Poof

Good morning and Happy New Year, Folks! It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted something (a little over a month), so I missed a December posting and I apologize. I will definitely be making up for that and then some (more on that shortly).

During my time away, I’ve had time to reflect not only on who I am as an artist, but also as a person. I mulled over that cliche, but necessary question everyone asks at some point in their lives…who am I? In fact, I’ve been mulling that over for months now. Well, I discovered that the answer to that question is far more complex than I anticipated, but if I didn’t learn anything else (as simple as this is going to sound) I learned that I have to be myself…my highly sensitive-artsy-introverted-quirky-bohemian-afro-centric-spiritually inclined-creative self. The fact is I like writing about deep matters of life. Romance doesn’t come easy for me, even though I LOVE reading romance novels (particularly Beverly Jenkins). Stories with a Twilight Zone-esque vibe to it really tickle my fancy and if I have my way, I will be known as the Plot Twist Queen someday. That’s the truth of the matter and so I set out to be who I am as an artist through and through from 2016 on forward. With that said, I have decided to drop the pseudonym of June Imani Bell. I will be going by my REAL name STACIE DOBSON BELL. If I am to live in my authentic truth as an artist, I have to be authentically me.

The second decision I have made is to post not just one, but two shorts/poems to this page per month. I figure, for accountability and consistency sake, the more deadlines I give myself, the more art I produce! It’s 2016, for God’s sake! Time to step my creativity game up!

And now for the nitty gritty! This entry is actually a submission I sent to a publishing company I was hoping to become apart of, but sadly, they did not accept it. My very first rejected piece…I guess that makes me official, right? LOL In any case, I am still very proud of my work. Disappointed, but never discouraged! I hope you enjoy reading this piece as much as I enjoyed writing it. Oh and btw, it is LOOSELY based on a TRUE story, so let me know what you think! Ciao!

POOF

By: Stacie Dobson Bell

“Be the flame, not the moth.”

― Giacomo Casanova

 

It had been eight months, three weeks, and countless lonely nights since Xavier Graves’ last disappearing act, yet there he was, all six foot three, two hundred and twenty pounds of him materialized on my doorstep, bold as sin drenched by the rain, and wearing that signature smile I hated to love.

“Hello SquareBear.” His pet name for me from our college days rumbled from his throat to my beating heart.

“Hey.” was all I could muster.

He looked me up and down and nodded.

“You look amazing.”

Standing there in the door, dressed in a white t-shirt, a pair of frumpy Tweety Bird pajama shorts, no bra, tussled box braids, and sleep in my eyes, I doubted amazing was the word.

“Thanks.”

After a few beats of silence, he asked, “May I come in?”

Every ounce of sense in my head screamed for me to slam the door in his face after the way he treated me, but the whisperings of my broken heart found us sitting across from one another at my kitchen table fifteen minutes later. He stared at me while I gazed down into my Santa Catalina Island coffee mug, doing my best to avoid eye contact.

“So, are you going to speak or spend the entire time looking everywhere but at me?” he asked.

The rebel in me forgot that I was but putty in his presence and looked him in the eye. Just like that, I was lost in his perfection. His skin was the same, smooth mocha tone, just about blemish free. He wore the same thin lined mustache just above his full lips and his large, dark brown eyes stared back; magnified by the prescription glasses he wore. Something about the way glasses looked on men always turned me on, especially when Xavier wore his, but this time, all I wanted to do was crawl under a rock for fear he’d see right through me with them. On the outside, I was cold as steel. Inside, my heart had already melted into my slippers. I managed to pull myself together just enough to ask, “So…what brings you here tonight?”

He smiled and said, “You, of course.”

“I gathered…but why?”

“Well, I’ve had a lot of time to think about things while I’ve been away and-”

Away? Xavier, it’s not like you were out on a business trip. You left me…for the third time. We were together practically every single day for a year straight and then POOF! Just like that, you were gone again…only this time, you thought enough about me to leave a note on a napkin saying so.” I said a bit more bitterly than intended.

He looked down into the coffee mug in front of him.

“I deserve that. I was wrong, I know.”

Already annoyed with this conversation, I leaned back in my chair and sighed.

“I’m serious, Sage. I want things between us to be different.” He said, meeting my eyes again.

“You say that, but you’ve been running in and out of my life, playing with my emotions for too long and I’m not going to have it anymore. You can’t play with me, break me, and then put me back on the shelf until you’re bored again. I’m not your plaything and this ain’t Toys R Us. That is not the way this works…not anymore.”

“You have every reason not to believe me, but I’ve changed. That’s why I’m here. I want to show you how ready I am to make things work…”

He pushed his coffee mug to the side and reached into his jacket pocket. A moment later, he produced a pair of what looked like airline tickets and slid them across the table.

“Starting with this.” He said.

I looked from him to the two boarding passes. The one on top read Negril.

“Jamaica?” I asked, unable to hide the surprise in my voice.

He gave me a crooked smile this time, clearly impressed with himself.

“It took me months to save up for this…and all you have to do is say yes.”

If he would’ve asked me to go to Jamaica eight months ago, I would’ve already had my bags packed and waiting by my front door. But this time was different. As much as I wanted to believe him, I needed a money-back guarantee or something to show that he wasn’t just taking me for another ride.

“I don’t know. The last time you left, you left me in pieces and I had to put myself back together alone. I can’t afford to trust you again just for you to pull another one of your disappearing acts.”

Without warning, he reached across the table and gathered both of my trembling hands into his. Because it had been so long since he’d touched me, eight months worth of tears flowed and I hated myself for it. He looked up into my watery eyes and said, “The only way I will ever disappear on you again is if you tell me to.”

I felt my throat tighten into a lump. I tried to pull my hands away from him, but he squeezed them even tighter and kissed the tips of my fingers just as tenderly as he used to. I melted once more, yet again putty in his presence and in his hands. With an unwavering gaze that wouldn’t quit, he whispered, “Please SquareBear…just say yes.”

Our plane made its descent upon the island of Jamaica by sunset, the very next day. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. It was everything I’d ever read about, seen on TV, or heard about from friends and family who’d already gone before me. Half an hour later, I stepped out onto the airport terminal, marveling at everything from the natural wildlife to the beautiful people. Sure, the air was permeated with the smell of ganja potent enough to make Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson do a double take, but that paled in comparison to the high I felt just being in paradise, especially with the love of my life. He stood beside me in his white linen slacks and shirt, Armani glasses, and white fedora. Reaching over, he grabbed my hand and whispered, “Are you ready?”

“Born ready.” I purred.

Our shuttle took us from the airport to the most beautiful beach front resort I’d ever seen. It literally looked like my desktop screensaver. I was amazed that a place so pristine and lovely could exist. The suite was just as jaw-dropping as the scenery outside, with its Caribbean flavored blue, green, and yellow tones, luxurious jetted hot tub in the corner of the room, and light linen canopy draped over the giant king sized bed. We would’ve made love that evening, had we not been so jetlagged. We didn’t even make it to the bed before crashing onto the various duvets for a much needed nap.

The morning after, we arose for breakfast along the white sandy beach, where I fed him passion fruit and got tipsy off of one too many Jamaican rum mimosas. We spent the first half of the day at the spa, indulging in full body couples’ massages and mud baths.

By noon, we were zip lining through the lush, green jungle. A couple of hours later found us parasailing among the turquoise waves, snorkeling along the colorful coral reef, and hiking to the top of the mountains, overlooking the entire island. Standing there in my beloved’s arms as the sun set over the horizon was the closest I’d even been to heaven. By midnight, we danced the night away at a local dancehall club to the latest hip hop, R&B, and Reggae sounds, for once not worried about the future. We just reveled in the moment of bliss where I belonged to him and he belonged to me.

But the highlight of the entire trip came that evening as the subtle, soft breeze flowed through the open terrace window and between the sheets of our king sized bed, riding in tandem with the melodic sounds of the ocean waves rolling onto the shore. Our soft moans mingled together set the perfect mood and I couldn’t imagine life getting any better. I was being made love to by a man who held me within his strong arms as if I were a precious, erotic dream that would fade if he didn’t hold on tightly enough. He made me feel sexy and desirable; a woman being loved thoroughly and completely…something I had been longing to feel ever since he walked away from me months earlier. After riding the euphoric wave of ecstasy, he collapsed in a sweaty heap on top of me, resting his head between my small, parted breasts. I wrapped my arms around him, caressing his back, attempting to soothe the scratches I’d placed there.

“Shit, that was good.” he panted.

I closed my eyes and sighed.

“I can’t believe I almost forgot how well you could put it down.”

“Well, then I will just have to do my best to remind you every…single…night.”

He placed kisses along my throat as he spoke while teasing the throbbing, warm, beating between my thighs with his fingers.

“Oh, that’s good,” I sighed.

He smiled, clearly pleased with my reaction to his sensual tribute. Although this man was single handedly responsible for every heartbreak I’d endured in the past two years, I could not deny that he was sinfully gifted between the sheets. The truth was I could live without the shopping sprees and the lavish and exquisite restaurants he liked to shower me with. I’d never been that materialistic of a girl in the first place, but the way Xavier loved me from the inside out was what every woman’s dream was made of and if I had my way, I would never wake up.

“Sage.”

The sound of my name jolted me from my thoughts.

“Yes?”

“I thought you might’ve fallen asleep.” He chuckled.

“No, I was just thinking how glad I am to be here with you.” I answered.

He leaned up on his elbow above me and whispered, “I’m glad you’re here too. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me and I intend on showing you every day of the rest of our lives together.”

My kiss swollen lips spread into a wide smile at that last part.

The rest of our lives together?

“Which reminds me…wait here.” he said, smiling.

Like a child on Christmas morning, he spilled out of bed and hurried in all of his stark, nude glory to the closet. I watched him unzip one of his bags, reach in, and return with a small, navy blue velvet box. I sat up, my curiosity completely piqued.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Finally giving you what you’ve always deserved.”

He held up a small, silver box and flipped it open, revealing a gorgeous, three stone diamond ring. I brought my hand to my gaping mouth and gasped.

“Oh my, an engagement ring?!”

“A promise ring.” He corrected.

My smile dropped a little.

“A promise ring?”

“Yes, the three stones in this ring represent our past, our present, and our future. I know the past hasn’t been what it should have, but I will be there for you from this moment on until the end of time. I promise. I love you Sage Marie Franklin.”

I had to admit, I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t an engagement ring, but I figured it was just as well since he had yet to promise me anything before, let alone propose. I wrapped my hands around his clean shaven face and cried, “It’s beautiful.”

He grinned, kissed me deeply, and slid the ring onto my finger.

“I live to love you, you know that? If you’ll let me, I can show you so much better than I can tell you.”

Before I could respond, he lifted me up into his arms and carried me to the bubble filled jetted tub in the master bathroom, eagerly anticipated more rounds of him demonstrating how much his life depended on loving me.

The next day, I awoke and purred like a sated kitten after a well-deserved siesta. After our erotic bath, I’d slept most of the day away and the sun was once again setting over the westward horizon. I stretched and turned over, only to find that the spot Xavier slept in was empty. There was a note sitting on the nightstand. Heart racing and expecting the worst, I snatched it up and read:

You’re beautiful when you’re sleeping. I’m downstairs in the front lobby renting our jeep for tomorrow. I love you and I’ll be back as soon as I can -X

Glowing with relief, I exhaled, grabbed my cell, and dialed my sister, Paprika’s, number. She answered on the first ring.

“Hey, girl! How’s that island life treating you?”

“Hey Pap! It’s a total dream. I can hardly believe it’s real.”

“Uh huh, well get all you can out of the deal because you know with Xavier’s triflin’ ass, it won’t last.”

“Actually, that’s what I called to talk to you about. Last night, he did something I never thought he would do.” I said, holding my right hand up and admiring my new piece of bling.

“What’s that?”

“One sec…” I said. I held my phone out and snapped a photo of my hand. I sent it to her and placed the phone back to my ear. The line was silent for so long, I wondered if the call dropped.

“Paprika?”

“Yeah, I’m here.” She said.

“Well….what do you think?” I asked.  

“I think it’s about damn time he proposed. Lord knows it took long enough.”

“Actually, it’s not an engagement ring. It’s a promise ring.”

A promise ring? What is this, high school?”

I sighed. Paprika hated Xavier something terrible for the heartache he’d put me through and wasn’t willing to cut him a break, even if I was.

“Can’t you just be happy for me?”

“I want to. I really do, but come on Sage, a promise ring?  Xavier couldn’t keep a promise with a bottle of super glue.”

“He’s changed, Pap. I know it’s hard to believe now, but it’s true.”

“How do you figure that?”

“He didn’t have to come back, Pap. Not only did he do that, he brought me to paradise and gave me this beautiful diamond ring. Isn’t that proof enough?”

“All that proves is the man knows how to show a girl a good time.” She tossed back.

“I know he’s put me through hell, but I’m telling you, he’s changed and if I can let go of the past, then you should too.”

This time, Paprika let out a sigh.

“Fine, if this is the real deal and the two of you are an official item, then I’m happy for you…he did say you two are together for sure, right?”

I thought about it a moment and said, “Well, he didn’t say those exact words, but I know that’s what he meant.”

“Eh, I think you need to check back in with your boy. The last thing you want is to be the only one who knows the two of you are a couple.”

Just then, the door opened and Xavier stepped in.

I smiled and said, “Hey, I gotta go. He just walked in.”

“Okay, don’t forget to ask him, Sage.”

“Okay, fine.”

“You’re going to ask him?”

“What did I just say?”

“Answer the question!”

“Yes, I’ll ask him, alright? Bye!”

I hung up the phone before she could say anything else, tossed it across the bed; smiling as he approached.

“Hey Handsome.”

He looked at me and grinned.

“Hey Beautiful. Who was that on the phone?”

“Oh, it was just Paprika. I was telling her about my brand new bling.” I said, beaming at the brilliant rock.

“It suits you.” he nodded.

“That it does. May I ask you something?”

He nodded, but didn’t look up at me as he was too busy scrolling through his iPhone. I took a breath. Deep down, a part of me wanted to take the ring for face value and not spoil the happiest moment in our entire relationship…but Paprika was right and the alarm bells going off in my head showed no signs of silencing either. If he was as for real as he said he was, this was going to be an easy, open and shut conversation.

“Are we Barack and Michelle or Richard and Elizabeth?”

What do you mean, Baby?” he asked, as he continued paying more attention to what was on his screen than me.

“I mean, what do we mean to each other? Are we a committed couple like Barack and Michelle or are we just kicking it until we go our separate ways again, like Liz and Dick?”

He stopped scrolling through the phone long enough to look up at me and stare for a moment. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking and therefore didn’t know if I should be glad or sorry I asked.

After a few silent moments, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, we’re not quite Barack and Michelle but we’re definitely not Liz and Dick either. I’d say we’re…right in the middle.”

“Okay, well what does ‘right in the middle’ mean?”

“It…just means what it means. We’re in the middle.”

“Xavier, how do you expect me to be alright with an answer that vague? It’s a simple question that requires a simple answer. Is we is or is we ain’t? Are we a couple or not?”

His eyebrow raised and he looked at me like I was the bugging.

“Why are you sweating me about this all of a sudden?”

“I’m not sweating you. I just want to know if this ring means I’m your lady or just another kept booty call.”

He sighed and said, “You were never a ‘kept booty call’ and you know it.”

“Do I? Think about it, X. I’ve yet to meet anyone from your family or hear you introduce me to your friends as anything other than my name in the two years and some change that we’ve been involved.”

“We’ve been over this a thousand times, Sage. It’s just been bad timing.” He growled.

“Oh, I see, but it’s always perfect timing when you want to call me up in the middle of the night for some ass, right?”

He glared at me as if warning me not to cross some kind of fucked up invisible line he drew.

“Don’t be that girl. Playing these tit for tat games is not a good look for you and I didn’t bring you all this way to listen to you bitch and moan about things you don’t understand!”

I fell silent and stared at him, too stunned to cry. Cursing under his breath, he walked over to my side of the bed, sat down, and pulled me into his arms. I tried resisting, but my efforts were in vain. He firmly held me close, took my ring hand in his.

“I’m sorry, Baby. I was out of line, but there is something I need you to understand. This ring isn’t about official titles, meeting families, or even love. It’s about the promise I made to always be by your side. You have been, are, and always will be my best friend. For as long as we both draw breath, that’s all either of us needs to know, alright?”

I looked up into his eyes and found my reflection looking back. Two long years of the hellish, emotional rollercoaster he’d put me through left nothing but a shell of the vibrant, strong, fiery woman I once was and suddenly, understanding set in like an anchor to the floor of the sea. I looked up into his face and said, “Alright.”

That night…

Xavier stepped out of the shower, wrapped the white, terry cloth towel around his waist and walked into the suite. With the room plunged into near total darkness, he made his way to the bed, ditched the towel, and climbed in; eager to “make up” after that awkward conversation earlier. But when he reached across the bed, he came up with nothing but cold silk sheets.

“SquareBear?” he whispered.

Silence.

Confused, he reached over, turned on the lamp beside him, and scanned the suite for any signs of Sage. There were none. No clothes, no shoes, no luggage, nothing. All that remained as evidence she was ever there to begin with was the lingering scent of her perfume and a flimsy napkin sitting on the nightstand with the promise ring he gave her resting atop of it and one word scribbled in bright red lipstick…

POOF!

 

 

“POOF” is an unpublished literary work

© Copyright by Stacie Dobson Bell

January 2016

All Rights Reserved

Posted in Uncategorized

The Gift

The Gift

By: Stacie Dobson Bell

“The past has no power over the present moment.”

― Eckhart Tolle

Lord knows I couldn’t find my interest in standing at the door of the woman who had been sleeping with my husband if I had a map and a flashlight. I would sooner enjoy a root canal followed by jury duty if it were up to me and yet, there I was, standing on her welcome mat, in a form-fitting crimson ribbed sweater dress, a pair of black fur lined wedge heeled boots, and my Michael Kors black leather purse hanging off the inside of my elbow. I knew I looked good, I made sure of that, but I certainly didn’t feel that way. I showered for the first time that morning in days and finally put a comb through the tangled mass of thick, dark brown coils that was my hair. Still, all the primping I did to prepare for this visit could not account for the countless nights filled with tears instead of sleep, which rendered the skin underneath my eyes red, raw, and baggy.

As exhausted as I was, I would’ve loved nothing more than to turn around, go back home to my two beautiful kids, and wash my hands of both my husband and his slut. After all, they deserved one another and all they had coming to them. No one would blame me if I just walked away and never looked back, but a still and small voice told me if I walked away, I could count on never getting another wink of peaceful sleep again.

With my mind finally made up, I rapped lightly on the door and waited. Minutes later, she opened it, grinning and holding a bottle of champagne. The moment she laid eyes on me, her bright smile faded so fast, I wondered if I’d imagined it. Her reaction hadn’t been a surprise. It mirrored my own as I viewed her for the first time. She had clear, boysenberry skin, long wavy black hair that cascaded down her back like a waterfall, glowing hazel eyes, and long Naomi Campbell legs. The fact that she was wearing a silky royal blue kimono with a sheer sapphire blue negligee underneath that highlighted her full, flawless bosom, and strappy silver stilettos on her perfectly pedicured feet didn’t help in the least. Where I was short, curvy, and lighter-skinned, she was tall, slender, with skin the color of onyx. She was nothing like me and it was little wonder why T.J. had been spending nearly every night in her bed for the past year.

Still, I refused to be deterred. I stood up straight, looked her in her lovely eyes, and said, “Hello Dominique. We need to talk.”

She looked me up and down, critically, and said, “I don’t think so.”

“It’s not about what you think. It’s about what’s needs to happen.”

“The only thing that needs to happen is you admitting that you lost and the better woman won.” She tossed back.

I lowered my head and sucked in a calming breath, mentally kicking myself for leaving my stress ball at home on my nightstand. I slowly looked back up at her and said, “The only thing I’m in danger of losing is my patience if you don’t ease up off that bass in your tone. Now, I’m only going to ask one more time. May I please come in?”

“You have another thing coming if you actually think I’m about to let you in just so you can jump on me in my own home.” she glared.

“First of all, don’t let the smooth taste and small frame fool you. I could’ve put you on the six o’clock news a long time ago but I have two gorgeous children and you’re not worth it. Secondly, if what I have to say wasn’t bigger than my very real hatred for you, then I wouldn’t be here. If you don’t trust anything else that I say tonight, trust that.”  

She was silent a few moments and just when I thought she would slam the door in my face, she stepped aside.

“Thank you.” I muttered, my eyes trained on that bottle of champagne clenched between her fingers. Immediately, I noticed all of the candles lit and the soft music playing from her sound system in the corner of the tiny living room. She’d definitely expected to find my husband at her door instead of me and that meant my text to her from his phone worked.

She closed the door behind me and began to cough a bit. I noticed a small bottle of cough medicine sitting on her kitchen breakfast bar and looked back at her.

“Are you alright?” I asked, much more quietly than I wanted.

She nodded, quickly pulled herself together, and wrapped the kimono around her scantily clad body. I found slight amusement in the fact that she would be concerned about the way she looked in front of me, but I quickly pushed the thought away for the more pressing reason I was there in the first place.

“Where is T.J.?” she asked.

“Texting you from his phone was the only way I knew you would see me.” I replied instead.

She stared at me a few moments before sighing.

“Fine…may I get you something to drink, Yvette?”

Keeping the little bit of chill I had left in check, I replied, “It’s Yvonne and no, this won’t take long. I do think we should both sit down for this.”

She held out her hand, offering me a seat on her sofa across the room. She joined me shortly afterward, sitting out of arm’s reach at the very end. As I sank into the plush interior, I wondered if she’d made love to my husband on it. If she had, did he hold her close afterwards? Did he whisper sweet nothings in her ear the way he used to when we first got married? Did she know what it was like to burrow her face into his broad chest and fall in love to the cadence of his heartbeat?

“So, what do you want to talk about?” she asked, breaking into my thoughts.

I took in a sharp breath before speaking.

“I understand you’ve been having sex with my husband for quite some time.”

Her eyelids fluttered like butterfly wings before the right corner of her mouth twisted upward.

“Let’s just say, what T.J. and I have is far more intimate than just sex.

Her bold admission shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. I couldn’t figure out how a woman, especially a sister, could be so bold as to admit to something so salacious. Suddenly, a sharp pain shot through my right palm, courtesy of my nails breaking into the skin. I loosened my grip and pulled myself out of the dark place she was about to take me to.

“T.J. and I have been married for six years and I know everything there is to know about that man. I know his social security number, his blood type; I know where every scar, blemish, and mark is on his body.”

“So do I.” she responded defiantly.

Cocky slut. I had every right to smack the living color out of her right then. I should have. I would have but that still, small voice reminded me that what I had to say was much bigger than my rage, no matter how intense.

“I know that too.” I breathed. “I also know where you work, when your birthday is…I know that red Porsche sitting outside was his birthday gift to you. I even know about the abortion he paid for with part of our kids’ college savings.”

Just thinking about the missing $4,000 from our children’s college fund and its purpose had my blood boiling all over again as it had happened three hours instead of three months ago. A flash of what could’ve been fear, shame, or both shown in her eyes and she swallowed almost discreetly.

A moment later, she said, “Well, I didn’t know anything about a college fund and even if I did, that’s not my problem so if you came here expecting an explanation out of me, then you’re just wasting both of our time…”

The Del Paso Heights in me wanted to reach across that sofa, wrap my fist around that weave, and fling her as hard as I could into the nearest wall. Instead, I squeezed my eyes shut and practiced the breathing techniques my anger management counselor taught me months earlier. I’d come a long way since the moment I learned of my husband’s affair; evidenced by the fact that I’d not only gone to the whore’s home alone, but I had yet to put my hands on her. If Dr. Harper could see me then, she would’ve been proud…nervous, but proud.

“Listen Dominique, if I don’t know anything else about you, I know that you’re not nearly as dumb as you look.”

She sucked her teeth and folded her arms, glaring at me. Nonetheless, I continued.  

“Even if you are that dumb, at the end of the day, I’m a Christian and woman to woman, I refuse to be a party to his deceit and lies…”

She raised her eyebrow in confusion.

“What are you talking about?” she asked, clearly irritated.

Without a word, I reached into my purse and pulled out a sealed, manila envelope with my husband’s name scribbled across it in bold, black marker. I held it out for her to take, but when she didn’t, I set it on her coffee table instead. She glowered at it and then back up at me.

“What’s that?”

“Consider it a gift, even if you’re the last person on earth that deserves it.” I said as I slowly rose from the sofa and walked toward the door.

“What am I supposed to do with this?” she called after me.

I stopped just as I pulled the door knob open and looked back at her. If there was any such a thing as a hate threshold, I had exceeded it a long time ago. There was no use lying to myself or God about how much I loathed her very existence and the destruction she’d brought upon my family, but even that paled in comparison to the fate that awaited her. With that in mind, as I stood there, looking into her spiteful jade eyes, all I could feel was pity.

“Just like any gift you receive, you’re supposed to open it. After that, you can keep it, burn it, or wipe your behind with it for all I care. I only pray, regardless of what you decide to do, that it’s not too late.”

With that, I exited her apartment and shut the door behind me. I hurried as fast as my boots would allow down the long, dimly lit corridor toward the exit, but no matter how much distance I put between us, I could hear her shrill screams as clearly as if I were still in the room. I dashed the lone tear that threatened to appear away and sent up a silent prayer of thanks to the Lord above that my wayward husband hadn’t managed to infect me and my children with that evil three letter curse…which was far more than what I could say for his mistress.

 

The End

“The Gift” is an unpublished literary work

© Copyright by Stacie Dobson Bell

November 2015

All Rights Reserved

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sirena

Hey there June Bugs! It’s been quite some time! I’ve missed you! I took a little bit of a hiatus, but I’m back and in full effect to post my once a month submission! So, instead of a trick, I give you a treat in the form of my latest short story! I think you will enjoy it…especially in light of what today is! As always, let me know what you think! Ciao!

SIRENA

By Stacie Dobson Bell

Standing on the stage of a local strip club before dozens of drunken, horny men, more than half, no doubt married, the lady sang softly and sensually. It quickly became clear to her that no one under the sound of her voice could take their eyes off of her with her blackberry skin and  almond shaped, topaz eyes. It hadn’t helped that the sea foam, mini dress she wore hugged her lithe body so tightly, it made the the already half-naked strippers jealous of her and the men jealous of the dress.

Still, she waved her arms around her body, slowly, deliberately as if weaving a web of sensuality from her slender fingers. She never blinked. She pretended to breathe. She only slid her shimmering eyelids open now and then to keep suspicions low, while simultaneously mesmerizing every man in attendance, but would just as soon keep from making direct eye contact with any one unsuspecting soul for too long. It was a dangerous game she played, one with potentially lethal repercussions, but as far as anyone else was concerned, she was just there to sing her song. Nothing less, nothing more…

There was someone, though. Shrouded by the darkness in the back of the lounge, a lone, dark stranger sipped from his tumbler of rich whiskey and tapped the end of his smoldering cigar against the edge of a dingy, glass ashtray. Though she couldn’t see his eyes from beneath the brim of his black fedora, she knew he was looking right at her.

She could feel his quiet intensity. She could feel him. She hadn’t meant to, but she knew a man placed under her spell when she saw him. This stranger was no exception, even if there was something oddly unusual about how well he was handling her without laying a finger on her. He wasn’t scrambling to the stage for a closer look like the rest of the boys. He didn’t even look up from his drink to get a better glimpse. He just sat there in his booth, still as a statue, looking as smooth as a glass of vintage wine. If past history had taught the lady anything, it was that she needed to make herself scarce as soon as she was done singing before it was too late….

When she finished her song, she smiled coyly and hurried off stage while raucous applause and whistles went up in the house. As she made her way from the front through the crowd of whistling, jeering, and cat-calling patrons tugging on her dress and sliding their hands across her full derriere, she felt nothing but a single pair of eyes bearing into her and she knew whose they belonged to. She cast a quick glance back at the dark stranger and for a moment, their eyes locked. She was never one to believe in fate or love at first sight, but there was something about the way he looked at her. There was such strength and sincerity in his eyes, she almost tossed all caution to the wind and made her way over to him. Instead, she cast one lingering look back before sliding into the black trench coat the doorman held out for her and sailing out of the club.

She hurried down the alley through the cool, harsh wind whipping around her bare legs, hoping the dark stranger would not follow her, for his own sake. Still, something told her that her hopes would be dashed…just as they had been many times before.

Sure enough, she heard the back door open behind her and without looking, she knew it was him. Any other man would’ve called out to her, but he remained silent. She’d be lying if she said this silent, sensual game of cat and mouse wasn’t a bit of a turn on, but she couldn’t afford to give in to desire. It had become far too costly.

She drew closer to the main street and hoped to hail a cab before he could catch up with her, but when she glanced up and down both sides of the avenue, none were in sight. In a moment, she would be forced to speak to him; to look him in the eye. There was no use in running any further. She knew he would only continue following her, so she stood still on the curb, as if waiting for that taxi cab that showed no signs of ever arriving.

A few moments later, his fragrant cologne wrapped itself around her like a sable mink stole in the dead of winter. The next second, he stood beside her. Every overwhelming inch of his six foot plus, athletically built frame in his dark gray suit towered over her as he stuck his hands in his pockets. She pretended not to notice him. They stood that way for minutes until he finally parted his full, dark lips and spoke.

“Why are you in such a hurry to get away from me?” he asked, his baritone with a hint of a british accent rumbling through the air.

“That tends to be the natural response when a woman is being followed by a man she doesn’t know.” she said, simply.

“My apologies, alarming you certainly wasn’t my intent. I just wanted you to know that you have the most beautiful singing voice I’ve ever heard.”

Don’t make eye contact. Whatever you do, don’t look him in the eye…

“Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed my singing.” she answered, keeping her flashing golden eyes ahead.

“You’re also one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.” he said, lowly.

“Thank you again.” 

“My name is Kingston. May I ask yours?”

“Jane.” she lied.

He was silent a moment before speaking again.

“Well Jane, I hope I haven’t offended or frightened you. I haven’t seen anything or anyone nearly as exquisite as you in quite some time.”

She snorted and said, “This coming from a man who was just watching a bunch of half-naked women shake what their mothers gave them just before I stepped on stage.”

She felt him smile.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

“You’re right, there are dozens of beautiful, half-naked women in that club, but yet, I’m standing out in the bitter cold, beside the only woman who didn’t feel the need to take off her clothes tonight.”

Unable to resist, she asked, “How do you know that? For all you know, I could be some hedonistic nymphomaniac, preying on men just like you.”

He looked over at her, and his smile broadened.

“You just might be some sexy she-devil roaming about, looking for whom she may devour…but for all you know, I might like that.”

Without thinking, she looked up into his waiting gaze and made contact. His soul was floating right there behind those deep, obsidian eyes of his and they stared back down into her own. It was clear what he wanted and she couldn’t deny that she wanted to give it to him. After all, he was simply delicious with his smooth, creamy dark chocolate skin, chiseled Adonis features, and wicked smirk. To taste him would probably be the closest she’d ever get to heaven.

“You have no idea.” she said, softly.

“I’m sure I don’t, but I’d like to find out…starting with coffee and friendly conversation at the cafe across the street.”

She looked into his eyes a bit longer and saw all the strength, the youth, and the energy inside of him. It raged and rode in tandem like a quiet storm, dabbling in the possibility of bringing pleasure and pain. She would have fun with him. She would become alive again with him. Someone that potent couldn’t do any less. Temptation, desire, and hunger rose up inside of her at once, overwhelming her senses and taking over her conscious. Suddenly, she was no longer in control, a feeling that both thrilled and scared the hell out of her, but she was beyond the point of return. Instinct now ruled and there was no turning back for either one of them…

“Okay, Mr. Kingston. You can buy me coffee and give me conversation.” she purred.

He nodded and licked his lips.

“Good, but only on one condition.”

She raised a perfectly arched eyebrow.

“Tell me your name.” he said.

“I’ve already told you my name.”

“Yes, but what is your real name?”

“Why would you think Jane isn’t my real name?” she asked.

He grinned and said, “Because a name that simple, does not even begin to describe someone as intense, complex, and passionate as you. So, I ask again, what is your name?”

A wide, sexy smile spread across her face.

“Sirena.”

After coffee and very brief, sexually charged conversation, they found themselves at his tenth story high-rise loft, ripping each other’s clothes off. Kissing furiously and trying their best to fuse their bodies together, they stumbled through the living room and toward the bedroom but never made it there. Instead, he pinned her up against the hallway wall and snatched off what was left of her dress, revealing the most magnificent specimen of the female body he’d ever seen. Her breasts hung perfectly, like delectable mocha drops and her full, round hips called him by name to quench the thirst within. She watched intently as he unzipped his trousers and let them fall to the floor, exposing the glory he had in store. Her eyes settled on his member approvingly and she whispered. “Come to me.”

He took her up in his strong arms and ever so slowly, impaled her, savoring her sweetness as he slipped inside. Her rose bud blossomed in response and he growled his gratitude. He’d never felt anything like this before. Being inside of her was better…more intense, and hauntingly sweeter. He held her left thigh in one hand and cupped her plump behind in the other. In return, she held his velvet pipe hostage and rode him like the moon pulling the tide of the ocean. Everything that she was giving, he could feel. Her walls, her warmth, and wetness; he felt all at once and it was mind-numbing. In no time, he was high as the sky and never wanted to come down. Where has this woman been all of my life?

He stroked harder and longer, squeezing his eyelids shut as he braced himself for the most powerful release he would ever experience. Just as he reached the brink of ecstasy, she began to sing. He opened his eyes and looked into her face. Her eyes were closed and her lips slightly parted as sweet, melodic sound flowed and wrapped him up in its cocoon. She sang in a language he didn’t understand, but the sound of her voice was so beautiful, it didn’t matter. He just wanted her to keep singing as he grinded up against her wildly.

Suddenly, his vision became hazy and he couldn’t breathe. His body felt so heavy, it was as if he’d awaken from a hundred years long sleep. His limbs weakened until he could no longer withstand her once featherlight weight in his arms and released her. She was still singing, but this time, her eyes were opened and they glowed bright in the darkness. Sheer terror and confusion set in his soul where desire and pleasure once was. Apart of him wanted to run as fast as his legs would take him, but the other part that wanted her to keep singing kept him planted right where he was. His mouth dried up, and the odd sensation that his heart was slowing down was ever present. Finally, his knees gave out and the last thing he thought as he crumpled face down to the floor, blood pouring from his nose, was how glad he was that she was the last person his eyes beheld before he stopped breathing…

Sirena’s song soon turned to quiet sobs. Her strength increased tenfold and her hunger was satisfied once more. Physically, she felt powerful and invincible, but inside, she felt nothing but grief so heavy it weighed her down to her knees beside his lifeless body, stricken over what she’d done.

“Why couldn’t you just stay away?” she cried.

Suddenly, someone stood beside her and placed a soft, cold hand on the back of her hair.

The air was filled with silence before the figure finally spoke.

“You know as well as I do that if you hadn’t taken him, the Sisterhood would have found out and destroyed you both.”

“But Mother, look what I’ve done to him.”

“I know it’s hard, but it is necessary, Sirena. It’s taken centuries for our ancestors to convince this mortal world that we are nothing more than mythological creatures; beautiful demons that once lured sailors to their inevitable deaths among the rocks with our song. We have thrived thus far unnoticed and undetected. Still, all it would take is for one of them to expose us for what we are and once that happens, we die. Do you understand?”

Sirena simply nodded, golden tears streaming down her face.

“Good. Now, dress quickly so we can be on our way. The sea calls to us.”

“Yes…Mother?” Sirena said.

“What is it?”

“Can we at least put him to rest?”

Her mother’s usually stony features softened at her daughter’s request.

“Yes…and I know the perfect place.”

“Where’s that?”

“In the sea, beside your father.”

END

“Sirena” is an unpublished literary work

© Copyright by Stacie Dobson Bell

October 2015

All Rights Reserved

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Mad Max

Alright, here’s another short for you, as promised! If you enjoy this one as much as you enjoyed my previous short, Suite Sixteen, let me know in comments and likes! In the meantime, happy reading and Happy Labor Day!

Mad Max

By: Stacie Dobson Bell

Maxine sat quietly in the black Toyota Corolla rental a block and a half away from Jamal’s duplex. Careful to park underneath the cover of pine tree foliage, she sat there for hours, not to be moved for anything less than an opportunity to confront Jamal about that little tramp he’d been seeing. However, her best friend, Wilhelmina, was not nearly as enthused to be trapped in the passenger seat as an accomplice on the stake-out.

“Max, how much longer are we going to keep sitting here like this? It’s been hours and nothing is happening.”

She brought the night vision binoculars she ordered online from her dark, squinted eyes and said, “I already told you, we’ll sit here ’til the butt crack of dawn if we have to. So just sit back, chill, and keep an eye out for the cops.”

Mina blew out an exasperated sigh, folded her arms, and sat back in the seat. Another minute passed and she said, “I’m hungry and I have to pee.”

“I don’t know what to tell you. You had the chance to eat and use the bathroom before we came here.”

“I didn’t ask to come here. I only agreed to come out with you last night because you said you wanted to go to the movies…over six hours ago! This is stupid! We have been sitting here like crazed maniacs and I’m ready to go home!” she whined.

“Oh, how quickly we forget! Wasn’t it you who dragged me along so I could help you break into your supervisor’s apartment and kidnap both of her Pomeranians when you thought she was messing with Antoine behind your back last year?” Max asked.

“That was different and you know it! Besides, the restraining order is up in less than a year.” Mina shot back.

“The point is, when you needed me, I was there for you. Now, I need you. So stop complaining and have my back on this. I need to know what’s going on between Jamal and that girl.”

“What makes you think there’s anything going on at all?”

“When we met up for lunch last week, his phone rang and there was a picture of this curly-haired, mocha-skinned, top-heavy girl and the name “Kitty Kat” typed underneath the photo! When I asked him about it, he said “she’s just a friend”, paid the tab and left!”

Mina closed her eyes and let out a deep sigh.

“It’s been six months, Max. You really need to let this go. He’s moved out and moved on with his life. Isn’t that what you wanted? Wasn’t it you who said you were tired of him coming in at all hours of the night, not answering your calls, and driving your car all over town to do God knows what with God knows who?”

Max let out a sigh of her own and shrugged.

“Yes…no…I don’t know. All I know is that I didn’t expect things to be like this. I’ll never forget the first time I laid eyes on him. One look into his eyes and it was love at first sight. He was the most beautiful person I’d ever seen. Beyond that, we used to be the best of friends. He treated me like a queen. He would bring me flowers on Sundays, fix whatever needed fixing around the house, and even pay my bills from time to time. It was my shoulder he used to cry on. I used to be the one who would tell his deepest secrets. Now, he doesn’t even call like he used to. Instead, he’s been talking to this little…scallywag, who’s probably taking up all his time and spending up all his money! Hell, I bet he’s even paying her bills and taking care of-”

“One Time, fool, get down!” Mina hissed.

They sunk down in their seats and waited while the patrol car drove slowly past them and then around the corner. The women poked their heads up; scanning the area to make sure the coast was clear.

“Whew, girl, that was close.” 

“I know. Aren’t you glad I insisted we wear all black?” Max asked as she slid back up in her seat.

Mina shrugged.

“Yeah, I guess. I still think the skull caps are a bit much, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, Jamal has moved on with his life. Why don’t you?”

“It’s not that simple and I refuse to let some random, new chick come in and take my place in his life.”

“You need to get a grip on reality and accept-”

“Shush, he’s coming outside right now!” Max whispered.

The women ducked down just low enough to be hidden, but remained watchful. Sure enough, Jamal stepped outside and hurried over to his silver Charger sitting in the driveway, talking on the phone as he went. Although faintly; Max and Mina could hear every word of his conversation through the cracked driver’s side window.

“Yeah, I’m on my way over there now. You have no idea how long I’ve waited for to see you. The Biltmore Hotel, yeah, I know how to get there. Which room? Cool, I’ll be there. Oh, I know you won’t disappoint, you never do. Okay, see you in a bit.”

With that, he tossed his phone in his coat pocket, hopped in the car, and drove off. Fuming, Max sat up in her seat and turned the key in the ignition.

“Maxine, what are you doing?” Mina asked, her eyes widening.

“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m following him! This time, he won’t be able to hit me with that “just a friend” bull crap!” she said angrily as she flipped the car around and sped down the street.

“Please, for the love of God, don’t do this! I got priors and I’m not trying to go back to jail!” Mina said, while gripping the side door handle.

“Well, somebody’s going to jail today and it’s probably going to be me once I get my hands around that chick’s throat!” Max hissed.

They followed Jamal through the streets of Long Beach to the Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Max swung the car around a corner where they could be hidden from sight, but still be within eyeshot of the hotel entrance. She watched anxiously as Jamal stepped out of the car and tossed his keys over to the valet. He eagerly jogged up to the curb and met with the same curly-haired beauty Max saw on Jamal’s phone. She was dressed in a designer, cream colored pantsuit, with red-bottom 8 inch pumps, jet black, bouncy curls flowing in the morning breeze, and a smile that was so bright, the wattage could power the Staples Center. He embraced the woman happily and they walked arm in arm to the hotel lobby as if they were Barack and Michelle. Pure, red hot rage surged through Max’s veins. Without another thought, she jumped out of the car and stormed across the street to the hotel. Mina stumbled out after her.

“Maxine, wait, what are you doing?!”

Ignoring her best friend, she all but bulldozed her way into the building and up to the concierge desk, startling the two clerks present.

“Which room is Jamal Latimore checked into?”

The two women, one blonde, the other a tall sister with long, box braids stared at the woman in all black camouflage. She snapped her fingers in their faces.

“Hello, are ya’ll dumb, stupid, or slow? Which room did Jamal Latimore check into?”

The blonde one spoke up first, although stuttering through her words.

“Uh, give me ju-just a second to f-find a uh-what did you say the name is?”

“For the umpteenth time, his name is Jamal Latimore. He just walked in here and checked in.” Max said impatiently.

Mina finally caught up and said breathlessly, “Max, please. Don’t do this in here. You’re going to embarrass yourself.”

“I’m already embarrassed, Mina, but when you love someone as much as I love Jamal, you learn not to care about how you look to other people.”

She turned her attention back to the blonde desk clerk and asked, “Have you found his room yet, Miss?”

“No ma’am, there isn’t any record of a Jamal Latimore having checked in today.” said the clerk meekly.

“What? No, that’s not right, I just saw him walk in five minutes ago! Check it again!”

The sister with the braids stepped in. “Excuse me, ma’am. As Chastity just stated, there is no record of a Jamal Latimore having checked in today. In any case, I have to ask that you relax your tone. It is a disturbance to the guests in the lobby.”

Max cocked her neck to the side while Mina closed her eyes and blew out a breath.

“Excuse you? I’m a grown woman and you don’t tell me to check my tone! You check yours!” Max hollered.

Mina put her hand on Max’s shoulder in an attempt to calm her, but she shook it off. Clerk Sister-Girl cleared her throat, seemingly unscathed and said, “Ma’am, I’m going to ask you one more time-”

“And I’m going to tell you one more time…” she scanned the sister’s uniform for a name tag. “Quotasia, I’ll get as loud in here as I want to until I get some results around here! Now do your job and get Jamal Latimore down here immediately!”

“Chastity, get security down here now.” Quotasia ordered.

She nodded and took off at top speed, more than eager to get away from the building scene.

The lobby was now bustling with guests and most had begun to whisper and stare at the women in amusement. Mina was far from amused and had enough. She grabbed Max by the elbow and hauled her off out of the hotel, kicking and screaming.

“This isn’t the end! You’ve haven’t seen the last of me!” Max yelled, her voice echoing off the marbled floors and vintage walls.

“This better be the last we see of you or you’ll be personally seeing the inside of a police cruiser!” Quotasia hollered back.

Before she could respond, Mina yanked her hysterical friend out of the hotel. By the time they reached the car, she tossed Max in the passenger side seat and hopped into the driver’s side.

“Maxine LaToya Scott, you have officially lost your mind!”

“Does it not strike you as strange that Jamal just walked in right before us but somehow, they can’t find him listed? And what about Poetic Justice in there? She acted as if I’m some kind of terrorist!” Max cried.

“That’s because you went off in there as if you were.”

“Whatever. Jamal and that girl are probably knocking boots right now!”

Mina rolled her eyes and said, “Yeah, single adults tend to do that from time to time. Staking out in front of his place in the middle of the night is not going to change that. You have to let go and let him live his life. While you’re at it, get one of your own!”

“I don’t want to let go! I love him and what’s so wrong with that? Is that such a crime?”

“Call it “love” if you want, but the law calls it stalking and they have thrown saner people than you under the jail for less. With that said, we’ve both had enough excitement to last us the rest of the day. We’re going home, period.”

Max sat there, pouting. Deep down, she knew Mina was right, but the fact was, she and Jamal shared far too many precious memories for her to just go home and forget. If she was bread, he was her butter. The milk to her cereal. She couldn’t let go. No, she refused to let go.

Just as Mina turned on the car and began to pull off, Max spotted the alley behind the hotel and an open door that led inside…no doubt the kitchen…and a way in. Without another thought, she unsnapped her seat belt, flung open the door, and sprang out onto the street.

“Maxine!” Mina hollered from the car, screeching to a stop, causing the cars behind her to slam on their brakes and honk their horns. Max ignored the chaos she left in he wake and bolted towards the alley. She ran through the door and past the chefs looking at her, curiously, and up a flight of stairs to the second floor.

A moment later, she stepped into a dimly-lit, lavish, Victorian-style hallway. Treading quietly, she pressed her ear to every door, hoping to hear something, anything that sounded remotely like Jamal. After checking several doors, there was nothing. She hopped on the nearest elevator and took it to the next floor up. Fifteen minutes later, she’d gone through another row of rooms and still came up with nothing. Still not one to give in, she continued to the next floor up and pressed her head to each door. She was on her hands and knees trying to glance underneath one door on the fourth floor, when suddenly, two men burst through the elevators at the end of the hall. As soon as they made eye contact, they started towards her.

“We found her! Stand by!” one of the brutes said into his walkie-talkie. 

Silently cursing Mina for her big mouth, Max jumped up and took off down the opposite end of the hall.

“Lady, stop!” yelled the brute.

She picked up the pace and made a right turn around the nearest corner. It was a dead end with an open window and a pair of elevators to her right. The men turned the corner moments later and swung their heads toward the closing elevator doors.

“She took the elevator! C’mon, to the staircase! Go, go, go!” One goon yelled.

As they took off down the stairs to the left, Max stepped back inside the hallway from the window, grateful for the catwalk right outside. She resumed checking each door for anyone that sounded like Jamal. By the fifth door, she heard a familiar voice coming from inside and pressed her ear to it.

“I knew meeting you here would be worth it.”

“I’m glad you think so. Are you still okay with the price?” asked a kitten-like female voice.

“More than okay. As far as I’m concerned, it’s priceless” said a baritone voice.

Jamal, Max thought.

“True, you can’t put a price on something as sexy as this.” said the feline voice.

“I know that’s right.” said Jamal.

Oh my God, he’s hooked up with a whore!

Having heard enough, she stepped back a few paces, kneeled down, and tightened the laces on her combat boots. After a brief countdown, she charged the door and kicked it open. Jamal and the busty, curly haired siren jumped up from two chairs and a desk against the window, startled. Max started for the frightened woman and served her with a backhand so fierce, it launched her to the other side of the sofa, her body hitting the ground with a loud thud and shriek.

“You stay away from Jamal, do you hear me?!” she hollered.

Jamal stood off in a corner of the room, shocked at the sight of Max standing over her body, seething with rage.

“MOM!”

“Don’t you ‘Mom’ me!” she yelled, whirling around and pointing her finger at him. “What do you think you’re doing here with this tramp?”

“What in the world is going on in here?!” shrilled a voice behind them.

Max swung around and faced Quotasia, the two goons, and Mina who was standing behind the big men trying to catch a glimpse of the action.

“Ma’am, you are officially trespassing on private property!” Quotasia yelled. 

“Do you know that your so-called hotel is servicing deviants? What’s worse is this slut has dragged my only child into her den of iniquity! You probably knew about this all along and that’s why you and Blondie down there didn’t want to tell me where he was in the first place! This isn’t a hotel, it’s a brothel!” 

“If you don’t leave now, we will call the police.” Quotasia warned.

“Do what you gotta do, you New Jack City, broke down-!” 

“Rodney, call the police now!” Quotasia yelled at one of her brutes.

“Mom, you need to calm down. You’ve got it all wrong!” Jamal said.

“Are you telling me I didn’t see what I just saw?! Are you trying to call me a liar?!”

“What? Why would I call you a liar?”

“I’m not going to ask you again! What were you doing here with this harlot?”

The wounded woman, still rubbing her stinging cheek, climbed up on the sofa, hastily pulled out a small black, velvet box from her clutch purse and tried to hand it to Jamal, but before he could take it, Max snatched it from her hand.

“There better not be an engagement ring in here, or I’m really about to set it off! I will not have this in my family!” she declared.

Jamal dropped his head and let out a deep sigh.

“Mom, just open the box.”

“Oh, I’m going to open this box and we are going to take this ring right back to wherever you-”

She stopped abruptly and her eyes widened. Jamal stood silently and waited for his mother to react.

“Jamal, what am I looking at?” She asked.

“What, you haven’t seen a pair of car keys to a brand new Porsche before?” he asked, a hint of a smile in his voice.

She stared down at the shiny key and fob for a few seconds, the first time she’d ever been at a loss for words. Then without warning, she flung the keys at him and yelled, “You bought her a Porsche?!”

“The Porsche is for you!” Jamal said, sighing loudly.

Max stood dumbfounded. He took his mother’s shaking hand in his own and placed the Porsche keys in her palm.

“Happy Birthday, Mama.” He said, grinning.

“Jamal, where in the world did you get money for this? You just barely turned twenty one.”

“I picked up a second job at the plant on top of the one I have at the bank and I’ve been working overtime for both of them. I saved up everything I could for months so that I could give you this. If you’ve noticed, that’s why you haven’t seen as much of me in awhile.” 

Fresh water sprung to her eyes as she thought about how wonderful her son was and how ashamed she felt in being so overprotective, obsessive, and crazy. As Max wiped at the tears streaming down her face, she noticed Kitty Kat standing off to the side, clutching her face.

“Well then, who is she?”

“This is Katrina Waters. She’s a fellow auto loan officer who helped me get the car. I was just meeting her here in her hotel room because she’s only in town for the weekend for a conference. She pulled major strings for this, Mama.”

“Oh God.” Max said horrified at the magnitude of what she’d done.

Katrina smiled as much as her smarting face would allow.

“Oh don’t worry, Ms. Scott. I have a husband and two teenaged sons at home myself, so I understand.” She said gingerly.

“Is there a problem folks?” asked an officer who had just walked into the room behind them.

Before anyone could answer, Quotasia said, “Yes, there is absolutely a problem. I have asked this woman to leave the premises repeatedly but she refuses and has even made a point of assaulting my guests!”

The officer’s eyes zoomed over to Katrina standing there, holding her cheek.

“What happened to you?” he asked.

“Oh, I…fell while walking up the stairs of the hotel. There were drops of water on the steps and after my nasty tumble, these kind folks assisted me back to my room.” Katrina said quickly.

He looked from her to Max suspiciously and asked, “Are you sure this woman hasn’t harmed you?”

“Yes, positive. She and her son were just about to call 911 before you showed up. If anything, I should file a suit against the hotel for creating a hazardous environment where guests can be seriously injured.”

She flashed a look over at Quotasia, whose face had gone ghost white. The officer eyed Katrina for a few moments before turning to Quotasia.

“Look, it appears to be a simple misunderstanding. If you don’t want this woman to press charges against your establishment, I highly suggest you accommodate her for her injuries, drop the issue, and go on about your day.”

Quotasia’s eyes widened in shock.

“No, are you crazy? I just told you she’s already trespassed! Book her!”

“Ma’am, refrain from raising your voice or I will book you.” the officer warned.

Quotasia shut her mouth and glared at Max before spinning around and leaving. After apologizing profusely to Katrina, Max, Jamal, and Mina headed downstairs to the parking lot where her brand new candy apple red, cream colored leather, wood finish Porsche waited in all its delicious glory. As she all but nose-dived into the driver’s seat and giggled like a little school girl, Jamal and Mina watched her proudly.

“Mom, what were you thinking?” Jamal asked, laughing.

“I don’t know what I was thinking, son.” she answered.

“She wasn’t thinking, believe me.” Mina chimed in.

Max chuckled and said, “I guess the thought of some new girl taking my place made me a little crazy. It’s hard for moms to let go, you know.”

“I told you about that weird Oedipus Complex you got going on. It’s not a good look.” Mina said half-jokingly.

Jamal nodded and said, “Listen, no one could ever take your place, because I can only have one mother. However, I’m your son, not a little boy. If and when I do meet someone special, you will have to respect her as such and give us our space as adults. So that means no more stalking, threatening folks, or attacking every woman you think I might be interested in. Being apart of my life is not a competition because you are not competing for the same role. Can you feel me on that?”

Max nodded her head and said, “Yes, son, I feel you and I promise not to act like that ever again.”

He nodded and said, “Good, I hope you mean that.”

“I do. In the meantime, it’s still my birthday so let’s take my new baby for a spin and hit the beach!”

A few hours later, the trio pulled up to Venice Beach, lay out in the warm, toasty California sun and enjoyed lunch on the beach. One bite into a BLT, Max spotted someone familiar standing at a Margarita stand with a big breasted, red-headed woman in a hot pink bikini. He was pulling bundles of cash out of his pocket and laughing obnoxiously. She narrowed her eyes dangerously.

I know that laugh anywhere, she thought. She dropped her sandwich and glared at the couple. Jamal looked up from his lunch, confused by her sudden change in demeanor.

“What’s up, Mom?”

“Yeah, what’s wrong with you?” Mina asked.

When she didn’t answer, Jamal looked over at the stand and his eyes widened in recognition. Before he could tell his mother to be cool, she was already marching across the sand toward the couple. Jamal jumped up and down, yelling, “Mom, no!”

Mina chuckled knowingly and said, “Just let her go, Godson. You know they don’t call her Mad Max for nothing.”

Max reached the stand moments later and yelled, “Where have you been, Chauncey?”

The short, stocky man at the stand turned his attention to the crazed woman, clearly caught off guard.

“Maxine! What the hell are you doing here?!”

“How are you going to be up here, making it rain with this bubble-headed tramp on your arm when you know you owe me two months’ worth of alimony!” she yelled as she lunged and wrapped her hands around his plump throat.

“Becky Lynn, run! Get help!” he shrieked at the frightened young woman. She took off running down the strip, Pamela Anderson style.

While Mina laughed as hard as she could, Jamal hurried to break up the hysteria that was drawing yet another crowd. That evening, after he convinced his father to pay up and not press charges, he reflected on the woman who gave him life. Max may have acted paranoid, possessive, and all out crazy at times, but if he didn’t know anything else, he knew that there was nothing in the world quite as complex, intense, and unconditional as a mother’s love and no matter how grown he was, that wasn’t about to change.

“Mad Max” is an unpublished literary work

© Copyright by Stacie Dobson Bell

September 2015

All Rights Reserved

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Suite Sixteen

Becoming a published fiction author has been a dream/goal of mine for longer than I can remember but before I can finally realize that dream/goal, I have to start by overcoming the biggest obstacle that’s kept me paralyzed for far too long…self-doubt. That said, I am posting my very first short fiction story here on my blog to share with all of you. If you think it’s dope, let me know! If you think it could use some improvement, let me know that too! Don’t be afraid to be honest, but in the words of Erykah Badu, “Keep in mind that I’m an artist…and I’m sensitive about my sh%t…lol. Ya’ll be nice now….

Suite Sixteen: A Dramatic Short

By: Stacie Dobson Bell

         “That’ll be $33.55.”

Tempest peered out the passenger side window from the back seat of the taxi and up at the decrepit brick building looming against the violet sky. Five stories high above the city, the Broadway Hotel stood ominously still, as if it had been waiting for her.

“$33.55”, the cab driver repeated a bit more impatiently.

She reached into her black pea coat and returned with two twenties that she hastily stuffed into his outstretched palm. He looked at the bills and frowned.

“No change.” He said with a slight Haitian twang.

“Keep it.” She murmured, stepping out of the cab and onto the soaking street curb. Early winter in December brought along with it dense raindrops that fell from the midnight clouds. She slid the cashmere hood over her short, kinky hair, wrapped the belt of the coat around her waist as snugly as she could manage, and hurried through the rain to the alley beside the hotel.

The puddles she ran through splashed up against her black galoshes until she reached the lone, slightly lowered catwalk ladder just above a large, green dumpster.  She wasted no time climbing up on top of it and grabbed hold of the ladder. When she finally reached the first level, she leaned up against the brick wall, sheltered from the pouring rain, and pulled out a withered piece of paper with the blue and red lines running like bright mascara. She peered down at the note just long enough to catch a glimpse of the scribbled writing that read Broadway Hotel. Thursday Night @ nine. Suite Sixteen

         “What is this?” she asked holding the slip of paper in his face from her seat on top of his desk.

         The professor leaned back in his large, leather wing back office chair and stared at the note, his large, dark eyes nearly crossed as he tried to focus. Finally, after a few seconds, he sighed and asked, “What have I told you about snooping through my desk, Tempest?”

         “Who wrote this and why do they want to meet up at the Broadway Hotel?” she asked, ignoring his question altogether.  

         He sighed and looked up at the ceiling, avoiding eye contact altogether. That was all she needed to see for the truth to be revealed.

         “It’s her, isn’t it?” she asked softly.

         “Why do you ask questions you already know the answers to?” He asked flippantly as he stuck his large manhood back into his briefs and  zipped up his fly. Although her blouse buttons had been ripped off and her denim skirt was raised past her hips, she didn’t bother adjusting herself appropriately. There were other things on her mind that were far too pressing.

         “Are you going to go see her?”

         “Technically, we’ve already met up.”

         Her eyes widened in surprise.

        “Did you sleep with her?” she asked more forcefully than she intended.

        “Relax, It wasn’t that kind of party. We just talked over drinks the other night. Even if I did make love to my own wife, I would be well within my right, so….” his voice trailing off as if that were explanation enough.  

        They sat in silence for a moment before she spoke again.

        “What did you talk about?”

        “I don’t know…us, our marriage….where we go from here.”

        Tempest shook her head in disbelief.

        “What do you mean ‘where we go from here’? How about divorce court?”

        He sighed and said wearily, “Please don’t start this again.”

        “You gave me your word you were going to leave her! Have you forgotten that?”

        “No, I haven’t forgotten.”

        “Then tell me what’s going on? I’ve been sleeping in your bed all semester and you’ve yet to sign those divorce papers she sent you months ago. You promised!”

         He stood up from his seat and stepped between her parted legs, pulling her into his arms until their bodies were flush against one another.In spite of herself, she wrapped her arms around his waist and pressed her cheek to his chiseled abdomen. They remained that way for a few silent moments, rocking back and forth. He pressed his lips to her forehead and exhaled, the scent of his slightly minty breath mixed with coffee wafting into her nostrils.

         “You know I care very deeply about you. You’re smart, fun, and incredibly sexy for someone so young. Most of the time, I can’t even think clearly for wanting you so badly, but that’s just it. Wanting you makes me weak. Loving her makes me strong. I want to be strong again, Tempest. I have to be.”

         Her eyes flew up into his, panic and anger setting in fast.

         “Wait…what are you saying?”

         He looked at her and said, “My wife and I have decided to give our marriage another try and that means this has to be the last time we see each other like this ever again.”

        Tempest shoved him away as hard as she could and hopped off of the desk, sliding her skirt down over her exposed derriere.

        “Is that what all of this was for? You brought me back to your office just so you could fuck me one last time before kicking me to the curb?” she said, she voice echoing through the office.

        “First, don’t talk that way. Secondly, don’t be so dramatic. You know it’s not like that.”

       “Really? Because it was only five minutes ago that you were fucking my brains out, was it not?”

       “I asked you not to talk like that, Tempest.” he warned.

       “I asked you to leave your wife, but we can’t always get what we want, now can we?” she tossed back, angry tears threatening to appear.  

       He shook his head and chuckled.

      “Wow…you know, I brought you here so that we could end of the best of terms with no hard feelings between us because that’s what two adults do. I thought that’s the situation I was dealing with, but now I see that you’re nothing more than the little girl you look like.” he scoffed.

     Tempest’s light brown eyes flashed like lightning rods ready to strike.

     “You didn’t think I was such a little girl when you were bending me over your desk a minute ago.”

      His nostrils flared and his jaw tightened visibly, making Tempest almost want to take back what she’d said, but it was too late and the damage was already done. There was nothing left to do but to run with it.

     “I am nobody’s little girl. I am a grown ass woman.”

     “Is that a fact? Well, if you’re such a grown ass woman, then cut the bullshit and admit that you knew just as well as everyone else on this campus that I was already married. Just because you played yourself into thinking I would ever choose you over my wife, it doesn’t mean you get to play victim. That’s not how this works.”

     Unable to hold back her tears any longer, Tempest stared up into the face of the only man she’d ever loved. There were those same velvety smooth lips, chiseled jawline, and dark, onyx eyes that made her melt every time she looked into them a little too long but the heat that once warmed her soul was gone. In its place was ice, cold as a glacier. The look of contempt in those eyes was so intense, it made her skin crawl. If he was already this upset, the last thing she wanted was to exacerbate the issue further. She needed to be doing everything she could to make him stay, not drive him away. She took a breath and stepped toward him, this time, holding her arms out to him.

     “I know. You’re right, I did know what I was getting into and I’m sorry I reacted badly. Just…tell me what I did wrong and I can make it right.” she said.

    “There’s nothing to be done.” he said, folding his arms.

    “Yes, there is. There’s always something that can be done. Just give me a chance. I can make it better.” she said, gripping his wrists as if she could hold on him forever.

    “Please, don’t do this.” he said, trying to wriggle from her embrace.

     “No, you don’t do this! I love you! Don’t you love me anymore?” she pleaded.

     He looked into her tear-stained face like a parent would a child and suddenly, the coolness in his eyes melted. He reached up and gently caressed her cheek.

     “I do love you, Tempest, with all my heart….I just love my wife more.”

     That was the longest ride home of her life. Even as she slid into her cold bed an hour later, underneath the comforter her grandmother made for her as a college gift, she could still feel the warmth of the professor’s arms enveloping her, the tenderness of his kiss on her quivering lips, and the way he said her name as if it were the only name in the world that mattered. She couldn’t forget about those nights when she would sneak out of her dorm room window while her best friend, Sheena, slept just feet away. And how could she forget about all those times they made love in the back seat of his black Suburban until her soft cries of joy carried her to a sated, blissful sleep? She could never just erase those memories, but what difference did it make now? His wife was coming back and none of that mattered anymore. She didn’t matter anymore….

Tempest hurried up the catwalk to the next floor level, gripping the railings with all her strength to keep her from slipping off the steps. From what she knew of the hotel, all suites were located on the top floor and that was a little ways up from where she was. Still, with each slippery step up to the fifth floor, her heartbeat quickened and incessant butterflies filled her stomach. It didn’t help that the conversation she’d had with Sheena earlier that day kept running through her mind…

        “You’re not going to the hotel, are you?” Sheena asked, running her fingers through her long, black wavy natural hair as they sat alone at the top of the football field bleachers watching the players practice.

        “He told me he’s going back to his wife.” Tempest said, fingering the rose gold bracelet dangling from her left wrist that he’d gifted to her months earlier.

        “Of course he is. I could’ve told you that a long time ago.”

         Tempest sighed and rolled her eyes.

         “Sheena, please, don’t start.”

         “You’re the one who started it when you began fucking your married college professor.”

         “Why do you have to say it like that?” Tempest asked, annoyed.

         “Say what?”

        “Fucking, like it was painful and emotionless.”  

        Sheena shrugged.

       “What would you call it? It sure as hell isn’t love-making.”

       “How would you know? You have a new man for every day of the week, two on the weekends and holidays. You don’t know shit about love.” Tempest sneered.

        Sheena gave her an icy ‘girl, bye’ glare before speaking.

        “I may keep company with a lot of guys but you don’t see me moping around campus, eyes red and raw, looking like somebody killed my damn puppy! I may not know much about monogamous relationships, but I know that real love is not supposed to hurt!”

        “Whatever.” Tempest scoffed, toying with the bracelet again.   

        “You didn’t answer my question.” Sheena said.

        “What question?”

        “Are you going down to the Broadway Hotel or not?”

        “Why are you sweating me so tough about it?”

         “Because you’re my best friend, T. I love you like you were my own sister, but I refuse to sit back and watch you make a fool of yourself over a man who wouldn’t even spit on you if you caught fire!”

         Tempest wanted to be angry with Sheena for her insensitive candor, but when she looked back into her friend’s large, dark eyes, she saw a sincere glimmer of angst she’d never seen before. She had no idea Sheena cared so much and would be lying if she said she wasn’t slightly touched by the sudden show of concern. Tempest sighed, giving her bracelet a lingering tug.

         “Fine, I won’t go down there.”

         “You promise?” she asked.

         “I promise.” Tempest said, looking into her eyes, unwavering.

         Sheena smiled , took Tempest’s hands in her own, and squeezed them lovingly.

        “You’ll thank me later, T. You’ll see.” She said, gently pushing a loose coil of hair from out of her best friend’s somber face….

Tempest felt more and more uneasy as her rain-soaked soles led the way up several flights. When she hit the fourth level, the putrid combination of urine and liquor filled her nose so suddenly, she dry-heaved while her stomach lurched. No doubt, some winos had been hanging out there earlier, pissing on the world and drinking their lives away. She stopped for only a moment to catch her bearings, pulled every ounce of strength she had inside to fight through her sudden onset of nausea, and pressed on. She was unsure of what she would find once she reached suite sixteen on the fifth floor, but no matter what, she had to do something. She was no longer content with being the professor’s dirty little secret. The woman needed to know the truth and Tempest had to make sure she knew it before the night was over. Everything inside of her depended on it. .

When she finally reached the fifth floor, there was the sudden, but faint sound of what sounded like squeaking. Rats! Her eyes shot to the floor and scanned wildly for the rodents. When she didn’t see any right away, she hurried as quickly as she could down the balcony, but the further she went, the louder the squeaking grew. More rats. Tempest kept on across the metal catwalk, glossing over the numbers on the hotel doors as she went. Moments later, she came to a slippery halt. Suite Sixteen. The squeaking continued, but there were no rats.

Through the partially opened window, the room was illuminated with the soft, warm glow of candlelight, filled with music as easy as the storm outside, and topped with a nearly emptied bottle of champagne on ice that sat on a nightstand beside the bed…where the professor lay, eyes squeezed shut, hands gripping thick, ebony hips.

Tempest squinted to get a better look at the woman who was supposed to be his wife when her heart cracked cleanly in half. Sheena’s manicured hands roamed up and down his heaving, sweaty chest, her lips part in sweet ecstasy, and her head thrown so far back, her wavy hair touched the bed sheets behind her. Seeing her best friend ride the love of her life like a prized stallion in the throes of passion filled Tempest with such white hot fury, she was beyond tears.

She quietly pushed the window open just enough to slip inside easily. Shivering and soaked to the bone, she slowly made her way to the foot of the bed, never taking her eyes off of the two people so wrapped up in one another, neither noticed that she was in the room. She only looked away for a moment at something that glimmered to her left. A rose gold bracelet similar to her own had been bumped off the nightstand and fluttered to the ground like a flower petal.

Like a glittering specter, that bracelet haunted her with the bitter truth that even though the professor would forever be apart of her, the most she could ever have was a part of him. He’d never seen his wife, but there was never going to be a divorce either. He’d simply grown bored of Tempest and slid over to the next, hungry young prospect. No, Tempest finally realized that the professor could never truly love her. He was too far gone; a habitual liar and a willing hostage in a prison of his own deviance…a prison Tempest made up in her mind to set him free from.

She slowly pulled the nine millimeter pistol out of the inside of her coat pocket and pointed in their direction. A voice in her head screamed for her to to lower the weapon, turn around, and just go home, but the sight of them intertwined burned itself so deeply into her brain, she couldn’t escape her own rage. Resigned to the fate that December night had in store for all three of them, she steadied the gun in her hands and squeezed the trigger.

There was a single click followed by two blasts that shook the entire hotel room. Just as fast as the ear-piercing explosion filled the room, it was gone. Suddenly, all was quiet. The moaning stopped, the squeaking stopped, the breathing stopped. All that could be heard were the sounds of Sade playing lowly in the background, the soft rumblings of the storm, and the anguished sobs of a scared, broken-hearted, and pregnant Tempest.

“Suite Sixteen” is an unpublished work

© Copyright by Stacie Dobson Bell 

August 2015

All Rights Reserved

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Leap of Faith

“Faith itself cannot accomplish anything, yet without faith, no one can fly.”
Charles R. Swindoll

I love roller coasters. My very first roller coaster ride was at Six Flags Magic Mountain. I was eight years old, the ride was called Revolution, and it was AWESOME! From that point on, there wasn’t a roller coaster that was safe from me. If I saw it, I was riding it. Case closed.

However, there was one particular ride called the “Xtreme Sky-Flyer”, a very large, 150 foot St. Louis Arch-esque structure designed for Bungee Jumping. That’s where I drew the line. After watching countless people free fall through the air with only a giant rubber band standing in the way between them and certain death, I decided immediately that I wanted no part of it. My answer was no and that was final…or so I thought.

Ten years later, on a high school senior trip to Great America, a friend of mine wanted to ride the “Xtreme Sky-Flyer”. Where past friends and family would spend nearly half an hour trying to get me on that death trap to no avail, it only took her five minutes.

The next thing I know, we’re strapped into a harness, face down, and hanging 150 feet in the air. We were so high up, I could easily see the curvature of the Earth! To say it was nerve-wracking is putting it mildly. Then, we heard a voice call up to us, saying “In three, two, one…FLY!”

 I’ve never screamed so hard in my life. We were free falling for three to four seconds, but to me, it felt like a slow drop to hell. As we drew closer to the ground, I squeezed my eyes shut and waited to die…but nothing happened. I slowly opened one eye and to my relief, we were alive! As a matter of fact, we were flying! From way up in the sky, I could see the entire amusement park, the mountains, the birds flying at eye-level; the people below us pointing and cheering. I could even see cities more than ten miles away! To this day, I have yet to experience anything so exhilarating, so thrilling, so amazing!

I recently meditated on this as I struggled with the decision to start this blog. You see, my passion and subsequent goal in life is to become a published author. I desire to reach out to people and contribute to the betterment of society through storytelling and the sharing of experiences. I am never without ideas, constantly brimming with creativity, and kept awake some nights by my overactive imagination. I’m a lover of reading and writing and have been ever since I could remember. I probably would have several pieces of work out on bookshelves now if it weren’t for one thing; fear.

Am I fooling myself? Will anyone even read my work, let alone like it? Will they find any value in my words? Will they find any value in me? Those are the things that run through my mind every time I think about submitting my work to a publisher or even allowing a close friend to look at it. You can only imagine how daunting just submitting this post was for me. I almost didn’t do it. I thought what could I possibly have to offer anyone of importance that hasn’t been said already? Well, I guess that’s for God to know and for us to find out, but the only way that’s going to happen is if I take a step out on faith and just do it. Is there the risk of falling flat on my face? Absolutely, but if riding the Sky-Flyer has taught me anything, is that without faith, it is impossible to fly.

With that said, I hope you enjoy reading this post and more just as much as I enjoy writing them. Now, it’s time to fly in three, two, one…

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments