Authors: RA Chandler
I rode into Central Park and pulled over. Sebastian had installed some optics in my helmet visor that acted like a H.U.D. it was basically a deconstructed Google glass that fed into the visor. He’d then developed an app it linked to allow me turn my heating on at home remotely, order pizza and as well other things it allowed me to read news feeds while I rode. This was possible because the technology communicated with the internet via my cell phone.
It was still early so there was nothing on the news feed about the incidents at apartment 227. I did what my grandfather had said and went to the library and read some
The incident was on the news feed. The cops thought that Henry had probably strangled Gloria, but confirmed she hadn’t been attacked. They said that her job was as a masseuse, but she was out of work. They didn’t put a picture up. There was a picture of Henry though, from somewhere they’d found a police mug shot. He was younger than when I’d seen him, looked more muscular too. Police were looking for me or the man that had been speaking with Henry before he’d been shot. They described me as a tall black man in jeans and a motorcycle jacket. They didn’t appear to have anything else on me; they would have pressed the buzzer at my apartment if they did.
I couldn’t focus on Emerson so I listed to doctor Umar Johnson’s definition of the black community on YouTube and his ideas for helping it out of its quagmire or underachievement. His theories came out of books and lectures and used words like macro theories and consolidation of ideology. It didn’t mean anything, it never did because institutions and ideologies don’t have to exist, and we’ve just been trained to think they have. I guess he was a kind of esoteric voice.
I walked into my apartment, just as my cell began to rang.
I didn’t know the number. “Hello,” I said dropping into my easy chair.
“Is that Garv?” a female voice said.
“Hold on, sorry Garvey,” she said with a little bit of strain in her voice.
“Yes Lucy it is, nice to hear from you, you still think about riding cowgirl?” I asked.
I knew I was being vulgar, but all I wanted to do was shower and sleep. Finding a dead body and running away whilst another one was being created wasn’t what made for a good day.
“If that’s what you really want maybe later sure, but I'm calling for a little help. Anyhow, it looks like I might be giving you your first proper case. Will you come over to my place? It’s Seagate it’s a gated place so you’ll have to tell them I’m expecting you.”
I wasn’t a fan of gated communities.
“I’ll tell you what. I’ll come over, we’ll have a little fun and then we’ll talk business.”
She didn’t speak for a moment and I thought that maybe I’d been too heavy with the seduction. Outside on Parkside Avenue a horn sounded angrily and for some time, fading slowly into the distance.
She spoke slowly, “Marley is here and I can’t get him to leave, he’s out cold in my bedroom.”
I wasn’t in love anymore, “you want me to get a sleeping man out of your bedroom it’ll cost you money, otherwise call the cops.”
“I will pay you and ride you like the winner of the Kentucky Derby, I have skill that will leave you dribbling. Will you help me?”
“Sure, saddle up.”
Seagate wasn’t the usual gated community somewhere in the countryside suddenly appearing like a waiting predator in the bushes. Instead it was more like approaching a window where people were having a lavish lunch outside on the lawn.
I arrived at 37
street and pulled up to the closed gate that was being staffed by a couple of Seagate Police department officers in blue uniform. The officers both left the security building to greet me. I was rocking my leased black Mercedes E350 coupe; it’d been polished to within an inch of its life and gleamed like it just came off the production line.
“Good evening sir,” said an officer with a walrus moustache and belly, he was in his late fifties and definitely a retired cop. The clasp on his side holster was already undone, I was a bit disappointed. The least he could have done with give me the benefit of doubt or think I was a sports star or hip hop artist. His colleague had made it around the car and was shining a torch into the car, it was a good torch. If it was summer I would have been driving a white convertible version of the car and taken the roof off to help him out. I put the windows down instead which startled him a little.
“Good evening officer,” I replied.
“You’re not on our list of visitors,” he said and sounded quite cheerful.
“How do you know?” I said and tried to sound more curious than offended.
“Automatic number plate reader for all residents and guest vehicles are registered in advance of guests arriving.”
I couldn’t fault his explanation, but I turned to see his colleague trying to open the passenger door.
“I keep my nuclear devices in the trunk,” I shouted.
The officer looked at me in shock. He was young, maybe early twenties, tidily presented and probably never discharged a firearm.
“Bernie he’s just messing with you, ease off him a little. Sir how may we help you?”
“Thank you. At last a question. I am here to see Miss Lucy Pearl.”
“We’ll have to call the house.”
“No problem,” I said and turned off the engine.
He went inside the office and made the call.
“Do you mind opening the trunk?” said Bernie.
“Bernie, it is Bernie right or shall I call you Officer Dogberry. Your job is to enforce
vehicle and traffic law
, environmental protection law, which basically means telling people of for having an engine idling for too long, administrative code within and around the confines of Sea Gate.”
“You’re trying to be clever?”
“Pay attention now. The city authorizes you to make arrests, make car stops on Seagate property, issue summonses, and you may carry a firearm, batons, Tasers, pepper spray, and handcuffs.”
He touched his thigh where I assumed his gun was.
The officer in the booth had enough experience to treat black folks evenly and professionally. You see that’s what a career as a cop in New York teaches you and more. You are not and have never been a cop, so stay within the confines of you role and if anything happens that is contrary to my unspoken role in this act feel free to try and light me up.
There was a cough behind me, officer Walrus was standing smiling. I wondered how much of my speech he’d heard.
“Miss Pearl’s assistant says she has no scheduled meeting, especially not at this time of night. Sorry bud, maybe if you try again in the morning.”
“Have you spoken to Miss Pearl at all?”
“Look I know you don’t mean to insult me but I’ve driven thirty minutes after going out and I'm very tired. If she tells you on the phone personally I will trust that and go home to bed.”
I watched him ponder the trust in his honesty and the consequences of waking a resident for a possibly unwanted visitor.
“Does her assistant know you?”
“I never knew she had one.”
“This is bullshit,” Bernie said. He was starting to rock on the balls of his feet now.
“Go to the office Bernie and ask Miss Pearl to come out.”
Ten minutes later, after I’d actually pulled away from the barriers to park up on the side because residents actually wanted to get in and go home, a little convertible Mini tootled up the gatehouse. By now I was in the gatehouse reading
I stood as the assistant and not Lucy came into the office. She was petit, like Anna Kendrick, and was made up like British Airways air hostess with perfect eyebrows, plumb lips, a salon tan and hair that looked styled for a windswept look. She was dressed in a simple blue knitted dress and looked like a twenty-one year old graduate from Harvard.
“What is all of this about Sergeant Arnold?” she said with a severe mouth that looked suited to smiling.
“Hi Olivia, the gentleman here says he has an appointment with Miss Pearl.”
“I believe him.”
“Good for you.”
“She’s expecting me. My name is Garvey Fields?”
Sergeant Arnold’s left eyebrow went up; my reputation had obviously reached Seagate.
“So wake her to confirm the appointment.”
I felt like I was in a Mexican standoff. Arnold had vouched for me because he had a hunch, that old cops feeling based on intuition that a training course couldn’t have taught him. His colleague wanted to shoot me, I was sure of that. And Olivia probably wanted to go back to her MBA.
She pressed a few buttons on her touch screen phone, put her phone to her ear and waited. I was beginning to feel sorry for Lucy, she’d have to pay me double for this shit and the sex was going to be a one sided release of tension.
“Hi Lucy,” Olivia said. “We have…yes of course… no issues… you're specifically meant to tell me… hello.”
She took the phone away from here ear and composed herself.
“All the fucking time,” she whispered and then smiled at me. “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding, but I wasn’t informed that we would be receiving further guests this evening. Officers if you’d like to let Mr Fields in.”
I shook the sergeant’s hand and blew a raspberry at his trainee.
I followed Olivia to the house which had identical twins on either side all with perfectly manicured lawns. The drive had room for the convertible Mini and my Mercedes. A Lamborghini Huracán was parked outside on the street. I liked the Merc I was driving, but I loved the Lambo.
The house was a simple duplex which probably had six bedrooms and bathroom in each. There were two steps up to the front door and when the door opened I was hit in the face by opulence and the smell of warm cinnamon.
The interior was like something out of a society magazine with a wooden staircase designed like a flourish, textured wallpaper, wooden flooring, bottomless couches and a piano in the corner with a view of the water and a light house.
“If you’ll just take a seat sir she’ll be down in a minute,” Olivia said politely. “Can I get you anything to drink?”
“No, I’m effectively hydrated but I’d like to ask you a few questions.”
She hesitated, “go on.”
“What is your role in Lucy’s life?”
“I’m her personal assistant.”
“Do you work pro bono or something because I don’t remember her in the Billboard charts?”
“I’m work for an agency that pays me via whomever Miss Pearl works for. Whilst they are building her portfolio of work, album, modeling, videos and marketing, I help to keep her on track.”
“What happened to talent being found? It sounds like she’s being manufactured.”
“It’s simple business strategy really. The method you have suggested is too predictable, not a good way to forecast the future of your sale. My manufacturing a star, talent is plentiful, you are increasing positive percentages.”
She finished and smiled, I truly believed she could have quoted the entire manual at me.
I sat down on a couch, “you know I think I’ll take an English breakfast tea if you have any.”
The tea was perfect, probably from a manual; she even gave me homemade short bread biscuits. Olivia made her excuses and left, I enjoyed watching her little butt leave, she had dancers legs.
By the time Lucy Pearl arrived I’d finished my tea and biscuits and started to think about why I was here. I doubted it was to get rid of Marley One, she could have called or had Olivia call the cops for that.
She walked into her lounge wearing grey sweatpants and white wifebeater vest that showed off her pink bra straps. She gave me a smile that was as plastic as a Jell-O mold. She’d washed her face, put on some light makeup and sprayed on the most intoxicating perfume.
“Hi,” I said.
“Thanks for coming,” she said in a voice that didn’t carry very far. “I know it’s late, but I know because of the hotel job you’d most likely be up.”
She sat down next to me, I would’ve found it easier to concentrate if she was in another chair but I’d do the best with what I had. She played with a chain on her neck and pressed one of its jewels.
Olivia appeared, “yes.”
“Bring us some ice and that bottle of honey rum, then go home. I know my itinerary so you don’t have to come back over until the evening to go through things.”
“Okay,” said Olivia. She came back with an ice bucket, the bottle and bid us a good night. I enjoyed watching her leave again.
“So how does this artist development thing work?” I asked as I threw some ice into the glasses and poured an amount of rum in that wouldn’t put me over the limit.
“How’d you mean?”
“Olivia was telling me she your P.A. that seems a little weird given you're not a household name.”
“Forward planning. You have to pay people to get your songs on the air in the right places, wear the right clothes, associate with the correct people. My image needs to sophisticated and classy, hence the rental, the P.A, I’ve got a stylist and most days are planned out for me in advance.”
“Fair enough, not exactly organic but then I guess that’s not the modern way.”
“You know for a smart man you say silly things. Things have been manufactured, manipulated, guided and structured since the inception of modern music. Being talented means that should you be amongst the chosen you fulfill the whole package. I look nice, know how to speak, don’t have any real vices, I fit a profile. I’m not too dark either; my ability to sing is almost secondary.”
I saw in her eyes lost hope, that she’s once thought the bright lights of the big city would shine on her warmly and bring her riches and fame. She’d probably get these things but hadn’t bargained on trading her soul for them. She probably didn’t know that she was lucky not to be trading her flesh for profit. I’d known women who had hope but became prey to pimps and gone from modeling to shooting porn flicks because they couldn’t admit defeat and work behind a counter.
“So why am I really here?”