/ Language: English / Genre:det_crime / Series: Explosive trilogy

It Was All A Dream

Kelvin Jackson


Kelvin F. Jackson

It Was All A Dream

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”

CHAPTER 1

Mattie stepped back away from the platform as the eastbound Long Island Rail Road train pulled into Jamaica Station in Queens on Track 8. Her long thick black hair was pulled into a ponytail and held in place by a white scrunchie. Mattie was a looker standing 5 feet 6 inches tall, on a slim 135 pound frame with her weight distributed proportionately in all the right places. Being of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent, her complexion was light but island exotic.

She wore a black bodysuit, baggy guess jeans and black Timberland boots. Dark sunglasses covered her slightly slanted eyes and her demeanor gave off the impression she was not to be fucked with. She was on her way to work in Commack, Long Island following an afternoon of stress relieving shopping. If there was one thing that was guaranteed to help her deal with life’s tensions, it was her love for shoe shopping.

As the door to the train slid open, she took one last long drag off her Newport and tossed it to the platform. Mattie received various looks of disapproval due to the loud volume of her headphones as she made her way onto the train and down the aisle searching for a seat. She could care less. Life’s harsh realities had made her a rebel at a young age and played largely in her outward emanation of arrogance.

She knew she had the potential to be the sweetest woman walking the face of the earth as well as the power to break a man or a woman through mental manipulation. She found an empty seat midway through one of the emptier cars and slid in next to the window. As the train pulled out of the station Mattie looked out the window and reflected on how life had changed so drastically for her over the past six months.

Six months earlier she had been living happily and content in a small country town in Martinsville, Virginia with her man. A man that she’d known without the shadow of a doubt loved her unconditionally. K had shown her on numerous occasions that he would go to any lengths to assure her happiness. At first she’d had intentions of fucking him and moving on with no strings attached like she’d done with so many others, but once she got to know him better things began to change. She realized that some of the same goals and dreams that she wasn’t able to open up about in other relationships, she could actually discuss with him and he encouraged and supported her to achieve them.

Not to mention that big black muthafucka ate pussy like no other! She shuddered at the thought and actually felt her panties get wet between her legs. K had taken her away from the fast life New York and showed her something different. The wide open areas of quiet country living and peacefulness were a welcome change and exactly what she had needed at the time. But just when she thought her life had permanently taken a turn for the better, he was arrested on I-95 for probation violation. To add insult to injury the Maryland State Trooper named officer Appleby stole the re-up money stashed in their luggage and someone had broken into the house in VA and cleaned out the safe once word of the arrest made it back to the streets.

At that point once again she had been left out in the cold cruel world alone and broke. The first two months she’d wrote three and four letters a day to let him know that she was his ride or die chick. She would wait by the phone for him to call every day at his parents’ house until the long distance collect calls became outrageous. But without K’s physical presence and reassurance that shit got old quick.

Being no stranger to struggle or hustle Mattie returned to what she knew was always her ticket to fast money; her beauty and her body. It didn’t take long before she reverted back to her view of how she perceived men before her relationship with K. She’d been through so much in her life that she looked at a man as a chess game in which she was the Queen and the King. She replaced men’s faces with those of dead presidents; such as franklin, Hamilton, and Jackson. She told herself she would never let herself become emotionally involved with a drug dealer again.

“All tickets please, all tickets!” yelled the train conductor as he made his way down the aisle punching passenger’s tickets.

Mattie removed her ticket from the side pocket of her small black leather backpack/pocketbook and handed it to the conductor. After that, she scanned the albums on her I-Pod. She was a fan of all kinds of music. From rock and hip hop, to alternative, to old school funk and disco. She’d been listening to cuts from Nas’s Illmatic album, but now her mood had changed and she pulled up the playlist for The Best of Prince. As the melodic voice of Prince flowed through the headphones she laid her head back and started to reflect on the past and living in Virginia.

Those long relaxing rides in the Acura Legend on sunny days through the open county and scenic landscapes that she’d never experienced before, was something she would always miss. Mattie had thought that after the way her last relationship ended that she would forever feel out of place in this world.

She had heard from her sister Reebie that K had come home from jail. As much as she fought with her mind and emotions trying to tell herself that she didn’t want to see him, her heart knew that she did. Then she thought to herself, fuck that. I didn’t leave him he left me just like Sam did. It doesn’t matter because I don’t fuck with drug dealers anymore anyway.

Forty-Five minutes later the train pulled into Deer Park train station which was her stop. She exited the train and began to scan the parking lot for a taxi. Mattie checked her watch and saw that it was almost eight-o-clock. She also saw that the platform was fairly crowed with young white partygoers waiting on the next train headed into the city to start their weekend. Most of them had vehicles in the parking lot, but were planning to be either too fucked up on liquor, cocaine, or some kind of pills to attempt to drive into the city.

Mattie had become accustomed to this scene over the past couple of months. She remembered back when Friday’s were party days for her too. But now they had turned into being a day that her boss said was mandatory for her to be at work. She didn’t mind much though, it meant more money in her pocket.

She spotted a familiar cab driver in the parking lot and made her way over to the taxi. She continued to get the familiar stares from men and woman alike because her presence demanded attention. Mattie opened the back door and slid in across the leather seats.

“Hi Paul. How’s business?” she asked removing her sun glasses.

“Hey lady, I’m good. You know how Fridays are. Busy- busy- busy. I see you’ve been out doing some shopping,” Paul responded after observing all of her bags.

“Yeah, I bounced around midtown most of the day and ended up on Jamaica Avenue. I actually found some really good deals.”

“So I guess it’s to your house and then to work?”

“Well, I’m already late. I think I’d better go straight to work. I was supposed to be there at 7:30,” she said starting to worry a little bit about how her boss might react.

“We’ll, I’ll get ya there as quick as possible.”

As he put the cab in drive and pulled out of the train station parking lot, Mattie removed a half smoked blunt from her Newport box. Lifting the blunt so Paul could see it in the rear view mirror, she asked, “Do you mind?”

“Aw hell nah! Just roll down the window,“Paul responded.

She knew he wouldn’t mind because he never had before. Paul was a young white kid, Italian Mattie assumed, and she figured that by the way he acted sometimes his drug of choice was something a lot more potent than weed. She knew the mannerisms of someone who smoked crack and was almost positive that Paul did. She had been in his cab on numerous occasions and he had never objected when she’d asked before.

Mattie hadn’t been a weed smoker until she’d met K. Before that she would only occasionally indulge in alcohol. But, K smoked so much that the contact she would catch from the smoke, especially in his car would have her slightly high. That feeling was what piqued her curiosity. She would never forget the first time that she smoked a blunt with him. They were still living in NY before moving to Virginia and decided to spend a nice quiet Saturday night at home. She had remembered how good food would taste after inhaling all that weed smoke in the car.

She’d been just putting the final touches on a five course meal and K had lit some scented candles and a blunt as thick as a Cuban cigar.

“I wanna get high with you tonight,” she said.

“Nah ma. Please don’t start no bad habits on my watch.”

“I’m a big girl, I can handle it. I promise I won’t do it with anybody but you,” she said lying to herself convincingly.

Had she known that she was starting a habit that she would carry with her for years to come, she would have never taken that first puff. K gave it to her and after choking and gagging off the first two pulls, her eyelids began to get heavy and she couldn’t stop smiling. Before she knew it three quarters of the blunt was gone and they had both totally forgotten about the food.

“I want something to drink. My mouth is dry,” said Mattie with a silly ass look on her face.

But K also recognized another familiar look. He made her a rum and coke which she drank entirely too fast. He made it a little strong and she frowned from the burn when it went down.

Then it happened.

She slowly put her index finger between her teeth and smiled a wicked seductive smile.

“What?” K asked

“My pussy is tingling,” she said falling back on the couch, pulling off her thong and skirt in one swift motion.

“What tha-?” he started but she quickly cut him off.

“I want you to fuck me right now! “She said in a tone of voice that left no room for questions.

And for the next two hours she asked for it and got it in every position possible. As K pounded the pussy in the scissor position, she felt sensations that she didn’t know existed.

“Oh…oh…oooohh…shit!Why…does…it…feel…so…fuckin…goooood?!Daddy…oooh shiiit! “she moaned in ecstasy.

Ever since then she kept a sack on standby. But smoking weed had also become a way that she was able to temporarily escape her reality. And so she puffed away as she rode and listened to her music. Ten minutes later she could see the lights of her extravagantly lit up workplace. It was only an eight dollar fare, but she always gave Paul $20 because he didn’t make passes at her and he let her smoke her weed.

“We’re here,” Paul said as he swung the cab into the crowed parking lot.

He knew that he would get his usual twenty bucks from Mattie and that would give him just enough to go over to Wyandanch and get him a gram for $40 from a new spot that had just recently opened up shop. Fuck it, he thought. If he had to drive a couple towns over to cop, he knew he would get more bang for his buck.

Mattie gathered her bags and removed her wallet from her bag. She removed a twenty dollar bill and handed it to Paul.

“You know I always look out for you,” she said to Paul.

She returned her wallet to her bag, but didn’t realize that she’d dropped something.

“See ya soon Paul,” she said climbing out of the cab with her bags and closing the door.

She never looked back as she went to work in one of the biggest strip clubs on Long island.

CHAPTER 2

The unmarked undercover police cruiser rolled slowly past the large circle of hustlers as weed smoke hovered above the crowd. White clouds floated slowly across the parking lot and thickened the air of the mild early August evening. The crowd temporarily tensed up and a few cats removed their hoods in a weak attempt to not look suspicious. They watched out of the corners of their eyes until the cruiser bent the corner on their routine pass through and then the scene returned to normal.

“Aight-all down is a bet!” K yelled out to the other hustlers participating in the cee-lo game.

Numerous bets dropped to the black top parking lot in front of the other 15 players. Bets ranged from the ten dollars from those trying to make a come-up, to two-hundred dollars and better around the inside of the circle.

“What’s the bank K?” Duke called out.

“Bank Money! If you drop it, it’s covered,” said K shaking the dice about to roll. K’s two young gunna’s Shooky Brim aka Pookie and Billy Blass held him down wit da burners watching his back and making sure aint nobody try no slick shit.

“I’m coming out!” K stated as the dice left his hand and bounced towards the center of the large circle.

The dice came to a halt on three sixes.

“3 sixes! Mark of the beast! Nobody move, you know what it is,” K said as he made his way around the circle picking up bets and handing the money to Blass who was holding the bank.

“Dam K, you on fire tonight! You aint rolled a point under a five in the last 20 rolls, “said GS Mike Seabury.

“This whip hand fam. Anything I touch wit it blow up! “Said K talkin big shit.

Just then a carfull of outta town cuties pulled in the parking lot and slowly rolled past the game eyeing the Crimedanch hustlas curiously. They pulled to the rear of the parking lot and found a spot where they could enjoy the show. And a show it was. Always! As a matter of fact they were only one car of many that filled Kentucky Fried Chicken parking lot on the fast paced active Friday night.

It was a typical payday in the hood. There were maad (a lot of) crackheads moving with motivation as money exchanged hands quicker than Wall Street. The mixed smells of the Colonel’s original recipe and the Chinese food spot with the banging house specials across MLK Boulevard aka Straight Pathmade it a constant battle of which type of grease the blunt smoker’s munchies would lead them to.

K had been home from a short stint in county jail for a few weeks and was already hugging the block like he never left. At 290 pounds he was to hustling what Barry White had been to R and B. But to the niggahs in his hood he was $K-Money$; known for his car and hustle game.

“Yo Pook. Let me hit that,” K stated reaching for the 40 ounce of St. Ides malt liquor he was holding.

Pookie handed K the bottle and whispered,“Yo, my cousin from Central Islip just pulled up. He called earlier and said he needed a big 8 if I could find it for him.”

“ I gotta check and see what I got left, but I should have at least that. He know the numbers (price) is the same as last time, right?

“$ 2,750.”

“No doubt. Go holla at em’ and find out what’s up.”

After a couple more rolls of the dice, K lost the bank to a ten dollar bettor that rolled 4-5-6. That meant automatic surrender of the bank and the timing was perfect. He counted his winnings as him and Billy Blass were walking away from the game. Minus the $1500 K had in his pocket before the game, he had a total of $4,200 in profit. Not bad for a couple hours killing time. K took out $1200 and gave it to Pook and Blass to split for holding him down.

After Pook talked to his cousin, he met up with K and Blass as they were headed to the rental car.

“He said he want a bigs(125 grams) and another half a big (62? grams) if you got it. He said it’s poppin in his hood and the block is dry.”

“I got the big 8 fa-sho, but its Friday and I got 3 spots to supply. I only brought 840 grams uptown yesterday and I’m still in grind mode trying to get back on top,” said K putting the rental in drive.

“I know K. And I know you been lookin out cause that’s my fam. Do what you can and he just gotta understand it is what it is.”

It was true K wanted to get all the money from the sale, but the risk and profit margin didn’t add up to it being worth it.

“He’s gonna meet us at my mom’s crib. I told him to give us around 15 minutes,” said Pook.

They pulled away from the parking space and headed to K’s stash house.

“Yo K man, I’m glad you back in the tha hood. Shit been fucked up since you bounced down to Virginia on the run last year. Me and Pook just barely been keepin our heads above water,” said Blass.

“You know this hustling shit aint really our thing no way K. I’d ratha let a monkey mafucka make it, so I can come thru and take it,” said Pook.

Pook was about 5’8 tall, medium build and brown skin. Blass was 5’5 with a medium dark complexion and sported a low cut with waves.

“ Yall already know what it is when I’m in town. Yall two niggahs and 40 ounce Rich is the closest I’m gonna get to blood brothers in this lifetime,” said K.

As Method Man and Redman came knocking through the speakers in the rental playing How High, they cruised up Straight Path headed towards the Southern State Parkway. As they were passing the 5 Corners Market traffic lights, they noticed two police cars in pursuit of CBR 1100 coming in their direction on the opposite side of the street. K immediately recognized the bandit doing 80 mph on his back tire as Ill Will aka Joker and he was nice enough to ride with the best of the Ruff Ryder’s, but rode with the INFAMOUS 36.

“Go — Go — Go!” they shouted as he shot past in a blur. They all knew that cops wouldn’t catch him. They never did. They all watched until the strobes of the cruiser disappeared in the distance behind them. K turned off the main road onto Commander Avenue. This was a slightly more upscale neighborhood known as West Babylon that bordered the suburban ghetto hood known as Wyandanch. They drove about midway down the half-mile long street and K turned into the driveway of a low ranch single family home. From the street the residence appeared to be well kept.

The perfectly manicured lawn gave off the perception of quiet suburbia living, combined with the trimmed shrubbery that defined the property line. The home sat back well off the street, with a driveway that extended around to the rear of the house. As they pulled into the backyard, the vehicles of the homes occupants came into view. There were six new vehicles and K made his way to the rear entrance to which he had his own personal key.

“I’ll be out in five minutes,” K said over his shoulder before entering the house.

He was greeted by the lady of the house, who had undoubtedly heard him pull up outside. Being that she and her husband had been smoking crack and entertaining their company, her extrasensory nervous system was on blast!

“Hey K. We were wondering when you were gonna come thru,” said the 42 year old white woman.

“What’s up Marcie? You aight?” K inquired.

“We got about $1500 worth of sales waiting in the basement. We knew you would be here, just didn’t know when. Jeff was just about to ride down on the strip to see if he might see you or you might recognize the car.”

The cold look K gave her confirmed what she really already knew. That he didn’t agree with that idea at all. But K knew that a crackhead mind didn’t think anywhere near rational after hitting that pipe.

“Aight- Tell Jeff I said get the money together and…”

“I got it right here,” said Marcie quickly removing a wad of bills from her sweatpants pocket.

She handed the cash to him; her eyeballs bulging out of their sockets. K took the cash and told her he’d be out in a few minutes. He headed towards the back of the house. He approached a room with two padlocks on the door. He removed the locks and entered the large room. It had been used as a den before he was released from the county.

Jeff and Marcie had been a large part of his support during that 5 month bid in the county after Mattie had dropped off the face of the earth. Jeff and Marcie kept K with books and money orders after he wrote them telling them he was struggling. They owned a very successful chain of used car dealerships that were left to Jeff in his grandfather’s last will and testament. Jeff and Marcie had so much love for K because he treated them not as customers, but as human beings.

K entered the room; closed and locked the door behind him. They were cool, but he knew they really had no idea how much drugs he kept in their home. The room was simply furnished with a queen size bed, a desk, and a chair. He walked over to the closet and opened it to reveal the full size floor safe. K kneeled down and spun the dial to the appropriate numbers,26-12-33. He pulled open the safe door and removed the 2 large Ziploc bags containing the work. He then removed the small Tanita digital scale from the safe and sat it on the desk with the Ziploc bags.

From the 840 grams of raw cocaine he’d brought from Crazy Juan on 151st street in Uptown Manhattan the day before, K whipped it back to 980 grams; just 20 short of a brick. He could have brought it back to much more like he did while grinding Virginia and North Carolina, but didn’t to avoid complaints in a quality driven market. K was down to a little over 500 grams left, 300 of which was bagged up in single grams packaged strictly for his crack spots.

He removed what he needed to weigh out for Pooks cousin; 126 grams, and put it in a Ziploc bag. The 5g’s Jeff had loaned him on the day that he came home was growing nicely. If things continued to flow like they were, K would soon be able to repay the loan and the $1500 in interest that he’d promised Jeff. K put the remaining contents back into the safe and left the room.

By the time he secured the second padlock on the door, K heard Jeff’s footsteps coming up the basement steps. Growing up in his hood K learned that trusting white people buying drugs, was absolutely against the rules of the game. But what experience had taught him as a hustla was that an addict was an addict. If you were gonna put your freedom on the line, trust was something that was earned and never guaranteed.

“What’s up Supa Jeff?” K asked as he met Jeff in the kitchen at the top of the basement steps.

Jeff was 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 145 pound soaking wet six lighters in his pocket. He had long oily black hair and a large nose with a nasty looking bump on the tip. The truth was even though he was good people; Supa Jeff looked like walking death!

“Sup K-day?Everything going good? This new stuff is great! We’ll probably be partying (smoking crack and drinking)all weekend so don’t forget about us,” said Jeff.

K hated Jeff’s spinoff of his street name, but he tolerated it because Jeff was an alright dude. K had dealt with Jeff and Marcie for about a year and a half before he went on the run to Virginia. They met at a diner when K was on a late night munchies run, about 3:30 one Saturday morning. Jeff was with a crowd of his friends after leaving a local bar and was drunk as a bitch. He’d caught K in the parking lot and inquired if K could help him find some rock.

After pleading his case that he wasn’t a cop and producing a rather large stack of bills, K’s love for money started the relationship that they now had established.

“Don’t worry Jeff, I gotchu. I would have been here sooner but I got caught up in a big dice game. That’s my bad; I know your people don’t like to wait.”

It’s okay. Once I get em’ started, they aint gonna leave anyway. How’s the rental running?” asked Jeff.

“She’s good. I might want to switch out after the weekend through,” K said handing Jeff the package that he put together for his customers.

Jeff looked at his sandwich bag inspecting its contents.

“Man, I’m so glad you’re finally home K-day. We were really getting fucked over when we copped while you were gone. This should definitely hold us for a while.”

“Aight Jeff. I’ll probably be back after I make my rounds. If yall aint stuck in the basement, I’ll see you then.”

K headed out the door and to the rental. He opened the door to a carfull of weed smoke and was hit in the face with a cloud of Kush. Blass passed K the blunt when he got in. Pook was in the middle of a freestyle spittin’ a verse over a track from their homey named NATO. Nate Tinsley was undisputedly the hardest working track monster in the hood that never got the recognition he deserved. K’s homey from five years old; he would always show him love.

As if on cue, when Pook came to a break in his freestyle, Blass came in right behind him. K was listening but he kind of zoned out for a second concerning matters of the heart. He was thinking about Mattie. Ever since the last time he’d seen her pull away from the side of Interstate 95 North in Maryland, she had never been totally off his mind. He’d been home for three weeks and still hadn’t seen her or had a clue as to where she was.

“Come on K-Mo, let me hear sumthin. I know you waswritin’ in the county,” said Blass bringing K back from his reverie.

They had been in the studio a few times before. K knew his skills were nowhere near the level of what theirs was metaphorically, but he was definitely a notable MC in his own right. And it was true that K had been writing while in the county, more as an outlet than anything else. So he couldn’t front on his dudes. K banged out 16 bars-o-heat and they went nuts.

“Oh yeah?! That’s how you doing it now? “asked Pook.

“Let me find out you holdin out on us big cuzzin, “said Blass smiling.

“You know I had to step my game up fuckin wit yall… nah mean?

A couple of minutes later they were pulling up at Ms. Vicki’s crib. Ms. Vicki was Pooks moms. Pook went inside and handled business with his cousin who was there waiting. When he came out and got in the car he handed K the money for the sale.

“Where we headed K?” asked Blass.

“I gotta check on Lonnie, Norma, and Cash,” K answered talking about the three crack spots he’d started since he came home.

“Drop me at the crib K. I gotta check in wit Wifey,” said Pook.

K felt a little stab in the heart, again thinking about Mattie.

“Aight Pook. What about you Blass? You wit me?”

“No doubt big cuzzin! Let’s make moves.”

K headed to drop Pook off at his crib, but he still couldn’t shake those thoughts of Mattie.

CHAPTER 3

K-Mo and Blass had gone and checked out two of K’s spots. He picked up the money that had been in the streets from two spots and told Norma and Cash that he would be back to bring them more work in a couple of hours. K didn’t really feel comfortable riding around with over 10g’s on him. Especially knowing that the undercover cops turned the heat up a couple of notches on Fridays.

Wyandanch is a small suburban ghetto, but equivalent in crime to a city housing project. For this reason as well as many others it had earned the title Crimedanch. A niggah getting that money for real had to stay on point and on the lookout for them thirsty broke-ass stick-up kids. K learned to keep the heat (gun) close from the mistake of others. I’d rather be judged by twelve then carried by six, was his motto.

After thinking about the time it would take for him to go and put up the money he had on him and the time it would take for him to drive about five minutes to Lonnie’s spot to check on his dough, K put his faith in the Glock.45 automag and went to check on his paper. The front yard at Lonnie’s was poppin as usual on a Friday night. Lawn chairs were spread out and filled with people from the neighborhood and around town that was down with the set, sipping on something. Music from the 70’s filled the atmosphere from the one house speaker that sat on the front porch.

K and Blass pulled up in the rental and parked across the street from the house along with ten other cars that were parked out front. Lonnie was sitting at the table with a few of his sidekicks playing spades and smoking a joint when they pulled up. K was met with various greetings as he entered the front yard.

“Get you a partner and run a game wit us big boy,” said Black Justice.

“Why you tryna get dis niggah to sit in this hot ass front yard? You know he can’t be seen posted up over here by 5–0!” said Lonnie.

“Nah Lon,it’s cool. Fuck them pigs — I gots to fuck wit my peoples. The boys in blue already know what I do. I just can’t be dirty when I chill. But I got madd shit to do tonight. Sunday we gonna get down though, drinks and trees on me, ”said K.

“That’s what’s up,” said Justice.

K knew Lonnie was only looking out for his best interest as well as his own by screaming on Justice. Lonnie removed himself from the table and directed K to follow him into the house. The interior of the home was furnished with all the latest rent-a- center exclusives. A 60 inch HD flat screen was the first thing that was noticed after entering the front door. His daughter’s Mya and Moesha were enjoying themselves playing X-Box-360 in the small living room as Lonnie’s wife of 12 years lounged on a large green leather loveseat.

“I fried some chicken and made some bangin’ ass mac and cheese if you hungry K,” said Lonnie’s old lady Gwen.

K had the munchies but he was more focused on handling his business and getting up outta dodge. He saw the look on Blass’s face and knew that he was trying to grub. The munchies had that niggah too.

“Why don’t you fix my man Blass a plate and if you got some paper plates and aluminum foil, fix me up something to go while me and Lonnie handle business.”

“Go ahead and hook that up babe. We’ll be out in about ten minutes,” said Lonnie.

As they headed into Lonnie’s bedroom, K said to Blass over his shoulder, “I’ll be right out.”

“Man you got here just in time. I only got eleven of them thangs left and the fiends been runnin all day long,” said Lonnie going into his closet.

K had had a drop floor stash spot installed to hold all the work in Lonnie’s bedroom closet floor the week before. Lonnie removed two large $TAXXX of bills and tossed them on the bed.

“That’s $7000; $3500 in each stack. You know I always make yours first. I’ve had that there for a few hours now.”

K sat down and removed the rubber bands off the money and began counting. That was one rule he had when it came to his paper. Always count money during a transaction. By the time K finished counting his money Lonnie was patiently waiting and counting his own. As K put the rubber bands back on his $TAXXX, there was a knock at the bedroom door. It was Lonnie’s chick.

“Babe I know you handlin business, but you got about six customers out here,” she said through the door.

“Aight-aight. I’ll be right out,” he looked at K. “See what I’m sayin K? This shit is poppin!”

“I’ma go and put this paper up and I’ll be back in 20 minutes.”

As they exited Lonnie’s bedroom K saw the line of customers waiting to be served. The first one to catch his eye was the skinny white dude. He looked out of place and extremely nervous. Lonnie noticed the expression on K’s face.

“Paul. Why don’t you wait in my room? I’ll be in there in a minute,” Lonnie said to the cab driver.

After Paul went into Lonnie’s bedroom, Lonnie turned to K.

“I saw the look on your face and I’ve seen him get high enough times to know he aint no cop. He drives for SUNSET YELLOW cabs. He usually rounds up his friend’s money and comes to holla at me alone. But I keep tellin him about comin round here in that big yellow cab.”

“Look Lon. This is your show and you been runnin’ it for a while. All I ask is that you use your best judgment. I got a lot invested in you,” said K.

“Yo, K. Come and check this shit out,” said Blass coming in Lonnie’s front door with something in his hand.

K took the STATE OF VIRGINIA driver’s license out of Blass’s hand and looked at it. K’s heart skipped a beat and then started to beat rapidly.

“Where the fuck you get this from?” K asked Blass

“When I seen that cracker come in here, I went and checked to see who he came here wit. Mafuckas out in the yard said he drove a cab so I went and checked it out. I opened the backdoor of the cab to see if it was anybody inside duckin down and shit. When the inside light came on I seen that shit layin on the backseat.”

That was one of the reasons K had so much love for his dudes. Because they stayed on point. But now his focus was shifted and he had a personal interest in the white dude in Lonnie’s bedroom. As K looked at Mattie’s face on her license he was bombarded by an array of mixed emotions. K told Lonnie he wanted to holla at Paul. When he entered the room Paul was visibly confused as well as nervous. Lonnie was still clueless as to what was going on.

“This chick been in your taxi? “ K asked holding the license up to Paul’s face.

“Dam she must have dropped that when I dropped her off at work a little while ago. She’s a regular as well as gorgeous. I’ll make sure she gets it- “said Paul reaching for the license.

K grabbed his fingers and twisted them viciously. The sound of fingers breaking echoed disturbingly throughout the room.

“Aw fuck dude. What’s wrong?! “Paul screamed out in pain.

“Yo K, what’s going on? “asked puzzled Lonnie.

“Where is she now? “ K asked in an even determined tone ignoring Lonnie’s question.

“She’s at work over at the Five Star Cabaret! “

“You mean that white people strip club out in Commack? “ K asked in disbelief.

“Yeah she’s the headliner. Fill’s up the spot every Friday night.”

K heard voices talking, but his mind was racing with thoughts. He was brought back by Lonnie’s wife knocking on the door telling him that he had even more customers. Lonnie was still oblivious as to what was happening until he finally blurted out in frustration, “will somebody please tell me what the fuck is going on?!”

CHAPTER 4

As K and Blass rolled up Deer Park Avenue headed towards Commack Road which led to the strip club, K was mentally kicking himself in the ass. He hated the fact that he sometimes reacted off emotions instead of thinking the situation through. After apologizing to Paul and Lonnie, K explained the situation to Lonnie. Lonnie looked at K like he’d lost his mind. He knew Lonnie wanted to check him for snatching up a white dude in his crib over a bitch, knowing that that could bring police problems none of them wanted.

K had grilled and interrogated Paul for as much info on Mattie as he could. He also gave him a few grams after the fact in hopes that he wouldn’t hold his actions towards him against Lonnie. It was safe to assume all was forgiven the way Paul’s eyes lit up. They were about halfway through their second blunt when K turned into the parking lot of the club. K passed the blunt to Blass as they cruised past the large neon sign that read, nude dancers. He pulled into the parking space and turned down the radio.

“I won’t be in here long. I just need to take care of sumn,“ said K passing Blas the.45 Glock automag.

“Go head and handle yo binness big cuzzin. I’m good,” Stated Blass and took a long deep drag off the Vanilla Dutch.

K hopped out the rental and walked toward the entrance. There were groups of drunken white men in business suits flowing through the parking lot. He joined the long line leading to the entrance. He got a couple of sideways glances being that he wasn’t the type of customer the establishment primarily catered to. But K wasn’t there to look at the bony white broads with the huge fake ta ta’s. He approached the two large bouncers at the front entrance. They eyed him suspiciously. After waving the metal detector wand over his body, he was allowed to pay the cover charge and enter. K guessed once they took note of the 3 g $taxxx he pulled out, they rationalized that he wasn’t there to scout the spot for stick-up victims from their establishment.

The inside of the club was enormous. Three floors of 50 scantily clad women in pursuit of those almighty banknotes. K headed over to the first floor bar that enclosed the main stage in a half circle. There was a green eyed brunette with long straight hair that hung past her ass. She sported a set of 44 triple e’s big as soccer balls, that had just finished up her set. He found a seat just off the side of center stage and was immediately approached by a club dancer.

“Buy a lady a drink big guy?”

K turned around and was pleasantly surprised with what he saw. Cutey was a medium brown complexion with light brown dancing eyes that sparkled in the clubs lighting. She sported a jazzy shoulder length bob hairdo with gold and auburn highlights. Her grapefruit sized breasts straining against her cream colored top demanded attention.

“Puleeeazze? I really need a drink and I’ve only made $30 in the last two hours. I don’t know what’s wrong with these dudes tonight,” she said sounding defeated.

“Yeah cutey. Get what you want. Sheeit I don’t know what’s wrong wit dees mafuggas either.”

She gave K the most beautiful smile and stood on the foot rail that ran under the bar. She was almost in his lap as she leaned over the bar to get the bartenders attention. What she was really giving him was a bird’s eye view of her real estate. A little more advertising for his investment. He was impressed. She took a peek over her shoulder to make sure he was looking and gave him that smile again. He almost forgot the main reason he was there.

After the bartender brought over their drinks; a Heineken for him and a cranberry juice and vodka for her, they began to converse. She was originally from The BX (Bronx), but attended CW POST, a college only a few miles away. It wasn’t long before the stage lights were dimmed and the DJ made an announcement for Jasmine, the Island Beauty.

“This is my bitch! She about to do her thang! Always steals the show! These white broads can’t stand her cause she make more dough than all o them,” said brown eyes.

Just then K saw the opportunity he was looking for. He pulled out a $tack of bills and placed a $50 in her thong. He then turned her around and pulled her back so her ass was on his dick and wrapped his hands around her waist. She grind her bubble on his crotch and felt him swell. Looking back over her shoulder, she smiled and licked her lips. She had plans on making him peel more from that bankroll.

“Well all my attention is focused on you tonight,” K whispered in her ear.

As the music began, K could see the silhouette of a figure that he literally knew every curve of.

“Fellas. This is what you’ve all been waiting for. The sexy.The mysterious.The exotic.Jasmine!”

Maybe that last drink was a little too strong, Mattie thought to herself as she heard her stage name being announced. Shake it off and get in your zone, she told herself repeatedly as the curtain rose and she was overtaken by the bright light. The applause and whistles of affirmation sent a wave of butterflies through her stomach. The liquor helped but could never totally take away the feeling of nervousness she sometimes felt while on stage. It wasn’t long before the sound of the music pumping through the speakers mixed with the weed and liquor tuned out her reality.

She moved with erotic grace and her body spoke in volumes to every man and many women who watched her perform. Midway through her set she began to work the bar surrounding the stage collecting 10’s,20’s, and 50’s. She always felt funny when she would get tips from her co-workers that were working the paying customers for drinks and tips, but never would she turn down a dollar. Mattie was collecting and tossing bills center stage and almost froze when she saw Raven at the bar with a big black bald guy whispering in her ear. His head was down so she couldn’t see his face but that was a head she had seen between her legs far too many times not to know.

Deep down Mattie was hoping that the alcohol was really working overtime on her imagination. She was about ten feet away, but one of her regular customers was engaged in battle with her and and what she was witnessing for her attention. Her eyes were winning and locked in on Raven and her customer. When K looked up and locked eyes with Mattie, She was paralyzed by jealousy and literally froze in her tracks.

When K and MattIe locked eyes, he felt all the love, hate, pain, and abandonment of the past five months of his life overwhelm him all at once. Raven smiled at Mattie and blew her a kiss as she performed.

“Work that shit gurrrl!” Raven screamed out to Mattie.

K could clearly see the rage in Mattie’s face when she saw Raven’s ass pushed back on his dick. As Mattie stormed off the stage the patrons at the club screamed out boo’s and shouts of disapproval.

“Dam! I wonder what that was all about?I ain’t never seen Jaz trip like that over nuthin. She’s usually cool as ice,” said Raven sipping on her drink.

K shrugged, smiled, and took a sip of his Heineken. He knew Mattie was a tough chick too, but her reaction had also caught him a little by surprise. The DJ came over the sound system apologizing for the delay in the show and promised it would continue momentarily. As soon as the DJ started to play the music again Raven turned to face K.

“So what do you have planned for the evening mister?”

“I’ve got some biz to tend to later, but-“

K saw what was about to happen, but was powerless to stop Mattie as she swung the box cutter in her raised hand, bringing the blade down across Raven’s face tearing her cheek open. It happened too fast for him to react.

“Get da fuck away from my man bitch!” Mattie screamed in an erratic rage.

Raven grabbed her cheek and cried out in shock. It was useless. The gash made by the blade began to bleed heavily. Mattie attempted to swing again. This time K caught her wrist.

“Fuck you niggah! Get da fuck off me! How you gonna be up in here with this bitch all up in your face?!”

“Calm the fuck down before yo crazy ass go to jail!” K barked.

His guess was the word jail brought her somewhat back to her senses. The look of recognition on her face said that she knew she fucked up. She heard the cop from MENACE TO SOCIETY’S voice in her head as clear as day. You know you fucked up right. K grabbed her arm and they rushed through the crowd headed for the door. Mattie had obviously left the stage and prepared herself to fight. She’d changed from her heels to her tims (Timberlands boots) and was right on K’s heels as they knocked down whoever got in their way. K saw the huge bouncers standing at the door blocking the exit.

“Stop them!” somebody shouted from the bar area.

K saw the look on Mattie’s face, realizing that she was probably about to go to jail.

POP! POP! POP! Came the sound from the entrance behind the bouncers.

“Getdafuk against the wall bitchass muscle mafuckas!” said Blass swinging the Smith and Wesson, pointing it at each of the bouncers.

They threw up their hands reluctantly in surrender and moved to the side so K and Mattie could pass through. As they ran out of the entrance Blass followed letting off two more shots in the ceiling. They ran across the parking lot like they had just robbed the joint and jumped in the rental. As they exited the club headed towards the highway, they could see police strobe lights rapidly approaching in the distance.

CHAPTER 5

After they got back to the hood, Blass told K to drop him off at his girls crib. Blass was still trippin after K told him how the situation unfolded in the club.

“Yo Mat. You a crazy bitch ma! I always knew you had some gangsta in you cause you fucks wit my man…but dam! You blew shorty whole face open!”

Mattie gave Blass an evil stare from the backseat, but didn’t respond. She knew he was just clownin’. After Blass was dropped off they hit the highway. As they drove westbound on the L.I.E. headed towards the city, she was quiet. There was so much to say, but it was like neither one of them knew where to start. It didn’t help K’s thought process that she was still wearing the outfit she’d performed in. Dam she’s sexy, he thought.

“Man what the hell happened to you? You just up and disappeared after you moved otta my parents crib. I was fucked up worrying about you,” K said.

Now she did finally look him square in his eyes. If K hadn’t seen the pain before, he saw it now in the tears welling up in her eyes.

“You were fucked up? You…were…fucked…up?! Niggah, I was homeless, lonely, broke, and extremely confused about my life and future. You know me better than anybody and you know I don’t like to depend on nobody for shit! I put all my faith and trust in you, and your so called peoples break in our house and steal every dime you had stashed for our future. You knew I wasn’t gonna be no broke hungry bitch and I don’t sell drugs. So basically I’ve just been surviving the best way I know how. It was never my intention to hurt you. I loved you and you were always good to me,” said Mattie clearly distraught.

Now it was his turn to be speechless. Her reality had been something that he had selfishly overlooked. The silence between them was deafening. He chose his next words carefully as she stared out the passenger side window.

“Look. I’m sorry. I’ve only been looking at this one sided. I know that shit must have got real stressful for you. Maybe we can find somewhere we can park and talk,” he said understanding her point of view.

Mattie nodded her head quietly in agreement as they drove towards the tollbooths of the Midtown Tunnel. As the lights of the New York City skyline came into view, the realization that it was Friday night hit him.

“It should be a blunt rolled up in the ashtray if you tryin ta blow..”

Mattie had pushed in the lighter and opened the ashtray in one swift motion. A few seconds later she was taking deep, lung smashing drags of Kush. almost immediately the reality of her slashing Raven at the club hit her.

“Dam, I reeeally fucked up this time. I know that cut is gonna leave a permanent scar on her. Not to mention my home address is on file at the club from my application. The cops are definitely gonna be lookin for a bitch,” she said.

“Man, I wasn’t expecting you to do no crazy shit like that! I mean I was tryin to make you jealous, but not like that!”

“I don’t know what came over me. I know I wasn’t prepared for those emotions that attacked me when I saw her all between your legs and smiling like I used to be….I mean…” she said stumbling over her words.

She looked away ashamed.

“You gon be aight, but we gotta get somewhere and find you a sweat suit or t-shirt or sumn. I can’t stay focused with you sittinover there dressed like that,” K said seriously.

That got a smile out of her. It was almost midnight when they hit 8th Avenue and the only places open that sold clothes were tourist novelty stores. K double parked, ran in and bought Mattie an I LOVE NY shirt. After that they headed down towards Greenwich Village. They cruised up and down NYC streets expressing how they felt for a couple of hours. If this would have happened then maybe this would have happened. Or if this wouldn’t have happened, then this wouldn’t have happened. But the reality was what had happened had happened, and the past couldn’t be changed.

Finally they came to the conclusion that maybe it was at least worth attempting to rebuild the bond that the untimely incarceration had taken away from them. K could tell that Mattie had reservations about the possibility of the same sequence of events happening again. But the one thing that they understood was that they were each other’s weakness.

“Look, I got a room that I rent out in West Babylon from Jeff and Marcie. We can stay there or get a hotel room for a couple o days until we find an apartment,” he stated as they headed out of the city.

“Well I know you just came home and you lost everything when you got locked up. I don’t want to be a burden..”

“A burden?” K asked in disbelief.

“Well I know I don’t have a job anymore. Plus the police are gonna be lookin for me for that dumb shit I did.”

“Don’t worry about bread ma. This is me and you know how I boogie. Aint shit change. You just gonna lay low for a couple weeks til this shit blow ova. I mean it aint like they gonna put out a APB on you for cutting a bitch.”

Mattie had always been cautious and one of the reasons that they connected so well was because K wasn’t reckless when it came to shit involving the police. Plus K had a sweet connect with the Nigerians on the fake ID’s and passports. They found their resting place for the night in Queens, off the Grand Central Parkway at the Parson’s Blvd. exit. After pulling into the parking lot of the hotel K went and paid for the room. When he returned with the key they went to the second floor and entered the room.

“You get comfortable and relax while I run over to Supthin Blvd and grab sumn to blow,” said K.

She went in the room and turned to face him in the doorway. Mattie pulled K close and stared directly in his eyes.

“Baby, please don’t leave me lost again,” she said giving him a long passionate kiss.

Once they separated, K reached in his pocket and pulled out the $taxxx of bills he had taken with him to the club. K removed the rubber band and opened it to the middle. He removed five big faces and handed her the rest.

“That’s just in case sumn happens to me,” he stated sincerely.

“Just hurry up. I’m gonna take a shower and I’ll be here waiting for you,” she said taking the wad of cash.

She understood the message in the gesture; implying that he would take every precaution to make sure she was OK as long as she was willing to put faith back in him. The truth was, K was a good dude with resentments against a chosen few and attempting to reclaim the woman that he felt was his. He felt like niggahs he made sure ate, were dead wrong to shit on him. This changed his perception of the two terminologies love and friend. Now they owed him and he would get what was due. As K hopped into the rental to go cop the trees, he remembered the words his man 40 ounce Rich had told him about Mattie and that Haitian dude Dutty.

“Yeah she was up in the BLACK HERITAGE CLUB drunk as shit and went in the bathroom with Dutty. They were in there for about a half hour. Niggahs kept bangin on the door and shit but it was locked. You already know what was up,” 40 had said.

It was just another one of those life lessons that K would learn the hard way. You don’t ask questions that you really don’t want the answers to.

“So what happened when they came out the bathroom?” K asked.

“They both came out laughing and left together,” said 40 confirming K’s worst conclusion. The imagination is a unique and sometimes vicious animal, and mixed with an emotional visual can plant a seed that roots and meshes with your soul. As K drove the rental he did battle with conflicting emotions.

At a time when most where asleep, Supthin Blvd was alive and poppin with late night activity. In an area as heavily burdened with crime as this part of Queens, you would think that there would be at the very minimum some police presence. K pulled up on the strip and parked behind two brand new S 550 Mercedes Benz sedans. One was money green. The other was fish scale white. From the looks of things, the weed biz wasn’t doing too badly. K went in and copped four bags and a box of dutchess. While exiting the store he heard the distinct sound of gunfire off in the distance a few blocks away. Another life probably ended. More than likely over what many labeled the root of all evil. Sliding into the rental and pulling away from the curb, K wistfully pondered what an uncertain future held for him.

CHAPTER 6

After K left the hotel room Mattie rushed over and picked up the hotel phone and dialed her sister Reebie. When Mattie heard the call go to the answering machine she was going to hang up but decided to leave a message.

“Hi Reebie… man I fucked up big this time… I really need to talk to you. I’m at a hotel in Queens with Kevin. Call me at this number as soon as you get this message. 718-“

“Hey, hold up girl… with Kevin? What happened I thought you were done fucking with him?” Stated Reebie. The joking sarcasm was clear in her voice.

“Not now bitch, I’m really going through something, “said Mattie making it clear that she wasn’t up for Reebie clowning her for going back on her word. They talked for the next ten minutes and Mattie filled Reebie in on all the events that happened, from her losing her I.D.; all the way up to Blass shooting up the club. Reebie had gone to middle school and high school with Pook and Blass so she already knew that they were loose cannons.

“So what you going to do,” Reebie inquired worried about her big sister.

“I’m just gonna play it by ear and see how it plays out. You know I love this niggah but a bitch aint trying to be hurt no more for real.”

“Well do you want to meet me somewhere so I can bring you some clothes?”

“I’ll call you in the morning and let you know something more definite. I really need to know if and when the police come looking for me. So answer the dam phone! If you wasn’t giving pussy away and turning them niggas out like that, you wouldn’t have to screen all your calls, “said Mattie.

“I’m a dickaholic! I need counseling!” said Reebie half joking-half serious.

“You are terrible hoe, but I love you. I’ll call you tomorrow “said Mattie and ended the conversation.

Mattie rose from the bed, went into the bathroom, and turned on the shower. She smiled reminiscing back to the times when she would take long hot passion filled showers with K and how happy she felt whenever they were together. She caught her reflection in the mirror and had to admit that she hadn’t smiled that genuine smile in a long time. Fuck it she thought you only live once. She thought of all the twists and turns life had taken her through at such a young age. Life was the sum total of the experiences that one goes through up until the present. She really wanted to be happy but the main thought that controlled her subconscious was do I deserve to be happy? This subliminal was deeply rooted in the misplaced humiliation of the sexual abuse that she had been subjected to as a young girl.

Still it was good to see that smile again. She decided to make the best of the circumstances. After removing the little bit of clothing she was wearing, Mattie stepped into the steamy shower. She stood under the hot water and let stream relax her. Ten minutes later she was lying on the bed with a towel wrapped around her watching television.

By the time K had pulled into the parking lot of the hotel, he had run through all the possible scenarios that could result in attempting to rebuild their relationship. At the very worst he figured they would go on with their separate lives. But in the best case, if he could get past his feelings of betrayal, it would be the reuniting of Bonnie and Clyde. Once he finally reached the hotel room door he realized that who he had constantly reflected upon and dreamed about being with during his incarceration was about to be reality. The fact that they were both freaks in the bedroom, only enhanced the reality that there wasn’t any fantasy that Mattie hadn’t been willing to fulfill for her man.

When he opened the hotel room door he saw Mattie lying on the bed in the dark, with the exception of the light from the TV. It wasn’t one of those super cheap fuck motels that NY had many of, but it wasn’t the Waldorf Astoria either. Once he pulled the trees out and sat them on the desk with the blunts, he turned around and noticed that Mattie was fighting to stay awake. He definitely wanted to get some of what he’d been missing, but he really wasn’t trying to rock like that.

“You look real tired ma.”

“No really, I’m cool,’ she said making a weak attempt to keep her eyes open.

K kicked off his Tims, removed his shirt, and lay beside Mattie.

“Come here,“ he stated offering his bare chest as her pillow.

She immediately made her way to her familiar resting place. As she snuggled against K’s large frame, he instinctively began running his fingers through her long thick hair, massaging her scalp.

“Dam niggah, I’ve missed you so much, “ stated a quickly fading to sleep Mattie.

“I missed you too baby, “ he said softly kissing her forehead as she fell asleep. “ I missed you too.”

CHAPTER 7

Two weeks passed by quickly. K was beginning to bubble his clientele and workload at a pace that he never would have predicted. He felt that it wasn’t really a good idea to lay up in a spot with Mattie and all his work at Jeff and Marcy’s house. He found a one bedroom in a nice secluded area in Wheatley Heights and moved Mattie in with him. That had been a week earlier. Now as he stood in front of James Barber Shop talking to his boy Darkside, they watched as a white Volvo with Pennsylvania tags pulled into the Jamaican food takeout joint across the street.

“Oh shit, I know that aint that niggah skulls, “Dante said to K.

“Yeah that’s that funny lookin muhfuckah,”K responded.

Dante was a wild young stick- up kid that K watched grow up and terrorize the town with his crew as a juvenile. Darkside had just come home from an up north New York State prison two days earlier.

“What up my niggahs? Like my new whip? “Skulls asked.

K and Dante knew he was fronting his ass off.

“Nah I’m frontin, that a fiend’s car but I’m getting one just like it,” said Skulls when he saw their facial expressions. They knew he was lying.

“When you get home Dante? I thought you was supposed to get out next year, “ said Skulls.

“The Parole board let me out early. I been on some chill shit. I’m trying to get some money, fuck the dumb shit. You see who I’m wit,” said Dante.

“Well you dam sure wit the right niggah. Yo K what up wit Va?” asked Skulls.

“I’m just $tackin right now. It really don’t make no sense to go OT (outta town) unless a niggah got something heavy. Feel me? What up out in Philly?”

“I aint in Philly. I’m in a spot called Allentown. That shit is poppin too. I’m tryna to cop something if you got some work. I had to come out here to see my sister Sha-sha,” said Skulls.

K had known Skulls for a long time. He knew Skulls to be one of the younger go getters to come up in the hood, and if Skulls got his mind right he could probably stack some real paper.

“Yeah I got you fam. I’m next in the chair to get a cut. After that we can go and handle that, “said K.

After K went into the Barbershop, Skulls and Dante started to chop it up.

“Yo Skulls who them chicks over there in the car? “asked Darkside when he peeped Skulls wasn’t alone.

“They just some shorty’s I brought wit me to hold my work on the way back down the highway. You know the game. Some sneakers, some trees, and some dick and some hoes will do anything, “answered Skulls laughing.

“Dam sun the bitches don’t look like no bitches around here. Themmuhfuckas is official,“said Dante.

“Oh niggah don’t get it twisted. It aint nothing but fine ass hoes out there.”

“They just love N.Y. niggahs “said Skulls.

By now the three girls that were riding with Skulls had gotten out of the car and were standing in the parking lot stretching their legs. Darkside was in scheme mode now. K had already told him he would throw him something to get on his feet when he was ready. He thought now; that he just might be ready.

“Yo Skulls, If I went back with you and took something with me, would you show me where I could get it off?” asked Darkside.

“Niggah it’s so much paper out there that I come to N.Y. every other day. It’s only a hour and fifteen minutes from the Holland Tunnel up I-78. If yo crazy ass came back with me, I would even help you get rid of yo shit first.”

The two Puerto Ricans and one slanted eye dark skinned honey made their way across the street. It was only a few cats out on the block grinding, but they were immediately aware of the outta town cutey.

“Cindy fucked up the blunt tryin to be fast yo, “Shira the dark skinned chick said to Skulls.

“That shit was stale as fuck. It wasn’t my fault, my rolling skills is tight, “responded Cindy in her defense.

“Aight aight, here. Go in the store and buy some more, “ said Skulls handing Shira a ten dollar bill of his re-up money.

They quickly went into the store, switching their asses in tight jeans loving all the attention. As soon as K came out of the Barbershop getting his cut, Darkside told him about his idea to go to PA with Skulls. As K pondered the idea two of the most crooked and shiesty uniformed patrol cops cruised by slowly ice grillin him and Dark conversing. RAT MAN and FATFACE had been accurately described by the nicknames given to them by niggahs in the hood. They were some funny looking muthafuckas, but any run-in with these two was anything but comedy. They had been known to take niggahs drugs and money, lock dudes up for drugs that wasn’t theirs, and had even gone as far as to give false testimony in cases when dudes went to trial.

They had a vendetta against K and a crew of money getting niggahs that he use to roll with called The 149 posse. This was the first time K had seen RAT and FAT since he’s been home and it made him a little uncomfortable.

“Yo lets roll out. Tell Skulls to follow us in the rental, I need to talk to you one on one,” K said to Dark.

As K was getting in the rental with Dante he noticed the chicks that were with skulls, coming out of the store headed to the Volvo.

“Damn! Them cuties is wit dat niggah Skulls? “K asked Dark.

“Yeah and he said it’s plenty more where they came from.”

After they were in the rental K thought about the real reason that he had left town going to Virginia the year before. RAT and FAT had pulled him over in his Acura Legend one night and told him that they were gonna make it their business to send him away for a long time. K took that threat seriously because he had seen them do it to a few other hustlers. So K had packed up, shut down everything, snatched up Mattie and bounced. Now when things seemed to be going well, he was faced with what he knew had the potential to be the same situation.

“I don’t know how much dough Skulls is spending, but what do you feel comfortable taking with you?” K asked Dark ready to break new ground in unfamiliar territory.

“Shit K, it don’t matter. I’m really on some money shit. Whatever you send I’m bringing back everything to the pot,” said Dark.

K wasn’t sure what was too much and what was not enough, so he sent Dark to PA with four and a half ounces. After he took care of Skulls and Dante he figured he would lay low. At the very least until RAT and FAT changed shifts. He couldn’t believe he had forgotten about them and now he had to include them in the equation of how he would maneuver.

CHAPTER 8

Mattie was vacuuming the carpet in the new apartment so she didn’t hear the banging on the front door. The fact that she was listening to SNOOP DOGG knocking through the stereo at full blast didn’t help the situation any either. The person at the front door waited until she caught a break between the songs and the vacuum had stopped. Bang bangbangbang!

“Mattie it’s me! Please open the door!” she heard a voice scream on the other side of the door.

Instinctively Mattie went and stuck her hand in the couch where they kept the home security system known as The Ripper! The Ripper was a long barrel chrome.357 magnum. Mattie’s little hands could barely fit around the rubber grip and reach the trigger, but she had been trained to go by past life experiences. She made her way to the front door of the apartment as the banging continued with the heavyweight of the chrome cannon leaning her to one side. She looked through the peephole and saw her sister Reebie standing there with a black eye and busted lip. In shock and disbelief she yanked the apartment door open.

“Who did this to you,” screamed Mattie, broken by the condition of her sister.

“That Crazy ass niggah Jeffery! He hit me like I was a fuckin man,” she cried.

Mattie wrapped her arms around her little sister and pulled her inside the apartment. All of the head games and playing dudes for their cash, making them believe that they were the only one, had finally run its course and caught up with Reebie in the worst way. As Mattie got ice and peroxide and proceeded to nurse her sister’s mental and physical wounds, Reebie explained who Jeffery was. He was a 6 foot 6 inch linebacker for a semi-pro football team that she had recently started dating. Mattie could vaguely recall the name and description sounding familiar, but Reebie was fucking with so many niggahs that Mattie couldn’t recall who was who.

“This crazy muthafucka actually came to my job and was watching me. He had to be waiting for a while because when Gerald dropped me back off by my car after lunch, Jeffery popped up from between two cars and started yelling at me. Before I could respond he attacked me!” said Reebie.

“Nobody tried to help you? Did you call the police?”

“I was parked at the far end of the parking lot, away from the building. He told me that it wasn’t over and if I called the police that he would kill me. Mattie I’m scared!”

Mattie wanted to track this Jeffery dude down and formally introduce him to the ripper. She could clearly see that her sister was terrified. Since the incident at the club with Raven and she had moved into the apartment with K, the closeness that they had established during his incarceration had slowly started to slip away. Mattie’s attention was diverted away from her sister when she heard the key spring the lock on the apartment door. K entered and headed straight to the bedroom talking on his cell phone. He didn’t even notice the condition of Reebie.

“Yo calm down and tell me what happened,” K said to the voice on the other end of the phone.

“They raided the house and locked up Lonnie,“ said a panicky Gwen into K’s ear.

This was bad news and he immediately thought of Mya and Moesha, Lonnie’s little girls. It was still early afternoon and K hoped that the girls were at the Day Camp that they attended. His temporary concern was soon replaced with thoughts of the 6G’s that he was supposed to pick-up this morning.

“Is it safe to talk Queen? Where you at?

“I’m at my sister’s house on Mount Avenue with the girls. They didn’t find the money but they locked up my Lonnie,” she stated and began to cry.

“What’s the address? I’m gonna come and get you so we can work on getting him out.”

She gave him the address and he gave her assurances that everything would work out ok. As K exited the bedroom, he noticed Reebie sitting on the couch with her grill fucked up.

“Dam shorty, what the fuck happened to you?” K asked.

Reebie never looked up, obviously embarrassed. Reebie and K had a love hate relationship. He held resentments and secretly blamed Reebie for some of the actions that Mattie had taken in the past and while he was locked up. He felt her sister was a bad influence on her even though whatever Mattie chose to do was entirely her own decision. But, he also had madd love for Reebie because she was a really goodhearted person. It was just that she was confused about many things in life. One of those things being relationships with men. K felt sorry for her and went over and sat beside Reebie and Mattie on the couch.

“What happened lil sis?” he inquired concerned.

Mattie explained the situation because Reebie had laid her head on his shoulder and began to cry.

“So where this niggah at? All I gotta do is call my dudes and we can handle it.”

“No K. Please don’t get involved in my mess. I created this situation and I’ll resolve it,” said Reebie.

“So there’s nothing I can do? You already know Pook got a crush on you All I gotta do is say the word.”

Reebie remembered how Pook was something like her bodyguard in school.

“Do you mind if I borrow your couch for a couple of nights. I’m kinda scared to be at my place alone. Plus I really don’t want anyone to see me like this,” said Reebie.

That was unexpected. Realizing that he had put his foot in his mouth and committed, there was no backing out now. He wanted to ask for how long but changed his mind. He locked eyes with Mattie and they were pleading with his to say yes.

“Yeah you good. You just gotta wash yo feet. I don’t want it smellin like corn chips up in my joint,” he said jokingly in an attempt to bring some humor to a tense situation.

They all laughed. K soon remembered that he had to go meet Gwen.

“I got some business to tend to but when I get back we can shoot over to your spot and grab you some clothes.”

Mattie walked K to the door.

“Thank you. I really appreciate what you just did, “said Mattie before they kissed and then he was out.

CHAPTER 9

When it rains it pours, K thought as he shot pool in the local bar on the strip. He had bailed Lonnie out for $2500, but his crib was on shutdown. For the past two days Rat and Fat had been parked on the corner of Lonnie’s block in their patrol car. Lonnie had only had a slow quiet little hustle until K started hitting him off with the slabs that made the traffic run crazy. Gwen was scared and rightfully so, because they had trashed her house. The worst part of the whole situation was how they had drilled Lonnie with questions about K. But, Lonnie was a soldier, and stood strong.

“Somebody been doing some serious talking,” Lonnie had told K on the day he bailed him out.

K had decided to throwback a couple of shots and shoots a couple games of eight-ball. His problems were beginning to $tack on top of each other and he needed to revise his game plan. Last night he had went by Norma’s house to pick up his money and when he pulled up there was an ambulance and two police cars in the driveway. His first thought was that it was a robbery gone wrong. He figured it was only a matter of time before the stick-up kids would try their hand.

Naturally he didn’t feel that it was in his best interest to stop, so he sent a fiend that was up the street to be nosy. He waited up the block until the fiend returned, impatiently fearing the worst.

“They said Norma Od’d on heroin. She aint dead yet but it’s not looking good,” the fiend said as he returned with an update.

K only had 2G’s tied up in the spot because the goldmine had slowly begun to fall off. He knew Norma was a heroin addict, but when she had started to work for him it wasn’t a problem. But the more money, she made the heavier her habit become. It had gotten to the point where she was too fucked-up nodding out to handle business.

So now two of his main spots were pretty much shut down, and the boys in blue were inquiring about his business.

“Twelve ball, two rails, cross corner,” he stated as he sank the shot like he could have done it with his eye’s close.

“Oh it’s like that? If you miss it’s over,” said Money Al, who was playing K.

“Oh, I hear you yappin, but I done won four of the last six and one of the two you won I scratched on the 8 ball,” said K.

K knew once he got in his groove he was unstoppable. The small crowd of about 20 afternoon occupants were broke off into about six small groups, all obviously discussing something criminal. Outside of K wanting to relieve some stress, he did have another purpose for being in the bar. Dante had called him three hours earlier from a 610 area code. He said he was on his way back and he had good news. K really needed some good news. Just as he was about to seal the deal with an 8-ball bank shot, skulls and Darkside entered the bar. K had told him where he would be.

Dark and Skulls gave dap and acknowledgements to the usual suspects as they made their way to the rear of the bar where the pool table was located. K gave a quick greeting to Skulls, handed him his pool stick and motioned for Dark to come with him to a table in the corner.

As they sat down the barmaid approached the table.

“What up thickness? My next drink on you,” Dark asked the 5 foot 11 inch 240 pound barmaid.

“That all depends on how you gon pay me back,” said the barmaid that everyone knew as Thumper. She had gotten her name from many sources.

The first being her fight game was crazy.

“Girl you crazy as hell! Bring me and my man 2 Heinekens,” said Dante and slapped her hard across her extra wide ass.

She took off smiling, but not before giving him the evil eye and getting some kind of confirmation of a time they would hook up later. Everybody knew Dark had love for the big girls and they had love for him.

“So tell me something good,” K said when Thumper was gone.

“Check it out fam. It is crazy cash out that muthafucka. I got 9 G’s outside in the car and if I would have sold some weight I would have been done the same day we got there. You sellin O’s here for $750 and they payin $1200 all day long, “said Dark excited about future prospects.

K too was getting excited as he ran numbers through his mental calculator. He had bubbled his paper to just under enough to grab 2 bricks. Then something clicked in K’s mind. In all his stress he had forgotten that he only sent him with a 4? ounces.

“Hold up. You made 9 G’s in 2 days off a big 8?”

“Nah niggah! I made $10,500, kept $500 for the pocket and got an apartment with the other G.”

K smiled as he absorbed this new information with his mental calculator counting up the possibilities. Outside of his local weight customers he only had one spot left pumping slabs. It was still flowing decent, but overall his hustle had taken a significant blow. Always the thinker K switched angles.

“So what’s the weather like out that way? Is the po-po hot or did you maneuver around without problems, “ K instinctively asked, recalling his recent troubles.

“I’m sayin-I seen a few riding but it wasn’t nothing that I couldn’t work around. I’m ready to make moves though, that’s why I grabbed the crib.”

Thumper returned with their drinks and K filled Darkside in on everything that had happened since he left town. The situation with Lonnie and Norma.The living conditions with Reebie which was beginning to be a burden. And last but definitely not least, the situation with the crooked cops Rat and Fat.

“You need to get out of town and lay low for a minute. I’m telling you fam,that shit is soooo sweet, “ said Dark.

“I’m with you, I just have to handle a few things. When Yalltryin to bounce back?”

“Shit- yesterday!”

“I can dig it. But look let’s go grab that paper so I can make a move. I’ll grab the work in the morning and we can roll after I handle some overdue business tomorrow night,” said K with determination in his voice. They toasted drinks to mo money and focused on the near future.

CHAPTER 10

Mattie wasn’t cool with K going out of town. She had already begun to feel that dependency feeling again on a man, and that she was very uncomfortable with. He had told her that he would be leaving for no more than four days and there would be plenty money in the safe in case of emergency.

“Well dam, can I go with you?” she asked not wanting to be separated from him again.

“Please don’t make this more difficult than it is. You know I just took some losses and I need some getback. Plus I don’t know a lot about the town. If it’s some gunplay, I don’t want to take you into a situation like that.”

This really wasn’t the truth and Mattie could sense it. The truth was that with all the stress that K had been going through and the added stress of Reebie staying with them at the apartment, he needed some time away. He was also going through a mental battle over the rumors of Mattie’s other extra activities while he was locked up. He had come to find out that she had been on some real loose shit. He was really trying to work past the past.

“So you just going to leave me again? Alright that’s cool, “ said Mattie and stormed off to the bedroom with an attitude.

K just figured he’d deal with that later because he had other more urgent business to tend to. He had called Pook and Blass earlier and told them that he needed to holla at them about handling something. As he headed out of the apartment he considered trying to reason with Mattie, but decided against it. When he got to Pooks crib, they were there waiting. He gave them his plan and they nodded in agreement. There was no argument that it was time to send a message.

“How much did you take from them young chumps?” asked the fat dumpy cop as the two uniformed officers sat parked on the dark street.

“We got $2,200 so far and we still aint hit the north side, “ said the officer who closely resembled a rat in the face.

Rat and Fat had been taking hustler’s money for years. They had also built up a fear factor in the hood because they would sometimes put drugs on dudes who gave them a hard time. They had been beat walkers in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn until an investigation into a mysterious shooting death produced evidence that pointed fingers at the duo. The sergeant that they were under made the evidence strangely disappear and immediately after, they were transferred to Long Island. That was five years ago.

“Did you see them niggahs faces when I pulled that ounce of crack out of my pocket? The skinny kid looked like he was gonna shit himself,” said Ratman laughing hysterically.

“Yeah, we could do this shit forever and never get caught because they are too scared to go to jail,” Fatface continued.

The moon shined brightly overhead and every star was clearly visible. The two officers paid little attention to the car slowly approaching from the rear.

These fuckers are gonna put my kids through college and pay for the down payment on my new house,“ said Ratman.

Just as he was finishing his sentence the driver’s side window exploded into a thousand tiny pieces. The first slug from the AK-47 entered in the left side of Ratman’s head at the temple, and immediately exited taking with it his last thoughts.

As Fatface sat in shock, fear, and horror looking at remains of what was left of his partners head in his lap, the roar of twin desert Eagles ripped through the front windshield. The first two shots from the cannon killed him and were followed by 10 more. They left gaping holes as the bullets tore through flesh like wet tissue and lodged in the backseat. What followed was a barrage of slugs attacking the vehicle from all sides that riddled the cruiser and insured a sudden death for both of the officers. Within twenty seconds it was over.

A half hour later K, Pook and Blass were leaving a close associates body shop where all the guns that were involved had been cut up and turned into scrap metal. With that problem solved; K and the cats in the hood could breathe a little easier. They would celebrate the next day, and the streets would be on fire for a while following the murder of two officers. But the message was sent.

K went and dropped off Pook and Blass and went to go re-up. Once again it was time to make moves.

CHAPTER 11

“What’s up with this nigga Skulls? I aint seen him in a couple of days,” K said to Dark.

“The last time I saw him he was with some cat from Queens that he brought out here.“

“Word? That’s cool, “K said as he placed a rubber band around the 13th and 14th of the thousand dollar $taxxx they were counting.

They had both noticed Skulls begin to act shady, but K and Dark didn’t lose sight of the mission. They’d hit Allentown, PA a week earlier and had already made the 90 minute trip back to N.Y. twice. Now as they began to learn the new territory, they continued to meet new people. The streets of Center City were flooded with heroin, weed, coke, and crack. There were literally bars on every other corner throughout the town. The one-way streets and narrow back alleyways were quickly identified as accessible escape routes in emergency situations. K heard a commotion outside the apartment and walked over to peek out of the curtain to the street below.

“I don’t want to deal with nobody but Darkside. Ya’ll don’t hook me up like he do, “ said the Caucasian hooker with the heavy make-up.

“He aint here ma, but I gotchu, “ said the young Puerto Rican worker under Dante’s employ.

“Well when will he be back? I got $700 and I know you aint gonna hook me up like he will, “ she stated looking defeated.

K looked back over his shoulder at Dante AKA Darkside.

“Yo, one of your regulars is out here and she don’twanna deal with nobody else.”

When they first got to town, K shouldn’t have been surprised that Dark had rented an apartment on a block with the heaviest drug traffic in the city. Never send a stick-up kid to do a hustlers job. Fortunately for the duo, one was a thinker. There was an eight unit building on the opposite side of the street. The building had off street parking. It also had a rear entrance and windows that faced the main strip. After scouting the area for two days K approached an elderly couple that lived in the building across the street. He made them an offer to relocate them to wherever they wished, plus $1500 which they happily and immediately accepted. K rationalized that this was a small price to pay for the cause. Now as they stood in the small but nicely furnished two bedroom apartment listening to the conversation outside, K realized it was money well spent.

“Let me go handle this. She always spends heavy. I wanna make sure we don’t lose her,” Darkside said as he quickly headed out of the apartment.

As K heard the door close he took a look around the apartment. He figured if he was going to spend a lot of time here, he might as well make it comfortable. The thick dark green carpeting he’d had professionally installed was offset by the cream colored Italian leather sofa and loveseat combo. Two newly purchased oil paintings of abstract art hung on the walls of the living room. 70 inches of widescreen television, which played every cable channel available occupied the wall opposite the sofa. He dropped onto the couch with the remote and began flipping through channels. He looked at his watch noted that he would need an upgrade soon from his plain faced Rolex.

Where is this goddamn bitch? He thought calling Mattie’s cell phone for the 40th time. He had also made numerous calls to the apartment which went unanswered as well. This sent his imagination on overdrive. Becoming frustrated with the unanswered calls to the apartment as well as the ones to Mattie’s cell phone, K turned off the TV and hit the streets to see what he could find to occupy his attention. He remembered a local spot at a hotel on Hamilton Street that he’d heard Dark say was a hangout for the locals. K was far from being blind to the large number of cuties that were in the town, but he was more focused on taking his hustle game to another level. He exited the apartment and headed down the back stairs that led to the alley where the rental was parked.

As he headed to the rental he noticed the locals, a few elderly couples, sitting on their porches living life and was slightly consumed by quilt. This place was nothing like his hood in NY which he had left. This was a quiet place where people felt comfortable letting children and grandchildren play outside without the threat of violence. But on the front side of the building in an apartment across the street, he and Dark were contributing to the destruction of their community. He pushed the thought out of his mind knowing that if he wanted to get where he was trying to be, he had no room for empathy. He could hear the sounds of salsa music playing a few doors down from where the elderly couple lived as he hit the button on the key ring releasing the automatic locks on the rental.

K slid in the brand new champagne colored Cadillac that he’d rented from Enterprise. He smelled the new car scent mixed with the smell of the tan leather interior. Shit was flowing real decent so he felt entitled to treat himself to this small luxury. His Acura was also sacrificed as one of the losses from his last incarceration. Another casualty which he knew when his pockets got right, he would replace. K pulled up to a club called HARRYS which was attached to a hotel called The Traylor. As he cruised the parking lot looking for a space he noticed various groups of honeys in all flavors making their way to the entrance of the club. He saw a few dudes here and there, but the numbers of cuties were far more than dudes. He smiled to himself considering the possibilities. He pulled into a spot next to a green Navigator. He was familiar with the car and the driver because he was one of the cats Dark had put him onto who had been copping weight. You would have thought by his car game that dude was doing big things, but he turned out to only be an ounce copping niggah. K turned off the caddy and exited the vehicle. As he started towards the entrance of the club, he felt the weight of the snub nose.357 magnum that was tucked in his waist. He had close to 7G’s in his pocket, which when he thought about it, wasn’t a real good idea to be carrying going into a hood spot for the first time. He returned to the passenger side of the caddy and checked the parking lot carefully. Seeing that the coast was clear he peeled $1500 off his bank roll, which was more than enough for Henny and Heinekens.

He locked the rest of the money inside the glove compartment. Next was the issue of the hammer(gun). He wasn’t sure what the security was like or the atmosphere in the club. Just because he didn’t see niggahs, didn’t mean that they weren’t inside and on some bullshit. Still observing his surroundings, he slid the heavy steel from his waistband and slipped it under the wheel well and sat it on top of the back tire. This was an old trick that he’d learned coming up in the hood. If shit popped off it was always easy access to get to his piece.

Just As he was starting towards the club, he heard female voices coming up the parking lot. He turned to to see four cuties headed towards the club and dressed to impress.

“Hi,” one of the honeys said catching K off guard.

Upon further observation he noticed that all four of them were bad as a motherfucker.

“What’s good gorgeous? How you?”

This piece of eye candy was giving K some mean eye contact; leaving no room for dispute that she was interested.

“What’s your name? I’m Trish. I saw you in the diner with Skulls the other night,” she said in a seductive Latino accent.

“This is Jeanette, Julie, and Heather,” she added introducing another Puerto Rican and two white girls.

The statement about Skulls put K on point to what type of chicks he may be dealing with. If they knew him they were probably, hoodrats in Diva disguises. Good enough to freak with, but you probably didn’t want to put too much time in with them. And you definitely didn’t want to wife one. He had seen the type before. The who these new niggahs? Bitches. Most of them had been run through by all the out of town hustlers, and most of the dudes in town.

But K wasn’t looking for a relationship, just something to do to occupy his time and take his mind off Mattie.

“I’m K. What’s up, yall trying to hangout wit a niggah?” he said returning the same eye contact she was giving him. “Drinks on me.”

That pretty much sealed the deal as they made their way to the club. After paying for everybody to get in and passing security, he realized that he had just found him a new hangout spot. Of course the grimey cats he anticipated might be inside were there, but he could deal with them. He had been dealing with them all his life. The part that officially locked him in was the wall to wall to wall honeys that filled the spot.

K headed straight to the bar with his newfound friends close on his heels.

“Get what yall want,” he told them over the loud music.

K noticed a couple of cats who he’d met since he’d been in the town and dealt with on a business level. He also noticed all the chicks that came by the bar trying to see who the new niggah was hanging with Trish and her crew. A few shots of Hennessy later and K felt a tug on his hand. He had been deepin thought after hanging up his cellphone with yet another straight to voicemail call to Mattie. Trish’s smile combined with cognac was all that was needed to stitch up the wound in his heart that was reopening.

“Come dance with me Papi,” she said seductively. Thoughts of Mattie vanished. She swayed her hips like a snake charmer and K followed her lead. Yep, he thought to himself, I think I might like it here.

Mattie and Reebie entered the apartment just after six in the morning. They were both tired from the night of partying at a club in Manhattan that Reebie had talked Mattie into going to.

“Come on Mat. Let’s go hangout in the Village. I’m tired of sitting around in this apartment,” Reebie had said yesterday.

Mattie was also tired of sitting around, and she was still fairly content with a couple of blunts and some loud music. But Reebie had kept pushing the issue.

“We can go shopping and go to Juniors to get cheesecake. Please?” Reebie whined.

Now Mattie thought, this bitch aint playing fair. Cheesecake and shopping.Her two weaknesses. So after a little more persuasion, Mattie had reluctantly given in. She really didn’t want to leave the apartment either. Especially due to the fact that she had misplaced her cellphone, which she kept on vibrate because she always listened to her music at such a high volume. The last time she had spoken to K was yesterday and he said things were going good. He was also coming home in a couple of days and had something important to talk to her about.

Now as she stuck her key in the apartment door, she wished she would have kept her ass at home. They had almost missed their stop on the train and would have had the conductor not woke them up. Of course they didn’t have to catch the train back out to Wyandanch, which Reebie reminded Mattie all the way through Penn Station. Of the five crews of dudes that tried to get with the undeniably gorgeous sister, three dudes actually offered to bring them back out to the Island… after breakfast.

But of the dudes that had offered, none of them were the ones out of the crew buying drinks. Not to mention one of them looked like he couldn’t even spell car, let alone own one. As soon as Reebie was through the door she kicked off her heels and headed straight to the couch. Look at this crusty bitch, Mattie thought as she smiled to herself. There was no doubt how much she loved her sister. At times she wished that she could put her in her pocket and protect her from the world and all the hurt that she had been through. Mattie dreaded the thought of some manipulating man entering her sister’s life and destroying it.

It wasn’t five minutes before Mattie could hear Reebie snoring. She was dead tired too, but she had to shower before she went to bed. She also wanted to make another attempt to find her phone. She knew that it had to be somewhere in the house. Mattie kicked off her shoes and headed towards the bathroom. She knew the weed that K had left wasthe reason that she kept misplacing shit. She didn’t know where he got that shit from, but it was straight fire.

Mattie was on her way to turn on the shower when she heard it.

What the fuck? aw hell naw! She thought as she looked at the medicine cabinet. She pulled open the mirror and there it sat next to the Advil that she’d taken earlier for a headache. She grabbed her phone which was vibrating out of control. 46 missed calls.

“Shit! I know this niggah is buggin right now,” she said in a worried whisper.

CHAPTER 12

“So how do you like it?” K asked.

“K, this shit is fly. Mattie look at how big this living room is,” Reebie spoke up saying.

“This is nice baby. I’ve never seen a kitchen so big in an apartment. I’m ready to start cooking already,” said Mattie.

It didn’t take K that long to find another place to call home. Even though he kept his first spot a secret, he decided to bring Mattie and Reebie to Allentown. The decision to bring Reebie came with persuasion from her big sister and due to her situation it didn’t seem like a bad idea for everyone to get a fresh start in a new place. But the main reason that K brought Mattie with him, outside of her being wanted for cutting the chick at the club, was to slow him down and keep the dick at the crib. After that first night hanging out at Harry’s, K had been on a mission. Later on that night Dark and Skulls had come up in the club with two carloads of chicks from a town a few miles away called Bethlehem. K had woke up the next morning with two of the prettiest bitches he’d seen in his life and couldn’t even remember their names.

After a week living reckless, he knew that he had to tighten up. He knew that by fucking outta town chicks, it would always eventually lead to some type of beef somewhere down the line. You can’t come to a town and fuck all the bitches, get money, and shit stay sweet. It just didn’t work like that.

So he found a real nice condo in one of the more upscale sides of town, went to NY, grabbed two bricks, all Mattie and Reebie’s shit and loaded up the u — haul truck.

“Well this is our new spot so we might as well start unloading this truck.”

“I’m going out to look for a job tomorrow,” said Mattie headed out the door to the u — haul.

He knew that wouldn’t take long. If it was one thing Mattie was dead set on, it was being independent.

“Oh dam, that reminds me. Here’s that license that I got made for you,” K said handing her a Pennsylvania State Drivers license.

“Kim Ortiz” I kind of like that name,” Mattie said inspecting her new I.D.

“Cool. Once we get all this stuff of the truck, I gotta make a few moves to collect some money. But as soon as I’m done, we going to the furniture spot so you can hook this shit up however you want to.” K walked over and wrapped his arms around Mattie’s small waist and grabbed her ass.” Where is your sister?”

“I think she went out to grab something off the truck.”

K really wanted to take Mattie in the bathroom and bend her ass over for a quickie, but since he’d come home from jail the only quickie’s he’d had were his first two nuts. Outside of that he’d been, Fucking. Mattie felt his hardness pressing against her thigh and smiled. She was thinking the same thing.

“Later,” K said remembering the money he had in the streets.

As they were on their way out to the parking lot, K was thinking how fortunate he was to have a down ass bitch like Mattie. Sure she had her flaws and made some mistakes, but so had he. Nobody was perfect. Of course he had his pick of the litter in a new town, but who wanted to go through the motions of trying to learn the ways and likes and dislikes of a new chick. Especially when he had 90 % of everything he wanted right here with Mattie. Of course the pussy was so good that it had his perception off, and trust should have accounted for much more of the 10 % that he gave it.

His thoughts were cut off as he walked down the sidewalk and saw Reebie talking to a cat in a big body green Lexus with chrome factory rims. He was a pretty boy, who looked harmless. But looks could always be deceiving. As hard as K had looked to find a low spot to rest easy, Reebie had blown it up just that quick. Mattie looked at K and knew what he was thinking, as well as how he felt about niggah’s knowing where he slept.

“Don’t worry baby I’ll talk to her,” said Mattie as she heard Reebie laughing and pointing to the door of the condo.

“Yeah Ma. You do that.”

K cruised slowly down Turner Street which was one of the hottest blocks in the town, looking for one of his workers. While Dante and Skulls had been out and about making moves, K had been doing some recruiting of his own. There was much too much paper floating for K to sit back and wait for somebody else to make things happen. And of course K being the Crimedanch bred hustler that he was, he had go getta in his blood. The sun was setting giving the sky a burnt orange tint. There were various crowds and crews making guap and doing their thing in the six hundred block of Turner. K had found out from his own investigating that there were niggah’s from Jersey, N.Y., Philly and Pittsburg in the town getting their grind on. This wasn’t K’s first venture OT (outta town) so he knew how to maneuver in this type of atmosphere.

He got caught by the red light on 6th street and was able to get a better view of the area. K saw some local cats standing in front of the corner store bodega on the corner. He didn’t see who he was looking for, but one of the cats on the corner noticed the Caddy. G’d-up gave a head gesture saying what’s up and K nodded letting him know shit was all good. Once the light turned green K pulled off cruising slowly in search of a parking spot. He found a spot midway down the block, just after a bar called Trinkles, and pulled in. He removed the.45 caliber Glock from under the armrest and slid it into his waistband. The extended clip made his shirt poke out a little, but he really didn’t give a fuck. Shit is real in these streets, he reasoned. K leaned against the caddy.

“Yo what’s up fam?” said G coming down the sidewalk.

“You know the struggle youngun. Tryin to make moves, I got mouths to feed. What’s good witchu?”

“I been trying to holla at Dark, but he said shit was dry. I’m trying to make a move.”

“Watchuworkin wit. I just touched down (got back in town),” said K.

G had been buying ounces pretty consistently and K knew he had the potential to be a big customer. K didn’t believe in going to the top by himself. Before he had got knocked and was getting money in VA, he made sure everybody in his circle, as well as niggahs he dealt with was eating. Jealousy and envy usually came into the equation when everybody in the food chain wasn’t getting fed.

“Yo that shit yall had, had my customers blowing up my phone. I got like $2000 I’m trying to make a move with. What can you do for a niggah? I’m tryin to come — up.”

“Come on and hop in the whip. Let’s take a ride and talk about some things,” said K.

“Hold up, let me stash this shit, I copped from the Philly niggahs. I snatched a lil seven grams to keep me going, but they shit aint that good.”

G spun off and went down the alley. He reappeared two minutes later and slid in the front seat of the caddy.

“Open the ashtray and fire up that kush,” K said a Styles P came through factory speakers.

Eyes are the window to the soul/too many people lookin’/so I blow a dutch and leave em half closed- Styles P flowed.

As the whip slowly began to fill with the lovely scent, K got right to BI (business).

“Look fam, I been peepin your moves and it seems to me like you trying to get some bread.”

“No doubt, but it been kinda hard. Everytime I start getting right shit get dry. Or shit might be going good and something come up on the homefront. Mymoms be running into tough times, so I gotta hold her down. On top of that shorty is pregnant. That’s why I’m spending 2 G’s trying to stack for this seed I got coming,” said G.

K had seen the little cute white girl named Jodi. He had met her sister named Terri, who was a freak that another crew of N.Y. niggahs was running through.

“True. I can dig it. Peep game though. I’m trying to help you change your situation. How long would it take you to rock (sell) a big 8(4? ounces)?

“Nah fam, you don’t understand. I only got 2G’s.

“Nah playa. You don’t understand. I’m trying to take you to the next level.”

It was like a light went on. When the reality of what K was saying hit home. G hit the dutch and thought for about 20 seconds.

“It all depends on how I move it, you know-if the numbers is right. If I bust it all the way down, it might take me a little over a week. But if I could get it for like $3800 I could sell some eight balls, and quarters and move it in a couple of days.”

$3800? He was leaning more towards 34.

“We can make that happen, but I’m trying to have you at half a brick status in like a month, month in a half. That is if you ready to go there.”

”Hell yeah, I’m ready. Niggahs be always looking for weight.Especially my peoples on Chew St. and my fam down on Second.”

K already knew about the money down on Second Street. He had a few cats he rocked with down there, but the potential for that spot was unlimited. Them 2nd niggahs was about they scrilla. They pulled up in front of G’s crib and K dropped him off.

“Yo, call my cellphone so I can have your number and lock it in. You won’t be dealing with Dark after today. Give me about 20 minutes and I’ll call you when I’m pulling up,” K said handing G his cellphone number.

“Good looking out on the hook up too. I’ve been waiting for a chance like this.”

“Just keep it funky with a niggah and we gonna shine like 50 carats of clear blue stones on everybody. That’s my word.”

After K dropped off G’d-up at his crib he called Mattie.

“Hey daddy. Where you at? “ Mattie answered.

“I’m on my way to the crib. I need you to fix me something to eat,” he said talking in code.

Mattie knew exactly what he was talking about because K had put her up on game a long time ago.

“What you want me to fix for you? A steak (ounce) a burger (2 and a quarter ounce) or barbeque ribs and macaroni and cheese (four and half ounces)?”

“Them barbeque ribs and macaroni and cheese, is what’s really good?”

“Alright, I’ll start on it right away. I got something to tell you when you get here.”

“I’m on my way.”

K pulled in the complex ten minutes later and Mattie had the big 8 waiting for him when he came through the door. She was almost done unpacking and shit was everywhere.

“Good looking out baby. I’m taking all this work up otta here before we go to bed. Where is your sister?”

“That dude took her to go get some trees. I told her we had to talk or I was gonna send her ass back to N.Y.”

Mattie could see the expression on K’s face and knew he was getting frustrated.

“You know what I went through in Amityville and I’m not trying to relive that nightmare again,” she quickly added.

“And I dam sure aint. What did you want to tell me?” K said changing the subject.

“I’ve got an interview tomorrow.”

“Already?Dam girl, you aint bullshittin. That’s what’s up though. Where?”

K could see her expression change and could see that he might not like what was coming next.

“I saw a billboard for a club when we were on our way in town and called the number. They want me to come in for an audition tomorrow.

“Audition? What kind of- oh….”

It didn’t take long for K to figure out what kind of club Mattie was talking about. He was about to protest, but quickly remembered how she had told him about her last experience, being in another state with him, and left with nothing after he got locked up. As much as he wasn’t feeling the idea, he had to respect the fact she was covering her tracks. He could look in her eyes and see the fear of possibly reliving the experience. But he could also see the determination as a go getter which was another characteristic he admired about her.

“Aight. We’ll talk more about it later. Let me go and handle this BI.”

Mattie could tell it was bothering him more than he let on, but hoped that things wouldn’t change. Things were definitely going to change in the near future, but not in the way that either of them had expected.

CHAPTER 13

Things began to move quickly and within six weeks K had managed to crank up four spots and employ 17 workers around town. Mattie had gotten hired on at the spot because of her skills and beauty, and soon became a main attraction at the club. The first few weeks in PA had been sweet. K had done exactly what he said and let Mattie hook up the condo. From the furniture to the flat screens, and computers, to the fully stocked bar. It definitely had every outward appearance of home. The first weeks Mattie only worked at the club a few days a week. So on the weekends while Reebie was out learning the town with her new friend in the Lexus, K and Mattie would blaze blunts and sip mixed drinks on the balcony and talk about their goals and aspirations for the future.

Mattie wanted desperately to get her life together and reclaim her son Miguel, which she’d had at a very young and confusing time in her life. She’d also speak about her hopes to own rental property and a huge ranch with lots of land and horses in Montana. She had actually begun the process to enroll in college before the incident in the strip club in N.Y.

K had plans to own a bunch of everything. They would talk and laugh for hours and screw like rabbits for hours after that. The fact that they were one in the same, could dream together, and actually believed that they could achieve their goals, made their relationship that much better. But it wasn’t long before Mattie’s popularity at the club grew, and the owner began to schedule her to work more days out of the week. It was great for Mattie, but it left K with a lot of free time on his hands after he handled his business.

He had gone to her job to hang out and have a couple of drinks in the beginning believing that it was no big deal watching her dance, But he soon realized that it affected him more than he thought it would. Watching her dance for other men brought about feelings and emotions that he didn’t care to deal with. But he saw how much bread she was caking and wasn’t willing to knock her hustle because of his feelings.

So it wasn’t long before K was hanging at some of the local spots and bars where some of the people he dealt with hung out. After he had run through some more of the local cuties, he began to want to do something different. His conscience was starting to get the better of him as he watched some of the young kids in the community that he was destroying. Just like today as he cruised past the park on Tillman Street between 6th and 7th. The park was full of young kids playing on swings and sliding boards as their mothers watched from the benches. K cruised by slowly in the Suburban that he had traded the Cadillac in for. He had become a familiar face in the hood, so a lot of the people in the park recognized him. A few people that he knew waved and smiled and it was at that moment that he made the decision to do something to make a difference.

K pulled up to the curb of the Allentown Youth Center five minutes later and exited the truck. He went through the entrance where two young boys were standing talking about the newest play station game. Inside the front doors was a wide open carpeted area, with six pool and ping — pong tables. Only six kids occupied this area engaged in recreation. Towards the far end of the building K saw a flight of steps that lead up to a second level. He could hear the sound of bouncing balls and the rubber soles of sneakers screeching on wood floors. After he headed up the stairs, the sound of male voices yelling competitively could be heard. When K reached the top of the stairs there were a few different groups of kids balling, but nowhere near as much as it should have been in a youth center of this size.

He walked over to the bleachers and took a seat. He watched the future as they ran up and down the courts without a care in the world. He wondered at what point would lives full of such young innocence, take a dramatic turn that would lead them to make the kind of choices he did. Then it hit him almost immediately. He remembered when that time had come for him like it was yesterday. K knew how easily the wrong kinds of influences and wanting for things that family couldn’t provide could lead an individual to take the next available option. For him that had been the streets.

His thoughts were interrupted by a female voice.

“No disrespect, but you look a little old to be hanging out in here,” she said.

K turned and was awestruck by a vision of beauty that smiled back at him. She looked like she had just walked off the screen of the popular show on Spanish television called Caliente’. She stood five feet tall and weighed about 130 pounds, which was proportioned properly in all the right places. Her catlike green eyes smiled when she did. Her olive — tan complexion was a perfect contrast to her shoulder length Jet black straight hair. Her hip hugger jeans gripped her Dominican assets to perfection.

“Nah, my bad. I mean — I’m sorry,” K said trying to catch himself, realizing that he was staring.

She saw that he was struggling and helped him out.

“I’m Liza — Liza Montez,” she said extending her hand. “I’m the Youth Center Coordinator.

“Nice to meet you. My name is Kevin Johnson.”

There was an awkward silence momentarily.

“I just moved out here recently. I was just checking out the center, trying to see what kind of activities it offered to the kids.”

“Do you have any children that you’re planning on bringing here?”

“Well I do have a son, but he’s in N.Y. with his mother. The reason I’m interested is because I was considering getting involved. You know like fund raisers, talent shows, cookouts for the kids. Stuff like that.”

“Oh” she stated. “That’s a wonderful idea. But right now we are fighting to keep the center open. The budget that we have is barely covering the expenses. On top of that we may not even have operating capital for next year. We can’t get the kids off the streets and into the programs in here,” said Liza.

She looked truly heartbroken. K could tell by the way that she was watching the young fellas on the court that her position here was much more than a job. She cared for every child that came through those doors as if they were her own.

“I got some ideas and I’m pretty sure that if we put our heads together we could fill this place up and invite some of those bigwigs down at City Hall to come check it out.”

He saw that he now had her full attention. Someone that was willing to help her with her first love. She became excited.

“Do you really think so? I’ve been trying to get some help for months but nobody seems to care. If we could show them that this place can keep more kids off the streets, I think they may even increase our next year budget.”

He also asked that if she was free for dinner, maybe they could talk over the details. She respectfully declined due to the fact that she had to pick up her boyfriend who worked as a front desk clerk at the Red Roof Inn out on Airport Road. K told her he completely understood, but then she quickly added,” If you like, you can pick me up here tomorrow at 12 for a strictly business lunch,” with a smile.

K looked at those pretty eyes and got lost in her catlike stare.

“ ’ll see you tomorrow at 12.”

On his way out and as she was locking up for the day, He saw Mattie and Reebie slowly ride by, both giving him icy glares as he was smiling a goodbye to Liza. He knew Reebie was taking Mattie to work in the hooptie he brought her, but they didn’t stop or wave. No sign of recognition at all. As he was pulling out of his parking spot driving the truck with his music turned up, He saw Liza smiling at him shaking her head as she climbed into her two year old Altima. He knew she was thinking, look at this drug dealing cat trying to impress me by helping out the kids. But she would soon find out that it really was about the kids.

Just then K’s cell phone rang.

“I see your making some new friends,” said Mattie with a slight attitude.

“Yeah, I told you I was thinking about doing something with the youth center. That was the director. Her name is Liza.”

“Yeah that’s cool. Look, me and Reebie made plans to go to NY after I get off work. We gonna stay at one of her girlfriends apartment and go to Webster Hall. You don’t mind do you honey?”

She knew that he knew all kinds of crazy and freaky shit went down at this club that catered to every crowd except individuals they considered thugs and would turn them away at the door. He knew that she was also going, only to be spiteful.

“Nah love, do ya thing. But today is only Thursday, “he paused and considered reminding her that it was kind of early in the week for a weekend outing.

”You know what, never mind. Call and let me know you aight, if you get a chance. Aight, peace.”

K already knew what was going down, but at the time he was smashing so much new pussy, it didn’t affect him either way. Or so that was what his ego said. But his heart loved Mattie’s trifling ass and that’s all there was to it. So K punched up one of his replacement lickers on his cell and hit the liquor store. He went and snatched up this little thick cutey, and bounced to his down low spot.

CHAPTER 14

After a few weeks of planning K, Liza, and a couple of other business owners came up with a plan to generate funds to keep the youth center open, create activities for the kids, and for K to be involved in something positive. The plan included basketball tournaments similar to the Rutgers Tournaments in NY, or small scale And1 tour. He also included three talents shows which the winners would be awarded a small recording contract under a new independent record label that he’d started, called BIG $TAXXX ENTERTAINMENT. The deal included an official contract, with free studio time, and 1,000 promotional CD’S. To top it off, after all the 18 and unders had their fun, they planned to throw parties that he would promote, in the 1500 capacity youth center, selling food and drinks in addition to the guaranteed house packer, a $500 grand prize Thong contest.

Darkside was handling the street side of things, so K was putting in a lot of time with Liza event planning and as to be expected feeling her more each day. They put together and printed up flyers as well as organized OUR YOUTH ARE THE FUTURE slogan car washes, where customers got 10 % off all basketball, talent shows, and party tickets with a car washing. During this time Deondre, Liza’s boyfriend, had started giving her a hard time about all the time she was spending with that drug dealer as he had put it, and making her life more difficult.

They’d spoke about it and she assured K she could handle the situation. She said that she trusted him and would demand if necessary, the same consideration. K agreed, but still offered to talk to him if she thought that it might help, but she assured him she could handle her situation.

He began to really enjoy being around the youth center kids all the time. Their first event kicked off and was an overwhelming success. There were 16 teams all from surrounding areas. Half indoor, half outdoor tournaments on 2 regulation full courts. K had his boy Cowboy a.k.a DJ Meltdown come through and spin the wax for the event. There were cuties out pushing strollers, mothers and children, dressed in their best. 6 grills were going with ribs, burgers, chicken, steaks, and hot dogs. Garbage cans filled with ice and canned sodas. Game participation was limited to the youths only, between the ages of 12–18, to be sure that it would only involve kids that qualify for youth center activities.

They let the youth center moms who had become increasingly more involved, handle the food prep, and the collection of all the proceeds. K and Mattie arrived just as the first game was ending, and when Liza noticed them she made her way over with her boyfriend Deondre. All The time that K and Liza had been collaborating on projects, K and Deondre had never met. K knew how he felt about their interaction, but he’d noticed he had on a smug type of smirk once they approached. He brushed it off.

“K and Mattie, this is my boyfriend of 4 years and soon to be fiance Deondre. Deondre, K and Mattie, “said Liza.

As far as K and Liza knew, these were first introductions… or so they thought. K reached out and shook his hand. But afterwards Deondre’s and Mattie’s intro was an awkward one. It was like they had already met before.

“Do you two know each other?” Liza asked in a tone that made K a little uneasy.

Mattie just smiled and said,” You know I’m a dancer at a club. I meet many, many men, but just as quickly forgot about them.”

” Liza lets go to our seats, the next game is about to start,”

Deondre respond hastily.

K just looked at Mattie and shook his head in disbelief.

“What?” she questioned.

He just shrugged his shoulders and said, “nothing”.

“I know you feel like I aint shit because of what happened when you were locked up. But what’s done is done.”

Just then he lost it, but K knew he had to keep his composure in front of all those kids and parents. Through clenched teeth he told her, “You spiteful, cold, heartless bitch! You know I’m far from blind or stupid, but you continue to play your little mind games. You know at one time I loved you more than life itself, but the wall you put up, makes it impossible for a man to keep his heart open to someone like you.”

“Oh! So you think I’m stupid niggah? You think I don’t know about all these bitches you out here fuckin? They all hang out with my sister, so you had to know I would find out.”

K kind of figured that it might get back to Mattie. With all the screwing she had been doing when he was locked up, K really didn’t give a fuck. Dealing with Mattie was like walking that love/ hate thin line, and she always kept him off — balance.

“Reebie also let it leak to Dante that you were planning on leaving. So do us both a favor and do it sooner than later! “he stated ignoring her last statement.

Then he went to the sideline at half court where one of the games was being played and stayed there for the entire next game, K looked over to where Deondre and Liza were sitting and noticed her pouting, arms folded, with an attitude — looking more beautiful than ever. After the last game of the day was played and the proceeds counted up, K snatched up Dante and they went to his crib. Mattie had obviously made it back before he did. All her things were packed and she was gone.

CHAPTER 15

The following week K found out that Mattie had moved in with some local hustling cat that she had met at work, and was driving his car around town. It was no biggie really, he had ten cuties on speed dial, but the crib was definitely lonely as fuck. K and Liza continued on their mission to keep a healthy youth center in the community, but the way she acted at their meetings was a lot more relaxed.

She started to let down her guard some and he could tell something was up. She’d told him that Deondre had been acting different and a little distant recently in their relationship. One evening after a meeting to kick of the first talent show, Liza asked if she could come over to his condo to design some graphics on his computer for the flyers she wanted to put together. Of course she would get no objection on his part.

She had followed K over to his place in her Altima and parked in the designated parking spot, next to him in the new white Corvette that he’d brought and was parked out front. She followed him up the walkway saying, “I didn’t know it was this nice over here. This is a pretty upscale side of town.”

“If you like it that much I have an extra bedroom and no one to cook for a niggah. You could always move in,” he said jokingly.

She smiled looking at him with those eyes just a little too long. That caught him off guard.

Then she asked,” Why would I have to move into the extra bedroom,” not smiling.

That really caught him off guard.

They entered the apartment and he told her she could have a look around while he went and turned on the computer and pulled up the program she needed.

“Would you like something to drink like a Hi-C, orange juice, Pepsi? Or maybe you might care for something stronger?

She saw that he had a well-stocked wet bar and asked,” Do you know how to make any mixed drinks?”

“I’m no bartender but I got a little bit of skills. What’s your preference?”

“Can you make a sex on the beach?” she asked.

He wanted to tell her, girl I can make sex anywhere, anyhow, anytime for you, you fine muthafucka…

“K?” she interrupted his thought as he was staring at her.

“Oh…dam… my bad Liza. No doubt I got chu,” he said.

He showed her around the crib as they sipped their drinks.

“The only rooms you don’t have 60 inch screens in are the bathroom, the kitchen, and the office.”

“I just let Mattie design and furnish it. I told her to get whatever made her comfortable and happy. I believe a man can’t be happy if his woman aint happy.”

“My sister Rosa says she heard Mattie was staying with T and driving his mustang around,” said Liza.

“Yeah, I heard about all that. I’ve been through a lot with Mattie. Enough to know that I can expect literally anything from her. She’ll chew this T guy up and spit him out so fast his head will spin. She’ll try to come back to me again, but I’m done with the drama.”

“K, I’ve been around you long enough that I’ve gotten to know you pretty well. I consider myself to be a pretty good judge of character. So tell me why you’ve tolerated the kind of person she is when I know you could do so much better.”

“Maybe I’m a fool, but sometimes you just hope the person you love, changes.”

They had an awkward silence after that, like that was the response she wanted to hear or expected. Then he changed the conversation.

“So what did you have in mind for these flyers?”

She described what she wanted to do, and K left her to do her thing as he checked his cell phone messages. There were a couple of cuties trying to get some attention. Dark had left a hit me back, and Mattie left a message saying we need to talk. Once he returned to the office Liza had asked him if he would make her another drink, only a little stronger. K asked her if she wanted something to eat if she was gonna be drinking. His specialty was chicken parmesan that his moms had taught him how to make. He told her he could throw it together so she would have something on her stomach to counter the alcohol.

She said if it wasn’t too much trouble she would love to try it. K made her another drink and told her he was going to run to the grocery store around the corner in the plaza. He needed to grab some fresh chicken fillets, lettuce, and tomatoes for a salad. Then he was out the door. As he was walking around the grocery store he decided to call and ask Liza if she wanted anything special and realized that he had left his cell phone lying next to the computer in the office when he’d gone to make Liza that drink.

K finished grabbing the items he’d come for, paid for them at the check-out, and left the grocery store. On his drive back they were playing a song by Mint Condition titled Pretty Brown Eyes. That was one of the songs that reminded him of Mattie when their relationship had been at its best. But now the words seemed to have a different meaning as he listened and thought about how they ended up like they were. There was a particular line in the song that hit home with him.

When they sang, quit breakin my heeaaarrttt- breakin my heaaar rr rt, he reminisced.

As K pulled into his parking space, he had to remind himself that Liza was a business associate, as well as someone he had come to respect as a friend — be nice! He entered the condo and went to the kitchen to unpack the groceries he’d brought. When he called out to Liza to see if she was ok, he didn’t get a response.

K walked out the kitchen and down the hall saying, “ I hope you haven’t passed out on me after two drinks,” and froze when he entered his home office and saw tears streaming down her face, as she sat at the computer.

“Dam ma-ma what’s the matter?” he asked.

She just sat there staring at a piece of paper that had the letter M and a phone number on it. He asked her what was wrong again, but she only said, “Mattie called your cell phone, but I didn’t answer it.”

K picked up his phone and looked at it. He still had Mattie under wifey because he had never brought himself to change it. The screen said missed calls 1, wifey, with Mattie’s phone number.

The phone number on the piece of paper with the M on it matched Mattie’s cell phone. K was confused.

“What’s going on here?” He asked.

“I got it out of Deondre’s cell phone a week ago. It had been the most frequent number called going out on his call log, with another number I called to check out, which was the CRAZY KAT. The strip club that your ex works at.”

“Aw shit. Word? I’m sorry Liza,” he said feeling bad for her.

“Oh don’t be silly, what are you apologizing for? You didn’t do anything wrong,” she said.

Even though it wasn’t his fault, he felt bad for her. Watching her as she sat there, K could see the hurt in her eyes as she smiled blinking away tears.

“Why? Why would he do this to me again? The last time it was a bartender at Applebee’s, now this.”

K stayed quiet and let her vent her frustrations. Once he saw she’d relaxed a little he said, “If you want I can save what you’ve done so far on the computer and you can always come back and finish another time.”

Her demeanor quickly changed as he watched her wipe the tears away and regain her composure.

“Oh no mister, you promised me chicken parmesan, and we really need to get these flyers done. The first talent show is only a month away.”

“Are you sure you’re going to be okay?”

She said she would be fine after another drink and asked if she could help him cook, because all she really knew how to make were Spanish dishes. He could see she was hurting and didn’t want to be around Deondre or alone. So, over a couple more drinks they listened to music while she helped him cook. K could see she was also feeling the alcohol because her eyes were getting glassy and she’d started to dance slow and sexy to the music that was playing.

“K will you dance with me? I really, really need to be held right now,” emotions clearly exposed.

They went into the living room where the stereo system was, he took her hand led her to the middle of the room, and she came into his arms. She put her head on his chest and they moved slowly in time with the music. The smell of her perfume and the softness of her body caused a natural reaction in his and she pressed against him tighter. Dam she feels good in my arms, he thought. But he knew that she was vulnerable and didn’t want to take advantage of her. He also didn’t want to let her do something that she might come to regret. Even if Deondre and Mattie were fucking around on the side, he had maad respect for Liza and really didn’t want to see her hurt. So again K had to remind himself… be nice!

CHAPTER 16

While they waited for the food to finish cooking, they danced some more, talked some more, and had another drink or two. By the time the food was done, she’d really needed it because although she wasn’t shit faced drunk, she was too far past tipsy to be driving. She set the table and he fixed the plates and salads. They sat down, said grace, and started eating.

“This is delicious. You really have to write down this recipe for me K.” He didn’t know if she was really hungry or if it was the alcohol, but gorgeous was fuckin some shit up! After they finished eating, he wrapped up the leftovers, and put the dishes in the dishwasher. He then slid in a video and sat on the couch watching a flick while their food digested.

He could tell the liquor and the food was taking a toll on Liza, along with realization that her boyfriend had been creeping with his ex, and probably had been for a while. K told her to make herself comfortable and without saying a word, she took off her slides and laid her head on a pillow that he had set on his lap. They watched The Body Guard with Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner as K massaged Liza’s scalp trying to help her relax. About a half hour into the movie she was sound asleep. He was feeling a little nice too, and had probably dozed off momentarily, because he hadn’t realized the 22 missed calls on his phone. It was on vibrate and most of them were from Skulls.

“Yo K, Dark had an accident on the 1100! He was coming up Seventh Street and a drunk driver ran the light on 7th and Liberty blind siding him!” came the excited voice on the other end of the phone.

“What? “ K said jumping up and scared poor Liza to death.

“Is he alright? Where is he now? “K asked getting up and putting on his shoes.

“He’s at the hospital on 17th, I’m on my way there now,” said Skulls

“I’m out the door right now!” K said ending the call.

“What happened, what’s wrong?” Liza asked wiping sleep from her eyes.

“Dante had an accident on one of the bikes. We have to go to the hospital. Now!”

K grabbed his keys while she slipped her shoes on and they headed towards the door. When he opened the door to leave, Mattie was standing with her hand in the knocking position, about to knock. Liza’s eyes shot poisonous darts at Mattie as they all stood at the door looking crazy at each other. Mattie had a Quick Service taxi cab parked out front.

“Reebie called me and told me Dante had a bad accident, and Skulls had been calling your cell and didn’t get an answer. So I caught a cab from the club to see if you were here, while I was on my way to the hospital.”

Then she turned her nose up at Liza and said with an attitude, “But I can see why now. I guess you two were busy.”

“Nah, I just cooked her dinner and we had some drinks and — “

Liza cut K off.

”And we were just about to fuck before he found out about Darkside.”

To say he was shocked by what Liza said would be the understatement of the century. Mattie’s eye’s registered the anger of a mad woman.

“I know you’ve been creeping with Deondre and you can have his sorry ass!” Liza added with fury.

She grabbed K’s hand and pulled him towards the Vette said, “come on K, we have to go to the hospital to check on your friend.”

He just closed the front door, and shrugged his shoulders at Mattie. K unlocked the doors on his car with the remote, hopped in the whip and bounced. Mattie just stood speechless while the tires of the brand new Corvette ate up the asphalt as they exited the parking lot.

On the way to the hospital he asked Liza, “Are you o.k.?”

“I feel a lot better now that I vented some frustration towards her. K, I really am sorry for putting you on the spot like that.”

“Aw it’s no big deal baby girl… I mean Liza.”

“K, I would have to be blind to not notice you were attracted to me, and I really like you too. You’re a sweetheart. I just never reacted because I wanted to be faithful to that asshole. Plus we have a great working relationship and I didn’t want to cross that line.”

“Liza, I think that you are the most attractive and sexy woman that I’ve encountered in a long time, but I’m going through a phase right now and keeping company with quite a few female companions. Feel me? I know I don’t want to hurt you anymore than what you’re dealing with.”

He knew it was going to be difficult for her, preparing to end a relationship. Once they parked in the hospital’s emergency parking area, he leaned over to give her a comforting kiss on her forehead. She unexpectantly lifted her mouth to meet his, slipped her tongue in, and grabbed the back of his head so he couldn’t get away. It wasn’t like he was gonna try to get away. He tasted the mix peppermint she’d been sucking on along with the liquor and demonstrated his skills in a long, sweet, soft, sensual kiss. When they finally separated she looked him straight in his eyes and said, “Let me worry about me.” She opened her door. “Let’s go and check on your friend,” she said with a smile that let him know, she was a woman with a mission. And he was it!

K was drained. He already knew from the doctor’s reactions that his man Dark would be out of commission for a minute. As he and Liza rode up Liberty Street after leaving the hospital, he looked over and saw Liza bobbing her heard and grooving to the music. He could tell she was tired, but he was digging the fact that she was there to support him.

“Wassup sleepy?You aight?” K asked.

“I’m good. You OK?” she asked yawning.

K smiled at her, knowing that at five in the morning, Liza had to be feelin it. They turned into his complex ten minutes later and pulled up next to her car.

“I really appreciate you being here for a brotha. Are you gonna be OK to drive home?”

Liza turned to face K. Her stare was intense.

“I’m not going home.”

She put her hand on his knee and slid it up his thigh. She leaned over to kiss him and grabbed his dick at the same time. She massaged it slowly.

“I see I got one vote for yes,” she said smiling.

They exchanged a long slow kiss.

“Dam girl.You aint playin. Come on lets go inside.”

“Ok. I just need to grab something out my trunk and I will be right in.”

After he got in the house he went to take a piss. This was also something like impossible due to the fact that his dick was still harder than Mt. Rushmore. He had wanted Liza for a long time. His mind raced with thoughts of what was about to go down. When he returned from the bathroom she was standing in the living room with her overnight bag.

She was butt ball naked.

K stopped dead in his tracks. As he took in the visual he couldn’t help but to think that she was ten times more gorgeous than anything he could have imagined.

“I was gonna freshen up a lil bit. But I don’t think I can wait. I want you now,” she said and walked slowly towards K.

He grabbed the back of her head with one hand and a handful of ass with the other. They kissed like animals. Breathing heavily as he palmed her ass like Lebron, she tried to jerk his pants down. She noticed how hard his dick was as she struggled to get his pants down over it. When they were finally down, she felt the heat and throbbing of his dick against her stomach. She grabbed it and began to stroke.

“I need this dick inside me now,” she said leading him over to the couch.

Liza was in heat and couldn’t wait any longer. She slowly bent over the couch looking back over her shoulder. He watched in amazement as she spread her ass cheeks with both hands to expose her pussy and give him a tantalizing view. K didn’t miss a beat as he slid in position behind her. He stuck the tip of his dick in. Liza was soaking wet and on fire. But she was no amateur as he soon found out when she locked her pussy muscles on the tip of his dick and pulled him in deeper. They both moaned in ecstasy as she pulled and he pushed. K grabbed her hips and proceeded to slow grind Liza with long deep strokes as she pushed back intoxicated by his rhythm.

“Ooooh that’s it right there K. Oooh yeah, that dick is gonna make me do itttt!!!”

He grabbed a handful of her hair and pounded harder.

“Do what girl? Talk to me! What you gonna do?”

Liza’s whole body began to tingle as skin slapping against skin sounds filled the room. K felt her pussy get wetter and banged harder.

“Oh shit, right there…just…like…that!”

“Like that?” he asked picking up the rhythm.

“Ooohhfuuuccckkkk…right there…like that…I’m cuuuummmiiinnnnngggg! Liza screamed.

Shockwaves shot through them both as she tightened around his dick. He never lost his momentum as he exploded inside Liza. He picked her up and turned her around while still inside her and sat down on the couch. They were both panting heavily as she lay back against him.

“You OK love?”

“Oh yeah K. That shit was great,” Liza said between breaths.

He was rubbing on her belly as she sat facing away from him. He slid his hand down between her legs and started to massage her clit while his dick was still inside her. Liza let out a deep moan as she responded by moving her hips slowly in a circular motion.

“Dam K. You ready again? You gon spoil me rotten fuckin me like this.”

He sped up his motion and Liza began to buck, riding him like a mechanical bull. She put her hands on his knees and leaned forward, stood on her toes, and slid up and down on that dick. As K watched himself disappear in and out of Liza he thought to himself we are gonna get along real good.

CHAPTER 17

The first talent show a month later was won by a young man with a million dollar voice for his rendition of the Jodeci classic STAY. It was a packed house and he shut shit down with the standing ovation he received.

The past month had definitely been a crazy one; Darkside escaped his brush with death with a concussion, a broken leg, and a fractured shoulder. He was confined to a wheelchair for three months after his two week hospital stay. Mattie had left T and moved in with her sister Reebie in a rooming house, and during the same period of time had slept with a guy that Reebie had gotten close to and was calling her man named Randy. Reebie never had a clue.

K had gotten a new cell phone two weeks after the incident at his condo with Mattie and Liza, and gave the new number to everyone except for the cuties that he had been creeping with, and of course Mattie. Deondre had been bugging Liza, begging and apologizing, but she wanted absolutely no parts of him. He had come by the youth center one day and threated to smash all of Liza’s windows of her car if she didn’t give him five minutes of her time to hear him out. K could see that she was getting real fed up with his bullshit and so was he. She wanted to get an order of protection against this bitch ass pretty boy, but K told her to let him handle it.

He had caught Deondre going into his apartment after work that same night. Deondre lived in an apartment on the east side of Allentown on a back alleyway that had a lot of dark corners. As he was putting his key in the door after getting off work, K crept out of the shadows in all black, put the cold steel of the Dirty harry 44 long to the back of his head, cocked it, and told him, “ If you move the wrong way, you die.” Once inside K pushed him onto his couch and put half the barrel in his mouth, until Deondre almost gagged.

“Look, Liza don’t want no parts of you mufucka, so leave her the fuck alone! And I don’t give second warnings. Do we understand each other?”

He managed a muffled “mmhmmmmhmm!” Shaking his head up and down, so K took it that he did.

He took the gun out of his mouth and started to leave but almost as a reflex action K spun and backhanded him to sleep. As Deondre lay hanging alfway off the couch out cold, K spit on him.

“And that’s for disrespecting me. Pussy!”

He quietly left the same way he had come in.

Liza stayed at K’s apartment every day since the first night that she was there. Over the following week and a half Liza had slowly but surely proceeded to move her belongings into his condo. After getting to know each other intimately that first night, they were both sprung. Sitting next to her now at the side of the judges table after the first talent show, he realized it was time for a change. They had some shit that he thought might develop into a long term relationship, and he realized they were well on their way. All of the events were successes and things were looking good. K moved Dark into his down low spot and Dante moved in a sistah he had taken a liking to named Charmaine. K and Charmaine instantly became like brother and sister due to the fact that they both had a crazy sense of humor.

Liza presented Dwayne Garret the winner of the first talent show and announced that he would be the first artist on the new indie label Big $taxxx records. K figured they had a real good shot with Dwayne as their first artist and decided to slow up on his illegal operations. He had a hefty stash and the Feds had come through cracking heads, which also influenced his decision. Plus, his right hand man Darkside was out of commission for a while, and he really didn’t trust nobody like he trusted Dark.

The second and third talent show went over well and they added to their roster a hip — hop artist named G’d-up and a female singing group that called themselves Triple Extasy. G’d- up was actually one of K’s best weight customers, and K had no idea his skills were on a recognizable level. Triple Extasy turned out to be three strippers, one black, one white, one Puerto Rican, all So Seductive. So they had the first three acts for their label, all hot and extremely talented. They found a tight studio out in Philly and booked it solid for two months. K had no idea putting together such a project could be so hectic and time consuming. Allentown was about 45 minutes from Philadelphia and they would leave town in the two Suburbans K had brought and totally covered with Big $taxxx Records logo’s and decals as promotional vehicles and headed out back to back pushing 90 mph, immediately after evening rush hour traffic.

Liza drove one and K drove the other. On the way to the studio their artists would be song writing, rehearsing lyrics and harmonizing. They also noticed how Dwayne and Triple Extasy sounded hot when they collaborated. And when G added his witty lyrics for the masses is was official.

Perfexion Studios was a first time experience for all the artists. None of them had actually been in a professional recording studio, let alone record in one. The spot was run by a cat named LP, who K had heard a lot of good things about, and his chick Jessica. She was a real head turner too. As they walked into one of the recording rooms Dwayne looked around in amazement.

“This is it! I finally made it to the big leagues,” he said with enthusiastic excitement, then he went into one of the soundproof booth bowed his head and said a prayer:

“Heavenly father, I want to thank you this day for your many blessings. As you know father, I have prayed to you on numerous occasion for the chance to just be heard, Heavenly father. You have continuously answered prayers and I know this is just another of your blessings, which you give abundantly. I ask you at this time to bless our creative efforts and bless these wonderful people and our record label as a whole. All of this I ask in your precious son Jesus’s name. Amen.”

K gave him a hug showing love when he came out and they got prepared to put in the hard work they knew it was gonna take to make this a successful venture. They all sat in on track selection sessions and the first group to select tracks for their project was Triple Extasy. K had contacted a lot of hot producers from around the country and listened to them all unbiased, but by far the hottest tracks came from K’s people and his industry ace S.I.D. To hear Triple Extasyharmonize and rift over his tracks with head nodding baselines and horns was musical poetry.

By the end of the two months in the studio, they had three potentially platinum albums, mixed down, Mastered and ready for sales or a major distribution deal. G’d-up had a crazy street buzz from mix tape appearances coast to coast. Dwayne and Triple Extasy’s upcoming releases were so hyped up through radio and street team marketing and promotion, that they did pretty good their first time out. Dwayne moved 22,000 units with his debut and self-titled album, Triple Extasy moved 26,000 units and G’d-up came out strong moving 37,000 units out of the stores and online all in the first month.

This also gave K the opportunity to take some other money to the Laundry mat. And even though it wasn’t gold or platinum success it got them recognized by the majors and they kept every dollar. K eventually employed persons to oversee daily operations and told Liza that he had a surprise that he had been planning for a while. He told her it was something that was going to make her very, very happy.

“I have you and my health and we’re building a new youth center on top of our success with the record label. What more could you possibly do to make me happy?” she asked seriously.

“It’s time for you to meet my best friend in the world for real. We are going to New York for New Years and stay at my pops crib for a couple days,” he said.

“You’re taking me to meet your father?” she asked eyes wide with surprise.

“Yep, and my mom’s will be visiting from Marietta Georgia too.”

“You mean I get to meet both of your parents?” she asked.

“Yes love, and they are gonna love you too pieces!”

CHAPTER 18

They hit interstate 78 East, off of South 4th street leading out of Allentown, with two suitcases ready for a New York New Years. They entered NY by way of the George Washington Bridge bypassing the Bronx. Taking in all the gritty NYC winter beauty, they crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge leading onto Cross Island Parkway; Playing The Notorious Big’s IT WAS ALL A DREAM. They exited the Cross Island onto the LIE and down the home stretch to Exit 50, Wyandanch.

As they entered the town they rode up the hustling strip that K had spent so many days and nights on, slinging rocks like Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble did for their boss Mr. Slate. They say the game never changes only the players. As they cruised through in his newly acquired Infinity QX56 headed to the crib, evidence of that fact was all too clear. All the young up and comers were beating the block in their Timberlands and True Religions, or Gortex and Snorkels getting their grind on as he had done many, many a day.

When K pulled up to the crib, he could see his moms had already made it in town by the sight of her Crispy clean Cream Chrysler 300M posted up in the driveway behind his baby sisters dark green Camry. His pops Sporty red Mitsubishi 3000 with armor all tires shining was parked out front. K and Liza had barely made it out of the truck before his nephew Marcus came out of the front door yelling, “Uncle, Uncle! Grandma, grandpa uncle is here.”

“Boy! Get back in here with no coat on before you get sick!” His sister Tamisha yelled out the front door at her son.

K snatched him up, gave him a big hug and carried him in the house. His moms was in the master bedroom recuperating from her journey from Georgia, so he just gave her a peck on the cheek and let her sleep. His pops was in the basement with his crew; four miniature Dobermans that went nuts if you came with 10 feet of him. He was watching his 60 inch plasma screen with the Super Surround Sound System, kicked back relaxing sipping his vodka and orange juice.

“Hey, what a nice surprise,’ he said noticing us as they entered the basement door.

His dogs went nuts. Liza grabbed K’s arms scared to death.

Raising his voice over the high pitched barking dogs he asked, ”And who is this beautiful young lady?”

He turned to the dogs, “shut up goddamit!”

They calmed down a little; not much but enough for K to say,“Dad this is the love of my life, Liza. Liza this is my poppa.”

“Mr. Johnson I am so happy to finally meet you.”

“Please call me Joe, that Mr. Johnson stuff makes me feel old.”

“Ok Joe, nice to meet you. You have a beautiful home,” said Liza.

“Thank you. And my home is your home. Damn, my son you sure can pick em,” said K’s pops.

His sister came out of her room next to the basement, gave him a hug and he made introductions while his pops made drinks. Pops had already been cooking the food for the New Year’s celebration and the aromas floating through the house had caught Liza’s attention.

“Somebody is hookin it up, that food smells delicious,” said Liza.

“Baby you have no idea. If you think that chicken parmesan was good, you just wait til my pops cooking hits those taste buds,” K said.

She gave him a mean but playful look that broke into a shameful smile at their own personal little joke. She still denied the way she massacred that chicken parmesan that first night, but from being with her over the past couple of months, he’d found out that her appetite increased a little when alcohol was involved. But he still used to tell her “ You smashed that chicken ma — ma!”

“I got ham, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, cornbread, sweet potato pies, fried fish, lasagna, black eye peas, and yams,” Said K’s pop’s.

K looked at Liza and the drink in her hand that she was sipping on and smiled at her. From out of nowhere K’s nephew appeared with the notoriously embarrassing old family photo album. Before K could grab it from him Liza had it and was flipping through the pages. He already knew what was coming and there was no way Kevin could stop it. She got to the picture of his first birthday party, where he made it to the cake, before the cake made it to the oven and K was sitting on the table with his big afro and a bowl of cake mix between his legs. His mother caught the moment as he was smiling ear to ear, cake mix all over his nose, mouth, and hands.

“Oooooh, you were so cute,” Liza said laughing until she had tears in her eyes. K slid down on the couch and covered his head with one of the big pillows in embarrassment.

“Yes my baby was cute and he still is,” K heard his mother say from the basement doorway. His Pops dogs had obviously felt the wrath of moms because they didn’t make a sound.

“Ma!” K said as he quickly hopped up to get him a mom’s hug.

He introduced her and Liza and they hit it off from the beginning. Not long after, a few of his sister’s girlfriends came over to hang out and girl talk for a while. K asked Liza if she felt comfortable enough to hang out at the house while he went through the hood to go holla at his boys. She said she felt more than comfortable and of course she didn’t mind. She knew he hadn’t kicked it with his boys since he left town, So K gave her a kiss, hopped in the truck and went to go check his niggahs.

His first stop was the candy store/weed spot/gambling spot. It was on the corner of a row of stores on the main drag and had pool tables, clear canisters filled with various candies on the counter that you had to buy at least a dollars’ worth, along with however many dime bags of weed you wanted. There was also a big dice shooting table in the back where you could always place a bet and try your luck. Because it was the holidays, the spot was packed with locals and other hustlers returning to the hood from out of town. As soon as he walked in he got crazy love because his peoples hadn’t seen him in a while.

The parking lot and curbside was lined with Benzes, Beemer’s, Lexus’s, and Jeeps. Old school cats and new school cats were kicking it and bottles of liquor were in heavy rotation.

A few of his boys asked, “When you gone bring us with you to get some of that PA money?”

K looked at his man’s Tommy and Irvin leaning on T’s Lex and said “shit, it looks like yall niggahs is doing pretty good right here.”

It was all love through. They liked to fuck with him about shit like that. He dropped a couple of hundred dollar bets on the Cee lo table, and on the way out, the house man said,” hey where you going wit all that coke and music money after a couple little hundred dollar bets?”

“I got places to go, people to see and hot spots to get out of,” he said joking, but was dead serious. “I just came through to show my face in the hood. I got plans on doing some big things if shit keep going smooth and I want my niggahs to be a part of it. “

K slapped everybody five with a half hug showing love and rolled out. When he stepped outside the spot he bumped into his niggahs Pook and Blass.

Blass said “Yo K-MO, what up nigga, what you doing back in the hood? You must be up here for the holidays.”

“Yeah, no doubt. What ya’ll niggas up to?” K asked.

“You know we out here grinding, we both got mouths to feed,” Pook said. “Hold up K, let me catch this dough real quick.”

Just then one of the regulars K had known for years because she had been one of his old customer’s, came walking up. Her face lit up with a big crackhead smile and you could tell she had been a beautiful black woman at one time. She had a daughter that was even more proof of that.

“Hey big man, where you been? You always got it good. You workin?” she asked him.

“Nah, I’m just passing through. But my man got you.”

“Come here Goobie! How much you got? “said Pook.

“I got $50, but I want a slab,” she said.

“We got you. Give me the money and grab that piece out of the change slot in the payphone.”

She did as she was told and as she was walking off she said “I’ll be back in about half hour. I got this trick at the motel and he got a pocketful. This is just to get him started.”

“Hold up!” Pook said, and scribbled down the number to the payphone.

“Call this number and if he’s spending more than a hundred we will bring it to you.”

“Aight, aight,” she said and scurried away eyes bulging, and ashy lips twisting. After she was gone Pook said, “K man, we tryin to get up outta the hood. Niggahs is catchin sales left and right.”

“I know, I heard this shit was on flames. But you know I’m still in the process of laying the foundation?”

Right after he said that the police pulled into the parking lot across the street. It was cruiser number 105, better known as the marine cops. K knew them harassing bastards and they knew him, so he knew it was time to get gone. K gave all his boys contact numbers and told them to get at him before he left town. The police turned on their overhead floodlights and lit up the entire side of the street everybody was standing on. K gave his niggas some dap and was out.

As he pulled away from the curbside he reflected on the experience his life had been up to that point and thanked God that he had made it this far. He’d lost a lot of cats, real good dudes, to this crazy game. Crimedanch had lost some thorough hustlers like Herman The Stranger and Keith Money Green, thugs like Tim Williams and Taheem, and up and comers Karim, Ed Nitty, Allen Parker and Ira aka Young Iroc.

Just as he turned the corner onto his block, he saw the red, white, and blue strobe lights illuminate in his rearview mirror. He knew he hadn’t done anything illegal, signaling or otherwise, but he was in a brand new truck in the hood. So it was business as usual for Suffolk County’s finest, with the same old bullshit! The officer driving approached the vehicle’s driver’s side with his hand on his Beretta 9mm, as the other officer did the same on the passenger side shining his flashlight through the back window of the Tahoe.

Shit, he knew the routine so he turned off the truck with his left hand while his right hand was in the air where they could see it, extended his left hand out of the window so they could see them both. Now in the hood they don’t ask for the usual License, registration and insurance. It just didn’t go down like that. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the uniformed cops, or the undercover, they address you the same.

“Step out of the vehicle with your hands in the air where we can see them.”

So on cue, K followed the usual procedure, and once they saw who it was the whole scene changed.

“Look who we got here, Mr. K-Money. So Mr. Johnson, where have you been? We heard you took your drug dealing business elsewhere. Smart decision,” said one officer.

“I live in Pennsylvania and own a record company now. Why are busting my balls officer? “They checked out the truck while eyeing him suspiciously.

“Oh we not busting your balls, we just wanted to see who was driving this pretty truck with the PA tags. So you have any guns or drugs on you Mr. Johnson? Do you mind if we search your vehicle?”

“Do you have probable cause?” K asked.

The main asshole of the two gave him a look that he knew all too well. It was a look where no words were needed, that blatantly said you know how we get down. They always keep a couple of rocks for guys who wanted act up.

“Now we can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way,” said one of the officers.

K recognized the look because he knew these two very, very well. They were just as crooked as the pigs they’d bodied before he bounced.

“Ok, ok. Do what you got to do. Just remember I aint never gave you guys a hard time.”

They proceeded to search the vehicle and he stood there nervous as fuck. Halfway through the search they got a 911 call over the radio.

”All units respond. There’s been a shooting on north 15th Street and two people are down,” said the dispatcher.

They stopped in the middle of their search and ran to the cruiser. But before getting in the driver yelled over his door.

“Watch yourself and where you hangout Mr. Johnson.” The officer slammed his door shut, and brutally jerked the transmission into reverse. Burning rubber, he backed out onto Jamaica Avenue and sped away to answer their call.

K got in his truck and drove up two stop signs to his family crib and his niggah Ike Mitchell was there standing in the driveway laughing.

“What up my nigga? What’s so funny? “K asked.

“My bad niggah, I aint laughing at you. I was riding by when them crooked ass faggots had you pulled over, So I dipped to the phone booth and put in that bogus 911 call to the switchboard. I saw it was you from the spotlights they had on you and I saw the Pa. tags.”

“Oh shit! That’s good looking, aint no telling what them hating ass police would have tried to pull. Why don’t you come in? Pops is cooking.”

“I gotta go pick — up wifey from work then we going to spend New Year’s with her peoples. How long you in town?

“Two or three days at the most. Take my cell number and hit me when you get back in town. Maybe we could hook up and do something.”

He took K’s number gave him a pound, then bounced. K entered the house to the welcome familiar smells of home cooked Alabama soul food compliments of chef pop dooks. Liza was at the kitchen table with his sister and her friends playing cards, talking and smiling ear to ear.

“K, I love your family. Your mom wants to know how long we’re going to be in town” said Liza.

“I’m not sure but I’ll make sure we stay long enough for you two to get acquainted well enough.”

K asked Liza to take a ride with him and told his family they would be back shortly. K had grabbed a couple of sacs when he was at the weed spot, and due to the shit he had just went through with the police, he needed a little smoke session to relax his nerves. They got in the truck and headed to a store that was nowhere near the hood. K pulled up to the 7 eleven went in and brought a box of dutchmasters. When they returned to the house K twisted up a log, sparked it and let the mean green mellow out his mental.

CHAPTER 19

Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica Queens was packed even though it was a blistering cold New Year’s Day. K and Liza had set out in the afternoon, hours after sleeping off the effects of the New Year’s celebration with friends and family. He had made a stop to pick up his son so he could take him to hang out with them and take him shopping.

They had brought in the New Year at 12 o’clock, watching the ball drop on the big screen in the basement at the house and couldn’t have been happier than to be with his family and Liza on New Year’s. They were now headed to The Coliseum, a mini-mall loaded with all kinds of urban wear, from hats, to sneakers, to coats, to the iciest of the iced out jewelry. K had a personal jeweler named Benny in the coliseum that he had been buying custom made jewels from for years. A month prior to coming to NY K had phoned in a special order for late surprise Christmas gifts for Liza and his son JJ. They’d pulled in and parked in the rooftop parking lot that was exclusively for coliseum shoppers.

Upon entering the building he came across one of his cousins that he hadn’t seen in a minute. K’s family Bazzo had opened a club that had become very successful, among Long Islands night clubbers, out in Hempstead.

“When did you get in town?”

“I got here yesterday afternoon. I’m at pops crib for New Year’s. I heard you got the club scene on lock.”

“Yeah a little something. I got a big New Year’s Day party jumping off tonight. Why don’t you swing through and I’ll put you on the V.I.P. guest list. We can ball out like old times. Show these niggahs how it’s done.

“No doubt, me and my lady will be there.”

See, K and Bazzo went way back. In the hood hustling, there was always competition. Like who got the newest Jordan’s first, who had the flyest outfit on, the hottest gold chain or the nicest car. And K and his boy Bazzo were always at it.

K gave him dap and a half hug, told him he’d see him later and went into the coliseum. K got the usual from the sistahs, which he always had madd love for, but the ones he had tried to get at, wasn’t trying to show a big niggah no love. And he had never been the kind of dude to settle for less than the best. So when he heard chicks and their little slick sideways remarks and indirect references to his choice of nationality in his relationship, he put his arm around his lady to let them know how happy he was with his. But still they heard, dam every nigga wanna hear that ‘ooh poppi poppi shit since J — Lo and a nigga don’t want fried chicken and collard greens no more when he eatin all them rice and beans. It was kind of fucked up though because it was like he couldn’t win. When a big bald nigga had been trying to get at a lil redbone cutey or a sexy chocolate sistah, they acted like he had Whoppers and Big macs around his neck instead of 5g’s worth of jewelry and good conversation, while they were chasing those pretty boys. Nevertheless he still had nothing but love for his Queens.

They went to holla at Benny, and Liza thought that maybe k was looking for something for himself.

“K, what’s up? How is the music business? I thought that you would be here yesterday,” said Benny from behind the counter in accented English.

“Yeah I know, but I hadn’t seen the family in a while so I hung out with my folks yesterday. So you got that special order I called in last month?”

He pulled out a large manila envelope that jingled as he set it on the counter.

“K you doubt me? Have I ever let you down? “said Benny.

“Nah Benzo you been real good to a nigga.”

He took out each piece of jewelry one at a time and handed them to K, for inspection. One was a Rolex 14 K gold chain that said Liza, and stood 2 inches tall, flooded with 7 carats of diamonds and a pair of four carat diamond cluster earrings that K helped Liza put on. She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.

“Thank You! Thank you, this is beautiful!”

The other items in the envelope were a Cuban link chain with a diamond JJ and a matching bracelet with an identical JJ in diamonds. K put those on his son.

K talked to Benny for a minute and he told him about a new line of watches he had coming out. K put two on order. After they ate pizza in the food court K asked if they wanted to go to the movies on 125th Street in Harlem.

“Yeah Daddy!” they both responded at the same time. So they finished up with a little more shopping and hit the exit.

After they left the movie theater they all returned to his family’s house because JJ wanted to see his grandma. The sun had begun to set, and it cast an orange glow on the house that he had seen too many times to count. For some reason this day it had a strange effect, resulting in a reflection with pride.

K’s hardworking parents came from the south to N.Y. with a dream a quarter century before and made a decent living and a comfortable home for him and his baby sister. Looking at the new house now and the cars and recognizing the accomplishment made him real proud.

K and Liza figured they’d throw on their best and step up in the club representing each other to the fullest. As they pulled up in to the valet parking and exited the vehicle all heads turned. Liza stepped out in a black and red figure hugging Dolce and Gabbana two piece outfit with matching Chanel boots and bag. Her neck and earlobes sparkled with clear blinding diamonds. K stepped out in a two piece black Armani suit, black silk shirt, red silk tie with matching handkerchief in the suit pocket, and a black derby with a red feather in the brim. To top it off he finished the ensemble with some crispy new black and red Stacey Adams snake skin boots.

Under his suit, over his shoulder, and in the holster was a Glock 19 that he usually kept at his pops crib for occasions such as this. Best believe a niggah won’t get caught slipping. Bazzo was just pulling up as they were about to enter the club, so they all slid up in the spot together. The spot was poppin with hustlers and honeys wall to wall! K spotted a few chicks that he’d tried to get at that wouldn’t give a nigga no airtime and they was trying to front like they use to have something after seeing him with Liza. One chic was like dam K, you just leave town and don’t even call a bitch no more.

So of course he had to keep it gutter with the chick by responding appropriately.

“It was kinda hard to keep up with you. I could never catch you at that phone at the laundry mat. The Chinese lady said ‘oh no no, no Leslie a here, “with a smile. Then he turned and kissed a confused Liza. K turned back to the chick and asked,“can you hear me now…good,” and they slipped off to the VIP, into which the chick and her crew had no access.

Upon entering the VIP K gave the bartender his corporate debit card, because even though he was holding, he was still working on building his credit. K told her he was gonna run up a tab and she could take care of it with the card. K saw some other ballin cats that he knew. Barry and Big H from Hempstead, Ben Jr and Pop, D, Ramel, and Infinite from Amityville, and Birdie and Donovan from Westbury. Everybody was doing their thing, but K and Bazzo showed out. He brought five bottles of Ace of Spades, K brought 5 bottles. Bazzo brought all the chicks in the club a round of drinks, K brought the next.

“I’m having a great time and all, except for one thing,” said Liza.

“What’s that baby?”

“You haven’t danced with me tonight and you know how much I like to dance.”

“Let’s do it!”

She smiled and K led her to the packed dance floor where they got their groove on. About midway through the second song they were dancing to, some clown that had too much to drink came and asked K if he can cut in. K stayed calm and said, “Nah this my lady homey, aint’ nuttinhappenin.”

So this clown goes behind Liza and tries to dance up on her while they were dancing. Before K could react she’d turned and slapped the cowboy shit out of dude. Before he could recover K had him staring cross eyed down the barrel of the Glock sitting on the bridge of his nose.

He threw up his hands in surrender. The record scratched, the music stopped, the dance floor cleared and the lights came on.

“I should push your shit, you dumb drunk Muthafucka!”

“No K, it aint worth it my nigga. Hold Up! “said Bazzo.

Some cat came out of the crowd, but kept his distance.

“Please don’t kill my little brother big homey. Please, Please don’t kill em.”

Hearing the pleading in his voice curbed K’s anger a little, but he was still furious. K nudged dude with the barrel of the Glock.

“You should learn to control your liquor. You’ll live a lot longer.” Then K turned and told the dudes brother, “You better takes this nigga home. He shouldn’t be out in public like this.”

His brother snatched him up by his shirt and shoved him towards the entrance. K hadn’t even noticed his mob from the hood,them KBSF nigghas had formed Voltron and was right behind him. Them cats was known for shutting spots down!

K slid his burner back in the holster and he and Liza went back to the VIP. As the night wound down under the party lights and sparking disco ball, the club started thinning out. When they called last call K went to square up with the bartender and pick up his card. She ran the card through for the $6000 he’d spent at the bar, plus a $200 tip for her. She looked at him nervously. Then she ran it through again.

“The bank is denying your card,” the bartender said.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. There’s over $800,000 in that account. How can it be denied?”

Liza overheard him talking with the bartender and walked over to see what was going on.

“The bank denied the corporate card for some reason,” said K.

Bazzo came over and he told him what was going on, and assured him there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for the confusion. He knew K’s finances were in order, so he took care of it.

“Just take care of it as soon as you can,” said Bazzo.

K had never been more fucking embarrassed, than that night. Still trying to figure out what the fuck was going on, He pulled out the $3800 he had in his pocket, gave Bazzo $3000 and walked over and gave the bartender her $200. K told him he would send him the difference plus $500 when he got home and went to the bank to find out what was going on.

K and Liza left the club and went to the nearest ATM so he could check the account balance. K put in his card, entered the pin number and touched the screen where it said account balance. When $1502 popped up on the screen, he felt his stomach get sick and knew something was terribly wrong.

All plans to stay in NY for a few days changed immediately and they returned to PA the following morning so he could personally go into Bank of America to find out what going on and clear up this whole situation. They were absolutely clueless to what happened to the money in the account. K went directly to the bank from the highway and explained the situation. They informed him that the money had been wire transferred to a numbered account in the Cayman Islands, where they had complex laws in that banking industry. He asked the teller how that was possible without his permission and she directed him to the bank manager who took them back into her office. She may have sensed the niggah about to surface from the large, clearly agitated black man who may have just lost close to a million dollars. She sat them down and pulled up the transaction on her computer.

“Yes, here it is. It was a three way transaction, all done by computer. It was obviously someone you have done business with before on this level to have all of your account information.”

After a pause she said, “here we go, ILLadelph CD’s and tapes in Philadelphia.” The name rang a bell because K remembered them making an especially large order not long ago. A total of 12,000 unit’s altogether.

“We should have the phone number and address in our shipping logs,”said Liza.

K asked the bank manager “is there anything that I can do about this.”

“We will put an investigator on it but as long as it was a legal transaction, the matter is pretty much an international issue you would have to take up with the FBI.”

They had been caught slippin’ by a slickster who had probably done his homework and knew some of K’s background and the channels that he would have to go through to clear up the situation. Just the mention of the alphabet boys changed everything. K knew all of that money wasn’t legitimate funds and if they requested his financial records that could open a whole new bag of snakes. He felt like the life had been sucked out of him. Of course he would check the address in Philly, but they would have definitely shut down the bogus front, and the perpetrators long, long gone.

They went out to the truck from the bank and rode home in complete silence. K could see the worried look in Liza’s eyes because she could see he was on the edge. K was thinking to himself how could something so fucked up happen? He tried to do positive things for the kids in the community, he treated people fairly, and he had a heart as big as Texas. Why would God punish me like this this, when others who constantly dwell in negativity, killing and stealing from the poor, and try to do absolutely nothing positive, have outstanding luck and successes?

Then he just let it go and tried to figure out his next step. He was down to his last $60,000 that was in the safe. That was for extreme emergencies. K went to Western union and sent Bazzo his dough but didn’t go into detail about what had happened. He just apologized again and just told him it was a banking error.

Liza had called him into the office once he made it back to the condo from the western union and told him that she pulled up the company out of Philly’s information in their records and called the number. She said she’d got an automated message saying the number was no longer in service, but K had already figured as much. He told her to call an emergency meeting of all the groups for the next afternoon. He wanted to get drunk, but knew he needed to keep a clear head.

This wasn’t like a stick-up or a robbery where he could pinpoint someone and had a target to go after. K was fucked up in the head but he was a hustler, and one thing you usually figure out early in the game is that with all the ups, you have to have some downs. Losses will occur. Some bigger than others. So K had to think like a hustler.

They had the meeting with Triple Extasy, G’d- up, and Dwayne and explained the situation. He realized how much love they had for him when he saw they were more worried about him than they were about themselves, but they all ended up in better situations career wise. G’s contract was brought out by Roc- a- blok in NY Dwayne went to Ya Heard Me records out in New Orleans, and TripleExtasy went to So Fresh and So Clean down in ATL. They shut down the label because at this point, K was fed up and pissed off about losing major paper trying to so some legit shit. Now it was time to take it to a whole other level!