The Hallspace Hub 3.1

October 2, 2006

The First

Filed under: Crime Fiction, Random Fiction, Untitled Project — thehallspace @ 12:38 am

            The first woman he ever stalked was an instinct.  He was bored and wandering the isles of a Wal-Mart that was almost forty five minutes from his home.  He had gotten in the car and drove without considering a destination. After an hour and a half of wandering the night time streets he meandered into the Wal-Mart for fruit and a drink. He could have stopped at any of the gas stations he had passed but he wanted the freedom of choice the Wal-Mart afforded him. 

            He was looking at boxers and trying to find the ones with the snap button on the front when she walked past him the first time. 

            He only saw her from the back and thought her a little too thin, and her cheeks looked fat.  He frowned at first thinking she was older, say, in her early forties.  He ignored her until he saw her pass him again in the produce section. She came by him close enough that he could smell the sweet flowery scent of her perfume.  He let the scent of her linger in his mind while he held the can of pineapple he had been looking at to see if it had corn syrup. In this passing he got a good look at her.  Her face was round yes, but her eyes were sharply almond shaped, almost Asian.  Her skin was a butterscotch color.  She had on a light tan shawl over her round shoulders. He was struck by her beauty and had to tell himself not to stare. 

            He passed her again in the electronics section. It was here that he noticed the contents of her cart.  She had a small jug of laundry detergent and a round thing of Clorox wipes.  It wasn’t the sort of thing you had to leave the house at ten at night to go get for yourself.   

            She had the air of someone who was not quite in the mood to go home.  He tried to stay out of her sight while keeping her in his.  She perused the DVD section with abandon, she had no where to be and no one waiting for her to get home.  If there was someone she was definitely in no hurry to see them.

              He had given up on her when he thought she saw him looking. She had turned to him rather suddenly and he hadn’t time to look away.  He decided to give up on the idea of approaching her and instead go to the counter with the few things he was buying.  There were only two counters open and the lines were long.  She dawdled around a corner and got in line at the rear, behind a couple that followed him.  He wanted to find a way to get her attention, but before he could think of something clever the lady two isles over opened a new register and said “I can help someone over here.” 

            His dream girl made her way to the other counter and possibly out of his life.  He paid for the three items he bought, the boxers, the can of pineapple and a pack of rechargeable batteries for his digital camera.  He paid with his card and attempted to leave. He was stopped by a large man near the door and asked to see his receipt.  He complied and carried on.  As he walked out to the lot it was drizzling.  The dark pavement glistened slick.  He saw her as he reached his car, thinking that he should have waited a few more seconds at the door, maybe acted like he was a little worried about the rain.  He could have brought an umbrella and escorted the beautiful women to her car. 
his mind threw out all the different ways he could have initiated contact with the girl.  The one idea that quieted it all was that he should follow her. 

            He did not know why he had this notion. It was not anything he had ever considered before.  Sitting in his car he thought of knowing where she lived. He figured that if she lived close he could get a chance to meet her again.  Knowing where she stayed might make it possible for them to run into each other somewhere.  It occurred to him how creepy it was for him to be following her, but it didn’t matter.  There was a beautiful woman not a few feet away from him about to go home tonight and he could find out where that was and maybe parlay that into a chance encounter with her.  He had no misconceptions about how startled she would be to see him at her door.  He figured that he could maybe find the place and then establish her circle of places.  If she lived close to here he could possibly hang out in Wal-Mart until she returned.  There were always the other stores in the plaza that she might frequent. 

            He pondered these possibilities and how he could make the forced encounter into something magical and spontaneous.  He was crossing the large parking lot when he saw her car.  It was a reddish Toyota, the smaller model with a fin on the back. Her left headlight was out.  He wondered how he could let her know that without revealing himself too soon.

            While he trailed her he wondered who she was, and what kind of person she was. He wondered if she was clingy or needy like some of the girls he had dated in the past. It occurred to him that he had no idea what kind of person she was, and she could not be very nice at all.  He wondered if she had family or friends and what they thought of her. 

            She sped through a light and he had to push his little Maxima to keep up with her.  She stayed on the main road, so he did not have to worry about getting lost.  He was not over on this side of town often but he had a good idea of how to get back home.  He made the mistake of going a little too fast and he was right beside her.  She had tinted windows and he wondered if she was in the car at all. Maybe he had followed the wrong person from the Wal-Mart.  There were other cars leaving at the time.  With her windows it was not way to tell if she was in the car or not. 

            He kept his speed as she slowed a little.  This caused him to pass her but he kept her in his rearview.  The car with only the left headlight stayed in view until he crested a hill.  He took the next street as an opportunity to turn around and get behind her.  There was only one street on the drag and he almost absentmindedly made a left turn instead of a right.  The left turn would have meant waiting for the light to change to make another left to catch her, but he could always turn right on red.  He U-turned in the middle of the side street and made it back just in time to see the little Toyota pass him.  He quickly bust a right and caught up with her.  He was glad he had made the move because she turned directly into the next set of apartments.  He saw her take the first left into the row of buildings as he passed her again.  He pulled into the next gas station and turned around.  He wondered for a moment if she had made him.  Maybe she had turned off because she knew she was being followed.  Maybe she was going to sit in the lot for a minute and then go.  He waited there for her car to pass. 

            When it didn’t he pulled back out into the street and found the apartment buildings.  He turned down into the lot and took the turn he saw her take minutes ago.  He pulled down and around the corner without seeing her car.  His heart skipped when he saw her emerge at the next set of apartments.  He drove past again, hoping she did not recognize his car in the rain.  She quickly ran to her building and he noted which one it was in the row.  He continued around the row of apartments and drove back to the street.  He worked his way back to the Wal-Mart so that he could best find his way home. 

            His drive was filled with ideas on how to meet and acquaint himself with this mystery woman.  His heart fluttered with the small victory of tracking her in the dark of night. He heralded his skill as a hunter and considered what his next move could be.  His mind was abuzz with fantasies of how he would invite her to dinner, or ask for her number. He felt confident that meeting her would be the easy part now that he knew where to find her. 

July 31, 2006

Where am I?

Filed under: Blogging, Hallspace, Hubs, Life — thehallspace @ 3:42 pm

If I am not here then I am probably at one of these fine locations:
My Main Page The Hallboy Hideaway Blog

Monthly updated this is where I put my best foot forward and try to blog the meaningful stuff in my life. Created by my girl Nicole it is a work in progress but I really like what I post over there.

My college journal: The Myspace Hub 1.1

This is where I blog the most. I drop random thoughts and ideas here when I have nothing better to do. Sometimes I’m deep, sometimes I am ranting, and sometimes I am just talking bull. Someone should really cal me on it.

My Hub for Entertainment: The Blogspot Hub 2.1

This site is typically updated monthly with reviews or YouTube Clips. I like to talk pop culture and movies over there. Really I set it up so the film clips I reference will be stable instead of being pushed around by the random blogs I post @ Myspace.

My Hub for Writings & Fiction: The Fiction Hub 3.1

This site gets updated about once a month too. I will throw random fiction up. Currently I am hip deep in writing a WebSerial “The Good Neighbor Murder” and planning to post my first crime novel “Bianca Malone.” Check it out occasionally.

My Field Map: The Frappr Map Hub 4.1

This is a page I created for my friends to be able to see where we are in the world. It was a half idea and it hasn’t gotten much play yet. I am patient, I can wait. And despite what Addison says it is not stupid.

My Flickr photobook page: The Photo Album Hub 5.1

This is where I post my pictures. This site is cool and easy to navigate, the problem is that they only offer me to post 200 pics without paying so I slowed down on the posting there and instead decided to build my own site. Coming soon: The Hallpics webgallery!

My Artist & Comics Album page: The Sketch Art Hub 6.1

This page is for my comic related sketches and ideas. I rarely update it because I don’t draw so much lately. Every now and again I will pop in there and put something up. At least I intend to.

My Tagworld page: Tagworld Hub 7.1

This page was started as a whim. It served little purpose at first until I found that it allowed me to display my blogs as RSS feeds, So now I use it as an adjacent hub of sorts for me to read my News Feeds. Typicaly everything on the main page will be a copy of the stuff you see on the Myspace sites.

My RSS Feed Page: News Feed Site 7.2

This page is where I have some of my favorite news sites feed me the news I read. I check this daily to see what it going on in the parts of the world that interest me. Feeds from my Tech Sites, NY times and the Enquirer feed to this page.

My Comics Feed Page: Webcomix Site 7.3

This page is for the RSS feeds of the Web Comics I read. They are pretty good and they update about once every few days. This was way easier than checking ther sites every week for the ones I missed.

My Livejournal Page: The Hallbox Site 8.1

This site is the newest on the list. I created it so that I could talk about comic books and other such geekish topics without having to get ridiculed by my contemporaries over in Myspace. I just go over there to read comics related materials and talk about what I hate about the industry.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

July 6, 2006

Random Fiction: Queen Oya

Filed under: Comics, Oya, Random Fiction — thehallspace @ 11:26 pm

The wind rose around her. She floated high above the storm the rain that swirled in the clouds wet her skin. The sky was a torrent of grey and black. The wind banged around her strong enough to break even the strongest tree. She floated there unfazed by the chaos that erupted around her. She was Oya, the Yoruba queen of gods and men. The wind itself knew to obey her command. She only stared intently at the shape that was breaking the cloud line below her.

Her mind was abuzz with the rumblings of the ancestors. Their souls speaking to hers in a chorus of advice and caution in the situation. She quieted her mind without closing her eyes. She kept her gaze on the shape that was now taking form as it drew nearer. It was moving fast enough to create a boom as the air behind it slammed closed like thunder.

Below the grass of the great planes twirled and twisted as the harsh weather beat down. She held her stance, fist clenched and ready. The wet of her skin keeping her focused. She prayed for the strength she would need to take him. She whispered her prayer into the wind knowing they did not need to escape from her lips.

When the demon was close Oya could see that he looked like a man shaped in ash. She could see his spirit warping around him as a multi-tendralled hydra that grew off its aura. Within a second he was upon her. He had ripped a path through the clouds to slam into her at his max speed. She had been braced for so long that the crash was almost a release of the tension in her sinewy muscles.

They collided in a burst of power and energy. Their mighty arms grappled in combat. Her thinner frame slipped away from his and she drew back with a lightning speed to pound her fist into his face. Water droplets dispersed off her fist with a wet smack. His body tumbled back into the clouds. She heaved and dove after him.

He turned to recover just as she banged into him on the way down. Her elbows craked rib bone as he squirmed to face her. His arms getting her by the waist. He turned her momentum causing them to bank to the right.

Oya yelled in the rain “release me you vile creature,”

The demon said nothing, his purpose was only to end her life. He was capable only of the brutal violence he had been born to administer.

Oya pounded the creature on the head and back. He was not fazed by her powerful blows. She held both arms high and charged them with her soul spirit. The dark sky grew bright as day as the power in her body rippled from her fists.

Oya slammed him atop the head with all the energy she could call. He released and spun in the air. She kicked him as he fell out of range. His body twirled in the sky. His eyes lit aflame and burst with power at her. She dodged to the left as he burned a path in the clouds. She swung wide and knocked his head down. She hated fighting death demons. It was almost always a futile struggle. They never tired and could go for ever if given the opportunity. When the jealous queen Isis had released the death monger she had not foreseen the damage it would do to both kingdoms. It had cut a path to the dessert that separated new Oyo and New Cairo where Oya had met it with force.

The demon opened its mouth to breath a burst of hellfire. Oya went down and around it to grip it by its neck. The blessed armor on her wrists cut into its smoldering skin. She pulled her blade and shanked it in the gut. It bellowed and flailed to break free. She released and caught him with a power right just as it turned towards her. It fell out of view.

In the quiet of this moment the spirits spoke to her, giving the spells she would need to trap it. They told her to find enough water to facilitate the trans-sprit gate for banishment. She knew of an oasis not far away that would be enough for the incantation. She took a breath as he barreled back towards her. She opened the first gate just as it was close enough to feel the power in its speed. It passed through in front of her. She followed as it tumbled into the Serengeti at top speed. It bounced off the earth and into a flurry of her punches and kicks. She beat it up into another spirit gate that she opened behind it. She bounced it off the firma several times in the same manner as they neared the oasis. As it attempted to fight back she would send it back through another gate. She clocked him with another power blow when she knew she was close enough. She blazed to the oasis and began the spells she would need to banish the beast.

The death demon came like a missile towards her. She called a phalanx of lightning to strike it as it got close. It stumbled into each strike. It slowed as the lightning crackled off its skin.

When it was in arms length she finished the spell shifted in time ending behind it and kicking it into the pool of water. A shaft of light cascaded into the sky as the gates between life and death were flung open to envelop the ungodly creature. There was a boom of otherworldly energy as the gate closed leaving her panting in the rain. The sky cleared suddenly in a swirl as Oya commanded the rain to cease.

She stood in the dessert. Her chocolate skin dripping with water. The gold armor on her body was now glinting in the New Africa sun. She narrowed her eyes and lifted off the ground. She set her sights on New Cairo to face the wicked Isis and make her answer for releasing the death demon. In the spirit plane the ancestors cheered her victory and told her of ways to destroy her enemies.

***

I felt like writing a random fight scene after listening to the India.Arie bonus track “This too shall pass” This piece of explodo fiction is what came out. Mostly it is run of the mill pop corn supergods punching each other in the heavens. Enjoy

June 30, 2006

Jesse Townes

He awoke in a moment of confused panic, not knowing where he was. The sun was up and cut through the blinds into his eyes. He covered his face with his hand for a moment and noticed his left arm was inhibited by a body.

Jesse looked over at the woman in bed with him and tried to remember her name. Was it Kim? He remembered now that he had tended bar last night at Kilimanjaro as a favor to a friend and had met the girl when she came in for a drink. He offered her an ear and she told him how she had broken up with her man a little while ago and was looking to have a little fun. She had shown up with a friend but the friend had left after getting an urgent phone call. Jesse offered to ride the girl home on his motorcycle and she had accepted.

Jesse worked to get his arm from beneath the woman whose name he could only barely recall. She shifted a bit and he was able to get free. He rose in the bed and did a mental check for his belongings. On the nightstand on his side was his Treo and keys. On the floor in the far corner were his pants. He hoped his boxers were with them.

Jesse rose and stood to look around the place, having a different perspective than he did last night. The place was cute, but simple. There was a stuffed bear on the dresser with a heart on his chest. The woman had paintings on the wall; reprints like you buy at a museum of impressionist stuff. Jesse stretched and wondered if he could sneak out without the awkwardness of having to say goodbye. He moved towards his pants and put them on first. He located his shirt by the door and put it on as well. His socks were not in sight and he found himself crawling on the floor to locate them.

Her voice said, “Your socks should be on your side, check under the bed.” She sounded groggy but awake.

Jesse rose to see her sitting up. She was cute, even in the dishevel of the morning. Her hair was cut short, like Halle Berry’s back in the day. Her breasts were exposed as she sat rubbing her eyes. She had great breasts. Jesse tried not to stare and instead looked back to the floor for his socks. For a moment he tried to recall how much fun he’d had last night, but couldn’t remember. He tried to mutter “good morning” and still sound cool.

She said “hey,” in response. She rolled to the side of the bed and stood. Her naked caramel body in the light was curved and proportionate. Her hips were thick with a round ass but her flat stomach made him wonder if she was a personal trainer or something, her body seeming so toned and muscular. Jesse tried to recall if they ever talked about her occupation the night before.

She said “Man, I was wasted.” She walked towards the bathroom that was to the left of the bed. She was thoughtful enough to close the door. As he heard her begin to pee she said “Man, you know how to pour a stiff drink.”

There was a casual way she spoke to him that seemed to put Jesse at ease and at the same time make him nervous. Her voice seemed too comfortable with him. Jesse tried to say something cool but couldn’t think of anything. He was fully dressed now and was putting his Treo in his pocket. He put his little Bluetooth earpiece in his ear in case he had to fake a call.

He wondered if it would seem strange if he stood by the door as though ready to go. He wondered why he felt so nervous. He heard her washing her hands in the bathroom before the door opened.

She stretched a bit and said, “Well, you’re leaving right?”

He was a little surprised by this but nodded yes, trying to maintain his cool. “Yeah, I got to go, I got work in about an hour or so,” He wondered why he was lying to her instead of just saying nothing.

“Well,” She said again. “If I don’t hear from you again, that’s cool. I wanted to thank you for a wonderful evening, and all the listening, even if it was only to get into my pants, I appreciated it. I really needed the release I guess, so… There’s that.” She shrugged and leaned to pull a big T shirt off the back of a chair. She used it to cover herself. “I guess you’ve had enough of a show.” She said smiling uneasily.

He was unsure what to say but found himself saying “I had a good time too.” He blinked a few times before saying, “No one’s ever thanked me before.”

She shrugged again, “Yeah, I’ve never done this before so I don’t know what to do. It seems like some shit I would read in a novel, so I’m trying to play it cool and let you, you know, get out of here without thinking I’m psycho, or needy or anything. I think we’ve crossed enough boundaries thank you.”

“yeah, I guess.” This girl really left him without a comeback every time.

“So before I start talking too much, which will surely run you off I suggest you go now, and I hope you call again, or I call you or something, but only after I have a week or two to live down the humiliation of this moment I’m having right now. God, I’m talking too much.”

“It’s okay. I’ll go.” He said.

She followed him out, trailing a little bit behind. As he reached her door he said “Do I have your number?”

She nodded and smiled, seeming more relieved than happy. She said “Yeah, you put it in your super phone at the bar when we were talking.”

“Yeah, okay. I’ll call you.”

She said, “Don’t say it unless you mean it.” Her voice sounding a little resigned as though she cared a little but not too much.

He grabbed his motorcycle helmet off the floor by the door and said “I will. I promise.” He leaned in as though he meant to kiss her. Her face seemed shocked before his lips pressed against hers. He wasn’t sure why he did it, but he was glad he did. Her full lips opened just a bit and he felt the warmth of her mouth. It was a good kiss, and he felt he should continue it along. He put his arms around her and pulled her into him. They stood in this strange living room kissing like they’d been doing it for years. There was a fire in her lips that attracted him. She put her hands on his back and neck and part of him felt ignited to try and be with her again. His mind was consumed with this moment and yet activated to recall the passion of the night before. He fell against the door kissing her neck and she sighed sweetly in his ear.

She broke him free from the embrace with her hand lightly against his chest. She said, “You should go.” Her voice was almost a whisper. “I’m trying to be cool and all that but if you keep being sexy and all I’m going to have to jump you again, and then I’ll be into you, and you won’t be able to leave.” He looked at her quizzically. “Yeah, puppy dog eyes, you should go.” She reached past him to pull on the door. He leaned forward for her to open it. He was in her space again and she sighed sweetly, again.

He whispered “I’ll call you.” After he disappeared through the door she found herself leaning her head against it and covering her face in her hands. The scent of him was in her hair and on her skin. She sucked in air to shore up herself. After a moment of standing at the door she turned towards the bedroom and thought that a shower would definitely clear her head.

Jesse stood in the hallway for a minute, wondering if he should knock on the door and try to get back in with her. He thought that would seem desperate. He slowly walked out of the building towards his bike. He decided he should pull out his phone and check for the number, to be sure he had it, just in case he had to go back and get it from her. He powered his treo on and got the low battery signal. He saw that he had messages but instead chose to use the remaining power to scroll through the numbers to find the one that looked new. When he saw Kira Demetmer he was put at ease. It wasn’t Kim, it was Kira. He turned the phone off and stowed it in his jacket pocket.

Jesse looked around for a moment to figure out where he was and how he had gotten there. He realized that he was on Galbraith road, and so he had to go up a ways to reach the highway. He put on his Helmet before starting up the cycle. The engine roared a little louder than he was expecting, his mind still on the night before, picking through details to keep the good memories salient. He pulled out of her parking lot and glanced back one more time to remember which apartment was hers.

* * *

Jesse hit 75 going South before the details of his own life came back to him. There were things he was supposed to be doing on a Friday afternoon that didn’t include waking up next to a hot chick and making out in her living room. He figured he should call in to work to tell them he would be a little late, but he had time still. Jesse wondered if any of the messages in his phone were important. He still had that singer to book for that thing at the bar next weekend, and he was expecting a call from the girl about the party this week. At his exit there were a few cars backed up that he zipped around, knowing it was illegal to drive on the shoulder but not noticing any cops around so he didn’t care.

He made it home and immediately hit the phone. He dialed Gerald first and got the voicemail. “Man, you will not believe the night I had. Dude, I met the hottest chick at the bar, pimping you know, as usual and offered her a ride home on my bike. She bit and it was like a movie dude. I smashed like an Idaho potato. You gots to call me back man. I got to tell someone a bout this. The chick was so hot man. I mean like wake up in the morning looking cute. Call me back man.”

The next number he dialed after putting his Treo on the charger and checking it. He wondered if he should have showered first. As the line rang he thought to hang up and call back.

When she answered it was too late. “Hello?” She sounded a little confused.

“Yeah,” He said, trying to keep his cool. “This is Jesse, sorry, I um. I don’t know why I called, I think I wanted to be sure the number was right.”

She sat there quiet for a minute before he said “Hello?”

She said “I’m sorry I was shocked. I really didn’t expect to hear from you, at least not so soon. I didn’t recognize the number and I wasn’t going to answer it.”

“I’m glad you did.” He said.

“I am too.” She replied, her voice trailing off into an awkward silence.

“What happened, are you still there?” He asked.

“Yeah,” She said. “I am trying to figure out what to say without scaring you off.”

“You keep saying that.”

“I have a track record of pushing guys away for whatever reason. I don’t want you caught up in my curse.”

“Most women say shit like that, how they can’t get nobody decent.” Jesse said, “I don’t believe it. Girl that looks like you do have guys asking her out all the time.”

“Not really” She chuckled. “And the guys that do have the nerve you don’t want to date.”

“So we’re talking quality not quantity.

“Absolutely, it isn’t about the number, it is about their personality, like is it gonna work out or not.”

“I see. I figured you were too cute to have to deal with all that.”

“Thank you, and don’t think I don’t notice you slipping in all these compliments under the table. You call all the girls cute?”

“Only the ones that deserve it. You cute, so I’m going to tell you that. If you wasn’t I wouldn’t bring it up.” He laughed.

“That ain’t right. You always go home with the cute ones?”

“Not ever, that was honestly my first time meeting someone and moving that fast. Usually I like to go out first, get to know the person. Which is maybe why I called you.”

“Why is that?”

“To ask you out, on like a real date, you know? We can go to dinner or something and try to start out on a good note.”

She was quiet again before saying. “Really?”

“Yeah, really.”

“You aren’t thinking you owe me that or nothing, like you’re a good guy whose trying to not feel bad because I have these issues around what we did, because I don’t.”

“I didn’t think anything like that. I just thought I liked you and wanted to see you again.”

“Okay,” She said. “We can go out. You pick the place.”

“Sure, you like…” his line beeped in mid sentence and it gave him pause.

The voice on the call waiting said “Incoming call from, Gerald and Leslie Parsons.

She said, “Are you there? You cut out.”

He said, “Sorry, I got another call, let me take it, and I’ll be right back.”

She said “Sure,” right before he clicked over.

On the other end a soft voice said “hello?”

Jesse recognized the voice. “Hey Sandra, what you doing at Gerald’s folks place?”

Sandra said, “Jesse, where you been? We been calling you. You got to come down here.” Her voice sounded sad and urgent.

“I was out, what’s going on? You okay?” He asked.

Sandra said, “It’s Gerald Jesse. You really need to come down to his parent’s house.”

“What’s the matter with Gerald?” Jesse asked.

“He’s dead Jesse, didn’t you get our messages? They found him in his apartment. His folks are freaking out and the cops came by to talk to everyone, and they want to know stuff about everybody.”

Jesse almost dropped the phone to the news. When he realized he had gone too long without talking he said “what?”

“You heard me right? About Gerald? I don’t want to say it again.”

“I don’t think I want to hear it again.” Jesse said.

“So get here soon please. The family needs you here.”

“I’m on my way.” Jesse said firmly excusing himself and hanging up the phone.

It rung him immediately back. He was puzzled when the phone read “unknown caller.” He answered it and heard Kira on the other end.

“I am so sorry, I forgot you were there,” he began apologizing.

“It’s okay,” The happiness in her tone sounded wrong to Jesse.

“I’m sorry but I really have to go, Its important. I’ll call you okay?”

“Is everything all right?”

“No, its not, Look, I really have to go. I had… Sorry, I’ll call you.” He found himself stumbling over words as he hung up the phone, not sure if she got the message. He stood there in his apartment staring at the blank wall by the door and feeling his eyes well with tears. The world seemed to lurch beneath his feet before he fell towards the door with enough sense to grab his keys on the way out.

May 8, 2006

Birth

Filed under: Blogging, Life, Random Fiction, Untitled Project — thehallspace @ 3:58 pm

A rush sound like water in a narrow channel & a baby cries.
Life meets air for the first time. Lungs suck in and cough out sound in short novice bursts.
A doctor in mask & bonnet comes into focus in the sterile environment.
The doctor says, “Mrs. Brown, it’s a girl.” raising the little purplish lump of life in his hands to examine it for visible flaws. Tiny muscles spasm and flex. Distressed noise clamors from lungs just tasting oxygen for the first time.
“She seems healthy.” the doctor says. He passes the gurgling baby to the nurse. As he turns his back the black nurse takes the baby & drops it into the trash

She surges awake, her body clammy with perspiration. The digital clock at her bedside showed 6:00am. She clutched her chest and tried to breath over the steady gallop of her heartbeat. The baby inside her was pushing at the walls of sanctuary, upset by the disturbance. She rubbed her round belly to soothe the agitated child. She exhaled a long breath when the baby finally settled in her womb. She tried to lie back down & return to slumber wary that the nightmares would return again like they had since she’d known the baby was due.

(One day I spit out this random peice of fiction into my Palm
It doesn’t fit anywhere, but I like the way I wrote it.)

April 2, 2006

Ch 2: Beverly Mitchell

Filed under: Cincinnati Project, Crime Fiction, Good Neighbor Murder, Mitch Wells — thehallspace @ 10:26 pm

The alarm buzzed a moment before the radio came on with a static filled Jill Scott song. It was 5 am and the third time her alarm had gone off. It was the last time it could go off before she would miss the bus that would get her to work just in time to not be too late. She rose from bed in a groggy state that made her wish that it was a weekend. She could sleep in on weekends.

Beverly Mitchell ran her fingers through her micro-braided hair before hitting the switch to make the alarm stop. She fumbled for her radio remote that was lost in her blanket. She found it and switched from the radio to the CD. She stood as the player lit up with the number of tracks before playing track one.

The music was a heavy Reggae, the kind Beverly liked to clean to, and generally get her going. She knew she should have woken up early to exercise and had placed the CD in the player in order to inspire her. Her late bed time discouraged the ambition and she had instead slept for the extra half hour with the alarm interrupting every ten minutes.

She stumbled into the bathroom to shower and get ready for the day. Above hear she could her neighbor also bumbling around, his feet heavy on the floor which invalidated the managers claim of sound proofing. Beverly hoped her loud Reggae annoyed him as much as his heavy footsteps annoyed her.

It took her 20 minutes to shower and get dressed in her work clothes of black slacks and a white shirt. She never put on the tie until she got to work. She did not think it was appropriate to wear on the bus.

She was out of her door by 5:30 for the 5:45 metro bus that came down on Vine Street to take her to work downtown. She put her headphones in her ear and walked to the stop with her MP3 player drowning out the world around her with more Sean Paul songs.

The bus was a little late, pulling up to her corner at 5:48, but she was not so worried about getting to work late because she was the manager, which meant she had the keys, and nothing could begin without her. The bus had a few of the regular passengers. There was the girl Jarmisha who was getting married this summer and always had wedding magazines in her lap. She usually sat with Roze who had been married 3 times and was twice divorced with her last husband simply picking up and leaving one day to never return. Jarmisha and Roze always chatted loudly about Jarmisha’s coming nuptials and how Roze should have done better for herself by making different choices. Jarmisha, who hadn’t known Roze for more than a month, soaked up all the kernels of wisdom she could from this woman who had obviously lived her life and made some mistakes. Roze’s advice often varied from vapid to common sensical, with occasional glimpses of real truth. Beverly made a point to sit far enough away so that she could be mildly entertained by their chatter without being noticed when she rolled her eyes in disagreement with Roze.

She sat near the back of the bus, sliding quietly into her chair and leaning in close to the window. There was a man across from her in a nice shirt and big jeans. He seemed a little older than her at 32. He was looking at her as she sat and she told herself to not make eye contact for fear that he would attempt to talk to her.

Beverly had never owned a car, mostly because she thought they were too expensive. She had thought about buying one a year ago but also decided that her and her man Gerald were going to get married and get a house together so she figured she should save the money for that instead. So far she had close to 5 grand in the bank. She did not have real goal in mind but she planned to sit down with her uncle, who was an accountant at one time, and discuss what it took to buy a house. She figured with Gerald’s credit, which wasn’t so bad, and his job at the bank in the mortgage department there would not be much to buying a house.

There was a mother at the back of the bus struggling to keep her small child in the seat. The child was merely a toddler and would frequently lean away to look out the window. The mother was texting on her cell phone and would pause only briefly to snatch the child by her jacket and keep her up in the seat. The little girl would look to her mother and wait till the mother was ignoring her before making another attempt at leaning precariously in her seat towards the window.

Another girl got on at the next stop in tight jeans and a puffy jacket with fur collars. She was also on a cell phone and talked into it loudly as she surveyed the bus for a good seat. Beverly shifted in her seat to discourage the girl from choosing to sit with her. There were several other seats in the bus that the girl could have taken. The girl shoes one directly behind Beverly. She never paused in her noisy conversation. Beverly turned her music up to drown out the girl’s empty prattle.

Three stops later an old black man got on the bus in a black coat that was ripped and showing its foam like innards. The man had a grizzled grey beard that looked thick with dirt and grime from not bathing. His eyes were glassy and he weaved as though drunk. He stood next to the driver for a moment before moving his way to the back of the bus. Beverly caught the stench off him as he passed her. The old man laughed without provocation and patted the man that had looked at Beverly. The man smiled politely and did not say a word.

The old man said “girls these days young blood, they’ll get you. In my day you cheat and they just cut you. Now they got lawyers. Take everything ya got.”

The man, dark skinned with somewhat intelligent eyes said, “Yeah they do pops.”

The bus driver started to move the bus through traffic and the older man shuttered and grabbed the bar on the back of the other mans seat. The old man raised his voice and said “Whoa now. You can’t wait till I sit down? You can’t wait a second now.”

The bus driver did not glance back but shook his head. Roze and Jarmisha lowered their voices a minute to see what the old man was going to do. Beverly turned the sound down a little on her mp3 player. Part of her was eager to hear what would happen with the old man for drama’s sake, another part of her just wanted today to be a peaceful bus ride to work.

The old man sat in the seat behind the younger man and struck up a conversation. The old man saying his name was Remus but people called him Jo-boy. He did not explain why. He said he had been in Cincinnati for 40 years, since he came up from down south. “To work with them pigs. You could get a job working with pigs for good money. cutting meat, today it be like 10 dollars an hour, back then you could make 300 a month and it be like you was the f#cking man young blood. You was the man.”

The younger man smiled politely and did not flinch at Remus’s stench. The man instead spoke to Remus as though he were genuinely interested in a conversation. The man said his name was Jeremiah. Beverly tried not to look directly at them but she noticed Jeremiah looking at her a few times when she glanced around. Beverly wished she had brought a book with her today.

Remus said, “My stop is coming up, Man I hate to do this but you got any change on ya? I’m really down on my luck man. I had a good woman and she left me because I was a cheating dog you see. She left and took my house. I started drinking in 93 and didn’t stop, you see young blood. I’m really down on my luck. Anything you do can help me. Any change you got brother.”

Beverly was surprised then Jeremiah began to search his pockets. The old man thanked him profusely as he fished out a few dollars and handed them to him. She smiled a little as Remus stood and pulled the cord to signal the next stop. Remus began to sing loudly as he waited for the bus to come to a stop. “Thank ya young blood for your help. You been so good to me, don’t let these women get yah down, don’t let them take ya to town. Cause theys’ll do it every time, every time.” He skillfully ended his scratchy soul ballad as the bus stopped and he got off. They could hear him singing as he walked away from the bus towards the convenience store on side of the road where they had stopped.

Roze and Jarmisha laughed as he got off. Jarmisha said, “He stank so bad.”

Roze said, “He probably going to buy some wild Irish.”

The girl on the cell phone behind her began to explain Remus to whoever was on the phone. For the first time Beverly wondered who would be awake enough to entertain a conversation with this girl at 6:00 in the morning.

Beverly looked to the man, who caught her eye. He shrugged and said “What he do with it is his business. I just did what god told me to do.”

Beverly thought, “Damn it. Now he is going to talk to me.” She tried to not let it show on her face.

The man said “I told him God loves him. I told him to go by this church I know in Over the Rhine I know that helps homeless people.”

The young lady behind Beverly said “He ain’t need no church, he needed a bath with his stank ass.”

Beverly pulled one of her earphones out of her ear when she noticed he was still looking at her. She asked him to repeat himself.

He changed the question by asking, “Do you have a church? That you go to?”

Beverly nodded yes. She smiled to be polite.

He said “Does your man go with you?”

Beverly was a little put off by the question and it must have shown because the man raised his bible to view. It was a tattered old book with bent corners and a flaky leather jacket. He said “Bible says that a man and a woman should be joined in a church. Too many women get these men that don’t go to church and act like they want to change them into god fearing men. You can’t change no man who don’t want to be changed.”

Beverly wondered if the crazy had rubbed off old Remus onto the gentleman in the next seat. She said “Yeah, we go to church together sometimes.”

Jeremiah said. “That’s good, because men that don’t go to church is more likely to cheat and all that worldly stuff. They pull you out the church and they want to make you into they sex slave or something. They get caught up in sex urges and worldly urges and they take you down with them. The bible says you got to have a good god fearing man that can go to church with you and believes in serving god and rejecting the devil.”

Beverly thought a moment before responding. She squinted and said “There are men in the church that cheat just like the men in the world.”

From the front Roze stopped her conversation to say, “Ain’t that the truth.”

Jeremiah said, “Them ain’t gods children. You can recognize them when you see them. Those are vipers that ain’t fit for the kingdom of heaven. You had vipers in the Garden of Eden, you going to have them in church too. But a good Christian man will not cheat on you. One that loves and fears god.”

Beverly said “My man does not cheat, okay.”

Jeremiah said, “That’s good. How long you been together?”

“5 years, we probably getting married next year.”

“Probably? You sound uncertain my sister.”

Beverly smirked, “We may not have all the money together to do it. Weddings is expensive.”

From the front Jarmisha interjected “You ain’t said nothing.”

Beverly smiled in her direction. She wondered how long this normally 20 minute ride would take today. It already seemed like she had been on the bus for hours.

Jeremiah said, “A god fearing man knows he loves a woman, knows god will provide for them. He ain’t got to worry about no money if he got a good job.”

“My man works at a bank, he do mortgage and auto loan stuff.”

“That’s good sister, really good. And he go to church so you ain’t got too much to worry about.”

Beverly tried to reign in her attitude and not deal with this man who wielded his religion in every conversation. “Yeah, I ain’t worried.”

“But if he didn’t I would say watch out, because then he would be trouble. It is hard for a woman to bring a man in from the world.”

“Because you know what’s good for me right?” Beverly said without thinking.

Jeremiah was a little astonished himself. “He said, well, I know the word of God, and that is best for you.”

Beverly went with it and said, “But do you know me?”

Jeremiah shook his head, “I know the hearts of men and the evil therein,”

“And there ain’t some part of your heart that wouldn’t want to bend me over a bus stop bench if you got the chance?”

The bus seemed to go silent. Beverly realized that she had said what she thought out loud and not in her head. Jeremiah paused for a long moment before flustering. “My sister you got me all wrong…”

“No, you talk so much about cheating like you ain’t cheated yourself. How men in the church is so pure. A man ain’t got to be in no church to be pure, and every man in the church ain’t worth their weight in sh!t. You do all that talking about god, hoping to hook a woman and I am sure it has worked for you, or you wouldn’t keep trying it. I got a good man, a good job, and me and God is doing just fine. So if you would be so kind as to let me ride this bus in peace to my stop and quit trying to convince me that your d!ck is better than anybody else’s, saved or not, because ain’t that really what you’re talking about?”

“My sister, you got me mixed up, I was trying to talk to you about being saved.”

Beverly put her earphones back in her ears as the man continued to try to explain himself. She saw Roze and Jarmisha laughing at the front of the bus. She looked out the window and noticed her stop coming up. She stood and glared at Jeremiah, who was suddenly sheepish and could not meet her gaze.

She said “Next time try to not come so hard on the fire and brimstone, treat a woman like she’s got a brain in her head instead of playing for her faults and you might just get you a good Christian girl.”

Jeremiah tried to speak. She stepped to the door at the back of the bus. She had to throw in one last comment over her shoulder as she got off. She said, “And you might want to know an actual verse in that book before you go trying to school somebody.”

Beverly felt a little better as she disembarked from the bus and stepped through the shelter at Government square. She hoped Jeremiah and Remus did not become regulars because she was against the idea of riding with either of them again. She sighed and turned up her mp3 player/

Beverly walked the few blocks from the downtown stop on Government square to her job at the Café Orisha. She tried to put the bible thumping Jeremiah out of her mind. She thought to call Gerald and tell him about that fool but she was close to work and she could see that Linda and Milton were mad at her for being late.

Linda was a shortish woman with a Jamaican accent who was the morning waitress. She was thicker than Beverly, mostly in the hips and her hair was short and dreaded tight to her head. Beverly always wondered if she should attempt that style but Gerald always said he did not like women with their hair short. Linda had been born in the states but raised in Kingston with her father’s family. Her mother had died in some way that Linda never wanted to discuss. Linda returned to the states in junior high and lived in Cincinnati since she was 19. Somehow all the time in the Midwest had no affect on her accent, or her loyalty to her childhood home in Jamaica.

Milton was an older black Gentleman in his early fifties who had been a cook all his life. He had been a cook in the army from age 17 and the military had regimented the rest of his life. He always woke up at 4:30 AM and did at least 50 pushups and walked the 10 miles from his Eden park apartment to work. Milton had to pass through a fairly bad neighborhood to reach work, but it never seemed to bother him. He carried a knife in his sleeve that he refused to show Beverly when she asked to see it. Milton said that knives were made for killing and if he pulled it out he had to use it for its true purpose. Milton had previously worked in a hotel in the area but when there had been a fire in 95 he quit and worked at a few other restaurants before Jabril found him to work at the café Orisha. Beverly liked Milton because he usually didn’t talk unless asked a direct question, and if you got him talking he would tell you stories that you never wanted to end like he was your grandfather at bed time.

Beverly had been day manager at Café Orisha for a year after quitting her job at the bank where she had met Gerald. She had gotten her degree in business management and entrepreneurial hospitality, wanting originally to work at hotels but settling on the restaurant when the owner Jabril Vincennes moved in from Atlanta and offered her a good salary. She liked the hours, coming in early meant getting off early. The one thing she missed most was the bank holidays. In the restaurant she rarely got a holiday off.

Once she was through the door it was all routine. Linda fussed about her being late while Milton went to the back to prep food. Beverly ignored Linda and set up the specials menu. She was scrawling the soup of the day and trying to remember if they had settled on bisque if the lobster meat had gone bad, or if they were going to try to go with vegetable. Beverly maneuvered through opening the restaurant on auto pilot and in what seemed like moments between Linda’s rants, it was time to open the doors and seat customers.

One thing Beverly enjoyed about the restaurant business was that the days went fast because there was always so much to do. The Café Orisha was not very big, wedged between a Marriott Hotel and a shop that specialized in expensive ceramic figurines. There was a bar in the middle with space for about 5 tables on either side. There were four booths on the walls on either side of the bar as well. All the tables had rusty red colored cloth on them, and large sections of parchment looking paper to be used as placemats. Little glass dishes sat at the center of the tables to serve as place settings as well as a convenient place for sugar packets and cream for coffee. Beverly checked each one before she opened the doors. She did not fully trust Linda to do it herself.

The breakfast crowd was usually sparse enough to not block the walkways, and today was not an exception. Beverly made her way around the restaurant with ease making sure people had enough coffee.

A few regulars made their way in and ordered the same things. The older gentleman, Tony, who worked security at Sears came and took his seat by the windows and looked at the people going by as he held a paper in one hand and a fork for his eggs in another. Tony wore a suit to work every day and had also been in the military. On particularly hard days he would return to the restaurant after his shift and tell Jabril about what he had to do to catch a shoplifter. The woman, Ann, who worked at the phone company came in to order a breakfast sandwich to go. Beverly always remembered her because her hair that had been dyed too many times and now looked like brownish purple with different colors showing near the roots. Ann had gone to Moeller high school and when they were doing well in football she would wear purple all the time to show her support. The other security guy, Vince, who sat at the desk at city Hall, came in and livened up the room with his jokes. He flirted with Linda like he always did. Vince was a jovial dark skinned man with a large gut and a big laugh that showed off his three gold teeth. He had come to Cincinnati from West Virginia and had been a cop for the city until his retirement in 2000. He always sat in a table for too long talking to Linda and reading Tony’s paper before going in at 9 when his shift started.

Beverly didn’t notice the day slipping away from her. She just followed the routine, letting the orders pass by her as she made sure Linda remembered to take water to that table in the far corner, and make sure that Milton got his smoke break before he got cranky.

What Beverly did notice near the end of her shift was the man in the grey slacks and rumpled blue tie that was holding down the booth by the door. It was after the lunch rush that she had noticed him, because the business was dying down. The man had asked for tea instead of coffee and was sitting with his head in his hands. She could tell he hadn’t slept by the haggard look on his face. He would occasionally take a call from his cell phone or call out, but would go back to staring into space as though there were something between his eyes and the wall to hold his attention. He was polite, but he had finished his food an hour ago and he had not left yet. He had taken the newspaper that the security guard had left behind and would flip through it occasionally but it did not seem to interest him enough to actually read any of the articles.

The man was fairly attractive. He had a reddish bronze skin and simple features. He had full cheeks and sharp eyebrows that seemed to spend all their time furrowed in thought. He had a middle to large build with broad shoulders and thick arms. He didn’t seem like a business man, or a lawyer, or any of the young black professional types that usually came through the restaurant. She wondered if he was staying at the Marriot next door, but he seemed comfortable enough to be local.

Beverly wondered what his deal was. He had a very casual nature, but there was a weight to his presence, like he was comfortable no matter where he was, and yet he did not stand out. Beverly felt that if she stopped paying attention at any moment he could vanish from perception but remain sitting right where he was in that little booth, only invisible to all around him. Every time she went into the back Beverly expected him to be gone before she returned. When he wasn’t she was always surprised.

Linda said the man was nice, but he did not seem to have much to do. He would occasionally make a joke to Linda as she passed by or filled his water. Every good while he would order more boiled water and another tea bag and fix himself another cup. Other than that request he seemed to desire nothing else than to politely occupy that booth near the door. His eyes occasionally glancing up to see who was coming or going.

When three o’clock rolled around and he was still there Beverly thought to tell Jabril to ask him to leave. Jabril had arrived at 3:30 like he always did on Fridays, blustering about the dinner menu and some new thing he had seen on the food network and wanted the cook to try to make for the day.

Beverly liked working for Jabril, his energy was contagious but sometimes it could be too much. With the same fervor that he had inspired her to come work for him he could also annoy her to death with his random ideas on how to alter the menu to suit his whim. Beverly wondered if she should point the man in the booth out to Jabril, who would love the opportunity to talk with a customer. Beverly figured that part of the reason that Jabril got into the restaurant business was to entertain people and wander from table to table making introductions. The Café Orisha was like one big dinner party for Jabril, who got the opportunity to retell Atlanta stories as though they were novel, when in fact the stories were probably what cause him to leave Atlanta in the first place. It is hard to live around people who have heard all your stories.

When Jabril was finished congratulating Milton on a well done shift he walked up to Beverly to get the report. At the time Beverly was standing in the doorway to the kitchen staring at the man in rumpled blue tie. Jabril asked her what she was looking at and she told him about the man in the rumpled blue tie who was sitting at the booth by the door since about lunchtime.

Jabril asked “what, did we get a squatter? I can talk to him. Get him out of the booth.” Jabril straitened his own tie, which was a swirled mix of gold, tan and black to complement his sharp khaki colored suit.

He crossed the room to the man, who looked up to see him approach. Beverly watched them talk as Jabril eased down in the seat across from the man. She knew that Jabril would begin with small talk, asking how he liked the restaurant and the food, then talking about how he came down from Atlanta after his divorce with only his suits and a bunch of money from his old business that he wanted to invest in a restaurant.

The man had his back to her from his seat and Beverly wished that he was sitting closer to the back of the restaurant so she could see his face as he talked with Jabril. She already knew what Jabril was going to say, he was predictable. This man though was not. As she watched the man’s head nod she thought of her father.

The man reminded Beverly of her father with his reddish skin that her father said was because of his Indian blood. There was also something about the causal way he filled up his space that put her at ease. She could tell that he wasn’t a harm to anyone, but there was still a manly edge that gave him presence.

She saw Jabril approaching after a while and wondered why he had stopped talking to the man. Jabril put his hand on Beverly’s shoulder as though something were wrong. He said “are you getting out of here soon? You can check out now if you want.”

Beverly looked at him puzzled, “Who is he?” was all she could think to ask.

Jabril said, “Well, I think he wants to tell you himself, he said he’s been waiting there for you to get off shift.”

“I don’t know him.” Beverly protested.

Jabril looked solemn as he put his hand on Beverly’s back and encouraged her towards the booth “I think you should talk to him.” Jabril walked her over to the man and stood her before him. Jabril said, “hey, good to meet you man.” He reached out a hand to shake with the man, who rose for the occasion. Jabril made introductions, “Beverly, this is Mitch Wells. Mitch, this is Beverly Mitchell.”

Beverly gave the man a firm handshake. The man smiled warmly and said “Nice to meet you Beverly, Jabril says some good things about you.”

“Don’t tell her that man, it will ruin my image as a slave driver.” Jabril joked, his voice a little awkward like he was trying to cover something up.

Mitch raised his hands, “My bad, my bad, he only has complaints about you, wants you to work harder is all. Really, nice to meet you, have a seat.”

Beverly asked “Do I know you?”

Jabril excused himself from the conversation quietly, which was not his way. He said to Beverley, “I think I can take over now, and you can check out.”

Mitch said, “I heard you don’t have a car, do you need a ride home?”

Beverley said, “I don’t know you, so why would I let you give me a ride home.”

Mitch nodded. “I’m sorry, I’m being too forward. My name is Mitch Wells, we have not met before, and I wish I could have met you under a different circumstance. As it is I have been up since four this morning dealing with a very important matter that has lead me to you. It is gravely important that you and I talk, and I would prefer it not be where you work. I thought I would sit here and wait until you got off and then catch you on your way out. It was not the most well thought out plan.”

“What do you want?” Beverly felt herself tensing up in her back. It was as though every muscle in her body was ready to fight.

There was a seriousness to Mitch’s face that she did not feel comfortable with. “I really don’t want to do this here, could we at least step outside? I will understand if you don’t want the ride home, but I really don’t want to discuss this here.”

“I am not going anywhere until you tell me what you want.” Beverly squinted at him. She noticed her fingers balled into a fist and told herself to relax, that she was safe within the café.

Mitch put his hands up in a gesture of surrender and said, “I understand,” He sat in the chair and asked “Can you at least sit down, all important matters should be discussed when one is sitting.”

Beverley remained cautious but slid into the booth across from the strange man, who now did not seem so harmless. She said, “What is this about?”

“It’s about Gerald.” Mitch said quietly.

Beverley sighed, almost relieved “What he done done now. Are you a cop, is that it?”

“I am a detective actually, a private detective. Look, Gerald is… There is no easy way to say this.”

“Is he alright?”

“Last night someone got into Gerald’s apartment. They think the person might have used the front door.”

“Is he alright?” Beverly said, her voice more firm, wanting only the answer at this point, more than the story.

“Beverly, Gerald is dead. He was beaten to death with what the police think was a baseball bat…”

Mitch continued talking but the sound in the world went down to a low dull buzz. She looked around the restaurant, expecting to see Linda collecting glasses from the tables. She saw her but did not hear the glasses clinking together. She saw a couple at a far table in conversation but did not hear their voices. She felt her head slowly turning back to Mitch who was still talking, taking short pauses to look into her eyes as he spoke, but she could not hear his voice. He put his hand out to her and she jerked away. Her voice filled her ears as she said “Did you say he was dead?”

Mitch nodded and said what appeared to be yes, but she still could not hear him. She sunk into the booth chair and felt her body tingle all over. Her eyes fogged with water but she did not cry. She felt her heart beginning to pound on the walls of her chest.

If anyone were to ask her later she would say she did not remember exactly how she got into Mitch’s car. She remembered nodding as he spoke calmly and evenly as far as she could tell. She remembered getting up from the table with him and walking back through the restaurant. She saw Jabril who looked sadly at her, with compassion more than pity, he pat her on the shoulder as she walked by. Linda looked to her and grabbed her in a hug. Milton, who was putting on his jacket to walk home came up and clutched her by the shoulder. They were all speaking to her but she could not hear them, she could not understand the words they were saying.

Beverly remembered walking back through the restaurant with her things and walking along side Mitch. He stood close to her with his hands across her back. He was talking, taking those considerate pauses. She nodded and tried to smile at him but couldn’t.

They approached his car, in the lot across the street from the figurine store. He went to open her door and she stopped and tried to think of ways to ignore the last 20 minutes. She tried to think of what it would take to have never met this man, not seen him in the café and been curious about him, to still be expecting Gerald to call when she got off work.

Mitch stood by her as she began to cry in the parking lot, her body shivering heavily. Without a word he embraced her in a hug and they stood there for the longest of moments without anyone saying anything.

March 9, 2006

Part 3: Enter the Detective

Her consciousness returned to her like a record slowly speeding up to an unusual melody. She could tell what time it was by the way Mitch answered the phone. His voice still hoarse from sleep “it better be good for 4 in the morning.”

It was his work phone, the one that rang so low she often didn’t hear it. She had heard him groggily fumbling for it at its place on his nightstand. She waited, half between asleep and dreams, to see if he would respond to the call or stay in bed. When he seemed to rise she knew he would be gone in minutes.

She was too tired to understand his conversation, but she assumed it direly important, like it always was. Nicole Denise Despain had grown accustomed to her live in Fiancé and his odd hours. She tried not to miss the empty spot Mitch would leave on his side of the bed. She hoped the dog would notice her loneliness and join her in his place.

She heard him fumbling about trying to put on clothes. She knew that he would grab jeans and a button down if it was a hurry, slacks and a tie if it was life or death. While she thoughtfully ruminated about the situation sleep seemed to encroach and she found her eyes waking to him, in the blue tie, kissing her on the forehead. He whispered something about where he was going, but she was too far gone to remember what he said in the morning. When she opened her eyes again he wasn’t there. Nicole thought she heard the door close but she could have dreamed it. Behind her the dog, Bear, a massive shaggy black mutt with a long Labrador nose, weighed heavy on the comforter. She tugged it to keep her self nestled in warmth and tried to maintain the slumber that would elude her if she began to worry about him leaving so early in the morning, again.

* * *

Mitch Wells arrived within 20 minutes to the address he had gotten from the phone. He drove within the speed limits, mostly because he could not be sure if he was lucid enough to speed. When he pulled up he saw the boys at the car, like they said they would be. Cleveland in back with the door open, his feet dangling into the street. The white boy, Clay, was sitting on the trunk. The other boy, Mason paced on the side walk on the other side of the car. They looked as though they hadn’t been to sleep, and, if things had gone differently, they might still be out wandering the streets. Mitch pulled his car in behind theirs, a gold Chevy Impala. Mitch wondered for a moment if the car was stolen. He would rank that as the third question of the evening.

Cleveland rose to meet him and put away his game boy. Mitch stepped out of the car his cell phone already in his hand. Mitch said, “Have you talked to anyone else since you called me?”

Cleveland answered, “Nah man, we called you first thing. We been sitting here since. Who you calling?”

Mitch looked up the street, “I’m calling the police,” he looked to Clay, who was closest and asked “is this car stolen?”

Clay shrugged, “I don’t know, is it?”

Mason answered from the other side of the vehicle, “yes it is, technically it’s a repo for nonpayment.”

Mitch looked to Mason and nodded, “Roscoe?” Mason nodded back. Mitch said “why do you still have it?”

Clay said “did he call you to grill us, or to deal with this sh!t?”

Mitch ignored Clay for the moment and began to speak into the phone, “yes, is Detective Johnson on tonight? What about Zilliox? Yeah, can you put me through? Thank you.” Mitch looked up to the others, “Who can take this car back while we wait for them to arrive?”

Clay said “I would love to.”

Mitch smirked “I was hoping you’d say that. Do you have a legit ride back?”

Clay nodded “Sure do, dick.”

Mitch was back on the call, “Yeah Zill, how’s it going man? I’m gonna need you to send out a unit and a wagon. I’m on Earnshaw Avenue, right across from Christ hospital. Little street with one long apartment on it. Yeah, I know. Yeah, I’ll tell you more when you get here. Yeah, far as I know no one has gone in yet, other than the boys that found him. Yeah, okay. See you in twenty. Bye.”

While he was talking Clay had gotten the keys from Mason and started the Chevy. Mitch tapped the hood. “Come back in a legit ride, ASAP.”

Clay waved him off, “right, I heard you pops.”

As Clay pulled off Mitch shook his head, “mother f@cker always gotta have something to say.”

Private investigator Mitch Wells was a young looking black man at 38 years, standing in the street at four in the morning wearing a light blazer and his good grey slacks with a blue tie. Standing before him were two young black men. Cleveland was 23, his hair corn rowed, wearing an oversized black and red Avirex Jacket, the kind with the obnoxiously large branding all over the sleeves and back. Mason, at 26, wore about four shirts that fit him well enough to show the muscles that were defined on his arms. Mason’s top shirt was a brown T with JJ from Good Times stenciled on the front.

Mitch didn’t say anything for a while; his brain seemed to be moving where his body wasn’t. Mason and Cleveland stared at him, waiting. Right when they got just uncomfortable enough, Mitch finally said, “Show me where you found him.”

Mason turned and walked towards the building. Mitch began to ask questions again which put Mason at ease. He was hoping that this man didn’t go making things worse.

Mitch said “tell me what happened from the beginning.”

Cleveland answered. “You want to know from the real beginning, like when they stole the car, or when we got the bitches and dropped them off.”

“I want to know what got you to this place, leave out anything that doesn’t have anything to do with you stopping by to see a dead man.”

Cleveland answered “But it’s all got to do, it was some crazy sh!t we ended up here. We was supposed to go straight to North side with the car, we was almost there when the car died cause a no gas.”

Mitch raised a hand to Cleveland as they crossed the threshold to the apartment building. On the first floor was the apartment. Mason stopped at the door and didn’t move. Mitch put his hand inside his jacket to nudge the door. It was slightly ajar. It was dark inside. He didn’t want to contaminate the crime scene and have Zill yelling at him for months. Mitch asked if they had left the door open. Mason said they had but that it had been opened a bit when they came. Mitch looked at the door jamb which showed stress as though the door might have been forced open. When Mitch backed away from the door he looked to Mason and Cleveland. As they walked back outside he encouraged them to continue with the story.

Cleveland said “So the car breaks down and they go get these dames,

Mitch corrected him “Call them women Cleveland.”

“Nah, they were little dames, like 14 and 17.
“What are you doing out with underage girls?”

Mason finally spoke up “They needed a ride home, so we gave them one. Some dumb ass boys had ditched them in Mount Airy Park.”

Cleveland returned to his version. His voice began to get more excited as he spoke. “So yeah, Mason says his dude live right up the street from them dames, cause we dropped them off on sycamore. Right down the hill right, and so we drive up the hill on our way back to North side, which ain’t really back, but you know, we thought of it like on the way”

Mitch cut him off again “details Cleveland, unnecessary details. Cops are on their way, I need the story.”

Cleveland apologized. “Sorry god, I was just getting into the story, so we come this way and Mase say he gonna check on his boy and he go up and come back and say dude is dead, is all I know. I call you cause you the man to call when there’s trouble right?”

“So you found him?” Mitch asked

Mason nodded. “Yeah, I saw the door open and decided to let myself in and see if he was okay. I get 5 steps into the living room and find the boy beaten to death on the rug. That’s my word.”

Mitch asked him “have you ever seen a dead body before?”

Mason nodded.

“Fresh?” Mitch asked, his eyes perked a little. Mason nodded again, Mitch asked, “Did your boy look Fresh?”

Mason nodded solemnly.

“Okay, questions, why stop by at 4 in the morning if it wasn’t drug or gang related?”

Mason’s eyes narrowed, he looked to Cleveland before answering, “Me and dude was cool, I ain’t heard from him in like three, four weeks, and he wasn’t answering his phone.”

“No drugs or stolen cars in this? Like you know him from some of that sh!t?”

Mason spoke to Cleveland, “Why you call your boy if he gonna come at me like a penguin?”

Mitch kept his eyes on Mason, “Real cops’ll be here in minutes, I’m just asking you the questions those guys’ll ask so you’ll be thinking about it, rolling it over in your mind. To a cop it don’t make much sense for three dudes to just stop by a house at 4 in the morning to check on a buddy, less they involved in some illegal sh!t, which would explain why your boy is dead in there.”

“Man, Gerald was cool, ain’t really get down with no sh!t, he played it straight, had him a job at a bank and everything. Had him a little woman down in Avondale could cook.”

Mitch looked to Cleveland for confirmation. Cleveland said “we used to play video games, whoop him in madden, that’s the gist. His girl and him was gonna buy a house and throw madden parties on the weekends. Talked about it all the time.”

Mitch asked “did you smoke together?”

“Time to time” Mason remarked. “He wasn’t really a big weed head though.”

“So no reason you see he could be dead?”

“Man, that’s why we call you. He was any body else we’d a drove to Northside and called it in from a pay phone. Cleveland say his boy handle sh!t like this so we let him call you. I wanna know what happened to Gerald.” Mason’s voice cracked with emotion he had been smoldering since Mitch pulled up. Mitch decided to play a little softer.

Mitch said “it’s alright man. We are going to find out what happened to your friend. I’m just trying to figure out what to tell the cops when they ask, and how it is going to look to them. Nobody else went in after you did they?”

Mason shook his head. His eyes were steady, almost empty, like with a few more years in the wrong direction he would go feral. Mitch had tangled with more than a few men who had grown up like Mason. He wondered what it would take to keep this boy tethered to humanity. Mitch asked him if he touched anything inside and Mason said no, that he hadn’t even found the light switch.

Mitch asked a few more questions of the two, working to keep Mason salient, and Cleveland quiet.

Mason asked, “I understand you calling the police and all, but are you gonna get the mother f@ckr that killed Gerald,”

“Son,” Mitch said, “I sure hope I can.” He paused again to think and then rose. “All right, when Detective Zilliox shows up I want you too to remain at the back and let me do most of the talking. Don’t say anything you aren’t asked first, and I don’t give you the nod to say okay? You are just concerned friends who wanted to check in on a buddy whom you hadn’t heard from in a month and hoped was okay.”

At the moment Clay pulled up in an old rust marked Toyota Tercel. He got out and said, “Squad cars on the way, I saw them in my rearview as I made the turn on Sycamore.”

Mitch looked to Clay and said, “I don’t want you to say a f@cking word, do you hear me, not a word to anyone.”

Clay looked at him confused, “what the f@ck did I do?’

“I mean it Clay, I am not in the mood for that verbal diarrhea attitude Sh!t you got going. Tonight is not the night. I’m tired and I left a beautiful Fiancé in bed with the dog to keep her warm so I could help you guys not go to jail over some randomly dumb sh!t, so do me a favor and keep it shut.”

“Whatever floats your f@cking boat, dick.”

“And you call me a dick again and I’m gonna flatten you, okay, save the cutesy dick sh!t for the way home with these two.”

The street suddenly seemed lit with the red and blue lights of a squad car. It darted to a stop in front of the three.

Cleveland chuckled, “Do you think they’ll let me see the body? I didn’t get to see it.”

Mitch turned to Cleveland and said, “You keep it shut too, till this is over, only Mason talks, cause he’s the only one got sense enough to shut up till I ask a question, okay.” Mitch moved to greet the officer who was putting on his cap as he got out of the car.

Another car pulled in behind it, this one a white unmarked. Detective Steve Zilliox emerged from the driver’s side in a dull dark colored suit with a grim expression. Mitch approached him with a smile, “Zill, Zill, Zill,” Mitch said, “You won’t believe the night you are about to have.”

February 23, 2006

Woods Walking

Filed under: Crime Fiction, Good Neighbor Murder, Mason & Clay — thehallspace @ 2:37 am
“What the hell is up with Gerald” Mason said as he closed the clamshell of his phone and dropped it in his pocket.
Clay shrugged. “Who the fuck is Gerald?” Clay lifted the full gas can that hung heavy at his side while they walked. “Here man, you take this now”
“You know G, does that thing over at that place, you know?” Mason took the gas can from him and slung it as they strolled.
“No the hell I don’t, that’s why I asked.” Clay responded.
“Tiff’s cousin who drives the Ford. He works at the bank in North side. You know him man, you just don’t remember. He was supposed to call me like two days ago about this thing.”
“Man you keep saying stuff, but you ain’t saying nothing.” Clay kicked a rock into the street.

They were walking down the back part of Shepard Creek Road at 3 in the morning. The small road was quiet except for the sounds of Mount Airy forest which surrounded them on either side. The moon was the only source of light that peaked at them through the dark canopy of trees. They were currently on their way back to the car, which had run out of gas midway down the hill and coasted to a stop on West Fork. They had to walk all the way up Shepard’s Creek to the Thornton’s on Colerain that was open 24 hours and borrow the gas can. Mason wasn’t so happy about the whole deal. They had taken this back road because the car was stolen. They should have just abandoned it but it was a repo job for Roscoe, and you didn’t go back to Roscoe empty handed.
Mason shook his head, “Fucking Roscoe going to get enough of sending us on these runs man.”
“Like you got shit else to do. At least this pay man.” Clay nudged his friend on the arm. “Rather be calling that new girl of yours? Wooing her till 4 am like you been doing lately?”
“Man, why you always on my back about that girl. I like her, you don’t have to.”
“She’s stuck up. Remember you invited her to poker at Snuzz house and she ain’t eat nothing.”
“Man, you always bring that up. She don’t eat swine man, so she ain’t going to eat not pigs in the blanket Snuzz microwaved for the occasion.”
“Whatever, she stuck up.”
Curtis Clayton Wise and Mason Benjamin Clarke had been friends and roommates for going on 14 years, since they both dropped out of high school to work construction for a guy named Maruenco who promised them that they could live in his apartments for free for as long as they were in his employ. It was a good gig, although Mason did more work than Clay. Only thing Clay was good at was tearing things down. On the side they did odd jobs for people they knew to get by. They lived relatively simple, drank and smoked too often, and stole whenever they had to, and often when they didn’t.
The two were so involved in their conversation hat they did not notice the two young girls that were walking in their direction. They were two black girls in denim outfits. They had on furry thigh high boots and shiny buckles on their belts with patches of fur everywhere on their clothes. Mason noticed them first and called out. “What the hell ya’ll doing out here this late?” He spoke to them as though he knew their parents.
As the girls approached one of them spoke. “You got a phone?”
Clay squinted at them. “Why you wanna know?”
“We gotta call our people. My aunt live up on North Bend and I want to see if she can give us a ride home.”
“What the hell are ya’ll doing out here this time of night?” Mason repeated.
Clay followed his statement “What are you like 14?”
“I’m sixteen.” The talkative one said. “This my cousin, Shanika, she 17.”
“Reanna we don’t know these boys.” The quiet one acted as though she were in a hurry to keep walking on a desolate road in the middle of the night.
Mason said. “I got a phone, and I’ll let you use it if you tell me what they hell you all are doing out here.”
The young one spoke first. “We was with these boys my cousin know, and they put us out in the woods.”
“What the fuck they do that for?” Clay interjected.
The older girl remained quiet, Reanna continued to talk. “They was just tripping, that’s why. They was mad because they brought us all the way out here and we wasn’t trying to do what they wanted.”
“You let them bring you all the way out here to drop you off?” Clay asked.
“Can we use the phone or what?” Shanika asked.
Mason reached in his pocket and pulled out his phone and handed it to her. “It’s prepaid so watch my minutes.”
“So they was trying to get on with you?” Clay asked.
“Damn, you a nosy white boy ain’t you?” Shanika said as she stepped away from the group to make her call.
“You using my phone I got a right to ask questions, damn.” Clay said.
“Actually it’s my phone.” Mason said. “He don’t like cell phones.”
“You the one think the government tracking you on it, why you got a phone then” Clay said.
“Why are you making this about me? So, Reanna, what the hell got you out with some dumb ass boys at 3 am?”
“We met them at this bar, and we was hanging out. They was talking about going to Perkins, but it was closed over here.”
“It closes at 10 on weekdays now.” Mason said.
“Yeah, so they drive us down in the woods,”
Clay interrupted, “And tried to get some or something?”
“Yeah, and I ain’t trying to do it in no woods. I ain’t even know them like that.”
“Reanna, what you doing at a bar on a school night?” Mason asked, still talking like he was her older cousin or something.
“I got a fake ID, shoot. I’m staying with my cousin for the night. Her mom work late, anyway so we told them boys we wasn’t going for that and they put us out. And they drove off and left us in the fucking woods.”
Clay said, “That’s some dumb shit.”
“We ain’t know they was gonna leave us. Dang, we was going to Perkins.”
Mason said “yo momma ain’t told you about strange boys?”
“You act like you my dad or something.”
Shanika returned. “You done telling all our business?” She thanked Mason as she handed him his phone.
“Y’all dumb as hell.” Clay chuckled.
Mason nudged him. “We got a car down the way; we can give you a ride home.”
Reanna asked “Why you walking through the woods to your car?”
Shanika “No thank you, we only got a little further to go to get to Colerain.”
Clay said “do you not see the gas can?”
Reanna replied “Oh, it’s too dark; I couldn’t tell what you had. Shoot.”
Mason sighed, “We ran out of gas, but we can get you up the hill to the gas station at least. Or we can take you where you going. Your choice. Or you can walk through the woods on your own, your choice.”
“I don’t know.”
“Now you making good decisions?” Clay laughed. “Could a done that with them other boys.”
Shanika grabbed her cousin’s arm. “Forget this, Come one Reanna.”
“Hold up, how far is your car?
Mason pointed. “Just down the hill, I’m surprised you didn’t pass it.”
“We literally walked out the woods over there. We almost went down the wrong road and was even more in the boonies than we started.”
Mason said, “I’ll keep a leash on my friend, and we’ll give you a ride okay. It’s cool, no pressure or nothing, your choice:”
“Why you trying to help us so bad?” Shanika asked.
“You remind me of my little cousins, and if they was out in the woods at 3 in the morning I would want a nice guy to come along and help them get home.”
“He ain’t so nice.” Shanika said.
“Well, that’s him; he likes to be a jerk. You want a ride or not?”
“Now I’m a jerk for saying that anyone would think. These girls did some dumb shit.”
“Why you gotta be so rude?” Shanika asked.
“I dunno, I’m just good at it.”
Reanna said “I ain’t trying to walk all night; I say we take the ride.”
Mason said, “Well, we are gonna start walking to our car, if you want the ride then follow us, okay?”
Mason started to walk back in the direction they were going. Clay shrugged and followed. Clay said “So now you gotta leash me? Huh? You and your fucking bleeding heart.”
Mason said, “Just come on man. 2 beers say they follow us.”
“Two beers say they too stupid to not think we axe murderers and take their chances finding their way back through the woods. Giving us crap like we was the ones that left them in the woods.”
The girls argued amongst themselves for a moment before Reanna called out “hey, what’s ya’lls names?” Shanika stewed and sighed behind her.
“I’m Mason, and he’s Clay.”
“So we going with you, okay. You can give us a ride downtown to Shanika’s house.”
“Okay.” Mason shrugged as the girls caught up to them.

* * *

The car they stole was gold 99 Chevy Impala. As they approached it they saw the glow of Cleveland’s game boy in the back window. The passenger side door was open and his legs ere sticking out. They had left their boy Cleveland to watch the car while they walked to get the gas can. They figured that Cleveland could entertain himself with games while they were gone. Cleveland stood and removed his stereo sized headphones when they approached. “Damn, ya’ll found dames in the woods? What’s up love-loves?”
Mason ignored Cleveland and dropped the gas can behind the car. Clay went around to the front and opened the driver side door to pop the gas tank door.
Reanna said “Hey, who is you?”
Cleveland tugged on the collar of his too big Avirex biker jacket. “Names Cleveland Bradford lovey dove. What’s your piece?”
“I’m Reanna and this my cousin Shanika, You a DJ or something? I think I seen you before.”
“Yeah, DJ Cabal. I do house parties sometimes. Mostly in Clifton, you be at Spot bar?”
“Yeah, Cabal, that’s where I seen you. Shoot, you got in a fight with your boys that one time.”
“Hell yeah. You was there the night we stomped DJ Books, damn, that was some good times. I been beefing with him for years, years. What ya’ll love doves doing out this piece so late for?”
Reanna shifted her weight on her hip. Mason noticed she seemed more comfortable talking to Cleveland. “We got stranded by these dumb boys. Your boy said he give us a ride.”
Shanika sighed and leaned against the car. Mason and Clay were finishing off putting the gas in the tank.
“Your girl in a bad mood, I understand, some boys ditch me and I be pissy too. Probably want to kick ass on every dude you see right? Want ta kick dudes smooth in the balls right? Not even a word just boo yah, that’s for stranding me in the woods. Nah, I don’t have to know you, I’m just kicking bre’s on principal.” Cleveland kicked at the air and made grand gestures as he spoke. He slid in to see if Shanika was smiling. He reacted when her frown cracked at the edges. “Ah, see, we ain’t all bad, I got you to smile right Love?”
Shanika shook her head to avoid laughing, “You stupid.”
“That’s cool, we give ya’ll a ride, cool, cool.” Cleveland smiled a wide Cheshire grin.
“She mad because they white boy was giving her crap about them boys putting us out.”
“That’s just Clay, he don’t say two words ain’t sarcasm all over them, right Love-Love? Don’t pay him no mind. We give ya’ll a ride and you can be on your merry way right?”
Mason said “We’re ready” as he got into the drivers side.
As Clay got in the passenger side he said “watch it man, she’s jail bait.”
Cleveland said “you ain’t eighteen?”
Reanna laughed a little too hard, “Nah, I’m, sixteen and she seventeen. She live with her mom but she work overnights at this place.”
Cleveland stood back to let her in the car. “That’s cool love-love. Just tell me when I go too far and I draw back before you have to press stat charges okay. I ain’t no Chester I keep it safe and to a minimum, alright love?”
Sakinah got in after him and said “You talk a lot.”
Mason started the car and turned it around to head up the hill.
Clay said to him, “Your little man found something to entertain himself ain’t made stamped Nintendo.”
Mason chuckled, “Only three things interest Cleveland for real, Video Games, Women, and Rap music.”
From the back Cleveland asked “Where y’all say y’all live?”

February 16, 2006

The open letter to my Brother

Filed under: Family, Life — thehallspace @ 6:22 am

i just Posted the open letter to my brother on this blog. It is not really for everyone to read, but I struggled witht he thought of making it public. I feel that it is something that might help someone to read, not just him, but someone in need of encouragement.

I feel weird with the idea of placing it out in cyberspace but my heart led me to tack it up as a showing of strength and solidarity for my brother who I felt needs the love and support.

There is no way to comment on the page with the letter but you can comment here on this blog

Thank you,
Ritch

February 7, 2006

Part 1: Fear to Rise, or Sound’s Like the Cat

Filed under: Crime Fiction, Good Neighbor Murder, Random Fiction — thehallspace @ 8:46 am

There was a crash that Gerald Parsons wished he could attribute to the cat but could not. The sweat starting to prick its way through his skin in the cold night air. He slowly tried to rise from his bed but was paralyzed by the fear that it could actually be someone in his house. He did not know what to think or how to deal with that possibility. He tried to pull the covers aside, but he wasn’t so sure that he was even awake to hear what he heard.

It was possible that this was all a dream that he had heard the sound, that he had even thought he was awake enough to register the noises of his home. Every part of his being wanted to just ignore the sounds and stay in bed.

But part of him knew he could not. He had to investigate. He felt like a child curled there in his bed and hoping there was no boogie man. He stirred, and then rolled over. As he got up he tried his hardest to listen for the faintest sound. His ears strained to take in anything that could possibly explain the situation without him having to rise from his bed. When he heard nothing he got up and slid into his house shoes. He got out of the bed and hit the light switch flooding the bedroom with visibility.

There was no one in the room with him. Gerald shrugged and scratched his back as he stepped slowly through the bedroom door and out into the hall. There was no one there. He walked to his kitchen, which he would reach before the living room in his apartment. On the floor of the kitchen was a broken vase that had been in the window. The flowers that had died in them weeks ago were spilled onto the floor. The window of his apartment sat ajar with the curtains flapping gingerly with the breeze. He bent down to see the broken glass and to collect his thoughts enough to figure out if he should do something about it.

Gerald Parsons turned around just in time to see the baseball bat hit him square in the face. The last thought he had on this earth was, “I don’t have a cat.”

To Be Continued…

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