“She’s your handler but I’m the boss. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is James Montgomery . . . . . .”
With those words, I knew that my life wouldn’t be the same. For better or for the absolute worst, I was in the presence of my destiny. James was intimidating, but not in that Deebo from Friday kind of way. There was a quiet strength in his stature. James appeared to be the type that could share a blunt with you one minute, then cut your throat with a smile the next! As he buttoned his black suit jacket and walked out to the balcony, fear found me once again. I could feel his hired hands closing in on my shoulders.
“Come talk to me James”
“Ummm. . . . . couldn’t we talk in here? I mean . . . . .”
With a snap of his fingers, the two goons left the room and closed the door behind.
“Won’t be no Suge Knight shit going on tonight bruh. I just wanna have a conversation with you . . . . . man to man”
I shook off the nerves and went out on the balcony. He was already standing against the ledge with a drink in his hand. He pointed to the table where a familiar bottle was sitting.
“Pour yourself a glass. I hope you like Fou-Dre’. It’s a favorite of mine”
I poured myself a glass but stayed close to the glass door. However, Mr. Montgomery motioned me to come to ledge to talk. I forced my trembling legs over to where he stood. As I stood in front of James next to the ledge, the whole scene felt like New Jack City. . . . when Nino finally killed G Money . . . . .
“So I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m here instead of some high priced ass huh?”
“Well yeah, the thought did cross my mind. I was expecting to see some mega church first lady and her lover in the room”
“I have to apologize for the deception. I couldn’t let Morgan know that I was going to see you tonight”
“Why? I mean she does work for you doesn’t she?”
“She does Eric, but this meeting had to be on the hush”
“So who’s gonna pay her commission?”
“It will be paid . . . . one way or the other . . . . . ”
I didn’t like the sound of that. My hand started to quiver just a touch before I was able to put my game face back on.
“So what’s the proposition Mr. Montgomery? Do you want me to start running drugs for you through my restaurant or something?”
James laughed scared me as it came from a deep vocal register.
“Mr. Houston, you’ve been watching too much “Power”! Trust, I don’t run drugs”
“So you don’t run drugs? Then how can I help you?”
“Well Eric, I need someone to take this operation to another level. I believe you’re the man for the job”
“I’ve been doing my research on you Eric Houston. You’ve fought for everything you have. You’re the son to a single mother who was killed in the line of duty. You fought to get into a magnet school so you could go to a great college. Walked on and became a basketball star at Georgia. Took up civil engineering only to trade it all to be a chef. I think you lived out your car before you got the loft you’re in now. Am I getting it right?”
“Did you Google me or something?”
“Sort of. You can tell a lot about a person through their social media. It’s like they leave bread crumbs for you to follow. I just followed the bread crumbs. Plus I looked into your bank statements . . . . . . ”
“You did what??!!!”
“For every employee I have, I look into their bank accounts to make sure that they are not operating outside of the contract that they signed”
“But how is my money any of your business? I mean, what I bring home from the restaurant is my business!”
“Eric my friend, when my money funds your business, it becomes my business”
I was beginning to get a little heated while Mr. Montgomery remained cool as a fan. How the fuck was he going to say that my business was his business? This was my side gig! I didn’t sign on for this!
“Look Mr. Montgomery, I appreciate the chance to make the extra duckets dicking down these women but you don’t have the right to look through my account homie!”
He smiled as he took another sip of his drink.
“Eric whether you know it or not, I’ve been pulling the strings on all of this. Didn’t you think it was odd he way that Morgan came into your restaurant to critique your food after only being in business a little over a year? Didn’t you think it strange that she slept with you that same night? How about that dramatic increase in foot traffic to The Six? Nigga I made all of that happen! You didn’t have athletes, judges, congressmen, or local celebrities coming into your establishment until you signed that contract right?”
“But Morgan had wrote the review? It was my food! The music! It had nothing to do with you!”
“Ahhhh, but it did. I do the PR for Food and Wine. Plus I put the word out to my circle to frequent your restaurant. I wanted you to get a taste of the good life before I met with you”
“Wait a minute? What?”
“Don’t tell me you were having fun living paycheck to paycheck? It’s one thing to know you have money coming in, it’s another to know that you have money on deck. With the job you’ve been doing for me, you’ve been able to stack away some money, pay your student loans on time without defaulting, and catch up on all your bills. Feels good doesn’t it?”
I had to admit it felt good not getting calls from Sallie Mae and her friends reminding me of the money that I didn’t have to pay back. Felt good to make car payments on time and actually pay up several months. It was even better to actually go through my credit report and start paying off debt I accrued with Lauren when I was trying to live beyond my means. I didn’t want to lose that feeling. I nodded my head in agreement.
“How would you like to go from being in the clear to having your money be power for you?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that you could write a check and pay off your student debt tomorrow if you wanted to. If you wanted to upgrade that Impala and get a Benz or a Beamer, you could pay cash for a brand new one, fully loaded! How does that sound?”
“Not expensive if you take over for me”
“Eric, I’ve never had any children and I admire your hustle. For some reason, I feel like we are kindred spirits. So I’m out here tonight to ask if you will be the face of the business”
“Yes. You will handle the day to day operations of everything I’m a majority shareholder of. From my real estate companies, the strip clubs, the porn websites, and of course, the escort business”
“Just how am I supposed to juggle all of this and my restaurant too?”
“You’re gonna hire a manager for your restaurant along with a chef that is just as good as you. As for the other businesses, I have managers in place. You will oversee them. We’ll meet once a week at my place for meetings until you get comfortable and then we will meet once a month”
I took a moment to take it all in. I couldn’t believe that Mr. Montgomery was trusting me with all of this. There had to be a catch.
“This sounds a little too good to be true. Why me? Why not Morgan? She seems to have a nose for overseeing operations?”
“Ahhh yes. Morgan is good with money. Too bad she’s also power hungry. I got word from a detective friend of mine that she has been in contact with the feds. She’s trying to get me caught up so that she can be in control”
“So what are you going to do with her?”
“Now see, that’s where you come in Eric! I want you to kill her for me”
“I want you to take her out for me. If you can take her out, I will erase all of your debt and put one hundred grand in your account to get you started”
“How are you gonna do that?”
“How did I get all those people to come to your club? How did I orchestrate tonight? I’m always thinking four steps ahead when others are only thinking two”
“And what if I refuse?”
“If you refuse, then I’ll have to do it myself. Then you have no handler which means no business outside of that crazy ass Karma! And her business will dry up and she’ll have no money to give you. I’ll tell all my friends and clients to frequent other businesses and your restaurant will go under. It’s hard living in a car when you’ve been sleeping on linen sheets every night”
“But I would have respect for myself . . .”
“Would you now? Trust me Eric, it’s no good going back to the soup kitchen asking for food when you’re used to being the one handing out the vittles. But it’s cool, you can either be Fred Sanford or Heathcliff Huxtable. It’s up to you my friend”
“Can I have tonight to think about it?”
“For you, I’ll give you forty eight hours. And just to give you a little incentive, those two dimes that were sitting in the main area are yours for the night. I’ll get the fellas and we will leave you all to it”
“So how do I get in touch with you?”
“You won’t. I’ll call you. Enjoy the room and the ladies”
Mr. Montgomery shook my hand with that pimp smile and walked back into the room. All types of thoughts ran through my head. I drank the last of my vodka before the entertainment came through the door. I watched them as they started to get undressed. They had to be Victoria Secret models to be so fine! This had to be a dream! Then the redheaded cherry called out from the room . . . .
“Are you gonna come in here and fuck us or do you want us to come out there?”
I sat the empty glass by the bottle as I headed inside. . . . . .
Written by the Wednesday Gentleman