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The VIP section was popping inside. Ass, tits, bodacious bodies standing on stilettos were everywhere, in every corner of the section waiting to serve those who had enough to pay what it cost for the goodies inside. I only had one complaint; there wasn't enough lighting so I could see all of the fine woman who were lounging about on the cream-colored leather chairs playing host in their thongs. There were clans of shapely females who were much too fine to touch the brass pole out in front of the club waiting for the next baller to stroll through the door of VIP. They even had large pillows sprawled across the room as players sat with girls in their laps, some even on their backs; no doubt being tongue serviced for a fee as they sipped champagne and stiff drinks. Passion finally stopped at a booth lined with curtains and pulled them back.
"If it isn't my grand jury," Rossi said. This muthafucka looked as though he didn't even have a case hanging over his head. He didn't seem worried one bit that he could be another step closer to prison in a matter of days. "C'mon in, you two."
Rossi was dressed to a tee: in a nicely tailored deep blue, pinstriped suit with open collar. There were three women sitting at his table. The chick sitting closest to him was white: almond eyes, blonde hair with a nice tan and she didn't have on a shirt. Her nipples were hard and long -- saying hello to me. The other two freaks, one black who I could tell -- had eaten plenty of red beans and rice coming up because her body was hitting on all cylinders. The other girl was mixed but yet still fine as hell, with silky, blue black hair -- sat very close together.
Rossi noticedLauren's hesitance after his invite to sit. "It's okay," he said. "Everyone here are guests of mine. I even own the small bar tonight. Can I get you anything?"
After I made sure he knew our names, I told him whiskey and he talked Lauren into getting a steak and baked potato to munch on. After a few minutes of small talk, I was getting used to having the girls around,
especially after the two I was sitting in-between began pressing their mountains toward my chest, while I sipped my drink. But much too soon, Rossi asked them to leave.
As they left our small gathering, Rossi lit a cigar and kind of smiled. "Don't mind me, I'm just fronting." He laughed. "I usually don't smoke these but they just enhance the atmosphere." Rossi lit up nicely and through the smoke said, "Ya'll here to see me or just to enjoy the view?" Lauren told him to take a guess. Rossi smiled. "Something told me
somebody on the grand jury had some smarts."
He offered me a Cuban and I accepted. All of a sudden I had a feeling Lauren was looking to me to take charge of her plan like I was -- the
mastermind behind us really sitting down with Rossi because she wouldn't take her eyes off me. So I did. I asked Rossi what he meant by smarts.
"You know, some heart, some street knowledge. I just knew someone was sitting on the grand jury who really understood their opportunities with my case. It definitely was a vibe in that room."
I hadn't decided to partake in Lauren's scam before I sat down with Rossi. But really seeing the opportunity up close and personal made me think we could possibly pull off a serious coup if planned exactly right. Then I began to think -- how in the world else would I ever get a chance of making so much money so quickly. I definitely didn't see a huge fleet of cars coming into my shop to be repaired in the future. Looking at Rossi and his calculated moves and statements to the girls who had just left the table, I was sure he had the money -- he denied having to the grand jury; but he had yet to admit it. Then it happened.
"I'm not going to dance around with this," Rossi said. "I know why you came and you both know what I need. As long as we can come up with a fair deal, I don't think there will be a problem with making this thing happen."
On the ride back home Lauren was hyped and she even tugged with me a bit saying, "Hey, West? I didn't see you focusing too much on the ass back there. What's the matter? You scared of a little ass?"
"I enjoyed myself -- believe that. Ain't no need of really look'n if you can't touch."
"Oh, you like to do the do, hunh?"
"You better ask somebody," I told her. "All I have on my mind is what the hell we're getting ourselves into."
"Don't worry. I told you -- that white boy was scandalous," Lauren boasted. "He wants to stay out of jail, keep that money and doesn't mind breaking us off in the process."
"But we only have two days to figure out how we're going to do this. It's back to jury duty on Monday."
"Well, all that money is motivation enough to get it done." Lauren pumped on the brakes a few times for no damn good reason.
"Take it easy...you're destroying my high."
She looked over at me. "You know he's lucky we're not asking for more. Freedom is a hell of a price. Maybe we should just go three ways straight down the middle? We all get equal parts instead of us getting crumbs."
"Fifty-fifty is cool, definitely more than we had. If we pull it off, we'll get seventy-five grand a piece. Believe me, I'm cool with that."
"Aww, he'll take it. He doesn't have a choice or we'll send his ass to prison and he'll wish he would've taken our offer," Lauren promised. "Damn, power feels good, don't it?"
"Look, you need to chill. Maybe I should go alone and meet with him tomorrow night if you gonna get all power-struck over this."
"Forget that? This was my idea, West. We do it together. I stay in the loop, nigga."
"I think I should do it. Alone."
"You must be out your mind. First you wanted no parts; now you want to run shit."
"Well, soothe your mind, Lauren, 'cause we splitting fifty-fifty with him. Then down the middle between me and you."
Lauren looked at me hard. "Whatever." Then she turned off I-75 two exits from my place.
"What are you doing? My exit is two up."
"I need to see something; won't take but a second."
"Like what -- this late at night?"
Lauren didn't answer. I slid down into her seat and decided to enjoy my buzz. She looked over at me twice before the car began to slow down. We ended up on the West Side of town cruising slow and very careful. After five minutes I was damn near sleep but I heard her exhale, then slam the car into park. Her door was open and she was out the door and walking down the street before I could rise up and see what the hell was going on. It took me a minute to get my vision together but Lauren was on the street corner talking to some chick. The first thing that went through my mind was that she was out there dime'n me out to another undercover agent about all the shit that had gone down at the strip joint. There was no way I was going to be sitting up in jail the rest of the weekend waiting to get processed Monday morning over a conversation with Rossi. So I eased out the car without anyone noticing and got closer to them to hear exactly what they were talking about -- because if Lauren was talking to the police, my drunk ass was going to run like a son of a bitch.
"Okay, c'mon, come back, Lauren..." the woman pleaded after Lauren took a step away from her.
"Lex, didn't I tell you to stay the fuck out these streets?" Lauren asked.
"I know, but what am I supposed to be doing? I don't have no money, no place to stay except in the back seat of your car. Fuck that; I gotta make ends meet."
Lauren said, "Well, why you have to do it out here in the streets? At least have some decency about yourself. Shit -- get a room at a hotel and do the tricks there instead of in their cars. You're going to get killed out here." The woman Lauren was talking to had on a red dress and was holding a small handbag. Her stilettos couldn't have been comfortable because of the way she was leaning to her left side. I couldn't tell because of the lighting but she looked like she had a wig on.
"So who has your son?" Lauren wanted to know.
"He's over with Preach and them. I left him until the morning."
"Yes, Preach. Don't start."
"Lex, you left my nephew with a crackhead?"
That's when I realized Lex must have been the sister Lauren didn't want to talk about.
Lex chuckled a bit. "Preach ain't no damn crackhead. I don't know why you think that."
"He smoke crack, don't he?"
"He used to smoke. But he don't no more."
"I'm getting so tired of your shit, Lex. Look, if you don't straighten up you might as well just stay out in these streets. And I am gonna call Defax on your child so the state can take care of him since you don't seem to give a fuck about him."
Lex moved closer to Lauren. "If you do anything to get my son taken away from me, Lauren, I-will-fuck-you-up."
Lauren pushed Lex. "Handle your business and I won't."
Lex lunged at Lauren.
I stepped out of the darkness.
"Yo, Lauren? You think you can get me home?"
They both stopped and turned to look at me.
"Oh, shit...what do we have here," Lex said.
"Look, a nigga need to get home all right. Maybe you can handle this another time?"
"Yeah, go 'head. Get the fuck outta here," Lex told Lauren.
Lauren seemed kind of surprised that I was around. "Yeah, sure, West. I will get you home." Then she turned to Lex. "You just make sure you call Preach and tell him I'm on my way to get Lil'Man, okay? And I will talk to your ass later."
"Whatever," Lex said.
Lauren started to walk to the car, but looked back. "I mean it, Lex, call him now!"
The only thing Lauren said to me on the way to my place was if she could hold a twenty to fill up her gas tank because she was going to have to leave the car running all night. I didn't hesitate to give her a twenty spot,
especially if she was going to have a small child in the car with her all night.
After Lauren dropped me off, I swayed all the way up to my front door but I was under control. The whiskey had set in my system hard. It was cool outside. I flipped my collar up to my ears as I walked up the stairs to my apartment. It had been a long day. My car was gone. I wanted my bed. I thought maybe the next morning I would come to my senses and forget about Lauren and Rossi, then go back to my normal fucked-up life of
trying to make an honest dollar. When I reached my door, I didn't get a chance to use my key to open it. It was snatched open right after I heard the last of Lauren's muffler scrape its way down the street as she zoomed off to wherever she was going for the night.
I knew I was in for some drama when my eyes focused in on Tammy standing in the doorway with her hand resting on her hip and she didn't waste any time with her loud ass voice. "Nigga, where have you been and who the hell was that?"
I looked her up and down. "Is that my robe? Why are you always wear'n my shit?"
She stepped closer to my face. "I know you're not drunk?"
"Nope, but damn near." I eased my way past her into my place.
"Well, you look like it. Who was that in that car, West?"
"A friend." I plopped down on the morning newspapers that needed to be picked up and delivered in a couple of hours.
"A friend? West, you don't have any friends, so don't give me that shit."
"But you sure do, don't you? You think I'm damn stupid, don't you, Tammy?" I looked around at the mess in my place. "Why would a nigga be giving you all this money to fold all these papers if you wasn't fuck'n him?" Then I threw what I could of the papers on the floor so I could rest my head.
"'Cause, nigga, I got it like that, that's why. So are you gonna tell me who the fuck that was in that car?" Tammy stood over me, hands on her hips, legs spread shoulder wide.
"Her name is Lauren. We got jury duty together."
"And what the fuck were you doin' with her, nigga?"
"We had to go check something out."
"For the grand jury. Damn."
"Nigga, when the hell did the grand jury start workin' weekends?" Tammy sat next to me on the couch and sniffed my neck.
"Go on now, Tammy..." I moved away from her.
She sat still for close to ten seconds without a word. She was trying to read me and my drunk ass was trying to figure out what she was reading. "Fuck this," she said. Tammy went for my belt buckle to go down in my pants. "Did you fuck her, West?"
The liquor in my system made me laugh at her stupid ass question. "No -- I ain't fuck her."
"Nigga, don't laugh at me. Are you sure? 'Cause you ain't been givin' me none lately," Tammy reminded me.
I tried to sit up but it wasn't happening. "And you know why, don't you?"
"Look, nigga, me and Todd are friends, okay? We ain't doin' nothing and don't try to flip the script on me. We're talkin' about your black ass."
I felt myself dozing off. "I said we didn't fuck, didn't I. Now I'm sleepy. I have something big to do tomorrow."
As I began to drift, I faintly heard Tammy yapping about Mrs. Bullock ringing my phone off the hook about her car along with my staying out all night and how Tammy was getting tired waiting on my dick and why the hell I wasn't giving her any. I faintly heard her say she was tired of playing with herself. Her mouth was moving much too fast for me because the liquor was now in control and wanted to put me to sleep and that's what it did. I'm sure Tammy didn't stop yelling until she was completely finished saying what she had to say.
Money For Good © 2002 by Franklin White
Posted November 3, 2003
Finally. A hip and street-wise thriller. I've always enjoyed Franklin White's writing and consider him a standout among African American writers. With favorites such as Fed Up With the Fanny and Cup of Love, the wait for his newest novel, Money for Good is well worth it. An absorbing and nicely written page-turner, Money for Good sparkles and pops with funky dialogue, laugh out loud humor, and enhancing visuals. The setting is Atlanta and the main character, West Owens, is hard on his luck. West is aching for a monetary breakthrough, but he's forced to sit on a grand jury that's keeping him away from his auto repair business. When he meets Lauren, a fellow juror who is also in need of some fast money, his life takes him on a dangerous ride filled with drugs, sex, crime, and scandal. With a memorable cast of characters, there's a lot to enjoy about Money for Good; a well-developed street novel packed with enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages until you reach the end. This book has the feel of a movie, it seems as if you're right there on the streets with the characters, and going through everything that they endured. The book is a highly engaging read, and Franklin's fans, plus lovers of gritty, urban action, should enjoy Money for Good.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 28, 2010
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