As a writer, editor and publisher, I have strange liaisons, just like in life, that speak to me and send me on journeys I did not expect.
The man above is named Jayson Davis. He is my writing partner and close friend. He is a Harlem OG, a Blood, as am I – honorary only. I met him when I published a book with his poems. I held on to him for dear life for his writing ability and GENIUS ability to plot.
Many practicing and reformed criminals are great at the plot. Clever, in their world, is life and death. In a book, it’s just fun.
Since I am a middle-aged woman, Jay and I thought it might be fun for some gangsters to help a white woman get her cheating husband back in line. I had the middle-aged woman feelings, Jay had the clever.
Below is the very beginning of the book. It’s about 1/2 written. Read these first few paragraphs and if you want us to keep going, we will.
If you think it’s a stupid idea, we’ll probably keep going anyway.
That’s how we do.
HAIR CLUB BURNING
By Beth Wareham and Jason Davis
Arms pumping and three-figure handbag swinging, Mary Ann felt the first drips of sweat hit the water slide of her butt crack, flowing down to God knows where. It tickled, a strange sensation while in the midst of running for one’s life. She was speed walking down the highway double line in the middle of the nowhere, hoping the men behind her would not shoot.
She couldn’t find one person in her life who could drive out and rescue her. She’d dialed all the friends and family. No one picked up. She had left the scene so quickly and was so frightened, she hadn’t even dialed 911. Hadn’t thought of it, just fled. Later, she’d reflect that all the sugar she’d eaten had clouded her thoughts, made her stupid. Deep inside, she knew differently.
She was a woman alone. Wasn’t it obvious? What shit, she thought. I have a family full of men, a phone full of friends and no one to call at the lowest moment in recent memory. She pumped her arms faster now, moving over to road’s shoulder as a car appeared off in the distance. She figured getting hit by a car instead of a gun blowing a hole in her head was probably more to her liking. A car could drag you though, her mind quickly countered. Maybe a gunshot was better.
Periwinkle kitten heels dug into sand and gravel. Her teeth ground against each other at the sound. She was creating tiny landslides down the roadside with each step and finally a pump remained behind as she kept moving forward. Damn, damn, damn she thought as she wheeled around and grabbed the shoe. She was on one leg now, a flamingo with no water or wings. She knew she looked stupid hopping on one foot in the road in the middle of nowhere. She slipped it back on and strode back to the center of the asphalt, where her shoes worked.
God is punishing me, she thought. For the donuts. I have to die because I ate all those donuts and there is no one to save me. She began muttering words Heavenword: “I’ll stop the sugar thing,” she vowed as her ankle bent outward and she screamed in pain. “I will be more loving.” “I’ll go to Core Class.” She kept walking fast down the centerline and as the car became larger, her thoughts raced. She bit down on her lip again, winced, and a fresh metallic taste of blood filled her mouth.
I’m a bad wife and mother, her inner asshole continued. I’m out here because I’m a bad wife and mother. I’m out here because I do things I shouldn’t. Her legs were growing tired: She was not at her fittest. I’m out here because I’m selfish. I just had to have what I had to have.
Her thoughts grew even darker and sweat streamed down her body. Mary Ann kept rushing toward the approaching car, her thoughts ripping open her middle-aged soul. She could still hear the men behind her yelling in a language she did not know. She moved even faster, her personal fluids – sweat, tears and snot – attracting molecules of dust from the road. Her face took on the dust’s color, a boring hue her decorator friend would have described as “homosexual putty beige.” Why he called it that, she didn’t know. The approaching car, she could now see, had a huge hood ornament. Light flashed on it as she moved toward the road’s edge again to let it pass.
As the car moved closer, Mary Ann felt a new set of fears well up into the back of her throat. Who would be driving a car like that? She thought. The last time she’d seen one that big and rectangular was in Goodfellas. Or was it American Gangster? That’s it, she thought. The 70s. She realized that the 1970s were coming down a two-lane country highway and were headed directly for her. God, I hated those pantsuits, she thought. And the pointy collars. What is a car like that doing out here in the farmlands of New York? Please God, she bargained again. Let it pass.
The giant yellow Cadillac had another plan. It slowly floated between Mary Ann and the shoulder, door swinging open, and a distressed, abandoned middle-age woman was scooped off burning asphalt and thrown directly into the fire of her life.