Friday, September 07, 2007

Enticing Mr. Wrong - Ch. 4

Aisha spent the rest of the week getting to know the people and the daily operations of her brother’s salon. She’d already examined the books and discovered that Dominic had been doing a juggling act for years with the company’s finances. On account of his secret drug addiction, which had required large amounts of steady cash, her brother had taken out substantial bank loans to keep the salon afloat.

That was no big surprise to Aisha. She expected to find as much.

Fortunately, most of those loans had been paid off before Dominic died. Unfortunately, there were still two left. Aisha used some of her personal funds to pay off the smallest loan. The larger one she arranged to have paid off in bigger installments with future profits from the salon.

In addition to learning about the salon business from every angle, Aisha also spent more time around Berry during her first week there. Besides the fact that she just liked his company, she wanted to glean as much information as she could about this Bonz character.

Although Berry didn’t know the man personally since he was not a drug user or dealer, he could describe him to a tee. Over lunch today, Aisha mentally prepared herself to get an earful of those descriptions considering her source.

Opting for more privacy, Aisha arranged for them to eat their lunch in Dominic’s office. Two salads and a pizza was their meal of choice. To keep things extra informal since they were currently discussing a non-business topic, Aisha proposed that they sit on the blue and white striped sofa in the middle of the room instead of around the desk area. She even turned on a little soothing jazz, using the stereo on the cherry-wood entertainment set directly across from them.

“First of all, Bonz’s physique is a cross between bodybuilder and an NFL player, so he looks good in everything he wears. Matter of fact, he’s probably the best dressed roughneck in the tri-city area,” Berry began, taking some time to feed the fish in the rectangular aquarium behind them before settling down to his own meal. He’d kept that tradition up, despite the fact that Dominic wasn’t alive anymore to reward him for such diligence.

“Okay, so the brother likes to work out and stay fly,” Aisha said, passing Berry a covered salad and a fork. “What else?”

“Secondly, Bonz is mega, mega handsome. The man has the smoothest caramel skin I’ve ever seen on anyone. Just delicious.” Berry smacked his lips and not about the food in his lap, either. “Those gorgeous eyes of his remind me of shelled almonds and his full lips are made for kissing.”

Berry, surely no man can be that handsome,” Aisha said, chuckling at his animated descriptions. Using a napkin, she passed Berry a slice of pizza. She would not be eating pizza today herself since it was too close to an upcoming photo shoot.

“Take my word for, Aisha, Bonz is that handsome. I mean the man makes lesbians want to be straight; straight men want to be gay.” Berry laughed, before taking a huge bite of pizza. Though he acted feminine, he still ate like a man.

Aisha laughed, too. “Wow. That is handsome.”

“Yeah. But despite his good looks, Bonz has a few flaws,” Berry said, after swallowing the food in his mouth.

“Sure he does, the major one has to be the fact that he is a drug dealer.” Aisha’s laughter dried up. Just thinking about what the man did for a living incited rage within her. Yet she wisely kept those feelings under wraps.

“Of course his profession is the worst flaw of all,” Berry agreed. “But I was actually thinking beyond that. For instance, those gorgeous nut-brown eyes of his are always eerily alert, like he’s constantly looking for trouble to jump off or something.”

“In his profession, a person has to be watchful,” Aisha said, speaking as if she had firsthand knowledge about such things. She did thanks to an old boyfriend, but she wasn’t about to tell Berry that.

“Yeah, but the man can blink once and awhile.” Berry laughed, causing Aisha to laugh again, too. “Furthermore, those lips of his might look kissable, but they don’t seem to know how to crack a smile. Matter of fact, I’ve never seen Bonz smile. And that hair of his.” Berry paused, wrinkling his nose in distaste.

“What’s wrong with Mr. Almost-Perfect’s hair?” While she talked, Aisha poured low-fat Italian dressing over her salad and mixed it in thoroughly.

“It’s way too long and too boring.” Berry paused to eat another hearty bite of pizza. “If you ask me, that brother is in need of a serious haircut. But all he ever wants anyone to do with it is shampoo, condition, and braid it straight back. Plus, he only goes to the female stylists to have that done, even though people like me are just as talented.”

One of Aisha’s brows rose at that last statement and at the quick glimpse of pain she saw in Berry’s eyes. If she didn’t know any better, she’d say that the flamboyant stylist was still too tenderhearted when it came to issues of rejection. Berry was going to have to learn to be a little tougher. Especially if he was going to continue in a lifestyle that attracted rejection like a magnet.

“Some men just prefer female hands in their hair, Berry, that’s all,” Aisha said reassuringly, trying to smooth any ruffled peacock feathers he might have. “Though I could care less which gender does my hair just as long as they do it right, I am particular about who does my body massages.”

“Let me guess, you only want the men touching you, right?” Berry gave her a knowing smile. “I figured you for a heterosexual.”

Aisha laughed. “That’s right. Even if the woman looks like a man, I still don’t want her touching my most sensitive spots.” She laughed again before becoming very serious. “Now tell me about this Bonz fellow’s other flaws.”

Aisha silently ate her meal as Berry gladly told her about Bonz’s last major flaw in between munches of his own meal. That flaw—a strong attraction to hoodrats in the two-city area.

According to Berry, Bonz seemed bent on reforming these women by bringing them into elegant salons like Dominic’s for facials, manicures, and hairdos. He obviously included shopping trips as a part of these makeovers, because his women often bragged about all the nice things Bonz had bought them or was going to buy them.

Aisha was very familiar with hoodrats - sexually promiscuous women who were raised in the ghetto and acted, looked, and talked like it. Shoot, Aisha had almost been one herself considering the fact that she was raised around females like that for ten years of her life. The fact that she didn’t become a hoodrat was to her mother’s credit.

Alyce Norwood taught Aisha that just because they lived in the hood (i.e. the ghetto, the projects), they didn’t have to look or act like it. That speaking correct English was a sign of good upbringing and would be useful in professional situations.

Mama was right, Aisha mused, waving goodbye to Berry as they concluded their lunch twenty minutes later. He had to get back to work.

Aisha had work to do, too, but she didn’t immediately return to it. The documents in the inbox on the desk could wait a few more minutes. Right now Aisha just wanted to take some time to reminisce about her mother, who’d died before seeing her realize her dreams.

Their dreams.

Alyce Norwood was a very talented woman in her own right. She could sing, dance, and act. She seemed destined for stardom. All of that changed when Alyce had a brief affair with one of her most devoted fans and ended up pregnant by him. That fan was Dominic’s father – Daddy ‘Jensen’ Burgess, the first black man in three counties to own a Cadillac dealership.

When Jensen learned Alyce was pregnant, he immediately insisted upon marrying her. The son of a preacher, he didn’t believe in abortion or in shucking his responsibilities. Though Alyce wasn’t in love with him, Jensen promised her that his love was enough to hold them together.

It wasn’t.

After Dominic was born, Alyce returned to her career and her partying ways. Jensen’s attempts to make her into a ‘respectable’ wife and mother were futile. They divorced after three years, agreeing to share custody of Dominic.

Alyce immediately took up with another man – Evander, a local welder and also the man that would be Aisha’s father. When Jensen saw how quickly Alyce moved on with her life, he refused to pay any more child support, opting instead to sue for full custody of their son.

Lacking money for a good lawyer and incriminated by her own free spirited lifestyle, Alyce lost the custody battle. She was left with only weekend and some holiday visits with Dominic.

By this time, Aisha was on the way and Evander no longer had steady employment due to massive layoffs at the industrial plant he worked for. As a result, Alyce had to forego her dreams again and get a ‘real’ job at a local florist shop. She also had to swallow her pride and apply for public assistance, part of which included subsidized housing.

Twenty-six years ago unmarried couples weren’t allowed to legally cohabit subsidized housing, which left Aisha and Alyce as the sole residents of their low-income apartment. Evander Norwood had to live somewhere else, though he could visit them any time he wanted to.

Even though Aisha was pretty young at the time, she could still remember how her mother used to cry at night for her lost child, lost dreams, and even the lost income she forfeited by divorcing a successful businessman like Jensen Burgess.

Aisha smiled as she also remembered how one hug from her father could always dry her mother’s tears. How Evander’s kisses could always make Alyce’s regrets fly away and produce a dimpled smile on her face.

I want a man that can have that kind of effect on me, Aisha mused, remembering her handsome father with fondness.

Aisha’s smile faded when her thoughts eventually turned back to Dominic’s handsome father. Though Daddy Burgess had always treated her well, Aisha had never been able to get too close to him emotionally. Her aloofness had everything to do with the way Jensen treated her brother.

First of all, Daddy Burgess used Dominic to get Alyce to marry him. He later used the boy as a post-divorce tool of revenge. Even after he remarried his ideal of the perfect woman, Jensen still retained custody of Dominic just to get back at Alyce for not loving him as she obviously loved Evander. He only released custody when Dominic started to display certain feminine tendencies around the age of fourteen.

By then, Alyce didn’t need Jensen’s child support anyway. She’d abandoned her wild ways and her lofty dreams, remarried (or rather had finally married Evander who’d ascended to a steady supervisory position at a local factory), opened a small floral shop of her own, and hadn’t lived in low-income housing in years. Thus, Alyce was not only ready to receive her son on a more permanent basis, but also ready to financially take care of him.

As for Aisha, she was ecstatic about having Dominic in their home full time. They became even closer during those years.

Though Alyce allowed Aisha to enter every modeling and talent contest she could find, she always pressed her to keep her grades up. Alyce didn’t want her daughter to have to marry the first man that offered her some sense of security. She wanted Aisha to be able to secure her own future by making the most of her education. She wanted Aisha to have a backup plan in case her own dreams of stardom failed.

Meanwhile, Dominic focused on learning their mother’s business. He even shared some of the business secrets he gleaned from the summers he spent working at his father’s dealership. When Dominic got old enough, Alyce made him a partner while Aisha concentrated on finishing high school.

After graduation, Aisha had her sights set on going straight to either New York or California to pursue her theatrical dreams. Unfortunately for her, Alyce wasn’t having any of that. She made Aisha promise to pursue a more sensible path first.

Aisha didn’t have the heart to deny her mother, who had just learned she had breast cancer. She thought by obeying Alyce’s wishes, she could somehow help prolong her life. It certainly increased the quality of it since there was considerably less contention between the mother and daughter.

Sadly, Alyce died during Aisha’s senior year in college. Shortly thereafter, Dominic and Aisha had a long talk about the business they’d been left control of. Incidentally, Evander had been left everything else.

During their sibling talk, Dominic revealed that he wanted to get out of the flower business altogether and open up a beauty salon instead. Aisha encouraged him to follow his dream. She even signed over her half of the business so that he would have enough capital to do so.

Dominic, in turn, encouraged Aisha to finally follow her dream of becoming a model/actress, despite the fact that she would be starting later than most models on account of all the years she’d spent in college. Though Aisha could sing, too, she had no desire for a recording career since she tended to be an emotional singer at times. Meaning, when her emotions were too high, she couldn't get a note out. That's why she hadn't sung at any of her relatives' funerals.

Aisha smiled as she recalled how Dominic practically shoved her into her current career when she called him, crying about the bad breakup she’d just had with a college sweetheart. Yes, Dominic listened to her sob story, but right afterwards he sent her a first-class plane ticket to California.

I want my little sis to fly in style’, Aisha mused, quoting her brother’s exact words. Dominic also helped her secure her first apartment.

From that point on, Aisha’s triumphs and successes were Dominic’s and vice versa. He was at her first major photo shoot. She was at his first salon opening. And although Aisha was out of the country at the time Dominic moved his business to the suburban city of Littleview, she sent him the largest congratulatory floral arrangement she could find.

Now Aisha was determined to not only keep her brother’s company in the black, but to also make sure that his death was not in vain. As a result, the hunt was definitely back on for this Bonz character.

You’re going to pay for what you did to my brother. No matter what it takes, Aisha mused coldly, determined to have the ultimate revenge.

* * *

In a realtor office in Macon, Georgia, Laquetta suddenly felt the unction to pray for her stepsister. Turning from her computer screen, she got up to close her office door. When she sat down again, her prayer was simple, yet potent since the prayer of a righteous person accomplishes much no matter how long or short it was.

“Father God, please send godly people across Aisha’s path to help lead her to the right road of Salvation. In Jesus name, Amen,” Laquetta prayed in faith.

* * *

At a busy Enfield barbershop, Gregory ‘Bonz’ Forsyth sat in a red barber’s chair, preparing to do the unexpected. He was about to let the barber cut off five years of hair growth that had spanned down to his mid-back.

“Are you sure about this, Bonz?” the neatly groomed barber behind him asked. “This is a lot of hair.” He held up a section of thick hair so that Bonz could see just how long his locks were in the mirror before him.

“I’m sure,” Bonz replied decisively. “I need a change, man. So do what you do best.”

The barber shrugged. “All right.” Then he went to work with his shears, cutting off large tracts of hair in a matter of seconds.

With each snip of the scissors Bonz felt lighter and lighter. Who knew a haircut could make him feel so much better. Now if he could only lighten his soul from its torments…and its guilt concerning not one, but two dead addicts.

© 2005 by Suprina Frazier


Suprina said...

To all: I know this is a long chapter. I started to break it up, but after making you wait almost 24 hours since the last post (and after all the encouraging comments you left) I figured you deserved a long chapter.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for being so considerate. LOL. I loved this post because it remined me so much of my sister. She's like Laquetta when it comes to prayer points. I wish I had that gift. Oh well. By the grace of God maybe one day I will.

Suprina said...

Marlene: You're welcome. :)

I'm also glad you're feeling Laquetta. At first I thought she might repel some people with her sometimes extreme naivete, but it warms my heart to know that you guys are able to look beyond that and see her for the gem that she is.