The Emerald Truth: Five

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Noelle sat on the edge of the bed, her skinny knee bouncing rapidly as she waited. She could still hear the men outside talking and she needed to pick the right moment so she wouldn’t get busted. A few more moments passed before she heard the car door slam and she made her move. She would lose them if she moved too slowly out the bathroom window or down the block to their car. Kyle had been excessively anal about their movements for years, for good reason. Noelle watched the black van pull away from the hotel parking lot as she jumped into their blue Honda. She’d wished her father was inside the car with her during her first pursuit, but she could hear his voice in her head as clear as a bell. Not too close, two car lengths behind. Stay in the next lane so they can’t see you. Be careful.

            She followed the van to the entertainment district; a block lined with strip clubs, bars, and a movie theater advertising XXX classics. The van turned down the alley behind Club Solo, obscured in the darkness. Closed for the evening, it was a perfect mark. Noelle parked the car across the street and made her way back to the alley, hiding behind the few still cars that lined the street. She could see her father and the mysterious man breaking into the building and disappearing inside. Noelle leapt from her hiding place and raced to catch the door before it locked her outside. She found herself in a dark stairwell and had to use the red EXIT sign to find her way up the narrow stairway. She could hear voices as she approached the door at the top. The doorway led to a balcony above the abandoned dance floor of the club. The lights on the stage were on, shining purple and blue discs across the room. She followed the balcony and the voice to the hallway, where she could finally see her destination.

“You got a lot of fucking nerve, Santos,” the man said with a scowl. His palms were flat on his desk as Kyle rapidly relieved him of the contents of his floor safe.

“I’m just coming for what’s mine,” Santos said, shrugging his shoulders.

“Dirty pig motherfucker,” the man spat. Santos stepped closer to the man, his aim unwavered at his head.

“We’re good, let’s go,” Kyle said, standing. He swung the heavy bag over his shoulder, ready to escape.

“One more thing. Give me the ring,” Santos said. From the hall, Noelle couldn’t see the item he’d requested, but for a second, it drew the attention of all three men. Continue reading

The Emerald Truth: Three

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They’d shut the door, but Noelle could still hear from inside. “She stays here or the deal is off,” Kyle said, puffing his chest towards Santos, whom was unfazed by his bravado.

“She‘ll Have world-class care.”

“No deal,” Kyle said, starting back towards the room, before he was seized by Santos.

“Eh, amigo, don’t forget, I own your Black ass. One phone call and your little girl will have a lot more to worry about. This isn’t a discussion,” Santos growled into Kyle’s face, before releasing him and straightening his jacket.

“My daughter is staying here. You need me,” Kyle said, unwilling to back down. Santos smiled, his gold molar shining against his weathered skin. “Fine. I’ll have a patrol car sit out front. Just in case,” he said, pulling out his phone. At least, in the motel room, she’d have the option to escape. Santos dialed a number and Kyle took the opportunity to go and prepare her for the worst.

“Dad…”

“We don’t have time. If I’m not back by midnight, I want you to go out the bathroom window.”

“What?”

“I don’t have time to explain. If I’m not through that door, you need to leave. Go as far as you can with what’s in your bag and I’ll find you. I promise,” he said, planting a kiss on top of her head. As much as she wanted to believe him, she couldn’t find the words to say as he walked out the door. The empty feeling that settled over her was familiar, since she’d been abandoned before. Continue reading

The Emerald Truth: Two

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Dorian had been seeing things, or so he thought. It’d been a while since he was haunted by the ghosts of his wife and daughter. In the beginning, he saw them everywhere, in the faces of every stranger. At night, he could almost feel Olivia’s arms around him and smell the conditioner in her hair.

It had nothing on the déjà vu he was having today, and it wasn’t Olivia. He looked over his shoulder for the 3rd time, looking for the familiar shape. As he approached the building, he turned around, his back to the rotating door. He’d felt it: someone was following him. He scanned the busy avenue, looking for anything or anyone suspicious. Continue reading

The Emerald Truth: One

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I can help!” Noelle repeated, following behind her adoptive father. Kyle ignored her again, going over his checklist in his head once again. He just wanted this night to be over.

“Dad!” Noelle yelled, hands on her narrow hips. The moniker still caught him off guard; never did he expect to become a father in such a short amount of time.

“El, you are helping me. Your job may be the most critical of all.”

“Packing bags? That’s kid shit!”

“Yes, well, with the way you’re acting, I’d say you were very much qualified.”

“What if you need me to squeeze into a ventilation system or sweet talk a guard? I’m useful!”

“You don’t need to prove yourself to me, El,” Kyle said, sighing.

“Then what is it?” A knock on the door interrupted them.

“It’s time to go.” Continue reading

Handsome

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The cardboard box in Marie’s front seat jingled as the car came to a halt. It had recently been filled with her personal items from a cramped desk after she was emailed a layoff notice. She sighed as she yanked her purse from beneath it and left the car.

Woody’s was her normal haunt on the weekends, a means of celebrating her often short-lived weekends with her friends. During the week, like this particular Wednesday, the place resembled a ghost town.
“Whiskey, please. Make it a double,” she said, perching on one of the lesser worn stools at the end of the bar. The bartender, one of the weekday workers, poured the drink swiftly and slid it in front of her. Marie downed the drink in one gulp.
“Another one, please.”
“Looks like you had the same kind of day I had,” said the man several seats away.

She hadn’t noticed him, at first. She’d been too preoccupied with her drink choice before deciding it didn’t matter; it wasn’t as if she had to work in the morning. Now, looking at him, he was far more attractive than his surroundings. “Well, I just lost a really cushy job. Of course, they wanted me to finish the day first,” she said, taking a sip from the fresh glass in front of her.
“I guess we both learned how little we matter today,” he said. His words stung a little deeper than she expected.
“I’m sorry. My girlfriend…she left me today,” he said, shaking his head before sipping the clear drink in front of him.
“Her loss,” Marie said, raising her glass and taking a sip as well. The man wiped his hand on his jeans before extending it to Marie, leaning across the seats between them.
“Jefferson,” he said with a grin.
“Marie.” Continue reading

Photograph

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“I wanna meet this girl who’s been occupying all my baby’s time,” Ricky’s mother, Phyllis, said. Before her son could reply, the waiter returned and deposited their brunch in front of them.

“Things are still new. I don’t wanna chase her away,” Ricky laughed before scooping potatoes into his mouth.

“Tell me all about her.”

“She’s wonderful, really. Smart, funny, gorgeous. She keeps me in check.”

“I love her already.” Time with his mother was precious to Ricky, since he’d so nearly lost her at the beginning of the year. The one thing she wanted was to know her son would be taken care of. He hadn’t told his mother, but he’d already begun falling in love with Alex.

“You should bring her to the barbecue this weekend. I promise, no grilling,” Phyllis said, mimicking the Boy Scouts pledge.

“I’m going to see her tonight so I’ll bring it up. No promises,” Ricky said. He was excited that his mother was excited about his new relationship, especially since she had been so negative about the girls he liked.

“Just promise me you’ll try and make this work. Treat her with all the respect and dignity you show me,” Phyllis said, taking her son’s hand. Ricky smiled and nodded, giving his mother a squeeze back.

“I promise.” Continue reading

More of the Same

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The stove’s clock changed to 10:52 silently. The flat was dark, except for the dim light that shined in from outside. Sonia sat at the dining room table, spinning her 3rd glass of cognac between her fingers. The last 6 years had been the same: her husband would walk out the door for work and manage to find his way between the legs of a young co-ed. Marcus was beautiful and charming in the beginning. He’d lavished her with gifts and trips, promising that she was the only woman he’d ever loved. They consummated their relationship in the balmy waters of Santorini & they were inseparable from then on. The first year they were married was everything she’d hoped. He spoiled her, prompting to her to quit the measly desk work she’d believed was her career. He helped her mother & sister move to a better home in a better community and doted on his wife, loving her as largely as he could. Continue reading