Read Animal 2 Online

Authors: K'wan

Animal 2

BOOK: Animal 2
8.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“Dedicated to my mother, who constantly watches over me and guides these gifted hands. Love you Brenda.

My wife, Charlotte, and my children Alexandria, Nijaa and Star, who all gave so much of themselves as I was writing this novel. When I retreated to the furthest corners of my head to produce Animal II they held things together in the real world. We suffer together and prosper together, such is the make up of who we are. My love for you guys is unconditional.

#TEAMFOYE above all.”

Kwan

PROLOGUE

I
F YOU ASKED ANYONE ABOUT
Rick Jenkins, most of them would likely have the same opinion of him: a liar, a cheat, a scum bag and all around loser. That had been the story of his life, losing, at least until recently.

Rick was a grifter who made his money playing the con game. His most recent scam was bogus apartment rentals. He would run ads on sites like Craigslist claiming to be a Realtor for a luxury apartment complex. He had a buddy who worked in maintenance at the complex, so gaining access to empty apartments for showing was easy. Rick would even go as far as giving people their keys in exchange for cash up front. By the time the renters tried to move in and realized they'd been duped, Rick was long gone. He had managed to scam ten people before management finally got hip to the scheme.

Of all the people Rick had scammed with the phony apartments, there was only one he felt kind of bad about. She was a young chick with a hard-luck story to tell that tugged at Rick's heartstrings. She was fresh out of the hospital after a
near-death assault and looking to move out of the neighborhood it happened in. Rick was going to turn her away, until she offered to pay him three months' rent in advance. Greed got the best of him, and Rick took the poor girl's money and got ghost.

Since Rick had a little money saved up, he decided to give the bogus rental con a break and take some time to enjoy himself. This night, he had gotten up with some of his buddies and hit the town. Toward the end of the night, they had stumbled upon a dice game. Rick saw it as easy pickings. By the time he'd left the dice game, he was five grand richer. He could've probably left with double that if he'd lingered around long enough, but he didn't want to press his luck. It would only be a matter of time before someone caught on to the fact that he was switching the dice.

Rick had said good-bye to his friends and hello to a money-hungry young smut who'd attached herself to him at the dice game. Rick couldn't wait to get her back to the motel he'd been staying at and see how far she was willing to go in the name of a dollar. It took less than five minutes after they arrived for her to show him. She was on Rick like a cheap suit. The girl had just taken all of him into her mouth when the door came crashing open.

It was dark, and the person standing in the doorway had a high-powered flashlight which he kept pointed at Rick's eyes. Rick moved to get up, but the distinct sound of a hammer being cocked froze him. “I'm gonna need you to stay right where you are, my nigga,” a masculine voice said from behind the glare of the flashlight.

“Man, I don't know what this is about, but—” Rick began,
but his words were cut off when the flashlight collided with the side of his head.

“If you shut the fuck up, I'll tell you,” the man with the flashlight said. The light turned to the girl, who was cowering at the foot of the bed. “Leave. Don't get your clothes, don't get your purse. Just get the fuck out. If you look back, I'm going to kill you. Do you understand?” The girl didn't even answer. She just bolted from the room. “Like I was saying.” The light went back to Rick. “You know, I respect a nigga trying to get money, legal or illegal, but what I don't respect is a fucking parasite. Worms like you ain't got the balls to grind for it, so you take it from hardworking people. The thing you never take into account is that there are people in the world who got love for the folks you robbing, like my peoples you took for her bread.”

“My dude, I don't know you or your peoples,” Rick said. He was racking his brain trying to think who he might've wronged enough for them to want him dead. The list was too long for him to even fathom.

Suddenly, the room was filled with light. Rick's vision was blurred, but when it cleared, he found himself staring down the barrel of a large .357 being held by someone familiar. “I know you. I saw you at the dice game.”

“If you knew me, then you'd have gotten out of town the minute you saw me instead of sticking around,” the gunman said.

“Fam, if this is about the money I won at the dice game, then you can have it.” Rick scooped his jeans off the floor and held them out to the gunman. “Everything is in there except what I spent on the cab to get here with shorty.”

The gunman slapped Rick's jeans from his hands. “Nigga, this ain't about what you won at the dice game. It's about you being more careful of whom you steal from. My home girl trusted you, and you did her dirty, and now you gotta make it right.”

Rick was scared shitless. He had no idea if the man was going to kill him or just kick his ass and rob him, but he wasn't ready to gamble on the mercy of strangers. In a last-ditch attempt to save his skin, Rick lunged for the gun. The gunman moved off reflex when he pulled the trigger. The powerful slug hit Rick high in the chest and carried him sailing over the bed and crashing into the corner.

“Dumb, just fucking dumb.” The gunman shook his head. “I just came to get the money you beat my home girl for, and you've turned it into something else.”

“Please!” Rick gasped as he bled out onto the motel carpet.

The gunman placed the .357 over Rick's head. “I didn't plan on killing you, but you've changed that plan. I'm not a complete scum bag, though.” He moved the barrel from Rick's head to his heart. “I'll make it so that your people can bury you with an open casket,” he promised, and pulled the trigger.

•  •  •

The gunman walked down the motel hallway, counting the money he'd taken from Rick. With his dice game's winnings coupled with the money he already had on him, it came to just under six grand. He wasn't sure if that would cover what she had lost to the scam artist, but it would have to do. He'd already gone further than he planned to.

As he passed the front desk, the clerk sat with her face buried in a magazine, trying her best to act like she didn't see him.
The gunman tapped the .357 to get her attention. Nervously, she looked up. The gunman peeled off ten hundred-dollar bills and slid them across the desk with a gloved hand. “This should hold you for a week or so while you're looking for another gig. I think you've outgrown this place,” he said, before slipping from the motel and disappearing into the night.

PART I
UNFINISHED BUSINESS

“A man who would betray his friends is the lowest form of human being. His death should reflect that. I don't just want his life, Priest. I want that rat fuck's cheese-stained tongue!”

—
SHAI CLARK

ONE

F
OR A LONG FEW MOMENTS
, all was silent in the church. Kahllah leaned against the wall closest to the raised stage, which had once been graced by some of the most beautiful voices in Harlem. A strand of her silky black hair blew across her face from the breeze seeping in through the cracked stained-glass window. Kahllah pushed the hair from her face and once again thought about cutting it. She was a beautiful girl, with flawless sun-baked skin and rosy lips that always seemed to be pouting. She was the picture of the girl you wanted to take home to meet your mother, until your eyes landed on the big black gun dangling from her hand. Her dark brown eyes took in the scene unfolding before her but revealed nothing. She watched it with the enthusiasm of a blind person at a silent movie.

Gucci, however, was a bit easier to read. She sat in the front pew, with a worried expression on her face. She had lost a bit of weight from her long stay in the hospital, and her hair was badly in need of a perm. She wasn't exactly the curvaceous vixen she'd been, but she was a far cry from the empty shell
they'd wheeled into surgery almost a month before. While out partying with friends, Gucci had been the recipient of a bullet meant for someone else. While she lay in the hospital, teetering between life and death, mass murder was being committed on the streets of New York in her name. Her lover was merciless in his vengeance, but it was the same all-too-consuming lust for revenge that had inevitably doomed both of them and brought them to the dark place, unsure if they would live or die. A few feet away from Gucci sat her heart. The man who had died as her protector and been resurrected as her dark horseman.

Animal had been sitting stone-still on the army cot for what seemed like an eternity. His head was lowered and spills of dark black curls fell around his chocolate face. His dark eyes were downcast, locked on the object in his trembling hands. It was a picture of Animal when he was a baby, with his mother and his biological father. Every so often, he would look from the picture to the man who had handed it to him and shake his head. There was no denying the resemblance. This couldn't be!

The man in the picture, Priest, loomed over Animal, dressed in black priest's robes, thumbing the gold rosary through his fingers. Priest was a hard-faced man with a clean-shaven head and a stubbly salt-and-pepper beard. The black patch he wore over his eye made him look more like a mercenary than a man of the cloth, but he was actually both. For many years, Priest had walked the path of the righteous, until tragedy caused him to stray. When God abandoned Priest, he abandoned God, and so began his slow walk to damnation. Priest was a reputed assassin, personal executioner for the Clark family, but he was also Animal's father. The revelation
had stunned everyone in attendance, but none seemed more shocked than Animal.

Animal's eyes stayed fixed on the picture. It had been years since he had laid eyes on the woman who had brought him into the world and even longer since she had looked like she did in the picture. Animal's mother, Marie, had been beautiful in her day. She was a mix of black and Hispanic, with dark curly hair and pretty bowed lips, which she had passed on to her youngest son. She was the object of desire for many men but had eventually given herself to a cancerous young punk named Eddie. Things had already been hard on them when Animal's biological father left, but they became worse when Eddie came into the picture. The years spent with his stepfather were a living hell for Animal, and he was made to suffer all forms of mental and physical abuse. One of Eddie's favorite methods of disciplining Animal when he was upset was locking him naked in a dog cage and starving him for days at a time. Animal would lie awake on the cage floor some nights and dream of killing Eddie for making his mother suffer, then killing his real father for abandoning them. Years later, the debt between him and Eddie would be settled in blood, but he had unfinished business with the man standing before him now.

“There is no shame in showing emotions. It's a spiritual release when we're in pain,” Priest said. “You must have a million and one thoughts running through your head and none of them pleasant ones.”

Animal hadn't even realized he was crying, until a teardrop splashed on the tattered photograph. He wiped his face with the back of his hand and turned his red-rimmed eyes to Priest. His voice was heavy with emotion when he spoke. “Why?”

Priest cocked his head to the side as if he didn't understand the question.

Animal placed the picture neatly on the cot next to him and gave Priest his undivided attention. “I lay awake many nights thinking of what I would do or say if I ever met my biological father. A bunch of scenarios played out in my head, but in all of them, I would always ask why. Why leave your little boy to face the evils of the world all by himself? This is what I said I'd ask my daddy, right before I killed him.”

Before the threat could even register in Priest's head, Animal lunged at him. The older man was caught off-guard, so the first two punches landed square on his chin and staggered him. When Animal faked high, Priest reflexively covered his face, leaving his gut exposed to the next punch his son threw. Priest was doubled over in pain, so Animal tried to finish him with a kick to the face, but the chain clasped around his ankle threw his aim off. He launched another punch, but Priest was ready. He grabbed Animal by the arm and, with a twist, dislocated it from his shoulder. For good measure, he swept Animal's legs and put him on his ass. When Animal tried to get back up, Priest stomped on his injured shoulder.

BOOK: Animal 2
8.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Envy - 2 by Robin Wasserman
Death Message by Mark Billingham