Read an Excerpt
The beige Nissan pulled slowly down 213th Street. It was a quiet, tree–lined neighborhood, where most people had manicured lawns and minded their own business. That’s what Jacob Reese loved immediately about the neighborhood and that’s why he decided to rent a one–family home on the block. Here he could blend into the background of the clapboard–and aluminum–sided homes, with their playing kids, their azalea bushes and maple leaf trees. Jacob was ready to start a new life. But what happened just a few hours before could possibly upend all of his plans. He pulled into the driveway of his home. With the engine still running, he just sat in his car. Beads of sweat were still forming on his brow, threatening to run streaks down his face. The adrenaline rush was beginning to dissipate, and Jacob was tumbling down—crashing down. It was like coming off a crack high. He sat motionless for a moment, then grabbed the steering wheel with both hands, squeezing it so hard he started to feel pins and needles running up his forearms. He embraced the sensation. As he gripped the steering wheel, Jacob shut his eyes as hard as he could. He wanted to stop the shaking. He wanted to squeeze out the guilt that was rushing through his body like a roaring rapid.
“That bitch! That bitch! That fucking bitch!!!!” Jacob cried out at the top of his lungs.
One neighbor next door turned off the light to his front room and peeked out the window through the blinds to see what the screaming was about. In typical New York fashion, he decided the screaming was not quite piercing enough to rate a call to 911. He closed the blinds and went to bed.
Jacob put on the black baseball cap that was in the passenger seat and prepared to go inside. He sat for a minute and reflected on what he had just done. He already regretted it. But it was over. He was mad at himself, but he was FURIOUS at Ritz Harper for being such a dumb bitch—such a smarmy, money–grubbing bitch—that people would gladly pay to see her dead.
He hated being so desperate that when the call came and the money was offered he jumped at the chance. Jacob Reese was a lot of things, but he was no killer.
He decided to do the thing he did best. He buried the thoughts he was having. Jacob was cursed with an uncanny ability to be totally delusional. He could fool himself into thinking anything he wanted. As a result, he didn’t have many friends and he hadn’t achieved anything in life.
Jacob wanted to be a megaproducer in the music industry. He believed he could be the next P. Diddy or Rodney Jerkins. He could see it. He knew it. Of course he could.
He was delusional.
The closest Jacob had ever come to living his dream was when he contributed eight bars to a new artist’s first single. The first time he heard the finished product, Jacob convinced himself that he was the next Quincy Jones.
Jacob was always “on the scene”—hanging in the right places, going to the right parties, trying to hobnob with the right people. He partied like he owned Motown in 1968. He dressed the part. He looked the part. But the fronting was wearing thin on his psyche and his wallet. A woman can tell if a man is broke—it’s in her DNA, like the mothering instinct—even if you give her all the X she can handle. Jacob had a steady supply, but not an eternal supply. One day, the keg of ecstacy would run dry, and he knew it. That was why he was desperate.
Jacob was determined to get to “the top”—whatever that meant—but he wasn’t going to get there by being on the bottom of some powerful man. He was not going to be that new bitch; he was going to scratch and claw the hard way and make it on his own. Being a new bitch in the record industry wasn’t much different from being a new inmate in a small cell on Rikers Island. If you come into Rikers without a rep or Wendy Williams and Karen Hunter street credibility or much muscle or hustle, or without somebody watching your back, you are open to being eaten for lunch—literally.
In the music business, if you come in new without any rep, or anybody who will stand up for you and have your back, you are subject to being the next Bentley the Butler, with an emphasis on the bent part, as in bent over and drilled in the butt by any mega rapper/rap mogul. There are lots of Bentley the Butlers in the music business, and very few of them actually get to be anything but. Very few of them ever get that career in the business outside of being a Bentley. In the record industry, just like in jail, you either bend over and take it, hoping for the best, or you find another way. Jacob was determined to find that way. He already had an asshole that worked just fine. He didn’t need to be ripped another one.
Jacob, in his delusional mind, had other ways to succeed…
He got out of the car and scooted discreetly into his house. He smiled as he looked at the copy of Confessions of a Video Vixen on the floor of his bedroom, a book about one of those “star fuckers” whose claim to fame was that she knew how Shaq’s, Jay–Z’s, Vin Diesel’s, and Ja Rule’s dicks tasted—just like chicken!
A good read, he thought. When I make it, I will have to look that bitch up. He also wondered when the male version of that book was going to come out. Video hos weren’t only females.
Jacob flipped open his cell phone and dialed. This particular number wasn’t stored in his phone and it never would be. It was a number he was to use only once, and he had to memorize it. He hesitated before dialing the number. He couldn’t remember the last time he had to remember a phone number by heart. The person on the other end picked up on the second ring.
“Yo, what’s good?” the voice spoke.
“It’s done,” said Jacob.
Jacob heard a click on the other end of the line. He knew that things were set. This was his first hit and he hoped it would be his last. He wasn’t cut out for real shooting. He had threatened a few people but never carried it out. He had broken a few arms and legs, cracked some ribs, but he had never killed anyone. He never had a real good incentive to do so. Not even rage could bring Jacob to actually shoot somebody. But desperation and money could. He was promised two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in cash.
He had plans for his money, big plans. He was going to buy real estate and become the ultimate slumlord. He would sit back, collect fat rent checks every month, and pursue his music career.
If that didn’t work out, he would focus on buying more real estate and making more money, which would give him the lifestyle he felt he deserved. He didn’t want to be greedy. He didn’t want to go to jail. He just wanted to have the last laugh when the semisuccessful crew he occasionally hung out with ran through all of their money and he was sitting on his, a mini Donald Trump, minus the comb-over, wallowing in dough.
Money, hos, and clothes all a nigga knows.
Jacob had a year of college under his belt, so he knew he would also have to get some sort of job to make it all legitimate. He needed to make his quarter of a million dollars clean before he tried to use it. He needed benefits. He had some dental issues that needed attending to. All those years wearing gold fronts had compromised his bottom teeth. He had at least four cavities that needed filling, and he wanted to get that Zoom whitening treatment that would make his teeth ten shades whiter, or so the advertisement said.
Jacob, in his delusional way, was very sharp when it came to knowing what women liked. He knew that women liked men who smelled good, had nice arms and circumcised dicks. He also knew that women LOVED men who had good teeth. Once he had the money, he had to find a dentist. Tight balls were always trumped by lousy teeth!
He walked over to the pull–up bar in his bedroom doorway and took down the new suit he had hung there while he was in a rush to get to Manhattan for this job. It was a black Hugo Boss suit, shirt, and tie, still in the garment bag. It brought a smile to his face. He always wanted a nice suit. So he splurged before this job and got it in anticipation of his big payday.
“I want to look fly when I pick up my money,” he said to himself. “I want to look like new money.”
He hung the suit up in his tiny closet that was filled with mostly oversized polo shirts, khakis, and jeans. He promised himself more suits and more adult clothes soon.
“Hell, I’m in my thirties now. It’s about time I start to look like a grown–ass man.”
There was nothing childlike about his body. He didn’t have a gym membership, but he regularly did calisthenics in his home. He reached up and began to do pull–ups unconsciously, losing count of how many he did, thinking only of his money—the money that would buy him his freedom, and his new teeth, and his new clothes, and the world, and all the wonders in it.
From the Trade Paperback edition.