Chapter 1 — Family Shenanigans
Jun 5, 2004 (Early Morning) – Chicago, IL – The Clemons Estates
Eddie Clemons, POV
“Damn, I’m glad I made it back here in one piece,” I said, walking into the house, wondering if Juanita was here.
I haven’t seen Juanita since the other morning when Skeeter busted up in here, threatening to kill me. At first, she acted really scared about things, but then I figured out she wasn’t damn scared at all. From the way she acted upon leaving the room that morning and the things I’ve heard from some of her damn friends, she’s pissed off that I owe a gangster so much damn money. Hell, I don’t know why she’s so pissed off… She helped me spend every single damn dime of that money. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have had to go get a damn loan in the first place, to pay off the damn debt.
Now that I’m finally home again, I’m going to try to get some much-needed rest after the long day I’ve had. With all the shit that’s happened today, I wonder what in the hell is wrong with the fucking world. It’s like everywhere I went, something bad happened. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that everyone I saw today was trying to kill me. The life of a manufacturing industrialist shouldn’t be adventure, especially like the one I’ve had today. From the slip and fall I had in the west hall, to the damn man that almost side-swiped me on the street on my way to lunch, it was like Death was singling me out. One would think that Death had his finger on them with everything I’ve experienced today.
“Hell, with all the shit that’s happened, I think Skeeter made a deal with Death and agreed to put a damn hit out on me,” I said as I walked into the kitchen, stopping when I saw a note under one of the fridge magnets on the refrigerator.
So, she’s been here and she wants to get a divorce, unless I solve the problem with Skeeter and pay the money back by myself. What in the hell is wrong with her? She knows good and damn well that she owes that money just like I do. She’s not getting out of this. If she wants a damn divorce, she can get one, but only after this damn money is paid back by both of us, not just me. She brought that damn debt into the marriage with her ass and she’s going to help me pay it.
“I can’t believe this bitch,” I said, shaking my head as I balled up the note and tossed it in the trash can. “She thinks she can just walk away from things and not be responsible?”
“She’s not going to walk away from anything if she’s dead right along with you,” I heard Skeeter’s voice behind me. What in the hell is he doing in here and how did he get in?
“Skeeter, what are you doing in here?” I asked, turning around to see him with the bat in one hand and a rifle in the other.
“Just checking on you in your progress on getting my damn money,” he replied as I shook my head.
“I don’t have your money yet, but I’m working on it,” I said as he smiled and then shook his head.
“Yeah, you working on it,” he said as he pointed the bat in my face. “I see you standing here, doing nothing. I don’t see any progress being made in getting my money back to me. Messing with my money is messing with my mind. I don’t like my mind messed with man. Your time is running low.”
“I know, but as I said, I’m working on it Skeeter,” I said as he shook his head and then walked around to where I was. “Everyone doesn’t have the connections you have.”
“You have connections, I don’t know why you aren’t using them,” he said as I shook my head. I ain’t about to call my damn sister to beg her for nothing. It would be like getting the money from him all over again. She’s just as bad as he is. “You need to do something quick because this may be the last time you actually see me or anyone else, depending on how my mood is. Do you feel me man?”
“Yeah, I feel you,” I replied, knowing a damn threat when I hear one.
“Good, I’ll see you later on,” he said, hitting the table with the bat and then walked towards the back door and then stopping. “Tell that bitch of yours that when I make an offer to her, it would be in her best damn interest to take it.”
“What kind of offer did you make to her?” I asked as he smiled and then shook his head.
“That’s between me and her,” he said as he opened the back door and then walked out.
What kind of damn offer did he make her? Apparently, whatever he offered her, she turned it down. If it’s something to help us out of this mess, she needs to jump her ass on that, so we can pay this off as quickly as possible.
Jacksonville, FL – Marshall, Marshall and Caine Law Firm – Howard Marshall’s Office
Damn it, why am I sitting here, in this damn office, working at this hour? I shouldn’t be here, working on these damn briefs and motions, I should be at home, in my bed, sleeping or possibly out somewhere, having a good damn time. I’m really getting tired of the crap I have to put up with on a daily basis. Is this how my life was supposed to turn out? Was I meant to be alone, like this? Forever?
For the past decade, I’ve done the same things, sun up to sun down. I leave the house, come here, do whatever needs to be done here, go to court as necessary, come back here and finish up things and then crawl back home to get a few hours of rest. It’s officially the weekend, yet I’m still working. So again, why am I even here?
“I must like this life,” I said aloud, sighing as I pushed the papers away. “Because I’m here right now, I don’t have a damn life.”
Hell, how can I have a life? I’m always here, working… I’m always here working to improve the lives of others, but yet I’m not improving my own life. How can I improve my life when I don’t have the time to do so? I discovered early on that this job doesn’t allow for a person have a real life of their own and that’s not fair.
“This isn’t living,” I said, shaking my head as I sighed again. “A person isn’t supposed to live their life like this.”
I must really like this life, because I haven’t done anything to change it. Within the past decade, I’ve had many opportunities to do things differently, but I didn’t. Now that Dad’s gone, the firm’s mine and my brother’s, but his crazy ass wanted nothing to do with things, so I’m actually stuck with this, while his ass lives it up on the west coast, having a good time with a myriad of different women. At least he’s doing what he wants to do. Why did I choose to be an attorney again? Oh yeah, Dad wanted me to follow in his footsteps because he felt my debating skills were top notch and I have a keen eye for details. He felt that my skills would be a great asset to the firm, regardless if I wanted to be writer.
“I should’ve transferred to a different college when I had the chance,” I said, sighing. “Had I done that like Julia told me, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
Why am I complaining now? I should’ve been doing this while Dad was alive, when I was able to make some changes, it’s too late now. There’s nothing I can really do here, except for keep things going. I just get tired of the things I have to do for my clients. I keep their lives going when my own life isn’t going as well. I get tired of seeing other people happy all the damn time. That’s my damn life. I get to see other people happy and help them keep their lives afloat, while mine seem to be sinking on a raft, headed down river.
“Because of my work, I’m not able to fully get out and just be me,” I said, looking up to see that it was almost two in the morning. “Hell, I could’ve been out at a night club somewhere, pushing up on some hottie.”
I’m going to take JT’s advice and start living life to the fullest. I can’t keep living this solitary life, like I have been. I need to have some fun and I can’t do that, always working here. I don’t think I was destined to be a lonely attorney forever. There’s something better out there in the world for me and I aim to find it, even if I have to hire other lawyers here and leave this place.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada – Hotel Victoria – JT and Justin’s Hotel Room
Where in the hell is Ken? I haven’t seen him since the other night. Where can he be right now? I’ve gone to his room multiple times and he’s not there. Hell, he’s not in his room and he wasn’t at the wedding today. What’s going on with that man? It’s not like him to just disappear? Is that what happened, he disappeared? Where did he go?
Hell, it’s almost time for Justin and I to head back to Jacksonville, mainly so we can get back to working. I have obligations with the record company to deal with and I’m sure Justin has some things he needs to take care of with his career. I need to find Ken, so I can find out what I need to do with Caleb. I’ve had a good time with Caleb being around and all, but I need to know what I need to do with him.
“Is there something wrong baby?” Justin asked, rolling over on the bed as he caressed my face.
“I don’t know yet,” I replied as he raised an eye as I motioned with my head down at Caleb.
“You still haven’t heard from Ken?” He asked as I shook my head no. “Oh?”
“It’s almost time for us to be heading back and I would like to know what I need to do with him,” I said as he frowned. “Where can he be? It’s not like him to just up and leave…”
“Was that his plan?” Justin said as Caleb started to stir as I pointed at Caleb as we both slowly got up off the bed and walked into the other room.
“What are you trying to say Justin?” I asked.
“I’m asking was it Ken’s plan to leave Caleb here with you?” He asked as I looked at him, wondering if that was Ken’s plan all along.
Was that Ken’s plan? Did he agree to meet up here with Justin, so he could make me take Caleb with me, taking him away from Heather? Was that his plan all along? When we talked about what Heather had done to me and what he claimed I was doing to Caleb, he was very adamant about me being in Caleb’s life. Is this his way of making that a reality, by leaving Caleb here with me, so I have no choice but to take him with me?
“Baby,” Justin said, placing a hand on my shoulder, pulling me from my thoughts. “What’s going through your mind? I can see the wheels turning.”
“I’m pissed off and happy at the same time,” I replied as he raised an eye again.
“Why?” He said as I sighed.
“I’ve had a good time with Caleb and all, but if Ken left him here on purpose, just to make me take respons…” I said as Justin shook his head.
“I don’t think he did that baby; there has to be another excuse for why he’s not here right now,” he said as I shook my head, thinking about the things we argued about the other night.
“I think it is,” I said with a frown as I looked over at Caleb. “Besides, I can’t just up and take him back to Jacksonville with us.”
“Why not?” Justin asked as I looked at him strangely. “He’s your kid, you can do what you want.”
“No I can’t Justin,” I said, shaking my head.
“Yes you can baby,” he said as he sighed. “Being that Heather isn’t here to get him and none of his other next of kin are, you are his only biological parent available. You have no choice but to take him with you and then Heather or Ken would have to come get him from Jacksonville.”
“Why do I feel like you’re talking me into kidnapping,” I said as Justin shook his head again.
“How do you kidnap your own child baby?” He asked as I raised an eye at him.
“I’m sure you’ve seen those Lifetime™ movies, where one of the parents kidnaps the child, to hide the child for ransom or something like that,” I said as he shook his head.
“Well I know you’re not going to do that,” he said as I sighed again, wondering what I really needed to do because Lawd knows I don’t need no more drama in my life.
“Maybe—maybe I need to call Howard and talk to him about this matter,” I said as he shrugged his shoulders as there was a knock at the door. “Maybe that’s Ken.”
“Well I’ll go find out,” Justin said as he walked over to the door, opening as he sighed and then shook his head.
“Baby, it’s for you,” he stated as I looked around him to see Mother standing there.
“Why are you here Mother?” I asked, walking over to where she stood at the door.
“I’m here because I want you to see things logically,” she said as I shook my head. “You need…”
“I need to call the police and have you arrested,” I said as she closed her mouth. “You stole money from me Mother. I’m your son and you stole money from me!”
“Baby,” Justin said as he gestured with his head towards Caleb.
“The money I took was rightfully mine,” she said as I shook my head.
“No Mother, that was my money. I’m the one that lost sleep, working hard to get that money, going out on multiple stages across the world, singing my heart out,” I said as she looked down. “But you keep thinking that it was your money.”
“You weren’t on that damn road by yourself,” she said as I shook my head.
“You have a point, I wasn’t on the road by myself, but that doesn’t give you the right to just take my money Mother,” I said as she sighed. “The money you’ve taken, I hope you are comfortable with it. It won’t happen again. As we speak, someone is going through my finances and yours. I’ve alerted the label to your and Marc’s actions and once I get back to Jacksonville, your termination as my manager will be complete. Also, if someone at the record label has been helping you and Marc, they’ll suffer the fate you have yet to face.”
“You—you can’t do that,” she said as I shook my head.
“Too late, it’s already done,” I said as I motioned for her to get out of the room and for Justin to close the door back.
“Baby,” Justin said, walking over to me. “You didn’t have to be that hard on her, she’s your mom.”
“Mother or not, she broke my trust and she’s going to pay for that,” I said, looking over to see that Caleb had rolled over on the bed, but was still asleep.
“So what are you going to do about management?” Justin asked as I smiled.
“I’ll manage myself and…” I said as he shook his head. “What?”
“What about Nikki and Mo’ette and whoever replaces Glitter?” He asked.
“I… Ah… Well…” I said, looking down, not thinking about that part of things. “We’ll find someone, but it won’t be my mother or yours.”
“Well I wasn’t going to suggest Momma at all,” he said as he shook his head. “Her actions here has shown me a new side of her.”
“I’m sure that side had been seen before, you just didn’t notice it,” I said as he raised an eye at me. “She didn’t become that way overnight Justin.”
“You’re right,” he said as I smiled.
“Keep saying that, you’ll always have a good night with me,” I said as he shook his head and then laughed.
“You’re not always going to be right baby,” he said as I raised an eye at him. “Okay, we’ll see. Right now, I feel like a shower.”
“Well you go ahead and take a shower and I’m going to try to call Ken again,” I said, kissing his lips quickly as I patted his ass and then walked over to the bed and sat down.
“Hey now, don’t start something you can’t finish,” Justin said as he walked into the bathroom, turned on the light as I heard the water turn on in the shower as he stepped back into the doorway, fully naked with a hard-on.
“Justin,” I said, moving in front of Caleb, just in case he were to wake up while Justin was being naughty.
“See what you’ve done to me baby,” he said as he smiled and then closed the door as I sighed.
Oh Lawd, this man don’ gone and got naked. What is he trying to do, entice me while my child is in the bed? He knows we can’t do anything with Caleb here. Where is Ken right now? He’s not even here and he’s already interfering with my marriage. He better make himself seen and real soon. My wedding night has come and gone and I haven’t been able to officially break my husband in. Hell, the kissing, cuddling and that ghetto ass hand-job we gave each other doesn’t count for some good ole fashioned, wall-to-wall fucking. Something’s gotta give and quick. Hell, he’s not the only one that’s been walking around, trying to conceal a damn hard-on. Lawd, is this what parents go through on a regular basis, being cock-blocked by their kids?
Miles Away – Saint Michael’s Hospital – The Intensive Care Unit
“Good afternoon Nurse Casey,” a tall white man spoke as he walked into the area. “Has anyone been here to see our John Doe?”
“No sir, but he’s no longer a John Doe, he’s been identified,” the woman behind the nurses’ station replied with a small smile.
“So what is his name?” The man asked.
“Kenneth Hampton,” the woman replied as the man looked at her and then scratched at his head. “Sir?”
“That—that name sounds very familiar,” the man stated as he picked up a chart from the chart box and opened it up. “Has he regained consciousness yet?”
“No sir, he’s still out,” the woman replied as she flipped a page in the chart she was working on. “Doctor Meadows ordered that he be checked on twice an hour and turned to avoid muscle atrophy.”
“a good start,” the man stated as he flipped through some pages in the chart in his hand. “Has someone been in to see Mr. Dixon in room four?”
“No sir. Each time someone tries to enter the area, something comes flying out with the person that went in,” the woman stated.
“Say what?” The man said, looking at the woman strangely.
“He likes to throw things,” the woman stated as she shook her head. “He’s under the impression that someone’s going to take off his testicles, so he’s not letting anyone come into the room.”
“Where would he get an idea like that?” The man asked, flipping through the pages in the chart. “He’s here for a neurological issue. Is there something wrong with his testicles?”
“Not that I know of sir, but so far, each time someone has tried to enter the room, he screams that no one is taking off his balls and he throws whatever is closest to him,” the woman stated as the man shook his head.
“Has neurological health been here to evaluate him?” The man asked as the nurse shook her head. “So basically, since he’s been here, no one has been able to get into the room to do anything?”
“Since he woke up from his coma, no one has been back in there sir,” the woman stated as the man sighed.
“I guess I’m going to try to go in there and explain to him what we need to do for him,” the man said as he picked up another chart and then pressed a button on the wall as a light come on over the man he was going to see room door.
Late Afternoon – The Airport
Now that we’re married, there’s really nothing Mom can say or do. I wish she could be happy for me—for us, but she refuses to be. Why is she that way? Why doesn’t she want me being with a black man? Is Mom really a racist?
She can’t be a racist, she just can’t be. But then again, with the way she’s acted over the past few weeks and all and the things she’s done, I guess she is. I thought it all was because I’m gay, but now I see that it’s not. Now with her attitude towards JT, Nikki and Josh, maybe there’s something else I should be concerned with in regards to my Mom. Her actions before and after the wedding, I just don’t know what to think about those things—about her.
I just don’t get it. I thought she was freaking out because I’m gay, but that’s not the case here, since she said she could care less about me liking men, she just didn’t want me with JT. I’ve always loved JT and she knows that. How can she not like the man that I love? There isn’t a reason why she shouldn’t like him. If the only reason she doesn’t like him is because he’s black, then she’s not the woman I thought her to be.
“Hi there son, are you okay?” I heard Dad’s voice as I turned around to see him.
“Yeah Dad, I’m okay. I just got some things on my mind,” I replied as he smiled weakly at me.
“If it’s about your mother, just give it a rest. As I said earlier, you let me handle her,” he said as he placed a hand on my shoulder. “Don’t you worry about what your mother said. JT is a fine man and I can tell that he cares for you as much as you care for him. Cherish him son—cherish him while you can. You know we’re not promised eternity here on this plane.”
“I know Dad, but…” I said as he smiled.
“There are going to be many obstacles in your path… Don’t let those things change your heart son,” he said as he squeezed my shoulder in a fatherly way.
“I won’t Dad, I love him,” I said as we hugged as I spotted JT and Caleb walking towards us.
“Hi guys,” JT spoke as he sat down on one of the sofas as Caleb climbed into his lap. “Mo’ette is head off to LA. I just pray that she doesn’t find David.”
“Well that’s something we don’t have to worry about, mainly because we’re not part of that,” I said as Dad smiled as JT frowned. “Besides, David brought that mess all on himself.”
“Maybe so, but I don’t want Mo doing something to get arrested for,” JT stated as I shook my head. “You know she crazy… We don’t need her going to the pokey anytime soon.”
“Baby stop,” I said as Dad smiled again.
“Well son, I’ll be seeing you,” Dad said as he hugged me again and then shook JT’s hand. “You three have fun. I’ll see you guys real soon.”
“Have a safe trip back to Memphis Paul,” JT said as he stood up and put Caleb down on the sofa. “Thanks for all of your help.”
“No problem,” Dad replied as he shook JT’s hand again. “Oh and JT, welcome to the family.”
“Thanks Paul,” JT replied with a smile as Dad waved and then walked off down the corridor to get on his flight back home. “So, what do we do now?”
“I don’t know about you two, but I’m still tired,” I replied as he shook his head.
“No sleep for you Justin,” Caleb said as JT laughed and then smiled. “When we wanted to sleep, you wouldn’t let us sleep.”
“He has a point babe,” JT said with a smile as he rubbed Caleb’s shoulders. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
“What about your Dad and brother?” I asked as he looked at me and then shook his head.
“James and his assistant will be heading back to Chicago later on,” he replied as I looked at him, wondering why he had a sad look on his face.
“What about Joshua?” I asked.
“Joshua and his adoptive brother already left,” he replied as I looked at him. “He told me that he had to return back to his job, the reason they had to leave so early.”
“But…” I said as he shook his head.
“He gave me his address and phone number. So, once I’m back in Jacksonville, we’ll get together and chat,” he said as I looked up to see Joey and Lance approaching us. “What’s happening? What’s the tense look for?”
“Joey and Lance are coming this way,” I replied as he frowned. “I guess Joey’s coming to bust my balls again.”
“I’m going to take Caleb to the gift shop to look around. You three talk or whatever,” he said as he leaned in and kissed my lips as he patted my ass and then walked away.
“Great, I wonder what they have to say now. I thought Joey screamed enough after the wedding,” I said as Joey and Lance stepped in front of me.
“Well it’s time for us to be heading back home brat,” Lance said as he smiled at me. “Congratulations… You finally have what you want.”
“Thanks,” I replied as he leaned in and hugged me.
“Yeah, congratulations… I—I hope you and JT have a wonderful life together,” Joey said as he looked down as Lance nudged him in the side. “I—I’m happy for the two of you.”
“Thanks Joey, that means a lot coming from you,” I said as Joey looked around as if he was looking for somebody and then leaned in and hugged me as Lance walked away from the two of us.
“You know, I would’ve given anything to have you be mine, but I guess your heart chose what it wants most,” Joey whispered to me. “If you’re happy, I’m happy for you.”
“I am very happy Joe and I—I’m sorry again for the way things happened between us. I—I never meant to hurt you,” I said as he looked me in the face as the tears streamed down his face.
“I know that, but sometimes my mind goes back to some of the things we did… You know, the good times and—and the bad,” he said as he looked down and then sighed. “I just wish I was good enough for you.”
“You were always good enough for me, I—I just wasn’t good enough for you,” I said as he looked up at me and then leaned in and hugged me again. “You have Lance now and from what I’ve seen so far, you two are good together. I’m glad you two found each other.”
“I—I’m glad I found him too,” he said as he looked back down at the floor. “You know he doesn’t compare to you in the bedroom, but everything else is spot on.”
“Joe,” I said as he looked up at me and then smiled.
“You know you got skills in the bed,” he said as he rubbed my chest. “I can still remember those long nights of lovemaking… Lance does a good job of keeping me happy, but nothing compares to an all night long free for all.”
“I know what you mean,” I said as he looked down again and then shook his head.
“You’ll always hold a special place in my heart,” he said, sniffling as he wiped at his eyes. “I’ll always love you Justin. Just know that if he hurts you, I’ll hunt him down and beat his ass.”
“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that Joe,” I said as he looked back up at me and then smiled. “The two of us have gotten past our issues, the reason we’re married now.”
“I—I guess you have,” he said as he caressed my hand. “I—I’m going to miss you Justin.”
“I’m going to miss you too,” I replied as he let my hand go. “Because I’m married, doesn’t mean we’re not going to see each other again. I’m sure you guys will be around for when we have get-togethers and such.”
“Who knows what the future holds buddy,” he said, twiddling his thumbs. “You’ll be busy with your career and all, your new husband and his kid. I know you like kids and you’ll probably get a few more.”
“Probably so, but we haven’t talked about more kids yet. I think Caleb is enough for right now,” I said as he looked at me again. “Between both of our careers, I think we’ll be too busy for more kids right now.”
“Who knows,” he said as the PA system came on, announcing their flight. “That’s us… Congratulations again and I’m going to miss you. Take it easy Justin.”
“Have a safe trip Joe,” I said, hugging him as he leaned in close and kissed my cheek.
“Later Justin Tanner Poole,” he said as he waved and then turned and walked away.
Hmmmm, I like the sound of that. It has a nice ring to it, Justin Tanner Poole. That’s the first time someone has actually said it out loud. With all the things that’s happened over the past few weeks, nothing compares to the feeling I have right now. I have the man that I love, my career is still going strong and my life seems to be going great, the way I’ve always dreamt it would. Nothing can bring me down from this moment.
To Be Continued…