True to the game iii, p.13
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       True to the Game III, p.13

           Teri Woods
 
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  Galvani lifted an eyebrow. “Questionable?”

  “Illegal.”

  Galvani lifted the file and flipped through it again. “Well, it appears you were right about him.”

  Josh swallowed hard and nodded.

  Galvani handed the file back to Harbinger. “If you fart without permission, I’ll have you reassigned to the U.S. embassy in Sri Lanka. Do you understand me?”

  Josh smiled and nodded.

  “Good work, Agent Harbinger. Next time, remember who’s the SAIC of this field office.”

  Josh rose and nodded. “Yes, sir.”

  Phil also rose.

  Galvani lifted his phone and pressed a button. “Sylvia, get me the district attorney on the telephone, please.” He turned to his agents. “You get out, and you make sure you get these crooked sons-a-bitches off the street. You need anything, you call me. You got that?”

  Josh nodded. “Yes, sir.”

  The speakerphone came alive. “Sir, I have United States District Attorney Paul Perachetti on the line.”

  Galvani lifted the receiver. “Paul, how’s it going? You’re not going to believe what I have for you today.” Galvani covered the receiver. “You two misfits, get the hell outta my office.”

  Josh and Phil turned and headed for the office door.

  “Gentlemen, one last thing,” Galvani said.

  They stopped and turned back to their boss.

  “Don’t let them kill her.”

  Josh nodded and headed out of the office with Phil following close behind.

  “I told you he wasn’t going to kill us.” Josh smiled.

  “So, what’s next?” Phil asked.

  “We make those assholes our new best friends.”

  “What?”

  Josh stopped and turned to his partner. “They are after this money. With a couple of FBI agents hanging around, they’re going to get really anxious about trying to get it. They’re going to be desperate to make their move, and they’re going to do something careless. And when they screw up, we’re going to nail their asses to the wall.”

  “And the girl?”

  “They can’t touch her with us around.”

  “How are we going to pull this one off?” Phil asked. “They aren’t just going to open their arms and allow us to just hang out with them.”

  “We become part of the new Federal Vice Task Force.”

  Phil laughed. “There’s no such task force.”

  “That’s never stopped us before. Besides, we know that, but they don’t know that. Wherever they are, we will be. I want that bastard Cleaver to make his move.”

  G

  Quadir strolled into the living room and plopped down on the couch. He had just completed an intense workout session in the gym, and yet he still found himself stressed out. Usually working out relaxed him, but today, no matter what he tried, Gena was on his mind.

  He had always been there for her when they were together. And he always did whatever was within his power, not just for her, but also for everybody around him. Back then, he could throw money at the problem, he could send some of his boys to fix it, or he could take a quick trip out of town to unwind and relax. None of those things was within his power to do now.

  He knew that Gah Git was on Gena’s mind. She had always occupied a special place in Gena’s heart. Whatever was happening there would be key to making Gena’s troubles go away, or at least easing them. And Bria—whatever was going on there would probably work itself out. Teenage drama usually fades with age. And last but not least, the money. Gena had the money, and he knew that she was using it. Whatever problems she had involving money, she was certain to have fixed those by now. The only issue she could be stressing over with the money was whether to give it back. She was probably wondering what she would do if she gave it back.

  Quadir leaned back on the couch and began to massage his temples. I wonder how Cherelle and Quanda are doing. He had sent his mother to Cherelle to make sure they were okay. Believe it or not, Viola was without a doubt absolutely one hundred percent convinced that Quanda was her granddaughter. And she was nothing but a skeptic, especially when it came to her son.

  “Quadir, you can’t really believe that this baby of this girl’s is yours. She’s just looking for a handout. Forget about these chickenheads out there and stay focused, son.”

  For months and months, Viola had preached the same old sermon, until one day she decided to go off on her own and pay Cherelle a visit.

  “Can I help you?” Cherelle asked, standing at the door with Quanda at her side.

  “Are you Cherelle Byrd?”

  “Who wants to know?” asked Cherelle, not volunteering any information.

  “I’m Viola Richards, Quadir’s mother. I’m looking for Cherelle Byrd.”

  “Oh, my God, come in, please. I’m so sorry, I didn’t know who you were.”

  Cherelle opened the screen door for Viola and welcomed her into her first-floor row home apartment. She only had one bedroom for her and Quanda to share, but her apartment was clean, Quanda was clean, and it was clear that Cherelle did the best that she could do for herself and her daughter. She had a sofa and a chair and one floor lamp facing a twenty-eight-inch television sitting on a stand, a small kitchen, an even smaller dinette set, a bathroom, and a bedroom.

  “I found your name and address among Quadir’s personal things. I tried calling but the number was disconnected.”

  “I’m glad; I’m glad you came by here,” said Cherelle, all smiles, feeling a sense of acceptance for herself and her daughter from Viola. She had yearned to be accepted ever since the birth of her daughter, not only by Quadir, but by his family as well.

  “Look, Quanda; look who’s here to see you,” said Cherelle, introducing Quanda to her grandmother.

  “Hi, baby, let me take a good look at you,” and Viola meant that shit in every sense of the word.

  “This is your grandmom,” said Cherelle.

  Viola looked piercingly at Cherelle, not appreciating one bit being introduced as the child’s grandmother. That fact remains to be proven. But the more she looked at the child, the more she saw her own son when he was just a toddler.

  “I’m not Grandmom; I’m Granny. You call me Granny, okay?” she said, embracing the little girl as she picked her up and placed her on her lap. “Granny is going to take you shopping and buy you all kinds of toys and clothes, and you and I are going to go to church, how’s that?”

  Viola looked up and saw a big smile on Cherelle’s face. From that point on, there was a bond and a relationship between the two women. Cherelle got exactly what she had always hoped for—Quadir’s family’s acceptance for her daughter—and Viola got what she wasn’t expecting, a granddaughter. By the time Viola was done, she had made up her mind that her grandbaby would never want for anything. From that day forth, if Cherelle needed something, the Richards family had her back.

  Quadir smiled as he thought of his mother, Cherelle, and his daughter spending Sunday mornings at church together. He thought of Gena, and the happy smile on his face slowly faded. He could see her now, absolutely disgusted. He could hear her, too.

  “Are you crazy? You let your mother throw me to the fucking wolves, while she does everything in her power to make sure Cherelle and your baby are hunky fucking dory?”

  Yup, that’s about how it would sound. He had decided that just as with Gena, he would have to take care of Cherelle also, once he got his money back. And, of course, Amelia. Gena and Cherelle would both be fine as long as they didn’t try to live like rap stars. A million dollars was enough to buy a decent house and car. They would have enough to pay their bills, and Gena could even finish school. She could make a nice life for herself. With a million dollars, Gena could even look out for her grandmother and the rest of her family. God knows, she wouldn’t have to work. And just to show how decent he was, he’d put up a million, just in case she needed more at a later date. Maybe ten or twenty years from now, he would shoot her a sec
ond mil ticket. That should definitely hold her.

  Amelia breezed through the front door.

  “Hey.”

  “Hey yourself!” she said, tossing her keys onto a Bombay chest in the foyer. She sat her briefcase down next to it, strolled into the living room, and kissed Quadir on his cheek. “Whatcha doing?”

  Quadir shook his head.

  “Why so glum?” she asked.

  “Just doing some thinking.”

  “About?”

  “Money, Gena, all of that stuff.”

  “You seem to never stop thinking about her. Actually, it seems as though she’s the only thing you ever do think of.”

  Quadir peered up. “How do you figure?”

  “Oh, Quadir, please. It’s true.”

  Quadir looked away. He wasn’t quite sure what he was supposed to say. In a way, Amelia was right. She was all he thought of, her and his money. He often wondered whether, if she didn’t have his money, he would ever have thoughts of her.

  “You know I didn’t tell you this, but remember the night you brought Gena here? Well, when I examined her, I realized that she had suffered a miscarriage.”

  “She was . . . pregnant.”

  “Yeah, she lost the baby, though. I guess Jerrell beat her so bad, she lost it.”

  Silence fell and a look of despair fell upon Quadir’s face.

  “Are you okay?” Amelia asked.

  The last thing he wanted to hear was that Gena had been pregnant by Jerrell.

  “I said are you okay?” Amelia asked again, realizing for the first time just how deep his concentration was set in Gena mode.

  He still loves her. Amelia realized the truth of the matter. She had never thought in a million years that hearing Gena had a miscarriage would even remotely affect him. She honestly thought that his hearing that piece of information would drive him further away from her, and he’d let it go, let her go, even let the money go. However, his reaction indicated that he wasn’t about to let anything go.

  “Quadir, I can’t do this anymore,” said Amelia in almost a hushed tone.

  “Can’t do what?”

  “I can’t pretend. Maybe you can, but I can’t.”

  “Amelia, what are you talking about?”

  “I’m talking about you, me, you and me. It’s nothing, it’s just make pretend. You pretend to have feelings for me that you just don’t have, and I sit here and pretend that maybe, just maybe you’ll forget about her, and love me. But the truth is you won’t, and I’m tired of pretending that maybe you will.”

  “Are you saying that I’m in love with Gena?”

  “I don’t have to say it. Why does anyone have to say it? I mean, my God, it’s written all over your face,” said Amelia. “She needs you, Quadir.”

  “Doc, I don’t understand.”

  “That’s your problem, Quadir. You always want to try to figure things out, you always want to try to dissect, to label, to understand and rationalize. Some things are not meant to be understood. Some things are, because they just are. You love her, she loves you, and right now, she needs you more than ever.”

  “And what about us?”

  “What about us?” Amelia asked with a smile on her face. “Maybe we are meant to be together, maybe we aren’t, maybe it’s just . . . bad timing, maybe in another life. I don’t know. But, I know this; you need to help her. You are the only one who can.”

  “Yeah, but . . .”

  “But nothing, Quadir. I’m here, you know, and besides, you don’t stop loving someone, Quadir. In fact, if it’s true love, it never really ends. It changes, it grows deeper, more profound, it morphs into different manifestations, but it’s always there. True love lasts through time and space and distance.” Amelia paused for a moment, hearing her own words as a tear whelped in her eye. “She loved you, even when you were on the other side. You think that I’ll stop loving you, just because you are across the country?”

  “I thought that we were going to go across the country together.”

  “Sometimes, people are meant to travel this life together for great distances, sometimes short ones.”

  “And you and me?”

  “Who said that our journey together is over? Who knows what the future holds for us, Quadir? But right now, what we do know is that Gena needs you.”

  “And you don’t need me?” Quadir looked down.

  “No, I don’t need you,” Amelia said, knowing that deep, deep, down inside she wished, dreamed, and even prayed for Quadir to be for her. However, no matter how much she prayed and wished on one hundred four-leaf clovers, he wasn’t. And she knew in her heart that she deserved better. She deserved someone for her, someone who would be just for her.

  Of course I need you, and of course I want you. And I have been blessed to have you in my life. But I need one hundred percent of you, you know, not half of you, because the other half is still somewhere in the past. Amelia caressed the side of his face. Maybe she should have spoken those words, but she didn’t, and she wasn’t going to. She’d rather he thought the opposite than know that she was truly and deeply brokenhearted.

  “I really think that you need to go to her. You need to work everything out with her, and then if you’re sure, sure that your heart is free and you’re sure you want to be with me, then I’ll be here. But not like this. Not like this. Not with all this hanging over your head.”

  “I love you,” he said as he leaned forward and kissed her on her cheek. “I owe you my life. I owe you more than words can express.”

  “You owe me nothing, Quadir. The only person you owe is yourself. We get one shot at this game called life. One shot. And we have to take that one chance and live it to the fullest. Enjoy every fucking waking moment of it. Never let a sunrise go by without appreciating it and being thankful for a new day. Never walk by a pot of food without tasting it, and never walk by a flower without stopping to smell it.”

  Quadir smiled and rose.

  “You go and save Gena, you hear me? It’s the right thing to do.”

  Quadir nodded.

  “Wait a minute, before you go.” Amelia rose and rushed down the hall to her bedroom. She was gone for several moments before she returned. She handed Quadir a black .40-caliber Glock pistol and several loaded clips. “I know, I know. I’m a doctor, what the hell am I doing with that? Well, I’m also a single black woman living alone.”

  Quadir shook his head and smiled. “Doc, I have never in life met anyone like you.”

  Amelia nodded and smiled. “I know. My daddy says that I’m crazy, but I get it from his side of the family. Hey, you go and find that girl. You find her, and you two get the hell outta this place. I don’t want to hear from you again until you’re safe. You understand?”

  Quadir nodded.

  “Unless of course you need me, and if you ever need me, you know where to find me. That Glock has a twin right in my closet, and I’ll bust a muthafucka’s ass if I have to. I’ll have to try to save the son of a bitch after I shoot him, but that won’t stop me from pulling the trigger!”

  Quadir laughed, leaned forward, and kissed her on her cheek again, before turning and heading for the front door.

  “One game,” Amelia shouted. “The only game that matters; the game of life. Be true to that game, Qua. Be true to the game!”

  Goose Chase

  Who is it?” Markita shouted.

  “It’s me!”

  “Me who?”

  “Me!”

  Markita opened her front door to find a stranger standing before her. “May I help you?”

  Terrell smiled. “Hey, baby, why you look so disappointed?”

  Markita smiled, but wasn’t for the bullshit. If it wasn’t for the fact that the nigga was tall, dark, and handsome, she would have slammed the door in his face. I ain’t hardly disappointed, Markita thought, wondering who he was and what he wanted.

  “Were you expecting someone else?” Terrell asked.

  “No.” Markita smiled. “I’m not ex
pecting anybody, but you gonna have to come on, ’cause The Young and the Restless is on.”

  “Damn, it’s like that?”

  “Like what? What do you want?”

  “Well, I’m a friend of Gena’s, and she told me she was staying here. I just wanted to drop by and see how she was doing and check on her, you know, see if she needed anything.”

  Immediately, Markita let her guard down, not realizing that the handsome stranger standing in front of her was the enemy who had been hunting Gena, not the friend he was pretending to be.

  “Oh, Gena, she’s not here right now. You want me to tell her you stopped by?”

  “Yeah, that would be great. Do you think you can take my number down and have her call me?” asked Terrell.

  “Yeah, sure, let me get a pen.”

  And that was it right there. Markita turned from the doorway, took two steps, grabbed a pen off the coffee table, and turned around to find Terrell standing right behind her, her front door closed.

  “What are you doing? I didn’t invite you in.”

  “I invited myself,” said Terrell, as he began to unzip his pants and fondle himself in front of Markita.

  “Oh, my God! Help!” screamed Markita as she tried to run. She made a dash for her bedroom and slammed the door shut, locking it simultaneously. She picked up the telephone receiver and dialed 911. But as the phone rang, Terrell busted through her bedroom door, saw her with the phone in her hand, and snatched it away, disconnecting the call as he slapped Markita so hard she fell back on the bed and then onto the floor. Desperately, she began to crawl across her bedroom floor, but Terrell was on top of her just as she reached her bedroom doorway.

  “Where you going? The party’s just about to begin.”

  “Heeellpppp!” Markita screamed.

  “Shut the fuck up,” said Terrell as he punched her head, grabbed her by her throat, and yanked her off the floor. “If you fucking scream I’ll kill you, do you understand me? Do you understand me?” he hollered like a maniac in her ear.

  “Yes, yes, I understand; please don’t hurt me.”

 
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