“ANY NIGGA THAT SAY MONEY DOESN'T MATTER....IS A DAMN FOOL, AND DON'T HAVE A PENNY TO HIS NAME. TRUST ME, ITS MONEY OVER EVERYTHING.”
“I've been in this game for years, it made me an animal, its rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual. A step by step booklet for you to get your game on track, not your wig pushed back.” Biggie's lyrics blasted through the tall, thin surround sound speakers as Mentor wrapped a rubber band around the stack of hundred dollar bills on the kitchen table. After tossing the bundle of money into the black duffel bag, Mentor walked out of the kitchen and gave Prince the 60 grand for tonight’s re-up. Before Prince walked away with the bag, Mentor stopped him, checking his black on black Hickey Freeman suit for any flaws.
“When a slug hits your frame, ya soul wakes up, waiting for God's directions on whether to stay or leave. The shit feels like fire burning fire. Yeah, that fucking hot. Straighten up your face, cause I'm not trying to scare you, Prince. Sometimes I think about the other part of the game, the ugly part of the game and the repercussions that comes with it. When you're out there in the streets handling business for me, I appreciate you for it, but you must remember this game isn't fair and every person in it is out for blood over this paper. Any nigga say money doesn't matter....Is a damn fool, and don't have a penny to his name. Trust me, its money over everything. I hope you're hearing and listening to me Prince? These niggas are motherfuckin animals out here!”
Prince stood in silence as Mentor began to straighten up his black neck tie as if it were picture day at school. Yet another lesson Mentor preached to Prince to abide by as he operated Mentor's coca leaf business in the pugnacious streets of Chicago. Despite the heavy Windy city rain pouring against Mentor's convex glass windows, it had been a typical working night for Prince and Mentor as they prepared to cop 4 kilos of raw from their suburban connect, Santos. Although, the fortune 500, white collar look had Prince feeling lame and uncomfortable, Mentor didn't allow him to dress down during his weekly business meetings with Santos. Mentor believed men should wear suits when they conduct business. It didn't matter legal or illegal, business is business to Mentor and it needed to be handled accordingly. Mentor glanced down at the Black steel Panerai watch lying on the counter, wiping a smudge from the clear face as Prince opened the front door.
“Yeah, it's about time baby boy. You already know the routine. Velma is down stairs waiting for you in the truck.”
Mentor grabbed the time piece from the counter with a calm focused look, it caught Prince's attention.
“I’m giving you a hour get there get back have my coke or my bread. I don't give a fuck about the rain either. Buckle up and bring my shit back to me.” Mentor walked away and sat down on the tan colored, leather loveseat, whistling. Prince didn't bother to look back at Mentor as he left the condo, clutching the duffel bag with his left hand and grabbing the handle of the glock tucked in his waistband with his other free hand. After taking the short elevator ride to the lobby, Prince eyed Velma's Lexus GX parked in front of the building as he passed the bellman standing near the double glass doors. The snugged pants wearing bellman stared out at the heavy down pour falling from the crimson colored awning connected to the building. As Prince exited the building, he saw Velma tooting a line of powder off of the back of her hand as he walked up to the truck Prince snatched open the door, hoping to scare Velma, she snorted another line unfazed by the action.
“I see some shit don't change?” Prince mumbled as he tossed the duffel bag in the back seat.
“Little Prince, how is my little Prince?” Velma teased, as she wiped the white residue from her nose. Prince ignored Velma as he slouched down in the plush leather Lexus seats, shaking his head. He wanted to tell Velma “to leave him alone and go find a dick to suck,” but he kept his emotions in order. At least for the time being to make sure he remained composed, Prince pulled out a bag of lemon kush to help calm his nerves. Normally, Prince wouldn't do this in front of anybody else Mentor had business with but Prince didn't have any respect for Velma. Prince has always speculated Velma was disloyal, but Mentor was too sprung to see it. Prince has heard on more than one occasion about Velma splurging on young dope boys from around her old Humboldt Park neighborhood. Taking the young hustlers on vacations and buying them fits with Mentor's dough. Washing and riding Mentor's cherry red Benz like it's her shit.
Prince never could catch Velma up, but he knew Velma was just another dime from the hood that wouldn't have ten cents if it wasn't for Mentor. She was sexy, smooth and had Mentor behind her, 100 percent. Standing about 5 foot 4; a buck 30 at the most, head to toe licking butter pecan skin complexion, Velma was the type of female that didn't have to highlight her attributes because everything was damn near perfect on her. Light brown, shoulder length hair; hazel eyes and her Bria Myles physique, were just a small part of Velma's alluring package. Possessing a self-reliant and confident attitude, Velma would catch the attention of men from all walks of life. She knew how to handle them all. Young, short, bossy or whatever wanna be that came her way.
Velma's childhood prepared her for the thirsty men and rough streets, a true product of her environment. Velma grew up in the foster system after her mother abandoned her at the tender age of six.
Velma's mother fell in love with that Mexican brown, and traded Velma for 2 bags of heroin. God was watching over his children that night, because the man who traded the drugs for Velma had a conscious and couldn't hurt her. He never touched Velma. He dropped Velma off at the police station and kept it moving. After being placed in state care and bouncing around the Midwest with different foster family’s for7 years, Velma ran away and started to run the streets of Chicago with no direction. In the streets, Velma developed an addiction for stealing. Setting up older, wealthy men in town on business in the downtown area or a lame who thought he would get a quick piece scanned in on while she manipulated of pussy from her. Velma worked fast during her shiesty maneuvers and she didn't take chump change from her vicks either. Credit cards and money clips full of cash is what she her dupes.
Velma could always convince a naive man to get her a hotel room for a week or two, giving her enough time to find a few perverted victims to rob. After a couple of years of scheming and dodging past victims, Velma's luck started to run out. From there, Velma switched up hustles and began to gamble. For a female, Velma called her point before the dice stopped rolling and it didn't matter the opponent, Velma treated them all like amateurs when she rolled the dice. A skill Velma picked up from her cell mate when she had to serve a 30 day sentence for shop lifting. That's how she met Mentor. Velma won $1300 from Mentor in a crap game on New Year’s Eve three years ago. From that moment, Mentor fell in love with Velma's swagger and hustling ability. As their friendship grew, Mentor sent Velma on test runs to see how loyal she was to the business. A true hustler, Velma always made it happen. This is when Mentor began to mix business with pleasure. Mentor wasted no time claiming Velma from the other hopefuls who wanted her. In a matter of months, Velma was Mentor's main lady, moving into Mentor's upscale condo located on Michigan Ave. Mentor spoiled Velma with monthly shopping sprees, private boat rides and a personal account Mentor dropped 5 thousand in every month. Velma was the world to Mentor and besides Prince, Mentor didn't have anyone else to trust. Even though he was Mentor's son, Prince didn't feel that way, because he always found himself competing with Velma in one way or another.
Although, Prince was only 19 years old, Velma couldn't help but to have a certain respect for him. Unlike the other young whipper-snappers Velma toyed with in the streets, Prince carried himself like a Capo, rather than a foot soldier working his way up the ranks. Prince didn't choose this. Life matures a man fast, regardless of age. At an early age, Prince found himself in a one parent household after tragedy hit his family. While most children in his Austin neighborhood rode bikes and played “strike em' out” against the school wall, Prince was counting money and hiding pounds of weed around their small apartment some believed Mentor forced Prince into the drug game, but that wasn't the case. Two greasy days at Burger King helped Prince decide making crack for fast money was way more beneficial than making fast food for slow money. Once Prince stepped foot into the business, there was no turning back for him. He followed Mentor's directions, combined with his own abilities, and developed into a thoroughbred at a young age in the streets. From slapping customers in the face with crowbars short with their money, to setting motorcycles on fire during the Taste of Chicago, Prince made sure his and Mentor's point got across to anyone who tried to play them.
Their business didn't see real profit until they noticed that their rivals were switching up the product to push. It didn't affect Mentor's quota, but Mentor couldn't help but to notice the soup lines other dealers had twenty four hours a day. Mentor and Prince were still moving pounds of weed, but their business began transcending towards the crack game. Prince didn't have a true love for the business until Mentor switched the product from marijuana to cocaine. Mentor's 7 thousand dollar profit a week from weed, tripled and Prince fell in love with the fast money the cocaine business provided. Mentor pushed the twenty eight thousand dollar monthly grossing operation close to 90 g's a month in less than a year. This allowed Prince to step up his overall game and compete with the other young hustlers who stunted on him from time to time in the streets. Prince had 5 cars; 3 Yamaha motorcycles, 2 houses, and 2 booming barber shops that added to his income. Besides the cars, expensive leather coats and clothes, Prince had shoe boxes full of dead presidents, hidden in his closet. Despite having nice clothes and the latest vehicles to floss in, Prince didn't stand out because of his money. Get rich fast was the motto for the young hustlers in Chicago.
What separated him from the rest of the playing field was his ability to handle business on all levels. The older hustlers didn't fear him, but they knew they couldn't cheat him on deals. Prince was so good with numbers he could eye ball the shopping bags of money and know how much was in the bag. He’d weighed so much it became second nature. Another reason is because Mentor was plugged with the Italians henchmen. Any problems Mentor had in the streets, solved in 24 hours. Prince drops off the 20k to his people up North and hours later, their problem is vamos. Business continues and Mentor's problem is just a memory. Prince was born in it, and born to do it; Velma couldn't throw him off his square. With money on his mind and Velma in his ear as they drove to meet Santos, Prince still focused on satisfying Mentor's command.
Prince grabbed a Dutch Master Cigar from the inside pocket of his jacket and began to break the cigar down in the astray as he glared at the upscale residents through vigilant eyes as they walk in and out of the Michigan Ave condo.
“What are you doing? You can't smoke any reefer in here.” Velma screamed as she snatched the cigar from his hand.
“Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” Prince said as he pulled out another cigar, shaking his head at Velma. “I saw you snort a gram of powder and now you trying to check me about my weed. Remember I'm not fucking you, Mentor is. So in other words, let me be.” Prince looked Velma up and down as he began to split open the chocolate Dutch.
“Wait til Mentor hear about this, you little Cabrón.”
“Save that Spanish shit for another motherfucka Velma. Let's go and handle this business before this situation gets ugly. You don't like me and you know damn well I don't fuck with you. Let me enjoy this blunt and concentrate on this business.
Velma rolled her eyes as she hit her turn signal. She glanced over at Prince as he crumbled the strong smelling weed into his cigar without a single blink in his dark brown eyes.
“What are you looking at? I hope you don't think you putting those lips, on my blunt. Please, I'll rather get shot.”
“One day.” Velma mumbled.
“What? Speak up. Prince said as he leaned over towards Velma... That's what I thought. I told you once before, I'm not one of them lames you be fucking with Velma. Just cause Mentor don't see your bullshit don't mean another motherfucka can't smell it.”
Velma's phone began to ring. She glanced at the phone as it vibrated on her lap.
“You can answer it. I'm not gonna tell Mentor about ya trifling ass.”
“Hola.” Velma answered in a low voice.
“What's going on V, are we still stepping out tonight?”
“Yeah, first I have to take care of some business for Mentor, and then I can come and get you.”
“Are you fuckin stupid!” Prince yelled as he dropped his blunt on the floor. Don't mention Mentor's name to any of your fucking friends. We're trying to handle business and you're telling that bitch everything!”
“Give me a second Alaine. What the hell are you talking about Prince?” Velma yelled as she placed her hand over the phone's receiver.
“Don't play with me. You know what the fuck I'm talking about sloppy motherfuckers get caught. Remember that when you gossiping to them broke ass hoes!” Prince yelled as he picked up his blunt and lit it.
Velma's hazel eyes darkened as her smooth face turned icy.
“I'm going to call you back Alaine.”
“Thank you.” Prince said as he blew a cloud of smoke towards Velma.
She started to cough and wave as the cloud of Kush lingered across her face. Velma cut her eyes at Prince and leaned back as she accelerated on the clear, wet highway. Two state troopers flew by Velma, forcing her to swerve as Prince continued to smoke his dank and ponder in the passenger seat on their business with Santos. Velma put on her seat belt and reduced her speed as another car flew by her Lexus. The heavy rain began to lighten up as they drove in the slow lane towards the western suburbs.
After thirty minutes, Velma and Prince were exiting the expressway, towards Santos house.
“Velma, this shouldn't take long. We're already behind schedule because of your slow driving ass. You know Mentor is about to be calling me in a minute. Anyway, I'm going to give Santos the money, you check the yay and we're out. No small talk or anything Velma. I know you miss your Rican family and all of that, but we don't have time for the reunion shit right now.” Prince joked as he pulled out his pistol and placed it underneath his seat.
“Let's get this over with.” Velma replied, rolling her eyes.
Velma reduced speed as they approached the side street.
“Turn right here and park next to the blue Chevy. I'm gonna walk down, because it's usually too many cars in Santos driveway.”
“In my heels Prince?”
“Look, I don't give a fuck about that shit Velma! You can stay here; I'll be back in 10 minutes.”
Velma parked next to the blue Chevy that was on the corner. Prince grabbed the duffel bag and got out of the Lexus as Velma followed in her 3 inch stilettos, avoiding puddles and cracks in the uneven sidewalk. Taking giant strides Velma almost had to run to keep pace with Prince. As they approached the house,Velma's phone to rang again.
“Turn that shit off!” Prince ordered never breaking his stride as they approached a Suge Knight sized, goon on security in front of the trap house.”
“You here for Santos?”
“Yes papi.” Velma answered in a sultry tone placing her hand on the young man’s chest, with her other hand wiping the light rain from her face.
“This bitch.” Prince thought as he nodded his head at the man.
The goon looked at Velma, scanning her tight outfit.
“Come on, he's in the back gambling.”
Prince and Velma followed the man through the gang way to the side door of the house. As they walked into the house all they could see was piles of money on the floor and bottles of whatever you wanted to drink on the glass top tables against the walls. Prince spotted Santos standing next to another man, exchanging money. The oversized goon that escorted them in whistled to Santos. Santos turned his head in Prince and Velma's direction. Santos eyes were red, glossy and low. He was sweating through his linen outfit and his shoes had a wet, fresh red stain on them. Prince knew right away Santos was drunk. The Jose Cuervo caused his speech to slur and his coordination to alter as he staggered towards Prince.
“Prince, my friend.” Santos waved for Prince to come towards him.
Prince looked back at Velma and began to walk towards Santos. As they walked through the small crowd of gamblers and onlookers, Velma’s eyes fixated on the piles of money covering the hard wood floors. As soon as Prince handed Santos the bag, Santos grabbed him snatching Prince off his feet wrapping the young man in a strong bear hug he saw that Prince was uncomfortable he set him back to his feet laughing.
“Prince, I always like doing business with you and Mentor. What has it been now, a 4, 5 year run? As long as you be fair to the business, the business will be fair to you.” Santos leaned against Prince as he wiped his forehead.
“I feel you Santos, but let's handle business. I'm not trying to disturb your party.”
“Disturb? Not you Prince. We are family matter of fact, Harold come here. Get Mr. Prince a bottle of whatever he wants.
“Thanks, but no thank you Santos. Give me my 4 birds and I’m out we have business to take care of tonight back in the city.”
Santos opened the duffel bag and smiled.
“Just like Mentor, money always neat. Wait right here. Cancel that Harold, I need you to do something else for me. Weigh up 4 kilos and bring it to me, pronto. Santos snapped his fingers at Harold as he rushed to the back room.
“Damn Santos, Our shit isn't ready yet?” Prince asked with a frown on his high yellow face.
“No, Mentor’s package isn't ready yet.” He slurred, back to Prince focusing on the dice game.
“I can't remember your name, but I know you from somewhere.” A tall, slender man said as he walked over towards Velma.
Velma looked at Prince who had a mean mug look forming as the man reached out to shake her hand.
“Maybe I'm mistaken. I'm Franco. How are you?”
“I'm good.” She answered as she shook his hand.
“While you wait, let’s take a walk and chat for a second.” The man insisted as he held Velma's hand.
“That's not going to happen. We're here on business bruh.” Prince said as he took a step closer to Velma. Prince glanced at the back room a couple of times to see if Harold was coming with his ki's. The man was mesmerized by Velma because he continued to hold her hand.
“It's alright Prince. I'm just going to talk to him for a second.”
“We're handling business Velma. Fuck it, the shit aint ready anyway.” Prince said as he looked over Santos.
Velma followed Franco into the back room, switching her hips so that the other men notice her sexy strut. Prince watched, shaking his head as Santos poured himself another glass of tequila.
“How old are you Prince?” Santos asked as he handed Prince a glass of tequila.
“You worry too much Prince. You're gonna have gray hair before you turn 25 if you keep on worrying about the small stuff. You see, I know Velma from back in the day. When she used to set up small time dealers in the city, and the old ass business men too.... I know her ways, just like the next man does. She's nothing to worry about.”
“I feel you Santos, but Mentor just don't see it like that.”
“Meda(look)!” Harold yelled in his raspy Spanish voice, holding Mentor's 4 blocks of yayo in his arms as he walked from the hallway.
“Velma! Let's go!” Prince yelled as he walked over towards Harold and grabbed the 4 bricks.
Prince stuffed the tight wrapped packages into the sleeves of his jacket. Before shaking Santo's hand, Prince scanned the room to see who eyes were focused in on the transaction.
“Velma! Let's go!” Prince screamed again as he zipped up his jacket.
“Relax, she's coming.” Franco calmly said as him and Velma walked from the back room, smiling. Franco kissed Velma on the cheek sizing Prince up he smirked, slapped Velma on the ass, turned and began talking as if Prince wasn’t standing there. His jaws clenched as he advanced towards the man, it wasn’t so much he was defending Velma’s honor or Mentor’s for that matter he felt disrespected. Velma’s Prince ignored Franco's sarcastic gesture and decided he would ponder on that bullshit later after he made it back to Mentor's condo.
“We appreciate everything Santos. Mentor will be giving you a call.” Prince glanced at Velma and his calm looking face turned into a disgusted stare as she walked past him. They left the spot and headed towards the truck. Velma remained silent following behind Prince she could see the veins protruding from his neck. What is he pissed about? She thought to herself, as quick as it came the thought passed. “Fuck!”