Tiffany stepped off the public bus and took hurried steps down the block. She looked down at her watch and sucked her teeth, already twenty minutes late. She just knew her boyfriend Blake was going to flip the fuck out. Tiffany hated that she had to rush home from work every night, but it was either rush home or fight, and Tiffany was tired of fighting for nothing.
She ignored the catcalls from local hustlers as she strolled through the hood and entered her projects. She stepped on the elevator and repeatedly tapped on the “close door” button as the door to the elevator finally closed. She stepped off the elevator and made her way down the narrow hallway until she reached her door, where she took a deep breath as she stuck her key in the lock and opened the door. She stepped inside and immediately saw Blake sitting on the couch with his feet plopped up on the coffee table, and a blunt between his lips. The look on his face told Tiffany that he was pissed off, as usual.
“Where the fuck you been?” Blake asked, his eyes never leaving the TV as he spoke.
“I been at work.” Tiffany hung up her jacket, just praying that tonight wasn't going to be one of those nights.
Blake arched his brow. “You got off work a hour ago,” he said, the blunt dangling from his mouth.
“I know, baby, but the bus was running a little late.”
“Again, right?” Blake huffed as he stood to his feet. “You think I'm stupid?” he asked, walking up on her.
“No, I don't think you stupid,” she said quickly.
“Yes, you do,” Blake said as him and Tiffany stood nose to nose.
Blake demanded that Tiffany come straight home from work ever since the last time he'd called himself surprising her, picking her up from work. Instead of surprising her, he winded up being the one surprised. He found her at the bus stop smiling and giggling at every word some smooth-looking cat spoke. Blake just sat back and watched for a few seconds before interrupting the conversation. Ever since that day Tiffany was forced to come straight home from work, no exceptions.
“How much money you made tonight?”
Tiffany reached down and removed the money she'd made from tips from her purse. “Eighty-seven dollars,” she said, holding out the bills.
Blake snatched the money from her hands and thumbed through the bills. “That's it?” he asked, his face crumpled up.
“Baby, it was slow in the restaurant tonight,” she said, bracing herself for the punch or slap that she knew was coming. “You know I wouldn't hold out on youâ”
Blake's hand quickly shot out and wrapped around her throat. Tiffany screamed and struggled to pry his hand from around her throat. Then he slapped her real hard.
“Didn't I tell ya ass to come straight home?” he snarled.
He punched Tiffany in her face like she was a man. Her head violently jerked back from the force from the blow, as she dropped down to her knees, and blood dotted the floor. “You giving another nigga my money!?” he said loudly, gritting his teeth.
“No,” Tiffany pleaded. “I would never doâ”
Another punch to her face forced her head to jerk back again.
Tiffany just balled up as Blake took all of his frustration and problems out on her. She knew this ass-whipping was coming, once she found out the bus was running a little late. This was nothing new to herâso she took it like a trooper.
After Blake got too tired to beat on her anymore, he grabbed a handful of her hair and dragged her like an animal throughout the house, until he reached the bedroom, where he tossed her up on the bed and snatched off her work clothes, popping all the buttons in the process. He pulled out his already hard dick, and spread her legs open.
“Wait. I'm not even wet!” Tiffany yelled, hoping he would feel sorry for her and just let her be for the night.
Blake spat on his fingers and roughly rubbed them in between her legs before forcing himself inside of her. He laid on top of her and pumped with force until he felt himself about to come. He then quickly hopped up on her chest and jerked his dick until he came on her face.
“Dirty bitch!” He smirked as he left the bedroom, headed back out to the living room.
Tiffany slowly slid off the bed and made her way to the bathroom. She looked in the mirror and wanted to cry. She grabbed the rag from off the rack and wiped Blake's semen from off her face as she just looked in the mirror and cried. The once pretty girl, who favored the actress Nia Long, looked in the mirror and didn't recognize the girl she saw in the mirror.
Tiffany quickly slid out of her clothes and hopped in the hot shower. The pressure from the shower head massaged her body. She closed her eyes as she let the water run all over her body as she softly punched the wall. She knew if she didn't get away from Blake soon, he was going to wind up either killing her or hurting her really badly. Either way, she had to go. She was no longer in love with him, and she was definitely tired of him beating on her.
Tiffany stepped out of the shower and quickly got dressed. She figured the faster she went to sleep, the faster it would be time for her to go back to work the next day.
Blake looked at her like she was crazy when she tried to slide in the bed with him. “Fuck you think you doing?” he asked, looking her up and down.
“What?” Tiffany said with a confused look on her face. “I'm about to go to sleep.”
“Hmmp.” Blake sighed. “Bitch, you must be crazy if you think you sleeping in this bed with me. Better get yo' ass down and sleep on the floor,” he said in a nasty tone.
Tiffany simply just grabbed her pillow and a sheet and lay down on floor. She was so tired of fighting and arguing, she just decided to keep her mouth shut and do as she was told. She silently cried herself to sleep as she lay on the floor.
The next morning Tiffany woke up feeling like shit. Her body felt like she had been in a heavyweight fight, and her vagina was on fire. She got up and saw that Blake wasn't in the bed. She quickly got up and searched the whole house.
A small smirk danced on Tiffany's lips when she discovered that Blake was nowhere in the house. She hopped in the shower. When she got out, she quickly got dressed and made herself something to eat. She ate a grilled cheese sandwich and did what she did every dayâThink about how she could get away from Blake.
She checked her purse and saw that Blake had emptied it out and taken all of her money. “Fuck!” She cursed loudly as she looked over at the clock on the wall. Since she didn't have any money, that meant she had to walk to work. Almost thirty blocks.
Tiffany stepped outside in the New York cold weather and zipped up her North Face jacket as she prepared for the long walk to work.
“The Grind Don't Stop”
Quick wasn't usually a big drinker, but today was his best friend slash mentor Lucky's birthday, so it was only right that he drank with his crime partner. Quick wore a black hoodie with a black leather bubble vest on top of that. The two bobbed their heads to the sound of Young Jeezy that flowed through the small radio that rested over in the corner, on top of the milk crate. Quick and Lucky posted up in front of the building, their mentality “trap or die.”
“You heard from that nigga Turf yet?” Quick asked, looking up and down the block for potential customers and police.
“Nah, not yet,” Lucky replied. “He should be hitting us up within the next week or two. I hope he bless us with something nice.”
“He better.” Quick paused. “'Cause I'm about ready go grab the strap and hit a bank,” he said seriously.
Quick and Lucky had been hustling for the past two years, and it just seemed like if it wasn't one thing, it was another that seemed to stop them from coming up. Recently they had been copping their work from the city's top and most ruthless drug dealer, Turf. The word was, Turf had heard how much and fast they were moving the product and wanted to speak with the two then. That was about two weeks ago. But Quick and Lucky were starting to get impatient.
“Just be patient,” Lucky said as he watched a toothless fiend named Vanessa stroll up, switching what was left of her ass, like she was still popping.
“Hey, baby. What's up?” Vanessa said, flashing her toothless smile as she held her hand out.
?” Lucky gave the woman dap, quickly looking over both shoulders. “What you need?”
“I need three fat ones,” she said excitedly, already anticipating how good the product was going to be.
“Yo, go in the building,” Lucky told her without even looking at her.
Once Vanessa went in the building, Lucky waited for about seven minutes before he went in the building after her and served her.
He counted out her money. “What the fuck is this?” he asked, his face screwed up. “This only twenty-six dollars.”
“Come on, you know I'm good for it, Lucky,” Vanessa said, patting Lucky on his back. “I promise the next time I come to cop I'ma come correct.”
Lucky thought about cursing the fiend out, but the truth was, Vanessa was one of their most loyal customers, so he let her slide. “Don't let it happen again,” he lightly scolded.
Quick stood in front of the building getting his sip on when he saw some nobody walking up. He didn't really feel for the guy, but he spent money with him, so he was always respectful.
“What's good, my nigga?” Blake said, his hand extended.
Quick looked at Blake's hand for a few seconds before shaking it. “What's good, fam?”
“I need two ounces,” Blake said with his hands in his pockets. “I been moving this weed like it ain't no tomorrow,” he lied. He couldn't tell Quick he had just beat up his girlfriend and had taken her money to buy two ounces that he just planned on smoking.
“I got you,” Quick said as he entered the building, where he saw Lucky coming out of the staircase. “I'll be right back,” he said as him and Blake hopped on the elevator. “So what's good? Everything been good?”
“Yeah. Just been out here trapping.” Blake pulled out his money and began counting it on the elevator.
“Chill. Put that away,” Quick told Blake, looking at him like he was crazy. Quick hated dealing with fake hustlers. He felt that they were just in the way. But as long as they weren't stopping his flow, he let them rock.
The elevator came to a stop, and Quick stepped off and led the way down the hallway. He stopped in front of a door, pulled out a set of keys, and opened up the door. “Wait right here,” he told Blake as he went into the back.
In the back room there were drugs all over the place. Quick found a scale and quickly placed two ounces of weed in two separate Ziploc bags, and he returned back to the living room. “Here,” he said, tossing the two ounces on Blake's lap.
Blake stuffed the ounces down in his drawers as he handed Quick the money. “Good looking.” Blake gave Quick a pound then made his exit.
Quick stayed in the stash house for about ten more minutes just to warm up before he headed back outside to join Lucky.
“What I miss?” Quick said when he returned back in front of the building.
“Looks like you came back right on time.” Lucky motioned his head to the black Escalade that pulled up to the curb. He immediately recognized the two men that emerged from the truck, Wolf and Major Pain, and headed toward the front of the building.
Wolf and Major Pain were the two wildest and most violent goons that Turf had on his payroll. They were ignorant, paid, and just didn't give a fuck about nothing or nobody. Lucky and Quick had heard several stories about the work those two men had put in over the past few years.
“What's good?” Major Pain said, giving dap to both Lucky and Quick. “Fuck y'all doing out here in this freezing-ass weather?”
“You know the grind don't stop.” Lucky blew into his hands. “For a second we was starting to think that Turf had forgot about us.”
“Nah,” Wolf said, speaking for the first time. “Shit been a little crazy on our end. That's why Turf sent us down here to holla at y'all.”
“So what's up?” Quick asked, already not liking the sound of things.
Major Pain looked at Quick and smiled. “Y'all know that old-school nigga Frank, right?”
“The nigga that supply the whole Lower East Side?” Lucky said, making sure they was talking about the same person.
“Yeah, him,” Major Pain said. “Well, Turf wants him out of the picture, so we can take over and start supplying the Lower East Side.”
“So why can't y'all do it?” Quick questioned with a raised brow.
“'Cause,” Wolf said, getting up in Quick's face, “Turf want y'all to do it. That's why!”
Lucky tried to defuse the tension between the two men. “What's in it for us?”
“Y'all do this for Turf, and y'all earn a position on the team,” Major Pain told him. “No more standing outside in the cold, nickle-and-diming.” He smiled. “Plus, the job pays ten thousand cash.”
“Apiece?” Quick asked.
“No, just a flat ten thousand,” Major Pain replied. “So what's it going to be, gentlemen?”
Lucky looked up and down the block before he replied, “Give us some time to think aboutâ”
“We'll do it,” Quick said, cutting Lucky off. He didn't know what Lucky was thinking, but he definitely could use the money.
Major Pain smiled again. “I like this nigga. Y'all have a week to take Frank out.”
“How do we contact you once that's taken care of?” Quick asked.
Wolf looked at Quick like he was crazy. “Nigga, you don't contact us, we'll contact you!” he said in a nasty tone, and him and Major Pain headed back to the Escalade.
Lucky huffed as soon as the Escalade pulled off. “What the fuck was that back there? That's just why I don't be letting you drink with me,” he said, snatching the bottle of Coconut CÃ®roc from Quick's hands. “We don't know shit about how Frank moves.”
“Fuck how he move.” Quick shrugged. “All I know is, I need that money. If you don't want to take the job with me, I'll just do myself.”
The truth was, Quick, tired of nickle-and-diming, saw the bigger picture. This was just the kind of come-up he needed, and he'd be damned if he was going to let an opportunity like this slip through his hands. “So are you in or not?”
Lucky sucked his teeth. “Nigga, you know I'm in.”
The two laughed.
“Besides, I'd feel bad if you got killed by yourself”
“I'm tired of struggling,” Quick said out loud to nobody in particular.
At the age of twenty-five, Quick had already felt like he had been through hell and back. Sometimes he just felt like he was put on this earth to just struggle and then die. He was just happy that Turf was giving him the opportunity to come up. Quick didn't care if he died on the job âcause, if he didn't come up with something soon, he was really planning on trying to rob a bank, so the Frank job didn't sound too bad to him.
Lucky interrupted Quick's thoughts as he draped his arm around his neck. “You thinking too much. We gon' be fine. Stop worrying so much,” he added as the two headed to his hooptie. “Let's grab us some food.”
Lucky pulled his hooptie up inside IHOP's parking lot and cut the engine off. “I'm hungrier than a muthafucka,” he said as him and Quick entered the restaurant.
Seconds later the two men were handed menus and led over to a booth by the window.
“Cheer up,” Lucky said. “Damn! You about to make me depressed.”
“I'm just tired of losing,” Quick responded as he saw the waitress making her way to their table. “I'm ready to win.”
“How y'all doing today?” Tiffany said politely. “Can I start off by getting y'all something to drink?”
“Yeah, let me get some orange juice,” Lucky said, looking over the menu.
“I'll have the same,” Quick said as he and Tiffany locked eyes for a second.
“Coming right up.” Tiffany slightly smiled then disappeared through the double doors that led to the kitchen.
As the waitress walked off, Quick made sure to look at Tiffany's nice-sized ass poking out through her work pants.
“You better stop looking at the waitress like that before Kat pop up out of nowhere and whip yo' ass,” Lucky said half-jokingly.
“Fuck Kat! She don't give a shit about nobody but herself.” Quick waved Lucky off. “But let's get down to business. We got a week to get rid of Frank.”
“This shit going to be harder than it sounds. You know that, right?” Lucky said exhaling loudly.
Before he could say another word, the waitress reappeared at their table carrying their drinks.
“Here you go,” Tiffany said, politely sitting their drinks down on the table. She glanced over at Quick then her eyes immediately went down to the floor. She wasn't used to looking men in the eye. The last time she did that, Blake almost beat her half to death.
“Are y'all ready to order yet?”
“Yeah,” Lucky said, still looking over the menu that sat in front of him. “Lemme get some waffles and sausages.”
Tiffany wrote down Lucky's order then turned and looked at Quick, who favored the rapper Maino. “You ready to order?”
“Yeah,” Quick replied. “I'll take the T-bone steak and some onion rings.” He handed Tiffany back the menu.
“Not a problem. Coming right up.” Tiffany smiled as she walked off and disappeared through the double doors again.
“Damn! You was all in shorty mouth,” Lucky teased.
“Nah, I just wanted to make sure she got my order right,” Quick lied. He was really checking out the bruises on her face, which she had tried to cover with makeup. Quickly changing the subject, he said, “So how do you think we should handle this Frank situation?”
“I say we just take two days and watch how he move, then come up with a game plan.”
Quick nodded his head up and down. He knew once this job was done the money would definitely come rolling in, especially since him and Lucky would be on a winning team.
Everybody on Turf's team was paid, and drove luxury cars. Quick was just so tired of losing, he was willing to do almost anything to win.
“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Quick said as he watched Tiffany stroll back over to their table carrying their food.
“You guys, enjoy.”
Tiffany smiled as she walked back in the direction from which she had just come. When she was at work was the only time she had any peace. There, she was all smiles, but as soon as it was almost time for her to go home, that pretty smile always seemed to fade away.
After the two men finished their dinner, Quick paid the bill and left the nice waitress a twenty-dollar tip.
“You hanging out tonight?” Lucky asked Quick as the two slid back inside the hooptie.
Quick shook his head. “Nah, I gotta get home.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot if you don't get home, Kat gon' kick that ass.” Lucky laughed loudly as he pulled off.
Quick laughed, but he also knew what his friend was saying was true. Kat was Quick's off-and-on girlfriend for the past two years. Quick didn't even know why they were still together, especially since all the two did was fight all the time like cats and dogs.