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Authors: D.C. Johnson

Trickery & Envy

BOOK: Trickery & Envy
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Prelude

 

 

In the words of the Fresh Prince of B
EL AIR, this is a story all about how my life was turned upside down. Only I’m not from BEL AIR California. I reside in Olympia Fields, Illinois and my name is Vivian Fowler.

People say I resemble the actress
Wendy Raquel Robinson from the Steve Harvey show. I usually get called out when I’m going through the airport. Someone always hollers, waves their hand at me and says, ‘Hey Ms. Grier, where’s Steve.’ I just smile with a shrug of the shoulders and keep it moving.

Now,
I’d like to tell you a little more about me. I’m 39, single, confident and successful. I own a ten chair beauty salon in downtown Chicago, which I named, Simply Beautiful. Only six of the chairs have been filled because I’m particular about whom I want working in my salon.

My style of transportation is a
baby blue Lexus. I hold the deed to the two houses my daddy left me. The one I live in is a deep crimson red, ranch style home. I share it with my two precious poodles Darling and Darren. The house next door I rent it to my best friend Jennifer Washington and her husband, Charles.

C
oincidentally Jennifer favors Angela Bassett. Seriously, it’s uncanny that we both resemble actresses, but we do. Jennifer lets it go to her head.

Short story, o
ne day we were taking a plane to the Bahamas. After we boarded, a middle aged white lady who was already seated became ecstatic when she saw Jennifer moving down the aisle. ‘Oh my...Oh my!’ she exclaimed and clapping her hands to her face. ‘Angela Bassett is on this flight? Mrs. Bassett I’m a big fan. Can I have your autograph?’ That’s when Jennifer would go into trip mode and pretend to be Angela. She actually stole a line from the movie,
What’s Love Got To Do With It
. She said, ‘sure, now that I finally got away from Ike.’ The woman was thrilled, nearly climbing over the man sitting next to her to get the autograph. She was blown away until on her way back to her seat and looking at the T-shirt saw that it was signed, Jennifer Washington. She turned and said, ‘This doesn’t say Angela Bassett.’ Jennifer about to take her seat on the aisle said, ‘I know...we just look alike.’ The woman returned to her seat mad that she had been fooled.

Now
what I want to tell you is how I was tricked; how I got caught up in Mr. Toni Gentry’s web. I’d like to believe as good looking and amusing he was to be with, that I wasn’t the first woman to fall for his trickery.

It was
2012, mid-June and a gorgeous day. I had just exited One Stop Grocers in Olympia Fields. There I was walking to my car with two brown grocery bags filled to the rim when half way there the weight of one of the bags threatened to fall to the ground. My black leather shoulder bag was moving slowly down my arm. I tried to shift the bag back into the crease of my arm.

“Whoa... let me help you with those bags
,” a gentle voice said.

The quick scoop of medium brown slim hands brought a halt to my groceries slipping from my embrace.
Another second and the bag would have crashed to the ground.

“Do you mind?
” he said securing the bag in his arm.

I must say that offer to help was definitely on time. A couple of more steps and the dinner I planned, smothered pork chop and fresh broccoli and cheese, would have been a meal for the birds hovering above. I was also thankful he was there
because I wasn’t in the mood to go back into the store in search of items I just purchased.

“I
would hate for all your goodies to end up on the ground,” he politely added.

I took a quick glance at my rescuer
that had a smile that was quickly stored in my memory. Talking about a knight in shining armor was what I wanted to say to him, but instead said, “Thank you. I appreciate you helping me,” blushing a bit.

Toni’s charm was on full display waltz
ing me away as if I was Cinderella. I looked at him again then away from what was now gazing eyes at me.

“I’m not trying to come on to you, but you have the most
striking eyes. Has anyone ever told you that you favor that actress...,” he expressed when I politely cut him off, putting my hand up with a partial smile.

“Yes, many times,” and then it came again
, that tender smile. I felt myself gaze at him then quickly shifted my look down into my bag. “Thank you, if you don’t mind I’m just a little ways from my car.”

I then thought
my goodness he’s good-looking
and began walking alongside him.

As we approached the rear of my Lex
us I pushed the red button on my cars remote to open the trunk, which indicated to him which car was mine. We stopped at the opened trunk and I placed my bag inside. As he placed the other bag inside, he took a quick inventory of its contents.

“It looks like I might have saved your husband from having little rocks embedded in his pork chops.”

I gave him a sly look prying into my marital status. He probably took notice that I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. I pushed the close button on my remote for the trunk.

“Okay, I guess you figured out I was probing. What can I say, you’re
beautiful. You can’t blame me for wanting to know if you’re attached to anyone.”

I
respected his honesty that he was prying. So I decided to open up a bit. “I’m not married.” I then moved around him in a womanly fashion to the driver’s side of my car.

“My name is Toni...Toni
Gentry,” he offered and moved over a little to allow me room to open my car door.

“Well
, Toni Gentry, I must be on my way and it was a pleasure meeting you.”

I got
inside and after fastening my seatbelt pushed the automatic start button. I then hit a button on my side arm panel to let the window down.

“Vivian,” I said with a concise smile, and extended my hand out of the window to him. He gently shook my hand placing his left hand over both our hands.

“Thanks again for helping me with my bag,” I said and slowly retrieved my hand from his affectionate cuddle.

“It
truly was my pleasure,” he softly said and looking as if he couldn’t take his eyes off me.

I couldn’t help but take in a full measurement of the lean physique before me. I almost felt I would be missing out on something if I didn’t; maybe an opportunity to get to know someone worthy of my time.

I’d say about 5’6” and 165 pounds, which fell under my desire in a man. His light brown complexion was nearly blemished free. His eyes were soft looking and his lips were thin but definitely kissable. He didn’t have any facial hair with the exception of light sideburns and nice thin eyebrows. Looking a little deeper at him, a little lipstick and eyeliner, hell, he could almost pass for female. As long as he wasn’t gay I could deal with his cross of manly and womanly looks. Toni also had on black slacks and a black silk shirt. His shoes looked expensive and his dreadlocks were a mixture of blond and black.

To
sum Toni up, he was a delectable looking man.

I must have drifted longer than I thought because
Toni snapped me out of my inspection of him.

“Is there a chance we can meet again?”
he asked.

“I’m...not sure about that.”

Even after he passed inspection I was a bit reluctant to opening myself up further to him. Probably because I’ve grown content being alone. Mr. Chauncey Lockwood was nearly three years ago. After our separation I spent more time at my salon and at home.

“Are you seeing someone?
” he then inquired. “I’m just asking hoping if you’re not, that you don’t let this opportunity of us becoming more acquainted slip by.”

N
o beating around the bush for you. I like that.  A man that gets to the point and knows what he wants and goes after it if I might add
.

Toni reached into his shirt pocket and
removed what I assumed was a business card and extended it to me.

“A little cliché,”
Toni said. “But the ball’s in your court. I dare you to call me.”

Cliché yes, impressed,
somewhat and with my eyes cast on him I felt challenged. So I responded with a smirk as I accepted his card. I ended our conversation on that note and shifted gears into reverse. I backed out of the parking space, shifted the gear again and drove away. I looked through my rearview mirror and saw Toni watching me drive away. I exited the parking lot and onto Cicero Ave.

*
* *

A
fter putting away all but the food she intended to cook, Vivian poured cooking oil into a pan, turned the pilot on and then reached for the package of round-cut pork chops on top of her granite counter-top.

“I’m going to smother you bad boys and get my groove on with a
nice chilled glass of wine,” she said, obviously in a good mood.

She
rinsed off the pork chops and laid them on a glass square plate, rotated the twenty holder season rack on the counter until she spotted the poultry and steak seasonings. She sprinkled a little on the pork chops and then flipped them over and gave a little dash of seasoning to the other side. She then coated them in a mixture of flour and peppered cornmeal.


I’m going to have me some broccoli and carrots,” she told herself as she opened one of the double doors of her stainless steel refrigerator for butter.

Just seconds after
she laid the pork chops in the hot oil and placed a lid over the vegetables the door bell rang. She glanced at the pilots under both pots, before heading off down the three steps and into the living room to answer the door.

Assuming it was her best friend,
Jennifer, she opened the door without asking who it was.

Vivian
was shocked at the person on her step dressed homely and looking at her with a cold stare and a toothpick sticking out of his mouth.

“Vernon?” she
quizzed certain it was him, but sounding as if she was unsure.

Vivian hadn’t seen
her half brother since the passing of their father four years ago. He died from lung cancer. Vernon, who had been named after their father had lived next door in the house Vivian rents to her friend.

Vivian’s
father made it clear that he had no plans on moving because he had a short term relationship with his neighbor before they became a family. Vivian didn’t care that her father’s old flame and son lived next door because she liked that she had a sibling, though it did at times unsettle her mother.

Vivian and her mother
learned their father owned the house at the reading of the Will. They also discovered that Vernon had been cut from the Will.

Vernon was in his
early thirties when he went to his father for financial support. He wanted an auto shop. His father explained to him that he wanted to help him but now was not the time. He had said, ‘Son, I understand you want to be an entrepreneur and I want to help you, but financially I’m not in a position to invest the amount of money you need. I just purchased two more limousines. I can’t afford to give you twenty-five thousand dollars, not right now.’

The rejection infuriated Vernon and he spat
, ‘If I was your precious daughter Vivian I’d probably have a chain of auto shops by now!’

Vernon then forged his father’s signature on a twenty-five thousand dollar loan. Vernon’s father
was so upset that he contacted the bank. The bank filed fraud and forgery charges against Vernon which resulted in him spending 6 years in prison. Vernon had called Vivian shortly after the funeral when he didn’t hear from her or an attorney. That’s when he learned his father had cut him out of the Will. He was furious, couldn’t believe their father had sliced him from receiving anything. It left a gash filled with envy and hate in his heart.

Vivian
turned her nose slightly up at Vernon.

Vernon pushe
d his hand across his nose and without being asked walked into Vivian’s house.

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