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Against the dark sky the rain fell so hard it looked like knitting needles were shooting down in the night. A good thing, Miles was thinking, figuring that the robbery would go down so much easier this way. He was sure that the heavy rain would create a constant diversion, just because these particular black folks that the four had intended on robbing appeared to be afraid of getting wet. Maybe more afraid, Miles hoped, than they were careful to protect themselves.
“Yo, this is gonna be a cinch,” Gus proclaimed from the back seat of the Mercedes. And even Gus’s mind was preoccupied since the luxury car they sat in belonged to neither him, Miles or Sonny. In fact, this car was a top-of-the-line Mercedes that belonged to Sonny’s mom, thanks to the hard work she put in at General Foods. She had that no-risk lifestyle and those traditional disciplines that made owning a Mercedes Benz possible, which is exactly why Sonny had to wait until his moms fell asleep to sneak off with it. He figured he’d only be a couple of hours; three hours at most. And he definitely had to be back in time enough so that his pop would see it in the driveway when he got in from 3rd shift at the bus company.
Sonny checked his Ironman watch for the umpteenth time and said,
“Why don’t we just take ‘em now. Just run up on the fool, snatch his shit and be out.”
“Cool it, Sonny. You know we can’t just hit this dude all up in front of the club. Even in the rain people would make us. Whassup wit’chu?”
Sonny seemed to come down from the hype and tension and said, “I just wanna get this shit over with.” Again checking the watch.
“Lemme’ find out you gotta get home ’fore your curfew,” said Gus with the lazy eye and scar just underneath it. His face looked normal for the moment all scrunched up in his hearty laugh.
“Listen, dark child,” Gus retorted. But then Sonny appeared to have every intention of snapping; Gus again with the cracks about Sonny’s oh-so-dark complexion, something his peers teased him about all his life.
“. . . least I got a family. Don’t make me keep it real wit’ you. I’ll hurt yo’ feelings quick.” Sonny heard himself sink into the slang, felt himself pulled to the defensive side; the fight that surfaced when his ego was challenged. So what if he had that good upbringing. That didn’t stop him from blending in or conforming to the ways of the street.
“Y’all need to stop. Dude’s on his way out,” said Miles.
The three were casing Matchstick, just as they had every Friday night for the past 3 weeks. It was Sonny who spotted the baller, identifying him as a “bling-bling man.” With the rocks on Matchstick’s two pinkies, the three or four chains n’ whatnot dangling from his right earlobe, Sonny figured the man to have at least thirty grand in jewels. The watch alone had to be enough for a down payment on a house. Furthermore, Matchstick had these two fly cuties on his arms, the full-length fox fur coat, the pimp hat to match. Then, of course, he was flashin’ that wad of cash at the bar inside the club, as well as he had the newest Jag a man could drive parked outside. Just like he did last Friday night, Matchstick strolled into Manhattan Proper on Linden, then into Gordon’s on Hillside, and then from Queens, he crossed over into midtown Manhattan where he glided into the Shadow, known to all as New York’s Longest Running Adult Nightclub. But it was close to twelve now and the three decided the waiting was over; no more following this cat around town. It was time to make the move.
The sign in the parking lot was clear. Obviously there was the word PARK in bright red letters, and smaller letters that quoted the $5.75 per hour charge. But the even smaller print told the real story: “Not responsible for property after midnight.” Essentially, if you were patient and savvy enough to read between the lines, the inference here was that there was no attendant to watch the vehicles after twelve. Nonetheless, this was the only parking lot within a block of the Shadow. Any other parking was strictly go-for-self along the curbs of 28th street, just another part of the city that hookers, homeless and ne’er-do-wells called home. By day this area was ridden with the traffic of delivery trucks, taxis and other commercial vehicles trying to cross-town or take short cuts to avoid the bumper hugging that often congested 10th, 8th and even Avenue of the Americas. By night the block was lit up with sports cars, SUV’s and luxury cars, all with their glossy black tires, chromed-out rims and glistening waxed exteriors. These were the players and the hustlers of the underground who where comfortable with the night and the surroundings that bespoke of their own life’s mysteries and dark sides. These were the white collar and blue collar workers who suited up and showed-out in effort to keep up with the ballers; some of them unable to afford the lifestyle they projected, yet happy to pretend; happy just to be a part of the mix. These were the ladies that buddied up into duos, three-somes and so forth, combining their resources to add some spice to their lives even if it would fade and eventually dissipate like their expensive perfumes, glossed lips and diva hairstyles, all in the effort to put their best foot forward. Maybe they’d impress an NBA star or an accomplished producer. Maybe they’d run into Maxwell, Malik or Michael. Maybe.
The chick on the left of Matchstick held an umbrella big enough for the both of them. The chick on the right, walking body-to-body aside of Matchstick, held an umbrella all to herself. Both of his chicks had on mini skirts, high heels, fishnet stockings and halter tops for their midsections to show. Both of them had the long weaves and jewelry that served more as labels than accessories. Didn’t they watch the weather reports? And now the three of them strutted (slow enough to seem cool, but fast enough to wanna stay dry) out from under the Shadow’s canopy and along the sidewalk towards the parking lot. All the while their backs were turned, unaware of the threat coming towards them.
The lot still had a couple dozen vehicles parked, their bold own ers still getting that dance on in the club. And the vehicles were positioned so that the three had to break ranks to pass through the narrow spaces in between. A sudden vigorous thumping disturbed the atmosphere, but neither Match-stick or his chicks acknowledged the sounds for what they were. It sounded too much like thunder, but indeed it was the half dozen footfalls rushing up from behind, making their impact on the hoods and trunks of various parked vehicles. Like trappers after the living, or vultures preying on the dead, Miles, Gus, and Sonny made their abrupt, noisy climb, ready to swoop down and overcome Matchstick and company.
“Slow ya’ roll,” chopped Gus, who had the huskiest voice out of the three.
Then Sonny said, “Yo’ playa, it’s ya birthday.”
All three assailants were 20-something, with their wooden bats raised, waiting for the slightest threat. Meantime, Miles paid specific attention to Matchstick, wondering if he’d cower or if he’s play hero in front of the women. All 6ft and 195 pounds of Gus hopped down from a car’s hood, almost bouncing off like the pouring rain, and he pushed Matchstick against an adjacent car.
“Da’ fuck y’all want from me? You know who the fuck I am?”
“Yeah,” Gus said with no dissension at all. “You’s the next niggah.”
“What?” replied Matchstick, the rain soaking into his hat and fox fur, matting them both down till they appeared oil-slicked. And you could see his loafers were less than comfortable, soaked like he’d gone swimming in them.
“I said you’s the next niggah . . . the next niggah to get took. Now get y’hands up on the car!”
Everything was moving fast now. While Gus pressed the business-end of the bat
up against the hustler’s spine, Sonny and Miles attended to the women.
“That’s alright, baby. You can keep the umbrella up to keep that ass dry. Just turn around and I’ll help you get out the necklace.” And while Miles reached for the necklace, the bracelet, then the earrings, Sonny was doing the same with the other woman, only in his own way. No, she couldn’t hold up her umbrella; it was already on the ground collecting rain. He had her with her arms, not her hands, up on the hood of a car. Meanwhile he pressed the handle of the bat against her lower back, the rain doing major damage to her 75-dollar-hairdo and streaming down her neck, along her shoulders and down the sinewy build of her back. Sonny licked the drops from his upper lip as he indulged in a horny man’s look at the baller’s babe. Why couldn’t he work with anything this fine, Sonny wondered, however briefly. All he had to work with was Dori from back around the way. Dori, the aspiring singer. After a quick peek to see what the other two were doing – and they were certainly handling their end of the job – Sonny wiped most of the wetness from his brow and down to his chin. Then he eased up on the cocoa cutie and used one hand to unfasten the chain around her neck. With the bat in his other hand, he reached around and under her raised arm to pull the handle of the bat and his inner wrist up against her cleavage. He was that close to her . . . close enough for the both of them to share the same rain drops. Close enough to smell her. After all, he was in charge. The woman was shaken but she managed to utter a defense.
“You ain’t gonna rape me too, are you?”
“Sonny!” Miles called out. “Stick to business, man – shit.”
Miles had most of his victim’s valuables already. Sonny sucked his teeth, and realizing he was having a tough time getting the chain loose, he made a frustrated tug at it.
“Ouch,” the woman cried when it jerked off of her neck.
“Shun’ta opened your mouth. It could’a been nice,” Sonny said, still disappointed that he couldn’t get his groove on. Then he turned and saw Gus going through the man’s wallet.
Sonny’s shouting alerted Miles who was the closest. Miles immediately lifted his bat and swung it at Match-stick who had reached for and got a grip on the pistol at his waist.
“Shit!” Sonny said. And now Miles struck again, this time at Matchstick’s arm. And now Sonny swung as well, only he went for the baller’s head. There were two shouts, one of them from the first hit, and another exasperated grunt following the second. Matchstick was falling to the pavement, his pistol before him.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” snapped Miles, reaching to prevent Sonny from a fourth swing.
“Don’t kill the muh’fucka, Son. Damn.”
“Let’s be out,” said Gus. “We got what we came for.”
They started off.
“Hold up,” said Gus. “I didn’t get the watch.”
In the meantime Sonny was in the cute one’s ear again. “When he wakes up . . . tell ’em the boys from Jersey said happy birthday.” Then Sonny smacked the woman’s wet ass and bounced.
At the edge of the lot, all three shed their green nylon aviator jumpsuits. Miles balled them up and stuffed them, the jewels, and what he could of the weapons into a tennis bag. The Mercedes was still double-parked across the street from the lot. But, even the short trot back to the car left them drenched with rain.
“Shake it off,” Sonny told his conspirators before they got in the car. His mother would kill him.
Excerpted from Bumrush by Relentless Aaron.
Copyright © 2006 by Relentless Aaron and Relentless Content.
Published in 2006 by St. Martin's Paperbacks.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.