When and yet another! beat cop arrives at the grimy housing project to make a routine arrest of known petty drug dealer WILLIE ADAMS, wily old DETECTIVE MARINO becomes thoroughly exasperated. He’s busted Adams more times than he can remember, and you don’t need a swat team! Despite his concern, and call for calm, two overzealous detectives, SHERWOOD and LIKA, deliberately break down the door and stand ready, locked and loaded. Unfortunately for them a crazed Willie Adams gets the jump! He kills Marino and several other hapless cops while Sherwood and Lika scramble for cover. Adams escapes, and his daughter AISHA is discovered hiding on the fire escape.
TEACHER, leader of an all-genre, all-purpose black music group called “The History,” shows up at the offices of the city’s black newspaper to collect on a music review he’s written. The paper’s secretive publisher, MR. OS (“like the wizard”), insists that Teacher write something about the police shooting, a racial powder keg considering the black shooter and the white cops. Even though Teacher would prefer to stick to music, he needs the money, specifically the benefits, in order to pay for his asthmatic daughter’s treatments. Thus, he ends up covering the story.
After a series of articles suggesting that Adams may have been acting in self-defense, Teacher finds himself in the midst of the controversy. He’s questioned by Sherwood and Lika, JC WASHINGTON, leader of a black radical group, as well as the mob—all hot on Adams’ trail. Finally, Adams himself contacts Teacher and asks him to set up a public surrender. Though reluctant to get any further involved, Teacher does so and stands witness as Adams attempting to surrender is murdered in cold blood by masked gunmen.
Adams’ final utterance to Teacher is: “4-5-1.” Staying a step ahead of all of the aforementioned, and vengeance-seeking, interested parties, Teacher eventually connects the numbers to an address where Adams had been leading a double life, petty thug living a “Normal Rockwell” painting. Teacher discovers Adams’ stash at his suburban home, drugs and money he had confiscated via the cops, the radical black group, and the mob—as well as a tape linking the conspiring trio. Since Teacher and Adams’ daughter Aisha are the only two who can make the connection, their lives are in serious jeopardy, so Teacher has to act fast, save the little girl, and make sure that justice is served.