Pone took in a deep breath and released it through his nostrils. He left Lucille in a parking
deck off on 100 E6th since it was almost rush hour time and North College was a rush hour street and
he wasn’t in the mood to worry about a ticket and tow.
The day was usual day; the gray sky was doing its best to keep the sun from making an appearance.
Pone was now at his destination, but wasn’t ready to go in because he was in his own thoughts, he was
annoyed at Red texting him about an impromptu meeting with Crowe. He wasn’t surprised she picked
up the vibe about the two attacks on him and who might be behind them because after all she was a
brilliant attorney. But she was human and it was dumb of her to make a move without consulting him
first. She should have waited till he could at least make things concrete before taking it upon herself to
be so bold confronting Crowe. If he was behind the attacks, Pone didn’t want to give him wind that he
was on to him, but that ship had sail thanks to Red. Then again maybe she bought him some time
because now Crowe had to rethink his plan now that they would no longer be meeting at night, In
some cases three would have probably been the magic number, they say third times the charm or three
strikes and you’re out were terms Pone did not want on himself and perhaps Red thought the same. Two
hits on his life before and after meeting with the Deputy Mayor, well that was just too coincidental.
Pone was a gambler and a gambler never puts all his cards on the table. Giving Crowe wind of his
assumption of him being behind the attacks was not his play. But that would be something to think
about later since he was at destiny’s door. Mert’s door to be exact.
Mert’s was a soul food restaurant located at 200 North College. The city had plenty of soul food
joints, but on the outskirts of the city. Mert’s was the only one brave enough to venture and lay
foundation inside the big city and they were there to stay. The white collar class loves them. Pone
stepped inside the mid-sized establishment. Like a gentleman he took off his hat surveying the eatery;
small square brown tables, chairs all wood, sandy tan stone smooth walls smothered by photos of
African-Americans from the past and present. Whether they were family members, no one knew except
maybe the owner. Pone spotted Brown in a corner wolfing down food like there was no tomorrow.
Pone sat down to the sound of finger licking and lip smacking.
Brown had a nice spread; honey glazed barbecue ribs, side bowls of collard greens with bits of ham,
black-eye peas, cheesy macaroni, a plate of buttery corn bread and to wash it down a big glass of ice
“Want some? Plenty to go around,” said Brown.
Pone waved him off. “I’m good.” Pone scanned and saw unfriendly eyes glaring his way from the
kitchen. “Too many enemies. “Don’t want my food with the flavor of saliva.”
Brown grunted. “You paranoid,”
“Better safe than sorry.”
“You going to talk or keep feeding your pie hole?”
Brown washed down a mouthful of mac and cheese. “Okay man, shoot.”
“Don’t tempt me,” said Pone.
“You gonna talk or tell jokes?”
“Another hit on my life after a meeting.”
“The broad and the loser.”
“How you … “
“Put two and two together after reading the blab sheet.”
Pone gave Brown a dubious look.
Brown smiled. “No, I ain’t no prohibition, I just like the nickname for the newspaper.” Brown
studied Pone. “Hold up now, I know you ain’t thinkin’ I tried to dust you?”
“The Probonos didn’t know Arnold Pratt.”
Brown frowned. “You livin’ under a rock? The probonos done open up their membership, they
got blacks and Latinos in their click now.”
“Pratt wanted to be a hip-hopper fucking bad. He even had a walking dead partner.”
“They both dead now.” Brown took a bite of his collards and frowned. “Damn cold.”
He motioned to a waitress. “Baby, could you warm these up for me?”
She smiled and also took the black-eye peas. The waitress was short, stocky, full lips with
a piercing on the side of her nose, multicolored braided weave draped around her full face, and to
top it off her blue jeans looked painted on her thunder thighs. When she carried the food to the
kitchen, Brown was hypnotized by her big round bouncy ass. Pone had to focus on a dagger eye
woman wiping down tables. She had a full face and glossy hair wrapped around it that looked
glued to her head. Bug eyes and boobs galore for the man who was a breast man and Pone wasn’t,
but a true breast man would use the melons like a pillow and sleep in paradise. In no time the
thunder thigh waitress returned with Brown’s food. He attacked it as if he was afraid it would get
“A lot of eye-balling going around,” said Pone.
Brown swallowed hard. “You’re a pretty man.” He sipped his tea. “Light skin, got that
hairless boyish look, white people type curly hair, and one brown and blue eye. Damn.”
“Wanda Rembert. Did you know her?” Pone thought he’d throw the dead woman’s name
Brown wolfed down a mouthful of collards. “See that woman with the googly eyes glaring
“You mean bug eyes,” said Pone.
Brown laughed. “Same thing, anyway that was her cousin, but that ain’t the only reason she
got eyes for you.”
“What do you mean?”
“One of them boys you clipped was her own.”
“The whole family stupid?”
“Show some respect man.”
“Wanda worked as a hired killer?” asked Pone.
“Skinny ass Wanda . . . fuck no. She was heavy on the eight-ball.”
Pone knew the eight-ball was slang for two things: malt liquor and cocaine. The way Wanda looked
it was obvious she was all about the blow.
“You’re not talking about malt liquor are you?”
Brown shook his head. “You saw her.”
Pone frowned. The woman looked like a carbon skeleton. “She was that hard up. That means somebody
in your neck of the woods put her up to it.”
“I wish you cut that shit out. I admit that’s something to look into, but you got parlay from the G.
But some cold heart fucker knew she was a coke-head and convinced her to come after you.”
“Guess I need to talk to bug eyes.”
Pone was about to get up, but Brown motioned for him to stay seated.
“Leave Ella alone.”
“Maybe she knows something?”
“All she knows is that Wanda was a coke-head and good giving head.” Brown snorted. Hell the way
she looked, if yo dick saw her, it would jump off yo body and run and hide.”
“You got a rat in your house.”
“I’ll put down some cheese.”
“Works better with peanut butter.”
Both men laughed.
“Do me a favor,” said Pone.
“When the time is right. I’ll holler at Ella.”
Pone nodded, and Brown winked. Pone made it to the sidewalk outside of Mert’s.
He took out his phone and text. Pone received his response and put his phone away. He felt eyes on the
back of his head.
“Excuse me, sir.”
Pone focused on the Spirit Square building across the street. The building was a safe haven for
bankers, brokers, and attorneys. One of many buildings in the city that did the same. Two types of
security guards were posted at the building; one group dressed like enforcers wearing black caps, tan
shirts, black slacks, boots. Badges, cuffs, and guns. The other guards wore blazers, white shirts, and red
ties, black shoes, and gray slacks. Both worked for the same company, The suits were more like a
doorman and the welcome community and the armed guards were the storm-troopers. Pone wondered
who was more important, the doorman guards or the gun carrying ones who controlled the parking
deck and loading docks. The building had an upper-class restaurant called Blue, pizza joint using a gas
station theme, Chinese, and a Greek selling gyro joint. Pone used the scenery as a slight distraction for
what was about to come.
“Sir,” Followed by a poke between the shoulder blades.
Again with the poking, somebody was going to lose a finger, he thought.
“Yes, ma’am,” said Pone.
A glare and one hand on her hip. “So you got manners,” she sneered, “Wanted to meet the man who
“Those babies had loaded pacifiers and tried to kill me. Instead,they killed an eight-year-old boy.”
Pone knew his words had leveled the battlefield.
“You didn’t have to burn them . . . they didn’t deserve that,” Her eyes welled up.
“A message to any-body young or old trying to take me out.”
The woman looked as though she wanted to slap Pone. “Mister bad ass tough man.”
“When I need to be. Your whole family trying the killing trade?”
“Wanda . . .you just a cold hearten hoodlum. Ain’t worth a shit.”
Pone wanted to tear into the woman. The profession had cemented no pity in his heart.
“Pot calling the kettle black. Those boys were on the road to being a piece of shit.”
Rage and anger made the woman strong, but Pone held her at bay till Brown came out of the
restaurant grabbing the woman around the waist swinging her away from Pone. Pone shook his head
and walked toward the parking deck.