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Death List

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The undisputed originator of urban lit, Donald Goines ups the ante with one of his most enduring characters, as he continues the gripping, gritty story of crime in the black ghetto that he began in Crime Partners. Now reissued for the first time in a decade with a fresh new look!

Kenyatta has it good. The gang lord’s got the ladies, the clubs, the guns, and an army of deadly brothers at the ready when he says the word. The only problem is the shady dealers who are running the drugs in Detroit. It’s time to get them out, even if means making a deal with the men in blue. Once the plan is in place, nobody’s safe, everybody’s a target, and the streets are about to flood with blood.

ISBN-13: 9781496735966

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Kensington

Publication Date: 12-27-2022

Pages: 208

Product Dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Donald Goines was born in Detroit, Michigan. He joined the U.S. Air Force instead of going into his family's dry cleaning business. Following his service, he entered into a life of drug addiction and crime. He received seven prison sentences, serving a total of over six years. While he was in prison, Goines wrote his first two novels, Dopefiend: The Story of a Black Junkie and Whoreson: The Story of a Ghetto Pimp. Goines was shot to death in 1974.

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Copyright © 2002 Al C. Clark
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-8648-2

Chapter One

The two detectives had been sitting in their office at the downtown police precinct since early morning, waiting for one phone call. When the telephone finally rang, both men leaped to their feet. The black officer beat his white partner to the phone. He winked at his friend, letting him know that this was the call they had been waiting for.

The tall, chisel-faced white man walked back to his old beat-up desk and sat down. Detective Ryan drummed his fingers on the top of the well-scarred desk as he waited impatiently for the call to come to an end.

Finally the tall black man hung up the phone. "Well, what the hell are you going to do," he yelled over to his partner as Ryan jumped to his feet, "sit there on your dead ass all day?"

"Screw you, Benson, you cocksucker you," Ryan yelled back as both men moved hurriedly towards the door. "Did the informer give up all the information we need?"

Detective Edward Benson slowed down enough to show Ryan a piece of paper on which he had hurriedly written down an address. "We've got the bastard's address, just like he said he'd get."

The two men walked hurriedly down a short corridor that led into an outer office. The detectives threaded their way through the cluttered office, greeting the men and women over the hum of the old-fashioned air conditioner.

As the black and white detectives neared the outer door, two younger detectives sitting nearby came to their feet. Neither man appeared to be over twenty-five years old, while Benson and Ryan both had wrinkles under their eyes that were not there from lack of sleep. Both of the older detectives appeared to be in their late thirties or early forties. They were replicas of what the younger men would look like in ten years if they stayed on their jobs as crime fighters. The work would take its toll.

The two young white detectives ignored Benson and spoke to his partner. It was done more out of habit than to slight Benson deliberately. "We were told to wait for you, sir, that you might need backup men," the taller of the two said.

Ryan stopped and stared at the men. He hadn't missed the slur to his black partner. "I don't know," Ryan answered harshly. "It's up to my senior officer, Detective Benson." He nodded in the direction of the black officer.

The two young white detectives glanced down at the floor in embarrassment. Neither man wanted to come out and ask Benson directly if they could go along, but it would be a good point on their record if they could be in on the arrest of two murderers.

"What do you think, Ben?" Ryan asked his partner, breaking the silence.

Benson glanced coldly at the two younger officers. "It's up to you, Ryan, if you think you might need some help arresting the punks." He shrugged his shoulders, showing by his actions that he really didn't want the men along.

Ryan knew what the problem was. If the men had spoken to Benson when they first walked up, he would have taken them along gladly. But now he didn't want to be bothered with them. It was written all over his face. In the years Ryan had worked with him, he had come to find that the intelligent black man was extremely sensitive. At times, it seemed as if he was too sensitive. Ryan started to tell the young men to come along anyway but changed his mind. There was no sense in antagonizing the man he had to work with.

As Benson went out the door, Ryan turned to the two men sheepishly. "Well, I guess there won't be any need for your help after all. It shouldn't take four of us to bring in two punks."

It was apparent that the two men were disappointed. One of them started to say something but decided against it. Their brief exchange hadn't gone unnoticed by some of the other officers in the department. Most of them had been aware of what the men had been waiting for. As Ryan went out the door, leaving the men behind, the workers in the office glanced down, not wanting to catch the eyes of the rejected men.

Ryan caught up with his partner in the garage underneath the station. This was where they brought their prisoners. They took them out of the cars, still handcuffed, and led them to the three elevators that were located in the center of the garage. No matter where a policeman parked, he didn't have far to go to transport his prisoner. There were two uniformed policemen stationed in the garage at all times to help, if help was ever needed. The garage was also a good place for the policemen to kick the shit out of their prisoners, out of sight of any watching eyes. The garage detail never went against another officer, no matter how brutally policeman might treat a handcuffed prisoner.

"You could have brought those guys along, Ryan," Benson said, drumming his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel.

Ryan shook his head as Benson drove out of the garage. "Naw, Ben, it's like you said; what the hell do we need with help? It ain't but two punks that we're after."

Benson knew Ryan was lying, as well as he knew he had been wrong in rejecting the help of the fellow officers. They were on their way to arrest Billy Good and his crime partner, Jackie Walker. Both men were believed to be professional killers. In such a case, there should be backup men on the job. If something should happen to Ryan because of Benson's anger, he would never get over it. But as he picked up the two-way radio and put in a call, giving the address they were headed for and requesting the support of a black-and-white car, Benson got a feeling of satisfaction. He knew that the two younger detectives would hear about it and know they had been rejected while two uniformed men had been called in to do what they had been refused the honor of doing.

Ryan only glanced straight ahead. He knew what his partner had done and realized that it was another blow to the pride of the younger officers. As it was, Benson wasn't the most liked officer in the homicide division. And after this got out, which it would, he would be liked even less.

"You think these guys will give us any trouble?" Ryan asked as they left the freeway at Clay Avenue and made a left turn.

Benson gave his standard shrug. "I haven't thought about it one way or the other. I could care less either way," he answered coldly.

Even as the policemen got off the freeway eight blocks from their destination, events were taking place that would change their lives.

Billy Good was parking the car in front of his and Jackie's apartment. Jackie kissed his girlfriend, Carol, one more time before getting out. They had just come from Kenyatta's farm, where they had been staying for the past week. Ever since making the hit on Kingfisher's dope pusher, Little David, they'd been out of town.

Billy, who had driven the whole way back from the farm, stretched his arms out, then caressed Joy's neck. The tall, black beauty riding next to him smiled contentedly. Joy had finally found a man she could really love. This short, husky, brown-skinned man wasn't what she'd dreamed her lover man would look like, but he'd proven he was more than adequate. She had no apprehensions when she was with him, It was a new and gratifying experience for her.

The men she'd had in the past had always depended on her, mostly for an income. Now she had a man who wasn't concerned with how much money she could make. He just wanted her for herself.

This was the first time Joy had ever been to the apartment that Billy shared with Jackie. She had just met Billy when Kenyatta brought him and Jackie out to the farm and had given a party in their honor. She smiled to herself smugly as she remembered that first night in Billy's arms. What a night it had been! They'd made love until dawn, and then she couldn't really sleep, afraid that when she awoke it would all have been a dream.

Carol and Jackie got out of the car first and waited on the pavement for Billy to come around the car and join them. They made a curious couple, him being over six foot five while she was only five foot.

Billy came around the car grinning. Neither of the two couples paid much attention to the well-dressed black men who got out of the black Cadillac down the street and hurried toward them. The first warning came when the men had gotten close and Jackie noticed one of them open up his suitcoat and take out what looked like a short iron pipe. Before he could react, he realized that it was a sawed-off shotgun.

He screamed out in panic. "Watch out, Billy, they got shotguns!"

The sound of his voice hadn't died out before the afternoon quiet was shattered by the sound of shotguns going off.

Joy had been admiring the new home she was going to move into when she was struck down. Half of her neck was blown off. Billy was spattered with the blood of his loved one. He screamed—a dying scream full of hate and frustration as he made a frantic move for his shoulder holster. Unknown strength kept him on his feet as the first shotgun shells hit him high in the chest. He fell back against the car, somehow managing to remove the gun from its place of concealment. But it was no use. He died with the weapon still in his hand.

Carol's screams shattered the stillness as she watched Jackie topple over, his tall frame crumbling as he kept falling until the hard pavement struck him in the face. Her screams were cut off abruptly as half her mouth and face were blown away. She was dead before she hit the cold ground.

Black faces peered out of the windows of the nearby buildings, but no one came to the rescue of the stricken couples. Blood ran freely down off the sidewalk into the gutter as the lifeless forms of four young black people lay in the filth and hopelessness of the hard-pressed neighborhood.

Down the street, the long black Cadillac moved away from the curb, filled with black men who made killing their business. Even as Detectives Benson and Ryan turned onto the street, the black car disappeared around the corner.

Benson slammed on his brakes next to the murder scene. The black-and-white backup car came from the opposite end of the street, having turned the same corner that the black Cadillac had.

Benson walked from one body to the next, examining the dead. When he reached Jackie's long body, he thought he heard a moan, but there was so much blood he believed it must be his imagination. He bent down and lifted up the bloody head, cradling Jackie in his arms as if he were a loved one.

"I think this one is still with us," he yelled out as Ryan came over.

Ryan flinched at the sight. He had seen many murders before, but whenever he came upon a shotgun killing, it was always horrible. This one was even worse than most. It was the first time he'd ever seen women shot down in such a vicious manner.

Ryan stood over his partner and called out to one of the uniformed officers who was running over with a gun in his hand. "Call for an ambulance," he ordered sharply, his voice cracking with emotion.

As Ryan glanced around at the other uniformed policeman, he saw the young black officer bent over by the car, throwing up his afternoon meal. The sight of the man puking almost made Ryan do the same thing.

Benson stood up. "He can change that call; we don't need an ambulance. What we need is a meat wagon." He walked away, unaware of the blood that was on his new blue suit.

Chapter Two

The private office in the rear of Kenyatta's club was crowded with members. Ali had brought most of the main people in from the farm, and they were all trying to get in the rear office. The front of the club was full of the less important members of the organization. All of the talk floating around was about the killing of Billy and Joy, with little mention of Jackie and Carol. Joy and Billy were the better known of the four people. As they talked about the killings, the young people in the crowd couldn't really believe what had happened, or didn't want to.

The men spoke in loud voices about retaliation and the punishment that Kenyatta would dish out for the wrong done them. Even though Billy and Jackie hadn't been members, their women had been members. And Joy was related to Kenyatta's lady, Betty, so they knew something would be done.

Even as they whispered about it, Kenyatta paced up and down his office. "It has to he an act of retaliation, Ali," Kenyatta stated, stopping in front of the tall, baldheaded man. "No matter how I look at this shit, it comes up the same way. That mother-fucking nigger Kingfisher is behind this crap. I'll bet my front seat in hell, man, that he put out the contract on Billy and them because of that pusher Little David gettin' hit."

Betty got up from the hardbacked wooden chair she had been sitting in at the rear of the office. The stately, beautiful woman walked up to her man and stopped. "But why, honey, why did they kill Joy? She didn't have anything to do with the killing of Little David. She wasn't even in the city at the time." Tears were running down her cheeks as she talked. "I can't get it out of my mind that it was my fault that Joy got killed."

"Hold on, baby," Kenyatta said softly, taking the girl's arm and drawing her near. He held her tight in his arms and stroked her hair tenderly. "Get them kind of thoughts out of your mind," he said as he gently led her toward his large chair behind the desk.

"It's true, though, Ken," she continued. "If I hadn't introduced her to Billy, it would never have happened. She wouldn't have been with him when he came back to town, so she wouldn't have gotten killed."

"Honey," Kenyatta whispered, "you can't think like that. The way them two fell in love with each other, it couldn't have went any other way. I mean, they would have met anyway. He stayed out on the farm after we left, so they would have come in contact with each other no matter what you did." Before she could speak, he continued. "Lookin' at it that-away, Betty, you can hold me responsible for their deaths, because if I hadn't given the party for them, none of this would have jumped off."

Betty stared up at the tall black man she loved. She gained strength from him, and at that moment she needed all the strength she could get. His words took her doubts and fears away.

She allowed him to sit her down in his chair. "When you talk, honey, it all makes sense, but when I get to thinkin' by myself, I keep seeing myself as the reason why she's dead."

"Well, don't think then," Kenyatta stated, ignoring the rest of the people in the office. He was tired of the crowd of people anyway, but he didn't want to dismiss them. He was going to need some of them as soon as some information came in, so he'd just have to put up with the crowd for a while.

"He's sure tellin' you right, momma," Ali said as he reached over on the desk and picked up one of Kenyatta's cigarettes. "The way them two carried on, it was just in the cards, that's all."

She glanced at the two men. They were so much alike, not just for the fact that they both were baldheaded, either. Both were tall black men, but whereas Kenyatta wore a beard and heavy mustache, Ali wore only a trimmed mustache. Ali was slightly taller than Kenyatta, too, though both men towered over six feet.

Kenyatta raised his hands for quiet, then spoke to the group in his office. "Fellows, you and the few ladies in here, I want you people to go upstairs or into the outer office until Ali and I can get something together. It's not that I ain't got faith in all you brothers and sisters, nor am I holding any secrets from you, but it's just that there's too many people in here now. We can't even hear ourselves think, so you go upstairs and have fun. I'll call the ones I want."

He waited until most of the people filed out the door. Betty started to leave, but Kenyatta waved her back down in her chair. "I'll tell you what you can do, Betty. Fix me and Ali a good cold drink, okay? Then come on back down."

She smiled at him as she got up to do as he requested.

Both men watched the tall, attractive black woman as she walked across the office floor. The thick, dark brown carpet smothered the sound of her high-heeled shoes, but nothing could disguise her large, beautiful black thighs, revealed to the eye by the miniskirt she wore. The tiny red skirt bounced up behind her with each step she took, causing Ali to give her a long admiring glance.

Both men remained silent until the door closed behind Betty. She was the last person to leave the office.

Ali let out a short whistle. "I got to admit she sure is a looker."

It seemed as if Kenyatta hadn't even heard his remark. The dark, handsome man walked to the rear of the office and stared out the window. He didn't bother to speak for a few minutes. "Ali, it's like I said. Ain't but one person responsible for this mess, and that's that nigger Kingfisher. I want him. I want him so bad I can taste it. That nigger is to blame for over half the dope that comes into the ghetto, Ali. Over half the fuckin' poison that finds its way into those dumb-ass addicts' veins."


Excerpted from DEATH LIST by DONALD GOINES Copyright © 2002 by Al C. Clark. Excerpted by permission of HOLLOWAY HOUSE CLASSICS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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