I left you guys at Part 3 of this series for a specific reason. I had a gut feeling that when D came home this time, that things were going to be different. Now, I was being strategic in a sense of not following up with the series in a timely manner. I wanted to continue it with my brother at my side. When I wrote parts 1-3, he already served about a year for a bull crap parole violation in the state (he was on state parole with federal time served). About a week before he was re-released, on October 6, 2016, I wrote him a heartfelt letter of truth about my hopes for us as brothers once he was released. The plan was to write and tell his story across multiple media platforms and attach his name as co-producer/writer with the intent of giving him a reason to travel for “work.” Remember, due to his parole stipulations, he couldn’t leave the state. In the letter, I wrote to give him inspiration for a new outlet; an outlet to not consider selling drugs anymore. Hope to focus on our legacy; our last name. Hope to focus on his legacy; his daughter. This time around, he bought in. He trusted the process.
On October 5, 2016, our sister texted me letting me know that D was coming home tomorrow. It was somewhat of a surprise. D wanted to keep this return on the low. The only people who knew were his mom (my step-mom) and the bul who picked him up. I’m certain my niece’s mother knew as well because he was so excited to finally be free to raise his first child. She was conceived right before he was arrested, and he only saw her while behind bars. I’ve never seen so much passion from my brother since I’ve been alive. He was a proud father.
Now, I was unaware of his release because we had an understanding that he wasn’t too big on the letters or phone calls anymore. He expressed to me that he wanted me to focus on me and to trust that he could do the time. And when we did communicate, it was a one or two-page letter from him giving orders about his possessions. If you don’t know, when people get locked up, the people who aren’t behind the wall tend to house the incarcerated’s shit with the idea that, “They can’t use it anyway.” In my case, my step-mom gave me a TV of his. He was pissed about that. Ha. I digress. But I’m sure some brothers who are locked up and reading this can relate. This is a reminder that brother’s behind the wall still yearn to not be forgotten although they’re not in sight on a daily. Never out of sight, out of mind.
But back to October 5, 2016.
After receiving the text from my sister, I shifted my plans to be there when he came home on the 6th. I wanted to be there to greet him at the gates and record him to start the documenting process of building our legacy as “my brother’s keeper.” Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and men go awry, and I had to settle on seeing him at the crib. When I arrived at the house, he was in the shower. He called me downstairs to his den/bedroom/bathroom which is a dope finished and furnished basement. He had his towel on (pause), and the first thing he said was, “Aye bro, what 52-year-old you know who look like this.” Think Floyd Mayweather’s voice; proud, playful, and self-indulged as hell. Anybody that knows D, knows exactly what I mean. So now, I’m thinking as he talks trash, “C’mon, bruh. Put some clothes on, mane. Do I really need to see what a 52-year-old man look like?” I laugh now as I recall, but it was big bro. He was home. He was happy to be home again. And we had shit to do!
The orders of business were to: 1. Get his registration and tags for his car. 2. Buy a cell phone (pun intended). 3. Spend time with his daughter. We expeditiously knocked out those three tasks because every time D came home, shit started to move so fast. He’d anxiously try to accomplish so much as if there was no tomorrow. While riding around the city as he placed bets, caught up with folks, or got a cranberry juice and a pretzel, I’d hold his wallet, his phone, his money, for the simple fact that he’d anxiously misplace things constantly. I somewhat became his personal assistant as he readjusted to life on the fly. Once, he found a rhythm, I could again focus on myself; although he’d call me asking how to do something on his iPhone such as changing the wallpaper or screensaver to a picture of him and his daughter. You know, simple shit that’s taken for granted when you’re free to evolve and live through the advancement of society and technology. Keep in mind D did 15 years, seven months from 1989-2005 and was in and out since his release, so he was clueless about technology.
Now, fast forward to October 26, 2016.
He was home for almost 3 weeks. Twenty days to be exact. D was earnest in raising his daughter. He was trying to get his credit fixed. He was attending family functions willingly. Previously, D wasn’t too fond of family functions. He was hit or miss during the holidays and birthdays due to his obligations to Islam. However, I reiterate, this time was different. It was also the 2016 Sixers home opener. Just as D was trying to turn things around, the Sixers were too. I came down from NY to attend the game with a dear friend and she asked, “Why didn’t you ask your brother to come?” I flirtatiously replied, “’Cuz I wanted to go with you!” Plus, he’s probably here anyway.” And sure enough, he was. The Sixers were putting up a great fight and the game was tied at halftime. The energy of the Wells Fargo Center was electric and D’s energy matched. We met on the concourse at halftime. We joked and laughed the entire time as everyone from Philly seemed to be there. He was in very high spirits. He even tried to show his homies the “My Brother’s Keeper Parts 1-3”. I didn’t want to leave him because his spirit was so full of life. For the first time in my life, I got a sense that my big bro was proud of me. He trusted the process. Our process. Before I went back to my seat to watch the second half of the game, D said, “Aye, I love you. Call me in the morning, ard.” Of course, I replied, “Aight, I love you too!”
D went to his box seats in section 115. I went to my “regular seats” in section 119. The entire second half, I was fixated on D. I rarely watched the game because for some strange reason, his energy kept me drawn to him. After the game, my friend and I went on our way. She suggested that I check on my brother. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to make that call as he was gunned down later that night, right after midnight, less than 25 ft. from our home. He was shot in the torso 8 times…
To be continued.
This is the one-year anniversary of my older brother, Derrick Williams’ murder. His case remains open and unsolved. No witnesses have come forward and my family has lost a great deal of faith that his case will ever be solved. We’re still mourning. Depression is inescapable and our hearts remain heavy. We need closure…I will fight for that because I am my brother’s keeper.
Here’s a video I found from 2010 where he was giving an interview of his experience of being incarcerated for his involvement with the Philadelphia Junior Black Mafia. He really wanted to tell his story. Since, he isn’t here to do so, it is my honor to continue his story.
Read the rest of Brett Roman Williams’ “My Brother’s Keeper” series :