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When an obscure African slave dies in a slave revolt, he leaves behind a legacy of defiance, pride, and resistance to his children, over the generations, many defiant Dellroys have met a premature end in America...but none of them ever went down easily. Others survived to continue the line, but many bore scars to prove their defiance and continued warrior spirit.
Abiola left three other things behind that would shape the mentality and direction of his descendants. His name, Abiola, a small carving of his god, and a strict order obeyed faithfully by his children and children's children all the way to the present at all cost... "Never allow my bloodline to be tainted by that of the White Man!" The Dellroys' don't even marry other black people if they show any signs of white ancestry. Although the Dellroys' have mixed with Native Americans and even later, Asians, no Dellroy of the main bloodline has ever voluntarily mated with a Caucasian or at least given birth to a child of one if the opposite occurred, not if they wanted to stay a Dellroy...that is about to change. America is now a different place from what it once was and there are those who believe that some practices of the family have long outlived their day...but not everyone agrees, and there are those who may yet prove them right!
One of Tawanna's sons is about to cross a line that will challenge old ignorance's, but at the same time set in motion events that will cause upheaval in the Dellroy hierarchy, send war drums sounding throughout the African Diaspora from Harlem to Argentina and set the Dellroys' and their kin on a collision course with one of the most powerful mafia families in the country. Tawanna Dellroy must now earn the name that Ezomo gave her all those years ago...Queen Dellroy!
Harlem, New York, The late 1980's
The tall voluptuous Asian woman in her mid twenties wearing glasses walked into Country's Place as if she owned it. Founded by James Edward Dellroy Sr., (a former lieutenant of the famous Bumpy Johnson) also known as Alabama Black or later "Country" Country's Place was now the finest restaurant in Harlem. Harlem had seen better days since this place had been built, but the place had prospered and been left in peace ... and for good reason.
The old Lion had passed away some years ago, but his cubs still ran the place and were respected, and by some, feared even beyond Harlem. Even Lucas, a former Bumpy Johnson man himself, had given the Dellroys' plenty of room during his reign ... along with everyone else ... if they were smart. The restaurant was top notched; there was even a dress code. Jazz could be heard playing softly and African and African American art decorated the walls of the establishment. The woman's husband, a tall extremely good looking man, followed behind her looking around in fascination at the art and people around him. That this was his first time being so immersed in African American culture was very apparent. Obviously this was not the case with his wife. In fact, despite her appearance, she seemed completely at home around African Americans. This did not go unnoticed by many of the patrons of the restaurant. Unknown to them, two large black men in an expensive car had driven them there, and were in fact waiting outside.
The woman impatiently looked around the restaurant, even as many of the patrons looked at her ... with increasing interest. Several of the black men were eyeing her impressive form approvingly, much to the disapproval of several of the black women. "Damn!" said one of the men to his friend, "You don't see many of them built like that!"
A waitress walked over, and with a bit of an attitude, asked if she could help her. The woman smiled at the girl and said something to the young woman in a low voice, who immediately looked her up and down in surprise, apologized, and quickly directed her to the best seat in the house. The girl asked if there was anything she could get for the couple while they waited, "No thank you Honey," replied the woman in perfect English, no hint of an Asian accent to be heard, and the waitress hurried away. The woman even sounded black.
"Brenda," whispered another waitress, pulling the first aside, "Why in the world are you falling all over those Chinese people like that?! That bitch comes waltzing in here as though she was the queen of this place and you ..."
"Carla ... they black!"
"That's Mr. Dellroy's niece!"
"I don't believe you ... Really?"
One of the older women, a long time friend of the family, who happened to hear the two girls talking, confirmed the first woman's remark.
"That there is old Country's grandbaby, Henry and J.D.'s niece. Their sister Janet is that child's mama. She's been living with her daddy's folk since she was about nine, even after her parents divorced eight or nine years ago. Don't tell me you haven't seen her sister Hinata in here before?"
"That's her sister?! But ... she doesn't look ... I mean Hinata looks black, except for her eyes, but ..."
"Well, she definitely has the body of a black woman," chuckled the first girl.
"And a temper to match," said the older woman with a grin, "She was Country's favorite, and J.D. loves her like his own daughter."
"Well, she doesn't look black," said Carla dryly.
"If you get on her bad side you'll find out exactly how black she really is," replied the older woman, "Heh! Well, you'd better go tell Peaches that Little Reina's here."
"Little Reina?!" laughed Brenda looking at the woman's figure.
"Oh, and by the way, they from Japan, if you call her Chinese and she hears you, you could be in for it. Understand?"
* * *
David Dellroy and his older brother Eric had been freed on bail, but neither man was happy. Only one person was capable of paying the million dollar bond that the judge had set for each of them, and now that they were no longer in jail they were in terrible danger. Cousin J.D. A.K.A Ezomo had a very low opinion of drug dealing murderers. He also had a very bad reputation for dealing harshly with relatives who brought shame on the family, race, and or played him for a fool. Ezomo wouldn't hesitate to eat two million dollars for the sake of his and the family's honor. The fact that both men were now tied up and under guard in one of his warehouses was proof of this.
Eric had manage to convince J.D. that he was trying to establish himself in business, and J.D., who was always eager to help a young black man with motivation ( especially a relative) gave him a decent sum of money to set himself up. It is unknown whether or not Eric originally set out to use his beauty supply store as a front for drug dealing in the beginning, but it certainly turned out that way in the end, he soon brought his naïve younger brother in, and (wouldn't you know it) that's when things began to turn ugly. The local drug gangs found out who were cutting into their sales, and things began to boil. Eric had believed (correctly) that if the local scum did find out that he was dealing on their turf, they would think twice about moving on Ezomo's kin. Furthermore, knowing how the dangerous man felt about them, they wouldn't dare approach him to complain either. Eric was set, for awhile, but it was not to last. A young man overdosed on their junk and the local people began to grumble, rumors were beginning to reach the old man's ears, and finally the gangs had had enough, and violence erupted. Eric, who was now even using himself, grabbed a five year old boy during the shootout, and used him as a human shield, resulting in the child's eventual death and a loud cry of outrage from the Harlem community.
Needless to say, the police came down hard on the young Dellroys' and a bond was set so high that it would be unlikely that Eric or his brother (now an accomplice) would be on the streets again anytime soon. Ironically, when the bail was paid, many people were surprised and appalled that someone would actually bail those two out, however there was a quiet murmur of satisfaction on the streets of Harlem. Everyone knew that family's reputation, for them, honor was all! Ezomo himself would see to it that justice was done!
Dellroy had spoken to the young men's mother earlier that day, he had told her all the details, and her permission was tearfully, but firmly, given. The death of the child had sealed Eric's fate.
"A true Dellroy," said J.D. to his brother Henry with pride tinged with grief as they left, "Let's get this unpleasant business over with quickly! Little Reina's finally come home and is meeting us at the restaurant with her new husband from Japan."
"What's this fool like J.D.? I still remember that little bastard Janet came home with! Daddy nearly had a heart attack!"
"I remember! But this one is a winner, he's some up and coming hot shot in a major Japanese corporation, sent over to be the face of his company here in the U.S. He's a good looking rascal too. And wait till you see Reina! I don't think (chuckle) we can call her "Little" anymore."
"Those miserable bastards! Our niece finally comes home after all these years and I have to see her after this shit! Damn them both for spoiling our reunion with bloodshed!"
* * *
When James and Henry Dellroy entered the room David couldn't control his trembling. His brother looked at his elder kinsmen then dropped his head in shame. James E. Dellroy Jr. was a large powerfully built man. Although in his late fifties he looked like a man in his thirties. His younger brother, Henry, was equally intimidating. Dellroy looked at Eric and David in disgust. David couldn't meet the older men's eyes, nor did he in any way try to plead for mercy, but Eric would once again prove to be the more defective of the two.
"Cousin J.D., please! C'mon man, ch ... chill! Give ... give me another chance! I ... I mean Country was no saint himself right?!" Dellroy stiffened in rage when Eric mentioned the name of his revered father.
"HOW DARE YOU!!! You little bastard!!! How dare you think to compare yourself to my father!!! Alabama Black became a gangster because back then, the only way a black man with that kind of pride, but little education to back it up could make a decent living without being the White Man's dog was the underworld! And when that changed, so did he! What's your excuse?! You'll pay for poisoning our people, shaming our family, and playing me for a fool you little shit! And because of that baby you murdered I'll see to it that you suffer before you go!"
"IT WASN'T ME!" lied Eric in terror, Henry let out a sound of disgust, EVERYONE knew it was him. "If they didn't buy the stuff from me they would have just gone to someone else," cried Eric in desperation.
"Join them in Hell!" snarled Dellroy, "Take this wretch out of my sight and beat the black off his ass! And then kill em!"
Henry Dellroy looked at David as Eric was dragged screaming away, and said, "Well ... Aren't you going to beg for your miserable life too?"
"No. I didn't know ... in the beginning, what my brother was doing, but ... So I am just as guilty. I ... The little boy ... The only thing I ask ... is that you kill me quickly."
J.D. and Henry looked at each other, they never intended to kill David, only have him beaten within an inch of his life, blame it on his brother, and have him turned over to the police disgraced and disowned. That the young man would actually realize his guilt, admit to it, and was ready to atone willingly with his life had not been expected. The two brothers silently agreed that the boy had suffered enough, and a beating unnecessary.
"We're not going to kill you son," said Dellroy, not without compassion, "But know this. There's a vat of acid or a blast furnace somewhere with your brother's name on it. His body will never be found. He jumped bail. Do you understand?" said J.D. menacingly, David nodded glumly. "You will stand trial for your part in this mess ... and plead guilty. I can assure you, that because you didn't run, and because of your regret and willingness to atone for your part in this affair, not to mention my connections, you will receive some leniency, two years tops and a few years of probation. You will be disowned from the family afterwards of course, until you either prove yourself fit to return or I say otherwise. In case you're wondering, your mother is well aware of all this and has given her consent. Do you understand?"
"Good. Mo! Go tell the boys to finish Eric off quick!" David was removed from the building. He didn't want to think about what was happening to his brother in the other part of that warehouse, but he was grateful that J.D. had changed his mind and chose to show mercy. He closed his eyes in sadness, but gratitude, as a single muffled gunshot was heard. He couldn't hate his kinsmen. The five year old hadn't died nearly as quickly or painlessly after he'd been shot.
As they were on their way to meet Reina and Akio at his restaurant, Henry said, "I'll give the boy a job in my place when he gets out."
"Oh? Are you going to defy your big brother?"
"Please! You know you forgive him! You have no intention of letting the kid live as an outcast from the family!"
"Heh, you know me too well Little Brother, but I think it would be better if I took him under my wing. It might be bad for your business if he was seen there. And I liked the boy's courage. He was scared to death, but he didn't disgrace himself by groveling."
"So that's why you changed your mind about making Eric suffer."
"Exactly, knowing that your brother deserves to die is one thing ... him being tortured to death is another. I don't want any hard feelings or vendettas down the line. Have arrangements been made for that baby's funeral along with restitution to his parents?"
"Yes. All on your tab, just as you ordered. I don't know about you J.D., but I'm not very hungry after all this. Little Reina and her husband can eat till they fall over, but the only thing I want is a strong drink!"
It had been nearly forty years (give or take a few years) since James Edward Dellroy Jr. had assumed leadership of his family upon the death of his father, James Sr. A professional soldier and entrepreneur, he was now moving towards a new classification ... philanthropist.
Although always concerned about the welfare and future of people of African descent, starting with his own family, in his advanced years he was now looking at his life and accomplishments, particularly where his family was concerned, in a new way. He had no regrets about the ways and means he'd used to keep his kin on the right track, and thankfully he had only had to actually kill a blood relative once. Thankfully ... that was enough. The young man had committed an act so despicable that not even his own mother would forgive it and J.D. had carried out his sentence without reproach. The message was clear to the younger generation. Go too far, and there was a fate worse than disownment. Also, by taking action himself, he had reinforced his family's reputation in the community, regaining the trust of some and sending a clear warning to others. Whatever happened in Harlem, most people knew not to arouse the wrath of that family in any way.
However, Dellroy would be forced to take bloody action for the sake of his family's honor twice more in his lifetime. The first being when his beloved brother Henry and only son, Mathew, were murdered by a Jamaican drug gang new to Harlem, who didn't know whose family they were provoking, (the name Ezomo was known even in Jamaica) until it was too late and thus sealed their own doom.
Then some years later, when the Japanese Mafia or Yakuza, revealed (in the form of a DVD recording transferred from a VHS tape) that they had raped his favorite niece, Reina, after her father failed to repay a gambling debt when she was fifteen. Their motive was revenge for Reina's defiance years later in the face of an unsuccessful blackmail attempt. They too didn't know who they were dealing with ... until it was too late. The resulting war had been costly for all involved and Dellroy had lost many old and valued comrades and even a kinsman before peace was finally made.
David Dellroy had had to live with the guilt of his mistakes for years. His Mother had sent down justice on his brother and him for their crimes which ultimately destroyed her. His elder cousins had forgiven him in the end, but that wouldn't bring his mother, who had died of grief while he was in prison, back to life. Although it was his brother Eric who caused the death of the child and bore most of the blame for their deeds, David believed (rightly) that if he had exposed his brother rather than joined him, Eric, his mother, and the boy, would still be alive.
After years of loyal service to his surviving cousin he had finally found peace and his debt paid when in Korea, he saved Ezomo's life at the cost of his own in battle with the Yakuza affiliated gangs there.
Dellroy himself had over the years had come to love his younger cousin almost as a son. Indeed, before Tawanna came into the picture, he (unknown to Marcus) was at the top of the list to succeed him. David's death along with the other irreplaceable Dellroy men would be a key factor in J.D.'s (Ezomo's) final decision to make peace and ultimately retire ... sort of.
Now the old man was thinking he wanted to die leaving a better legacy for himself, his family, and the world, than he had so far ... and finally be able to really enjoy life in the bargain. But as always, Ezomo couldn't help but subtly guide his kin behind the scenes, especially the ones in whose parents he was indebted. David's son Darius had had a few bad moments and even worse relationships with women in his young life, but the boy had picked himself up and was now trying to find his own place in this family of entrepreneurs. The old man knew the kid was up to the task, but firmly believed that a good woman would be as vital to his success as it had been to his and his father's ... and he had someone in mind.
Excerpted from The Dellroys by Darryl T. Mallard Copyright © 2010 by Darryl T. Mallard. Excerpted by permission.
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