Motivation. It was just another word that held nothing but a dictionary definition to me. I stood in the mirror of a sleazy hotel bathroom staring into the dirty mirror above the white marble sink. Staring back was a woman with wide, light brown eyes that might have been pretty had it not been for the smeared mascara and bags under them. The long black hair, once neatly in place, was now disheveled. The red lipstick on my lips faded. I could barely recognize myself.
What am I doing?
I thought to myself before grabbing a fistful of my thick hair.
I stood there in my matching black lace lingerie set; the sexiest that I could afford. The curves on my twenty-two-year-old body stood out, and although I was tired, the beauty in my round face did too. I heard my client snoring lightly in the other room. I always worked them out and put them to sleep; that way, it was easier to collect my money and sneak out the door. This night was different, however. I wanted to look at myself. Not just look, actually
the act, not the aftermath of designer shoes, clothes, and purses. So after the deed was done with my client, that was exactly what I did. I looked at the woman in the mirror . . . and hated her. I hated me.
I reached and grabbed a cigarette out of the box of Newports that the man had left on the sink in the bathroom and the lighter next to them. I could feel my stomach churning and knew that my body needed something to stomach my reflection. It was sad seeing myself like that, especially knowing that at one point in time, I was on top of the world. Shaking my head, I sighed. Although my appearance was disgraceful, there was one thing I knew for certain: I was going to go collect my money. I took a few hits of the cigarette before putting it out on the sink, leaving a circular burn mark. I didn't care; it wasn't my bill. I then quietly opened the bathroom door and tiptoed to the end of the bed where my cream-colored minidress lay. I slid it on as quickly as I could and slipped my high black pumps onto my feet.
My money had been left on the dresser before anything went down that night because I always had to see my money up front. Two thousand dollars for one night with Mocha, and trust me, it was
worth it. I looked disgustedly at the plump white man lying on the motel bed before snatching up my Gucci clutch and my money. I didn't know how much longer I could do what I was doing. I left the cheap room feeling like even less of a woman than any of the other times. I walked a little way to my all-black 2015 Chevy Impala SS. Getting in, I was relieved to finally be on my way home, even though that wasn't any better than that nasty hotel. Still, lying in
bed sounded good.
I was what some called a prostitute or a whore. I hated those names, but it was what it was. What I did was dangerous, but my clientele weren't just random thugs off the streets of Detroit. They were rich men, some married and others just lonely. The guy this night usually took me to high-class penthouses and suites, but tonight, he wanted to try a different fantasy. He wanted to “fuck me in a cheap hotel like the dirty little black whore I was.” Whatever. As long as he was paying me. My money was top priority. Two thousand only got my clients an hour. Only sex if they didn't drop an additional two more stacks on top of the hourly rate. As you could see, he was one of my lower-paying customers.
The drive to my shabby neighborhood didn't take too long, and surprisingly, the streets of Detroit were silent this night. I rode with my windows slightly cracked so that I could feel the light breeze of the night on my face. No music played at all. It was just me and my thoughts. I drove by a few young boys patrolling the block ready to make a sale, if need be. I smiled sadly because deep down, I missed that life. The fast-money lifestyle with no dignity lost. I guess there was still a little speck of a hustler in me, although it had subsided over the last year since the brutal murder of my best friend, Sadie. Since I'd been out of the game a lot had changed. For one, I'd become a prostitute so the quick money and respect I was used to faded. Sometimes I hated myself so much because I didn't know how to make it without her. She had been the leader since we were kids, the mastermind in all that we did, and I missed her.
We were freshmen at a local college when we figured out that what we wanted school couldn't give us: never-ending money and power. At first a drug cartel was just a little joke between us, but then Sadie's big cousin Ray came to us on some Ace Boogie-type business. Ray had come across an Italian connect by the name of Vinny who could provide never-ending business. Sadie was down instantly, but I, on the other hand, was a little skeptical. Sadie, of course, talked me into it and before I knew it, we were on and getting it in big time. It was scary at first because being a girl in the game was like a person swimming in a pool full of hungry sharks. Yet, we started off big time, so it wasn't hard maintaining a leveled position where the top began. Ray then got us our first pistols.
“Niggas hate seeing a come up,”
he'd said. “
Especially when they're looking for one.”
His words held true because less than a week later, I had to use my .48, Lucy, for the first time. Somebody must have gotten wind of our operation because we were set up. That night, I killed somebody. I actually think I killed a few people. After taking my first life, I finally gave in. One way in, and one way out was how Sadie and I saw it. We were about that life as soon as we had made our first sale; it was money over everything in the beginning. The money rolled in, and our team got larger. In less than a year, we had the biggest drug operation Detroit had ever seen. Nobody was touching us. Not even the feds. Our operation was so underground, they didn't know who to trail. Sadie and I dropped out of school when we were twenty and moved in with Ray. Everything was going great . . . until I made the dumbest mistake somebody in my seat of power could do. I fell in love. Like Ray said,
“Niggas are always looking for a come up.”
I was so blinded by my heart that I didn't see what Khiron was doing until it was too late. Until he got what he really wanted: to be on top and to control our empire. He wanted everything Sadie and I had worked for, and unlike the boss that I was supposed to be, I was caught slipping.
Another thing Ray was known for saying was
“All your niggas ain't loyal.”
The Last Kings was betrayed by someone who should have been their most loyal. I remember seeing Khiron's bullet enter Sadie's body . . . her choke on her own blood until she died. Right there in front of me. Ray was next.
“You, Mocha, aren't going to get the luxury of death,”
Khy had said to me.
I would never forget those words. Every day after that I wished he would just kill me. Most nights I came home he was there waiting for me, even though we didn't stay in the same house. I was his trophy piece. His way of showing the world that he'd brought down the best. He was the king of our cartel; nobody was even coming close to him. Little did he know his plan was flawed because he hadn't thought it through completely.
See, Ray had been planning on getting out of the game. Calling it quits; he had enough money stacked up. He'd told one of us the information about his connect and that one wasn't me. Surprise, surprise. That put a slight dent in Khy's plan, especially when the Italians pulled business and went ghost. At first, things were shaky, but eventually, Khy found his own connect, and so far, the streets were taken care of.
Khy was a demon. I hated him. I sold my body at night just so I could stack up my paper to get away from him. Far away. There was nothing left in Detroit for me because he had, or took away, every single thing that had given me joy.
He moved me back into the hood to keep an eye on me while he lived like royalty in a mansion on the good side of town. I had a nice car, nobody bothered me, he paid all of my bills, and I didn't have any worries. That's what he told me constantly. He wouldn't even let me go back to school and get a semi-fresh start.
“Bitches like you belong at home in the kitchen or on their knees for they man,” he said when I brought the subject up.
Khy changed from the charming man that I first knew. I take that back, I never knew that man. I met his game face. I know him now, though, and he had hell to pay.
Coming up on my home, I slowed to turn into the driveway of my one-story brick house. A shadow on my stoop caught my eye, and I could see that there was a person posted up, as if they were waiting.
“Who the fuck is that?” I said aloud to myself, unbuckling my seat belt.
It couldn't have been Khy. He had a key. The person stood up when I opened my door. Although it was dark out, I could make out the frame of a woman. At first, I thought she must be a crackhead looking for a hit, but the closer I got, I knew she couldn't have been. She was in designer clothes and heels.
“Excuse me, but who the hell are you? And why are you outside of my house?” I asked bluntly, putting my hand in my purse.
I wasn't scared. Lucy was in my Gucci, loaded and ready to bust. The stranger stepped down the three steps from my stoop toward the light by my garage door. Her features became more distinguished as the shadows no longer concealed her. I opened my mouth to speak again, but I caught my breath, and my heart became a drummer in my chest. The woman before me looked different than I remembered; her hair was in a bob cut. But the sharpness in her dark brown eyes were the same, and she was still gorgeous with her five-five frame and Coca-Cola shape. I couldn't believe it. I took a deep breath.