The Last Transmission of a Gangster


The Conclusion: No Turning Back

Eric watched his life flash before his eyes as sweat trickled down his mustache wetting his lips. Or maybe it was tears. Eric couldn’t tell the difference at this point. It really didn’t matter. He just prayed that he could be anywhere but here. He was tired and scared. He wondered if his friend could see the fear in his eyes. He hoped his father couldn’t see it. Fronting had gotten him this far and it was too late to stop now. His legs felt like wet noodles, his arm shook, and his heart was beating so fast and loudly that it drowned out all sound. His father stood only inches away and although he saw his lips moving all he could hear was the sound of his own heartbeat. A shot rang out and he saw his friend Philly’s body involuntarily jerk. His body was pinned to the floor in pain as blood slowly oozed from his leg. Eric cocked back the Glock, placed it in Philly’s mouth, and pulled the trigger. Eric stepped back, dropping his gun. He held his mouth trying to fight back the vomit. His father rushed over and snatched his charcoal gray Kangol apple cap from his head placing it underneath his son’s mouth. Everything he’d eaten that day was dispelled into the expensive hat.

“Don’t get any on the floor son, can’t leave any DNA.”

Eric nodded his head up and down signifying that he understood. They walked to the car and he climbed into the back seat lying down and closing his eyes. He remained silent as his father got into the driver’s seat and pulled off. Only a week ago he had a best friend, and a plan to make two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Where did things go wrong? He let his mind recollect the events of the week.

Eric Day

Wale and Omarion’s ‘M.I.A.’ played in the background as Eric talked to his mother on his Bluetooth while getting dressed for the day’s business.

“I know, ma… I am. I’m looking at the applications as we speak.”

“I don’t need you to look at them. I need for your tail to fill them out,” she replied.

“I am, ma...Ma, let me call you back. I have another call I need to take.”

“Okay, baby. You make sure you get those forms filled out and mailed back in.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Bye.”

“Bye, ma.”

He disconnected the call and clicked over to answer the next one.

“What’s good, playboy?”

“You ready to make this move or what?”

“Yeah. I have to check this email confirming the purchase order on the plastic and magnetic strips. What about you? You gon’ be ready to activate em?”

“Yeah, I’ll be ready. We gon’ handle this lil bit then go meet Akmil and get our payday. Tell me again how much we getting from Rahiem and how much he gon’ want back?”

“Thirty racks and he want’s eighty-five back. After we get’ em off to Akmil and pay Rahiem back we should walk away with eighty-two and a half a piece. Not bad for a couple of hours of work right?”

“Hell naw. You get any of those college applications mailed off yet?”

“Man you sound like my mama,” Eric responded.

He sat at his desk, lifted his laptop, and powered it on. He looked over at a packet of papers sitting lying nearby. It was an application to Howard University. He balled up the application and tossed it into the trashcan near his desk.

“What you waiting on?”

“That school shit ain’t for me,” he said as he keyed in his access code and logged into his Gmail account.

“Go head, you scored 2350 on the SAT. How in the hell is school not for you?”

“Don’t front. What school you in? You didn’t even graduate. You went and took the GED test.”

“So! A lot of people do.”

“You were getting acceptance letters from Princeton, MIT, and Purdue.”

“Yeah.”

“Why your ass ain’t go?”

“I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me that I’m smart. I’ll build my wealth on my own terms.”

“I feel the same way, shit.”

“Whatever you say, man.”

Eric read through his email. The confirmation was there.

“It’s all set. I’m on my way to get the cash from Rahiem.”

“Cool, but one last thing.”

“What?”

“I’m just wondering what your dad is going to say about you not going to school. Didn’t he say as part of the arrangement for him paying for your apartment, monthly allowance, and buying you that Tahoe that you had to not only get in school but stay in school?”

“Yeah.”

“He gon’ beat your ass when he finds out that you lied.”

“Not really. By the time he finds out this deal would have been done and I’ll be able to pay my own bills.”

“I don’t know… you think it’ll be that simple? He’s going to trip if he finds out how you’re getting the money.”

“Man, I ain’t worried about my dad. If he trips out then that would make him the biggest hypocrite in the world. Yeah he’s independently wealthy and legit now selling women’s clothes and shit, but I ain’t forgot how he got there… and after all, I am his son. If he had it in him to get out in the streets and get money, I know I got it in me.”

“Whatever, man. I’ll meet you in a couple of hours.”

“Peace.”

Jimmie Day

Jimmie ran as if his life depended on it, sweat covering his muscular flesh. Clad in only a wife beater and boxing shorts, he held onto the bars of the treadmill as the sweat slid down his bald head and ran into his eyes. The central air circulated through his bedroom as he watched the Business Television Network and talked to his realtor on his Bluetooth.

“What are they talking about for the property?” he asked almost breathlessly.

Ronda sashayed into the room adorned in a silk robe, no panties, no bra. Her breast protruded through the thin material. She smelled of Chanel regenerating cream. Jimmie smiled at the four foot tall, half black, half Asian beauty. They’d been married for a year now and she was ten years his senior, but they had both known it was love from the first day they met at his parole meeting. She was his parole officer. Although she was violating ethical codes of conduct she hadn’t cared. They were married six months later. They held no secrets from one another and she helped him to make the transition from criminal to corporate.

“This will be my third boutique in Minnesota before I expand to the East Coast. The demographic is perfect. Get them to drop another five to ten thousand off the selling price.”

He ended the call and the work out simultaneously. Turning off the tread mill, he smiled at his wife.

“Enjoy your shower, baby?”

“It was nice.”

“Good. I thought you wanted me to join you.”

Sliding on her tamale red Body by Victoria Secret Lace Cheeky panties and matching bra.

“You didn’t want to shower with me. You prefer to talk money than take advantage of all of this.”

Ronda sprawled herself against the wall letting her hands glide seductively up and down her breast and inner thighs. Jimmie walked over and dropped to his knees in front of her, burying his face in her thighs and inhaling her scent. He began to ravish her flesh with his tongue. Giggling she pushed his head back playfully.

“Naw, my brother! It’s too late now. I have to be to work and so do you.”

Standing to his feet he swept her off hers and carried her to their Eastern King sized bed. He threw her onto the mattress.

“Forget you then, ugly,” he said turning and walking away.

Laughing, she threw a pillow, hitting him in the back of the head and then jumping on his back she wrapped her legs around his midsection.

“I know you ain’t think this was over that easy.”

“Ah, so you want to play rough huh?”

She tightened her grip around his neck and squeezed her legs as tight as she could, trying to break him down to his knees. Laughing, he slowly backed up until they both fell onto the bed.

“Okay, okay I quit!” she yelled out in between laughs.

“Naw, you think you some kind of extreme fighter or some shit. Get out of this move with your tough ass.”

Jimmie, with his almost seven foot frame and almost three hundred pounds, was lying on top of her.

“Stop, boy! I can’t breathe!”

“Naw. Who the King?”

She laughed.

“I’m not saying.”

“That’s fine with me. I’m in no rush.”

Moving his arm, he reached over and grabbed the remote turning the television channel to a music station. Mystikal’s ‘Original’ came blaring through the surround sound speakers.

“I’m serious now… shit… come on… I have to be to work!”

“Who’s the King?”

“You are.” She said, barely audible.

“Girl, I can’t hear that.”

“I said you are! Now get off of me, damn!”

He rolled over, scooping her into his arms all in one motion. Her face frowned in mock anger.

“Come on, Jimmie. I have to get ready, baby,” she said in a soft baby tone.

“Nope. Give me kiss.”

Closing his eyes he puckered up his lips.

“No,” she said defiantly.

“I ain’t moving,” he responded with his eyes still closed, lips still puckered.

She kissed his lips over and over again.

“There. Are you happy now?” she asked laughing as he stood from bed, towered over her, and stared down at her sexy frame. She felt her heart flutter.

“Yeah that will do...for now.”

“You make me sick,” she said laughing, watching as he removed his wife beater and boxer shorts and walked into the bathroom with nine inches dangling between his legs.

Rahiem

The pool hall on the East side of St. Paul looked out of place on that side of town. Wall to wall marble floors, fifty inch television screens on almost every wall, a live band playing jazz, billiard tables, a bar, a spa, manicurist and barber, a cigar room, and massage parlor. Eric stood at the bar drinking a long island iced tea while he waited for Rahiem to come out. Rahiem owned the pool hall and had named it ‘The Bank Shot’. An assortment of clientele came in and out of the establishment, from white collar businessmen, strippers, loan sharks, and drug dealers to white collar criminals and school teachers. Rahiem catered to all and made everyone feel comfortable.

A short balding white guy wearing black slacks, a white button up, and a suit jacket appeared from the back carrying a clipboard.

“Mr. Day?”

“Yes,” Eric responded downing the rest of his drink and heading in the man’s direction.

“Rahiem will see you now.”

Eric quietly followed the man went through a set of double doors into the kitchen where there was a service elevator in the back. A body guard stood at the elevator holding a walkie-talkie.

“Yeah, he’s on his way up,” the body guard said into his walkie-talkie as Eric got onto the elevator and the doors closed taking him to the upper level.

The doors opened and another body guard was standing statuesquely as if awaiting him. He pointed to a set of French double doors down the hall.

“Go right in. He’s expecting you.”

Eric didn’t respond verbally. He simply followed the man’s directions and walked down the hall to the French doors. He entered without knocking. Stepping through the doors he was shocked to see that it was an apartment. The mahogany hard wood floors and matching walls put Eric in the mindset of being in a modern day cabin. Najee’s ‘For the love of you’ played softly. Eric closed the door behind him.

“Have a seat,” he heard Rahiem say as he entered the living room from the kitchen carrying a tray of food.

The scent hit Eric’s nostrils causing his stomach to growl. The room felt homey and warm. A cream colored sectional sat around a low sitting Japanese style table. Eric stood next to the sectional as Rahiem set the food on the table and promptly sat on the floor.

“Join me,” Rahiem said placing two bowls on the table.

He began to dish food into the bowl that sat in front of him.

“Thank you, sir, but I have business that…”

“You know it’s rude to turn down an invitation from a man in a higher position of power than that of your own. It is sometimes viewed as arrogance.”

“Sir, I in no way mean to insult you or show arrogance.”

“Well good. You will sit and join me then?”

Eric hesitated then sat.

“Help yourself,” Rahiem said motioning to the bowl that sat closest to Eric.

Eric picked up the bowl and began serve himself.

“What is it?”

“Caribbean Fish with Salsa and sticky rice.”

“It smells good as shit.”

“Don’t use profanity in my home. Not only is it disrespectful to the host it shows ignorance and a lack of understanding of the English language. The Oxford English dictionary suggests that there are, at the very least, a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary not covered by the OED, or words not yet added to the published dictionary, of which perhaps twenty percent are no longer in current use. If distinct senses were counted, the total would probably approach three quarters of a million. Three quarters of a million words and you mean to tell me that you couldn’t choose a better word to use to describe how succulent this meal smells other than shit?”

“Yes, sir. I could have and I will keep that in mind.”

“Why isn’t your partner isn’t here?”

“I didn’t know if it would have been appropriate to bring him uninvited.”

“True. But you know that by not bringing him the deal is strictly between us right?”

“Yes, sir. I take full responsibility.”

“A standup guy huh?”

“I’d like to believe so.”

“Just like your pops huh?”

Eric’s body tensed up at the mention of his father. The gesture did not go unnoticed by Rahiem. Eric cleared his throat.

“Uh-huh. I strive to be.”

“How does Jimmie feel about this deal?”

“With all due respect, sir, this is a deal between you and me. My father knows nothing about it and I’d like to keep it that way.”

Eric knew that Rahiem and his father had once been business partners before he quit the game and went legit. Although they had no formal beef that Eric knew of, they no longer communicated. He was hoping that Rahiem would keep it that way.

“That’s fine with me, but remember this young brother… there is no bond like a bond between father and child. I’m not saying that you have, but don’t ever betray that bond.”

Eric remained silent, playing with his fish with his fork.

Rahiem continued, “You know me and your father came up together don’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Yeah… that was my man back in the day. We both went to Franklin Middle School then to North High.”

“Yeah, he told me.”

Rahiem laughed nostalgically.

“We made a lot of money together too.”

Eric smiled and Rahiem finished.

“The past is the past. I agreed to this loan on the strength of your father. Business is still business. You have one week, little brother.”

“Not a problem.”

“Good. Now eat up and when we’re done, my assistant will have the loan for you on your way out.”

Philly

‘Growing up in the hood just my dog and me. We use to hustle in the hood for all to see. Problems: I called on him, he called on me. We wasn't quite partners, I hit him off my P. Let him, unlock doors off my keys. Yeah we spoke, much more than cordially.’

The sounds of Jay Z and Too Short’s classic met Eric on Philly’s mother’s porch as he snatched the door to the screen door open entering without knocking.

“Turn that shit down, nigga. You can’t even hear folk coming in the house,” Eric yelled as he flopped down on the couch in the living room.

Tonika entered wearing a pink spaghetti strap Gap shirt and blue jean mini skirt. She was Philly’s new girl. She’d come from Cuba and had been in the United States only a few months. Her frame was on point. She was sexy as hell with beautiful bronze skin, perky breasts, and smooth legs. Her hair was pulled back into a pony tail.

“Stop all that cussing in the house. Ms. Gwen is home,” she spat out with attitude.

“Hey Ms. Gwen!” Eric yelled as he stood to his feet walking towards the kitchen.

He didn’t care much for Tonika nor she for him, but they tolerated being around each other to appease Philly. Tonika rolled her eyes as she removed the vacuum from the closet and began unrolling the cord. Entering the kitchen, he saw Ms. Gwen standing over the stove frying salmon croquets. He leaned down to her five foot frame and kissed her on her cheek.

“How you doing, baby?”

“I’m fine, Ms. Gwen. I came by to check in on that boy of yours.”

“Lord, him and his little senorita ‘bout to drive me up a wall.”

Eric laughed as he headed back in the direction that he’d come from. Stepping into a small hallway, he noticed a bedroom door was cracked open. Eric approached the door and pushed it open to find Philly posing in front of a mirror.

“You trying to get this money or you trying to make the cover of GQ?”

“What you got against a brother trying to look good?”

Eric tossed the book bag he’d been carrying on his back at Philly and he caught it. Flopping down on his bed, Philly unzipped the bag and began thumbing through the bundles of cash.

“Ah shit.” Philly said, excitedly counting the bundles.

“Calm down, man. Once we make this move we gon’ have more than that any way.”

“True, true.”

Philly diverted his eyes at the door behind Eric. Eric turned and saw that Tonika was silently standing behind him watching. Quickly, Eric slammed the door in her face. She began to bang angrily.

“Asshole!” she shouted over her knocking.

“Watch your mouth in here, girl!” Ms. Gwen yelled from the kitchen.

“Yes, ma’am!” Tonika replied with shame and frustration.

Feeling defeated, she walked away from the door.

“Come on, man. You have to get better control of your girl.”

Philly zipped the bag back up and slid it underneath his bed.

“What you mean?”

“What I mean? What you mean what I mean? We trying to talk business and she all up in it. I mean come on, man!”

“She cool.”

“She cool? You can’t be serious. I know you ain’t told her about the move we making.”

“Don’t trip. Let me handle her alright.”

Eric didn’t say another word. He knew that by Philly ignoring the question he’d told her everything. Eric shook his head. Women are going to be his downfall, he thought to himself as he pulled up a chair and sat down.

“I’m going to leave the cash here. You think you can get the merchandise without me?”

“What kind of question is that? You trying to be funny?”

“I just want to make sure everything goes smoothly. Rahiem made it clear that it’s my ass on the line, not yours.”

“I got you man. Don’t trip. Just meet me back here in ‘bout three days.”

Eric stood and shook Philly’s hand.

“Aight…See you in a few.”

“Peace.”

Eric turned, opened the door, and left the room.

The Double Cross

The size 12 Rockports made an indentation in the mud as Eric paced back and forward in the drizzling rain. He shivered as he pulled his leather parka closed and blew into his hands to warm them up. His Tahoe sat idling as he felt his patience grow thinner and thinner and his blood boiled more and more. Staring intently at Philly’s house, he prayed that Philly would pull up soon. It had been almost three days since he last spoke with him. Eric mentally replayed the last time that he’d seen Philly, he last time he’d been inside this house, the day he dropped off the cash. He came back like he said he would. Everything was on point. Philly had the cards and said he would need a day or so to load all the information. Now he wasn’t answering his calls and Ms. Gwen said that neither he nor Tonika had been home in the past few days and he wasn’t answering her calls either. The deadline was approaching and he needed to get Rahiem his money back. He felt a sick feeling in his stomach that he’d never felt before and he desperately wanted to vomit, but nothing would come up. It was going on midnight. He’d been there for the past three hours. He knew he had to do something but had no idea what. Maybe Rahiem will understand, he thought to himself as he looked at his watch again for what seemed like the hundredth time. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was fucked and Philly was the one sticking it to him. He began to sneeze and as he reached for the handle on his truck door his phone rang. Frantically reaching for it he dropped it in the mud.

“Fuck!” he said to himself as he grabbed it and wiped the mud off on his jeans.

He looked at the Caller ID and his heart dropped when he saw that it was Rahiem calling.

“Fuck!” he said to himself as he answered the phone. “What’s up?”

“What’s going on, little brother?” Rahiem asked smoothly through the phone.

“I’m good, you?”

“I’m blessed. I was just giving you a ring to see if everything was working out alright for you.”

“Yeah. I’m good.”

“Cool. So I’ll see you in a day or two, right?”

“Yes, sir. I’ll be there.”

“Take care, little brother, and be safe.”

“Thanks, man. You too.”

Ending the call, Eric gritted his teeth, climbed into the driver’s seat and pulled off.

Tonika-Three Days Before

I’m going have to toughen this nigga up, Tonika thought to herself as she lay in bed scrolling through text messages as Philly downloaded the information onto the fake credit cards that they were making. Tonika sighed in frustration.

“What’s wrong now?” Philly asked becoming annoyed.

“You have to be smart, baby. Don’t be no sucker.”

“Here you go again. Leave that shit alone, Tonika.”

“I’m just saying, papi… why spilt fifty- fifty when he don’t even have to do shit?”

“It was his thing. He brought me in on it. He got the loan from Rahiem. He found the plug for the plastic cards and magnetic strips. Shit, he even set up the deal so the Arab nigga would buy the cards when we’re done, so why the fuck are you complaining?”

“Ummm, ‘cuz we take the entire risk baby. If la policia march in here we’re going down. Not Eric… Us ,baby!”

“Fuck ‘em? Is that what you’re saying? My friend since... shit I don’t know… forever.. Just beat him out his share?”

“No, but not half. He doesn’t deserve half.”

She slithered from the bed and stood behind Philly at the desk in front of his laptop. She placed her hand on his shoulder.

“You want us to have a future together don’t you?”

He placed his hand on top of hers.

“Of course I do, baby.”

“You have to trust me, baby. I have our best interests at heart.”

Philly didn’t respond. She knelt and placed a soft kiss on his forehead.

***

The following day Philly sat in his mother’s Denali in front of La Diva’s hair salon in Frogtown on St. Paul’s East Side with a duffel bag full of fake credit cards sitting on the back seat. 89.9 KMOJ was blasting a local song “Hot Cheeto’s and Taki” from a popular kid group. Snatching his cell phone from the dash board he looked at the time. He was supposed to meet with Eric, drop off the cards to get them to the Arab, and put an end to the deal. But, here he was fucking around with Tonika. He’d told her he had business, but she insisted on stopping here first because there was someone she wanted him to meet. Maybe Eric was right. He needed to get her in check. He had the right mind to leave her. The nerve of her to have him waiting in the car for forty-five minutes. Turning the car off and getting out of the vehicle, Philly slammed the door closed and hit the car alarm. Snatching the door open to the hair salon, he stormed in looking around the room frantically.

“Um can we help you?” asked the short overweight woman standing over another woman who was reclined with her hair flowing into the bowl under running water.

Philly didn’t respond as his eyes darted around the room. Tonika was nowhere in sight.

“This is some bullshit!” Philly said as he turned to storm back out to his car.

Instantly he thought about the credit cards on the backseat and ran outside to where he was parked only to find that the car was gone. Looking up and down the block he ran to the corner looking for the car as he dialed Tonika’s number. The call went straight to voicemail.

“Fuck, baby! Where are you? Something went wrong. Someone stole the car, baby, with all the merchandise! Baby, I don’t know…shit… call me back. It’s an emergency.”

The Here and Now

His phone rang twice and vibrated on the table. Jimmie casually picked it up on the third ring and answered with a smile.

“This is Jimmie Day. How can I help you?”

“Jimmie, man, where you at?” the familiar voice spat through the phone frantically.

Jimmie immediately recognized the voice as Cyrus, his fence from the North Side. He used him on a lot of jobs back in the day.

“I’m around. What’s good?” Jimmie answered still smiling, but now at full attention.

He knew that if Cyrus was calling him it had to be serious. Cyrus knew he was out of the game and had been for years now.

“Was thinking we could get a game of ball in before it was too late,” Cyrus responded, still in a frazzled tone.

Jimmie looked over at his wife. Placing his hand on hers he brought it to his lips and kissed it softly.

“In the middle of something now. Plus, my knee been acting up lately.”

“Well you know how it is at our age, bro. We can’t keep up with these young boys.”

“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.”

Ronda pulled her hand from his and crossed her arms as the waiter arrived with their salads. They were having lunch at Trattoria Da Vinci’s, an upscale restaurant in St. Paul’s lower downtown area. She nodded thank you to the waiter as she tried to appear to be not listening to Jimmie’s conversation.

“Think about it, bro. Plus the new owner of the club’s going to be there. If you change your mind meet me at the house in ‘bout an hour or so.”

Cyrus ended the call before he could respond. Jimmie closed his phone, placing it inside the breast pocket of his Armani suit jacket.

“Babe, I…”

Ronda held her hand up cutting him off.

“I don’t need to know right now. Just be careful.”

Jimmie rose from the table, kissed Ronda on the cheek, and exited the restaurant.

***

Jimmie maneuvered through the North Side of Minneapolis, handling his pearl white 2012 Chevy Camaro smoothly, avoiding bumps and potholes. It had been years since he spent time there. Although he got into a lot trouble on the streets, just being there brought back a lot of heartfelt memories. A group of young boys stood on the corner of Logan across from The Hospitality House. That was the code that Cyrus sent for their meet up place. They needed to talk about Raheim. He was the new owner of the club. Jimmie had once been the owner, leader, president. Whatever title you wanted to label it, Jimmie was it and Rahiem was his right hand man. Jimmie ran his organization smooth and quiet. In fact, he had done so for ten plus years. The heat didn’t start to come on until Rahiem began to assume more responsibility. Jimmie may not have caught his case had he followed his mind and not his heart and cut Rahiem loose. Jimmie shook the thoughts from his head, pulled into the Hospitality House parking lot, and turned his car off. Hitting his alarm, he walked into the neighborhood gym. As he stepped in he saw a group of boys and girls starting a pick-up game of basketball. The musty scent of the gym brought back fun memories. He had been a pretty good player himself back in his day. Surveying the gym his eyes moved from face to face trying to spot Cyrus. Once he determined that he wasn’t there, he turned to go back outside. When he turned around Cyrus was standing behind him.

“You slipping in your old age, bro,” Cyrus said with a light laugh.

Jimmie, embarrassed about not paying attention to his surroundings and having Cyrus point that out, immediately became upset.

“You call me here to play games or do you have some shit to tell me about our old friend?”

Cyrus was no punk himself. The middle aged, seasoned hustler, 5’0 Mexican raised his eyebrow at the statement then shrugged it off.

“I heard through the grapevine, man, that ya’ boy in to him for some long scratch.”

Jimmie sighed and placed his hands into his pants pocket.

“I don’t have no boy. My boy who?”

“Eric, man.”

“Naw, not my son. He not into shit.”

“Just telling you what I heard.”

“Heard from who?”

“Remember the merch you had me move right before you got out the game?”

Jimmie nodded in response. Cyrus continued.

“The inside man for the job ya’ll ran, he put me on to game… said your old number 2 running that double pay scam on your boy.”

“Who are the players?”

“Not sure if your son’s partner is in on it or what.”

“Thanks, man. I appreciate it.”

Jimmie headed towards the exit.

“You need some aid and assistance let me know.”

Jimmie didn’t respond. He simply continued out the door to his car.

***

Riding down 94 E headed toward Eric’s, Jimmie slowed down when he looked at his dash board and realized that he’d been going 95 miles per hour. Hitting the cruise control, he leaned back into his leather interior, and speaking through his Magellan Maestro GPS system, he dialed Eric’s cell phone several times before calling his mother.

“Tiffany.”

“What’s going on, Jimmie?”

“Nothing much. You seen that boy of yours?”

Tiffany laughed.

“Oh boy! What has he done now? He’s only my boy when he’s screwing up.”

“I’ll tell you later. I just need to get a hold of him and he’s not answering his phone.”

Tiffany wanted to persist, but she knew how Jimmie was when it came to what he called ‘man’s business’, whatever that meant. Since Eric was no longer a boy that now included him as well.

“If he’s not answering you, I doubt it if he’ll answer for me. But, I’ll try. You sure he’s not in any trouble I should know about?”

“Tiffany.”

“Don’t Tiffany me, shit. I can ask about my son.”

“It’s nothing and if it becomes something I’ll tell you. Where does that boy live who he’s always with?”

“Philly, he’s out West St. Paul.”

“Give me his address.”

After a few more minutes on the phone Jimmie had the address and was headed to Philly’s. During the drive his phone rang, disrupting KMOJ’s Q Bear afternoon drive show.

“Hello”

“Hey, babe. Everything okay?” Ronda asked.

Sighing heavily Jimmie ran his fingers through his salt and pepper goatee.

“Handling some stuff with that silly ass boy of mine.”

“Is Eric alright? Is that what that phone call was about?”

“Yeah, trying to find his goofy ass now. Headed over to his friend’s… either way if he’s there or not I’ll be home in an hour or so.”

“Okay, babe. Is there anything you need for me to do?”

“Nothing really. Just see if you can get in touch with the twins for me… see if they can come through.”

“Who Candace and Candy? I don’t see why not.”

“Thanks, babe. I love you.”

“Love you too, Jimmie. Be careful out there alright.”

“I will.”

He ended the call and exited 52 to Robert St. heading to the address Tiffany had given him. Pulling up behind Eric’s Tahoe, he parked and got out. Walking to the driver’s window he saw that Eric was asleep behind the wheel with his mouth open, drool dripping to his chin. Jimmie shook his head in disapproval.

“Silly ass nigga.”

Jimmie kicked the truck door so hard the truck rocked as if it was going to tip over. Startled, Eric jumped from his sleep wide eyed. Before he could react Jimmie had the door open, pulling Eric from the truck and tossing him to the ground.

“Whoa! What’s going on man?” Eric yelled from the ground staring up at his father.

Jimmie gritted his teeth as he raised his foot to kick his son in the stomach, but held back when he saw the fear etched in Eric’s face as he balled up. bracing for the impact.

“Man, get your ass up.”

Eric stood to his feet brushing the mud and dirt from his clothes as best he could.

“We might as well go. I don’t hardly think your dude is coming home.” Jimmie said walking back to his car.

“What you mean? You don’t…”

“I don’t what? I don’t know what I’m talking about? I don’t know what’s going on? Son, I been in these streets way longer than you’ve been alive. I owned these dam streets. Trust me when I tell you, I know what the fuck I’m talking about…And you can freeze up on that deer in the head lights look you’re giving me. So, if you’re done questioning my knowledge, get your naïve ass in the truck and follow me to the house.”

Before Eric could protest Jimmie was behind the wheel pulling out, making a U-turn to head back to the highway. Lowering his head in shame Eric did as he was told, quickly getting in his truck and following his father.

Shit Gets Real

Eric came from his room, freshly dressed in gray slacks, a black and gray Lacoste polo shirt, and solid black Pro Keds tennis shoes. Although he had his own place his father kept his room just as he had left it for times he came and spent a night. As he entered the kitchen he saw his father sitting at the kitchen counter cleaning his guns, twin Glocks. Jimmie didn’t speak. He simply continued as if Eric was not there. Ronda, hair pulled back in a ponytail and wearing an all-white Baby Phat jogging suit, placed a bowl of stew on the table in front of a platter of corn bread.

“Come and eat, baby,” Ronda said as she approached Eric.

She stood on her toes as he bent down to kiss her cheek.

“Hey, Ronda. How you doing?” he asked as she hugged his neck.

“I’m fine,” she said as she stood behind Jimmie running her hand across his chest.

He wore a black wife beater, slacks and socks. He paused. Sitting his gun down to hold her hand, he kissed it softly. Turning towards her, he pulled her to his lap.

“Thank you for getting the girls out,” Eric said settling into his bowl of stew.

Jimmie picked up both guns placing kisses on both. Ronda rolled her eyes shaking her head with a slight smirk.

“What? You know I love Candace and Candy almost as much as I love you, girl,” Jimmie said with a slight chuckle.

“Uh-huh. I thought Candace and Candy were put on a permanent hiatus.”

Jimmie grimaced.

“You have boy genius over there to thank for the girls coming out of retirement.”

Eric continued eating, not responding.

“You going to make me ask?” Jimmie’s voice was laced with authority as he returned to cleaning his weapons.

Ronda silently stroked the side of his face.

“Ahhhmm.” Eric cleared his throat. “It was supposed to be so simple.”

“Start from the beginning, son.”

“I was at Barnes and Noble at the Mall of America minding my own business and I met this chick named Iskat… A Middle Eastern chick… We struck up a conversation talking about nothing really. Maybe an hour into the conversation we start talking about the cost of tuition and how expensive it is.”

“Uh-huh.”

Eric turned to face his father and he continued.

“Before I knew it she was telling me about her uncle and how she makes money selling fake credit cards to him its real easy money and… she gave me his number and was out the door. I didn’t think twice about it. I don’t even know why I kept the number.”

Eric stood from the table and placed his dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

“I had forgotten about the chick by the end of the day,” he continued. “But, then I ran into your old friend Raheim while I was out one night at Club New York.”

“Club New York? What was his old ass doing in that teeny bopper club?”

“I was thinking the same thing. Then he gets to talking to me about if I ever need anything give him a ring and how proud he was of me going to college… how he sees so much of you in me and how you two were getting money and this and that. He slides me a card and says anything I need, hit him up ‘cuz he got me.”

“Son, what I been telling you sense you could walk?”

Eric flopped down on the sofa in the adjoining living room.

“Everything comes with a price, dad. I know.”

“Evidently not. Go on.”

“So here I am still not thinking about the chick and her uncle when two maybe three days later Philly calls me about this job with these Spanish niggas his girl knows paying five G’s a piece running to New York and back. Real easy, real cut and dry.”

“So you that stupid that you going to be a fucking mule now?”

“Naw, dad. I said the same thing. I didn’t even want to know what it was he was talking about… didn’t know if it was drugs or what.”

“Just cut to the chase, Eric.”

“So then I run the same thing down to him that the Middle Eastern chick ran down to me. He gets excited and said he needed to make some phone calls, but he could save us money on the deal by loading the funds to the cards.”

“So you two dimwits trying to be hustlers now, huh?”

“It was all so easy, pops. I’m telling you…”

“So where did shit go wrong?”

“Three days ago. Before that everything was smooth. I found the blank plastic cards and magnetic strips, hit her uncle, and hit Rahiem for the loan. I dropped off the cash to Philly and haven’t heard from him since. Dad, I’m really worried. Something must have happened to Philly. He wouldn’t do this to me.”

“Uh-huh, where’s his girl?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s the bitch’s name?”

“Tonika”

“Tonika what? Where she from?”

“Tonika. That’s all I know. I know Philly told me she was from Cuba or something like that.”

“How much do you owe Raheim?”

“Eighty-five.”

Jimmie sucked his teeth. Ronda dropped her head on Jimmie’s shoulder rubbing his arm to calm him as she felt his muscles tense up.

“Its okay, babe. We can just get the money out the bank and pay Raheim.”

“The hell we can. Not my son. What kind of lesson am I teaching him by bailing him out of trouble?”

“What kind of lesson are you teaching him with Candace and Candy?” Ronda retorted rising from Jimmie’s lap.

“Letting him know that money can’t solve everything and if he learns to stand on his own two feet now it’ll be all the better later in life ‘cuz dad won’t always be here.”

“You know I love you and respect every move you’ve ever made, Jimmie Day, but look at your boy. He is not cut out for this.”

“I think I know my boy. I know what he’s cut out for or not cut out for.”

“I don’t think you do. Look at his face. He looks like he’s ready to lose his lunch.”

“How you want to handle this, son?”

“Alone. I got this, pops.”

Jimmie and Ronda both laughed.

Eric stood to his feet with chest swelled up.

“What’s so fuck,” he caught himself. “….what’s so funny? I got into this mess I can get out of it. I got it.”

“Man, sit your ass down and listen.”

Eric stood defiantly, staring back at his father. Ronda took a few steps back as to not be in the way if Jimmie struck out at Eric. Jimmie stood from the stool sliding his hands in his pockets.

“I’m not telling you again, boy. Sit down.”

Eric reluctantly sat.

“I’m going to make a phone call to Raheim. I know it won’t do any good but I will reach that fucking snake.”

“And if that doesn’t work?” Eric asked like a pupil being schooled by his teacher.

“We’re going to holler at my boy Cyrus to see if we can get you a piece. You remember how to handle one?”

“I believe so.”

Ronda threw her hands in the air exiting the room.

“I have the right mind to call Tiffany and tell her what you two geniuses are in to.”

“Don’t play with me, girl.” Jimmie spat out in a stern tone.

Ronda didn’t respond. The sound of the bedroom door slamming echoed through the condo.

“You sure she’s from Cuba? Not with a name like Tonika.”

“I don’t know, pops. That’s what they told me.”

“You don’t seriously think Philly wasn’t in on it do you?”

“He couldn’t have been, pops. I mean, damn… he just couldn’t have.”

“Wake the fuck up! Ya’ boy and that bitch fucked over you.”

Eric closed his eyes.

“What will we do if we can’t get the money?”

“Let me worry about that. You ask yourself what will you do if Philly really was in on it.”

Eric stood to his feet.

“Whatever the game dictates.”

***

One hour later Jimmie sat in the passenger seat of his all black 88 Cutlass he had detailed as Eric maneuvered the South Side of Minneapolis riding down Chicago Ave. He pulled up at 38th and Chicago in front of the Arab owned corner store.

“I don’t know what coming here will do,” Eric said as he sat impatiently behind the wheel fidgeting his feet.

“We have to start some place. This is where it all started any way… with the girl’s uncle.”

“Yeah, but he didn’t have anything to do with it.”

“Just humor me, playboy.”

Jimmie climbed from the car followed by his son and crossed the street into the corner store. Jimmie looked up and down the aisles. The store was quiet minus a few kids at the counter ordering wings and fries and an old man buying scratch off tickets. Jimmie spoke into Eric’s ear.

“Be careful. They keep guns behind the counter.”

Eric nodded. Jimmie waited until the old man finished, then stepped to the counter.

“How you doing, brother?” Jimmie asked unbuttoning his suit jacket.

“I’m good. How can I help you?”

“I’m looking for Akmil.”

“I’m Akmil, brother. How can I help you?”

“I was referred to you by Iskat.”

Akmil spoke in Arabic to the cook behind the counter then came from behind the counter. “Follow me.”

Jimmie and Eric followed closely behind Akmil to the back of the store into a small office. Akmil left the door open. There was a desk scattered with papers and a closed circuit surveillance monitor. In the corner sat a floor safe and various cases of flavored soda sat stacked high.

“You know Iskat?”

“Not me… my son here.”

“How are you, sir?” Eric asked staring Akmil in his eyes.

“I am fine, young brother.”

“We want to do business Akmil.”

“Who are you?”

“Jimmie Day.”

“Leave me a number Mr. Day and if everything checks out I’ll contact you.”

Jimmie reached into his suit jacket purposefully exposing the butt of one of his Glocks hanging in his gun holster. Removing a business card he handed it to Akmil.

“We have roughly a hundred thousand dollars worth of bogus credit cards to move.”

Akmil cut him off.

“As I say, you check out I’ll call and we’ll discuss business then. Pleasure to meet you, brother.”

Jimmie nodded at Eric to leave, but just as they began to exit the office Eric paused.

“That’s her!” Eric exclaimed, snatching a framed photo from the desk.

Akmil stared back bewildered.

“Yes, you say you know her… that is Iskat.”

“No not her. The female posing in the picture with her!”

“Oh that is her friend,” Akmil explained taking the picture from his grasp and placing it back on the desk.

“What’s her name?” Jimmie asked as the three men headed back out into the store.

“She is Tonika… Tonika… her last name slips me. The two girls are very close.”

“Thanks, bro. I’ll be waiting for your call,” Jimmie said as he directed Eric towards the door.

“That’s her dad. You were right. Philly played me from the beginning. Man, when I see that dude I’m going to...”

“Calm down, son. Always remember to act and not re-act.”

Taking a deep breath Eric sighed and climbed behind the wheel of the car turning the ignition.

“Where to now, dad?”

“Head on over to the Barnes and Noble where you met Ms. Iskat.”

***

Twenty minutes later they were walking through the Mall of America headed to the café inside of Barnes and Noble. Jimmie paused at the magazine rack.

“I’ll keep an eye out. Speak to no one but her.”

Eric nodded and continued walking. Stepping into the café he smiled at the young girl at the register. Surveying the café and seeing that Iskat was not there, he ordered a double chocolate chip Frappuccino. After paying for his drink he sat at a table slowly sipping and thinking. He knew it wouldn’t do any good, but he decided to text Philly again to see if he could get a response. Twenty minutes later he looked up at his father thumbing through a magazine when he noticed a female come in look, in his direction, then quickly turn around and walk out.

“Act, son. Don’t re-act,” Jimmie silently mouthed to his son as Eric rose from his seat and quickly followed behind the fleeing girl.

“Iskat!” he yelled out as she stopped and turned around flashing a weird smile.

“What’s up girl? I thought that was you. How you doing?”

“I’m good and you?” She asked as she embraced him in an awkward hug.

“Good, good. Why are you off in such a big rush?”

Looking down at her feet, she raised her head brushing the hair from her face.

“No rush. Just remembered some business I need to take care of. What’s been up with you?”

Eric flashed a smile as his father walked pass them without speaking.

“Me, I’m good. Just enjoying a nice frapp,” Eric said raising his drink and taking a swig.

Iskat smiled. Eric continued to speak.

“Well, I won’t hold you up.”

Iskat looked as if she literally took a breath of relief as she turned and walked away without saying good bye. Eric silently and slowly followed behind until she reached the parking garage before he stopped and returned to the Barnes and Noble. A short while after, he looked down at his phone as a text message chimed through.

“Meet me at 695 American Blvd. East.”

He exiting the mall and caught a cab to the address. Once there, he paid the taxi driver then Eric climbed into the passenger seat of his father’s Cutlass.

“Where’s old girl?”

“Nearby. I hit my man Cyrus. He said to slide through. He’s on the North Side.”

Eric didn’t know what was going on, but he didn’t want to question his father’s moves either. He leaned back in his seat and kept quiet. As they pulled up on 25th and Fremont they turned onto an alley, rode to the third house. and pulled into the garage. As the automatic garage door closed, Cyrus emerged from the dark holding a cattle prod. Jimmie stepped from the vehicle sliding on a pair of leather gloves. He then pulled a ski-mask over his face. Cyrus tossed a ski-mask to Eric. Unsure of what was going on, he slid the mask on.

“Open the trunk, son.”

Eric stepped out of the car and walked around to the back. He stuck the key in the lock and lifted the door. Before the door was all the way up, Iskat jumped out striking Eric in the face. Taken by surprise he stepped back as Cyrus stunned her in the neck with the cattle prod. She promptly fell back into the trunk. Jimmie immediately wrapped a catch pole around her neck guiding her from the trunk. It didn’t take long for the truth to come out. Tonika had set the con in motion, pointing Eric out to Iskat. It was looking more and more likely that Philly was the master mind. Iskat admitted that they got the credit cards and sold them to her uncle. She had no idea where Tonika or Philly were. She claimed that she never received her cut from Tonika.

Now, back in front of Philly’s house, Eric exited his father’s car and went to knock on the door. Jimmie pulled the car around the back to the alley. A few seconds passed before Ms. Gwen came to the door.

“Hey, Ms. Gwen.”

Ms. Gwen stood in the door way blocking Eric’s entrance.

“How you doing, baby?”

“Um, I’m fine,” Eric said taking a step back, shocked by her strange behavior. “Ummm… has Philly been home yet?”

“Oh no, baby. I have not seen or heard from him.”

“Oh… Well, if you hear from him it’s very important, Ms. Gwen, that you tell him to give me a call.”

“Okay, baby,” she said as she closed the door.

Eric stepped back and stared at the house. Ms. Gwen peeped through the blinds watching him. He smiled and turned to walk back to the car, but the car was gone. He looked down the block and saw his father parked at the corner. He ran down the street to the car and when he reached the passenger seat he was stunned to see Philly sitting there with his father’s Glock trained on him.

“Yeah, caught him coming out the back door.”

“Mutha fucker!” Eric exclaimed as he climbed into the backseat. He pulled out his gun he’d gotten from Cyrus earlier and pointed it to the back of Philly’s head. Jimmie placed his gun back into his holster and pulled off.

“I don’t even care why… Just tell me where’s the money?”

“Eric, man, I swear…”

Eric slapped Philly across the back of his head with the gun. Blood gushed from his onto the head rest as Philly squealed out, clutching the back of his head. Jimmie shook his head in disapproval.

“Wait ‘til we get out the car. You paying to get my interior cleaned.”

Eric cut his eyes at his father then returned his attention to Philly.

“My best friend, man…you played me! Where the money at?”

Tears streaming down Philly’s face, blood running through his fingers.

“She got me, bro. I went and got the cards like we talked about and did my thing. I…I…I don’t know, man. I was stupid.”

“Fuck out of here, man! Where my fucking money at? I know you made the move with Akmil. So where the fuck is my scratch?”

“I swear to you, bro, it was that bitch. She got me. She got us!”

The Cutlass pulled into the parking lot of an abandoned building.

“Get out and don’t try to be Speedy Gonzales ‘cuz believe me, you will not out run what I got for your ass,” Jimmie said as he shifted the gear in park and turned off the car.

Philly wearily opened the door and got out. Pushing the car seat forward Eric followed behind, gun still trained on Philly. Jimmie got out and the three walked into the abandoned building. Tears were still streaming from his face as Philly cried out.

“What now? Huh? Kill me in cold blood after ten years of friendship?”

Eric remained silent. Jimmie placed his hand on the Eric’s. He lowered his gun as his father stepped in front of him.

“Take a deep breath, playboy,” Jimmie said as he placed his hand on Philly’s chest. “You scared huh? That little heart beating fast.”

Jimmie laughed and Philly fell down to his knees.

“I’m sorry, Eric, man. I swear to you on my mama’s life I ain’t fuck you over, dude.”

“Tell us about the girl, son.”

“Her name is Tonika. I met her one night out in St. Paul at this little pool hall joint.”

“Tonika what? I ain’t never met no Spanish chick with a name like Tonika.”

“I swear to you, sir, its Tonika Suarez.”

“Where she stay?”

“I don’t know.”

“Bullshit!” Eric shouted as he stepped around his father, once again pointing the gun at Philly.

“What the fuck I got to lie for? She got the money and I’m going to die for it.”

“Your dumb ass might love her that much,” Eric retorted, cocking back his weapon.

“Act, son,” Jimmie said stepping a few feet away from the gunfire.

“This is the life you thought you wanted. Not so glamorous is it? What’s the name of the pool hall?”

“The Bank Shot.”

“You don’t have to do this son. You can walk away. Once you go down this road it’s with you forever.”

Eric watched his life flash before his eyes as sweat trickled down his mustache wetting his lips. Or maybe it was tears. Eric couldn’t tell the difference at this point. It really didn’t matter. He just prayed that he could be anywhere but here. He was tired and scared. He wondered if his friend could see the fear in his eyes. He hoped his father couldn’t see it. Fronting had gotten him this far it was too late to stop now. His legs felt like wet noodles, his arm shook, and his heart was beating so fast and loudly it drowned out all sound. His father stood only inches away. Although he saw his father’s lips moving all he could hear was the sound of his own heartbeat. A shot rang out and he saw his friend Philly’s body involuntarily jerk. His body was pinned to the floor in pain as blood slowly oozed from his leg. Eric cocked back the Glock, placed it in Philly’s mouth, and pulled the trigger. Eric stepped back, dropping his gun. He held his mouth trying to fight back the vomit. His father rushed over and snatched his charcoal gray Kangol apple cap from his head placing it underneath his son’s mouth. Everything he’d eaten that day was dispelled into the expensive hat.

“Don’t get any on the floor, son. Can’t leave any DNA.”

Eric nodded his head up and down signifying that he understood. They walked to the car and he climbed into the back seat lying down and closing his eyes. He remained silent as his father got into the driver’s seat and pulled off. Only a week ago he had a best friend, and a plan to make two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Where did things go wrong?

***

Eric rode in silence.

“God knows what’s in our hearts. We sometimes travel down paths and do things that are not in our character, but that does not define who we are as a whole. You understand me, son?”

Eric remained silent.

“I don’t have to tell you to keep this between me, you, and God do I?”

Eric sat up in the back seat.

“Who am I going to tell that I just killed my only friend?”

Eric leaned back into the seat and closed his eyes. They both continued to ride letting the quiet help them lose themselves in their own thoughts. Eric opened his eyes to find that they were in front of his father’s condo.

“Go on in and leave your piece here.”

“Where are you going?”

“This is where your ride ends. I got it from here.”

“Naw, dad… I went this far… I have to see it to the end.”

“Trust me, son. Your ride is over. Go on in the house.”

Eric reluctantly climbed from the back seat and tossed his gun on the front seat. Slowly, he retreated from the car, closed the door behind him, and walked into the building. Jimmie pulled off and headed to The Bank Shot. One way or another was going to be over. Riding down the highway re-playing everything in his mind and something just wasn’t adding up. He parked in front of the Bank Shot and walked in. Raheim was behind the bar.

“Well, look at what the wind blew in,” Raheim said with a bright smile.

“We need to talk.”

“I knew you’d show up sooner or later.”

Rahiem came from behind the bar.

“Let’s go up and talk in private.”

Rahiem led the way as Jimmie followed him through the kitchen to the elevator.

“That loan my boy came to get…”

“What about it?"

“We’re going to have to charge it to the game.”

The elevator came to a stop and both men stepped off. Jimmie followed Rahiem into the apartment.

“Why would we do that?”

“It’s me, Rahiem. I know the game.”

Rahiem laughed.

“You should’ve taught Eric.”

“Look, man, I didn’t come here for that. You going to give him a pass or what? I know business is business so I’ll cover the original loan but that interest shit is out the window.”

“Not gon’ happen. He came in here as a man, looked me square in the eye, and agreed to pay. Son or not, he pays.”

Jimmie smirked.

“Here you go.”

“Just speaking the truth, brother.”

“Son or not huh?”

“If you really want to break that shit down he, is more my son than he is yours

“Get off that shit, man. That was almost twenty years ago and we agreed as men that Eric was my son.”

“I never agreed. You and Tiffany agreed.”

“What did you expect man? You and Tiff were wrong. I go do a small bid… I come back and she done had a baby.”

“We didn’t plan it man it just...”

“It shouldn’t have happened. Shit! She was my wife.”

“That was in the past and what’s past is past right?”

Jimmie didn’t respond.

“As far as the debt…If you wanna play daddy, you pay it. That’s what daddies do.”

Jimmie gritted his teeth. Reaching into his pants pocket he pulled out his wallet and removed his American Express Black Card. As he was handing it to Raheim, Tonika entered.

“Hey, baby. You sleep okay?” Rahiem asked never taking his eyes off of Jimmie.

Tonika flashed a sinister smile.

“I slept wonderfully.”

“After this transaction, stay away from my son. And please believe… you’re only breathing because of him.”

Tonika remained silent rolling her eyes at Jimmie’s remark.

“Whatever,” Rahiem dismissed the comment and turned his attention to Tonika. “Here, run this for me, baby.”

Tonika took the card.

“How much?”

“Eighty-Five.”

Just as she was about to run the card Eric burst through the door clutching a sawed off shotgun.

“I should’ve known. Not only do you fuck me out my scratch, you fucking with Rahiem too? That’s ya’ man right?”

“Son, what the hell are you doing?” Jimmie spat out now clutching both Glocks. Tonika was crouched on the floor behind a chair and Rahiem stood holding his own gun aimed at Eric.

“I got this, dad. I’m going to air both these marks out.”

“Get that gun out of my baby’s face!” Rahiem shouted at Eric who still had the shotgun pointed at Tonika.

“Everybody just be calm,” Jimmie coaxed. “Eric, put the gun down, son. I’m paying the debt now and....”

“Naw, dad. This bitch, Philly’s punk ass, and wise ass Rahiem over there ran a scam on me. We ain’t got to pay shit.”

“Act son. Never re-act. You’re moving off of emotions.”

“Scam? What scam?” Raheim asked lowering his gun.

“Your baby over there and his homeboy hooked up and fucked him out of his share,” Jimmie explained. “Don’t act surprised, negro.”

“What are they talking about Tonika?” Raheim asked the cowering girl, never taking his eyes off of Eric.

Tonika slowly rose from the floor.

“Look at him. He’s soft, papi.”

“Baby, no...” Rahiem said slowly approaching Tonika.

“I had to do it to show you that he wasn’t worth your time. After I begged mami to let me come here and get to know you all, you do is sit around and talk about this, this culo!”

“I don’t know what the fuck ya’ll talking about, but it’s done. It’s over. Let’s go dad.”

“Nobody move,” Rahiem ordered, slowly lowering his gun to the floor. “Son, I have something I have to tell you.”

Jimmie shook his head no.

“Don’t do this, man. It won’t change anything.”

“I can’t keep it inside. You and Tiffany fucked me out of my legacy.”

Tears now streamed down Tonika’s face as she stared at Rahiem with hate in her eyes as he continued to speak.

“Eric this is...”

Before he finished his sentence Tonika launched towards Eric screaming. Eric, startled by the movement, squeezed off hitting her in the stomach. Her body flew up into the air and then fell downward sliding across the hard wood floor, stopping in front of Rahiem’s feet.

“Nooooooooo!” Rahiem and Jimmie both screamed out in unison.

“Eric, what have you done?” Jimmie asked, approaching his son who was still clutching the shotgun with its barrel smoking.

“See, dad. I am like you. I told you I would do whatever the game dictates.”

Rahiem cradled Tonika’s head, wiping blood from her mouth. She shook, struggling to speak.

“Shhh. Just relax, baby girl.”

His tears fell, hitting her in the face he continued.

“I’m sorry I didn’t pay enough attention to you...Tonika, I love you with all my heart.”

Tonika forced a smile through her pain. Finally he had said the words she’d longed for so long to hear.

“I love you too, daddy.”


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