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News & Features » December 2018 » “Why They Call The Cops On Us” by Nkosi Ife Bandele

“Why They Call The Cops On Us” by Nkosi Ife Bandele

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, a spilled cup of coffee leads to a tense confrontation.

Why They Call The Cops On Us
by Nkosi Ife Bandele
4- and 5-year-old

I knew I had made a mistake in thinking I could leave my children unattended for even one minute! They were finishing their ice cream desserts after lunch and seemed content and preoccupied enough for me leave them in order pay our bill at the counter.

As soon as I overheard the commotion followed by a loud and extended shriek, I knew I had f-ed up. I left my change on the counter and quickly discovered my four-year- old daughter with her open hands covering her face, (her disappearing act), while a thirty-something white woman, suited up in a kinda yucky mint-colored Chanel outfit, with matching shadow flanking her reddening eyeballs, stood over her wagging a bony pointer in regard to whatever my daughter’s infraction.

My son, thirteen months older, tried to protect her by tugging her arm to encourage flight.

I figured they had started running, playing tags perhaps, and knocked over the woman’s coffee evidenced by the brownish puddle on the table and the dark spot on her blazer that she furiously indicated.

Embarrassed and annoyed, I began to wipe the table while apologizing profusely, which totally pissed off the woman.

“Please!” she exclaimed, this time after a big breath. When I turned and faced her, she further exclaimed, “Look at my jacket!”

I looked directly and in my mind agreed that the stain, indeed, spotlighted her questionable fashion choice, so I offered to pay for cleaning, and asked if I can do anything else to help.

She gave me and then my kids quite a look, a mixture of contempt and mischief, before announcing that I could put the little monsters on a leash!

Her mixed metaphor aside (not to mention her faulty person/number agreement), I felt relieved by her excessive rudeness. In effect, she absolved me of lingering embarrassment or, for that matter, the need to make recompense.

I abruptly gathered up my kids, who had stood steadfastly, and we prepared to leave.

When we turned away, the woman shouted after us, “Who’s going to pay for this?” and because I continued to coolly ignore her, she determined, “I’ll fix you!”

She reported us to the police, treating her cell phone like a loud speaker. Fellow patrons listened in anxiously as she vaingloriously repeated her rude remark.

We reclaimed our seats because I did not want to appear as if on the lam. Cognizant of the news reports, I knew, (as did the woman I presume), that police were not only capable of separating black parents from their children but also shooting black people in their backs.

My kids clearly wanted to know why we re-took our seats but at first remained resolved to search for answers on my blank face. I stayed mute until I finished working out my feelings, which included my frustration with them for having put us in the situation, before responding calmly that I thought it would be best if we just waited, and that they should not worry.

When I offered them an encouraging smile, my daughter bear-hugged me about the neck. My son stood beside me, looking rather intense himself, ready for action.

Apparently when a white woman calls the police on a black man and his children in an Upper West Side restaurant, they respond immediately. In fewer than five minutes, they were going back and forth between the café owner (who had always been gracious with my kids and me), and the woman, who confessed to the police that she intended to “fix” us.

While the older white officer jotted down the woman’s report, the other, a twenty-something young white male (who technically would have been young enough to be a son of mine if I had been a young father), slowly approached us, presumably to get our side of the story.

Despite how bad their asses are, my kids always have my back, so both pressed up against me. I reassured them, and then insisted that they take their seats as the officer arrived.

After he inquired, I told him what happened, including my proposal to pay the woman’s cleaning bill. He seemed obliged to nod his head, but he didn’t take any notes, and when I finished explaining, he thanked me and flatly stated, “Enjoy your day.”

However, before leaving, he looked back at my daughter, specifically, and ironically asked, “How could anyone have a problem with that little face?” And then he tried to wink at me, but I had already turned to my kids.


NKOSI IFE BANDELE is a storyteller who has worked as journalist and has written for stage, TV, and film. His debut novel, The Ape is Dead!, is about a black student’s journey toward true love on Columbia University’s politically-charged campus in the late 1980s. That and his second novel, The Beast, are published by Crimson Cloak Publishing. His short fiction include several Akashic Flash Fiction pieces. He has been published under the pen names Easy Boheme, Eshu Bandele, and skoo d foo, da bom! His website is eshubandele.com and his Facebook Fan Page is here. He’s also on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—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: Dec 18, 2018

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,