The clatter of the restaurant kept me entertained as I waited at the bar for Arnold. I decided that it would be best if we met at the restaurant of his choosing instead of having him pick me up. I didn’t know him well enough for him to come to my home.
As I sip on my glass of White Zinfandel, I notice the people in the restaurant, all seemingly having a good time, without a care in the world.
For the sixth time in the past hour I looked at my watch. He was thirty minutes late and I was on my second glass. Arnold had fifteen minutes before I placed my feet off the stool and headed out the door. I would give him my customary courtesy of a forty-five minute wait period and that was it.
The little time I had waiting for Arnold, I had time to think. Wondering if I should open myself up again. My heart and my pride were already beaten up enough, and here comes this guy who seems to be genuinely interested. “Well, whatever I decide.” I say to myself. “I’m going to take it slow. Probably slower than he wants, but it’s not about him.
It’s about me.”
Just when I felt that I waited long enough, I began to stand and then Arnold comes walking through the doors of the restaurant with a huge smile on his face. Looking totally different than he did the night before, sporting a pair of beige dress slacks, a black crew knit shirt and a black blazer. I was impressed. As he made his way towards me I stood up from the bar and gave him a short quick smile.
“I’m sorry I’m late, Trevor. But my son was sick this morning.” Arnold started.
“That’s okay. You had about another two more minutes and I was about to leave,” I said with a smile.
“Oh, it’s like that?”
“Yep, like that. But don’t take it personally. I give everyone at the most forty-five minutes. I feel that if someone is late, it’s because of an emergency or they’re just being plain inconsiderate. In either case, forty-five minutes is long enough to wait.”
“I understand that.” Arnold quickly looks towards the host stand, “Let me go see if our table is ready,” Arnold said before walking over to the maitre d.
As he spoke briefly to the maitre d, he turned towards my direction and motioned for me to follow. The ma tre d sat the both of us in a small booth away from the noise of the crowd.
“Your waiter will be with you momentarily,” the maitre d informed us. “Thank you,” we both said simultaneously.
“So,” Arnold began with a smile, “Did you really enjoy yourself last night?” “Yes, I did, even though I didn’t really get the chance to meet many people.” “Well maybe I wanted to keep you all to myself.”
“Hmmm, anyway so how is your son?”
“Oh, that was real subtle. I take it you want to change the subject?” Arnold said laughing.
“Yeah, you’re beginning to embarrass me.” I said with a hint of sarcasm.
“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. He’s doing better. It wasn’t anything life threatening, but I always want to be there for my boy no matter what.”
“I can see you really love him. May I ask you a personal question?” “I don’t know. It depends.”
“You don’t have to answer it. I’m just being nosy. It’s my nature. Are you married?” Arnold laughs a little.
“Now, if I were married, would I be sitting here with you?” he asked.
“Believe me, my brother, being married hasn’t stopped people before,” I laughed.
“Even if I were married, brother as fine as you are, I can see how someone like me could be tempted.”
“There you go again.”
“Look, Trevor, I’m sorry. I just can’t help myself.”
“Well, you’re gonna have to if we’re going to continue this conversation,” I said sternly. “Damn, you won’t cut a brother a break will you? Alright, I’ll try. To answer your question, no, I’m not married. But I am divorced. Does that bother you?”
“Now why would that bother me? We haven’t gotten into anything for it to bother me.” “Well, I’m hoping to rectify that.”
“Anyway. How old is your son?” “He’s two and half.”
“What’s his name?” “Adam.”
“Well, how long have you been divorced?” “About a year?”
“Does she know...you know.”
“She knows that I like men and women. And she’s pretty cool with it. We talked a long time about it and we decided that the best thing for us was to break up.”
“How long had you two been married?”
“About five years. The last two were bad, because the feelings to be with a guy were too strong. But Cheryl and I had a very open relationship. We shared everything with each other, so one day I came out and told her.”
“How did she react.”
“Of course she was furious. The woman went through many changes. Which to be fair, she had every right to. She went from blaming me to blaming herself and in the end she tried everything in her power to change me from being bi, but after she realized that there was nothing that she could do, she basically stood by me and was very supportive.” “Wow, she’s a strong woman. Not many black women would tolerate it. I know that first hand.”
At that moment, the waiter stopped by our table and took our order. I ordered the baked chicken with steamed vegetables and Arnold ordered a steak, cooked medium well and a baked potato.
Arnold continued to fill me in on his life until the waiter came with our lunch. “Enough about me,” Arnold said chewing. “Tell me about you.”
“Well, what is it you would like to know?” I said, as I sipped on my glass of water.
“I don’t know, like why is it that a fine thing like you is still unattached?”
“Probably because I haven’t met anyone worth being attached to. I mean I’ve met a lot of guys, but they’re usually so full of shit, I only wind up wasting my time. I don’t know, I guess my standards are a bit too high.”
“That’s the only way to have them. What were you doing before you opened your detective agency?”
“I used to be a cop for the New York Police Department.” “Oh, really? For how long?”
“Seven years.” “Why’d you quit?”
I hesitated a little, bringing me back to my own reality. I guess I must have paused a little longer than I thought, because Arnold interrupted my thoughts.
“Trevor, are you okay?”
“I’m sorry. Talking about the force is a touchy subject. There were some circumstances that involved my ex-lover and I felt it best that I quit.”
“I understand if you don’t want to talk about it.”
“Thanks. Anyway, I graduated from NYU with a degree in Criminal Law. I was supposed to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a lawyer, but I wanted to strike out on my own.”
We both continued to share with each other about our lives. The meal was good and the conversation was even better. Arnold seems to be a intelligent young man. Very mature for his age even though, at 27, he wasn’t that much younger than me at twenty-seven.
But, I had to watch myself. I know I could probably fall for this guy. He was saying all the right things, making all the right moves, but in the back of my mind, I knew I couldn’t get involved. I had way too much shit on my plate right now. Having a romantic relationship was the last thing I needed. A man in my life would only complicate things further. Anyway how could I possibly explain the complex hell I live in and call my life.
At the end of our early dinner, we both walked outside towards our vehicles. “So, where are you off to now?” he asks.
“I need to be getting home and take care of somethings.” “Could I persuade you into going for a ride with me?”
“That’s sounds really nice, but I think I should be going home. Maybe next time.” “Okay, but I’m going to hold you to that.”
I started forward to shake his hand. As he grabbed my hand, he quickly used it to pull me closer for a bear hug. I was a little uncomfortable hugging this man in the middle of the street, but that uneasiness rapidly left as I felt the warmth of his body quickly spread over mine. He leaned in even closer and whispered in my ear.
“I hope we can take this to another level.”
As he slowly released me from his embrace I looked at him and smiled. “Who knows?” I said.
I walked towards my jeep and turn ed around as I get to the front bumper. He was still there, looking and smiling.
Oh boy, what if I can’t do this? What if I can’t open enough to let anyone else in? I don’t want to hurt this boy. But, I’m going to go through the same bullshit I went through with Mitchell. What the hell am I going to do? Lord knows I didn’t ask for this.
“I really don’t want to get involved with anyone.” I kept telling myself over and over again.
But the more I kept trying to fight the feeling, the more I kept feeling myself falling deeper and deeper into the emotional abyss.
“Watch yourself, Trevor.” I say out loud “Watch yourself.”
The next day I went into the office a little earlier than usual. I felt that day was going to be the day to close some chapters in my life. Number one being Mitchell’s murder. I had a pretty good idea who was involved, but before I came out with it, I needed some hard evidence. And for that, I would need some help.
When I went into the offices, there was no one in. I went into my office and shut the door. In the bag I brought with me, were the letters and Mitchell’s beeper. The day after I found the beeper under my sofa and after I cleared my head from my hangover, I discovered that the numbers on the pager were all date and time stamped. And a number that repeatedly showed up was placed on the night Mitchell died. I picked up the telephone to call one of my friends who worked for the telephone company.
Philip has helped me many of times when I needed to trace a telephone number. Even though we both knew if he got caught he would be deep trouble, he was more than willing to help me. The reason Philip was so willing was because Philip liked me. And I knew it. And with that knowledge I did kind of lead him on. I knew it was wrong, but sometimes you need to use what you got to get what you want.
“Hey, what’s up, Philip, it’s Trevor.” I said when he answered the phone.
Immediately, Philip’s voice changed from the tired and monotone way he answered the phone to exuberant and full of life.
“Trevor, h-hi. Long time no hear from. I thought you forgot about me.”
“Now, Philip, why would I ever forget you?” I could have gagged on those words as I said them.
Then, as if he knew my real purpose for calling Philip’s attitude changed. “You must want something again, huh?” He said disappointedly.
“Why do you have to say it like that?” I said innocently.
“Because the only time you call is when you want something.” “Come on Philip, you know that’s not true.”
“So you’re telling me that you’re not calling for a favor.”
“I didn’t say that.” I say laughing. “Alright, what is it this time?”
“Well, if you wouldn’t mind. Could you please trace a number for me.” “Trevor, do you know how much trouble I could get into?”
“Yes I do. But you would be doing me a huge favor, one I won’t forget.”
“Okay fine, but you owe me one. Let me call you back in thirty minutes.” “Thanks so much Philip. You’re a real sweetheart.”
“I know and don’t you ever forget it.”
Exactly thirty minutes pass by when the phone rings. I quickly pick up the phone. “Trevor?” Philip questioned.
“Yeah. What did you find, Philip?”
“The number belongs to a cellular phone. It took some digging, but I was able to find that the owner of the phone is a Richard Jameson.”
I grew extremely quiet. Then my suspicions were correct. “Trevor? Are you there?” Philip asked.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m sorry, Philip. Thanks so much for your help. I owe you big time.
How ’bout dinner some time?”
“That sounds fantastic. But you better make good on that dinner, Trevor.” “Come on, baby, I always come through.”
“Hm hm. Anyway I need to go. Talk to you soon.”
I put the phone down and looked at the clock. It was nine fifteen. Minna should be in by now.
I walked towards the lobby, where Michelle was already sitting. “Good morning, Trevor. I didn’t see you come in.”
“Good morning, Michelle. I came in a little early. Is Ms. Townsend in yet?”
“Yep. And by the way. You have a package. It’s been here since Friday.” Michelle said, handing me a long box, which looked like it contained long stemmed roses.
“It looks like you have an admirer.” Michelle said smiling. “Yeah, it looks like it. Is there a card?”
“I didn’t see one, but maybe it’s inside.”
I quickly removed the red ribbon that was tied around the box. Something in the back of my mind felt something was just not right about this. Who would be sending me roses?
It couldn’t have been Arnold, because he would have mentioned it yesterday. I opened the box slowly and looked inside. Inside were a dozen dead roses with a picture of my mother and father. The heads of both my parents were cut off. At the bottom of the picture written in what looked like blood were the words. “The sweet smell of these flowers are now dead, no longer clinging to life. It would be a shame to see the end of this man and his lovely wife.”
My heart stopped. This guy was fucking crazy. The look on my face must have given me away because Michelle said, “Trevor, are you okay? You look like you just saw a ghost.”
Not wanting to reveal what was going on, I quickly regained my composure.
“I-I’m fine. It’s just I wasn’t expecting this.” “Well, let me see.” She said smiling.
“No-no. I guess being here over the weekend killed them. They’re all black. I’ll just take them in the kitchen and put them through the garbage disposal.”
I quickly rushed into the kitchen and put the flowers down the disposal. What the hell am I going to do? If l continue with this, something could happen to my parents. After I finished pushing the dead flowers down the disposal I sat down in a chair. My heart was still pounding when I heard Michelle’s voice coming from the front desk. I walked back to the lobby.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“You have a phone call. It’s your mother.”
“Okay, I’ll take it in my office.”
When I sat down in my chair I picked up the phone. “Hello, mother. What’s new?”
“Trevor, baby, I have some horrible news.” “What, what is it?”
“It’s your father. He was on his way to work when he was in an accident.” “What!! What happened?” I said jumping up from the chair.
“I don’t know the details. But the police said it was a hit and run. They don’t know who hit him. He’s in the hospital and I’m on my way over there now. Can you meet me there?”
“I’m leaving now. What hospital is he in?” “Saint Peters. Okay, Trevor, I’ll see you there.”
I hung up the phone and grabbed my jacket. I ran out the door and ran into Minna. “Whoa, where’s the fire?” Minna said smiling.
“I’m sorry, Minna, I don’t have time to talk right now. My father’s in the hospital. I’ll see you when I get back.”
“Do you want me to go with you?”
“No, not really. I’m sure it’s nothing too serious.”
But I was wrong. I met my mother in the emergency waiting area. Though she looked flawless in her Donna Karan suit, she had definite signs of worry and exhaustion on her face. Her eyes were red from crying. I rushed to her side and gave her a big hug.
“How is he?” I asked.
“He’s in a coma, Trevor.” She sniffed. “What the hell happened?”
“From what the police officer told me, your father was on his way into the city and someone rammed your father’s car off the highway onto the road barrier. He said the car smashed into the barrier and bounced back on the highway, where it flipped three times.” “Did anyone see who did it?”
“No, they don’t have a clue. But it was probably one of those convicts he put away, looking for revenge.”
I then remembered the little package I got this morning. Whoever was threatening me wasn’t playing. I had to get this guy and quick.
My mother and I had been sitting in the waiting area for almost four hours when the physician who was taking care of my father walked in.
“Yes?” My mother answered quickly rising.
“Hi, I’m Doctor Vega. About your husband, he’s going to be just fine. We had to perform emergency surgery, but he’s out of his coma and after a week or two to make sure he’s progressing well, he should be able to go home.”
“Thank God.” My mother said, apparently relieved. “May we go see him?” I asked.
“Right now wouldn’t be the best thing. He just came out of surgery and he’s in post-op. Why don’t you two come back tomorrow. He’ll be in better condition then.”
“No.” My mother exclaimed. “I’m not going anywhere until I see my husband. I’ll wait until he gets out of post-op.”
“That may take another five hours or so.”
“I don’t care. What room will he be in? I’ll wait for him there.” “We don’t have a room yet.”
“Excuse me!!. After all the money my husband and I contribute to this hospital, I’ 11 be damned, if one room cannot be found.”
“L-let me see what I cando.” Doctor Vega said, rushing back to the nurse’s station. “Yes, you do that.”
If I ever wondered where I get my balls from, they would have to be from my mother. The doctor rushed back and informed us that a private room had just become available. We were both on the way up to the room when my cellular phone rang.
“Hello?” I answered
“Well, did you like my little gift?” the familiar hoarse voice asked. “Who is this?”
“I told you if you didn’t keep you nose out of this someone in your family was gonna get hurt. Now, you have no one but yourself to blame.”
“Look, motherfucker. I don’t know what the hell you’re trying to pull, but it’s not going to work.”
“Oh, it’s going to work alright. Or the next time, I won’t be so merciful. I wonder what your mother would look like covered in blood.” The voice laughed over the phone.
All of a sudden, I was struck with a brainstorm. I decided to call his bluff.
“Look, Richard. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stop this shit. You’re fucking with the wrong man.”
The line on the other end was quiet. My hunch was right. “You don’t have anything else to say?” I asked.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. But, what I do know is unless you want something else to happen to your family, I suggest you lay low.”
The line clicked and went dead.
“Who was that, Trevor?” My mother asked obviously concerned. “The guy who’s responsible for putting dad here.”
“What? What are you talking about? How do you know that?” “It’s a long story, mom.”
“Well, it looks like I have the time for it.”
For the next two hours I let my mother in on what was going on. She was amazingly calm as she took in all the news.
“So, right now, I don’t have any solid proof, but my hunches are usually not wrong.” “You think your old captain has something to do with all of this?”
“I know it sounds ridiculous, but it does explain a lot. My only question is why. Unless.... “
“Well, remember I told you about those letters I found written to Mitchell?” “Yes, but I don’t understand what that has to do with it.”
“Well, every letter was signed, R.J... Richard Jamesway.”
“Oh my goodness. Do you really think that Mitchell and your old captain were lovers?” “It looks like it. I mean I saw a picture where Mitchell had his arm around him.”
“But that doesn’t mean he killed Mitchell or took that evidence.”
“I know, but Captain Jamesway is in perfect position to do it and get away with it. What
I need to do is figure out a way to prove it and put his ass behind bars.” “And how are you going to go about doing that?”
“I don’t know yet, mom. My first priority though is to make sure you and dad are safe.”
With that, I picked up my phone to dial John. I quickly informed him that there was a possibility that someone was trying to kill my parents and for him to send over some officers to watch them. I didn’t go into my suspicions. I still had my doubts about John.
My father came out of post-op around five o’clock. He was still asleep when the orderlies brought him up. I waited with my mother until the officers John sent over arrived around six thirty.
I started to go back to my office to speak with Minna, but on my way to the building, I decided to go down to the police station. I really didn’t know what I was going to accomplish by confronting Captain Jamesway, but what I did know was I wasn’t going to let him think I didn’t know what he was up to. I quickly parked my jeep and walked into the station. Fran was at the front desk.
“Hi, Fran. How are you?” I said. “Is Captain Jamesway in?”
“Uh, yeah but he’s on some international phone call. You wanna wait out here while he finishes up?”
“Naw, I’ll just go back to let him know I’m here.”
I walked back to Captain Jamesway’s office. The blinds to his office windows were open so he could see me coming. He quickly stood up from his chair and slammed the phone down. I walked to the door and pushed it open. At first neither one of us said a thing; sizing each other up. Richard Jamesway was about my height, but with a swimmer’s build. His olive skin always made him look like he had a year round tan. With his blue eyes he stared at me with a sneer on his lips.
“How may I help you, Trevor?” He asked sarcastically.
I leaned both hands on his desk and looked him deep in the eyes. “Listen, Richard, this game you’re playing will stop. Trying to hurt my family is not going to work. You see, after killing Mitchell and Raymond, you shoulda killed me next. Cause by the time I’m through with you, my foot will be so far up your ass, you’ll be tasting shoe leather for weeks.”
“Why, Trevor I haven’t the slightest idea what you mean. How is your father anyway? I understand some of my guys are over there guarding him. Well, I hope nothing more happens to him,” Richard says with a sly smile on his face.
For some reason, I grew extremely calm. Normally, I would have had his ass strung up from the ceiling. Instead, I looked at him and said, “Believe me when I tell you this, if something else happens to my family, you’re going to wish your mother never conceived you.”
I started to walk out the door, when he stopped me. “So, how was your last fuck with
Mitchell?” he spitted.
I turned around and narrowed my eyes at him. “Just remember this, Dick, no matter how many times you laid down with him, I was always the one Mitchell came back to. Evidently, your little shit wasn’t enough. And by the way, if you think that you covered your ass, think again. Cause you’re slipping. I will see you pay.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he said nervously. I only smiled and walked out the door.
I knew he would slip up now. I put him on the defensive. Now, all I needed to do was wait and see what he would do next.
Early the next afternoon I drove to the office and fortunately Minna was there. I knocked on her closed office door.
“Come in.” She said
“Hey, you’re still here. Working hard or hardly working?” “I always work hard. How is your father?”
“He’s gonna make it. Listen, if you’re not too busy, I need your help.”
“Sure, this can wait. What can I do for you?” she said peering down over her glasses.
“Well, here’s the situation. I have every feeling in the world to believe that my old captain, when I was on the police force, killed Mitchell and Raymond.”
“Now how did you deduce that?”
“Stay with me now. The captain knew Mitchell and I used to be lovers. But, we broke up after the drug bust went down. So, when he found out that Mitchell was going home with me that night, he got jealous and suspicious.”
“Hold up, why would he get jealous.”
“Oh I’m sorry. Let me back track. Mitchell and the captain were sleeping with each other.” I said nonchalantly.
“What? Are you sure? How the hell do you know that?”
“Listen, when I went to Mitchell’s apartment to help his mother pack up his things, I found a box full of love letters. At first, I didn’t know who they were from. But after digging in the box further, I found some pictures and a video tape and let’s just say, they weren’t kissing cousins.”
“Damn, this shit is too deep.”
“It gets better. I believe that night Mitchell was killed, Richard followed us from the night club. And while I was asleep, Mitchell got a page from him, let him in my house and Richard gave him some bad stuff, not only to keep him from squealing, but also for sleeping with me.”
“Alright, I’m officially confused now. Keep Mitchell from squealing about what?” “Remember I told you that Mitchell and Raymond were both involved in this drug ring in Queens?”
“Well, I remember John telling me that Mitchell spoke with him the night he was murdered. John said that after talking with me Mitchell realized that he was wrong and wanted to confess, and evidently he must have told Richard what he planned on doing.” “How was Richard involved in the drug ring?”
“Well unless I totally missed my mark, in exchange for money and, um, other things, Richard was alerting him when the undercover guys were getting too close. And after the bust went down, Richard took the money and drugs. Mitchell knew all this.”
“But why kill Raymond?”
“Oh, that’s simple. John must have told Richard that I was going over there to ask Raymond some questions. So to kill two birds with one stone, he waited until he knew I was going to be there and killed him. Not only did he get rid of someone that could pin him, but he could also get me out of the way by framing me for it. Setting up his ultimate revenge.”
Minna grew quiet as she took in all of the information. “So,” she began. “How can I help you get this bastard?”
“Well, I guess the first thing we need to do is figure out a way to nail him legally.
Although my thoughts are to just hire somebody to snuff him out.”
“I just had an idea. You said that Mitchell taped him and Richard, you know, having relations.”
“That’s a mild way of putting it.”
“Well, I don’t know about you, but the couple of guys that I’ve dated usually like to talk when we we’re getting hot and heavy. Maybe there’s something on the tape that could pin him. Maybe we should look at them.”
I look at Minna in astonishment.
“Are you sure? I know how uncomfortable this lifestyle can make straight people feel.” “Please, Trevor. I’m a very open-minded woman. I think I can handle it. Anyway I may pick up something that you could’ve missed.”
“If you say so. Alright then the tape is at my house. Why don’t we go over there and look at it. I will tell you this, it’s gonna make me extremely uncomfortable looking at the tape with you.”
“Don’t worry. I promise to be as professional as I can. If it’ll make you feel any better, we can make some popcorn and act like we’re in a theater.”
“Ha, ha. You’re so funny. Just get your stuff and let’s go. And leave your humor at the door.”
We both take the elevator down to the lobby and walk out the front entrance of the building.
“We can take my car. There’s no need for both of us to drive.” I said to Minna.
“That’s fine. I just need to get my briefcase out of my car and we can be on our way. It’s just across the street. Where did you park?”
“Two blocks up on this side of the street. I’ll wait for you here.”
As Minna begins to make her way across the street a loud screech emits through the air as a black van rushes towards her.
“Minna, look out.” I yell at her. I rush towards her to push her out of harms way.
Before I could even get halfway to her, the van nearly hit Minna, causing her to plunge backward against a nearby parked car and end up on the ground. Before the van sped away, I quickly memorized the license plate as I run to Minna’s side.
“Are you alright?” I ask, bending down to help her up.
“I’m fine. My butt’s a little bruised, but I’ll be just fine. I can’t believe these New York drivers though. He could’ve killed me.”
“I don’t think that was just any New York driver. It was probably Richard.”
“What?! You think so? Well, the sooner we get his ass the better. Look at my stockings. Do you know how much these things cost? He better hope I never run into him, cause it won’t be too cute.”
“I think I should call the police.” I said helping Minna to the my car.
“What for? I told you I’m fine. Besides, we don’t have time for all that. If we’re gonna prevent this motherfucker from doing shit like this to other people, we’re gonna have to nail his ass to the wall for good.”
“Damn, Minna, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”
“Let’s just say I’m a little pissed off right now. Who does he think he is, trying to run me over? He must not know who he’s dealing with. But before this is over with, he’ll recognize.”