True to the game iii, p.5
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       True to the Game III, p.5

           Teri Woods
 
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  “And don’t get it twisted.”

  Fully Loaded

  Amelia tossed Quadir a towel so that he could wipe the sweat from his brow. He quickened his pace on the treadmill to a rapid jog.

  “Okay, Jesse Owens, let’s not overdo it,” she told him.

  “Relax, doc. I’m one hundred percent. Plus, I had a pretty good therapist who whipped me back into shape.”

  Amelia tilted her head and smiled. “Good try, but flattery will get you nowhere.” She climbed onto a nearby stair stepper and began exercising. “I’m going to check and make sure your wounds are healing okay. I don’t want them to reopen from the inside—that could just be the worst.”

  “Will you stop worrying? Doc, you did your thing. The Q is back!”

  “All right, Qua. Let’s just hope that he’s here to stay. It’d be a shame to have to take you back to the hospital because your gigantic ego burst open your stitches.”

  Quadir joined in the laughter. He flipped the off switch on the treadmill and walked to the stair stepper, where he lifted the doc into the air.

  “Boy, what are you doing?” she shouted. “You can’t lift me, I’m too heavy. You’ll rip your insides for sure.”

  “Heavy? What do you weigh, a buck fifteen at the most? And that’s probably with all your clothes on and soaking wet.” Quadir set her down.

  “Watch your wounds, please,” Amelia said in all seriousness as she turned to face him.

  “Why? I got the best doctor in the land.”

  “I know that’s right. See, I knew you was a smart man.”

  “What made you want to become a doctor?” Quadir asked.

  “It was all I could think of being when I was a little girl. My first little plastic stethoscope had me hooked.”

  “Man, that’s a lot of schooling, though. How’d you stay focused?”

  “I don’t know; I just did,” Amelia said.

  “I know your family is proud.”

  “Oh, God, yes. You should see my father. He has an entire photo collection of me in his wallet. He’s really my biggest fan.”

  Quadir sat down on a weight bench, grabbed the towel again, and wiped the sweat from his brow.

  “This is a really nice gym you got here.”

  “Thanks, I figured since I don’t have any children, no roommates, and no pets, I’d turn the spare room into my own fitness center. Why pay for a gym, you know?”

  Quadir looked at Amelia as she lay on her back counting crunches as she moved her upper body off the floor and then back down again. She really was quite amazing. She was not only beautiful, but also smart, practical, financially independent, and full of determination. After Quadir’s extended stay in the inpatient rehabilitation center of Hahnemann, he was upgraded to outpatient status. It was then that Amelia brought him home with her, where she and her housekeeper could nurse him back to health.

  “Doctors must make a lot of money.”

  “We do pretty good. I think the industry is suffering, you know, with insurance and HMOs and all that, but yeah, we make an honest living.”

  “Well, if this is an honest living, I’ve been wasting my time in them streets.”

  “Why you say that?”

  “Yo, this is a mansion. Your house is absolutely amazing. You sure you just a doctor?”

  “Of course; don’t be silly.”

  “Damn, I’m in the wrong profession. If motherfuckers in the hood could see this shit here, they’d all be signing up for medical school.”

  “Really.”

  “Really,” Quadir responded, looking around the weight room.

  Outside the door from where he sat was a sauna, a steam room, and an indoor swimming pool that had a retractable glass top, making it an outdoor swimming pool on warm, sunny summer days.

  “Why me, though?”

  “What do you mean, why you?”

  “What I said. Everything you’ve done for me, saving my life, fighting to make me walk again, against my own will, and bringing me to your home. You didn’t have to do half of the stuff that you’ve done for me. So, I’m just a little curious as to why you’re helping me.”

  Amelia looked Quadir in the eyes and realized she didn’t really have the answer.

  “I don’t know. I guess maybe because you needed someone to help you. I just wanted to help, that’s all,” she said as she gently caressed the side of his face. “Is that okay with you?”

  “Yeah, it’s just that where I come from most people ain’t into putting themselves out there to help anyone. Help is the last thing you’re gonna get.”

  “Well, for me, being a doctor, I guess it’s in my blood.”

  “Thank you; thank you for everything.”

  “You don’t have to say that, but you’re welcome.”

  They both sat in silence as Amelia wrapped up her crunches and Quadir thought about his life. All that he had done and all that he had been through could make a best-selling novel. I should write a book.

  Amelia finished her last crunch, hopped up from the floor, and stood towering over Quadir.

  “Hey, I got to hurry up and get to the hospital, make my rounds, and check out for the day. Is there anything you’d like me to get you while I’m out?”

  “No, no, I’m fine. But I do have a favor to ask of you.”

  “Sure, what is it?” she said, facing him with all seriousness.

  “I was wondering if I could borrow your car.”

  “Ready to rock and roll, huh?”

  “No, no, not like that, just get out, you know, move around a little.”

  “I understand, but Quadir, you do understand that you cannot afford for anyone to see you. You’re Mr. Smith and until you have some minor plastic surgery, you really need to stay inside and out of sight.”

  “I’ll stay low; trust me.”

  Amelia stared straight through him as her mind wandered off.

  “Well, I guess it’s okay. But, take my black BMW. It has tinted windows, so that way I don’t have to worry about you being spotted. Geez, Quadir, don’t you know the chances you’re taking?”

  “Listen, I got this. Trust me. I’m not crazy. I’m not going to let anyone see me.”

  “Well, what about the beard and mustache I got for you?”

  “Are you serious? That’s a Santa Claus outfit. The only thing that’s missing is the red suit.”

  “It is not. Santa’s hair is white; this is like dark brown.”

  “He’s a young Santa, then.”

  “Well, you’re wearing it.”

  “No, seriously. I’m not.”

  “Quadir, do you understand the trouble I can get into? You’re wearing the Santa face.”

  “Okay, I’ll wear the Santa face,” Quadir agreed, not wanting to bring her any trouble. In a way, she was right. If he were to be spotted alive, she would wind up in a heap of trouble.

  “You’ll look great.”

  “No, I’ll look like Santa, just younger and black.”

  “Well, at least no one will recognize you. Come on, let’s go. I got to get a quick shower and get dressed for my rounds,” Amelia said as she grabbed her water bottle and threw her hand towel around her neck.

  “Amelia.”

  “Yeah,” she said, turning to face him.

  “I just wanted to say thank you. Really. Thank you for everything.”

  “You don’t have to keep saying that.”

  “No, I do. I really do. I just want you to know that I’m going to repay you, Amelia, for everything. I’m going to give you back all the money you’ve spent helping me.”

  “Quadir, you don’t have to. I don’t want your money. I have plenty of money. Really, you don’t owe me anything.”

  “I owe you my life and I will repay you, Amelia, if it’s the last thing I do on this earth. You’re not the only one with money, you know,” said Quadir, thinking about his hideout spot and all the millions he had stashed away safely in his safe.

  “Money means very little to me,
Quadir. There are far more important things in my world than money. Remember, my job is to save people’s lives. Money becomes rather unimportant when you’re staring at death every day.”

  Well, it means everything to me. Shit, I hustled too hard and got way too much paper stashed. I need to check everything out and make sure everything’s safe and sound.

  Eye Spy

  Quadir parked the black BMW near the corner of Second and Green. He could see the door to his building. Large numbers were mounted above the door: 234. Two-thirty-four Green Street, he thought. My old secret hideout. Still in his car, he reached into a plastic bag and took out the Davy Crockett hairpieces Amelia had suggested he wear. He carefully put them on, pressing the sticky backs to his skin. He checked his mustache and beard in the rearview mirror, making sure they were on straight, and reached into the backseat for a baseball cap to put on his head. Feeling safe and undetectable, he got out of the car and walked to the front entrance of the apartment building. I need my keys. He wished he had his diamond Q keychain.

  Just then a locksmith carrying a small duffel bag and a locked metal box brushed past him. Quadir couldn’t help but notice the man’s smile.

  “Excuse me, I’m locked out of my house and I was just wo—”

  “Sorry, pal, I can’t help you right now. I’m uuhh . . .

  I’m off!”

  Quadir watched as the man got into a locksmith van and pulled away from the block.

  “Thanks a lot,” said Quadir.

  It turned out that the locksmith was the same one who Gena had called to open the safe. The duffel bag the locksmith was holding had his money in it, and the reason the locksmith couldn’t help him was that he was in a rush to get home and share his good fortune with his wife and kids.

  Quadir walked around the side of the apartment building and looked up at his old bedroom window. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll call the management office and have them come down here and let me in. Oh, damn, I can’t do that with this Davy Crockett getup. They won’t recognize me. Shit, maybe I should call a locksmith. Quadir had to see his apartment, and he desperately needed to know that all its contents were safe and sound, especially his money.

  He got back into the BMW, started the engine, and no sooner had he put the car in park than he saw her. It was Gena. She was right there in front of him, fewer than two hundred feet away, carrying a large gold-framed photo of them that had hung on the wall of his apartment. She placed it in the car. Wow! She found my hideout spot, he thought to himself. He watched her as she placed two pillowcases inside the car. Is that my money in those pillowcases? What should I do? His first thought was to jump out of the car and run over to her. That he didn’t would be the biggest mistake he’d ever make. That one opportunity, that one chance was right there, but instead, he stalled, and those few moments cost him dearly. Before he knew it, the lights of the baby-blue Mercedes reflected off the car in front of it and the driver maneuvered her way out of the parking space. Quadir stepped on the gas, following the car down the street.

  Where the hell is she going? he wondered as Gena made her way out of the city and onto the New Jersey Turnpike heading north. He speeded up, not wanting to lose her in the sea of red brake lights. Catching him off-guard, she quickly exited the turnpike. He cut off the car in front of him, almost causing a rear-end collision, and made the exit ramp just in the nick of time. He paid the toll and followed Gena’s baby-blue Mercedes into an Exxon station off the highway. His gut instinct was to jump out of the car and run over to her, tell her that he was alive and that everything would be okay. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do; I’ll tell her. I’ll tell her right now. And just as he was about to get out of his car, he saw the glass door to the mobile station open, and Jerrell Jackson, his archenemy, stood in the doorway, staring straight at the BMW. Quickly, he turned on the car’s engine and watched as Jerrell walked across the gas station lot, heading toward him. He quickly turned the car around and sped from the gas station. What the fuck is she doing talking to him? Quadir’s mind wandered in all directions searching for possible explanations, but nothing made sense. Isn’t he supposed to be in jail? Forty testified and they still found that nigga not guilty? He couldn’t believe it, nothing was making sense, and worst of all was his money. It was no longer in its safe hiding place. What is she thinking? What the hell is she thinking?She was in on this with him? She got my money for him?

  Quadir didn’t know what to do. He had lost her trail and couldn’t follow her anymore. He didn’t want to return to Amelia’s house, at least not yet. What he really wanted to do was visit his old neighborhood. Ride down the streets that he had built an empire hustling on. The streets he once owned. The streets that made him “that nigga.” The streets he hadn’t seen since the attempt on his life. That’s what he wanted to do and that’s what he was going to do. No one can recognize me anyway. He couldn’t help it. He saw her with the pillowcases and the picture and knew she had found his money. He drove through the streets of Philly hoping that no one would notice him. He knew he was asking for trouble coming to this side of town. I hope the police don’t pull me over. Boy oh boy, he definitely couldn’t let that happen. No way, Jose, he thought.

  He drove down North Philly across Twenty-ninth Street over to Lehigh Avenue. Then he went down Lehigh to Seventeenth Street and took Seventeenth Street all the way up to Erie Avenue, then Erie over to Broad and back down. The streets were so familiar it all seemed like yesterday. But it wasn’t yesterday and things had somehow changed over the last six months. He thought of Gena and wondered where she was. Still on Broad, he took it down to Girard and crossed over to Thirteenth and took it down to Wallace, entering Richard Allen. He had hoped to see Gena’s baby-blue Mercedes parked in front of her grandmother’s house, but it wasn’t. He rode around the block a few times but he didn’t see the car. He looked down at the time clock display in the BMW. It’s getting late. Quadir decided it was time to go back to Amelia’s house. I’ll be back, first thing in the morning. We’ll see what you’re up to then.

  The next morning, Quadir was again waiting outside Gena’s grandmother’s house. He followed her to a mall, maneuvered the BMW into a parking space just across the street from a Porsche dealership, and sat quietly and watched. Gena had started her day rather early. Had he gotten to Richard Allen a minute later, he would have missed her. As soon as the mall opened, she was the first one through the doorway. Quadir watched her as she loaded up the Mercedes with shopping bag after shopping bag. Then she went down Jewelers’ Row. No telling how much damage she did at the jewelry store. She looks happy though. She don’t look like she misses me at all. Watching Gena, he couldn’t help but wonder what in the world she was thinking. She was like a madwoman with money and she was spending it and spending it big. He looked across the street at an unmarked police car and watched the detectives inside. It seemed Gena’s start wasn’t that early; she had company. Quadir watched as the detectives snacked on bagels and their morning coffee. He wished he could get out of the car and go to her. He wanted so bad to rush to her, to embrace her, and to tell her that he was alive and kicking. But to do that would have been too dangerous. Those extra eyes watching her would then be watching him, and he definitely didn’t want that. Instead, Quadir lay low and stayed out of sight. He had no time for the Philly PD or whoever those guys were. Maybe they’re following her, hoping that she’ll lead them to me. That was his first thought, but then he thought again. Maybe they know about the money and they’re hoping that she’ll lead them to it. It could be anything, but one thing was for sure: She was definitely under surveillance. He knew he would have to keep his distance if his plan was to have any chance of success. He couldn’t even get close enough to Gena to warn her.

  The fact that Gena had found his money certainly complicated things. Now she was being watched. How the hell am I gonna follow her, if ola is on her ass? How the hell will I ever get my money back? His plan was simple: Follow Gena until she led him to his pot of gold. B
ut now they had company and Gena was moving around a lot. She was all over the place. He couldn’t afford to let the Philly PD catch him following Gena. Not those jokers—that would be a nightmare. I bet it’s a hefty sentence for faking your death. Not to mention that Quadir certainly had not come this far to end up behind bars. The plan was the Bahamas, not the pen. He would have to shadow Gena carefully and he would have to do his best to keep her safe from a distance. But how?

  Gena exited the Porsche dealership and stood patiently by the front door. Soon, it became evident what she was waiting for. A saleswoman pulled up in a guardsman black 911 Gemballa convertible.

  “Holy shit, she’s fuckin’ nuts!” Quadir exclaimed. “Don’t do it, Gena. They’re watching you; don’t do it!”

  He watched from across the street as the Philly PD pulled out surveillance cameras. Gena finished with the saleswoman, shook her hand, then pulled out of the dealership parking lot. She had just blown over three hundred thousand dollars of his money and it wasn’t even lunch time.

  Several weeks later Quadir sat on the sofa silently as he pictured himself flipping over the coffee table and the stacks of medical journals lying on it.

  “Dammit!” he muttered as he moved away from the table before he could actually trash it.

  “What? What’s the matter with you?” Amelia calmly asked.

  Quadir looked at her, not even wanting to explain. “I can’t talk about it right now.”

  “Talk about what?”

  “Nothing. Please, not right now, Amelia.”

  He looked at her smile slowly fade. He had hurt her feelings and he knew it. Her entire mission in life was to help, to save, to be a hero. He completely understood that, but there was no way in the world she could help him. No one could.

  “Why don’t you sit down, Quadir? Just take it easy and get your thoughts together.”

  “Gena is seeing someone,” he said.

  “Gena? Your Gena? No way,” said Amelia surprised at his accusation.

 
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