Mul-Ty’s I’ve Been Looking for Love, flowed from my Hummer’s stereo, his smooth voice making me smile wider as I churned up I-55. Hell, I was in a great mood! I had an appointment with a new client who said she had a big problem. I loved it when they said big problem. Big problems meant big money.
I cranked the music up and let the windows down, deciding to share some of Mul-Ty’s flavor with the great folks of Jackson, MS. I knew it was ghetto of me, but sometimes you just want be ghet-to.
I slow-danced in the driver’s seat, my body writhing in moves long unpracticed as the wind whipped through my hair, ruffled it up as I ran through the list of things I’d have to do before our “scenario” tonight with Les Hatcher.
Les Hatcher. What a piece of work this dude was. His wife, Barbie, had hired us to track him since she was well aware he was having an affair. She just wanted to know the who, the what and the where.
Well, let me tell you, Les surprised all of us. Yes, he met up with the expected tall brunette, but something about her struck me as strange. I guess a corporate executive hanging with a tattooed wonder just didn’t fit in my mind. And after viewing the film from the secret cameras we’d place in her apartment, I knew why. Seems that Les has a thing for a dominatrix wearing a strap-on—by request—and all the pleasure the strap on could bring. This man gave the cliché “dog in heat” a whole new meaning.
After tonight, he’ll understand what the meaning of “tearing him a new asshole” meant too. I jumped in my seat in anticipation of the “festivities.”
The beeps from a car horn halted my mind. I looked over to see a houpty driven by an underage THUG—the happily undereducated generation—complete with the requisite set of gold teeth and two scrubs, and all of them were waving like I would actually give them the time of day. Get on. Y’all ain’t got nothing this sister wants! I pushed down on the accelerator with them still waving in my rear view mirror.
Taking the Jefferson Street exit, I flipped the visor down to survey the damage to my hair and turned the volume of the stereo back down. My short hairstyle, a la Halle-Berry-before-the-Benet, fitted my dark, rounded face. Thick eyebrows, a small “cutie pie” nose and firm, lush lips were complimented by the short cut. Girl, you got it going on and it’s known! A quick brush through set everything right as rain. I resumed singing along with Mul-Ty as I coursed down the tree-lined lane, turning on Amite Street.
The buildings in the downtown area were an interesting mixture of contemporary and traditional. Antique brick and blue steel resided side by side, each trying looking like it belonged. Kind of like the people, the good old boys and the “can we all get along” liberals. Except for a few high-rises—if you call buildings with fifteen stories max high-rises—nothing much was over two stories high.
I slowed to enter the parking garage and Malcom, the garage attendant, gave me his customary wink as I slid my card into the card reader. This brother was bad—broad chest, slim waist and a booty that a girl could hold on to, if you know what I mean. A student at Jackson State, he reminded me of Malik Yoba gone “high yella.” And everybody that knows me knows I love me some Malik Yoba. Ummmm. A walking, bald-headed clit jumper. Scrumpdilliliscious.
Ever since, he’s tried to come on to me time and time again. His lines were convincing and the sparks sizzled the air. The fact that he constantly stared at my slim, compact body—especially the booty—when he thought I wasn’t looking was a bonafide turn-on. I won’t lie. This brother awakened tinglings in me that were buried five years ago. Feelings that were cremated on one fateful day…
What am I thinking?
He should definitely be ashamed of himself! Tempting me. Especially since I’m only fifteen years older than him. Then again, once upon a time, I would have found out if his interest was for real or if he was just selling wolf tickets. I sighed. That was then. Now, I only winked back.
After a quick stroll, I reached my building. It was a brick one-story with Modine & LeMons, written in gold lettering on the wood door. Nothing at all to call attention to what we did behind that door. If anyone asked, I always said we were consultants. And we were…kind of.
In reality, I operated Payback, Inc., the only legal revenge service in the world, here. We offered surveillance, background checks and, of course, revenge services—humiliating situations that made a man understand what it meant to have a woman’s anger directed totally at him— relayed through me and Schi, my partner. No advertising and our phone number was not listed.
I guess we must be good because the referrals kept coming in.
It’s funny, though. I never in a gazillion years would have imagined the life I’m living now. Nevertheless, curveballs get thrown your way, and you either change or shrivel up and waste away.
Take Schi. She finished in the top ten percent of her law school class, was courted by numerous firms, finally was selected by one of the most prestigious ones in the country and had a fat six figure salary to go along with it. Model looks, a slamming body and a brain to boot. Men usually go gaga when they spot her.
The only thing is, Schi has one big problem. She’s a nympho. As in nymphomaniac. No other way to say it. She likes sex, sex and more sex. Anytime, anywhere, any way, man, or woman. Therapy has been nothing but a pure waste of good money.
Oh, she managed to hide it well…at first. But, during a company Christmas party in which she had one too many glasses of champagne, the secret was out. Schi entertained all of the willing men—and women— that wanted to take a stroll in her secret garden. Unfortunately, somebody took pictures. When they were distributed throughout the law offices, the partners discreetly asked for her resignation…including some of the same partners that had participated in the lustfest.
Schi lived off her savings—screwing her way into oblivion—until we stumbled on each other in a bar.
Me? Well, my odyssey began a few years ago. Five years to be exact. There I was living what I thought was a dream life—good job, good money and a fiancé, Jontel, that just loved me. Life couldn’t get better tha2n it was. But like they say, all good things must come to an end. And mine did with a belligerent screech.
It all begin with what I thought was a yeast infection two weeks before my wedding. The problem had been going on longer than I thought it should and hadn’t responded to the over-the-counter medications, so I decided to get a stronger prescription from the gynecologist. I didn’t want to have a yeast infection on my honeymoon. That would be so uncool.
To my horror, after examining me, the doctor hesitantly explained that I didn’t have a yeast infection at all. I had Herpes. Incurable Herpes.
My scream could be heard two blocks over.
After an hour or so, in which time my screams had turned to incoherent blubbering and finally a steady stream of tears, she calmly discussed the disease. I was so numb, I missed most of what she was said. In the end, she just hugged me with sisterlove, pushed some pamphlets into my limp hands and gave me a prescription for Valtrex.
My mind was reeling. I knew that I hadn’t been with anyone since Jontel. And you don’t get Herpes from thin air. You need contact. Pubic contact. That meant that the man that said he loved me, needed me, could not live without me… was screwing around on me.
Needless to say, Jontel’s reaction was typical of a man caught—denial, reverse accusations and refusal to accept any responsibility for the mess he’d caused. His finger-pointing and doublespeak so angered me, I slapped him. He retaliated by pushing me with enough force that I flipped over the couch and bruised my back.
To say that we were over was an understatement. He left town and my life the next week. All that remained was his “little present” and a depression slowly suffocating me. Thirty five years old, no kids, only been with two men in my life…and I’d never have sex again. Couldn’t risk it.
Damn! Damn! Damn!
That realization is what sent me to the bar, drowning my troubles in a cup of hard liquor…
I looked like shit and felt worse. The brown liquor I swirled around in the glass was my fourth or fifth. Who knew? Who cared? All I knew was it was murky, just like my future.
Why me? Why not somebody else? We were supposed to get married, have the big house and the 2.5 kids plus a dog thrown in for good measure. Now, you might as well just cut my coochie out and sew it up ’cause I’ll never use it again.
Before I knew it, the tears poured down over my shaking hands, snot trailing unchecked down my face.
I heard the soft voice to my rear.
“Hey, girl. It can’t be all that bad.”
I turned and in my hazy mind I saw an All-American girl gone Latin. I tried to speak but only a hiccup came out.
“Looks like you’ve had more than your share tonight, girlie,” the woman said, a hand reaching to
grab the glass from me.
Who the hell did she think she was? I didn’t know her from Eve. I slapped the reaching hand.
“Hey. Calm down,” she replied quietly, hands now held up in front of her. “I’m just trying to help here.”
“Yeah? Well, I know a lying, cheating asshole I need to kill,” I surly announced.
Her eyebrows rose to the sky as she assessed me. Then, she…smiled. Lifting her hips onto the adjacent stool, she dryly said, “I’m just going to love your story. You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine. I’m Schi, by the way.”
We spent the remainder of the night having a slamming pity party, swapping stories and trashing men and life in general. At some point, I wished out loud that there was a service you could call to extract revenge against a man that’s done you wrong. No, not kill them, just put something on their mind. Something to make Jontel remember me for the rest of his natural born life. Schi dug into that idea like a pit bull.
Kicking the idea around, I finally realized that we could do it. All we needed were some classes in self-defense, martial arts and investigative work. Schi worked the logistics out in that precise brain of hers and it was a done deal. Payback, Inc. was born. Now we both do the investigative work, but Schi does the tempting and I do the guarding. I guess you could say Schi’s the booty and I’m the brawn.
I laughed aloud at that analogy as I opened the door.
Stellae, our receptionist, was talking animatedly on the phone, her slender hands speaking with her. Today, she was as flamboyant as ever in a yellow dress that seemed to send her ample bosom to the sky and hair that was gelled and slicked even further into the stratosphere. Normal operating dress for her. She held out a stack of call messages for me as I passed her desk, not once taking a breather from her conversation. Just as I entered my office, Schi yelled out a hello.
My intercom buzzed before I could push the button of my coffee maker.
“Yes?” I answered, irritated. She knew I needed coffee before I started my day.
“Ms. Modine, your first client is here and Mrs. Hatcher called twice already about tonight,”
Stella said before clicking off without giving me a chance to respond. What’s new?
Shrugging out of my suit coat, I pushed the button on the coffee maker before I walked down to Schi’s office to alert her. No matter who the client asks to see, we always worked a case together. The two heads are better than one thing.
I knocked lightly and entered without being asked. Schi was leaned back in her executive chair, feet on the desk, ankles crossed. The phone was glued to her head as it always was. If she wasn’t talking to a client it was usually one of her string of lovers. The way she smooched into the phone before hanging up, I surmised that it definitely better be one of her men…or women.
“What’s up? The new client ready?” Schi said while slowly extracting her limbs from the desktop.
“Yeah. You ready?” I looked her up and down. Every hair was in place and when she stood, I could see she had dressed to impress in the navy button down suit she wore.
“Sure thing. I’ll buzz Stellae to put her in the conference room.”
“Great. Let me grab a cup of coffee and I’ll be ready.” I hurried back to my office and poured the small amount of liquid that had already collected in the carafe into my coffee mug. Not a full cup, but it would have to do in a pinch. With another quick glance at my looks, I strolled into the conference room.