Omar Tyree Just Say No!: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780743508308

Just Say No!: A Novel

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9780743508308: Just Say No!: A Novel
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Friends since childhood, Darin Harmon and John Williams have always been extremely talented, but when a homecoming talent show reveals John's extraordinary musical brilliance, John decides to take the world by storm with Darin as his manager, and soon the two learn the trials and tribulations of fame as Darin becomes jealous of John's success. By the author of For the Love of Money.

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About the Author:

New York Times bestselling author Omar Tyree is the winner of the 2001 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work -- Fiction, and of the 2006 Phillis Wheatley Literary Award for Body of Work in Urban Fiction. His books include Boss Lady, Diary of a Groupie, Leslie, Just Say No!, For the Love of Money, Sweet St. Louis, Single Mom, A Do Right Man, and Flyy Girl. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. To learn more about Omar Tyree, visit his website at

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Verse 28

...that's when he started talking crazy...

"This is it, buddy, the Maryland Adult Well House."

I stopped daydreaming about the past and looked out of my cab window at a mental hospital of red brick and gray cement that was out in the middle of nowhere within the state of Maryland. There was nothing but factory buildings, trucks, and woods out there.

I pulled out a fifty-dollar bill to pay my taxi fare.

"That'll be thirty-five dollars."

I gave my driver the fifty and told him to keep the change.

His eyes lit up when the cash hit his hands. "Hey, thanks! You need a receipt?"

I thought about it and decided that I didn't. My visit was not about business anymore. It was personal. That's why I didn't order a limo. That would have been too high profile. I didn't want to make any news or score points in the media, I just wanted to see my boy.

I told the taxi driver, "Nah, you can keep the receipt, too."

He asked, "Well, ah, will you be needing a ride back out of here?"

He looked over my tailored style of dress and was probably sizing up my income.

"What business are you in?" he asked me.

I smiled at him. Big money makes people go out of their way for you nearly every time. I had gotten used to that.

I said, "The music business."

He nodded. "Oh, yeah? It's pretty good money there, isn't it?"

I answered, "Sometimes it is. But I have no idea how long I'm going to be here," I told him.

He pulled out a taxi receipt card and wrote his name and cell phone number on the back. "My name is John Beers. You can call me when you're ready, and I'll come back to get you. Hell, I'll even take a lunch break right now to make sure I'm available."

His name was John, how ironic. I took his card and nodded back to him.

"I'll call you when I'm done."

"Okay, well, good luck with everything. And I hope everything works out all right."

I said, "Yeah, me too."

He asked, "Is this a friend, or a family member?"

I stopped and thought about it. "I guess you would have to say both."

He nodded again. "Well, if you need to talk about it on the way out, I'll listen."

I chuckled and said, "Thanks."

When the taxi drove off, I turned to face the tall gates that surrounded the mental hospital grounds. I took a deep breath. The Maryland Adult Well House was huge! It looked more like an institution to me, a big, clean-looking jail. I guess the name was meant to trick you into believing that it would be a warm and cozy place.

Well, here we go, I told myself.

I walked inside the hospital and took off my wool coat. I was immediately run through a security station.

"Take out your keys, coins, pens, cell phones, guns, knives, and any other foreign objects," the head security guard said to me. I assumed that he was joking about the "guns, knives, and any other foreign objects." The other guards laughed at his humor, but I just did what I was told. I was too tense to laugh or even smile at them. The situation wasn't funny to me.

After I walked through the metal detector, I was asked to show some identification. Then they collected my things and put them inside a numbered box. They gave me a palm-sized plastic chip with my box number on it and told me that I would have my things returned to me when I was ready to leave.

"Mr. Darin Harmon, thank you very much for making our job easier," the head security guard said to me.

Next they sent me over to the sign-in tables. An older woman there asked me what patient I was there to see.

I answered, "John Williams."

She said, "Oh, today is his birthday."

I was finally able to smile a little. I said, "Yeah, the big two-seven."

She logged John's name in the book and asked me for mine.

"Darin Harmon."

One of the security guards looked over at me. He was a young black man around my age. I guess he had heard of me.

The woman logged my name next to John's and wrote in the time.

After that, the young security guard smiled and nodded in my direction.

He said, "John's on the North Wing. I'll take him over."

The woman at the sign-in table double-checked my name and nodded to me with her own smile. I was taking everything in like it was slow motion. I had never been to a mental hospital before.

"Have a good visit," the woman told me.

I walked over to the security guard, who led me down a long, light blue painted hallway toward an elevator. I counted every blotch and blemish in the shiny black floor as we walked. I had no idea what to expect in that place, and my mind wouldn't let me rest from the anxiety that I felt.

The security guard said, "It's fucked up what happened to John, man. I love that boy music! You can just tell that he sings from the heart, that old-school shit. But it just seems like a lot of good musicians are crazy in some way.

"What do you think?" he asked me. "You been around a lot of musicians, right?"

He did know who I was.

Instead of answering his question, I asked him, "What about athletes? Some of these young athletes are out there too." I could have been a professional athlete, I thought to myself.

The guy smiled it off. He said, "Yeah, some of them athletes are crazy. But not like musicians. We get more patients in here hearing shit in their heads than anything else, man. Some of these patients in here walk around all day long talking about, 'You hear that?! You hear that?!'

"Hear what? You know what I'm saying?" he asked me. "And then you get them types that's always seeing visions and shit. Taking about, 'I saw it last night. It floated up to me like an angel sent from God.'"

I began to smile. This guy was obviously making light of the situation in there.

He said, "Don't get me wrong, man, I'm not making fun of your boy, I'm just saying that musicians are out there. I mean, they make great music and all, but then they go crazy with them drugs and shit. And it's just sad, man. So I'm glad that I'm only a fan."

I admit, I didn't have much to say in defense of John, or of the many musicians I knew of. I had my own thoughts to deal with at the moment. I wasn't up for a debate.

We made it up to the fifth floor of the hospital on the elevator.

"Well, good luck with your boy John, man," the security guard told me.

I said, "Thanks," and walked out.

As soon as I walked out of the elevator and into the waiting room, I heard screams and shouts coming from inside the security-glass windows.

"NO-O-O! No I didn't have it! No I DIDN'T!"

"Calm down, and take a seat," a nurse was telling one of the patients, who was getting out of hand. "I know you didn't have it."

That didn't set my nerves at ease in that place at all!

I waited there to be introduced to John's doctor. A black man who looked more like a college professor, tall, poised, and stately, walked out. He was real calm, too. Maybe mental doctors were best that way, because their patients were not calm. Not in the least! I was getting nervous just looking at some of the patients there. Fresh images from the movie 12 Monkeys came to mind, along with images from every other mental hospital movie I had seen. I never imagined that I would ever have to visit one of them.

The doctor shook my hand and said, "Hello, Mr. Harmon. I'm Dr. Harold Benjamin, and I handle the case of your friend John Williams during his stay here."

I nodded to him and asked, "How's he doing?" I can't lie about it. I felt much more comfortable talking about John's mental state with a black doctor as opposed to a white one. Call me prejudiced, but it seemed as if many white men considered us to be a little bit crazy anyway, as if they were all sane. There were plenty of white men in that hospital. I didn't lose sight of that.

Dr. Benjamin took a breath and said, "John suffers from what's known as a bipolar disorder, or better known as manic-depression, where he fluctuates from extreme high states of energy and optimism to extreme low forms of inactive depression, and all in a rather short amount of time."

I nodded. I knew exactly what the doctor was talking about. I said, "And he makes it seem like the low stuff is more important. Or at least it seems to occupy more of his time."

The doctor nodded back to me. "Exactly. So, on this first visit I would advise you to just listen to him and hear what he has to say. And as I continue to monitor John's progress, I'll let you know what more you can do to help. But right now is not the time to go in there and offer him the world. Just remain a passive listener. Your presence alone, and a listening ear, will do wonders for him."

I said, "Yeah, because if you try to preach to him or criticize him, he'll just get mad at you."

Dr. Benjamin said, "Exactly." Then he smiled and added, "And remember to tell him happy birthday."

I said, "Oh, of course."

The doctor led me to a small private room with a large unbreakable window on the door. My lifelong boy, John "Loverboy" Williams, was waiting for me there with a big grin on his face.

When we walked in, Dr. Benjamin asked him, "John, you recognize this gentleman?"

John squinted his eyes as he looked me over.

He said, "Nah, who dat, doc? I don't know him."

Dr. Benjamin laughed and said, "Well, I guess you two need to get re-

acquainted then."

I finally cracked a smile, recognizing John's humorous touch. That boy knew who I was! I went to take a seat in the comfortable chair that was set for me and waited for whatever.

John looked at me as if I had pissed him off already. He said, "Come give me a damn hug, man! What's wrong with you?!"

I stood back up and walked over to hug him before I sat back down. I mean, I wasn't scared of him or anything. John couldn't hurt me. I was just apprehensive about everything! What would we say? How would we start? How would it go? I was just filled with questions.

As soon as the doctor left the room, I felt boxed in. I had been warning John for years that he needed to reevaluate the things that he did in his life. What more did I have to say? So I planned t...

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780684872940: Just Say No! : A Novel

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ISBN 10:  0684872943 ISBN 13:  9780684872940
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2002

9780684872933: Just Say No

Simon ..., 2001

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