Here's another flash fiction for Chuck Wendig's contest. This prompt was "A novice revenges the rhythm." We had to include that sentence in our story.
Spit your game, talk your shit, grab your gat,
Spit your game, talk your shit, grab your gat.
My feet hit the pavement in rhythm with the song. With my earbuds blasting, I looked ahead unseeing, only focusing on the music, the rhythm, the beat.
Today was just a normal day. I was heading toward the elementary school to pick up my little sister, Jasmine, but I was making a stop along the way. In the alley behind Drug Mart, some of my friends and others would hang out and chill after school. Nothing serious, we would just swap gossip about kids in our class or sling clever insults at each other. We always liked the hidden alley, not because we were doing something wrong but because adults expected us to be. Back there, we were away from prying eyes and could just be ourselves.
Getting closer, I saw Daquan and Avionna with a few others. Everyone had earbuds in ears and cell phones in hand. When they saw me, they shouted out, but I just gave a small nod in return. I didn’t change my pace, just walked up smooth and casual. Hurrying looked childish and not cool.
“Man, where’ve you been,” Daquan greeted me as we bumped fists. I shrugged in reply.
“Lil’ J got nothin’ to say today?” he teased. He knew I didn’t like that name.
“My rapper name is Big Jay,” I retorted. Biggie Smalls is my idol so I made my name as a shout out to him.
“You gotta be a rapper first.”
We both dream about being rappers. I know we are two out of millions who aspire to be the next big thing, but it’s the dream that keeps us moving, keeps us going, keeps us living. It’s the thought that at any moment, any of us could be plucked up out of our humdrum lives and live the high life of fancy cars and shiny things. I don’t even need to look around and see how we all immerse ourselves in the music. It’s our way of life, our way of coping, our way of being. Music is our way of life and rapping is the means.
“You think you’re a rapper, huh?” this other guy asked, overhearing us.
“Yeah, what of it?” I bristled. I didn’t know who this guy was. He looked a few years older than me, at least.
“Ha, ha, that’s funny. You keep thinking that while I get my record deal,” he boosted.
“Recording yourself in your grandma’s basement doesn’t count,” I shot back.
“Oh, so you think you’re better than me? You don’t know shit.”
“Prove it,” I prodded. I wasn’t backing down with this guy, especially not in front of my friends.
“Okay, then. You and me right now. Rap battle,” he challenged.
Daquan chipped in, “I got the beats.” He looked at me and gave a nod. He knew I could do this.
The girls took interest now. “Oh, shit, it’s on,” they tittered.
Daquan started the rhythm. Bom, Chk, Bom, Bom, Chk. As he repeated the sounds with his mouth, everyone got quiet, breaths held. Everyone was watching and waiting. I couldn’t mess this up. My rep as a rapper was on the line. I fuck this up, and no one will let me live this down.
The other guy nodded with the rhythm, feeling the beat, preparing his words. Then, he began:
You think you got this,
But you’ll drink my piss,
For all the stuff you diss.
So get off my dick,
As I rhyme real slick.
The others guffawed, but I shook my head. That was weak.
Now, I’m up. I gotta make this good, make this clever, make it my own. I saw the words dancing in front of my eyes, moving with the rhythm, bouncing with the rhymes. The words began to spring from my mouth like a fountain, ready and bursting:
I fight battles with words and rhymes,
The clock is ticking and I ain’t got time,
To find my nickels and find my dimes,
So here’s my two cents, for your rhymes:
You’ve spent your rent; you’re past your prime.
I patted myself as I spoke, as if I was really looking for change and then spun it as advice. I was really proud of myself for that one, and I got sounds of approval from the others. I got this.
The other guy bit his tongue, just biding his time for his move, and as soon as I was done, he struck back:
You’re just a novice,
You don’t know this.
Rap has rhythm; rap has flow,
And your advice has no dough.
When you shit, it ain’t gold,
And when you spit, it’s just mold.
When he was done, he put his arms out to his sides, as if to say, “Whatcha got?” He knew he made a comeback.
I licked my lips. It all came down to this. I let the beat go for a moment, feeling it out, and then, I took a breath and started:
A novice revenges the rhythm,
Yeah, I tear it limb from limb.
With my flow, I fight the system,
And with my hoe, I come in Kim.
I hope you know, I won this row.
I sow my seed; I roll this weed,
I spit my game and claim my fame.
Cheers went up from the crowd. Pride welled up in me as the others congratulated me. It wasn’t just about beating the other person. You also had to win the crowd because they were the ones judging.
The other guy looked mad for a moment, but then he relented.
“You put that shit down, bro,” he said and held out his fist.
I bumped it. “Yeah, man, that was tight.”
My cell rang. It was Jasmine.
“Later, I gotta go get my sister,” I said to them.
I put my earbuds back in and turned up the music, immersing myself in its rhythm.