Damn, that nigga is fine as shit, though, I thought. The Marta train came to my stop. For the last fifteen minutes a rugged, light-skinned dude with corn rolls and tats all over his arms pressed at me hard. He eye-balled me, grabbed his dick a couple times through his pants and looked me up and down like he wanted to fuck me right there on the train. The freak in me probably would have let him if he had tried.
There was always a raw, gritty appeal with trade. At least with real trade. Too many of the Atlanta kids tried to give boy in the streets but twerked their asses to Beyonce in the clubs. I was hip to the nonsense. I wasn’t about to have a girl climb my back.
But this one was legit. Straight trade. Sex just oozed from his pores and I could tell he didn’t give a fuck. Especially with his girl sitting right next to him with a baby bump. He was a gutter dude and I was good with passing that one up. I shook my head, cleared my mind of all the freaky things I would do to the man and got off the train.
Atlanta trade was always a mess. Dude tried to mouth his number to me while keeping tabs on his girl a stop back but I wasn’t stunting his ass. They all were the same: try to be all hard and gutter until they got to the bedroom. I’d bent over a good number in my day so I wasn’t all that pressed to sneak and get the nigga’s number. But I had to admit, my dick was responding to the thought of slipping between his yellow cheeks. I smiled to myself at the thought.
That same smile quickly disappeared as soon as I stepped onto the sidewalk. Cold and heavy raindrops smacked against my skin as I plowed up towards the Buckhead condominium I had originally set out to reach. Within minutes my jeans were drenched and clung tightly to my thighs. Each step felt like I was dragging my feet through snow. Thank goodness it was late March in Atlanta and all I had to actually deal with were the annoying ass flash showers. But Hell, that was enough.
I cursed aloud, mostly at myself for not grabbing my extra-large umbrella when I ran out the door this morning, but also because of the crazily cold wind chill tearing through my wind breaker. The South was known for its temperate winters and inviting springs. But this spring was different. For some reason it felt like the grips of winter just refused to let go.
Every day for the last two month I had grabbed my jacket and my umbrella. But today I didn’t. And of course it would rain and be extra cold when I only had on a windbreaker. Today just wasn’t going to be my day, I could already tell.
Getting wet wasn’t a big deal. Clothes could always be dried. But water damage to $3,000 worth of photography equipment wasn’t acceptable. The surveillance gigs I had picked up recently had been a nice supplement to my graphic design income but in no way could justify a reinvestment in perfectly useable equipment.
Luckily the condominium I was looking for was only a few blocks down from the station. Because of the rain, the sidewalks were clear. So I pulled my windbreaker over my head, tucked my equipment bag under my arm and broke out into a full sprint towards the mid-rise entrance.
I was so worried about my equipment that I didn’t even look around the condo’s lobby after I shot through the double glass door. I placed the bag on a small table and checked my cameras and lenses. A wave of relief came over me once I saw nothing, except me, had gotten wet. If there were any less water soaking my jeans, people would have thought I pissed myself.
I shook my head dismissively, wiping at my pant leg as if it would help. It didn’t matter. Wet jeans were a whole lot less important than what I had came to the condo for in the first place; to get up on the roof to get my $3,500 shot.
With a loud sigh, I looked up and scanned the lobby. It was pretty nice; very chic and modern with a minimalist design. My eyes settled on the young, almond-complexioned man standing behind the service desk in the far corner, near to the elevators. He was alone. I scooped up my stuff and made my way over.
A professional, tightlipped smile spread on the concierge’s face. His sharp hazel eyes quickly locked onto mine. My interest was piqued. I leaned on the counter, invading his personal space and looked up at him teasingly. He tilted his head slightly, looked away quickly and then back at me. His smile got a little bigger, just enough for his white teeth to show. The professional façade had been broken.
“How can I help you, sir?” He asked, his voice softer and more inviting.
I reached out and touched his name tag. He didn’t even flinch at my touch. That was always a good sign. I read his name.
“Jemias,” I said, barely louder than a whisper. “You have stunning eyes. A weaker man could get lost in them.”
“Thank you, I guess.”
The tight-lipped smiled quickly returned. There was a steady skepticism and wistful wisdom in his gaze. It was a nice contrast to his round, youthful face. The kid wasn’t a stranger to compliments and could probably sniff out bullshit a mile away. I knew I had to work my magic.
“And your bone structure is just amazing.” I stepped back as if I needed to get a better look at him. It was all part of the game. “Skin is flawless. The tone radiates.”
Slowly, I licked my lips and let my eyes travel up and down his body. His toned build pressed against the form fitting blue blazer. And I was sure that I saw a nice bulge slinking down his pant leg. My flirting was more than working. I probably would have grabbed him by the collar and kissed him on the spot if my interest was only to get in his pants.
“Jemias, have you ever considered modeling? At least to get some extra cash in your pocket,” I said, putting on my salesman voice. I reached in my pocket and pulled out one of my business cards. “Here, if you ever decide to try your hand in front of a camera, even as a hobby, give me a call.”
I licked my lips again. His eyes shifted to my mouth and back up to my eyes. At that point I knew that if he wasn’t interested in modeling he would hit me up just to fuck. But I still played the business man role.
“Cause honestly, with that complexion, bone structure and your look in general, there’s no reason why you couldn’t at least get a handful of gigs.”
Jemias took the card and studied it like it was a set of notes for an upcoming test. His eyes shot back up and locked with mine. I could tell by the look on his face that thoughts danced between whether he should keep the conversation professional, personal or both.
“And how much would this photo shoot cost?” Jemias asked, his voice surprisingly deep. I heard a hint of skepticism linger in the question.
I put a disarming grin on my face. It made since that he had been approached before by photographers. It made sense. The young man was very attractive. He probably had been played before.
“Photo shoot would be free. I’d pass the prints on to some agencies so you could get on some advertising material in catalogs or even on a commercial. But I do maintain a 15% referral fee. That’s how I make my money.”
Jemias nodded as he took out his wallet and slid my card inside. He looked down at my bag and back up at me.
“So I’m guessing you’re here to do a photo shoot?”
“Yea, a client wants to do a nude shoot up on the roof. But he said I needed special permission or something to get up there.”
“Oh, yea. The roof is off limits. Only the maintenance workers and the elevator inspectors go up there. Want me to call a maintenance man down to see if you can work something out?”
I nodded. Jemias wasn’t going to help me get up there and I already knew trying to get a maintenance man to give me access to the roof wasn’t going to happen. But I might be able to swipe an access card somehow. I just hoped that whoever he called down was gay or at least somewhat curious; and I prayed that he was cute. Flirting and working over guys was easier when they were cute.
Just as Jemias reached for the phone a handsome, curly haired, dark-skinned man came up to the counter, obviously annoyed. I stole a quick glance at the man’s plump, round ass. My dick stiffened against my jeans.
“Jemias, the delivery company bringing my living room furniture today said they were down here in the lobby and I don’t see them. Have you seen anyone?”
“Sorry Mr. Diaz, I haven’t seen anyone. Let me call some of the nearby condos and see if they are at the wrong place.”
“Thank you, Jemias.”
Jemias looked at me and shifted his gaze from Mr. Diaz back to me. I understood. He had to take care of the resident first. I didn’t mind.
I looked over at the man and gave a polite smile. He returned the gesture and his eyes shifted down to my pants. I wasn’t sure if he was looking at my crotch or my wet pant leg. I looked down and saw that my meat print was very visible through the wet fabric. I made sure to keep my eyes on his face. Our eyes locked as he looked back up at me. We both knew what he had seen.
“Looks like you’ve made a mess of yourself,” the stranger said. He licked his lips and grinned at me. I chuckled.
“Yea, got caught in one of those damned flash showers.”
I motioned towards the entrance. We both glanced over. The rain had stopped and the sun was shining brightly. His face contorted into a quizzical stare as if he didn’t believe me. It quickly turned into an inviting smile.
“It’s still chilly this time of year. You’re going to mess around and get sick in those wet clothes.”
“Well, wet clothes or not I’ve got a job to do. Not much of a choice at this point.”
“I understand.” He clasped his hands over his chest. “But how about you come up and throw your clothes in the dryer real quick? Shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes, tops.”
I looked at the baby faced, chocolate stranger curiously. It wasn’t everyday someone offered me a chance to dry my clothes. Besides, I’d welcome any offer that resulted in my being pant less in the company of someone as cute as the man.
“You sure? I mean, you don’t even know me.” I raised an eyebrow and looked at him seductively. “I could be some psycho serial killer or something.”
He held his hand out and kept his eyes on mine.
“Name’s Lutalo Diaz.”
He cupped my hand firmly. His hands were soft and warm.
“Good, now we’re not strangers. Now come up and dry off.”
“I appreciate the gesture, but are you sure? Usually an invitation to get naked at a man’s house before names are exchanged happens in the wee hours of the night.”
Lutalo laughed aloud. Like everything else about him it was seductive and cute at the same time.
“Yea, stop worrying. Besides, Jemias here saw you so I’m not worried about you being some crazy, psycho killer or burglar. And if you are I’m pretty sure I could defend myself. I’m not a light weight, trust.”
I smiled at the joke. He was flirting. And truth be told, he probably could defend himself. He was about my size, maybe an inch or two shorter but a little stockier. He was definitely thick where it counted. Lutalo looked down at my bag.
“And based off the Cannon logo on your bag I’d assume you were into film or photography. Probably here for some shots or something.”
“Yea, I’m a photographer.”
Lutalo smiled a big white smile so I smiled back. The man was attractive and if I wasn’t here on business I might have seen the flirting through to fruition and banged his back out. But ass never was put before cash. Lutalo was my ticket up the elevator, to the roof and maybe, just maybe, a piece of ass after I was done.
Jemias set the phone down. “Mr. Diaz, the moving company went to the condominium down the street. They should be here shortly.”
Lutalo held my gaze as he spoke to Jemias. “Good, just buzz them up when they get here.”
“Alright Ty, let’s go and get you out of those wet clothes.” Lutalo said, smiling.
I chuckled and shook my head as I followed Lutalo to the elevators. I glanced back at Jemias. A knowing look was written all over his face. I mouthed for him to call me. He smiled and nodded slightly before answering an incoming call.
I glanced over at Lutalo as we waited for the elevator. His look was very casual and professional. The top button to his light blue shirt was unfastened. It was Calvin Klein. Most of the clothes he wore looked like designer wear. I groaned on the inside.
Lutalo seemed like a nice enough guy but from my experience, label and brand whores were pretentious and assuming. The fact that he’d recognized the Cannon logo on my bag made me feel that much more uneasy.
Finally, the elevator door opened and we stepped inside. Lutalo pulled out a gold colored access card. This was new. I made a mental note. The only access cards I had seen until now were the white ones.
He pressed the 17B button, slipped in his card and we were on our way up. Lutalo turned and faced the elevator door behind us. The elevator was double sided. After a short, quiet ride up, the doors opened right into the living room. The condo was huge.
“I’m sorry about it being so empty in here. I just moved in and getting my furniture delivered has been Hell, as you can see.” Lutalo motioned towards the open bedroom door. “You can have a seat in there and set your stuff down.”
I crossed the large expanse of the living room and stepped into the equally large bedroom. The space was stunning. The cherry oak hardwood floors and the ceiling to floor windows were breathtaking; whatever Lutalo was doing for a living paid well.
Aside from the kitchen, the master suite was the only furnished room in the condo. It was huge. It seemed like everything in the room was extra large. The windows were wall length; the bed looked to be a California King size; and the two loveseats in the sitting area where I set down my camera equipment seemed oversized.
I looked back at Lutalo. He looked at me as if waiting for something. I shifted my eyes to the left and back to him quizzically. I was at a lost for why he was staring at me.
“You know I need your clothes if I’m going to put them in the dryer.”
An expression of understanding and embarrassment washed over my face. My clothes, especially my pants, were still soaking wet. I stripped down slowly under Lutalo’s watchful gaze. He made no attempt to hide that he was leering at my body. So I decided to give him a show.
By the time I got down to my purple striped boxer briefs I thought his tongue would fall out. I picked up my wet pile of clothing and walked over to Lutalo. His eyes stayed on my meat the whole time. He grinned from ear to ear.
“I’m going to throw these in the dryer. I’ll be right back.” Just as he reached the bedroom door he looked back at me and licked his lips. “Make yourself comfortable.”
I smiled back at him.
“I will, thank you.”
As sexually enticing as the whole scenario with Lutalo was turning, I still had a job to do. I picked up my phone from the table in the sitting area and checked the time. The woman I was tracking for her husband, Amanda Winters, would be meeting the man she was having an affair with in about forty-five minutes.
The two of them were like clockwork every Tuesday at eleven in the morning. Twice I’d spotted them meet up and have a go at it. And twice I had the most horrible vantage point for a shot to catch them in the act. I had promised myself that the third time would be different.
I paced the room thinking about how I was going to get on the roof so I could snap some shots of her in the act. Lutalo’s access card gave him entry to one of the best condos in the building but it most likely didn’t give him access to the roof. I had to get one of those cards and quick to see if it at least gave me access to a stairwell up to the roof.
I walked over to the wall length window, looking out at the urban sprawl of Midtown, Atlanta. A wave of disbelief shot through my body. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I shook my head at my dumb luck. The apartment Amanda Winters met her lover at was right across from where I was standing. And the blinds were wide open. To Hell with the roof, I needed to set up shop right here.
“It’s a wonderful view isn’t it?”
I turned towards the sound of Lutalo’s voice and was greeted with a pleasant surprise. My smooth skinned, pretty boy host stood there, stark naked. I took in the sight of his tight, toned body and smiled. He was beautiful.
“Some views are better than others,” I said, grabbing my dick through my underwear.
“Of that I am sure,” Lutalo said. He bit his bottom lip and stared at my thickening manhood. “The view was one of the reasons why I bought this place. Just to wake up to that view every morning is worth every penny. But waking up to an Adonis like you would be priceless.”
Lutalo slowly walked my way with a mischievous grin on his face. He stepped right up to my face, placed his hand on my chest and went down to his knees.
He kissed and nibbled on my straining meat through the fabric of my briefs. The teasing drove me crazy. I yearned for the wet warmth of his mouth and lips wrapped around my dick. I tried to enjoy the teasing but I couldn’t help myself. My hands shot down to my crotch and I pulled my dick out.
I looked down with pride at my brick hard, pole jutting out from my thatch of trimmed pubes. Then I saw the hunger in Lutalo’s eyes. His mouth opened slowly. I held the back of his head with one hand and the base of my meat with the other. I slid my dick in his mouth and pulled out quickly. It was my turn to tease.
I rubbed the head of my dick across his bottom lip. A clear line of precum oozed from the slit of my pole over his lips. His tongue jutted out and licked the juices and then the head of my dick. He felt soft against my meat. My shit throbbed in anticipation. He was ready and so was I.
I snatched a handful of his curly hair and tilted his head back. His mouth opened instinctively. With one thrust, I buried my throbbing pole down his throat. Lutalo didn’t flinch or back away. He took the length of me like a pro. At that point it was no holds bars. I long stroked his face nice and slow, each time my low sagging balls smacked his chin.
“Damn, you sucking that dick. Just a pro aint you?”
Lutalo didn’t even look up at me. He just sucked harder and faster. The man was on a mission. The all too familiar tingling sensation began to build in my balls. I reached down and pulled him up, locking into a hard, wet kiss. His hands groped at every inch of my body that he could reach. He pulled back and caught his breath.
“You’re muscles are hot as shit. Damn boy. I just want to feel all over your body.”
I grinned and reached behind him, cupping his round, firm ass.
“Shit, I could imagine a few things I could do with this ass, slim. And you already know what I want to do with it. So wassup?”
Lutalo bit his bottom lip as he jumped on me. His legs straddled my hips as I steadied myself. I held him tight in my arms and walked over to the bed. My hand slid down to the small of his back as I lowered him onto the mattress. Our eyes locked for a moment. Lust and fire danced in his eyes; that much was obvious, but there was something more, a sort of longing that only further enraged my own sexual appetite.
I grabbed hold of the back of his thighs and pushed them into the air until his puckered hole winked at me. I dove right in, sloppily licking, kissing and nibbling at his ass. I could smell the cocoa butter lotion and another fragrance that smelled like a man.
Lutalo squirmed under my penetrating tongue. He moaned and forced my head down for me to go deeper; to lick his insides and make him feel me more and more of me inside of him. I could feel my dick pulse. His ass squeezed each time I pressed inside of him with my tongue. He was so tight I had to get inside him. I stood up and pressed my dick against his hole, teasing him. I smacked my meat against his cheeks just as I looked up at him hungrily.
“Yea,” Lutalo answered, his breathing heavy.
Lutalo reached over to his nightstand and pulled out a condom and a bottle of lube. He looked at the condom and then at my dick. He shook his head tossed it back in the drawer and pulled out a Magnum. I slipped the Jimmy on, put on a generous amount of lube and lined my dick up with his hole.
I leaned forward and pressed in, slowly. He tensed. His ass held my dick in a vice grip, pulsing with his heart beat. The shit felt good. I pressed forward, inch by inch, until my balls brushed up against his ass.
At first I slid in slowly, pulling all the way out and diving back in, balls deep. The motion drove Lutalo crazy. His head thrashed from left to right as he clawed at the sheets.
I pressed my hand down on his torso to steady him. His lean, toned body squirmed in pleasure under my anal assault. So I picked up the pace and began to pile drive his ass, showing no mercy.
He reached up and pulled me down until we were chest to chest. He kept whispering in exasperated breaths for me to go faster and harder and faster. It wasn’t long before I felt his ass spasm around my dick.
His ass got wetter as I stroked and the space between our bodies felt greasier. I straightened up and saw that he had nutted all over his torso and chest. Some of his jizz dripped from my body.
I took hold of his waist with both of my hands and fucked him hard as shit. His squirming and whining weren’t going to stop me. I was on a mission.
The sound of smacking flesh filled the room. His moans got louder and louder. The intoxicating aroma of sweat and sex dragged under my nose. I felt my orgasm build in my balls with each body shaking stroke until I couldn’t take anymore. I pulled out, tore the condom off and shot all over Lutalo. The first shot reached his bottom lip. He licked it up. The rest of my hot seed landed on his chest and stomach.
I pumped until the last drops dripped from my softening meat. Drained, I collapsed on the bed next to him, trying to catch my breath. A good two minutes went by before he spoke.
“That was hot,” Lutalo said as if he was surprised that my sex was as good as it was. He turned his head towards me. “I hope I can get a round two before you go.”
I laughed. I knew he’d be hooked on the dick. Most dudes were after I put it on they ass.
“Only if you can do me a favor,” I offered.
“Well, that depends on what kind of favor you are asking for. I’m sure if it’s reasonable I can accommodate it. Especially to get some more that,” he said, motioning to my now flaccid piece.
“Your condo is right across from the apartment I need to take pictures of.”
“Wait, you do that investigating stuff like the show Cheaters. Catching folks in the act.”
“That’s exactly what I do. And the woman I’m supposed to be tracking should be with the man she’s cheating with in the apartment across from here in like ten minutes.”
Lutalo shrugged and threw his hands up.
“Hey, sure, do what you got to do. If that’s all it takes go right ahead and set up.” He looked down at his cum covered torso. “I’m going to go and wash up.”
I nodded as Lutalo turned and walked away. His ass was everything. I was looking forward to dipping back up in it. I shook my head. I needed to focus.
Still sweaty and naked, I went over to my bag and grabbed the tripod and camera. It only took a minute or two to set up. Just as I lined the camera with the apartment window, I felt Lutalo behind me.
“Here’s a washcloth. The bathroom is right there.”
I hesitated to move. I didn’t want to miss the philandering couple come in. But I was still covered in sex juices and I had to piss anyway. Quickly, I ran to the restroom, washed up and urinated. When I got back to the room, Lutalo was sprawled out on the bed, still naked, with an unadulterated look of satisfaction written all over his face.
“So is catching people cheating your full-time job?”
“Uh, no. I’m a graphic designer. This is just a side gig that pays pretty well.”
“Got your own hustle. That’s good. Nothing wrong with making some extra cash.”
I nodded at Lutalo’s response as I looked through the camera lens. Still nothing. I turned to Lutalo. I figured a little conversation wouldn’t hurt since my marks were looking more and more like no shows.
“So what do you do?” I motioned towards the condo. “Looks like it pays well.”
Lutalo grinned. Pride beamed in his face. He propped himself up on his elbows, somewhat excited to give his little story.
“After college, a friend of mine and I started an advertising and marketing firm, focusing on Internet and multimedia marketing development. We’re doing pretty well.”
I looked back through the lens. It was ten past the hour. They were late. They were never late. Something in my gut told me they weren’t coming but I stood there for another thirty minutes anyways. Lutalo had fallen asleep. I was mad as hell. Lucked up and got the perfect viewpoint and nothing.
I looked again, one last time, hoping for something, anything. The apartment was still empty but something caught my eye in the corner of the lens. I panned the camera up a floor.
My heart began to race as I realized what I was watching. Two men in dark clothes and ski masks were beating on another man. I couldn’t read lips but I knew the man on the floor was begging for them to stop; begging and crying out for his life. I couldn’t make out much but I did see red. There was blood, lots of blood.
I refocused my camera to get a more clear view. Then, a tall, dark bald headed man stepped into view. He didn’t wear a mask; just a black trench coat, black gloves and big, black boots. The sight of the man sent chills down my spine.
Something in my gut told me I was about to witness a murder. I was no hero and there wasn’t much I could do from where I was but I could at least get a solid picture of the man’s attackers. Just as I was about to take a shot a glint of light hit my eyes. It was metal.
I watched, eerily mesmerized, as a long, sharp blade slid from the trench coat man’s sleeve. My stomach dropped. The machete looked just as evil and sinister as the dark, bald headed man. I panned over to the guy on the floor. His tan pants looked darker at his crotch. He had pissed himself. I looked back to the machete. It was now raised in the air.
With utter resolve, I zeroed in on the bald headed man and took a shot. A bright flash filled the room. I panicked and ducked down to the ground. After a few breaths I shook my head and stood back up. There was no way they could see me; I was too far away. How the flash went off confused the hell out of me. I was certain I’d been careful enough to turn it off when I set the camera up.
Nervously, I looked back through the lens. Now the curtains were shut. I couldn’t see anything. They had seen the flash. Panic surged through my veins. They may have even seen where the flash had originated. I had to move.
I looked back at Lutalo. He was knocked out, asleep. Round two wasn’t an option. I rushed to get my belongings. The last place I wanted to be if those men came knocking was in that condo.
Someone was following me.
There was no doubt in my mind that the tall, dark-skinned man in the black and blue polo and black slacks had been on the Marta train the whole time I was on. And I swear I caught him looking at me and quickly averting his eyes when I caught him staring. He definitely wasn’t flirting.
At first I thought I was being paranoid after what I’d seen at Lutalo’s condo. But after getting up a few times at different stops and standing at the train doors and watching him brace himself to exit if I did, there was no question that he was tailing me. It had to be one of the men from the apartment with the man in the black trench coat.
What worried me the most was how they found out it was me that took the picture. The man in the trench coat was too far away to see me with his naked eye.
Then I thought; they could have found Lutalo. There was no telling what they did to him. But I couldn’t worry about that now. I had someone following me, right now. Besides, there wasn’t much Lutalo could say besides my first name, what I did for a living and how good the dick was. Hopefully they couldn’t even get in his place. It did require an entry key.
I shook my head and looked down. The only thing on my mind right now was losing this guy and not getting snatched up or taken out. Staying in well populated areas was the primary goal. Finding a way to get on a bus or train or even a cab to ditch him was the secondary goal, if the opportunity presented itself.
After two stops, the majority of the riders on the train got off. I didn’t know what else to do so I followed the crowd. The man in the black and blue polo was close behind.
Luckily, I recognized the area. Cars filled the streets in all directions, it was the lunchtime rush and the sidewalks were filled with people. There were a number of clothing boutiques and restaurants in the area. There was no way he was going to corner me anywhere around here.
I looked back at the man and held his gaze for a second. In that brief moment he knew that I knew he was following me. There was no more need for pretense. This time he didn’t look away. His gaze narrowed. Resolve filled his eyes. Slowly but purposefully he moved towards me.
I wasn’t sure if he was just getting a better vantage point in case the opportunity to grab me presented itself or if he was going to just shoot me with a silenced gun right in the middle of the street. Either way, I didn’t want to find out. I started walking and walking fast.
People were everywhere. I almost knocked down a lady and her two elementary school age kids trying to get away from my stalker. I was scared shitless. He just kept coming and getting closer and closer. My mind raced. I had to lose this guy and now.
Again, I glanced back half hoping that there was a little more distance between me and the man. My mouth went dry when I saw how close he was. In a few steps he would be able to reach out and grab me. I braced myself for the assault, steeling my body and flexing my muscles. I didn’t know if I was going to scream, fight back or both to make a scene. But, I wasn’t going down without a fight.
Just as I was about to turn and face him I saw my salvation about a block away. I started in a slow jog towards the Subway. I looked back again to see if the man was still following. He looked like he was going to keep following but I saw him look pass me and realize where I was headed.
I made it to the parking lot and walked right up the parked police cruiser. A hefty looking officer lounged lazily in the driver seat. He didn’t look like he wanted to be bothered. I glanced into the restaurant; his partner was on his way out with some sandwiches. I grinned, perfect timing.
“Excuse me, officer. Do you know where I could go to develop some pictures?” I held up my camera case. “A friend of mine said there was a CVS around here but I have no idea where it is.”
“CVS?” The officer stepped out of the car. “Alright, just go right down this street and make a left.” He pointed in the direction of the man following me; exactly what I wanted him to do. I nodded eagerly and pointed as well. “Maybe five blocks on the right side. Hard to miss.”
My stalker stood in the crowd of people like a deer in headlights. I stepped up on the sidewalk of Subway, slightly behind the cop and watched him. As soon as the officer’s partner got back, the two of them got in the car. My stalker made a break for it.
I tried my best to follow him with my eyes but I quickly lost him in the melee of the afternoon rush. After I was sure the mystery man wasn’t still tailing me I hopped back on the Marta and headed for my office back in Midtown. It was a little past noon and I still had a few hours to get some solid graphic design work done.
I don’t know if it was caution, fear or a mixture of the two, but I got on and off at a couple of stops before my destination just to be sure no one was following me. I was still shook and perplexed on how I had been found so quick and easily.
When I finally made it to the office, Hakeem, my friend and fellow graphic designer, sat at his desk with his head buried in his arms. I walked over to my desk and set my equipment down. I looked over at Hakeem and shook my head. Sadly, seeing him like this had become the norm over the last couple of months.
I met Hakeem at a graphic designer convention a few years back. He was one of the few African-American designers and was actually cute; tall, caramel complexioned, strong cheekbones and dreads with blond tips brushing at his shoulders; the boy was fine. He had my attention on first sight.
Initially I tried to hook up with him but he according to him he was straight. I was intrigued at the idea of a black man, from Atlanta, that didn’t at least fuck around. Even though he graciously turned down my offers of sexual bliss, we still networked and worked on a few projects together. I always wondered why he never got upset at my blatant flirting because I laid it on pretty heavy. But despite it all, we were only friends, for now.
Last year we landed a big client and made enough money to rent some office space. We put in the security deposit and paid the rent for two years, at a discount. It wasn’t much. Just a waiting room, a room for us to do presentations and a room we shared as an office. It wasn’t much but it worked for the two of us. Just lately, with Hakeem so down all the time, I hated coming to the office.
My fellow graphic designer seemed so consumed with whatever was wrong that it seemed like he didn’t even notice I was in the office. So I flopped down in my chair to get his attention. That didn’t work. So I bit the bullet and initiated conversation.
“What’s going on Hakeem?” I asked, trying to sound genuinely concerned even though I really wasn’t the least bit interested. “Looking kind of down over there, buddy.”
Hakeem threw his head back and let out a loud sigh. Straight or not, he was always dramatic as hell.
“This project man. This shit is just…ugh.” Hakeem pointed at his laptop. “I don’t care what I do to it; it still looks like some crap.”
I walked over to his desk and looked at what he was working on. He was right. The design he was tinkering with looked horrible. I would have trashed the concept hours ago and started over.
“Yea, that’s some shit right there. I wouldn’t know where to start to fix that, except from scratch. What did the client say?”
“They said it was good. They just want me to play with some of the fonts and coloring schemes.”
“So what’s the problem? The client is satisfied and you get paid. Everything works out as it should.”
“But I’m not satisfied with it. I wouldn’t put this in my portfolio. And I can tell this is the first time the company worked with a graphic designer. They’re leaning on my expertise. They’ll go with anything I say and the last thing I want to do is take advantage of them.” Hakeem turned and faced me. “And it’s not always about money. My name is going on this. My reputation is on the line.”
“Fuck that. It’s always about money, Hakeem. Your job is to satisfy the client; to give them what they want. If what they want is some shit, pile it on. Fuck it, get paid and keep it moving.” I shook my head and walked back to my desk. “They probably aren’t paying shit anyway.”
“They’re not, but I took on the project and they deserve quality work. And they might give me some referrals. I just need to figure out what to do.”
“Right, some shitty referrals,” I mumbled. I looked back over my shoulder and called back. “Well, good luck with that.”
Hakeem mumbled something and waved his hand at me dismissively. I was over the whole thing. If he wanted to waste billable hours on some shit that was on him. I had more important things to worry about. Like the picture I snapped of the man in the black trench coat. I took out the SD Card from my camera and hooked it up to my Mac.
“Oh, yea,” Hakeem turned towards me. “Weren’t we supposed to be having lunch and discussing a pitch to that Doggy Daycare firm?”
Hakeem looked down at his watch and back up at me. He was right. We were supposed to have lunch. And this wasn’t the first time I had missed an appointment with him.
“Your right, I’m sorry. But you won’t believe what happened to me today.”
Hakeem shook his head. He turned back to his laptop as if he were about to try to work on the project on the screen but instead closed the laptop and turned back and face me. He looked mad.
“Ty, do you know why I said ‘yes’ when you suggested we get an office together?”
“Sure. So we could work together more.”
“Exactly. I don’t need an office to do the shit I’ve been doing these last couple of weeks. I can do this at home. Now, I never thought we’d form some official partnership—”
“But you thought about it.”
“Naw, no maybe, I saw the logo you were working on for ‘H.T. Graphic Design’. A bit presumptuous to put your initial first, don’t you think?”
“First, you need to stay off my computer, nosey ass. And second, we work well together. Come on. I thought we’d be working together more, getting higher paying clients and actually using that presentation room. But now you’re hardly ever here. Off doing that private investigator shit.”
“Whoa, calm down. Since when did you start cussing like a sailor?”
“Since my list of clients went from paying in the $3,000 to $5,000 for a project down to the $500 to $1,000 range. My pockets are hurting, Ty.”
“Alright, I hear you. Even though it’s not always about the money, right?” I said, mocking his altruistic sentiment from a few moments ago. I turned back to my computer and sent an email to Hakeem. “I just emailed you the draft of the proposal for the Doggy Daycare. I’m not slacking. Trust me.”
Hakeem shook his head as he looked over the email. I heard a couple of grunts of approval before he said anything about the proposal.
“This actually looks pretty good.”
“I know.” I leaned back in my chair and laced my fingers behind my head. “I wrote it.”
“Would you expect anything less? And trust me when I say its some good arrogant ass. Still available if you want to come and get a taste.”
“When you going to grow up and stop being so dang on nasty, Ty? Need to stop thinking with your dick and focus on the job.”
“Thinking with my ass that time. And you know I never ever put sex before business. Besides, I’m still trying to turn you from the dark side of pussy.”
Hakeem laughed heartedly.
“Good luck with that.”
“Yea, yea. So do you want to hear what happened to me or what?”
“Let me guess; sex with a stranger and the chick you were taking pictures of caught you.”
“Hmm, half right. No bad,” I said smiling.
“Sex with a stranger, right?”
“Exactly. But the chick that I was following didn’t show up, first time she broke her pattern. Shit is actually kind of weird now that I think about what did happen today.”
“Alright, so what did actually happen?” Hakeem asked, his right brow raised. “And if you’re going to try and tell me about the gay sex I’m going to lunch.”
“Naw, I mean the ass was good, but no. I lucked up because guy I hooked up with lived right across from the apartment the chick meets the dude at. So I set up there instead of on the roof.”
“Well, that was good; all these flash showers would have messed up your equipment.”
“Exactly. Anyways, I think I saw a murder in the apartment under the one I was watching.”
Hakeem leaned in towards me, concern smothering his face.
“Are you serious? Did they see you?”
“Yea, I’m serious. I saw them beating up the guy and the long-ass machete. But I didn’t see the actual murder. They closed the blinds.”
“Ty, did they see you?” Hakeem asked, the fear in his voice as thick as the muggy air outside.
“I think so. One of the guys me on the Marta train and around Five Points.”
I watched as Hakeem’s eyes shot over to the door. He looked at it as if a band of killers would burst through at any moment. I had to calm him down.
“Don’t worry, I lost him before I got here.”
Hakeem shook his head.
“You always getting into some shit.”
“Not this time. I took a picture. I’m pulling it up now.”
Hakeem came over to my desk to see the picture.
“Yep, looks like the flash messed up the picture. And here I thought you were a better photographer than to let glare mess up your shot.”
I cussed at him under my breath and shook my head. He was right. I would have never left the flash on when I was shooting through a window. It was a rookie mistake.
“Let me see if I can clean it up.”
“Oh, so we’re going back to doctoring up pictures now?”
“No. But I will if I have to. Especially if it catches a killer.”
“Or gets you a reward.” Hakeem shook his head and then wagged his finger at me. “That doctoring photos shit is going to get your ass in trouble. Better stop that shit.”
“Anyways, nigga. Do you want to do lunch?”
“Lunch? It’s almost two o’clock. One of your clients called.” Hakeem pulled out a sheet of paper he’d taken the message on. “A Stanley Winters. Said he wanted to bump the meeting up to three o’clock.”
“Shit, aint no way I’m going to make it.”
I looked over at Hakeem with my puppy dog eyes. He knew I needed a ride home.
“Fine, I’ll drop you off. But you owe me, big time. In fact, you’re going to help fix this project I’ve been looking at all day.”
“Fine, let’s just go. I’m about to get the other half of my $3,500.”
“Wow, spying on folks pays that much?”
I nodded and grinned.
“I can put you on if you want.”
“Naw, I’m good. I’d feel really weird spying on folks. Wouldn’t feel right.”
“Yea, well, them extra zeros in my bank account feel right.”
Hakeem shook his head disapprovingly as we headed to his car. I only lived a few miles away and there wasn’t much traffic. Hakeem dropped me off in front of my apartment building within ten minutes of us getting in the car.
I made my way up to the second floor of my building and put my key in the door knob. The door just opened. I hadn’t realized it at first, but the door was cracked open. My mind raced. I couldn’t help but panic.
Someone was in my house. They had found where I lived.
You can download a copy here.