Daddy Quotes in Dear Justyce
His foot hit [a cup of ginger ale] as the officer with his dumb, muscly arm crushing Quan’s rib cage carried Quan through the kitchen like Quan was some kind of doll baby.
The sudden freezing air as Quan was whisked outside in his thin Iron Man pajamas with no shoes or jacket...and the subsequent strange warmth running down Quan’s legs when he saw Just. How. Many.
But then his lungs started to burn. Images of Dasia and Gabe popped into his head. He remembered telling Gabe he’d teach him how to play Uno when he got back from Daddy’s house this time. Little dude was four now and ready to learn.
Quan’s head swam.
Dasia would be waiting for Quan to polish her toenails purple. That was the prize he’d promised her if she aced her spelling test. And she did.
The minute that van drove away with him in it, I felt...doomed.
It’s why I stopped talking to you. Everybody else too, but especially you. I woulda never admitted this (honestly don’t know why I’m admitting it now...) but I kinda looked up to you. Yeah, you were only a year older and you were dorky as hell, but you had your shit together in a way I wanted mine to be.
I knew if I could just be like you, my dad would be proud of me.
Even at twelve, it didn’t escape Quan’s notice that the men in his mama’s life—Daddy included—used money to get her to do what they wanted her to do. It bothered him no end. But he wasn’t sure what he could do about it.
Which became a running theme: not knowing what he could do about anything.
So he stayed focused.
“And best believe your father is gonna hear about this. Might even send him the evidence of your indiscretion.” Quan could hear the paper crinkle as she surely held it up in the air. “Cheating. I can’t even believe you—”
And that was all he heard. Because in that moment everything crystallized for Vernell LaQuan Banks Jr.
It didn’t matter what he did.
Staying focused didn’t give Quan any control at all.
He locked eyes with the cop, and the Bad (Dad) Night washed over him, and his chest
the way it had when kid-snatcher cop had Quan’s scrawny eleven-year-old torso wrapped in that death grip.
Wasn’t the best time for it either. Swole Cop took Quan’s inability to answer questions—
We got a problem here, son?
You hear me talkin’ to you?
So you’re a tough guy then?
Not gonna answer my questions?
—as an act of defiance.
Quan found air the moment Swole Cop’s ham-ish hand locked around Quan’s (still scrawny) upper arm in a death grip.
Dwight had been calling him for years.
Was that who he was for real?
There was no denying the impulse to take what wasn’t his. Was the D in his DNA for delinquent? The Jr. shorthand of “Junior” for just repeating?
Maybe Daddy had been wrong. Ms. Mays too.
There was no way out.
No way up.
Maybe a way through...but he had no idea what to.
Could he really be anyone different than who he was?
Who even was he?
“You mad about it?”
This gives Quan pause. It’s a question no one’s ever asked him, case managers included. He meets Martel’s gaze. “Yeah,” he says. “I am.”
“Why? You did the crime, didn’t you?”
Now Quan gulps. Last thing he wants to do is start sounding like some of the dudes in lockup who constantly complained about how “unfair” the system is. “Always take responsibility for your actions, Junior,” Daddy used to say. “I know the potential consequences of what I do, and I choose to do it anyway, so if it comes down on me, I don’t get to complain.”
Doesn’t matter now. I chose my path. Though, real talk—and I promise this isn’t me making an excuse—I don’t really see where there was a different path for a dude like me. Just like there probably wasn’t a different one for a dude like you. Is what it is, right?
“You miss [the rocket ship]?”
At first, Quan doesn’t respond. Because he really has to think about it. His eyes roam the always-clean park space. Touch on his mom [...] his sister [...] his brother [...] his best friend right beside him.
Only thing missing is his dad. But they write to each other weekly, and Quan’s been out to visit the old man a few times, so even that’s okay.
He smiles. “You know what, man? I don’t.”
“Nah,” Quan says. “No need to go to outer space.”
“Everything I need is right here.”