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.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Catch The Moon, Mary by Wendy Waters

Title: Catch the Moon, Mary

Author: Wendy Waters

Print Length: 258 pages

Publisher: Wendy Waters

Publication Date: October 16, 2019

Mary Granger is a gifted musician who sees visions of music and moves her hands to the tune of the song she hears in her head, like playing an invisible piano. The children call her “Mad Mary” because she doesn’t understand their jokes. She is nervous, and her mannerisms read like someone with autism or some other disorder. But Mary’s music is extraordinary and came as a way of dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse from her father, James.

Then, there’s the archangel Gabriel, who has been on Earth for a thousand years and is depressed about whether he will ever return to his glorious state. He returns to heaven to find it in chaos. His father (“God”) is gone, and so is his brother Rigel. The angels have adopted a “do what thy will” attitude. Gabriel is searching for a saint who can help him enlighten the world.

Mary and Gabriel meet when the angel is swept away by Mary’s music, which draws her to him like a magnet. Mary is a child, about eleven-years-old, and Gabriel wants her to sell him her music. The child, Mary, can’t sell the music because it takes her away from James’ abuse. Witnessing the act, the angel causes significant pain in the man’s stomach and makes a pact with Mary that he will own the rights to her music in exchange for protection.

He believes Mary’s music is the key to restoring his light and promises her fame and fortune in exchange.

But when Mary is an adult and works as a paralegal, still bound by the contract, Gabriel doesn’t seem to be as kind as he was when she was little. He kills, and people close Mary start to die.

There is a lot to unpack in this book, including the biblical connection between Mary and Gabriel, the angel that came to tell Mariam she was pregnant with the Messiah. And because I believe there are fallen angels who many celebrities worship for fortune and fame, becoming miniature versions of gods on Earth, i.e., stars, I enjoyed the realistic premise of this book. However, the plot in Catch the Moon, Mary is not predictable and gets more profound as the story unfolds.

Catch the Moon, Mary is gracefully written. I was immediately caught up in the poetic writing style of this author. From the first sentence, I was pulled into brilliant prose and description that made reading easy. I felt part of Mary’s world because the writing was like feeling the music, not just reading it. As a poet, I love this. The entire book is written with this kind of artistic expression. The author is unique in her descriptions, so that not one sentence is ordinary. Waters does not just tell us the sun is rising, but that “suddenly, the sky was rimmed with yellow flame as dawn cracked over the horizon like an egg.” She does not just tell us Mary’s music is good, but that, “her music pulsating like breath.”

I was not a fan of the musical notes used instead of Chapter Headings, but it makes sense, given the author’s writing style. As I said, this author is no ordinary writer!

Plot Movement / Strength: 5/5

Entertainment Factor: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Catch the Moon, Mary is available now on Amazon


My book review registry is OPEN. To learn more about my registry be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here.

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.

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author VALI BENSON

Introduce Yourself is back! Please help me extend a warm welcome to VALI BENSON. Vali, welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Vali Benson. I was born in Champaign, Illinois, the home of the University of Illinois. After graduating from U of I, I decided to go west to get away from the brutal winter weather. I now live in Tucson, AZ, where I am very happy with my husband, two sons, and grandchildren.

Brutal is right! I am from Chicago so you ain’t never lied there. Vali, got a favorite drink?

Iced tea is my favorite drink, but it has to be super sweet. When I am writing, I need my sweet iced tea. Oddly enough, I do not like ice in my iced tea, and I always chuckle when I hear someone refer to the drink as “Ice” tea. As far as cocktails are concerned, I love a spicy Bloody Mary.

Nice. Favorite food?

My favorite food is escargots. Growing up in Illinois, I would have never dreamed that I would say that, but I absolutely love them. The first time I had escargots was on my honeymoon, and the only reason I did it was that I didn’t want to appear unsophisticated to my new husband. Thank heaven I had no idea what they were at first, or else I would never have tried them.

Pick up your copy of Blood and Silver from Amazon. Click Here.

Let’s talk about writing. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?

My first book, Blood and Silver, was published on April 3, 2020. To be honest, it was surreal. I had completed a lifelong dream of putting my ideas and feelings into an actual book for others to consume. I was numb and excited. At the same time, it was extremely frightening because my innermost thoughts were now fair game for all to criticize. I still cannot believe that I can call myself a published author.

That is awesome. Congratulations and welcome to the world of publishing. That Blood and Silver cover is dope!

What genre do you write in, why?

I generally prefer to write young adult fiction. This is probably because that genre had such an impact on me as a girl. I was not the most confident child, so when I could read about fictional characters that were around my age, it made me feel secure. If my books can instill others with those valued feelings of pride, confidence, and acceptance, I know I will have done my job.

Wonderful. What do you wish you knew more about?

I dearly wish I was more tech-savvy. Computers and I have never really gotten along, but I am sad to say that I am being left behind by the changing times. The day has come when I have had to admit that technology no longer consists of luxury; it exists as a necessity. I better start swimming, or I’ll sink like a stone.

Do you have a favorite color Val?

Blue has always been my favorite color. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I have blue eyes, but I think it is because I am a believer in infinite possibilities. When I was a girl, there was nothing more infinite to me than the big bright blue sky.

Blue is a beautiful color. We love sharing historical fun facts on this blog. Who would you say is your favorite Historical figure?

Jacqueline Kennedy. She was so much more than just First Lady of the United States. Of all her accomplishments, it is her character that I admire most. The way she handled the traumatic events surrounding her husband’s death with the whole world staring at her still amazes me. Her grace, poise, and dignity amid unimaginable catastrophe is something all people, not just women, should aspire to emulate.

Beautifully articulated. What do you think of the world we live in?

The world we live in is truly what we make of it. It all depends on perspective. I choose to be positive and focus on what I cherish in my life and not worry about the elements that are out of my control. One factor to remember is that advancements around our world might change, but people and human nature do not.

What don’t you like about yourself?

Ever since I was a little girl, I have let others’ opinions affect me more than they should. I do not like that I put so much stock in what others think of me. The great thing is, I am getting better at only worrying about how I view myself.

What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?

I love so many funny movies, and comedies are my favorite genre. But one that sticks out to me is Tropic Thunder from 2008. The performances are completely hilarious, and the writing is pure genius, but the film always conjures good vibes. The first time I saw Tropic Thunder, I really needed some cheering up, and it did exactly that. Plus, a bald Tom Cruise in a fat suit always cracks me up!

What is the worst advice you’ve ever been given?

Have low expectations for yourself so you won’t be disappointed.

I’ve heard that one before too…

I understand, in theory, what the person was trying to convey, and they meant well, but the advice was directed at my own performance. It gave me the feeling that no matter what I did, it would not be good enough, so why even try. The adage goes, “If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will either.” It was a long time before I believed in myself due to this piece of warped advice.

Thank you Valie for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Author Photo: Vali Benson

Bio.

Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion for writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine, before she decided to try her hand at fiction. She grew up in the Midwest and now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons, and two grandchildren.

Be Sure to Follow this Author Online!


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE


Dying on my Feet: Why I Write (A Message)

Last week, I asked for support of Black-Owned Businesses in a campaign that runs from June 19, 2020 (today) through July 6, 2020. I added that those who RSVP to join the campaign, called My Black Receipt, will be in the running to win a free signed copy of one of my books.

I got no support and no email with an RSVP screenshot for a free book.

What I Got:

  • 6 email unsubscribes
  • 2 Abuse Complaints
  • 1 Nasty Email Reply

I was told I was discriminating against other races and religions and that I had gone “too far,” for asking people to support black-owned businesses.

Instead of talk about that, I thought I’d re-introduce myself. I realize some of you are new to me, so you may not fully understand the extent of my work.

Atlanta African American Book Festival | Georgia State University circa July 2018. Copyright © Yecheilyah Books LLC

My passion for the state of my people isn’t something that sprang up while watching protests on the news. I am not a “jump on the bandwagon,” kind of person. Supporting black people and black businesses is something I have done for many years. For me, it’s not about “white vs. black.” It has never been. It is about good vs. evil and right vs. wrong.

I write Black Historical Fiction and Poetry. My work targets black readers and aims to raise the consciousness of all people interested in understanding the plight of Black America.

The reason I say “Black America” is because Israelites/Blacks/African Americans have lived a different experience than the rest of the World, and for years that experience has been virtually unknown to non-black people. My goal is to expose those unknowns and free the mind of the black man, woman, and child.

I strive to manifest the restoration of the forgotten past to a forgotten people through book publishing and education.

In doing so, I hope my books can provide a roadmap for all people who find it difficult to be liberated in their own lives. I understand this isn’t easy to do considering the level of misinformation, deception, and religious ideologies that have enslaved us for so long.

I believe that faith without works is dead, so being actively involved is fundamental to me. Black readers are those I target and have targeted long before the Black Lives Matter movement. We are the people for whom my books are written, and these are our stories.

Those familiar with my work understand this statement by no means alienates other nationalities of people.

In the words of the Messiah Yahoshua, who I believe was a black man, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel .” (Matt. 15:24) It is to the lost sheep first and then to the nations. I believe black people are those lost sheep, and before I can liberate the minds of non-black people, I must work to free the black mind first.

I won’t apologize for this.

I have promoted people of all races, belief systems, and countries on this blog and social media, but I have also spoken about my love for black people. Anyone surprised about this either has not been paying attention or doesn’t know me very well and, therefore, are not members of my targeted audience.

And that’s okay.

I am not worried about those who leave because I would rather “die on my feet than live on my knees.” I would rather lose support standing for what I believe in than to sell myself short for a pat on the back. In the words of MLK, who so many non-black people are so apt to quote, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

For anyone to say my request for support of black businesses is abusive and discriminatory is proof of the very abuse and racial discrimination blacks face every day from people who do not understand what it’s like and what it means to be “black” in America.


My Book Sale is Live!

Click Here and get all my Black Historical Fiction books and poetry for 99cents each from Amazon.

Want a signed paperback?

Get it with FREE shipping from now through July 7th.

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.

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

When I started this blog and chose “truth is stranger than fiction,” as the tagline, it was puzzling to people. Someone even reached out to correct, me, saying, “don’t you mean the truth is stronger than fiction?”

No. Stranger is the word I meant.

What it seeks to communicate is that nothing we can create can be as unusual as what we find in actual life, and speaks metaphorically of the unsettling realness of truth—the “strangeness” of reality. You think something is weird until you find out just how deep the rabbit hole goes. You think my blog name and the tagline is strange until you understand what it means.

Everything that is happening right now, I could quickly put in a novel. Except, there is no story I can conjure up that would be equivalent to the real-life terror that blacks face and have faced every day in this country.

As someone who writes Black Historical Fiction, there is a strangeness about what’s going on because what happened in the 60s is still happening. And as I place my fictional characters amid events that actually happened, I realize that I am a character in the present world, a world that mirrors the one passed. Our children and their children will read about what happened this year, and they will ask the question, “what was it like living in a world with civil unrest because of the mistreatment of blacks during a pandemic?”

The first five months of 2020 have been brutal on every level, and we are living in what will one day be part of America’s history, and it must not be lost to us that we are part of that history.

If America were a house, racism would be the foundation on which this house sits. People don’t want to hear that many of the founding fathers were slave-owners. They don’t want to hear about the Slave Patrols turned southern police departments. People don’t want to hear that dismantling systemic racism means to dismantle that system. And people certainly do not want to hear about the spiritual connections between the afflictions blacks have endured, their real identity and heritage, and their place in America.

But there is no one way of looking at everything that’s going on, but this is also what makes writing a powerful tool for shedding light on these truths, exposing prejudices, and breaking down barriers, and eventually whole systems.

Everyone can’t be on the ground. I won’t say “on the front lines,” because I don’t believe there is one way to be on the front lines. The term comes from the military line or part of an army that is closest to the enemy. To be on the “front line” means to be closeted to the enemy, which is usually depicted as physically facing him. But there are other ways to face the enemy, and one way is to write with accuracy.

Write the truth. Write it as raw and as bloody as it is in real life. Pass down stories to the next generation that will teach them the truth about who they are. Take Toni Morrison, for example, who in the 60s and 70s chose to publish the books of black writers telling the truth and exposing lies. Books play a significant role in educating a people, and miseducation has a lot to do with what is and is not, written in books.

Writers are, therefore, also on the front lines and in a powerful way. In the words of Nina Simone, “you can’t help it. As far as I’m concerned, an artist’s duty is to reflect the times.” 

As devastating as things are right now, what black writers write today, be it a poem or blog post or scholarly article, can make a difference in the next world.

In this 99th year of the destruction of Black Wall Street, I am thinking about ways to improve my fiction, poetry, and other writings to provide a better historical context and learning experience for the next generation.

I hope I can adequately contextualize it in a way that clearly communicates what today’s world was like for those who lived it.


Be Sure to Pick Up Your Copy of my Black Historical Fiction Series, The Stella Trilogy and to leave a review on Amazon. Click Here.