1. Jamaica 94
“Mommy, I’m scared,”
“I’m right next to you, baby. Come on. See? You’re doing it!”
I watched my two year old self attempt to swim in the sea. Ma looked around twenty years at the time. Beautiful with her natural curls tumbling around her shoulders like a halo of black fire. Behind the camera, Mateo Reyes would make a couple of comments here and there but hasn’t turned the camera to reveal his face. I knew what he looked like not only through countless of pictures ma kept of him but also through his twin brother Muerte.
I’ve watched the VHS tape countless of times I could recite the next worlds like an obsessive teen girl mirroring the words of one of her favourite RomCom. There was nothing romantic about this; it didn’t do nothing but created more questions I couldn’t understand.
Not by myself anyway.
Cracking open another bottle of beer, I took a large gulp before fast forwarding the tape. This time, the view of the beach was much clearer. The Caribbean blue sky matched the colour of the sea, so much to the point where you couldn’t tell them apart as there horizon blurred between the two. The Jamaican sun was high and relentless, brutal to those who pranced under its rays. My dad, Mateo, was no exception. He was a fair skinned Latino man and his shoulders were turning an angry red. A couple times through the video, ma would rub sunscreen on his shoulders and me in fact.
My parents decided to go on vacation in Jamaica, tagging me along with them. During our stay, I’d met my grandparents for the first time. These were some of the best memories of my twenty-seven years of living. More so, some of the best memories I had with my dad.
For the longest time, I continued replaying the tape, continued watching moments I wasn't sure were true.
My cell rang and for a second, I was gonna let it ring until the person at the other end of the line gave up. But the mother fucker wouldn’t stop ringing. Sighing, frustrated, I dug through my front pockets to answer the call. “What?”
“Hello to you too, asshole,” Crey said at the other end of the line. “You know you do have a job right? As part owner of Reyes Mechanics?”
“That don’t mean you can slack off, fucker.”
“I’m on a sabbatical,”
“Fuck your sabbatical, nigga. You never told me you were on some ‘sabbatical’ get your ass down here!”
Pinching the bridge of my nose, I closed my eyes and sighed. “I’ve been drinking.”
I was met with silence at the other end of the line. “Get an uber, it’s important. Ride bitch on Tennessee’s bike, I don’t care.”
“Alright, alright,” I said, sighing again but this time, like I’d had the soul sucked outta me knowing I gotta go somewhere I don’t wanna go. “I’ll be there in twenty.”
I wasn’t gonna ride bitch on no man’s bike.
I had to suck it up and pay for an uber. It was my first time using the app so it took a while to set up my account and figure out how to use the damn thing. The twenty minutes I promised turned into forty-five, and I was thanking my driver before stepping into the garage. Crey stood by the entrance, waiting with his arms crossed but instead of meeting his angry glare, his eyes were on someone else.
Hearing my footsteps, he turned to look at me for a quick second before returning his gaze to whatever caught his attention. “Yo, a girl came around looking for a job.”
At his words, I frowned and scanned the area. “What girl?”
“That girl,” Crey said, pointing at the woman partially hidden behind the cars suspended in the air. Her eyes were fixed on the cars, oblivious to the men staring at her – some out of curiosity whilst others gawked. It wasn’t common for a woman to step into the garage other than getting her car repaired. Never had a woman come in looking for a job. Ever. “Took a quick glance over her resume. She’s qualified man, good enough to fill in for Danny.”
I turned my gaze towards the woman. One hand was shoved into her pocket whilst the other gripped the strap of her backpack. She was turned away so I couldn’t see her face. Instead I was greeted with long black hair. Very long dark hair. I knew she was attractive. Giving her one last once over, I turned to Crey.
“Give it to me,” I said and he handed over her resume. Doing a quick scan, I nodded with approval. “You know where she’s from?”
“Didn’t ask,” he said, still staring at her.
“Keep your eyes off her before Honey comes around,”
He turned to glare at me. “Go talk to her, she came asking for you.”
Before, I could respond, Crey walked away. Now, I was curious. Turning towards the woman, I sauntered towards her. Glancing at her resume, I said her out loud.
Quickly, she spun on her heels. Purely out of male instinct, I gave her a once over before returning my eyes to hers. Her long dark hair matched her equally dark eyes. Her tanned complexion, along with her distinct features, had me questioning her heritage. Where was she from? Was she Middle Eastern?
I didn’t have time to determine her ethnicity when she responded in a raspy tone. “Yeah, that’s me.”
Smirking, I snorted, jerking my chin around the men behind her. “I know all these men and they ain’t named McKenna.”
She didn’t respond. Didn’t even crack a smile. Instead, her hand tightened around the strap of her backpack and her eyes were hard, almost in a ‘it’s not funny’ type of look. Not easy to please, I see. Nevertheless, I smiled and scratched the stubble lining my jaw. With a quick scan around my shop—glaring at every motherfucker like she was the last piece of steak—I turned around, facing my office door.
“Come on, sweetheart, follow me.”
Opening the door, I glanced over my shoulder and stepped back, gesturing for her to go in first. McKenna gave a tight smile and muttered a ‘thanks’ as she passed the threshold. With one brow raised, I followed behind and quickly closed the door. Walking around my desk, I plopped down onto my leather chair and released an exaggerate sigh. I searched through my desk, finding a pack of cigarettes I keep and placed one between my lips. I lifted my eyes to meet hers and once again, I couldn’t read her. “So, McKenna what brings you here?”
She frowned at my question and said. “I have experience working with cars—”
“I know,” I interrupted her. “I already know that from your resume. From your accent, I can tell you ain’t from around here.”
She leaned back and paused for a second. “I’m from Louisiana.”
This time around, I raised both brows. “A little tight lipped I see.”
Frowning, she watched me warily. “I… I can’t say much. I’m just from Louisiana. If it eases your curiosity, I’m a few hours away from New Orleans. That’s a place you’d recognise. Anyway, I came here because a friend suggested it. He is, um, a friend of Adam Knox.”
At the sound of the name ‘Adam Knox’, my back straightened. Flicking the lighter, I pressed the flame against the butt of the cigarette and blew out a long stream of smoke. With narrowed eyes, I watched her. “You ain’t gon’ bring trouble around here, are you?”
Her eyes widened.
“No, no, no, no,” she repeated profusely, shaking her head as if trying to convince herself otherwise. “No, I just want to work, make money and provide for my daughter until things blow over.”
At the mention of her daughter, I eased back a little and took another puff of the cigarette.
“You’ve got the job,”
“What?” she said, her dark eyes widening in shock. Scanning her face one last time, I shrugged.
“You’ve got the job,” I repeated, standing to my feet and looked down at her. “But I’m gonna be watching you to see how you are with the boys. Now I’m gonna talk to Knox to make sure what you said was true.”
She blinked at me, slowly, seemingly confused by my response and I grinned. “You start on Monday. Crey will give you some paperwork to fill out and you will be logged in to our system.”
McKenna watched as I left the office. She probably wanted to say something but I didn’t give her the chance. I found Crey standing a few feet from the door. His arms were folded, the tattoos on his arms glaring at me with his stance. Blowing another round of smoke, mostly to his face, I walked past him but of course, it didn’t deter him from his mission.
“Tell Muerte I’m busy,”
“For how long?” Crey asked, grabbing my shoulder and forcing me to face him. Stepping closer, we were face to face. “For how long are you gonna be busy? You can’t keep avoiding this. You can’t avoid the MC.”
“I went nomad years ago so I wouldn’t have to answer to him.”
“You’re in his territory, so you’re obligated to the Miami chapter,”
Pulling away, I threw the cigarette away and walked towards the curb adjacent to the main road. I gotta call another fucking uber.
“Until he tells me the fucking truth,” I muttered to myself, low enough that he wasn’t able to hear.