Tawanda Hayes

My oldest daughter, who is now 26 years old, couldn’t have been more than a couple of months old on the day Tawanda tried to rob me.

The year was 1996 as I drove my 1988 white Nissan Sentra down Washington Street and looked over at my little angel, who was in her baby carrier strapped to the passenger seat. Back then, it was cool to put babies in their car seats strapped in the front. Shit, when I was a kid the only way I rode with my Mimi in her car was to stand in the middle of the front seat, which was actually two seats but looked like one seat. I was driving to Terrace street which was in downtown Baton Rouge, on the south side.

The locals call it “The Bottom”.

As I approached the end of Terrace, I saw this girl I knew, Tawanda, standing in front of a little bar about two blocks from the end of the street.

I was on an impromptu trip in the middle of the day.  Back then, in the late 90’s, not many people had cell phones.  People, especially drug dealers, still used pagers and I hadn’t had the chance to stop at a payphone to page a dealer.  I had my infant with me and I wanted to get the shit and get the hell out of that neighborhood and go home.  When I saw Tawanda, I breathed a sigh of relief at the thought of eliminating the whole “payphone paging” part.

I pulled into the small parking lot of the bar and she came right to my car.  I told her to get in but she had to sit in the back seat, behind me, because I had my angel riding in the passenger seat.

Tawanda got in and we turned back onto Terrace street and drove to the stop sign at Highland Road, the road that drives you straight into “Tigerland” at LSU.

I remember asking Tawanda which way to go at the stop sign when, all of a sudden, she put her arms around my neck and started choking me from behind, demanding me to give her my money.


I turned left onto Highland Road.  Tawanda had her right arm around my neck and she was using her left arm to tighten her grip.

Tawanda was a crackhead but she wasn’t no skinny ass crackhead.

This girl was at least two or three inches taller than me.  She wasn’t  sickly looking, like I probably was at that time. Tawanda was dark brown, her skin was very pretty.  She had short, dark brown hair and she had muscle…lots of muscle.

I was gasping for air as she was choking the shit out of me, Tawanda switched and began choking me with her left arm so she could then use her right arm to steal the $42 which she knew was hidden in my right hand, balled up like trash in my tightly clamped fist.

At that moment, only me and God knew that money wasn’t about to leave my fucking hand.

I looked over at my angel who was still sleeping peacefully in her infant carrier…completely unaware her mother was being asphyxiated by the big black girl behind her, riding in the back seat.

We were swiftly approaching the outskirts of LSU and both Tawanda and I knew something had to give, and it had to give quick.  We passed Highland Precinct, on the left, and Tawanda was grabbing my hand trying to pry it open, and she was still choking me.

It was really hard to drive, while being choked, also having to shift the five-speed transmission of my Sentra.  I saw the Taco Bell sign on the right.  Since Tawanda was exerting most of her force to arm wrestle the money out of my hand, I was able to use my left arm to loosen her grip around my neck and I told Tawanda, “I’m going to Taco Bell and you know the people sitting right there in the parking lot!”

Tawanda quickly replied, “Yeah, and Ima tell da people you ouchere tryinta buy crack wit yo baby!!”.

Oh yeah…fuck…I hadn’t figured that curve ball in, yet, as I pulled in the parking lot at Taco Bell.

There he was, sitting as usual in his unit.  There was always a cop at Taco Bell and the relief I thought I would feel (ironic is my life) at seeing the nice policeman swiftly turned in noia and I drove right past him and headed back out onto Highland.

Tawanda was really mad now and choked me harder, but she couldn’t get that fucking $42 out of my hand.

The three of us were now headed back the same way we had come, and I had to figure out how to get this angry woman out of my car, while still keeping my money so I could then get my dope.

The original mission surely would not be aborted.

We were approaching Highland Precinct again, and just as I was thinking I should hit the next left on West Polk Street, to see if I could get one of my boys to help me out, Tawanda told me to hit the next left on West Polk Street so she could get her cousin, Yella, make me acquiesce to her desire.

I turned left on Taylor Street, made a right on Minnesota Street and there at one of the places I spent much of my money, were a group of guys.

I recognized at least three of them, and I felt flooded with relief.

My angel was still sleeping.

Tawanda said, “There!  There!  My cousin gonna get you straight!”.

I obeyed.

Her cousin, Yella, and his friends recognized me and my car.  As soon as I pulled in the driveway, one of them saw me being choked and opened my car door.

Tawanda was promptly removed my vehicle.

I purchased my cocaine.

My angel and I headed back home.

I never saw Tawanda again until almost ten years later, when we were locked up together.

We didn’t speak.

Tawanda Hayes was murdered not long after she was released….stabbed to death.

R.I.P. Tawanda.

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