By G. Miller©
Billy “Bumps” Vernon sat on the porch of his blue and white, two-story colonial home on Hill Street in Waterbury, Connecticut. It took a long time before he could afford this home; a lot of hard work, a lot of saving, a lot of sacrifices. Now he could proudly tell anyone who asks that he owned his home. All of his bills were paid, and Bumps was debt-free as of two weeks ago. Today, he sat in his wood chair and breathed in that debt-free air. Life was always more relaxing when you no longer owed anyone anything.
Though he retired from his old profession, Bumps was too prideful to sit around the house and do nothing. He cut hair at a barbershop Downtown, and he fixed cars and watches out of his house. All of that tax-free money combined with his Veteran’s pay, and Bumps was still rolling in dough. All he had to do now was keeping making money, keep this house, and give it to his children when he died. Everything was planned out. Everything was going smooth.
Bumps flinched when he spotted a black woman with long, straight hair and green eyes walking down the sidewalk. Bumps’ heart slammed into his rib cage just from looking at her. She was like a tall Stacy Dash without the Hollywood flair. She wore black jeans, and black Air Force ones with a black long-sleeved plain t-shirt. She hid her face from the setting sun with her Atlanta Hawks, blackout, New Era fitted cap. She dressed no different than Bumps’ twenty-year-old daughter, but something about her set her apart from the average young woman. She strolled with a purpose, and for a moment Bumps felt like he was watching himself. Of course that changed when she opened his gate and sauntered up to his porch with hypnotizing hips that swished back and forth.
“Hi, are you Bumps?” she asked as she pulled a red and blue Jacob Watch knock-off out of her back pocket. “I’m Denisha, nice to meet you. I need to fix this watch for my son, and I hear you charge a decent price.”
“Well,” Bumps said as he sat up in his chair. “I could help you best I can. Of course, with those watches, things can get a little complicated.”
“Does that mean it’ll cost a lot?” Denisha asked with a pout. “We don’t have much, and I normally don’t spend money on stuff like this, but my son’s face just lit up when he saw it. He doesn’t know it’s fake, but he might figure that out if it’s broken and-”
“I understand,” Bumps replied with a wave of his hand before reaching for the watch. The second hand stopped working. It was an easy fix. No need to charge such a beautiful woman an arm and a leg. Bumps nodded his head as he searched the watch for anything else and found nothing. He then shrugged and set the watch on his lap.
“This is no big deal,” Bumps said. “For such a pretty woman, I’ll charge five dollars.”
“Are you sure?” Denisha asked as she smiled and ran her fingers through her hair. “That’s so cheap.”
“For you, it’s more than enough, baby girl,” Bumps said with a grin.
“Well,” Denisha replied as she stepped so close that her mid-section rested on his head. “There must be something you want. I’ve never met a man who did favors for free.”
“Girl, normally I’d introduce you to my son,” Bumps said. “But I think I’ll have to keep you for myself. Why don’t you come on inside?”
“After you, big daddy,” Denisha said as she looked Bumps up and down and puckered her lips. Bumps’ heart jumped in his chest as he stood up from his chair and opened the front door into his house. He wouldn’t even need his work station for such a simple fix. He dropped the watch on the kitchen table and opened one of his drawers for a screwdriver. After he finished this, he would get a taste of what Ms. Denisha had to offer. It would make a great story for his son.
Before Bumps made it back to the kitchen table, Denisha stood in front of him with her hand on his chest. Bumps shrugged and unbuttoned his shirt. Denisha ran her hand up his chest until she caressed his face. Her touch was soft and warm, and her eyes made his knees go weak. She then kissed him full on the lips. Bumps’ knees gave way and he held the kitchen counter for support.
Bumps had slept with numerous women. None of them kissed like Denisha. The watch could wait. Bumps set his screwdriver down on the dresser and reached for Denisha’s shirt. Denisha jumped back and shook her finger at him. Then she stepped forward and closed his eyes with her fingertips. A smile crept on Bumps when she stepped close enough for him to smell her tropical shampoo.
Bumps’ eyes snapped open when his head slammed against the wall on the other side of the kitchen. Denisha’s white-gloved hand held him fast against the wall by his throat. His mouth gaped open as he tried to grab her arm and free himself, but she held a vice grip on his neck. As Bumps’ head still buzzed, his feet left the floor as those same green eyes glared at him from below. Her stare was so cold and intense that all Bumps could think about was his impending death. He wondered about his children. Would his house be enough? Would they still be able to finish school with the little bit of money he had left? Bumps gagged when Denisha’s grip tightened and his feet swung back and forth. How was it possible for a woman to be this strong?
“Your name is William Vernon,” Denisha said with the perfect grammar of a news reporter. “You’re a former drug dealer who used to employ kids to do his dirty work.”
How did she know that? Bumps had been out of the game for two years now. He always managed to keep his operation quiet by hiding his money. He never allowed anyone who worked for him to wear fancy clothes or drive expensive cars. They never sold in Waterbury; always out-of-town and usually out-of-state. He also made sure that all of his children, were kept far away from his business. He just sent them enough money to pay for school supplies and college applications. How could this stranger know about his dealings? Was she a cop? No. Bumps always knew a cop when he saw one; even the corrupt officers he used to pay off. Who was this woman, and who did she work for?
“Luckily you never used your own kids,” Denisha continued. “But other people’s children have died because of your actions. One of your punks could’ve gone to jail for a long time. Do you remember Sylvester? He was one of your best sellers and almost your right hand man, but he got sloppy and sold to an informant. The FBI’s been on to you, so you got paranoid. You had him killed so he wouldn’t talk, didn’t you?”
Bumps’ vision started to fade as Denisha’s hand clamped around his jugular. She finally let go, and he dropped to the kitchen floor. Before he could get up, Bumps’ shoulder crunched when Denisha stomped it against the wall. Bumps cried out when she ground his shoulder with the heel of her sneaker. As he struggled to breath from the pain, Denisha held her foot on his shoulder and leaned forward. When her eyes glared at him, he looked away.
“Look at me,” Denisha hissed as she pressed into his shoulder again. Bumps grunted and turned his head back to her. Her eyes were the same color, but they were as different as night and day. Bumps had been in gun fights as a youngster. Bumps had been jumped and stabbed numerous times. Each time, he either came out on top or went down swinging only to hit them back harder later. This was different. For the first time in his entire life, Bumps looked into someone’s eyes and knew his death was near, and there was nothing he could do about it. Every inclination to stand up and fight vanished as Denisha dug her heel into his shoulder until it throbbed and burned.
“Your next target was the special prosecutor in Sylvester’s case,” Denisha said. “Samuel Johnson; a young gun with so much talent, and so little fear, that you’re afraid he’ll expose all of your criminal activity-”
“No, you’ve got it wrong-”
“I’m never wrong,” Denisha yelled over Bumps’ voice. “Now shut-up and let me finish. I didn’t expect you to call off the hit, so I took care of the guy you hired. Now I’m here to visit you personally because I don’t like you very much. I don’t like anyone who threatens my brother.”
“Oh, right, my name isn’t Denisha,” she said. “It’s Achilla.”
“Fine, Achilla then,” Bumps sobbed. “Look, I won’t bother your brother no more-”
“I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t nice to hear, but it’s not that simple,” Achilla replied as she reached behind her black shirt. “Once I informed Sylvester’s very wealthy uncle up in Bunker Hill that his nephew was running drugs for you, he was very upset. When he heard that you had him killed, well, he was more than willing to pay me to do what I wanted to do anyway. Now I’m emotionally and financially motivated to kill you.”
“What?” Bumps asked. “What uncle? What are you talking about?”
“I’m going to shoot you between the eyes with this gun,” Achilla said as she pulled out a .38 bodyguard pistol with a silencer attached to the barrel. “It’s not my cup of tea. I prefer a firearm with a little more power, but this is the calling card of your boy Rico. You know Rico, right? Isn’t he the guy you hired to kill Sylvester? Isn’t irony amazing?”
“How much did he pay you?” Bumps asked with a trembling voice. “I’ll give you double.”
“No thanks,” Achilla said as she aimed Rico’s gun. “I took a huge discount for this job. This is primarily a matter of principle.”
“How you going to explain my shoulder?” Bumps stammered. “You broke my shoulder, and nobody else can do that like you just did. I’m sure of it. You’re not walking away from this. Look, let’s make a deal or some-”
“I’m much stronger than what I’m showing you right now,” Achilla said. “I only applied enough pressure to look like the sort of damage Rico would have done. He’s about two hundred-sixty pounds of muscle. Nobody doubts that he could crush your shoulder. The best part is Rico has really small feet, and mine are quite big for a woman. Our feet are the same size, and these are actually his shoes. Don’t you just love when the circumstances fit in your favor like that? I do.”
“But what about my kids-”
“Ok, that’s enough talking from you,” Achilla snapped as she set the red laser sight on Bumps’ face. “Sylvester was somebody’s kid. He had kids of his own. You should’ve thought of that before you had him killed. This is your last breath. Make it a deep one.”
After Achilla shot Bumps between the eyes, she leaned him against the kitchen wall. She then closed his eyes with her white-gloved fingers and set the pistol in his hand; making sure to wrap his finger around the trigger. It was a lazy attempt at staging a suicide; the sort of lazy attempt that Rico would make. Achilla picked up the Jacob Watch knock-off and strolled across the kitchen, grabbed Bumps’ flathead screwdriver from the kitchen counter, and opened the watch. She then opened his drawer and found a Phillips screwdriver and tinkered with the inside. After she finished, Achilla closed the watch and checked the time. The second hand worked like new again; just like before she broke it.
Achilla strolled out of Bumps’ house as twilight fell over Hill Street. She had half-an hour to make it to her rendezvous point at the Timexpo Timex Museum. Achilla sighed and stretched her arms as she made her trip south on North Main Street toward Downtown; passing by colonial style homes and Honda Accords blasting rap music from their subwoofer speakers. When she reached the UConn campus on East Main Street, Achilla saw a homeless man pushing a shopping cart full of dark blue garbage bags. As she walked past him, she tossed the watch on the cart before pulling off her gloves and stuffing them in her back pocket.
“Thanks, lady,” the homeless man called to Achilla’s back. “God blesses you when you do that. He’s going to bless you for real.”
Achilla shook her head as she speed walked down the street. She hid her face under the brim of her New Era cap as three police cars with blaring sirens passed by and drove up North Main Street. As expected, they were too late and would never catch her. As far as every law enforcement agency in the country was concerned, Achilla was a ghost. Waterbury cops were no different. There was only one person Achilla could never escape, and that thought made her hold herself in her arms as she walked down the sidewalk.
“There’s no way God would bless me now,” Achilla muttered to herself as she refused to glance up at the night sky. “I can’t remember the last time we spoke.”