“Captain Drexel, I’m unsure how until I know the situation on planet. Riley’s a sneaky bastard. He allowed himself to be taken into custody. I can’t conceive of a man like him doing that without a reason, can you?”
“No, sir, I can’t. Everything I know about Riley says he’ll run when he has to and fight when he’s cornered. Not a man to give up easily.”
“It’ll be dawn soon on planet. It’s darker than three shades of hell down there. They were going to come back once they had enough light to navigate.”
Drexel nodded. “If you need anything, call me.”
“Will do, Captain Drexel. Thank you.”
The Warrant Officer disconnected at just the right moment. Drexel let out a deep exhalation.
“Damn! That was about as close as I’ve had to come lately to blowing someone to smithereens!” Shaking his head and laughing, he muttered to himself. “Wil’s here. I’ll be damned.”
“Is that what everyone’s going to think, Letasha?”
“Probably, honey. Your man should have a Surgeon General’s warning on him cause he’s smokin’ hot. They’re gonna think the worst, more’s the pity. Johnny’s a really nice guy. He’s been a good friend to my cousin Beau, helped him get out of trouble more than once. He’s one thing most men aren’t—noble.”
“I don’t care what they think of me,” I told her. “They can think I’m sleeping with him if they want, but I don’t like them saying bad things about him.”
“Certain people excite comment, you know that. Johnny’s an enigma, people wonder about him. He keeps to himself, but has been seen with the wrong element. People will chat. Personally, I’d like to poison their drinking water, but I’ll settle for involuntary birth control.”
“Letasha, you’re harsh, you know that?” I giggled despite my anger.
She tossed her curly, dark hair, her brown eyes glittering. A smile graced her full lips and a muscle twitched in her dark cheek.
“Stay as long as you like! We’ll hold down the fort. Enjoy a little time to yourself, darling. That’s what this is all about, after all.” Her voice dropped suddenly. “If you stay a little longer, we’ll understand. Enjoy the company of a handsome man for awhile.”
“Yes, Mom. Thanks for the advice.” She sounded rather terse.
“No need to bite my head off, Saranda Jade. He’s dreamy.”
“I hadn’t noticed.” She tried to sound casual as she got out of the Cayenne.
“Oh, of course. He’s totally not your type at all.”
Jade giggled. “Okay, so I noticed. But don’t you think that’s….”
“Yes, I suppose it would cloud things. At least you’ll have good conversation.”
Meanwhile, just a few blocks away in front of a laundromat, Cassandra was hunting for new clothes. In most people’s eyes, she was loaded but in reality, she was asset rich and cash poor. She couldn’t just walk into a store and pay with her jewelry, no matter how nice and expensive it was. So in essence she was broke, so Casssandra did what she always did when she was broke, she stole. First, she cased the joint for security guards but only found surveillance cameras on the outside of the building as well at the register. The rest of the place was free of interference. Relieved, she began looking for women who were about her size and observed their alertness. The last thing she needed was someone putting up a fight. However as she scanned the place, Cassandra noticed only one woman who fit the bill and she seemed to be a young woman with three small children. It didn’t feel right, so Cassandra decided to make it right. Sitting in one of the plastic neon orange chairs near her target, she began taking off her diamond earrings. She figured they were worth around $10,000, way more than anything this woman owned and slipped them into the woman’s purse. With the flick of the wrist, Cassandra slid the goods into the woman’s bag and began her scheme.
Appearing to be busy on her phone, Cassandra patiently waited for the woman to be distracted and it didn’t take long when her kids began fighting. Completely overwhelmed, the woman snatched one of the boys by the arm and began yelling. As she did, the baby next to her started crying. The woman sighed and commanded, “Come on!” as she headed off to the lady’s restroom. It was the diaper change sent from the gods, and without arousing any suspicion, Cassandra went over to the dryer and plucked out a damp t-shirt with a pair of jeans from the load. Then without saying a word, she left the laundromat before the woman could return. When she got to her car, she began putting on the lavender peasant top and cropped blue jeans. Now the look was complete, no one would ever think of looking for her driving a dirty SUV while dressed in Boxmart style clothes. Even though she wasn’t dressed like her normal attire, it was still way better than the sweaty and dirty evening gown that she was nearly murdered in. When Cassandra got to the nearest Mc Restaurant, she threw the gown in the dumpster. Smelling the food inside her stomach growled. It had been over 6 hours since she last ate and though it would kill her family to know that she was eating food cooked under a heat lamp, it was cheap and convenient.
None of that mattered because she still had no money, and the only thing Cassandra had left to give away was her engagement ring. There was no way she would ever part with that. So she had to find another way. Looking through her purse, she desperately looked for anything but all she had was makeup, tissues and gum. Then her phone vibrated. Looking at the screen, Cassandra noticed the call had a local area code with an unfamiliar number. She knew better than to answer. In fact, she knew what to do next, she had to pawn the phone. But before she did that, Cassandra deleted all the contact info as well as all the apps. She had another phone in her suitcase, she wasn’t going to miss this one. Before Cassandra left the restaurant, she looked around for a fencer. Usually, they hustled on corners or in parking lots. She knew there would be interest in her phone because it was brand new and had a brand named. Scouring the block for her new buyer, she noticed a man in front of a gas station. Checking him out, she noticed he was dressed in a newish football jersey and jeans so he wasn’t homeless. Cautiously, she scanned the block to make sure he wasn’t a cop. Cassandra couldn’t see any unusual cars parked on the street and decided to take the risk. Casually, she walked over to him and smiled then, asked for the time. Returning the smile he said, “Baby, I got all the time in the world.” It was the corniest thing she had ever heard, and couldn’t help but roll her eyes. Seeing the ice had been broken, she straight up asked him, “Hey, I’m looking to unload a phone, is there a pawn shop ‘round here?”
“Naw, baby girl, but lemme look.”
From a distance she held up the phone and his eyes bulged, “That’s the new Andromeda 10!” Hearing the excitement in his voice, Cassandra asked, “Yeah, you interested?” And before you knew it, she had closed the deal and scored an extra $40 in her pocket. It wasn’t a lot but enough for food and little bit of gas for her ride. With this Cassandra ordered her McSlop which she ate in the car because she was too embarrassed to eat inside. As she inhaled her food, Cassandra wondered about her next move. It was the first time in nearly 8 hours she had time to sit down and think. She could flee the country but she had to do it quickly before she was named a suspect or a person of interest by law enforcement. And since she stuck a gun in a cop’s face, they were more likely to just book her on that. Then there was Stephano’s killers, she would have to deal with them sooner or later. She needed to get her hands on Danny Marchesi, the man who ruined her life and took Stephano’s. Angry, all Cassandra could do was fantasize about what she would do with him and his crew once she got a hold of them. But for now, she was just some chick in a fast food parking lot and wasn’t riding with any crew. In fact, she had to assume that everyone had turned on her. It was the safest thing to do.
Feeling all alone, the tears streamed down her face but Cassandra decided to shut that part of her brain down in order to survive. She needed to survive this attack on her life, Casssandra needed to survive the police and their bullshit, and more importantly, she needed to survive for Stephano. She was the only one who could deliver justice for him now. With her mind already made up, she threw what was left of her lunch out of the window and started the car. It was reckoning time.
Thank you for following along with the Fedelta series, if you need to get caught up here are the first two posts:
I shared this somewhere a year or so ago, but it’s always fun to share it again.
I have many outstanding Easter memories. Of course, pictures my mother took help to remind me of this very special day. When I was four, we lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We have a picture of my sister and me dressed in our Easter dresses, complete with straw hats and white gloves. Of course, the gloves weren’t very white by the time we got back from church. The picture my mother has of us that year, had to have been taken before we left for church that morning, because we are both still clean. We were good on the way to church, but coming home, we always cut through Longfellow Park. It was a favorite haunt of ours. My sister and I used to pick every dandelion we could find, and take bouquets of them home. The gooey juice from them stained our gloves, forever discoloring them. The next year, I notice in the picture, my mother didn’t buy gloves for either of us.
Probably my most cherished memory was immortalized on film. When we were living in Lubbock, Texas, we spent Easter one year with my mother’s friend. She had a huge, extended family. Lots of brothers and sisters, one of whom had eleven girls and one boy. Six of the girls were theirs, the rest were foster children.
Anyway, her brother-in-law had just bought an 8mm camera and was determined to film every moment of Easter Sunday. Featured in the events were a barbecue on a huge grill, and an Easter egg hunt with plastic eggs full of candy. I was the youngest one there, so several of his daughters helped me find eggs. I had an enormous basket full of every color you can imagine. I ran around all over the place with that basket, miraculously not dropping any eggs until I got inside.
Somewhere in the house, probably through the back door, there was a recessed area of floor. I’m not sure why the house was built like this, but I think it was a mud room that had a drain in the concrete floor. In any case, I found this area fascinating. Every time I visited, I jumped across the recessed part. It was just far enough to be exciting ,and not so far that I fell.
I remember running in the house to show them all my eggs, when I got to that spot. Leaping as usual, I flew across the section of concrete with a huge arc of eggs cascading from my basket. A shining, shimmering rainbow of plastic eggs followed me across. It must have been an amazing sight!
Little did I know that the man of the house had captured me on film! At the next visit to their home, he had the film in the projector to show us. He had carefully cut and spliced it himself, showing us a panoramic view of the day, complete with his commentary – delivered much like Howard Cossell.
As the finale, you guessed it! Dellani’s famous acrobatic event! He ran it first in regular time. Then he ran the film backwards. We all laughed as the eggs one by one leaped back into my basket. Next, he ran the movie in slow motion and we watched as each plastic projectile launched itself from the wicker confines, scattering on the floor. Then he ran it in fast motion. Between each showing, he backed it up, and we laughed hysterically as the eggs picked themselves up, leaping back into my basket.
I wonder what became of that film. I like to hope that the family kept it, laughing at it for years to come. It was over forty years ago, but I still remember like it was yesterday.
“Have we met? You look really familiar. I have this feeling of déjà-vu, like I knew you long ago.”
I cleared my throat, shaking back my hair. I could hardly breathe when those blue eyes focused fully on me. “I—uh—I was in school here. Seems like ages ago.”
“Yes. Go Rillas!” I giggled, sounding like a little girl. Suddenly, I’d reverted to the breathless, silly co-ed of nearly 15 years ago.
He chuckled. “I know I’ve seen you before. A face like yours… I couldn’t forget.”
My fingers fluttered to my burning cheeks. His scrutiny was too much for a woman like me. I never did well with male attention. Even though I carry a gun and badge, a handsome, confident man can still make me revert to the shrinking violet.
“I hope that’s a good thing.”
He handed me my key card with a gentle smile, his blue eyes caressing my face. “It’s a very good thing. It will come to me. Enjoy your stay, Ms. Houston.”