gripping action-based mystery

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Chapter Twelve

My nerves were extremely on edge as I turned on the video cassette and popped in the tape. I walked in the kitchen to do what I always do when I’m in a nervous situation.... drink. It was bad enough that I was about to watch an amateur porno flick with a woman I barely knew, but the main attraction happened to be my ex-lover. It really didn’t matter to me that Minna knew I was gay. It was just the thought of having someone I knew on a professional basis, view me and my life in a different light. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but it’s like having my mother watch me having sex. And the thought of it makes me shiver.

I pour myself a tall glass of rum and coke, with more rum than coke, and walk towards the living room, where Minna was sitting, legs crossed, waiting.

“Why are you so nervous Trevor?” Minna asked.

“Well, wouldn’t you be? How about putting yourself in my position. I’m sure you wouldn’t be so nonchalant about it if we were about to see one of your ex’s having sex on the big screen.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. But, let’s not look at it like that. Let’s just view it as being a murder case and we’re looking for evidence. We neither know or care about who’s on the screen.”

“Alright, I’ll try. But it’s not going to be easy.”

I press the play button on the remote control and we sit in silence as we watch Mitchell and Richard go at it on the television screen. For a full thirty minutes, we heard nothing but moans and groans from the both of them. Which made me kind of jealous, cause that bastard never lasted more than fifteen minutes with me.

Sweat starts to pour uncontrollably down my face as I toss back the alcoholic drink I made. I quickly glance in Minna’s direction to see her expression, but her face was blank. Evidently, she was not as affected by what was going as I was.

Finally, after Mitchell and Richard were finished, Richard got up from the bed and went to where I assumed the bathroom was. Mitchell laid on the bed, face up with his manhood still erect.

“Well, alright.” Minna exclaimed, laughing. “Damn, I can’t believe that fine specimen is six feet under.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” I answer back. “Well, it looks like there’s nothing substantial.” I said as I was about to stop the tape.

Before I could reach the remote, Richard walks back in view of the camera and lies on the bed beside Mitchell. He started to say something, but I couldn’t quite make out what was being said, so I grabbed the remote to increase the volume.

“So, was this better than when you’re with Trevor?” Richard asks, smiling.

“Don’t play yourself,” Mitchell began. “It was ah-ite. But, you could never be as good as Trevor. I love Trevor. This is only a fuck.”

“Only a fuck, huh? Oh, you love him so much, then why do you always bring your ass over here?”

“Look, motherfucker, leave Trevor out of this. Besides, you know the only reason why I fuck you and let you suck my dick is because you got me wrapped up with this shit.” Mitchell says as he reaches over the side of the bed to a table where there were two vials of what I guess must be crack.

“And don’t you ever forget it either, Mitchell. If it weren’t for me you’d still be nothing more than a two-bit junkie. Now, if we stay low and let the heat blow off, we can be rich.”

“Look, I don’t know about all of this. I don’t want no part of this anymore.”

“Oh really? It’s Trevor isn’t?”

“Maybe. Look, I didn’t realize we were gonna get in so deep.”

Richard jumps up and looks down at Mitchell. “Don’t try and get a conscience now. You’re involved in this shit as much as I am. I swear to you Mitchell, if you rat out, I’ll kill you.”

“Calm yo little white ass down. I ain’t gonna say a word.” “You better not.”

I pick up the remote and stop the tape. I looked over towards Minna and her mouth was as wide as mine.

“Well, this is more than I had expected.” she said.

“Well, this does explain why Mitchell’s place was ransacked. If I had a confession like this on tape, I’d do the same thing.”

“But you know what I don’t understand? If Richard knows you have the tape, then why isn’t he coming after you instead of going after everyone else?”

“That’s just it, I don’t think he knows. He knows I’ve been trying to figure out who killed Mitchell and who was trying to set me up. I guess he was probably getting a little nervous that I would uncover something”

“So, what are we gonna do now? We have everything to get a conviction. Probable cause, motive and a confession.”

“I think the first thing I’m going to do is call John.” “You trust him?”

“To a point, but he is the only one I can rely on right now. But, in the meantime, I’m gonna go over to a friend of mine to make a copy of this tape. Just in case John isn’t trustworthy.”

“It sounds like a plan to me. Well, Mr. Morrows, it looks like we’ve cracked this case wide open. Richard’s gonna be put away for a long time.”

“I hope so. Listen, let me go ahead and drop you off at the office. I need to go and visit my father before I make a copy of this tape.”

“Perfect, because I need to do some work anyway.”

“Listen Minna, I just want to thank you for being so supportive. I don’t know many people who would go out on a limb the way you have.”

“Hey, like I told you before, don’t thank me. I’m gonna bill you.” Minna laughs. “Alright, but just so long as I get a discount.”

After I dropped Minna off in front of the office I started towards St. Peter’s Hospital. On my way there, I picked up my cellular phone and called the police precinct.

“Homicide, this is Matthew Lirday speaking.” “Matthew, hi this is Trevor. Is John in?”

“No he’s not. Is there something I can help you with?”

“Well, I guess so. A friend of mine was almost mowed down by a black van.” “You’re kidding me!! When did this happen? What’s this friend’s name?”

“You remember Minna, don’t you? She was with me at my father’s dinner party.” “Yes, how could I forget?”

“Well, I’m afraid that whoever put my father in the hospital may be after her too. Would you mind running this license plate number for me and could you send a plainclothesman over to her office and make sure she gets home safely.”

“I’ll be more than happy to. As a matter of fact, I’ll do better than that. I’m off duty in fifteen minutes. I’ll make sure she gets home okay.”

“Great, Matthew. That sets my mind at ease. I’ll talk to you later.”

I quickly press the receiver down to place another call, this time to Marcus. The phone rings twice before Marcus picks up.

“New York Sperm Bank!! Why not try our 24 hour drive-thru window?” Marcus announces over the receiver

“You are a nut. You know that.” “I know, but you gotta love me.” “Hey, what are you doing now?” “Nothing, why what’s up?”

“I need to make a copy of a video tape.”

“No problem. Are you on your way over now?”

“No, I need to go see my father in the hospital. Let’s say I’ll be over there around eight.”

“That’s fine. I need to fill you in on some gossip anyway.”

“I should’ve know you would have some. I’ll see you around eight then. Bye.”

Another twenty-five minutes finds me in the parking garage of St. Peter’s Hospital. I sit in my jeep for another ten minutes. I let my head fall on the headrest of the car seat and close my eyes. I was feeling extremely drained right now. Who would have ever thought that my life would turn such an ugly corner.

Before I stepped out of the jeep to go into the hospital I mentally willed myself to put on a smile and appear to be cheerful. I swore to myself silently that this was as far as it was going to go. No one else close to me was going to get hurt. I will make sure of that. Even if it meant that I take out Richard personally, then so be it.

I walk through the entrance of the facility and as I pass the gift shop I realize that I was coming to visit my father empty handed. I stepped in the little gift shop to pick out something appropriate, which I always have a problem doing considering my father has it all.

After giving the little gift shop a quick once over and not finding anything that I felt was suitable, I decided to pick out a card. As I perused the different variety of cards, I got the strange feeling that someone was staring at me. I quickly turned around to see an attractive woman dart her eyes away from me. I smile to myself thinking that I can still pull a woman if I want to.

I settled on a card that I thought would make my father smile and quickly paid for it. I took the elevator to the fifth floor. When I spoke to my mother earlier on today, she informed me that dad was out of intensive care and was recovering nicely in a normal room.

I walk into the room and was greeted by a group of people, some of which I recognized were from his office, others I did not. As I make my way through the small crowd, I can see my father propped up against three large white pillows smiling and my mother standing beside him also smiling. The bed was covered with papers and books.

Evidently things were going extremely well compared to yesterday. I walk up to my mother and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and looked at my father.

“So how are you feeling, dad?”

“Much better, son. The doctor says I should be out of here in no time.”

“I see you brought your office here. How did you manage to convince those nurses to let all these people in here?”

“I tried to tell him he needs his rest, but he insists on working,” my mother explains.

“You know I can’t stop working just because of a little fender-bender.” “Fender-bender? Stephen, you were nearly killed.”

“But I wasn’t, Elizabeth. Unless you both have forgotten, I am trying to run for mayor and I have a lot of work to do. Since Mohammed couldn’t make it to the mountain, I had the mountain come to Mohammed. Since I own the mountain.”

“He’s hopeless.” My mother says to me. Then almost instantly, my mother’s face clouds. She grabs my arm.

“Trevor, step outside with me for a minute.”

Smiling to everyone, my mother ushers me out of the hospital room. We slowly walk down the hallway and after a couple of minutes my mother looks at me.

“What was that all about yesterday?” My mother asks with concern.

I didn’t say anything for a minute. I had forgotten what took place yesterday at the hospital. I don’t know what I was thinking to spill the fact that I knew who could have put my father in the hospital.

“Well, are you going to tell me?” She asks impatiently.

“Mom, I don’t know if I should get into it right now. But, let’s just say that there’s a possibility that whoever hit dad was doing it in order to get at me.”

“I know you’re trying to protect me and your father. But, if this person is still out there, we need to know who you suspect, so we cando something about it.”

“I know what you’re saying mom. But believe me it would be worse if you knew. Sometimes ignorance is the best thing.”

My mother exhales heavily. “You know, sometimes you’re just as pig-headed as your father.”

Why I found that so offensive I don’t know. “Mom, I’m sorry I can’t go into all of the details right now. But I promise it will be over real soon and I’ll fill you in on all of it.” “I guess that’s all I’m going to get from you, so I’ 11 just drop it.”

“Thank you. Listen, I need to run.”

“Where are you off to now?”

“I need to take care of some business.”

“Some business, huh? Listen Trevor, you’re not too grown for me to put you over my knee.”

“Mom, I think I am. But it’s refreshing to know that you think I’m not.” I said laughing.

“Alright smart-ass. Just come back in and tell your father that you’re leaving.”

We both walk back into the room, arm in arm.

“Dad, I need to head on back to work. I hope you take the time to get some rest. The mayorship will always be there.”

“I know that. I’m just not getting any younger,” he returns. I look towards my mother. “Will you keep him in check?”

“I’ve been with this man for over thirty-two years and if there’s one thing that I’ve learned it’s that once he’s set in his mind to do something, it’s best to stay out of his way and let him do it.”

“And you love it. How else was I able to snatch you up?”

I stood there looking at the both of them shaking my head. I guess no matter how much my father and I don’t get along, he really loves my mother and that’s enough for me.

When I arrived at Marcus’ apartment he had the music blaring. If it weren’t for the fact that I had keys to his apartment, he would have never known I was there.

Marcus was in the kitchen dancing with his back towards me. I walked up to him and gave him a pinch on his rear-end. Marcus quickly turned around with surprise on his face.

“Bitch, don’t do that shit,” he snapped heatedly.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” I said, feeling apologetic. I didn’t realize he would react this way.

But leave it to Marcus to change his attitude rapidly. “Scare me, please. When you squeezed my ass, I thought you were a real man,” he said laughing.

“Fuck you, you cunt.” I laughed.

Marcus walks in the living room to turn down his stereo.

“So, what’s up? I haven’t seen you since the party.” Marcus asks.

“Not much, the same ole shit. You know the routine. My life isn’t as exciting as yours.” “You and I both know that. But I thought you would have something going on considering you are a private dick and all.”

“Yes, and unlike you I like keeping my dick just that, private. Speaking of which, what ever happened the night I left you at the party anyway?”

“Chile, you need to sit down for this one. You want a drink first?” “Do you have to ask?”

“I guess not.”

As Marcus fixes us a drink, he begins to recount what happened that night.

“Well, anyway, after you left, I guess I started to feel a little guilty about doing something with this guy who I just met. And Isaac kept popping up in my mind. But Mike was just so fucking smooth that any doubt that I may have had was thrown out the window.”

“Wait, wait. You mean to tell me that big motherfucker was down?”

“Down is not the word. That following night, he was up, down and all around town. Baby, he gives new meaning to ‘rock my world’. I think I’m in love.” He laughs.

“Get serious. How in the hell could you be in love when you only fucked him one night? Hold up it wasn’t even a full day. I hope you were careful.”

“Trevor, I may be many things, but I’m not stupid. Of course we were careful. And I’m just teasing about falling in love with him. I still have some issues with Isaac, but let me tell you Mike isn’t just any piece of trade. I mean we really clicked. I think I could really start to like him.”

“Please, what could he have possibly done to make you feel like that, besides the obvious? I mean, it couldn’t have been all that...”

“All that and two pieces of jumbo shrimp.” “Well then, spill the dirt. I want details.”

“Trevor, now you know I don’t kiss and tell,” Marcus says laughing. “Now you know you need to stop.”

“Alright. After you and whats-his-face... “

“The boy’s name is Arnold, Endora.”

“Yeah, yeah Arnold. Anyway, after you and Arnold left us, Mike gave me a tour of the apartment. And of course, it wasn’t a three hour tour like Gilligan. And you know it ended with him showing me the bedroom. And me being me, at the sight of a bed the flirt was on. The boy must’ve liked what he saw, because he placed his big meaty hands around my back and pulled me close to him. Let me tell you chile, my first instinct was to play the shy role and act all coy and demure. But, Isaac hasn’t given me any in a long time and Ms. Kitty was actin’ up. You should’ve heard her roaring. It was embarrassing.”

“You are shot out, boy. But didn’t you just say you didn’t get any until the next night? What happened?”

“I know, I’m gettin’ to that. We were getting pretty heated by this time. Kissing, touching, groping, you know the deal, but for some odd reason my conscience started to bother me again. Anyway, the party was still going on and the music was throwing me all off, so I got off the bed and went to the bathroom. Mike followed behind me and he acted like he was genuinely sorry for being so pushy. But, I told him it wasn’t his fault that he was so phine. After we cooled off, I told him I thought it was best if I left, before anything else happened. So I left.”

“You what?”

“I left. But not before I gave him my number chile. I may have felt guilty, but I wasn’t gonna let this motherfucker get away. Anyway, around three o’clock the next day he called me and Isaac was sitting right here in the living room when I picked up the phone. I had to play it off real good. I told Mike that I had company and I would call him back in fifteen minutes. Isaac must’ve known it was another man, cause he got all pissed off and we started arguing. I told him that even if I had decided to mess around, he didn’t have any room to talk. He got so mad, he just up and left, which was fine by me. He was working my nerves anyway. Just as soon as Isaac left, I skipped to the phone and star 69-ed Mike’s ass. Trevor, the boy said he couldn’t stop thinking about me and wanted to see me right then. Since it was the next day and I basically put Isaac on “call-waiting”, my conscience said to me ‘You go, girl’, so I told him to come on over. And he was over here quicker than I could spit.”

“Damn. Well, was it worth throwing away your relationship with Isaac?”

“That’s the thing. I think I’m gonna go ahead and just give Isaac his walking papers and send him on his merry little way.”

“You can’t be serious. You guys have been together for so long.”

“So? That didn’t stop him from sleeping with his ex-wife, now, did it?. A woman I didn’t even know existed until she called my house, trying to read me about her man. No, I thought about it long and hard. There’s nothing Isaac can say or do now. Even if it doesn’t work out with Mike, I just don’t want to be with Isaac. I guess it hurts more than

I realized. I just can’t trust him.”

“Yeah, I guess I know what you mean. But, are you sure you want to start something new with Mike, knowing you’re just getting out of this one?”

“You know, I guess I’m not looking for a relationship. To be honest, I just want to have some clean fun. I’m tired of all the headaches being in a relationship can bring. But, enough about me, what’s up with you and that gorgeous hunk of a man you’re seeing?”

For some odd reason a small smile sneaks across my face and of course Marcus immediately picks it up.

“Oh I see, it’s like that.” Marcus says laughing.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say unable to stop smiling. “Boy, please. I know that smile anywhere. What’s going on?” “Nothing really. It’s just that he’s cool people.”

“Yeah, yeah I know all that. What I want to know is, have you tasted the honey yet?”

“No, I haven’t. Shit, it’s too early for all that.” “Trevor, it’s never to early for that.”

“Well, I’m just not ready. Besides, I’ve got other shit on my mind that I need to deal with.”

“Alright. But tell me, how do you feel about him? Do you like him or are you just messin’ with his mind?”

“I guess I like him. I don’t know if I want to start anything with him or anyone else for that matter.”

“Trevor, didn’t we go over this before? What are you so afraid of anyway? He’s a decent man. You better snatch him up before someone else does.”

“Give me a break, will you? Unlike you, I don’t need to be with someone. I am comfortable and happy without being in a relationship. You said it yourself about how much of a headache one can be.”

“And unlike you, Trevor, I’m just getting out of a relationship. You haven’t seen anyone steady in over two years and we’re not going to include that dummy with a dick you call Reggie. Are you sure you haven’t dried up? I just don’t want to see you forty years from now living like a hermit with a house full of cats.”

“Very funny. Marcus, when I’m ready, you’ll be the first to know. But for now, I’m just enjoying my freedom.”

“I can respect that. But you’re not gonna sit there and tell me you don’t want to be with that man. C ’mon be honest.”

“Fine. It’s true. I do find him extremely sexy and I do wonder what it would be like to go to bed with him, but he wants to get serious. I don’t want to just lay with him and break his heart, if I’m truly not ready.”

“Would you quit sounding like a soap queen? All this drama is giving me an aneurysm.

Why don’t you just enjoy the moment? No one’s gonna blame you if you’re not ready to get involved with him seriously. I mean for god sakes, you’ve been through enough.

Life is too short to let yourself get worked up over something that may or may not happen. Sometimes I wonder about you. Trevor, you’re a very intelligent black man, but

I swear you can ruin a good thing by thinking too much.”

I grew quiet. I guess Marcus was right. I’m worrying over absolutely nothing. So what if Arnold wants to get serious? I don’t. And right now, that’s all that matters. I need to just relax.

“Now don’t let this get to your already big head, but maybe you’re right. I do need to just ease up and enjoy the time and whatever happens, will just happen.”

“First of all I know I’m right. When people start to realize that, the better off they’ll be.”

“I didn’t say all that. You just happen to be right about this particular situation. But like

I said I’m gonna ease up and relax and hey who knows, Arnold could be the one.”

The phone rings and I make my way over to the video equipment Marcus keeps in the living room.

“Let me see who this is. You know your way around the system, go on ahead and make a copy of the tape.”

I looked at the setup Marcus had of his video equipment. There were two 21” televisions, three video recorders, two video cameras, a splicing machine and hundreds of tapes.

After many years of hard work and sweat Marcus is finally doing what he has always dreamed of doing since he was in high school: producing. After graduating with his Masters in Communication, Marcus found it extremely difficult to break into producing. He realized what many black people already live with, no matter how much education or experience you may have, this is a white man’s world. No matter how hard you try, or how high you may get in life, “the man” will always make you realize that you really are in his world.

But even after being slapped down a few times, Marcus never gave up. And because of that he was hired as the only black television news producer for a major station.

As I finish making a quick copy of the tape I brought with me, Marcus hangs up the phone.

“Well, speak of the devil.” Marcus says. “You see, we spoke Isaac’s ass right on up.” “So, what did he want?”

“He wanted to know what was going on with him and I. I told him that I was tired of his shit and I was starting to see someone else.” “Damn, that was cold.”

“Cold? Shit, he’s lucky that’s all I told him. And of course, now that he knows someone else is getting his stuff, he started to get all emotional. He asked me what he did wrong and ifwe could start all over. I was like, boy, please! What do you mean, what did you do wrong? You know damn well what you did wrong. Don’t play stupid with me. Then he started apologizing and carrying on. I told him to save the drama for his mamma, cause I didn’t want to hear it.”

“Well, alright. So, what are you going to do?”

“Do? I ain’t doing shit. Like I told you, I’m just going to enjoy the time I spend with Mike and if it doesn’t work out, c’est la vie. I ain’t sweatin’ it. Life is too short and I’m too beautiful to let any black man give me wrinkles from stress.”

“Well, you go, Oprah!” I say laughing.

“Alright, now that I’m off my soap box, what are we going to do now? You wanna go out tonight or something?”

“I can’t tonight. I’ve got a lot of shit to do.”

“Okay then. But you know what would be nice? A double date.” “I don’t think so”

“Why?”

“Marcus, you know I love you like I love my luggage, but you know how your ass gets. You seem to forget the outside world exists when you’re with a man.”

“Aw c’mon, it’ll be fun this time. I promise.”

“Okay, fine. Just call me later and we’ll coordinate something. Listen, thanks for letting me copy this tape. I need to be gettin’ on home. Please behave yourself.”

“Baby, you know I’m always good when I’m bad.”

“Whatever, you tramp.”

“That’s alright. Like mamma always says, ‘Baby, whatever you’re gonna be, be the best at it’ so if it’s a tramp that I am, then I’m a damn good one.”

They both muttered their greetings. As uncomfortable as the situation looked, I was extremely calmed. I sat on the sofa as the both of them stood there looking as if they were on a different planet.

“Well, what did I do to be honored by this unexpected, uninvited, unwelcomed visit from the both of you?” I said smiling.

The both of them tried to speak at once. Arnold being more aggressive piped up, “Trevor, I’m sorry that I just popped up like this. But, I’ve been trying to reach you all day. I had the day off and I thought we could go to the zoo or something,” Arnold said, still looking a little uneasy.

“Okay, no problem. And Reggie, I thought we already settled our little problem. The last thing I remember, you said I didn’t have any sense.”

Reggie looked at me and then at Arnold then back at me. “T, could we take this outside?”

I rolled my eyes and exhaled heavily. “Fine, but you’ve got two minutes. Don’t forget what happened last time.” I got up from the sofa and walked past Arnold. I looked up at him and gave him a very big smile. “Arnold, I’ll just be a minute.”

I walked past Reggie and opened the door for him to step outside. He started to walk down the steps towards the parking lot. I followed him and when I reached the bottom step I stopped.

“So, what is it Reggie? I don’t have all day.” I said feeling exasperated. “Who the fuck was that? Your new nigger?”

I looked at Reggie with my eyebrows furrowed. I started to speak very slowly. “That’s none or your business. I thought I made it quite clear to you last time that I didn’t want to see you anymore. Do you need another reminder? Because this time I don’t plan on threatening.”

“I know I done pissed you off last time. I thought if I gave you some space, you feel betta. And I came by to say I was sorry.”

“Yes, you are sorry Reggie. But that doesn’t change anything. Look I’m gonna say this for the last time... “

But before I could finish my statement, Reggie interrupts me.

“I know I fucked up. But, I’ve been thinking about you a lot and I don’t want to lose you, man. I mean shit, I don’t know. I guess I’m starting to have some feelings for you.”

You could’ve hit my head over with a mallet and that still would not have been enough to take me out of my shock.

“What? You’re kidding, right?” I said.

“Yeah, man. I know all we’ve done is mess around. But, I just can’t get you out of my mind.”

Then I started to laugh. It started out as just a small snicker, but then I couldn’t stop. “What the fuck’s so funny?” Reggie asked, looking as if he could literally bite my head off.

It took me a couple of seconds, but I was able to get my giggles under control. “Look, I’m sorry, Reggie. I guess I wasn’t prepared for this.”

“So, what do you think. Do you think we could hook up?”

“Let’s get real, Reggie. Can you seriously and honestly tell me that you could be totally committed and devoted to a man, let alone me? Besides I know your ass is still fucking that girl.”

Reggie just stood there with his head bent not saying a word.

“You see what I mean? You’re not ready, Reggie. Even if you were, I’m not the one you want to be with. I expect entirely too much and you’ve already proven to me that you can’t handle it.”

“It’s because of that guy up there, isn’t it?”

“You’re not listening to me. Arnold has nothing to do with it. This is about you. But if that’s what gets you through the night, then fine, think what you like.”

For the next five minutes we just stood there looking at the ground, when finally Reggie looks at me.

“Well, I guess I better go, huh?” He says. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“Well, can I at least call you?”

“Why? We really don’t have much to talk about. I know why you want to call. But, like I told you last time, I don’t want that from you anymore. I need more from a relationship than just a roll in the hay.”

“Have you fucked him yet?”

“You see what I mean? You fuck it up every time. We can’t even be friends Reggie. You just don’t know how to talk to me. Frankly, it’s none of your damned business who I do and don’t fuck. So why don’t you just get in your car and leave me the fuck alone?”

I started back upstairs when Reggie grabs my arm. I quickly turned around and looked him in the eye.

“You must have lost your goddamned mind. I advise you right now to take your hand off me, before I feed it to you up your fucking ass.”

Reggie throws up his hands in disgust. “I don’t fucking get you Trevor. You sit here and tell me that you want more than just a fuck and here I am offering it to you and now you shoot me down. You’re worst than a fucking bitch.”

I don’t know what came over me, but soon after Reggie opened his mouth, my right hand balled into a fist and connected with his chin. Reggie’s neck snapped back as his whole body crashed against his car. He slowly slid down to the ground, holding his chin as he looked up at me with disbelief in his eyes.

As the blood from his lip trickled down, Reggie got up cautiously. There was fire in my eyes as I held my hand from the pain.

“This is the last time I want to see you and I mean it. Cause if you ever fuck with me again I’ 11 make certain that your ass will be grass and I’11 be the lawn mower.”

I turned back away from Reggie and walked up the stairs. I look up towards my door and

Arnold was standing in the doorway. As I get to the door I walk past Arnold to go into the kitchen.

I snatched open the freezer door and pulled out an ice tray.

“Do you wanna tell me what that was all about?” Arnold ask as he leans on the counter. “Not really. But, I guess I do owe you that much.” I reply after putting the ice in a plastic bag and stand there holding it on my fist.

I briefly gave Arnold an explanation of what had just happened. The look of anxiety slowly eased up off his face as I finished telling the story.

“I just want to assure you that this type of thing doesn’t normally happened. I really am not a violent person, but Reggie always bring out the ugly in me.”

“Well, I definitely don’t want to get on your ugly side,” Arnold says laughing.

For the next two minutes we both stood there looking at each other. Arnold was giving me a look from which I knew he wanted to kiss me.

“Come here,” Arnold said motioning for me. As I started towards him, the phone rings.

“Hold that thought,” I said reaching for the phone.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Trevor? This is Minna Townsend.”

“What’s up, Minna? Did Matthew come by to pick you up?” “Yes. Do you have the video tape we looked at earlier?”

Something in Minna’s voice told me something was wrong. “Yeah, why?”

“Could you meet me and bring it with you?” “What’s going on? Why do you need the tape?”

“Trevor, you were absolutely right about Richard, but Matthew’s in on it too!” Minna screamed over the phone quickly.

Before I could even comment, the phone was snatched from Minna’s hand and Richard’s coarse voice resonated through the phone.

“Well hello, Trevor. It seems as if you couldn’t leave things alone, could you?”

“Richard, what the fuck are you doing with Minna? She doesn’t have anything to do with this.”

“On the contrary Trevor, she has just about everything to do with this. I want the tapes and those letters and I want them now. Or your pretty little black bitch will end up like, I don’t know, say Mitchell and Raymond? You wouldn’t want to have three deaths on your conscience, now, do you?”

I stood in the kitchen quietly with the phone next to my ear.

“Trevor, this isn’t a gam e show. You don’t have any choices in this. Bring the letter and the tape to 445 Treeline Road 2:00 a.m. and Minna will live to see tomorrow. Then again, after the knock to both of her eyes, she may not be able to see for a couple of days. But hey, it could be worse. Believe me, it could be worse.”

“Alright, Richard, as long as you don’t do anything else to her, we have a deal.”

“What fuckin’ deal, Trevor? You don’t have a choice. You bring the shit or the bitch will be eating lead. And, please, for your sake, don’t try bringing the police. What am I saying, you wouldn’t be that stupid, would you?. You don’t know who to trust. Do you wanna say hello to Matthew?” he laughs

At that the phone goes dead.

My mind was in a whirl. I had to do something and I had to do it quick. I hung up the phone and was ready to bolt out the door when I looked up and Arnold was still standing in the kitchen looking at me.

“Aw, shit,” I said. “Arnold, I’m sorry, but I.. “

“Trevor, what’s going on with you? First, some guy’s waiting for you and then next thing I know you knock the shit out of him and now this phone call. I think you need to tell me something.”

“Wait a minute. When did you become my warden? This is a situation that you do not need to concern yourself with. I need to handle it. Right now, I don’t have the time to discuss it.”

“Well, I don’t like all this cloak and dagger shit.”

“I don’t remember me asking you to like it, Arnold. If you give me time, I’ll let you in on everything.”

“I don’t know if I can deal with all of this.” “What does that mean?”

“I don’t know. I need to do some thinking.” “Fine, whatever works for you, Arnold.” “That’s all you have to say?”

“What do you want me to say? Here I am dealing with something extremely important and all you cando is stand there and say to me that you can’t deal with it. I never asked you to deal with it.”

“Well, if this is your life, it’s more than I want to get involved in.”

“Look, I never said this was my life. But, I’m not going try and convince you of it. Now, like I said, I have somethings to do, so unless you have something else to say, I’d like for you to leave.”

Arnold looks at me intently. He throws his arms up and quickly turns to leave. Before he grabs the door knob, he turns around.

“Trevor, I really like you, but you need to open up and try to let me in.”

I exhaled heavily. “Arnold, I said I was sorry. But I can’t get you involved in this right now.”

“Okay, can I call you tomorrow?”

“Yeah, that’s fine. But you better make it late in the afternoon.” “Well, can I at least get a hug before I go?”

I slowly walk to the front door and faced Arnold. He placed his arms around my lower back to draw me close. ‘‘I’m sorry I was trippin’, baby. I just don’t want to lose you before I can get to know you.”

“You won’t,.” I whisper. “But, you’ve got to realize that I have other things going on that at this moment take priority.”

Arnold lowered his head to place his lips on mine. The kiss began as a slow one. Then his tongue gradually made it’s way into my mouth playing gently around with the skill of a surgeon. After we finally came up for air, Arnold looks at me and smiles.

As soon as Arn old left. I ran up the stairs to grab the box of letters lying under my bed.

It was already after ten thirty, which meant I didn’t have a lot of time to figure what I was going to do. What was I going to do? I stood there my mind running a mile a minute. I knew for sure that Richard wasn’t going to just let Minna go even after I gave him what he wanted. Lord knows he wasn’t going to let me walk away either.

Not knowing what to do was driving me up the wall. I fought the urge to get a drink, though the nagging feeling was just about unbearable. After placing Honey on the bed and grabbed my stash of bullets, I picked up the phone to call John.

As I wait on the line for him to pick up, I wondered if I could trust John. At this moment

I really didn’t have much of a choice.

“Hello?” John answered groggily. “John, this is Trevor. Did I wake you?” “Yeah, but it’s ok. What’s up?”

“Well, I hope you’re awake, cause I’ve got some shit to tell you.”

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