It was all over the prison that he’d finally been arrested. For women or drugs, nobody was sure. It was also rumored that he’d allowed himself to be found, arrested, charged, tried, sentenced and sent there. If that was true, then why? Why there? And why now?
The story had been all over the newspapers. How the billionaire Lover had, as a little boy, killed Snake, who’d tried to rape him. How his Twin sister had been forced to work as a prostitute and porn star to protect Lover and their family. How the Reporter had tried to extort $20 million from Lover and his husband, the Rock Star, to keep Lover’s crime a secret.
But Lover had regained his memory of that traumatic day and immediately confessed to the police. That hadn’t settled things, though. He and the Rock Star had almost lost their Son and Daughter but the Court’s decision returned the children to them. When all was said and done everyone had returned to their lives except for Reporter. And him. He wanted to talk with Reporter and, in order to do that, he had to get himself arrested and sent there. He didn’t mind. That was easy. This would be worth it.
Pimp Dealer wasn’t even worried about being back in prison. He’d been there before as had a lot of his Crew. He knew he’d be safe. Some of the guards, the important ones, were Crew members, too. So was the Warden–although he’d been reluctant at first. A cordial visit by Do-Good to his lovely home and lovelier family persuaded him to change his mind.
The reason why Pimp Dealer was there was very clear, at least to him. He still wanted to get Lover. Reporter still wanted to get the Rock Star. He’d been stupid about how he’d gone about it but at least the boy’d had the balls to try. Pimp Dealer was much better at such things and wasn’t as dumb. If they were both to get what they wanted from Lover and the Rock Star, he’d be the one to put together a plan. One that would work. One that would hurt. In fact, one that would leave two adults dead, one with nothing and the three children gone for good.
His arrival at the prison was something of a celebration. He’d been missed. His Crew was intact and ready for him. Reporter wasn’t, at first anyway. But some visits to the showers had convinced him to be happy about the arrival, too.
It took Pimp Dealer a few days to settle in, to make sure everybody was where they were supposed to be. As soon as he had, he went looking for Reporter. Or, perhaps it’s better to say he put word out that he wanted to see Reporter. Preferably after hours and someplace private. The Warden was happy to make the arrangements; after all, it was easy to lose the key to his private office somewhere the Crew would find it. And the guards would be handsomely rewarded when they did.
“Get yo’ ass in here, boy,” said Pimp Dealer.
The Reporter was rightfully nervous. He knew Pimp Dealer. He’d promised he could get Lover for him. He’d failed but he’d kept the $5oo,ooo Pimp Dealer had given him as a down payment. Pimp Dealer wasn’t very happy about that. Plus he’d taken that bitch Twin and her little bitch, Niecy, away from him. He missed them both so much. So did his friends.
“Uh, I heard you were, um …” The Reporter couldn’t stop shaking he was so scared. As well he should be.
“Yeah, imagine my surprise when I heard you done been transferred outta state. I guess they thought that would keep you safe, huh?” Of course Pimp Dealer had arranged that, too.
“Uh, I didn’t know why they were doing that, honest. I thought maybe the other place was overcrowded or something,” said the Reporter, still shuddering.
“Oh, no,” Pimp Dealer said, chuckling. “There was plenty of room over there, ‘specially for a celebrity like you.” He sneered, “I hear you popular here. Seem like dis a better place for you after all.”
Reporter didn’t know what to say to that. It was true. Not in the best way imaginable but it could have been worse. It’d been made clear he was to be kept alive.
Pimp Dealer casually lit a blunt and offered a hit to Reporter, who wisely declined. “Speak up, boy,” he said. “We got us some talkin’ to do and not a lotta time to do it.” He looked at the blunt, taking a deep hit and exhaling it out the open window. “By the time we done, you and I will’ve reached an agreement.”
“Just tell me what you want me to do,” Reporter said, knowing he’d have no choice but to comply.
“Well, I like your cooperative attitude,” said Pimp Dealer. “It’ll make this a lot easier for both of us. First off, bitch, where’s my half-million?”
Reporter had known this was coming. “Um, well, most of it’s already back at your place,” he stammered.
“Whataya mean ‘most of it’?” Pimp Dealer was not in the mood for half-ass answers.
“Well, I, I, I had, I had to spend some of it.”
“And how much is ‘some of it’? Don’t fuck with me, boy, or you’ll never get out dem showers.”
“Uh, about $100,000 or so.”
“Oh, ‘bout $100,000 or so’.” Pimp Dealer shook his head and looked at him while he took another couple of hits. “Damn, you say that so casual like. I guess you’ve, uh, figured out just how you gonna get dat back fo’ me, right? Wit’ interest?”
Reporter knew then he was in serious trouble. However he was expected to repay the hundred grand (with interest), he wasn’t going to like it.
“You right,” said Pimp Dealer, reading the Reporter’s face. “I need some people dead and guess who’s gonna to help me?”
Chapter 30 – FOR BETTER OR WORSE
Reporter had to admit, this plan was better than the one he’d cooked up. While the prospect of taking part in two murders and the exploitation of three children didn’t sit well, the prospect of finally depriving the Rock Star of everyone and everything he loved was too good to pass up. Staying alive had its attraction as well. He’d need some help but he knew where to get it. Pimp Dealer didn’t care who was involved as long as the Reporter got it done.
“Hey, man, how you doing?”
Producer wasn’t happy to hear this voice on his phone. It always meant something bad was going to happen.
“I thought you were in prison somewhere.”
Reporter chuckled, affecting some of Pimp Dealer’s swagger. “Yeah, that’s right, I am. And guess who else is here?”
Producer really didn’t want to know but he didn’t have any choice. It sounded like hanging up the phone would just make things worse. He was right.
“OK, I’ll play along,” he said. “What lowlife’s in there with you?”
Reporter adopted a very hurt voice. “Now, is that any way to talk about our old friend Pimp Dealer?”
Producer almost choked. Pimp Dealer had never known about his role in getting Twin and Niecy away from him. And if Reporter was that close to Pimp Dealer now… He tried to put on some swagger himself.
“Well, that must be nice for you,” he said, quickly putting things together in his head. If Reporter was out-of-state, Pimp Dealer must have bought someone off to make that happen and to get himself there, too. And since Reporter was still alive (but sore in some places, Producer imagined), Pimp Dealer must have wanted it that way. “I know you two were doing some business back in the day, so to speak.”
“Yeah,” said Reporter. “It wasn’t that long ago, though. And somehow he kinda “overlooked” who else was involved in it.”
Producer knew he had reason to be nervous now. If Pimp Dealer didn’t know yet that he was the one who’d made arrangements for Twin and Niecy to stay in NYC when they ran from him, Reporter could rat on him any minute. That would mean trouble, serious trouble. Permanent trouble.
“Oh,” he said, knowing what was coming next. “So, how can I make sure Pimp Dealer doesn’t find out who that other person was?”
“You let me worry about that. I’ll be in touch.” The smuggled-in cell phone clicked off.
Producer sat there for a while, thinking about how he’d gotten himself into this abysmal situation and, more importantly, how he could get himself out. It had all started with Reporter tracking down the rumor about the Rock Star coming back from that Mountain House he’d shared with Starlight. Damn. He’d been set up to take the fall from the beginning, ever since he’d taken that money from Reporter for that thing about Lover and Snake.
Actually it had started way earlier than that.
Just like Exec and Lover had been students together at Wharton, Producer had met a like-minded communications/journalism major when they were both grad students at State. “Like-minded” meant getting by doing as little as possible. They became tactical friends, using each other’s papers to pass courses. Or they’d split doing the research for projects and then switch notes so neither had to do the whole thing. And because they’d both become Teaching Assistants for different professors in different departments, they had access to papers written by students years before. A little updating here, a little tweaking there and suddenly there was an “A” paper with their name on it. Piece of cake.
The two men privately referred to each other as “Ace.” One mistakenly “earned” an internship in television; the other, in the press. They stayed friends, swapping gossip and scoops. They also shared something else: an urge for coke. They’d preferred weed in college but, as the money got better, so did the drugs. This was another something that bonded the two men—they knew too much about each other to rat on them. And over the years there were plenty of things to rat about. Some things never changed.
So they’d stayed “friends,” each one having his “Ace” in the other’s industry. The only problem was that the Producer’s “Ace” had helped Reporter track down all that stuff about Lover and Snake he’d told him. And the Producer had hooked up the two of them to do it. So if Pimp Dealer found out about how he’d helped Twin and Niecy, at the very least his coke habit would come out thanks to Pimp Dealer and his job and career would be kaput. And the only way he’d be able to pay back Pimp Dealer that was worth anything would be to rat out his “Ace” over at the newspaper who was also a coke “customer.” Both Aces would be jobless, coke-less, friend-less and maybe even life-less.
Reporter had him alright, by the cajones. He had to help him with whatever scheme Pimp Dealer had put together. There was no way out.
Tomorrow in “Promises of Starlight”: The last piece in place