Authors: Allison Hobbs
I groan real loud. Ignoring her lips, I kiss her on the cheek and bounce.
The elevator reeked of urine and mothballs.
Unfazed by the stench, the scrawny bull looked delighted by the prospect of switching rooms with Brick. “My name’s Cash Money, man; you can call me C.”
This broke-ass nigga got jokes. Living in a flophouse like this, he got a lot nerve calling hisself Cash Money!
“Marvin,” Brick muttered, using the alias that he’d written on the form when he’d checked in.
“What floor we going to? I wanna check out the room; make sure the AC is working,” Cash Money said, his finger poised over the buttons.
“It’s on the Ninth,” Brick said through clenched teeth. It was taking all of his willpower not to beat the shit out of the dude right there in the elevator. Until he learned otherwise, Troy AKA Cash Money was the number one suspect in Misty’s near fatal accident.
During the ride to the ninth floor, Cash Money chattered on and on. He complained about the heat and rambled on and on about suing the hotel. But Brick wasn’t listening. In his mind, he envisioned getting Cash Money behind closed doors and choking the truth out him.
The elevator came to a bumpy stop on the ninth floor, and Brick silently exited. Bouncing with joy, Cash Money followed closely behind Brick.
Though it was the middle of the day, the hallway of the hotel was shadowy and gloomy. Brick squinted as he made his way to room 914.
Brick opened the door. “Damn,” he uttered. With his lip turned up, he surveyed the stained bedspread, dusty furniture, and the filthy, worn carpets.
“I told you, man! Ain’t these people got a lot of nerve, charging niggas up for this dump?” Cash Money said and then went over near the air conditioner. Clicking a button, he released a blast of cold air.
“Ah, now that’s what I’m talkin’ about,” Cash Money said, enjoying the breeze. “Me and my shawty gon’ be laid up on chill mode for the rest of the day. She gon’ be salty when it’s time for her to go get that paper later on tonight,” he commented with a giggle.
Brick arched an eyebrow. “I thought you said your girl was pregnant. You got her tricking while she’s carrying your seed?” Scowling, Brick was two seconds from bashing dude’s head into the air conditioner.
All traces of joy left Cash Money’s face. “Uh, she
be pregnant. We don’t know for sure,” Cash Money said, back-peddling. “She missed her period, but she ain’t seen a doctor yet.”
“You tryna scam me out my air-conditioned room?” Brick’s face was twisted in a menacing sneer. He didn’t give a shit about the room. The mere suspicion that the scum bucket nigga standing before him could’ve had something to do with Misty’s condition had Brick snarling.
“Nah, nah. It ain’t even like that,” Cash Money said, uneasily. “I don’t wanna take any chances—just in case—see what I’m saying? She’s liable to get heatstroke cooped up in our room.”
Brick inched closer, intimidating Cash Money with a penetrating stare. “Haven’t I met you somewhere, cuz?”
Cash Money backed up cautiously. “Nah, man, we ain’t never met.”
“Yes, we have,” Brick said with assurance, nodding his head.
This nigga ain’t got no heart—backing up and flinching like a lil’ bitch.
Sensing trouble, Cash Money tried to ease toward the door. Brick blocked his path. His large muscular body became an impenetrable blockade.
“Your first name is Troy, right? You used to work for Misty.”
Cash Money gasped audibly.
“Seen Misty lately?” Brick asked with a sneer.
Cash Money’s eyes were fixed longingly on the closed door. “I ain’t seen Misty since that night…” Realizing that he’d said too much, he stopped talking. His eyes widened with panic.
“Is that right? So you saw Misty the night somebody tried to take her life? Was it you?”
Brick stepped closer. “Were you the coward who ran her down and left her for dead?”
Scared speechless, Cash Money claimed innocence by adamantly shaking his head.
“You better start talking, man,” Brick advised.
“I don’t know what happened to Misty!”
Without warning, Brick lurched forward, delivering a series of vicious body shots that sent Cash Money sprawling.
Collapsed in a stunned heap, Cash Money grunted as he used a forearm to try and sit upright. Frowning and blinking rapidly, he tried to get his bearings. He squinted at Brick. “I remember you now. At the hospital. You’re married to Misty’s mom.”
“That’s right. And Misty’s my family,” Brick said, allowing the man on the floor to grasp the close bond between him and Misty. “Whoever brought harm to her is not gon’ be breathing air much longer.”
Cash Money swallowed. “I’m not the one you should be coming
for. I was back at the crib; I ain’t have nothing to do with what happened to Misty that night.”
Clutching the rounded collar of his tee shirt, Brick yanked Cash Money to his feet. “If you don’t start talking, mufucka, your pimpin’ days are about to be over,” Brick hissed.
“I ain’t no pimp!” Cash Money sounded insulted. “My girl was tricking before I met her.”
“Whatever, man. Tell me about the last time you saw Misty.”
“She was on her way to go handle some business.”
Cash Money’s eyes slid down to his sneaker. “Um…I think she was on her way to see Smash Hitz.”
“You lying, nigga. Ain’t no flights to Miami that time of the night.”
“He was here in town. He was renting out a crib on the Main Line.”
“How do you know that Misty was on her way to see him?”
“She woke me up and told me. Then she got dressed. She took the Lambo and rolled out.”
“Were you fucking Misty?”
“No! It was strictly business between us.”
Brick’s eyebrows knitted together in anger. He grabbed the sleeve of Cash Money’s shirt, yanking him forward until they were face-to-face. “Nigga, who do you think you talking to? I know Misty like the back of my hand and it’s never strictly business with her. You just said she got dressed…so I’m assuming she was naked. Whatchu tryna hide, mufucka?” Brick raised his fist.
Cash Money flinched. He wriggled out of Brick’s grip and held his arm up defensively. “I’m not hiding anything. I’m being straight up.”
Brick snorted as he slowly walked over to the door and put the security chain in place. Then he began unbuckling his belt.
Cash Money gawked in puzzlement. “Whatchu trying to get into, man?”
“I can’t get the truth out of you, so I might as well hang your slimy lil’ ass and be done with you.” Brick advanced toward him with the belt doubled in half.
Cash Money held up both hands pleadingly. “Yo, I ain’t do nothing to Misty. The last time I seen her, she was on her way to see Smash Hitz…to give him back his chain. She took it with her…had it inside the whip.”
“Misty never made it to where she was going.” Brick looked up in thought. “Smash Hitz repossessed that Lamborghini she was driving, so I guess he got his chain back,” he mused aloud.
“No, he didn’t get the chain back. His peoples searched the car after the accident, but the chain was gone,” Cash Money eagerly added.
Brick gave him a sidelong glance. “For somebody who claims he don’t know nothing, you sure have a lot of inside information.” Quick as a flash, Brick lashed Cash Money across the neck with the belt. An angry welt instantly appeared.
“Ow…man, I’m tryna be helpful. What’s up with you?” Cash Money rubbed his neck gingerly and retreated in the direction of the locked door.
Brick stalked toward him. “Where you think you going? Ain’t no way out of here, except through the window. Can you fly, mufucka?” Brick asked in a low, deadly tone.
“What else you want from me? I told you everything I know.” Cash Money gave the window a desperate look, as if considering it as an escape option.
Brick thrashed him across the other side of his neck with the belt. Cash Money yelped. Now there were two thick welts on his neck. He gently touched the marks on his neck and grimaced in pain.
“Sounds like you set Misty up.” Brick glowered at Cash Money.
“I told you, I ain’t have nothing to do with that.”
“You think your neck hurts now? Hmph. You gon’ feel some real pain after I start tightening this shit around it.” Brick shook the belt threateningly.
Terrified, Cash Money let out a strident yell. His cry for help should have alerted someone. But in that hotel, hollering, cursing, and screaming were a part of the everyday soundtrack.
After making a mad dash to the door, Cash Money frantically tried to undo the chain.
Twirling the belt like a lasso, Brick whipped it through the air, cracking Cash Money in the back of the head with the metal end. Dazed from the thump on the head, Cash Money’s loud pleas fizzled down to mumbled whispers. In a struggle to keep himself upright, his fingers grasped at the doorframe, but he couldn’t hold on. His slight body slid downward.
Cash Money lay crumpled on the floor, facedown. Brick investigated Cash Money’s condition by sticking the toes of his boot into his ribs. The frail young man didn’t budge.
Brick patted the metal belt buckle in gratitude as he observed the golf ball-sized knot that protruded from the back of his victim’s head.
Arranging Cash Money in a seated position, Brick propped him in a corner. After securing the belt around Cash Money’s neck, Brick smacked both sides of the listless man’s face, bringing him back to consciousness.
“Start talking or I’ma choke you ’til your eyes pop outta your head,” Brick threatened, giving the belt a hard tug. Cash Money coughed and made gurgling sounds as Brick tightened the leather noose around his neck.
Cash Money groped at the belt. “Take it off,” he gasped. “I’ll tell you everything I know.”
Brick thought about all the misery Misty had gone through and was still enduring. A heartless mufucka had not only broken her spine, but had also used a tire iron to crush her beautiful face.
If this sucker who called himself Cash Money was responsible… if he was the one who had set Misty up, then he didn’t deserve an ounce of mercy.
“Take it off, man. Please.”
“Fuck you, nigga.” Brick pulled the loop tighter.
Cash Money gagged and gurgled. His arms flailed and his legs kicked out spastically in front of him as he was being choked. “Aye, man. Aye. I’ma tell you everything I know.”
Brick loosened the noose. “What’s your room number, nigga?”
“Twelve-fifteen,” he blurted. “What you want my room number for?”
“Misty told me a bitch fucked her up that night. I’ma skin your girl alive if it turns out she’s the bitch I’m looking for.”
Brick vibrated with rage. He hadn’t believed himself capable of harming a woman, but he felt different now. If the bitch in room 1215 was responsible, she was going to suffer a slow and agonizing death.
Noticing the murderous gaze in Brick’s eyes, Cash Money started talking fast. “My shawty don’t know nothing about Misty. She and I met about a month ago. We’re both innocent.”
“Why should I believe you?”
“Because I’m telling the truth. Shit, I barely escaped with my own life that night.”
“Oh, so there’s more to the story. You been holding back on me, man,” Brick said accusingly.
“Smash Hitz is looking for me.”
Brick frowned. “Say what?”
Cash Money raised a pleading hand. “Give me a chance to explain before you start choking me again.”
“I borrowed the chain Misty was returning to him. When she never made it, he thought I still had his shit, but I didn’t. That chain is supposed to be worth a couple million dollars and that nigga wants me delivered to him, dead or alive. Why you think I’m staying in this flophouse? This is my hide-out spot.”
etting close to my old neighborhood, I can feel butterflies in my stomach as I ride the C bus. Not wanting to risk bumping into any of Theodore Belgrade’s people, I hop off the bus a couple blocks sooner than I have to.