“Relief” by Adeola Adeniyi

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, Adeola Adeniyi tells the story of a Brooklyn transplant who’s looking for a little relief.

Adeola AdeniyiRelief
by Adeola Adeniyi
Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, New York

On a humid mid-July Thursday evening, a young woman in a cream-colored Macy’s pantsuit went into the small bodega on Nostrand and Lexington Avenue (by the twenty-four-hour Laundromat) and walked to the back refrigerator. The five-months-pregnant woman talking on the phone behind the counter started staring at her. The woman—the only customer in the store—searched through the beer section and eavesdropped on the worker telling someone to only allow Julio an extra hour of TV if he completed all his homework. She smelled vanilla incense while she carried two bottles of Heineken and picked up cupcakes, popcorn, those banana marshmallow pies, chips, and juice boxes on the racks and shelves for Ben’s weekly snacks—her son loved that crap. She put everything on the counter, and the worker quit brushing her black hair, which reached her waist, to bag. The customer asked for Newports while she dug through the folders in the leather bag over her shoulder to get her wallet.

“How much I owe, girl?”

The worker gave her the cigarettes and added everything. “That’ll be sixteen bucks.”

She gave her two ten-dollar bills and got four dollars back. The customer grabbed her groceries and put a folded twenty on the counter.

“What’s this for?”

“A dub of that Holyfield,” she said. “The shit Diego let me smoke with him last week dropkicked my ass, and he told me to get some here.”

The worker looked at the money, disgusted. “Sorry, Lieutenant Colombo. I’m not whatever you think I am. What you see in here is all we have.” She mumbled something in Spanish while turning the volume up as a DJ Clue? song played on the CD player.

The woman sighed. “I’m anything but that. After a long week of work, my homegirls are Amtraking here to come chill with me this weekend. My man is visiting his sister in Jersey with our son and we’re getting down, so hook a sister up with a little relief, okay?”

“Again, what you see in here is all we have. That is it.”

The woman left the money on the counter, and the worker read her Daily News.

“Diego said you could hook me up. I know you know Diego.”

“I don’t know any Diego.”

“Diego Rivera is the super in my building, and he knows you.”

She shrugged. “I don’t know any Diego. Sorry, girl.”

The woman stood to the side as the worker read. She twisted a braid around her brown finger as a boy—about twelve and wearing a pair of white-and-red Jordans—came inside holding his skateboard. He got an orange Popsicle out the freezer and slapped a ten on the counter.

“Lemme get a pack of Camels, too, and put five bucks on 101, please?”

The worker gave him nine dollars back. “Go home.”

“You know it’s all for my pops, Dianna,” he said. “Why you being like that for?”

Dianna pointed her red fingernail at the No cigarettes or tobacco products sold to anyone under the age of 21 sign stuck to the glass beside her. “Get outta here, Tony.”

The boy left sucking his teeth, and Dianna continued to read.

“You’re still in here waiting for nothing?”

“Don’t front. You know you know Diego, Dianna,” she said. “You two have been tight since elementary school. He’s been best friends with your husband Manny even longer.”

Dianna put the paper down. “You really live around here? ’Cause you sure don’t sound like it.”

She nodded. “My man and I moved here with our son into one of the new buildings on Greene Avenue three weeks ago from Felton, Virginia, for my new job.”

“I hate those buildings. Most were crack houses in the ’80s, and some animal raped a twelve-year-old girl in one back in ’92.” Dianna rubbed her belly. “Now they’re correct,and like all these fancy bars and cafés sprouting up everywhere, it’s for you people.”

“Excuse me, but we’re from Felton, Virginia. Being from Felton means we know about the type of living that was here before the changes.” The woman pushed the twenty closer to Dianna. “Look, I just want some of that Holyfield, okay? Pedro said you could hook me up.”

Dianna said, “Sorry, girl. But what you see here is all we have.”


ADEOLA ADENIYI lives in Brooklyn, New York, and his work has been published in the fall 2010 and 2011 issues of Black Magnolias Literary Journal, aaduna’s winter 2012 issue, and the latest issue of District Lit Journal. His literary influences include Richard Wright, James Baldwin, ZZ Packer, Edward P. Jones, and Junot Díaz.


Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jul 13, 2015

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,