T.J. Hope - Author & Poet 

                         "It's not the cards life deals that makes you, it's the way you play them!"  

Kareem’s Mercedes


Short Story 

by: TJ Hope


     Chapter 1


Kareem


     It was an abnormally cold night. I watched from my second story window as various people passed. I am always entertained by the creative outfits we South Floridians come up with when it gets cold outside.
     I quickly glanced at my cell phone to observe how many agonizing minutes I’d been on the phone. My phone display read thirty-three minutes. Damn.

     The boring conversation I was having with Monique disgusted me. It was crazy, any man would love to have her. She was the absolute definition of a BBW.
      The first time I saw her, she'd entered with a crew of three cuties, but she stood out as the Boss. She had the car keys, that sported a foreign, exotic, luxury logo.
     Her skin reminded me of mocha chocolate, I bet she tasted like it too.

     I noticed she wore a simple black dress that seemed to be drawn on her. Her curvaceous frame seemed to move in slow motion, my trance only broken by the click of her red bottom heels on the club's marble floor, as she reached the bar.
     She was the type I loved to conquest. The hard to get ones. The ones most men are intimidated by. The type I knew I would have to spend some cash and time on. The type that would be worth it. 
     Although her dress was simple, her jewelry was not. I  am not a stranger to fine, expensive jewelry and could see the blues and yellows dancing off the diamonds on her ears, wrists and fingers.

     Those weren’t cubic zirconia or those fake ass crystals chicks be wearing trying to pass off as diamonds.
     I wondered what she did for a living.

     Was she was a made girl or a paid girl?

     More importantly, I bet she looked great naked and could imagine having her legs in the air.

     I calmed myself outwardly, appearing to not focus on her as I slowly sipped my Remy Martin Louis XIII.


Chapter 2


     An hour had passed.

     I’d been striking up various conversations with people that passed my table that I knew from around the way.

     I wanted to appear to be both social and distracted. But, the conversations nor the Louis XIII had clouded my judgment.

     I wanted her.
     I’d watched as the few guys who dared approach her, had been ignored or turned away. A Challenge! I was so up for it.
     I saw my opportunity as ‘Back That Ass Up’ by Juvenile, a Hip Hop Twerk Classic, crunk up on the disc jockey’s speakers. The other three young women hurried off to the dance floor leaving her to babysit the purses and drinks.
     I slid into the seat next to her, not giving her any attention.

     I signaled for the bartender to bring me another cognac. I made a special show of my own blues and yellows both on my Presidential Rolex watch and on my diamond encrusted ring.
     I then acted as if I just noticed her.

     I took a closer look for some type of imperfection. My experience with women was that pointing them out on the really pretty ones, brought out both their insecurities and vulnerabilities. 

     There it was, a fresh pimple she’d tried to cover up with make-up. Monique noticed me looking at her and put on her attitude, “Why are you looking at me like that?”

     I made a special show of looking directly at her pimple.

     "That makeup ain’t making it no better, that’s all I’m gon’ say.” I said.

     I then turned back around in my seat and bopped my head to the music.

     Monique looked at me amazed. She knew how attractive she was.

     She could have any man she wanted at any time and here I was talking about one damn pimple. Who in the hell did I think I was is what she must have been thinking.

     She moved closer to me so I could hear her over the music, “What do you think you know about skin care?”

     I rebutted quickly, “I know you don’t need that shit. That’s probably the reason you breaking out now.”

     I continued to act uninterested, still sipping my cognac and bopping my head to the music. 

     “Hmmm, maybe you’re right.” She agreed. 

     She took quick notice of how I was dressed and my jewels that were competing with hers on a level few could.

     “Are you here alone,” she asked genuinely interested in this mystery man that wasn’t like every other guy in the club that was trying to bed her.

     Shit. At least that’s what she thought.

    We started a conversation. I waited until the conversation got at its most interesting peak, looked at my watch and broke in.

   “Damn, you know what, I just ain’t feelin’ this spot no more.” I stood up to leave.

   "Oh… Okay,” Monique said, confused that a man was here in front of her not trying to soak up her every word. She continued, “well, I’d really like to continue this conversation.”

     She recited her telephone number for me to add to my cell phone contacts. Jackpot! I was excited as hell inside.

     Three dates and twelve-hundred dollars later, I’d finally romanced myself into her body. Only she was a dead fish. She thought the fact that she was a hell of a sight to see naked meant that she didn’t need to work.

     I hate a lazy woman in bed.
     The last time I hit it, it was just something easy to do on a horny night.

     But, somehow Monique had concluded that we were a couple now. She wanted us to start meeting each other’s families and taking trips and shit.

     I didn't know how to tell her. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Also, she was fine as hell, a shining arm piece.


Chapter 3


     “Kareem!” Monique yelled into the phone agitated, snapping me out of my thoughts, “Did you hear me?” 

     “Naw, my bad,” I said nonchalantly looking back out the window as more people passed. 

     I thought about how the outside of my apartment was such a contrast to the inside.

     Growing up in a drug-trafficking family, had kept me close to the hood. Still, I did not compromise on expenses.

     My apartment included the finest of everything. I had converted it from a two bedroom to a one bedroom luxury suite.

     I’d had a Jacuzzi tub installed and walk-in closets custom built to accommodate my massive wardrobe. I knew I should leave this neighborhood, but the reason I couldn’t came into my view.
     I watched Mercedes from my second story window.

     It was crazy after how much had changed that I still held special feelings for her. My hood wealth had made me a local celebrity of sorts, which afforded me many available, willing women.
     I have a problem, I can admit it. I'm genuinely interested in most of them, but after I hit it they just aren't as interesting anymore.

     Then, I'm out and off to conquer the next beauty that caught my eyes.
     But Mercedes had been different. Her beauty was different than the women I usually went after. She held inner beauty, her heart was genuine and rare. She had something that other women lacked.

     She wasn’t superficial. She wasn’t caught up in the trends of long weaves and silicon injected asses.

     She remained true to herself. She had values.

     Values that have somehow trapped me into loving a woman I could never have.
     We’d known each other since High School and although so much had changed, deep down she was the only woman I could ever be true to.

     She was the one my heart wouldn’t let go of. I could never have her because she wanted no part of the competition of other woman.

     Through her resistance we had become and remained close friends.

     She took me to a different level, gave me hope. We had deep conversation, always interesting, it never got old with her.
     She was currently dating a guy named Freddy that I couldn’t stand. A bum that beats her.

     She denied that he beat her, but every time I saw her she had a new injury and a new excuse as to how it happened. I’d already had to beat Freddy’s ass twice about putting his hands on my love. But, Mercedes had both times gone back to him and made me look like a hater.

     I didn’t want to catch a case for damn near killing Freddy. I figure I’d get locked up and they’d still be together. So, I backed off.
     But, I hadn’t seen her since, which was weird.

     It had been a few months.

     I had been sitting by that window whenever I had an opportunity to hopefully catch a glimpse of her and there she was with her backed turned.

     I knew that stand, that walk anywhere.


Chapter 4

     

     Monique rambled on. I interrupted her.

     “Monique, let me call you back later.”

     “Why? I’m trying to tell you something and it’s like your mind is somewhere else. What do you have to do?” 

     I didn’t have time for this. I needed to get down there to see Mercedes.

     “I gotta take care of something, I’ll call you back.

     I disconnected the call and rushed to my room to grab my leather jacket to go down to talk to her. 

     But when I peeked out the window before going down, Freddy had arrived and they were already together walking away. Mercedes’s head turned around and looked directly at me, as if she knew I’d been watching.
     Freddy followed her gaze and saw me at the window.

     He grabbed her arm roughly to signal it was time for them to leave.

     Now, that’s that shit I don’t like.

     They turned and started to quickly walk away.
     I didn’t give a damn about Freddy showing up. I hadn’t seen my love in a while and I was going to check on her. I hurried out of my apartment and made it to the elevator just as it was closing.

     Damn.

     I jogged the long hall around to the stairs and ran down. I burst out into the cool air and zipped my jacket. I saw no sign of them.

     Damn.
     I decided to walk in the direction I last saw them going. Maybe I could get a glimpse of them.

     I’d already walked six blocks, no sign of them.

     I decided to take a detour down an alleyway to go to a convenience store on the next block.

     I just needed at that moment to have a destination. Anything to take my mind off of Mercedes.
     Midway through the alleyway, I heard a whisper. My hand went to my gun involuntarily; in case I was about to be robbed again.

     Then the whisper came a little louder and much clearer.

     “Kareem.”

     I looked in the direction of the whisper, and saw her. My love.

     She was there crying and bleeding, the results of a fresh beating.
     As I got closer, I saw that her pretty face didn’t look the same.

     Her eyes were blackened permanently, from all the beatings. Underneath her eyes looked like baggy sockets. She had two scars that looked like they derived from her face being stitched.
     I immediately felt sick something that never happened to me. But, seeing her there hurt made my stomach twirl. I would have done anything, given anything to make her pain go away.

     It was cold. I took my leather jacket off and wrapped it around her. 

     I was hot from the adrenaline pumping in me for what I was going to do to Freddy when I caught up with him.
     Mercedes limped for the first three blocks back to my apartment, so I decided to carry her the remaining three.

     I was out of breath when we arrived back at my building. The elevator was there and available.

     I set her down gently on her feet, so that I could press the button marked two to get us to the second floor.

    As the elevator arrived at my floor, I picked her up again and headed for my apartment.

    We didn’t get far before I noticed Monique standing in front of my door. I kept walking towards it, I needed to get Mercedes inside and cleaned up.
     I approached the door boldly maybe this was my way out with Monique. She shouldn’t have come unannounced.

     I ignored her and placed Mercedes down on her feet, leaning her against the wall as I fetched my door key from my jeans’ pocket.

     “Oh, you just gon’ act like you don’t see me standing here, Kareem!” Monique screamed through a voice soaked with pain.

     “I told you that I had to take care of something. What the hell you doing here? I told you never come to my house unannounced. This is not the time.” I said turned off by Monique’s desperation.

     “Oh, this is going to be the fucking time right now! Who the fuck is this?” She screamed.

     “Girl, lower your damn voice, I don’t owe you no explanations,” I said.

     I picked Mercedes up again and carried her into my apartment to lie on my white, Italian Microfiber couch. The same couch I’d previously told Monique that I didn’t let anyone sit on.

     Monique followed us inside.

     Mercedes’s appearance was horrible. Monique observed her and wondered why I was treating her like gold.

     “Is this one of your relatives or something?” she asked.

     “This is the one I love now get your ass out of my place! Don’t call me no more this shit is over!” I yelled at her.

     I really had no feelings for her anyway and just wanted her out of both my apartment and my life.

     Monique stood still, she couldn’t storm out or curse me out because she really needed to tell me something. Here I was treating her like a piece of ass.

     Now I realize that me treating her that way with Mercedes present is what stopped her from telling me about her butch girlfriend Wanda, that went by the street name Won.


Chapter 5


     Won looked like a man and was the undercover brains of bringing down a lot of successful, wealthy men in the area.

     She had long money and a ruthless squad.

     She sends her most attractive women out to pick up the most successful men, they always had targets.

     The women would get the men sexually compromised and then they would rob them. They weren’t petty thieves; they didn’t just take what was in the pockets. They’d bring in goons that robbed for kilograms of dope stashes, private security boxes, safes and bonds.

     They robbed for real wealth. They carefully researched their targets and then executed their plans.
     Unbeknownst to me, I’d been on that list for a while. I hadn’t fallen into the trap until now. The plan had been thrown off because I didn’t take Monique home that first night we met at the club.

     I then had no way of knowing this, I’d slept with her three times and still hadn’t been robbed.

     Monique had developed special feelings for me and had asked Won if I could be excused.

     Won had grown angry and given Monique a spanking on her naked, magnificent ass with a leather studded belt. Then, the plan was formed to do a home invasion and kill me.
     Won was very jealous and wanted every girl to love only her. Monique was told that either I died or she did. Won felt that if Monique wouldn’t handle the job, she would.

     Monique had reluctantly given up all the details of where I lived and how my building was set-up. Won was getting her goons together to pay me a very brutal, deadly visit.
     I knew none of this. I looked at Monique wondering why in the hell she was just standing there looking stupid. I went over and opened my apartment door wider and motioned for Monique to leave.

     “I’m trying to save some part of your dignity Monique, come on baby girl you got to go. Shit serious here right now.”

     Now I realize that the look she gave me meant that I didn’t know just how serious things were about to get. She must have thought that I would get exactly what I deserved.

     She took a deep breath, as she wiped her tear stained face. She forced her head up high and walked out and away.

     I stood there to watch her sexy ass as she trotted off, she was a sight to see.

     I thought it was strange that she never looked back. She must have figured I’d be dead in a few hours anyway.

     I was glad she was gone, my attention immediately drawn back to my love and getting her as comfortable as possible.

     I was running Mercedes a hot, bubble bath when I heard Freddy’s bum ass outside my front door screaming about how much he loved Mercedes and how they are soulmates.
     I’m not going to lie. The shit was pissing me off. Freddy talked for about five minutes about how he’d never hurt her again and how she knew he needed help. He promised to get that help. I had heard enough and was heading out to jump on him for how he beat Mercedes.

     “Please,” whispered Mercedes through a cracked voice, “don’t hurt him. He doesn’t mean this. He is going through some things and -- ”

     “Going through some things? What about what he taking you through? He beating you, messing up your pretty face. Come on Baby you deserve better than this. You told me you wanted simple and happy ..."

     She looked up at me with doe like eyes that caused my heart to bleed.

     I continued, "... this shit you in ain’t simple nor happy. You don’t have to go out there. You can stay here with me. I’ll take care of you. No other women. No games. Just us. Simple and happy.” I said pleading with her to be mine and let me show her that I’d give up everything in my world to be with her.

     “Nothing will ever be simple in your life, Kareem,” she said with a sad smile. “I really have to go. If you make me stay in here he’ll be out there all night.”

     I knew her statement was accurate, as I’d just heard Freddy proclaim loudly that I should come on out and kick his ass to get it over with because he was not leaving without Mercedes.

     I had the brief thought of just going out there and killing him. But, I knew then I’d hurt Mercedes. She deeply loved that clown. 

     She was the one woman I could never hurt by any means.

     I couldn’t understand. what it was she saw in Freddy.

     I envied him. He had somehow gotten to her heart. All my years of trying, I could never win her.
     The realization came to me that it was time to let go of it all. Let go of this neighborhood. Let go of this lifestyle. Let go of my Mercedes.

     I went over and opened the door. Freddy stood there with his faded jeans and fake jewelry looking like a victim. He lunged forward quickly then caught himself as he remembered how I’d beat him to a bloody pulp on our last encounter.
    I didn’t even flinch, just looked at Freddy with a ‘I wish you would’ look and then glanced over at Mercedes.

     She slowly rose from the couch and hobbled out the door and over to Freddy.

     They embraced.

     That shit made my stomach do flips then go into knots.

     I closed my door, once again bruised by the only woman who could touch my deepest emotion.


Chapter Five


     Pandora came to life over my Bluetooth speaker as I undressed to take a hot shower. I just wanted to wash away that day’s fiascos. So much had transpired within such a short amount of time.

     I thought of calling Monique back, maybe I had been too rough on her.

     Fuck that.

     No, I didn’t want her or care, it was only the pain talking from the new loss of finally letting Mercedes go.
     I’m not sure if it was the loud music, the jumbled thoughts, or the fresh wound to my heart that stifled me from hearing the four men dressed in black, quietly making their way to my apartment.

     Quietly making their way to steal my wealth and then torture me until all safe codes and passwords were given up and then put me into eternal sleep.

     I guess they didn’t realize I wasn’t sleepy.
     I did hear the loud thud as my apartment door was kicked in, followed by the distinguished sound of guns being cocked getting them ready to be fired.

     I knew it wasn’t police, as I’d heard no one identifying themselves. Cops always made it known that they were cops.

     I saw this clearly as a robbery.
     My mind quickly transformed from fog to surviva.

     I jumped my naked body from the shower and grabbed my illegal, M1911 .45 semi-automatic handgun from the holster attached to my jeans, lying on the bathroom tiles.

     In this neighborhood, I thought this would have happened long ago. I lay waiting to spray the first man that was brave enough to first enter my apartment hallway.

     The reign of bullets had already left my semi-automatic when I realized my target was unintended.


Chapter Six


    I wanted to run over to try to save her but her body already seemed lifeless as it collided with the floor.

    That awful image was followed by a barrage of bullets released by Won’s team of goons.

    This was evidenced both by the bullet holes in my hallway walls, bathroom door and one lodged in my chest, the other in my left arm.
     I had no idea that Monique had phoned Won about Mercedes. Monique was envious and thought that Mercedes should be punished along with me.

     Freddy and Mercedes had been intercepted by Won’s goons. Once they understood how much I loved her, they were going to use her against me. I thought Mercedes and Freddy were long gone..

     “I’ll never forgive myself for unleashing the bullets that killed her, but it was the circumstances of that night that caused her death. There should also be charges against Monique, Won & Freddy as we each contributed in our own way to the untimely death of my love,” I stated to the crowded courtroom.

     I looked at the jury who held my life in their hands.

     It was ironic that it wasn’t until I gave her up, that I truly lost her.

     She was the one woman I would have never intentionally hurt; yet was the only woman I had ever killed.

     Life didn’t seem as important anymore. Whether I continued life in or outside of prison, I would definitely be continuing it without my Mercedes.