Children of Starlight, part 3 episode 19 of “The Starlight Trilogy” by Thea Washington
The character “the Rock Star” is based on Adam Lambert.
The videos in Part 3 feature Adam Lambert, Queen, Depeche Mode and Savage Garden.
Chapter 37 – A FAMILY’S BUSINESS
“Tell me what happened,” said Lover, the grief and sorrow evident in his voice.
“Well, after Mommy sent you away, she made me promise not to tell anyone what I’d seen, what I knew. So I didn’t. Ever. I could tell how important it was. And folks around the ‘hood were talking for a while.” She stopped and looked towards Lover. “Nobody thought it was you. And everybody knew what Snake was like, what he did. So when he died the only one who really cared was Pimp Dealer. Huh,” she said. “Snake was a gambler and a cokehead but he did come across with some cash every now and then.”
Lover looked down at the floor, then back at Twin. He shook his head.
“Mommy finally told me why she’d sent me away. I didn’t think about what that would do to you, though.”
Twin looked back almost at Lover. She couldn’t look directly at him, not yet, now that they were getting to the real stuff. Instead she got up to get another beer and, her back to him, asked if he wanted one. He said no, he didn’t drink much anymore. Twin asked why and he told her about the martial-arts classes and how he couldn’t drink and do the moves, too. Plus it had been part of this bad argument he’d had with the Rock Star. She’d seen the tabloid about the chair so she knew what had happened that night, too. It seemed like Twin knew all the worst stuff that had happened to Lover.
“Anyway, hey,” she said, opening the beer and sitting back down at the table, “we were only ten when all that shit happened. And like I said, everybody knew about Snake. I’m surprised he didn’t go for you sooner.”
“Yeah, and you know the ironic thing? It was Pimp Dealer that kept him off me.”
“Huh,” again said Twin. “I wish I coulda kept him off my girl, the son-of-a-bitch.”
At first Lover didn’t know, or didn’t want to know exactly what she meant. Then it slowly came through.
“You mean he… “
“Yeah,” said Sister. “Him and his so-called friends. It started when she was around three or four. He started just by touching her.” Twin looked like she was going to lose it. “He did it to keep me in line. He said he’d do worse than that it I didn’t do ‘whatever he wanted’.”
Lover was sick, and not just about what Pimp Dealer had done to Niecy and Twin. How many times had he and Angel lovingly said those same words to each other: “Whatever you want”? He felt like he was going to vomit. He tried to put his hand over hers but she just leaned away. “She doesn’t like to be touched,” he realized. “All those people, men and women touching her, all of them without her consent.”
“I’m so sorry,” he said again. “I swear I would’ve come and gotten you if I’d known. I swear.” And again Twin knew he was telling the truth.
“Well, that’s water under the bridge,” she shrugged. “Anyway, nobody thought you had anything to do with Snake. Not nobody in the ‘hood, nobody. And the police weren’t really interested. To them he was better off dead anyway. Besides, you were too nice to be mixed up in all that.” She almost looked at her twin brother and smiled. “Looks like you still are. And why you doing driving that little car, anyway? I thought you supposed to be rich or something. That’s all the car you can afford?”
Lover chuckled. “I borrowed the car from the Housekeeper,” he smiled. “She thought I was crazy, too.” He got serious again. “I just didn’t want to bring any attention to me coming to see you and Niecy. I thought if somebody saw my car, they might tell the Reporter.” Then the smile returned. “Most times I am pretty nice–or at least I look that way,” he said. “But only so much. You know, I run a business and you can’t be nice all the time.”
“Well, that makes sense. As far as you and your business is concerned, ooo, I’m skerred,” she said, shaking her hands back and forth. That was followed by chuckles from both twins.
“Don’t be. I only get like that when I need to.” He paused. “And if I’d known what you and Niecy were going through, believe me, I would have been ‘that way’ on Pimp Dealer’s head. Me and a whole lot of police.” There was another answer he had to know. “What did Mommy tell people about why I was gone all of a sudden?”
“Oh, she just said Auntie had taken you to go live with them ‘cause then you’d be going to better schools and shit. Nobody knew for sure where they lived and Mommy would hint that it was up north somewhere. Everybody knew you were smart so everybody believed it. If anybody thought the timing was weird they never said anything.”
“But what about when she’d bring you to visit? How’d she explain that? And what did she tell people about why I never came back?”
“Damn you ask a lot of questions,” laughed Twin. “Is that how you made all that money?”
“I guess you’re not going to tell me, huh?” said Lover.
“I would if I knew all the answers. I do know she said you were so far away that nobody had the money to send you back and forth to the neighborhood to visit us. She said we kept in touch by phone ’cause she could call collect.”
Lover shook his head again. So much had gone on behind his back, so much he didn’t know and some of it pure hell. But he hadn’t asked the real question yet.
“How did Pimp Dealer find out and why’d he come after you?”
Twin looked at the floor. She looked guilty but Lover couldn’t figure out why … unless …
She got up from the table and went to the window, where her cigarettes and the ashtray were on the sill. “It was my fault,” she whispered.
Lover thought he hadn’t heard her right. “What?” he asked, quietly. “Whadaya mean, your fault?”
Twin kept looking out the window, again not wanting to face him.
“It’s not like I told him or nothing,” she said. Lover could hardly hear her, she was talking so low. “Things were OK for a while, about five years. But then Mommy and I got in a fight.” She stopped, remembering. “We were always fighting about something. I think this one was about some boy and weed and my grades and shit.”
He could see that happening. Mommy had always been on them about school. School and church.
“Anyway, she was always bragging about how good you were doing with school and stuff. Always bragging on you. She lied about where you were but she bragged so much it just made everybody believe even more why you’d gone away.”
She took a drag off the cigarette, inhaling deeply, pushing out the smoke before she went on. Lover had the feeling this was going to be it.
“So we’re fighting, right? And she’s bragging on you as usual and I just couldn’t take that shit no more. So I yelled at her that at least I didn’t kill Snake.” She stood at the window, shaking her head again. “You remember how paper-thin those walls were? And folks always had people staying wit’ ’em? Well, them in the place next door, they had this guy there, one of Pimp Dealer’s ‘customers’. And he heard me hollerin’ back at Mommy. And he went and told him.” She was shaking all over now, now that it was out. So was Lover.
“So he came and got you.”
“Yeah, he came and got me. Grabbed me right off the street one day after school and threw me in the car. He said he had a gun and would shoot me if I didn’t stop fighting and screaming, so I shut up. I was so scared.” She took another gulp of the beer. “He took me over to Pimp Dealer’s place. Dealt me for some drugs and some pussy.” Like Lover, Twin had a razor-sharp memory about most things. This was one of them. Twin was back on that day, the scene of the first crime against her. “It was my fifteenth birthday.”
“He shot me up with shit. You know how that shit is, you hooked right away. Then he raped me and told me if I ever told anyone, he’d kill Mommy and the kids. And he’d find you and kill you, too.” She blew out some smoke, once, twice. “Then he said, since you’d killed Snake, his brother, he’d keep me, your Twin. He said it was a trade.” She was in tears now, too, Lover’s having started way before then.
“So you stayed, to protect all of us.”
“Yeah, fifteen, but I stayed. Plus I was hooked. I couldn’t call Mommy and she didn’t even know where I was. He took me down south there for a while. At first nobody bothered me because they knew I belonged to him. Then he started loaning me out to his suppliers and customers for more drugs or to pay off somebody. You know.” She stopped for a minute to pull herself together.
Lover knew what she was feeling. It was like when he’d told Angel about Snake and had to get it all out before he himself fell apart. And that had been like the day at the Mountain House with the Reporter when Angel had had to get it all out about Starlight so he could finally let her go.
Now here was Twin pouring out her own tragedy.
Twin was ready now to keep going about what had happened. She said, “About a year later he put me out on the street and in those movies. I let him so I could get the drugs. I never thought it would be my life.” She turned to Lover. “I never thought that.”
Lover wanted to ask why, when she got older, why she didn’t leave but he didn’t have to. He could see the whole thing. Twin’d been hooked on drugs, dependent on Pimp Dealer, protecting everybody else and then pregnant. She told him she’d lost five babies before Niecy was born, two of them beaten out of her, all of them fathered by who knows who.
That was the thing that was hurting Lover the most, not just the horror of Twin’s own nightmare. It was that nobody protected her while she was protecting everyone else. Mommy couldn’t go up against Pimp Dealer; besides, he wouldn’t have told her where Twin was. So all she could do was be mad and sad about losing both her beautiful twins. And then after the kids left, Twin still stayed with Pimp Dealer to protect Mommy, ‘cause Mommy was getting old.
He remembered when he’d come back for Mommy’s funeral. He’d cleaned up the mess his little brother and sister were in, mostly debt and drugs down south. He’d never found out why they were down there in the first place. But he’d paid off the debts and put them both in rehab and then back in school. They’d been told the same thing he’d been told, that Twin had died of an overdose when she was fifteen. They were still children, babies in a way, so when Pimp Dealer took Twin out of the neighborhood and down south, they’d believed Mommy, too.
Neither one ever saw Twin again. She was just one county over from them down there. And when things got too hot for Pimp Dealer to stay south, he’d come back with Twin and took up over in P.G. County.
Lover got up from the table and went to put his arms around Twin, but she closed up again, not letting him touch her.
“It was all my fault,” he said, shaking his head and letting the tears come. “All my fault.”
“NO,” she said, strongly, turning around so he could hear her clearly, see the realness on her face. “It WASN’T your fault. Oh, I held it against you, for years I’ve been holding it against you. I seen your picture in the magazines with all your money, traveling around the world, marrying the best-looking Rock Star out there, all happy wit all dat fancy shit. And I wondered why you never came for me, especially after Mommy died.”
She chuckled, darkly. “Bet you didn’t know I came to the burial. You didn’t even see me, didja? I was up in da trees over there. I saw you, though.” She shook her head, turning again to look out the kitchen window. “You coulda beat Pimp Dealer. Nobody would have believed him even if he had fingered you for Snake. You coulda beat him. Saved me from da drugs and the street and those porno movies.” She spit the words out before she stopped again. “You know about them, right?”
“Yeah, baby, I know,” Lover said, the tears still coming. “I know. I just found out a few days ago, when I found out you were still alive. That’s why I sent someone to Maryland with the letter, to find you. As soon as I found out I sent someone.”
Twin was confused, shaking her head, crying. “You did?”
“Yeah, as soon as I found out. But you weren’t there anymore so I had him track you. I told him not to come back until he’d found you. You and your little girl. I told him that.”
“Wow,” she whispered. “You did send someone to get me outta there. You sent someone to save me.”
And then they were in each other’s arms, sobbing out all the pain they both felt.
“I thought you didn’t care. I thought you’d forgotten me.”
“Never,” said Lover. “I’ve never forgotten you.”
They got to talk a little about the Reporter, enough so Twin learned what he was up to. He’d told her she’d get half a million dollars when he got the money. He told her he’d only asked for a couple million so she thought he was doing right by her. She was pissed when she found out how much he’d really demanded from Lover and the Rock Star.
“Shee-it, that muthafucka played my ass,” she snorted. “Well, I let him, I was so pissed at you. I didn’t know everything then. And I was the only one who knew the whole story so he needed me. I mean, he REALLY needed me. Thing is, how’d Younger find out you killed Snake? We gotta find that out ‘cause I never told nobody.”
Lover knew exactly how she felt. So many secrets. So many lies. Just then the phone rang. He looked at the ID. It was Angel’s signal that the Reporter had just left. Lover and Twin had another 30 minutes and that’s all. He explained the signal to her. And asked if she would help them get the Reporter.
All other thoughts and grudges and possible opportunities flew out of her head.
“You got it, bro,” she said. “Let’s get the bastard.”
Chapter 38 – NOT OVER YET
“So how’d it go?” It was the question each wanted to ask the other.
The sounds of the children were like music. In fact, Son was playing the piano, something that sounded vaguely like a melody. And he was making it up as he went along. Dad was very proud.
“He’s such a shit,” said Angel as he told Lover about the Reporter’s visit. “He actually believed I had called him over here to negotiate. Like he’d get a penny out of us.” He scowled just thinking about it. “Not a fucking penny, I swear. Anyway, how’d things go for you? Must have been kinda OK. When I got your signal it took everything I had to play like I was ignoring an important call for his ass.”
Lover smiled. “It went great. A little shaky at first but it turned out great.” He paused, thoughtfully. “It was horrible, too, though, what’s she’s been through. And her little girl.”
The two men sat down and exchanged stories about their afternoon. Lover wanted to scream. He understood, though, that Angel had had it just as tough as him but at least some good had come out of his visit with Twin and Niecy. So he contained his Joy for Angel’s sake and listened while he described his talk with the Reporter.
“I was sitting there wanting to kill him, T. He kept going on and on about how he’d better get that money or he was going to tear this family apart, how he had a witness and wasn’t scared to produce ‘em. I noticed how careful he was not to give the witness’ gender. Now we know why.”
“Yeah, it doesn’t sound like he already knew that we knew Twin and Niecy were in town. God only knows what he would have done if he’d known that.”
“Well, let’s hope things stay that way. Were you careful not to leave anything there?”
“Yes, I took the trash with me and even got the letter back. I told her I’d keep it for her. She understood. Since she’s going to help us we have to protect her, babe, like she protected me all those years.”
“You’re right. Absolutely.”
“You know, she did mention one last piece of info we don’t have.”
“How did Younger find out, and when?”
The next thing to do was to call the police. They came right away. Lover and Angel told them the Reporter had tried to extort money from them because he knew about the chair incident and, when they hadn’t paid up, he’d planted the story. Lover then bravely told them about Snake, his brother Pimp Dealer and Twin, saying she was ready to help them by wearing a wire to catch the Reporter talking about the money. They knew he’d probably talk about Lover, too, maybe even try to make a deal by telling the police about Snake, so they had their attorney there with them as Lover told the police about Snake first.
The Reporter would be arrested when the wiretap came in. Lover was taken into custody, too, and immediately.
Luckily the children never heard a thing. Lover left the house to the sound of their Son’s original pop song and their Daughter’s computer game. Because he’d confessed on his own, at least there weren’t any handcuffs until he was in the car.
The staff was told everything. They would take care of the children as long as necessary. Angel followed the police car to Headquarters, where the police used a secondary entrance to get them into the building. Lover and Angel’s Security Personnel made sure nobody had followed them and if they had, they would have thought it was a follow-up to the chair story. Everyone wanted the Reporter arrested before he found out Lover had already confessed.
The Rock Star wasn’t allowed to see Lover but he was allowed to wait in a private office. He was kept up to date on what was happening. Lover was being booked, processed and moved to a solitary, guarded cell.
Considering all the arrangements that had to be made and coordinated, it didn’t take that long. Twin and Niecy supposedly went for a walk. Around the corner an undercover detective in an unmarked car picked them up and took them to Headquarters, where they met the Rock Star for the first time. He and Twin bonded right away on their love for Lover, now that she knew the whole story. Niecy couldn’t stop staring at the Rock Star. Even six-year-olds were pop music experts nowadays. She was shy and wouldn’t make a first move until Mama said it was OK, that this was a nice man just like her Uncle.
“Hi,” said the Rock Star. “What’s your name?”
“Niecy,” whispered the little girl, a bit in awe. This was a really famous person.
The Rock Star was about to introduce himself when Niecy said, “I know who you are.”
“Oh, yeah?” asked the Rock Star. “Who am I?”
Niecy was right on it. “You’re that man that sings on TV.”
The Rock Star admitted she was right. Sometimes he did.
“I’ve seen you on TV. Sometimes Mama watches you with me.”
“Oh,” said the Rock Star. “So I’ve got two fans in your family.”
“Uh huh. Mama thinks you’re, um … .” She searched for the word. “Oh, I remember. Mama thinks you’re really pretty, but I don’t think so.”
The Rock Star looked heartbroken. “You don’t think I’m pretty?” he asked.
“Uh uh,” Niecy said. “Girls are pretty. Boys are cute.”
“Do you think I’m cute?” he asked, hesitantly.
“Yeah,” she answered. “You’re REALLY cute. For being so old,” she added.
Everybody chuckled and laughed about that. The little girl lit up the room.
By the time Mama was back from being wired and ready to go, Niecy was sitting on the Police Chief’s sofa with the Rock Star, singing his hit songs with him and correcting him when he missed a note or a lyric. Six-year-olds don’t understand improvisation.
When they got back to the apartment there was no sign the Reporter had been there. That was good. He did show up about an hour later. Niecy had been instructed not to say anything about her Uncle or the Rock Star or being at the police office. It wasn’t unusual for her to avoid the Mean Man. So when Mama said so, she quickly went to the back room after seeing who was at the door. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary. Unfortunately for such a little girl with her history, keeping secrets was natural.
“So how’d it go with Lover and the Rock Star?” Twin asked, careful not to even hint that she knew Lover hadn’t been at the mansion.
“Not so good,” the Reporter answered. “I may have to come down to, uh, one million. You know that means your part comes down, too, to maybe $100 grand.”
“A hundred grand?” she yelled. (The police and detectives monitoring the wire could almost really hear her, way down the street in their unmarked van.) “What the hell do you mean, muthafucka, a hundred grand? Hell, without me you wouldn’t have any fuckin’ proof at all. This whole thing was your idea,” she snorted nastily. “So what happened to yo’ grand plan to get the $20 million?”
“Well, all you need to know is that they wouldn’t go for 20 mil. I knew they probably wouldn’t. I just really wanted the million anyway.” He was covering himself and Twin knew it. She also knew what she had to get him to say. So she just waited, knowing he wouldn’t be able to not blab that it’d been him all along.
“And yeah, that’s right, it was my idea to get the money ‘cause I knew they’d want to keep it a secret, Lover killing Snake,” said the Reporter.
“Bingo,” thought Twin. Now all she had to do was wait for the police and the detectives.
The Reporter wasn’t quite finished, though. “That’s why I get most of it and you get less. Besides, bitch, a hundred grand is a hundred grand more than you got right now. You wanted to move out here anyway. Now you’ll have a nest egg to get you started.”
“And what am I supposed to do with a fuckin’ hundred grand, huh? That don’t go very far out here.”
“I really don’t care. You could go to school or something. Pay somebody to look after the kid while you’re in class. Or,” he said snarkily, “you could get back on the walk. At least it’s warm out here.”
Twin wanted to call for the detectives right then and there to come get his ass, but she knew the game. There was one more move she wanted to make. “And Mr. Know-It-All, what happens if they don’t come through with the money?”
“Oh, they’ll come through. This is chump change to them. And I KNOW they don’t want this story gettin’ out.”
“Game over,” she thought. She’d been rounding the bases and safely headed for home.
The police had heard enough. They rushed the apartment, kicked down the door and had the Reporter in cuffs before he knew what had happened to him. The whole thing had taken less than five hours from Lover leaving the Mansion with the letter to the Reporter being arrested. Again Angel thanked the Universe they’d invited those million and a half people to the wedding including the Security Personnel, many of whom were off-duty police officers.
Tomorrow in “Children” – A different kind of Hell