Darkness surrounded me as I locked the office door at Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency on Broadway. I jumped on my folding bike headed toward Dr. Marsh's office to finish some late night paperwork. I bent the corner at 21st and headed toward Lake Merritt. With no traffic in sight I pushed the pedals hard and felt my speed increase. As I rolled past the Pandora building, a black SUV with tinted windows pulled up beside me. I glanced toward it and saw my reflection in a side window. I pointed my attention back to the road ahead. The SUV swerved and cut me off, pinning my bike against it and the curb. I squeezed the brakes.
What the fuck! I shouted.
The doors opened. Three goons in cheap suits leapt out. Two of them grabbed me by the arms, as I kick to break free.
“Let me go!” I yelled, as I tried to escape.
They peeled me off the bike, as it fell to the ground. The third man quickly folded it and tossed it into the SUV. A limo with tinted windows pulled up. The door swung open and I was flung inside as the limo screeched off.
Dazed and confused, I clawed for the door handles as I struggled to free myself—to no avail. They had been removed. I looked up and saw a Black man I didn't recognize dressed in a well- tailored suit and expensive shoes seated in front of me.
“What the fuck is this? Where is my bike?” I demanded. As I looked out the window to see where we were going. We turned left. I could still see the lake.
“Relax, it's secure. I have a job for you,” the man said.
“Who are you?” I growled.
“I'm your employer.” He said.
“What do you mean you're my employer? I don't work for you.” I shot back.
“How’s Pierre?” he asked as the TV over his shoulder displayed images of my grandson and my daughter at home.
“Who are you?” I asked again.
“I'll tell you when you need to know.”
“I know everything about you.”
As more images of my grandson and daughter scrolled across the screen. I have a personal matter I want you to resolve. I'm contracting your services,” he said.
“What do you mean? My family therapy services for what?” I said. “Make an appointment like everyone else. This isn't how I work.”
“Oh, I'm sure you will help me with this matter. Your grandson is a wonderful child,” he said as more video displayed on the screen.
I swallowed hard. My children and my grandson mean the world to me. I would do anything to protect them.
“Why me? How did you hear about me?”
“You came to our attention while you were working at the Family Institute of Pinole. You assembled a YouTube Playlist entitled Black Lessons. In it you included videos by Franz Fanon. Black Lessons showed your concern for the Black community and could have been used to radicalize Black people so we redacted the playlist. I’ve been following your interest in attachment theory and its implications for Black people. You’re on a watch list.”
“You're a black man. Why would you redact it?”
“It's my job.” he said.
Things begin to add up. An SUV with tinted windows, three big dudes in cheap suits, a limo, surveillance video of my family, and the power to restrict content on YouTube. I realized he was no Alameda County Sheriff.
“I wasn't radicalizing Black people. A white woman at the institute asked me to help her understand Black people, so I put Black Lessons together.” I said.
“You knew that Fanon influenced Steve Biko, Yasser Arafat, and Che Guevara. It's a national security issue. There can be no Black Messiah.” He retorted.
“My daughter Olivia is a lawyer in Washington DC. Our relationship...she doesn't see everything I do for her. I protect this nation. Everything I do, I do for my daughter. She hates me. I don’t want to lose her. She doesn’t understand how I work for this country and her best interest. She having an affair that's not only highly inappropriate, it's sensitive to national security. I believe in large part due to her hatred of me. I need her to see my value to her and this country. I want you to handle this.”
Before I could answer, the limo stopped the door swung open, and i didn’t waste any time getting out. His last comment was “I'll be in touch.”