In the third and final installment of The Fix Trilogy, two worlds that have been running parallel finally collide.
Persia Chandler has managed to get her life back on track. Things are calm at home, she’s preparing to leave for college, and she is even feeling confident enough to start dating again. More importantly, she’s drug free and plans to stay that way—until Chucky slithers back into her life. He’s determined to make Persia his again, and he isn’t willing to take no for an answer.
When trying to woo her doesn’t work, Chucky plays hardball and gives Persia an ultimatum: go along with his latest twisted plot, or have her junkie past exposed to the new man in her life, Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback Vaughn Tate. Fearing that her dirty laundry will damage not only Vaughn’s reputation but also their budding romance, Persia agrees to Chucky’s terms.
Chucky thinks he’s got Persia right where he wants her, but little does he know that she isn’t the same naïve little girl he remembered. There is no way Persia is going to allow him to make her a slave again, even if she has to see him dead to prevent it.
In another part of town, Li’l Monk is discovering that a friend in need isn’t always a friend indeed. After helping his old running buddy, Charlie, out of a jam, he finds himself the victim of a triple-cross when a prominent mobster is found dead and all signs point to Li’l Monk as the murderer. To prevent a war with the Mafia, Pharaoh has passed a death sentence on to his young lieutenant, but he will soon learn that killing the monster he helped to create is easier said than done.
The cards have all been dealt, and now it’s time to play the last hand.
About the Author
K'wan is the #1 bestselling author of Welfare Wifeys, Section 8, Gutter, Still Hood, Hood Rat, Eve, Hoodlum, Street Dreams, Gangsta, Road Dawgz, and his new series, Animal. In 2011 K'wan won the African American Literary Award for Welfare Wifeys. He has also been featured in Time, King, and New York Press, and on MTV and BET. K'wan currently resides in New Jersey, where he is working on his next novel.
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The Fix 3
Urban Books, LLCCopyright © 2016 K'wan
All rights reserved.
One week earlier
"Jesus, Li'l Monk, why can't you seem to sit still?" Sophie asked from the passenger seat of Li'l Monk's Bonneville.
"Because I'm uncomfortable." Li'l Monk rolled his broad shoulders beneath the blazer he was wearing, trying his best to tear the seams and give himself a bit more room. He hadn't worn a suit since sixth grade graduation, and even then he hated them.
"Because it's a suit jacket and not a dope boy leather, and should be worn according to your actual size and not be falling off you," Sophie told him. "Stop complaining, Li'l Monk. You're only going to have to wear it for a few hours."
"Yeah, but those few hours are gonna feel like a lifetime, considering the circumstances," Li'l Monk said. Suddenly they were both reminded of where they were going and why they were going there, and the mood darkened. A few minutes later, they were pulling up at their destination, Unity Funeral home.
The minute Li'l Monk crossed 126th Street and Eighth Avenue, he felt the ball of ice forming in his gut. It was the same feeling he got whenever he was within spitting distance of a funeral home. It was odd to him that he could murder people out in the streets without losing sleep over it, but being around them laid out properly gave him the creeps. His mother's was the first and last funeral he had ever attended. He could remember, as if it were yesterday, seeing her stretched out in that satin-lined box like she was only sleeping. They had done an excellent job with her makeup, except for the raised patch of skin on her forehead that appeared slightly darker than the rest of her face. Gunshot wounds to the head were slightly harder to cover than most causes of death.
At the urging of his father, Monk, he'd approached the casket to pay his final respects. When he touched her hand, it felt different. It wasn't the same hand that had held his while walking him to the bus stop for school, or the hand that stroked his face and told him he was handsome when he would come home crying over the mean kids in school calling him ugly. What he held was a room-temperature shell that had once housed his mother's spirit. From then on, Li'l Monk refused to attend another funeral, even for someone he loved; yet that day he found himself going back on his word for someone he barely even liked.
There were cars parked and double parked on both sides of the street, but Li'l Monk was able to squeeze into a spot near the bodega on the corner. His was the only car without a funeral sign in the window, so he was leery about leaving it there for fear of being ticketed or towed by some thirsty traffic cop. The last thing he wanted to do was have to go down to Pier 76 to retrieve his car over some parking fines. Had it been up to him they'd have circled the block once or twice more looking for a spot, but they were already pressed for time and he didn't want to hear Sophie's mouth.
After giving a brief look around to make sure there was no danger looming, Li'l Monk walked around the side of the car to open the door for his lady. Sophie stepped out of the car looking like a woman ready for the world in a stylish skirt that hugged her hips, and the matching jacket. On her feet was a pair of modest heels that gave her just enough lift to show off her toned calves. Her hair was freshly done in a tight French braid with a gold butterfly clasp at the base. It was one of her favorite hair pieces. It wasn't much, but Li'l Monk had given it to her one day on the humble, so she loved the thought behind it more than the value of it and wore the clasp all the time.
After helping Sophie onto the curb, Li'l Monk took a minute to adjust his jacket so that the gun tucked in the waist of his slacks was concealed. When Sophie spotted it, she frowned in disapproval.
"Nigga, I know you ain't bring no gun to a funeral?" Sophie asked with an attitude. "Li'l Monk, you're disrespectful as hell for that."
"Call me what you want, Sophie, but this here pistol can be the difference between being a spectator and the guest of honor at a funeral," Li'l Monk told her, while continuing to button his jacket.
When they reached the funeral home, Li'l Monk had to do a double take. There was a horse-drawn carriage driven by a man decked out in white gloves and a coat with tails. Two beautiful horses stood erect and tall, waiting for the coach driver's command. It reminded Li'l Monk of a scene from a movie Sophie had forced him to watch called Imitation of Life. From the looks of things no expense had been spared on the funeral, and from what he remembered of the family of the deceased they surely didn't have it like that.
In front, clusters of people gathered; some needed a breather from seeing their loved one off for the final time, and others had more sinister intentions. Li'l Monk's focus was on the latter group. He gave Sophie a look, and she knew what was on his mind without him saying. She excused herself and went to talk to a girl she knew from the block and left Li'l Monk to his business.
Several pairs of eyes turned toward Li'l Monk as he approached. Some of them he knew and others he had only seen around the neighborhood. Standing in the center of them was a man who was no doubt their leader. Even if you didn't know him, you could tell from the way the men surrounding him seemed to hang on his every word. He looked like was holding court the way he walked up and down the line, speaking sharply. His dreads whipped back and forth every time he changed focus on who he was speaking to. He looked like a mighty lion king holding court. When he noticed he had lost the attention of some of the men, he turned to see what they were looking at. The anger immediately drained from his face and his lips parted into a wide grin.
"What up, gangsta?" Omega embraced his friend. "I'm surprised to see you here. I know how you feel about funerals."
"I started not to come, but Sophie wouldn't leave me alone about it. She says it would've been disrespectful if I didn't come," Li'l Monk told him.
"Well, y'all did grow up together."
"True, but it wasn't like we were good friends or no shit. I know why I'm here, but what's your excuse?"
"Ramses insisted I show up. He said that seeing me and a few of the guys there would show people that the family was respected in the neighborhood," Omega told him.
Li'l Monk frowned in confusion. "Why does he even care?"
Omega shrugged. "Beats the hell out of me. Maybe he was just protecting his investment, since he did foot the bill for the funeral."
This bit of information shocked Li'l Monk. It wasn't unheard of for Ramses to help out financially if someone from the neighborhood needed a proper send-off and their families didn't have the money to do it, but it never went further than an envelope of cash or maybe a nice floral arrangement. Sending one of his field commanders to represent personally was an honor usually reserved for members of their organization or an affiliate. Li'l Monk wondered what kind of attachment Ramses had to the deceased or the family to make him show such respect.
"So what's up with you and that situation? The thing with the Italians?" Omega asked.
"Ain't nothing up with it. Ramses said it was dead and I shouldn't worry about it. Why, did you hear something different?" Li'l Monk asked suspiciously.
"Nah. I mean, I only know what the streets are saying, ya know?" Omega explained.
"No, I don't know, nor do I give a fuck." Li'l Monk snorted. "I didn't have nothing to do with what happened and Ramses said he'd tell Frankie as much. If Ramses's word ain't good enough for him then I can tell him myself."
"Be careful with how you handle that, Li'l Monk. Those Italians are dangerous," Omega warned.
"Any nigga with a gun is dangerous and I got a few of those on deck," Li'l Monk said confidently.
"Damn, I never thought I'd actually ever see a real monkey in a monkey suit." One of the men Omega had been speaking with came over. He was dark skinned, and wore his hair in long cornrows. He had moved so silently that Li'l Monk hadn't even noticed him at first. Typical of a snake like King Tut.
"I ain't no monkey. I'm a full-blown gorilla and you'd do well to remember that." Li'l Monk's voice was neutral, but the threat in his words wasn't lost on Tut. King Tut was one of Ramses's newest field commanders and a general pain in Li'l Monk's ass. They tolerated each other out of respect to Ramses, but there was no love lost between them.
Tut sized him up briefly, before smiling so wide that you could see all thirty-two of his perfectly white teeth. "C'mon, you know I was only joking with you, Li'l Monk."
"Last dude who called himself being funny ended up in the emergency room," Li'l Monk reminded him, referring to Chief. Chief was one of Tut's boys who had run afoul of Li'l Monk. As a result, Li'l Monk fractured his cheek and had broken several of his ribs.
The smirk faded from King Tut's face. "Yeah, old pretty-ass Chief ain't so pretty no more after that ass whipping you put on him. I can't say that I wouldn't have done the same if a nigga almost took my bitch."
Li'l Monk took a step toward King Tut, but Omega stepped between them. "You know this ain't the time or place."
Li'l Monk clenched and unclenched his fist. He wanted to pummel King Tut, but Omega was right. It wasn't the time or place, but their reckoning would come. "You got it, O."
"Let me holla at you right quick though." Omega led Li'l Monk out of earshot of the rest of the group. "You heard what happened uptown last night?"
"Nah, I been at Sophie's since yesterday morning. Everything good?"
"Afraid not. We lost two soldiers last night," Omega said solemnly.
"Damn, that's fucked up. Anybody I know?" Li'l Monk asked.
"Probably not. They were two low-level runners from Tut's crew," Omega explained.
Li'l Monk snorted. "Sounds like Tut's problem, not ours."
"Tut's with us, so that makes it our problem. We gotta take care of our own no matter how high or low they sit on the totem pole. Niggas dying on our watch is bad for morale. Cats will start feeling like it ain't safe to work for us and seek employment elsewhere."
Li'l Monk didn't like it, but he understood Omega's point. "Do we know who was responsible for it?"
"The streets are saying it was some of them Clark boys," Omega told him. He was speaking about Shai Clark, heir to Poppa Clark's multimillion dollar heroin empire. His predecessor, Poppa Clark, had been a reasonable man and had no problems coexisting with the other bosses, but his son lacked his diplomatic skills. According to Ramses, Shai Clark was a ruthless and power-hungry brat who was conquering drug territory in the tristate area like Hannibal sweeping across Europe.
"If we know who it is, why don't we arm up and go bang on this nigga?" Li'l Monk asked heatedly.
"Because that's not how Ramses wants it done. He says this situation involving the Clarks has to be handled with diplomacy," Omega told him.
Li'l Monk shook his head. "I don't get it, Omega. In the short time we been riding with him Pharaoh has crushed at least a half dozen upstarts, but when it comes to these Clark niggas he starts dancing around the issue. Word life, it's looking like he's scared."
Omega gave him a look. "You and I both know that fear don't live nowhere in Pharaoh's heart, but the Clarks are a different animal. These guys aren't some crew of thugs armed with machine guns and heart. Shai's family is old-school organized crime."
"And that's what makes the situation even more bizarre, O. If them niggas coexisted all these years, why the sudden blowup between them?"
"Listen, you reading too deep into this, Li'l Monk. All we need to know is that Pharaoh don't fuck with these niggas so neither do we!" Omega said definitively.
Li'l Monk wasn't feeling it, but he didn't bother to try to argue the point with Omega. He was a loyalist and the only thing that mattered to him was the will of Pharaoh. "I need to pay my respects. I'll see you inside." Li'l Monk stalked off.
"What the fuck is his problem?" Tut asked once Li'l Monk had gone.
"Li'l Monk is just being Li'l Monk." Omega downplayed it. "And why are you always antagonizing him? You're like a kid throwing rocks at a stray dog then cries about getting bit."
"This dog bites back. Unlike most of these niggas, I ain't scared of Li'l Monk," Tut said defiantly.
"That's because you ain't smart enough to be scared of him. Li'l Monk is a good dude, but he is also a monster. When provoked he becomes a creature of pure rage and will destroy anything or anyone he feels is a threat. You might wanna keep that in the back of ya mind the next time you go talking shit to him."
"I hear you, O," Tut said like he agreed, but he really wasn't heeding Omega's warning. Tut lived by the law of the gun, meaning the quickest on the draw was the one who'd likely come out of the fight on top. "Any new word on that thing?" Tut changed the subject.
"I told you that I've got a plan, so stop worrying," Omega said.
"That's easy for you to say. You weren't the one who tortured and killed the nephew of a man who could wipe out our entire bloodlines with one phone call," King Tut shot back.
King Tut was referring to the ambitious move Omega had orchestrated, which turned into a heaping pile of shit dumped in Tut's lap. Omega had enticed Tut into whacking a dealer named Petey who controlled a small piece of territory situated just across the 145th Street Bridge into the Bronx. Omega wanted to expand, but Petey was in the way so he had to go and he called on King Tut to do the deed. As far as King Tut knew Petey was a nobody, a relative blip on the underworld radar who wouldn't be missed, but what Omega failed to mention was that Petey was the nephew of a cartel boss named Suarez. Suarez was furious when he discovered his nephew had been murdered, and since it happened in Pharaoh's backyard he suspected that one of Pharaoh's people was behind it. The only reason Omega and King Tut were still alive was because Suarez didn't have any proof. Pharaoh had charged Omega with assisting Suarez's right-hand man Felix to investigate the murder. If Omega played his cards right he could keep the Puerto Ricans chasing their tails until the situation blew over or they found a believable patsy to pin the murder on. Until such time, Omega's and Tut's survival rested in them keeping their cool.
"Be easy, Tut." Omega draped his arm around King Tut's shoulder and lowered his voice to a whisper. "Them spics can't prove it was us who laid Petey out. Right now they're just flexing, hoping that we crack and start turning on each other. So long as we keep our heads we'll get through this."
"I hope so, O. Just remember that if I burn, you burn with me," King Tut reminded him. He had been the killer, but it was Omega who authorized the hit so their fates were intertwined.
"Have no fear, King Tut. Somebody is gonna feel the fire behind this, but it ain't gonna be us." Omega gave a sinister laugh.CHAPTER 2
By the time Li'l Monk made it inside the funeral was wrapping up. There were two lines, family and friends, stretching from the front of the funeral home to the back. This was the opportunity for people to say their final farewells to the deceased.
From where he was standing Li'l Monk could see the beautiful ivory casket that held Karen's shell. There were too many people for him to catch more than the occasional glimpse of Karen's face and he dared not move closer. Li'l Monk wasn't sure he would be able to take seeing her laid out in a box. It wasn't that he was squeamish or even overly saddened by the loss, but he was having trouble processing it. Li'l Monk had lost plenty of homies but Karen's death was different. Karen was someone Li'l Monk saw damn near every day of his life because they grew up in the same hood and he was best friends with her brother Charlie; and now she was gone, snuffed out before even hitting the prime of her life. They had never really been friends, but they were cool and her death made Li'l Monk start to think on his own mortality. At the rate he was going he doubted he would make it to a ripe old age, but being at Karen's funeral made this real to him for the first time. He pictured himself lying in that casket with people crying and falling out over him, and it rattled him.
Down in front Li'l Monk spotted Karen's family. Her mother and some of Karen's other relatives were there. Karen's mother was normally loud and brash, but sitting mere feet away from her daughter's body had taken all the fire out of her. She sobbed uncontrollably while friends and relatives tried to no avail to console her. Sitting on the end of the bench, trying to look everywhere except at the casket, was Karen's brother and Li'l Monk's best friend, Charlie. He was trying to hold it together, but you could tell from the redness of his eyes and the solemn look on his face that he was going through it. Charlie and Karen had different fathers and more often than not they disrespected each other like total strangers, but Li'l Monk knew firsthand how much the siblings loved each other. Li'l Monk's heart went out to his friend in his time of grief.
Excerpted from The Fix 3 by K'wan. Copyright © 2016 K'wan. Excerpted by permission of Urban Books, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
The Fix 3,
PART I - SO MANY TEARS,
PART II - ULTERIOR MOTIVES,
PART III - STRANGE BEDFELLOWS,
PART IV - TRIPLE CROSS,
PART V - WRATH,