Writers Wednesday – Chapter 15 – The Women with Blue Eyes

Note: If you are new to this series and have not already read the first few chapters, please do so. For this part, you want to go back to chapter three and eight for context.


Chapter 15: “The Door”

One Year Ago

Not being able to move your arms and legs is one of the worst feelings in the world. 

Janiyah squirmed. She also could not speak. Big Sam had tied her arms and legs and put duct tape over her mouth. What’s worse than being tied up like an animal? Knowing your little brother and sister is in the other room, completely oblivious to what’s going on outside of cartoons. 

“What’s my little mama gonna do now?”

Her fat ass leaned against the wall, smoking a blunt. Big Sam was a woman, her name short for Samantha, and she was one of the biggest drug Queenpins in Chicago. Her name is what made her so good because everyone assumed she was a man. Sam had men under her, though, taking orders and moving weight. She didn’t have to do anything but give orders. When Janiyah met Tabitha, she had no idea she was Big Sam’s cousin. They became close friends, and both got trapped. Janiyah’s body trembled to think of the things they used to do, what people did for money, what people did for love.

She ignored Sam’s questions; her eyes were darting around the room. She looked at the driver—that piece of shit. Adam had a big crush on her, and maybe she could give him a chance, or so she thought. After finding out about Big Sam, she planned her escape with Mike and Kayla. He was supposed to take them to the bus station. Instead, he brought them here, right back to Big Sam. Of course, he was working for her. She should have known. 

“Come on Niyah,” Sam continued, “you had to know I knew you would try and escape me. The good thing though, is that Ronnie ain’t that smart.”

Janiyah cringed at the mention of her little brother’s name, gritting her teeth against the tape’s stickiness. He was so naïve about Sam.

“He is starting to ask questions, though,” she took a puff of the blunt and blew out the smoke, “I wonder why?”

Big Sam winked, and her brown eyes flashed a glacial blue and then went back to brown. Janiyah frowned. It had happened in a matter of seconds. If she were not looking directly at the woman, she would have missed it. What was that? Did her eyes change? Janiyah shook her head as a chill ran down her spine. She couldn’t have seen what she thought she saw. 

They were in an undisclosed location, but it looked to Janiyah to be a warehouse with a room in the back. Spacious and roomy, the cold-storage area was large and tin-roofed with concrete floors. Windowless, no one could see the inside of the building. In the middle of the space sat one table with several boxes on top. It was where they did their dirty work, she was sure.

Big Sam put the blunt out on the bottom of her shoe, and then extended her arms to receive a box from one of her men. She took out a knife and cut the package open, pausing to glance at Janiyah.

“I’m sure you will keep your mouth shut about what you see here.”

Janiyah raised a brow. That was a weird statement. Drugs. Of course it was drugs. What was so secret about that?

Sam nodded to a man in the distance. He had been standing next to the closed door that housed Mike and Kayla since they got there. Hands folded in front of him, the man had not said a word. He nodded back at Sam and knocked against the door with his knuckles. “Ey,” he shouted, “bring ’em out.”

The door creaked open, and Janiyah rocked the chair so furiously that it tipped over, causing her to crash onto the floor, her face hitting the concrete first, her nose and mouth bleeding underneath the tape and sliding down her chin. Janiyah screamed from the pain to her jaw, her eyes bulging out of her head at what she was seeing. It was her baby sister Kayla, blindfolded with a gun to her head. The man walked the girl closer to Janiyah. Big Sam smirked.

“As I said, I’m sure you’ll keep your mouth shut about what you see.”

Big Sam walked over to Janiyah and ripped the tape from her mouth, specks of blood flew off with it. Sam cringed and wiped the droplets that landed on her hand off on her jeans. Janiyah screamed from the pain.

“Please,” she cried, “please don’t hurt her.”

“It was just a matter of time before you told Ronnie about our little investment.”

At the mention of Ronnie’s name, a sound is heard near the door. 

Ronnie emerges from the shadows, points a gun at Big Sam, she smiles, and Janiyah screams.

“Ronnie, no!”

***

Present Day

That’s not really what happened next, but it always ended this way, missing all the other stuff that happened in-between. The same scene played itself on a loop in her mind.

It was the same nightmare and the same scene. Why couldn’t she remember anything else? It always skipped to the part when Ronnie pulls the trigger, but she never sees him fall. Should she be thankful? Hell no. Not seeing her brother die but replaying the moment just before he did was no favor.

Tina would always come to her rescue, rocking her back and forth. She thinks I’m a saint. Janiyah was thankful for her mother’s best friend taking them in, but there was so much she didn’t know. Janiyah blamed herself for Ronnie’s death. If it weren’t for her sneaking around with Tabitha to work for Big Sam, he would have never gotten involved. All she wanted to do was help her mom pay back her debt. All Ronnie wanted was for his sister to stop doing what it was she was doing.

Everyone had their secrets, she guessed. Somehow, hers seemed far worse than everyone else. Tina saw a therapist and took crazy pills, and Miss Bernice let the kids take turns sitting in the passenger’s seat of her car. None of that seemed as bad as her situation. Big Sam was dead, but everybody in the hood knows just because the leader dies, that doesn’t mean your debt is paid. It just passes on to the next person in charge. Her mama may have been strung out and unstable, but she was still her mother, and she still owed.

Emotion rose in Janiyah’s throat as she started the ignition of her car and headed in the direction of Tabitha’s house, convincing herself again to keep quiet. There was no way Tina could know that she still worked for Big Sam’s people. And there was no way she could tell anyone about what she saw that night. Not about Sam’s eyes, which Janiyah was still not sure happened, or what was in those boxes. She just wanted to get the rest of this money and finish paying her mother’s debt, and it would all be over. She had cash from Ronnie’s case, but there was no way she could explain why she took thousands of dollars out of the account.

She had to finish the job.


Coming Up:

Chapter 16: “Something’s Not Right”

Wed.  7/8/2020

Are you new to this series? Click here to start from chapter one.

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 14 – The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 14: “I, Spy”


Jason walked through the door and looked around. Tina held up her hand and waved, smiling.

“Look, T, there’s something I gotta tell you.”

Tina’s heart raced, and she played with her hands. If he said something sexy like he was falling for her, she would never gather the courage to tell him the truth.

“Let me go first. Please.”

“I really think I need to tell you first.”

“No,” said Tina. “I called you so I’m calling it.”

Jason shrugged, “Okay.”

“This is going to sound crazy…”

“Uh oh, don’t tell me you got some crazy baby daddy…”

“That depends. Is your baby mama crazy?”

The two laughed. Tina knew about Amarie. Jason had told her the first day they met, right after the police left the day of the car accident, and they exchanged numbers. She could tell he loved his daughter. He had explained that she could not meet her yet but that he wanted to be straight up. He was not ashamed of his baby, and accepting him meant accepting her too.

“I see things.”

Jason frowned and Tina was sure he thought she was crazy.

“Well, not things, really. People.”

“You see dead people?” he joked. They laughed.

“I’m trying to be serious!”

“Then don’t try, do it.”

“Smart ass.”

Jason laughed, “You’re the one seeing people.”

“Well, not people. More like, angels.”

“Oh, so you one of those super sensitive spiritual people huh?”

Tina nodded, “I guess you can say that.”

Jason nodded, and Tina relaxed a little. He didn’t seem turned off. Az had said there was still a door open, a connection to Big Sam’s people attracting Pas and her Legion to her family. Her secret had to be the door. She had to come clean.

“His name is Az, and he knows about your friends’ murders. He can help you,” Tina blurted out.

“What are you talking about? Who is Az?”

Tina fidgeted. Jason didn’t look impressed.

“Az, the angel.”

“Tina, I thought you were joking.”

Her face flushed red and Jason sat back in his chair and folded his arms. “You’re serious…”

“As a heart attack.”

Jason rubbed his chin. “Come on now.”

“Wait, just let me finish. Az can help us. He knows the women who killed your friends and…

“Whoa, women?”

Jason thought of the women Juan said his brothers were looking at before they were killed.

“Yes, but it’s more complicated than that, Az said…”

“Tina stop.”

“I’m not making this up you have to…”

“Tina…”

“Jason, please just let me explain…”

“Tina. Stop talking!”

Tina sat back in her chair. It was the first time she had heard him speak in that tone. She rubbed her neck where the knot was that wanted to send tears gushing from her eyes. Tina hated that about herself, how she could get so angry she cried, and Jason’s tone had angered her. She knew this was a stupid idea and that he wouldn’t believe her, but no one spoke to her in that tone.

“I’m sorry about the car accident, and I’m sorry about your friends, but you don’t talk to me like that. No one talks to me like that.”

“Why are you so stubborn?” he asked, getting up and grabbing her by the arm.

“What are you doing? Let go of me!”

Tina noticed Jason loosen his grip as customers gave him nasty looks. She snatched away from him.

“What is your problem?”

Jason gritted his teeth and ripped open his button-down shirt and tore at his chest, throwing the lapel mic on the Starbucks table.

***

Juan sat upright in his office chair, his face grave as he watched the screen in front of him, the wiggly lines of the audio going flat. Officer Parks and Officer Jones, detectives who were part of the Ja’mella case, stood on the side of him. Jones, a brown-skinned bald man, folded his arms and Parks, a short caramel skinned black woman with gray dreadlocks, stood next to him, her hands on her shapely hips. They stood behind Juan.

“What the hell happened?”

Officer Jones unfolded his arms, “It looks like we’re disconnected.”

“Looks like somebody else is in on this,” said Parks, cutting her eyes at Jones.

“Wait, you think Jason’s working with Tina?”

Parks raised a brow, “how else would you explain this sudden disconnection?” Parks shook her head. She knew Tina from the Ja’ mella case and still considered her a friend. “She’s a little out there, but what do we really have on her?”

There was silence as the detectives sat in thought.

“Exactly,” continued Parks, “we have nothing concrete that connects her to the murders.”

“For the last time, we don’t know if it was a murder,” said Juan, “and we do have her admitting to knowing the women who may have been involved…”

“…and to seeing angels,” interjected Detective Carl Jones, raising a brow.

The door to Juan’s office opened, and Fred’s face peeked in.

“Detective? You called?”

Juan closed his laptop. He had forgotten he called Fred in for a meeting. He was promoting him as an informant to spy on Tina. Now that they knew Jason was involved, he would spy on them both.

“Yes, come in.”

Fred opened the door wider and entered the office.

“Detectives,” he said, nodding his head at Officer Carl Jones and Rosalee Parks.

“What’s this about?”

Concern flashed across Fred’s face, and his eyebrows buried deep into his forehead. He sure hoped he wasn’t being fired.

***

Tina gathered her things and followed Jason out of the store. He had her attention now. Customers continued to give him angry stares as they exited.

“Where’s your car?”

Tina pointed, looking like a scared child, and they walked over to her vehicle. She unlocked the doors, and they sat in, quietly. Tina faced the window. He could see she was still upset, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“My car is bugged too. This is what I had to tell you.”

“How long?”

“Only since yesterday. When Juan found out I was Jason, he put a wire on me. They think you may have something to do with the murders. They ain’t exactly calling it a murder yet, but they think you might be involved somehow.”

There was silence.

“Listen,” began Jason. “It’s not like I knew you were a Detective. I don’t even like the police.” He paused to cut his eyes at her. He could tell she was trying not to smile.

“I would have never done this if I had known. I’m just trying to solve my brother’s murders.”

“How is snitching on me solving your brother’s murders?”

“Listen, I got a call from Big Steve’s phone. The one they said was missing. That’s why I went to the station. Juan told me everything, so when you texted, I knew that was a sign to tell you. You should have let me talk first. Stubborn ass.”

“Well, I guess we’re even then.”

Tina turned away from the window to face Jason. “I hit you on purpose. The car accident. It was Az and me.”

“Who the hell is Az?”

“I already told you.”

Jason rubbed his temples. He finally found someone he liked, and she was crazy.

“His name is Azbuga, actually. He’s a Watcher Archangel, and his name means Strength. He looks like a really tall Hispanic guy, but he’s not really Hispanic because angels don’t have a race like us. He sounds white, though,” Tina chuckled.

Jason spoke with his hands, “I don’t see anything funny about this. Do you hear yourself?”

“I’m telling you the truth.”

There was silence, as Jason thought. Juan was right. He and Fred told him about Tina’s nephew Ronnie’s death and how she hadn’t been the same since. They had caught her talking to herself, and he thought they were reaching. People grieve differently. No process is wrong. But now, with all this angel talk, it had him thinking, maybe they were right.

“Anyway. We caused the accident because we had to save you. Or else…or else you would be dead too.”

Her last comment pissed him off. “What do you know about who killed my friends? And I don’t wanna hear shit about no damn angels.”

“Then, you don’t want the truth. I mean, what about that weird feeling you said you got from that woman at her house? Are you just going to ignore that?

Jason’s jaw clenched, and he exited the vehicle. “Going to get Amarie. When you ready to talk, you know where to find me.”

Chapter 15: “The Door”

Are you new to this series? Click here to start from chapter one.

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 13 – The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 13: “A Sixth Sense”


Paschar closed her eyes and inhaled Jason’s scent. It wasn’t as strong as before when she was sitting next to him, but she could still smell him through the phone. Just his voice alone activated her senses.

“Hello?”

Pas exhaled and hung up. His soul was something she craved. His friends were okay, but their energy wasn’t as strong as his. She thought back on the day of their deaths, remembering how she had to empty them to hit the spot. It was like being thirsty but drinking soda instead of water. Paschar laughed. Silly humans. All of this technology from Hephaestus, the Greek god of technology, and most of them didn’t know that the caffeine in soda is a diuretic so that drinking it will dehydrate you. That’s why soda (or pop as she’d heard some call it) can strain your body to find sources of water—which puts a good deal of stress on your kidneys. That’s what it was like for Pas to drain energy from weak men. It left her with the aftertaste of a dry tongue, just making her thirstier, so she had stopped time to get as much as was needed.

Paschar laughed. The waitress was no threat. She’d walked past the men table three times while they suffered but didn’t see them. Stopping time made Paschar and her girls invisible and their work easier. She knew the men would be invisible to humans. To them, it would be as if nothing had happened, the table empty of people until she left their corpses to rot.

She hung up the phone and used the energy from the technology to trace his steps. He had been to the police. Paschar laughed. What a joke. Humans were so arrogant. Didn’t he know this was spiritual warfare? What could a cop do with her? She could turn into a cop if she wanted. Although he had been ordered to give over his phone, Jason’s signal could still be seen on the screens of her eyes. Pas wasn’t sure why, but she followed it.

***

“What am I supposed to do then, Az? They are getting suspicious. You know they suspended a bitch.”

Tina smiled pretentiously at the mother and child that walked by, adjusting her earbuds and holding her cell. Az’s large body towered over her. He was sitting next to her on the park bench, but she was going to be smart this time. Since no one else could see him, she would have her earbuds in and her mobile phone in plain sight each time she spoke with Az. She even put the phone to her ear now and again. It would be obvious she’s “on the phone,” from now on.

“Yes. I know. Good for them.”

Tina frowned and looked in Az’s direction. She smacked her lips, “what?”

“Now you can focus on saving Jason.”

“What are you talking about? You told me to stop him from going to eat. I did that. What else do you want from me?”

“Yes. You did very well with the car accident, but Jason is still in danger.”

Tina shook her head. “This shit is for the birds. Maybe I should just tell him about you.”

“Be careful with that. The police are on to him which means that Pas is also onto him.”

Tina sighed. “I know. They found out he’s connected to the Steakhouse murders.”

“Listen, Pas was a leader for a reason. You have to expect her to be three steps ahead of you. Approach this as if he’s already been caught. Assume she already knows about you. Trust no one.”

Az vanished and Tina typed into her phone.

Tina: Hey. It’s Tina. Can I meet you somewhere?

***

The Starbucks was buzzing with customers, as usual, with the smell of their signature blend, which was addicting to everyone’s nostrils. Writers sat with their laptops open, and couples laughed in hushed tones over coffee. Tina smiled. Could that be us? Could we be a couple? She dismissed the thought just as quickly as she considered it. She had too much on her plate to think about a relationship.

“Good afternoon! What can I get for you?”

Tina smiled at the young girl behind the counter. She was a pretty girl with lush dark skin and silky black hair. She had to be no older than sixteen. Tina ordered her coffee and carried it over to a table in the corner of the room. She liked to sit with her back to the wall so she can see every angle. She smiled as the girl waved at her. So sweet, she thought.

***

“Good afternoon, what can I get you?”

Pas smiled, feeling giddy and youthful in her skin. She had transformed into the body of a fifteen-year-old Ethiopian girl. As Tina gave her order, Paschar smiled. They had finally met.

“Caramel Macchiato, please.”

“Coming right up!”

Tina smiled, and Pas studied her energy as she downloaded the skill to make the drink. As she prepared it, she saw into Tina’s future. She saw her and Jason speaking with Az and their plan to destroy the operation at Altgeld. That was Big Sam’s territory, now under the leadership of Renita and Scar and the authority of her legion sister, Hitomi.

Pas watched as Tina tugged at her collar, her temperature rising. Paschar wanted so much to dig. To reach into the depths of Tina’s soul and destroy everything she’d ever loved. If she wanted, she could download everything about her in a manner of seconds and leave her empty on the Starbucks floor.

“Here you go!”

She watched as Tina took the drink and sat at the table in the corner, her back to the wall. Tina caught her staring and waved. Pas waved back, smiling.

But not now. Pas couldn’t dig. Tina was the key to how she’ll get close to Jason again, and she was no good to her dead.


Chapter 14: “I, Spy”

Are you new to this series? Click here to start from chapter one.

Writers Wednesday – Chapter Twelve – The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 12: “My Brother’s Keeper”


Sweat pooled along Jason’s forehead and poured down his face, dripping from his body. Shirtless, he attacked the bag, beating it with all the anger inside of him. Word on the street was that Big Steve, Marquise, and Chris were murdered at El Che the other day. Not only was this shocking but it reminded him of how close he had come to his own death. He was supposed to meet with them that night. If it weren’t for that car accident, he would be dead too. Damn, he thought of Tina. That woman saved my life.

Their first date was approaching, and now that he understood the weight of why the accident happened, he’d have to treat her to something special. He was eternally grateful even if also sad. In one day, he had lost all his friends. He didn’t understand how no one had seen anything when it happened in broad daylight in front of a room full of people.

It was also reported that Steve’s phone was missing, which would explain why he didn’t answer his texts. Jason didn’t believe the cops and detectives and assumed they were not doing their job as usual to solve his friend’s case. Was it because they were all black men? There was no way no one knew anything. There was no way no one saw anything, and now he was organizing a fundraiser to raise the money to bury three of his friends.

“Ah!” Jason yelled out loud in frustration.

“Everything gonna be alright, man,” said Eddie, Jason’s workout buddy.

“Somebody gonna find out something.”

Jason sat down on a bench and wiped his head and chest with a towel. “It’s just not making sense. How the hell three men die in your establishment in broad damn daylight and nobody see nothing? Somebody lying.”

“I agree with that bro, for real,” said Eddie punching a bag.

“They saying it might be drug-related.”

“What?”

“Yea, man, talking about they found cocaine in their system.”

“What?” Eddie said again.

“And you know my brothers didn’t smoke. We may have hit some weed or something but not that other shit.”

“I know,” agreed Eddie. That’s not how Jason rolled. He didn’t get high, and he didn’t hang with people who got high. Jay wasn’t perfect, but he tried to be an upright man. Eddie knew that he wouldn’t hang around with no scrubs.

Jason’s cell rang, and he stared at the screen in disbelief. “What the…?”

Eddie stopped punching the bag, and Jason showed him the screen.

“Steve?”

Jason pulled the phone back. “What I say about people playing games?”

“That’s some spooky shit,” said Eddie. Silence filled the room as the phone went silent and then started vibrating again.

Eddie tilted his head, “Didn’t they say Big Steve’s phone was missing? Yo answer that.”

Jason held up a hand and answered. “Hello?”

There was no answer.

Eddie thought he’d stopped breathing as they listened, the phone on speakerphone.

“Hello?”

Jason hung up the phone and grabbed his shirt off the bench, pulling it over his head. “Eh, man, I’m out. Gotta find out what the hell is going on here.”

“Take care of your businessman,” said Eddy.

The men hugged, fist-bumped, and Jason was out the door. Eddie returned to punching the bag in front of him.

***

Jason’s head pounded as he drove to the nearest police station, thankful Amarie was still with his parents. He had not gone back to get her since the news came. They understood and offered to give him as much time as he needed. “Just remember this is your daughter,” his dad cautioned.

Jason cursed under his breath at the Chicago traffic and hoped the cops could trace the call back to the killer.

When he drove past a police station, Jason made a U-Turn and barely parked his car when he jumped out of it and ran into the building.

“I need to speak to someone,” he said to the receptionist, a white woman with brown freckles and glasses that hung off the tip of her nose. She frowned at the sweaty-faced, out-of-breath man with the wet t-shirt and grabbed a sticky note.

“About?”

“I got some information about the El Che Steakhouse murders.”

The woman removed her glasses and raised a brow. “What kind of information?”

***

Juan typed into his computer and scribbled words onto a notepad. They were still investigating the death of Byron Jones, and now three more people had died. They were being slaughtered with paperwork and follow-ups.

“Mr. Emerson? You have a visitor.”

Juan sighed and kept typing.

“Mr. Emerson?”

“One moment Kathy,” he said, finishing the last of the sentence his secretary had interrupted. “Do you think you can handle that for me? We’re swamped in here today.”

“He says he’s got information on the Steakhouse murders.”

Juan stopped typing and looked up. “We don’t know if it’s murder yet. Send him in.”

A light-complexioned black man entered, sweaty-faced and out of breath.

“Good afternoon. I’m detective Emerson. Please, have a seat.”

He watched as the man sat and looked around the room. Juan smiled. That was the usual response to his office. He was an avid reader and took great pride in his collection.

“What can I do for you? I hear you have information on the Steakhouse case?”

The man pulled out a cell phone and started scrolling.

“I need ya’ll to track this number.” He put the phone down on the desk. “That number belongs to Steve. Steve is my friend,” the man sniffed. “Was my friend. My best friend.”

“Okay,” said Juan picking up the phone. He recalled Steve being one of the names of the victims. “And by Steve, you mean Steve Richardson?”

A tear escaped the man’s eye, but he wiped it away quickly.

“Yes. Steve Richardson, Chris Washington, and Marquis Johnson. Those were my friends and I believe that whoever killed them called me from that number just now. Why? I don’t know that’s why I’m here, but I know I got a call from that number and that’s Steve’s number, and I don’t know what’s going on, but I need someone to explain to me why a dead man is calling my phone.”

Juan leaned back in his seat and held out a hand. “Did you say these were your friends?”

“Yea man, so what ya’ll gonna do? Can’t you put some tracking shit on that or something?”

Juan typed into the computer. “I’m sorry. I never got your name.”

“Jason. My name is Jason.”

Juan nodded. So, this is Jason.

“What?” asked Jason, annoyed.

Juan cleared his throat. He hadn’t meant to stare. “I’m sorry, this is just the first real lead in this case.”

Juan scratched at his chin. This could be a real opportunity for them. Tina’s suspension can prove more valuable than they had anticipated. She needed to be out of the picture for what he had in mind.

Jason’s phone vibrated, and he looked down at it and typed. “Look, man,” he said, “I gotta go. Ya’ll gonna help me solve my brother’s murder or what?”

“First, it’s not technically a murder. There’s no proof that anyone killed these men. No witnesses and no weapon. Right now, it’s looking like a freak accident.”

Jason waved his hand, “man, that’s bullshit.”

“It’s called Asphyxiam,” said Juan. “It’s what happens when your body doesn’t get enough oxygen to keep you from passing out. When you breathe normally, first you take in oxygen. Your lungs send that oxygen into your blood, which carries it to your tissues. Then your cells use it to make energy. Any interruption to the process of breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide can make you pass out or lose your life.”

“What’s your point?”

“It looks as if the men suffocated, on what we don’t know. It could be aspiration, when food goes down the wrong pipe or choking. Perhaps they choked on the food they were eating, but our only witness, the waitress, said the men hadn’t ordered any food yet. We are still waiting for her to come in to confirm it. She says they were too focused on some women at another table.”

Juan stopped talking and cocked his head.

The women. How had he missed that? Who are these women?

He picked up the phone and started dialing.


Chapter 13 “A Sixth Sense”

Are you new to this series? Click here to start from chapter one.

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 11: The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 11: “She’s Involved”


Tina: Not gonna make it in time for dinner. Tell Ms. Bernice I’ll pay extra. See you in a bit.

Janiyah stared at the text on the screen for the tenth time. She had been looking at it on and off for an hour. Not only was Tina going to be home late again, but Janiyah would have to be the one to break the news to Miss. Bernice that she was being forced to work late again. There was nothing worse than letting someone down more than once. This was the third time this week.

Janiyah sat the phone down on the counter, watching as Miss. Bernice swung her bag over her shoulder. Damn, and she would be just about to leaveNow I gotta tell her she can’t until Tina gets here. Those were the rules. Kayla and Mike were already knocked out on the couch. They were hoping to stay up to catch Tina. Janiyah saw the frustration in Bernice’s face.

“Why don’t you go ahead Miss. Bernice.”

Bernice looked at her watch. “Are you sure? I can wait a few more minutes.”

“No, you go on. I can watch the kids.”

Miss. Bernice looked at Janiyah with a raised brow, that was against Miss Tina’s rules. Even though Janiyah was of age, Tina was overprotective since Ronnie died. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure, your good. Go on.”

“Thank you so much,” she said hugging Janiyah on her way out the door. “Love you baby.”

“I love you too Miss. Bernice. Take care.”

Janiyah shook her head and then walked over to the couch.

“Alright you two. Up. Come on.”

She tugged at Kayla and Mike to get them to stand, pulling their arms. They whined and pleaded to stay.

“Nope, time to get up. Come on, let’s go.”

Janiyah got the kids walking, albeit slowly, through the living room and up the stairs to bed. She had just pulled the covers over Mike when she heard the keys in the door.

“Thank you, Miss. Bernice, I am so sorry there was a car and…” Tina’s voice boomed. Janiyah stood at the top of the stairs, watching as Tina rushed into the house. She folded her arms.

“Oh, hey Niyah, where’s Miss. Bernice?”

“I sent her home.”

Tina sat her purse and keys on the counter. “You what?”

“She has a family too you know.”

Tina removed her jacket and put it on the coat rack by the door. “Bernice lives alone.”

“She volunteers at the nursing home. Just because she lives alone doesn’t mean she is alone.”

“Which is why I’m paying her extra. This is her job Janiyah. If she doesn’t like it, she can always quit.”

“I’m old enough to watch them you know.”

“Yes, I know but that’s not the arrangement. Those aren’t….”

“The rules. Got it.”

Tina stepped back and looked her niece up and down. This time she was the one folding her arms.

“Is there something you want to say to me?”

“Nope.”

“Rules are in place for a reason. They help to keep order. This is my house, and these are my rules. Anyone who does not like it know what to do.”

Janiyah rolled her eyes. Tina ignored it.

She meant what she said. Her house. Her rules. They were not to be left home alone under any circumstances, especially now that Paschar’s legion was on the loose. Tina knew Niyah was old enough to understand but she couldn’t risk anyone else calling her crazy. She shook her head of the thoughts.

“Ya’ll eat?”

“Yea, Miss. Bernice made spaghetti.”

“Okay good. You won’t believe what happened to me today, I was in…”

“…come to think of it, Miss. Bernice pretty much does everything around here.”

“Janiyah, what is your problem this evening?”

Janiyah rolled her eyes and went upstairs.

Tina shook her head. Teenagers.

She walked into the kitchen and opened the door to the refrigerator. She grabbed a wine cooler and heard the door to Janiyah’s room slam closed.

***

Tina closed the door to her supervisor’s office behind her and was surprised to see Amy and Fred there. Fred was sitting in one of the two chairs in front of the desk and Amy stood next to Juan Emerson, her boss, a large manilla envelop in front of him. Tina folded her arms.

“What’s up?”

Juan cleared his throat and picked up the envelope. He was a handsome man. Cuban, butterscotch-colored skin, jet black hair, nicely shaped goatee around full lips, and a beautiful smile. He had come to America with his parents at just three years old and had worked hard to become one of the youngest Cuban supervisors in their unit. When teased about his common name he’d always give a brief history lesson.

“Juan is a Spanish version of John and is connected with Juan Almeida Bosque, the Cuban revolutionary. It means God’s gracious gift.”

People typically left him alone after that, not wanting to hear any more. With his Cuban heritage Juan was long-winded and could talk you to death, resurrect you and kill you again. He and Tina typically got along and had little friction except for now. Something was off about the energy in the room. But then again, Amy was there. Tina was sure it could have just been her.

Juan pointed to the available chair, “have a seat.”

Tina looked from Juan to Fred to Amy. Fred played with his hands and Amy looked away. Something was definitely up.

“I’ll stand.”

“Please, sit.”

Tina sighed and sat in the chair. Juan’s office was one of the most comfortable in the building. The chairs were plush, and Juan stocked the bookshelves with the best literature. Juan’s collection was next level. Every book you can imagine existed was on his shelf from classics to new releases. Cuban authors, European authors, African American authors. He didn’t discriminate, and that’s what made his collection so fascinating and unique.

The man had range and the architecture of the bookshelf itself was immaculate, red oak lining the room all around. Tina paused to examine her surroundings, thinking of all the times they used to hide out in this office drinking whiskey and laughing back when he was a new detective. She even spent a night here one time when she was too wasted to drive home. It was that cozy but now, Tina didn’t feel comfortable. The energy in the room was stale, the bookshelves could have been a wall closing her in, and the chair may as well have been made of concrete.

“What is this about?” she whispered to Fred. But he just shrugged and looked forward.

Juan opened the envelope and removed three photos, spreading them faced down on the desk. Tina moved her chair closer to get a better look.

“What’s this?”

Juan responded by turning the pictures over, one at a time. Amy looked away and Tina’s hand rushed to her mouth.

“Oh my God.”

Three skeletal bodies in baggy clothing lay at a table, their eyeballs protruding from their sockets. It looked like something had sucked the fluid out of them and left skin and bones in oversized clothes.

Amy turned away from the office window and back toward the table, shaking her head.

“This is the El Che Steakhouse and Bar on Washington Blvd,” began Juan. “The waitress assigned to the table discovered the bodies. She said that she had taken the men’s orders and when she returned with their drinks, they were like this.”

“My goodness.” It would take a long time for her to get those images out of her head now.

“But that’s not even the weird part,” continued Juan. “This happened in broad daylight during normal business hours, but there are no witnesses to the actual murder if we can even call it murder. Customers say they saw nothing. Everyone remembers seeing the men enter the restaurant, but that’s all. They say they looked like normal men coming in to eat like the rest of them. One of them was even big-boned, you know, heavyset.”

Amy chuckled. People said Big Boned to keep from saying fat and she knew Juan was being extra sensitive around Fred who was on the heavy side himself. He was fat. Say that, she thought.

“But no one saw them suffering in any way.”

“That’s impossible. Someone had to see something,” Tina said touching each of the pictures.

Juan took a deep breath and Amy looked down at her feet.

Why are they acting like they were just caught kissing and I’m the mama?

“Come on ya’ll. What’s going on? You all know you can keep it real with me. I don’t like all this beating around the bush stuff.”

“I looked into Jason like you asked me to,” said Fred.

So, you do remember how to talk.

“I didn’t find anything, as you know.”

The mention of Jason’s name made Tina’s heart beat fast. “I know,” she said annoyed. They had already been over this.

“I did find he’s connected to these men though. Did you know that?”

Tina’s head jerked back, “Of course, I didn’t know.”

Fred sat up in his seat and leaned forward. “Here’s what I don’t get. You ask me to look into a man and not even two days later that man’s friends are dead?”

“Wait, you’re not saying I had anything to do with this?”

Fred sat back. “No, of course not.”

Tina stood. “Then what are you saying?”

“T, girl calm down.”

Tina looked at Amy. “Don’t tell me to calm down like you ain’t just hear him passively accuse me of having prior knowledge of these men’s murders. What are you doing here anyway?”

Juan held up a hand, “We don’t know if it’s a murder.”

“I’m here because Mr. Emerson asked me to be here, okay?”

Tina turned her attention back to Fred, torturing him with her eyes.

“Listen Tina, you’ve been through a lot and…” began Juan but Tina held up a hand.

“Don’t patronize me…”

“We wouldn’t want to do that. We just think you need a break is all.”

“What?”

Juan pressed a button on the office phone and Tina stepped back at the voice coming through the speaker.

“You haven’t been to any sessions; you barely answer my calls. We’re worried about you T.”

Tina shook her head, trying to hold the anger back. It was Erica.

“You were listening the entire time? What is this, an intervention?”

“Can you tell us why you’ve been talking to yourself?” asked Amy.

“I don’t owe any of you an explanation.”

Juan cleared his throat again. “You kinda do.”

“This is bullshit.”

“Answer her question Tina,” said Fred, “what’s going on with you?”

Tina thought back to a bathroom conversation with Az. Amy had caught her talking with him there. She thought she explained that away. She knew it would come back to haunt her.

“I was just using the bathroom, give me a break.”

“No,” said Fred, “there’s another time. You were sitting in the car outside of the office, moving your hands and I don’t know if you were praying or…”

Tina waved. “Oh, come on. What I do in my car is my business.”

“I saw it with my own eyes, T,” chimed Amy. “You were sitting there talking to yourself. That’s twice now.”

“And,” added Erica, “you haven’t been to a session in like two weeks so I can’t even vouch for where your head is right now.”

“What’s the plan? Huh? You gonna fire me? Just come out and say what it is you brought me here to say.”

“How do you know Jason?” asked Juan.

“You told me before you think he may be connected,” said Fred pointing to the photographs “and now we see that he is connected. How did you know this?”

“First don’t say know this like I knew three black men were gonna die yesterday!”

“Yes, but you know what I’m talking about Tina. How did you know about Jason in the first place?”

Tina felt guilty. It did sound suspicious, but she couldn’t tell them about Az. She already told Erica about seeing aliens and here she was standing against her. She thought she believed her. She spoke to her as she did, even told her to get more information on humans who may be involved and now look at her. Tina felt like an idiot. Erica must have heard crazy stories like hers all the time and was probably just entertaining her.

Tina glanced at the photographs on Juan’s desk and shivered. She knew for a fact Pas was responsible but she couldn’t say that out loud. She looked up and into Juan’s face. “I had a hunch.”

“That’s some hunch T, come on,” said Fred.

“I don’t think I was talking to you.” Freddy was starting to piss her off.

“Hey, Erica? I’ll be in touch,” said Juan, hanging up the phone. He leaned back into his chair, picked up one of the photos, and then put it back down on the desk. It was hard to look at. Juan sighed and directed his attention to Fred and Amy. “Find the Waitress. Bring her in immediately, and T? Take some time off.”

“Time off meaning what? Are you firing me?”

“Tina, you know I wouldn’t do that. Paid time off. Get your head in the game.”

Tina rolled her eyes and walked out of the office.

Amy looked at Fred. “Well. That went well.”

“I don’t know what’s gotten into her. Ever since her nephew died, she hasn’t been the same,” said Fred.

Juan looked down at the photos and shook his head. He hated to suspect Tina of anything but that was some hunch.

“Keep an eye on her,” he said, his eyes still on the photographs. “I think she’s involved. I wanna know how and I wanna know why.”


Chapter 12: “My Brother’s Keeper”

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Writers Wednesday – Chapter 10: The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 10: “The El Che Steakhouse Murders”


Big Steve felt the phone vibrate in his jeans as they entered El Che Steakhouse and Bar, but he ignored it. This was like one of those moments in the movies where someone sees a white light during a near-death experience, but he wasn’t dead, and this light was blue.

“Hey, fam, ya’ll see that?”

Big Steve tapped his friends, Chris and Marquis, as they made it to their table on the other side of the restaurant.

“Damn,” said Marquise.

The men sat down at the table, “Look like its our lucky day fellas,” said Chris.

Steve pointed to the table in the distance, “Look at they eyes though.”

“I’m not screwing her eyes,” Chris said laughing.

“I’m serious though. Ya’ll don’t think that’s weird?”

“Maybe they contacts,” said Marquise.

Steve shook his head, “I ain’t never seen contacts that bright bro.”

“What can I get you gentlemen?” asked the waiter but the men were glued to the other table.

“Hello?” The Waitress rolled her eyes.

“Uh yea, water,” said Chris.”

The waitress put her hands on her hips, looked over at the other table and then back to the men.

“Everybody want water?”

“Yep,” said Marquise, still staring across the room.

“Let me get a shot of crown, no ice,” said Steve.

The waitress wrote down his order, rolled her eyes again and walked off.

Chris got up from the table and Big Steve grabbed his arm, “What you doing man?”

“Imma go talk to her.”

Steve frowned, “what?”

“I ain’t about to sit here with my tongue out like ya’ll. Got my eye on that little Japanese one. I love it when they little like that.”

The men laughed hard and the women across the room all turned to look at them, their crystal blue eyes piercing. It was like a lucid dream. Either this wasn’t really happening, or they were three of the luckiest men on Earth. Time seemed to stop as the women looked deeply into their eyes from across the room.

“Maybe I should just sit here a minute,” said Chris, unable to take his eyes off the Japanese one. He didn’t know if she was that fine or if he actually couldn’t look away.

In seconds, the women appeared right in front of them, their bodies bursting out of their clothing. Steve didn’t know how they had made it over to their table so quickly or how the thickest, darkest, sexist found her way onto his lap, his chin in her hands, her eyes locked on his. He wiped his brow. It had suddenly gotten hot.

***

Paschar turned around, slowly, careful to pay attention to every inch of her body. As she locked eyes with the biggest man at the table, her girls followed suit, rays of blue light shooting like lasers into the men’s eyes. They had frozen time and within seconds had glided over to the table. It didn’t matter that there were seven of them and three of the men. Men who thought they were getting orgies were the easiest victims anyway.

Paschar sat her booty on top of the man’s lap, strategically placing it on the part of his jeans where his penis was rock hard. Their lips met and she kissed him deeply, strongly. She enjoyed the kissing, their tongues lapping onto the other, the fresh taste of his scent. She could taste his essence. His past and his present. Everything that led him to this place was on her tongue. Everyone in the restaurant disappeared and it was just her and him.

She inhaled and with it sucked the oxygen out of his lungs, slowly suffocating him. Big Steve’s eyes swelled with surprise, his erect penis was now limp at the door of death. He couldn’t breathe. He knew it was something strange about these women, but it was too late. She had latched onto his mouth and wouldn’t let go. He pushed hard against her body, but she was like concrete. He was well over 200lbs. How in the hell was she stronger than he was?

The color drained from his face as he pushed but the woman didn’t move. Steve’s head got smaller as his body shrunk, his skin clinging onto his bones. The same was happening to his friends, their clothing was getting bigger and baggy as the women sucked the energy from their body. Paschar kept her lips locked on Steve’ and sucked until he was a sunken corpse before her.

She stood and searched the man’s pockets for the device that kept vibrating. She touched the screen. She learned how to operate cell phones years ago. It was strange how addicted the humans were to it, but she had to respect Hephaestus’s work, God of technology. He was getting his just as she had just gotten hers. She read the words on the screen.

Jason: Eh, I’m on my way, where ya’ll at?

Jason: Steve…

Jason: Eh, Steve where ya’ll at?

Jason: Hey man I’m not gonna be able to make it, somebody hit my shit, call me.

Jason: Hey man, sorry I missed ya’ll earlier. We got it taken care of. Tried calling. Hit me back. Peace.

Paschar smiled, wiping the sides of her mouth with a finger as Steve’s energy pulsated throughout her body. The girls had finished their meals as well. She slipped the phone into her purse and the women vanished, leaving three corpses at the table.


Chapter 11 “She’s Involved”

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Writers Wednesday – Chapter 9: The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 9: “The Car Accident”


Jason kissed Amarie on the cheek.

“Be good,” he commanded.

Alright ma, I’m out,” he said, hugging his mother. Dad had already said his goodbyes and was at the dog track by now. Jason shook his head. That man and the dog track. He had given him some good advice though. Mainly, that he shouldn’t trust that woman and that he was stupid for even going over there. He will give the lecture on “a woman’s ways.” Jason’s dad thought women were sneaky and often did more dirt than men. Every woman except his wife, that was.

“She probably tried to hoodoo yo ass. I’d stay away from her,” he had said. Jason laughed at the thought. Dad had his way of warning you. Jason wasn’t sure what it was, but he was glad he had left when he did. Besides, it wasn’t like he was going to ever see her again, anyway. He entered his car parked in his parent’s driveway and honked the horn as he drove out and down the street. He was driving for a while when he came to a stoplight.

Jason picked up his cell and typed.

“See what the fellas doing.”

A horn went off behind him. “Move it buddy!”

“Aiight, aiight,” he said, noticing the light was green.

Jason knew he shouldn’t try to text while driving, but he did it anyway and he figured everyone did. Jason had confidence that he was careful, casting his eyes on the road and back down to the phone. He never missed a beat. I’m good at this, he thought as he put the finishing touches on his text. The sound of a screeching car, honking horns, and the smell of rubber tires sounded around him as his car jolted forward, knocking the cell out of his hand.

“Oh shit!” he sounded as he pulled over.

The cars around him slowly pulled away, nosy drivers going 5mph to see the damage. Jason exited the car as another car pulled up behind him.

“Damn,” he said at the dent in the back. The driver of the other car parked behind him. He glanced up. It was a woman. Figures. In Jason’s mind, women couldn’t drive. He didn’t believe that in a sexist type way. It was just what he observed from women he knew and the women he dated. He loved his mom, but he didn’t think she knew how to drive either.

The woman stepped out of her car wearing black, fitted slacks, a white blouse, and high-heeled shoes. Her hair was pinned up on the top of her head, and her earrings were pearl studs. Those slacks filled out in the back. Jason stared.

“I’m so sorry. I don’t know what happened,” complained the woman.

You slammed into my shit is what happened. “It’s not too bad,” he lied, exhaling, hands in his pockets. He noticed the woman was staring at the car with a blank facial expression. She looked like she didn’t know what to do. He took his hands out of his pockets and held it out for her.

“I’m Jason.”

The woman pulled her eyes away from the car, perked up, and took his extended hand. “Oh, sorry. I don’t know where my mind is these days. Tina. Nice to meet you.”

Her hands were soft and melted into his palm like butter. This is not the time, Jason said to his hardening manhood. Just her hands alone had turned him on. This was different. But after what had happened with that other woman, he had to keep it together. She would probably try to hoodoo him too. He quickly let her hand go.

“Umm.” Tina dug into her purse and retrieved a card. “I guess we can exchange insurance info until the cops get here.”

“Yea, mine is in the car. I’ll get it for you.” Jason turned away to retrieve his information. While getting it out of the glove box he noticed the woman had also returned to her car. She appeared to be shaking her head in frustration. Jason exited the car and walked up to Tina’s car. She was talking to her GPS. He frowned. That was kind of weird. He didn’t think they worked that way. Maybe hers was broken. Or maybe she was one of those hoodoo women.

“Those things are the worst,” he said, and Tina jumped at his voice.

“Didn’t mean to scare you. Are you alright?”

The woman threw the GPS in the backseat and straightened up, exiting the car to stand next to him.

“Yea, I’m sorry again. This is a mess.”

“It’s okay. Here’s my card. Police should be here any minute now. I’m supposed to meet up with some friends. I wish they would hurry up.”

Tina took Jason’s card and gave him hers. “I know right?”

Jason and Tina engaged in small talk as the time passed and Jason became more and more frustrated. It had been almost thirty minutes and no sign of the cops. Jason looked at his phone.

“Man, where the hell they at?”

At his complaint, the red and blue lights appeared in the distance as the sound of sirens resounded.

“About damn time.”

Tina bit her lip. “Listen, this is my fault. I’m sorry again. I didn’t mean to make you miss your friends.”

Damn would she stop apologizing.

“It’s all good. Do me a favor, though?”

“Yes, anything,” she said perking up.

“Stop apologizing!” he laughed, watching her cheeks turn red. She was brown skinned, so it was super cute.

Damn she cute.

“Okay, I hear you. I’ll stop apologizing,” she smiled.

***

Tina’s hands wouldn’t stop shaking. She hoped Jason didn’t hear her talking to Az through the GPS. He was a pain in her butt.

“Let me make it up to you,” she said.

Jason smirked and Tina’s heart fluttered.

“Are you asking me out?” he asked, eyebrow raised, dimple piercing his cheeks.

Tina looked down, blushing. “I guess I am.”

Jason rubbed his hands together.

“Wow, never had a girl ask me on a date before.”

Tina hit his arm, “That’s right because I’m a woman.”

Jason stepped back, holding his chest, “Dang woman, is that how you treat all your dates? You violent.”

They laughed.

“I guess everything is okay here?”

Tina and Jason looked at each other and then back to the officer. They didn’t even see him walk up. He held a pen and clipboard in his hands.

“Yea, we good,” said Jason, cutting his eyes at Tina.

“Who hit who?” asked the officer. He sounded irritated.

Jason nodded at Tina, “She hit me.”

“Give a sista up just like that huh?”

“You did hit me though. Twice,” he said rubbing his arm.

Tina shook her head and Jason winked.

The cop cleared his throat and Jason pulled his attention away from Tina.

“Where do I sign officer?”

Turn right on green.

Tina’s nerves returned and she perked up at the sound of the GPS. Uh oh. Az.

While Jason signed papers, she took the time to return to the car and reach for the device in the backseat.

“I knew you’d find a way,” sounded the  device

“Az?”

“Hitting his car was brilliant,” said the GPS lady.”

Tina relaxed. It was definitely Az.

“Yea, well, just wait until he finds out I did it on purpose and that our meeting was no accident. He’ll hate me forever.”

She glimpsed at Jason from the window of her car. He looked up at her and smiled. She smiled back, halfheartedly. Chicago police were slow, especially for minorities. Her little trick should keep him away just long enough to keep him from meeting up with those friends Az already said were doomed. Tina sighed. She had saved the man. Her work here was done.

Or so she thought.


Chapter 10 “The El Che Steakhouse Murders”

Are you new to this series? Click here to start from chapter one.