Diamond’s Tuition

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The photographs looked nothing like her.

Snap!

The creeper photographer began snapping from lower angles.

She fixed her hair in one of several smudged mirrors surrounding the half-empty loft.

The photos looked nothing like her. Which was a good thing. She never gives photographers or agents her real name. To them, she’s Diamond. In case she ever ran for political office. In case she married a megachurch pastor. Everyone everywhere had a doppleganger somewhere in the world. Her’s was Diamond.

She straightened her back. “This good?”

The photographer lowered his camera towards her thighs.

“What now?” She asked.

“Nothing.” He Glared at her over the camera lens.

“Yes?” She snapped. “I’m getting tired.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, be faster please.”

The money he offered was going to pay off her tuition for the semester. And, though he was inches shorter than she was in flats, he was three times her size in girth. She needed to watch her tone.

The photographer approached her.

She forced a smile. “Done?”

“Yeah….” The photographer nodded. “Almost finished.”

The photographer’s wore an aromatic musk was something she expected from a tall, coco flavored Wall street hottie with muscles and a full head of hair. His aroma created conflict between her eyes and nose. A stout, balding man with a stretched out wife beater should smell the opposite.

The photographer reached for her vest.

She immediately pulled away. “Excuse me!”

“It’s classy…”

“You mean pornographic?”

“Nothing like that.”

Creep…

“These will all be tasteful shots.”

She left her stool. “Yeah… right.”

Slimeball.

“I didn’t mean to alarm you.” The photographer put his camera aside.

She scooped her clothes from the photographer’s unfolded futon and marched towards the door.

I’m an idiot.

She didn’t deserve a doctorate. Nobody in their right mind would agree to enter a strange man’s warehouse apartment to take semi-nude photographs for a blog she’d never heard of.

“Five thousand extra.” The photographer offered.

She turned to see two columns of dollar bills on his kitchenette counter

“Towards your college debt, Ms. Thompson.” The Photographer smiled.

The stack was tall. Thick. Greener than green.

“How many shots?” She asked.

“A dozen,” He replied.

“Too many.”

For too little…

“Only need three to publish.”

“The other nine?”

“I’ll delete.”

She returned to her stool.

“Panties remain.”  She opened her vest. “Hurry up.”

“Okay…” Photographer waved his hand. “Just need you to move your-”

She moved her arms to expose her breasts.

He snapped several photos. “That’s great.”

Doesn’t feel great. 

He lowered his camera.

She covered her chest. “What now?”

“One sec.” The photographer took off towards his room.

He could be back there gathering rope and electrical tape.

“I don’t have a sec,” She called.

The photographer returned. “Batteries died”

“Five minutes, I’m gone… I’m serious.”

“Got it.” He set his camera. “You ready?”

She exposed her breasts. “Yes, sir.”

“You’re doing wonderful.” Photographer inched closer.

She side-eyed the camera.

Wait… He called me Ms. Thompson… I never told him my name… 

The end

Rockstar’s Rent I

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Goddam apartment. Can’t stand it. 

Putrescence in the atmosphere. Emanating from the mold crusted vents and the endless cracks in his one bedroom death-trap. Stagnant, like the rotting sphincter of a weeks old rat corpse but worse.

Damn.

He taped his guitar neck.

He may have cracked the guitar across the spine of a moron who interrupted his music set. Idiot. Damaged his instrument more than he damaged the disruptive moron.

Strings popped. Pegs missing. Freaking guitar neck was one hard strum away from swinging like a wooden guillotine.

Mental gaps flooding… Recalling the night.

Head pulsating.

He caught a glimpse of himself in his cracked mirror. His sickly- pale frame and sunken eyes.

Tape. He needed tape.

He searched.

Not a single piece of tape below the sea of empty bottles and ripped pages.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

“Open up!’ Landlord roared through the keyhole.

Rent day? Crap. Losing whole days now. 

“Hold on!” He abandoned his tape search to find booze.

Thoom! Thoom! Landlord pounded with something heavy.

He found a half empty marble flask. This’ll do. 

He opened his door. “What?!”

A gelatinous, cane-carrying gimp with a kickable face, piss-colored eyes and teeth like rotting toenails was at his door.

“We want you out,” Landlord said. “Tonight.”

He smirked.  “I’m all paid up, bitch.”

Landlord narrowed his eyes.

“Gold watch I handed you was collateral,” He said.

“What gold watch?”

He laughed. “Don’t play stupid.”

The watch worth more than your shitty existence. 

“I’ll pawn the watch. Get you cash,” He said.

“Bullshit.” Landlord popped two cupcake sized pills. “Pay what you owe then hit the sidewalk, deadbeat.”

I shrugged. “And my watch?”

“Ain’t no watch, shithead,” Landlord jabbed him with his cane. “Get out or get your kneecaps split.”

He balled his fists. “A threat?”

“A vow. ” Landlord poked.

Each syllable of Landlord’s threats and lies echoed in his mind.

Pak!

He smacked Landlord’s cane from his hand. Backhanded Landlord across the face.

Landlord staggered. Rubbed his jaw. Wiped tears. Rushed him swinging like a blind swordsman on steroids.

He snatched the cane out of the air.

Cane was heavy. Denser than it looked. Nearly broke his hand when he caught it.

“Wait!” Landlord pleaded.

He beat landlord bloody with the cane. Kicked him and his cane down the jagged stairwell.

Landlord screamed. “Has-been prick… You’re finished!”

He slammed the door.

Tried to be peaceful. Fuckin landlord wanted this. 

He walked to the window. Stared longingly at Rose City’s skyline.

Fucking city… Just die already.

He took a swig from his marble flask.

Forget the watch… not worth it.

Boom! A blast through the door caused a hole as big as his torso. Dust cleared and two piss yellow eyes were peering through the hole. Landlord pumped his cane. Aimed.

A pump action cane… interesting.

He grabbed his guitar. Escaped through window and onto the fire escape. Flashed Landlord his middle finger.

Fire escape gave way. He and the rickety structure crashed four stories onto the sidewalk.

Too Early

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She’s more interested in war than peace. And by now… So. Am. I.

She’s in the living room. Morning exercise. Smirking like our disagreement is her improv skit.

Too early…

“Sure… you’re above it all.” I climb the stairs.

“Your tone,” She snipes.

Riiight. Play innocent.

I return. “Don’t dictate how I respond.”

She snickers. “Wow.”

“Laughter?”

“Wipe your mouth before you argue.”

I scrape my lip-corners. “Always agitating.”

“Nope…”

“Name-calling, shit-talking…”

“Wrong again.”

She judges. Points fingers. Ignites conflict like an emotional arsonist. Never concedes or compromises! Yet… my tone?!

“I’m done,” I ascend the stairs.

“Fine…”

“Perfection…”

Baby Tongue

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It scorched layers off his Lingual Papillae.

A mere thirty seconds for the microwave to bubble his mac and cheese into molten lava.

He gulped water.

Efforts… futile. Tongue screaming.

“You okay?” She smirked.

“Hot,” He replied.

“Seriously?”

“Yes….”

“Baby tongue.”

“Hush.”

“Want milk, baby tongue?”

“No…”

He had warm cranberry juice. No need for milk, ice, or her debilitating jabs.

He blew on his bowl before eating another forkful of her macaroni.

“Tasty?” She asked.

Nicely crusted…. perfectly seasoned parade of cheeses. Brilliance in a bowl.

Spectacular.

The best he’d ever tasted.

“Its okay,” He answered. “I’ve had better.”

 

 

 

 

Joshua’s Moon

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I approached Joshua with caution.

We were in a twenty floor high rise overlooking the FDR Drive. Joshua was having an intense episode and dangerously near an open window.

“Where’s Joshua?” I discreetly pulled the syringe from its case.  “Can you get Joshua for me?”

“He’s resting,” Joshua calmly answered.

“Wake him.”

Joshua faced me. “No.”

My son’s illness had returned with a vengeance. The prescribed medicines were useless. Ineffective.

“Why not?” I asked.

“It hurts him to say goodbye.”

My stomach turned. “Goodbye?”

“He perceives what’s at stake.” Joshua sat on the window sill.

“Slow down, honey.”

“He understands sacrifice.” Joshua pointed to the moon, revealing cuts on his forearms. “I must take his body.”

Not this again, I thought.

“What happens if you take it?”

“Joshua goes wherever things go when they cease to exist.”

“He’ll die?”

“I’m unsure if nothingness is akin to dying.”

Now’s my chance.

I snatched Joshua from the window and pinned him to the ground.

“The earth is in peril.” Joshua didn’t struggle. “I’m the planets only hope.”

Nothing behind his eyes. The boy talking was not my Joshua.

I injected the needle into his arm.

Warmth immediately returned to Joshua’s eyes.

“Mom?” Josh whimpered.

I squeezed him tight.

“No!” He ripped away from me and rushed the window.

“Joshua!” I chased Joshua to the window.

The view of the sky weakened my knees. Impossible.

The moon. Crumbling to pieces.

“Why didn’t you let me go?” Josh asked with tears in his eyes.

Ghoul’s Night Out

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She perused the menu of the expensive, five pentagram rated restaurant.

A posh, dark ages style torture room decor with stunning views of the unholiest realms.

Perfect for their Ghoul’s night out.

“Let’s see it,” Bestie demands.

She reaches her ring hand across the table.

Bestie closely examines the gem. “Two trapped souls?!”

“I know!” She shrieks.

“Lucky ghoul.”

“And… he loves children,” She adds. “Lightly seasoned… Well done.”

“Your fave.”

“Ahhh… bestie remembers!”

Fiery portals open above their tables. Flaming tentacles place two cauldrons of Boiling Hot primordial soup before them.

“Roanoake U Coven reunion tomorrow.” Bestie tastes the soup.

“The Black Lipstick slut sorority?”

Bestie squints. “Didn’t you pledge?”

“Yes… Before you sacrificed me to the demon, Bilquis.”

Bestie nods. “You’re welcome.”

“Whatever.” She laughs. “Hows dating life?”

Tentacles deliver blood champagne.

“Screwed one of the four,” Bestie answers.

“Horseman?”

Bestie smirks. “Famine.”

“Thought you’d prefer War.”

Too aggressive.”

“Wow… You’ve matured.”

“Two hundredth birthday just passed.”

“Happy belated.”

“I guess…” Bestie frowns.

“Your soulless mate exists. I promise.”

“Yeah, sure,” Bestie sighs.

Explore… Date warlocks.”

“Religious nuts? No thanks.”

“Zombies?”

“Followers. One track minds.”

“Oooh, Vampires? They’re romantic.”

“Total racists.” Bestie replies.  “Briefly dated a succubus.”

“When?

“That semester in Purgatory.”

“Hmmm…. Mummies?”

“Terrible dressers.”

“Wolves?”

“Wild in bed.” Bestie flashes missing finger. “Too wild.”

“Frankenstein.”

“Happily married.”

She groans.

“Ghoul, stop! I’m… fine.”

“You sure?”

Bestie nods and raises glass. “Tonights about you and your unholy union.”

“I guess,” She raises glass.

They share a toast.

 

Assassins Curse II: “She’s everything…”

Read Part I here.

His insides were bleeding.

Deteriorating organs. Malfunctioning brain. Heart. Lungs. Fading.

Half paralyzed.

Never felt this way before. Weak… Falling to pieces… In love. So in love.

He’d escaped from the trunk of an old car. Gutted two watchmen patrolling the area. Kept one alive for questioning.

Head cloudy.

She used something potent.  A deadly agent. He died twice. Returned once. For another taste of her succulent lips. Her poison kiss. An aphrodisiac. The things she did to him. She’s the closest to heaven he’d ever be.

“Where’s this?” He struck the guard.

“Scrapyard.” Guard trembled.

He narrowed his eyes. Scanned area for landmarks.

Grandmother’s tune flooding my thoughts…

“Not yet.” He whispered an answer to his grandmother’s calls.

“What?” Guard looked frightened and perplexed.

Eyes blurring. Glowing, mountainous silhouettes of city skylines. The ports. Shipping containers across rivers.

Definitely the East Side. Cross town. Way across town. She meant for me to disappear. Cars get crushed in the morning.

“Who dropped me?” He asked.

He snapped the Guard’s pinky finger.

“Fuck man!”

“A woman?” He gently gripped another finger.

“Yes!”

“How long?”

“Six… Six hours. No seven.”

“Six or seven?”

“Seven! Right after second shift.”

No weapons. No matter. He’s efficient with bare hands. Precise. Guard better not try anything.

He thought of her hands as he dragged Guard by the hair into the security room.

Thoughts of her caressing his chest. Writing love letters in cursive with her fingernails down his stomach.

He ordered Guard into a corner.

“I’m sorry,” Guard pleaded.

“I know,” he replied.

He recalled footage. Hours ago.

There…

His heart fluttered…

An angelic woman. Graceful. Pure sorcery in blood red silk as she dragged his body to the trunk before disappearing off camera. Our first dance.

The bridge. Certain that’s where she’s heading.

They were connected. Intertwined. She’s everything to him. Everything he never knew he needed.

“Your phone,” He demanded.

Guard slowly offered his phone. “You were dead, man.”

“I believe you,” He calmly replied.

Guard had pictures in his phone. Loving wife. Kids.

Love didn’t exist to him until six… no, seven hours ago. Before his killer wrapped her lips around him.

He dialed.

Screen glaring. Characters blurring. Head throbbing.

He pushed call.

“Hello?” A woman answered.

“Hello, sister.” He replied.

“Starvation. Pestilence. War. Death,” Sister said.

“I pray for healing.” He answered.

“God hears all prayers.”

“Thank you, Sister.”

Call ended.

Vrrrrr. Vrrrrr. Cell phone vibrating. Unknown Caller.

He answered. “ I’m… poisoned.”

“Specifics?” Sister asked.

“Unknown… Fast acting.” He cleared sweat from his forehead.

“How long?”

“Seven hours.”

“Who did it?”

“The mark.”

“Delivery system?”

“Lipstick.”

“She alive?”

“Yeah.”

“Poisoned too?”

“Maybe.”

“I’ll track her.” Sister suggested.

“Not necessary.”

He knew her location.

“Client won’t be happy.”

He coughed. Spat blood.

“Cancel the contract… return the money.”

Sister was silent. Frustrated breaths. Sister was contemplating something. Next steps. Betraying him.

“Someone will arrive soon.”

“Thanks…” He had a thought. “Wait.”

“Yes.”

“Send… Roses.”  He said. “And champagne. Top-shelf.”

Part 3 soon.

“Ilana’s call”

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Ilana frantically searched for her car keys and taser. She was an hour late for her tattoo appointment with ‘Freeze’, the only tattoo artist capable of drawing Buttercup and Blossom. See, Freeze was an ill-tempered and impatient drag queen with switchblades who moonlighted as a bar-tending dominatrix at a bar frequented by homicide detectives. She understood having two jobs. Understood life as an enterprising diva. Tatts and hairdos don’t pay for themselves. She needed to get her ass in her car.
She snatched her keys and was about to leave when her phone rang.
“What?” She answered.
“June’s calling,” Camaiyah said.
“Impossible,” She replied.
“Seriously.”
“Can’t be him.”
“What do I do?”
“He can’t trace anything back to you.“ She leaned against the counter. “Even if he did manage to escape.”
“Back to us.”
“Don’t do that,” Ilana warned. “There’s no us.”
“I’m not the one who hacked him.”
“You paid me. I did a job.” Ilana used her phone to trace Camaiyah’s location. “I’m just a third-”
Her phone buzzed.
“Party…” She checked her phone. “He’s calling?”
“How did he-”
“Shut up.” Ilana interrupted as she frantically pushed ignore.
But the screen was frozen. Phone kept ringing. Text and email inboxes flooding.
“Damn it.”
“What?”
Phone answered on its own. Speaker phone activated…. on its own.
“I know you’re there, Ilana,” June said.
Camaiyah was silent. Breathing hard. Swallowing spit.
“I know everything,” June said. “I just want to talk.”
‘Lies’ she thought. June wanted vengeance.
“Okay, lets talk.”

Assassins Curse I: “…her frozen heart.”

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Assassins were bewitched by her smile. Her thickness. Her full, succulent lips. Her sharp glances, piercing him deep.

His hand trembled as he aimed.

His red dot. Between her bosoms. Inches left of her frozen heart. All he had to do was squeeze. Empty his clip and end it.

“Someone hired you?” She asked.

“Yes,” He replied.

“Who?”

“Someone who don’t like you much.”

“Shame.”

She stepped closer.

“What’s stopping you?”

“Nothing.” He didn’t know what else to reply.

Disoriented. Weak. Blind with desire. Consumed.

She disarmed him with a smirk.

That’s all it took. A smirk.

His grandmother forewarned him about her.

Son… Karma will come for you…  His grandmother would say.  And poison you with her smile…

He never took his grandmother seriously. An old southern woman with superstitions and stories of evil spirits and spells. And curses. She wasn’t one to take seriously.

She undressed him. Button by button.  Backed him slowly towards the pool.

He couldn’t help himself. Frozen. Immobile.

She circled him as she disrobed. Lassoed his neck with her nightwear. Lead him towards the bubbling Jacuzzi. Stripped him of everything he had.

Gun. Knife. Keys. His free will.

“Want to know something?” She asked.

“What?”

“I knew you’d come.” She pressed her warm body against his. “You have a possession of mine.”

“Your heart?” He answered.

“No,” she replied.

“Your love?”

“Getting colder.”

“Your body?”

“Keep guessing.”

She was calm. Unlike her heart. Her heart raced.

She pulled close. Fulfilled one desire. Fulfilled desires he was unaware of.

“You owe me something,” She said.

“I do?”  

She nodded.

“Want to know what?” She asked.

“Yes.”

She tiptoed to reach his ear.

“Life. You owe me a life.” She whispered. 

He staggered  back. Wiped his nose.

Leaking nostrils. Red covering his fingertips.

She kissed him on the cheek. “For all the lives you ruined.”

He heard his grandmother’s voice… Calling.

Come on home, son… face judgment. 

No… Not yet… Please. Not now.

He collapsed. Struggled to move. Breathe.

“Sleep well, my love.” She smiled. “Send the devil my deepest regards.”

Shit… 

Read Part II here.