When I walked into the guard’s’ booth, Jones sat there like her shit didn’t stink. I wanted to slap the taste buds from her mouth. Instantly, a nickname for her popped into my mind, B.U.R.T. It completely described her.
Jones was Built Up Real Terrible. Jones and C.O. Scott talked to each other and all but ignored me. I couldn’t stand neither of those bitches. But Jones had another thing coming if she thought I was about to let her slide into my place.
I was already dealing with one female behind DaQuan and I’d be damned if I’d get in line behind another.
Since I didn’t know C.O. Scott was a team-member, I didn’t wanna put the business out there in front of her. I was frustrated because they took too damn long with their pointless small talk.
“So, was there an incident report on that?” Scott asked.
“Yes. There was. I didn’t witness what happened, but when she came in, she asked Franklin to sign off on it.”
I didn’t want to pull rank, but they had about five more minutes to wrap up the nonsense that they were discussing.
Neither of them budged when I walked in, which was fine with me. That didn’t bother me one bit. Their mind-numbing conversation was what did.
“Okay, the report is signed and filed. Look, I need to holla at Jones for a few,” I said.
They both turned around in their chairs, and looked surprised to see me. Scott frowned, but an expression barely registered on Jones’s face. She only turned down her lower lip, or maybe that was what she always looked like.
She made me so sick.
She’d better be glad I’d found out she worked for my man, because when I saw that she had gotten next to him on that monitor, I didn’t know what was going down. Like I said before, I was not about to jump behind another chick for DaQuan.
“Oh, we’re almost done,” Jones had the audacity to say.
“I ain’t trying to pull rank, but-—”
Scott got up from her seat. “No worries, Charisma, I need to go make some rounds anyway.” She tossed me a nasty look as she slid by me and out of the booth.
As she walked outside, she stared me down, but I didn’t care. I had seniority over both of them, as Sergeant, and I could make this pissy- ass job even worse for both of them.
“So you on the team now?”
I asked Jones. “What team?”
Her attitude sucked ass. Give a hood-rat a Gucci bag and she acted like she was suddenly too good.
She frowned. There was really no point; it was clear to me that she and I would never get along. I really wished DaQuan respected me more and talked to me before he recruited. Why did we need her ass in the first place? Our team already held it down.
There was so much about Jones’s ass that I didn’t like. I wasn’t completely convinced that she wasn’t trying to push up on DaQuan, and now I had to work with her ass.
“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” she hissed.
Did it look to her like I had time to sit and hold her hands? I rolled my eyes, looked around and pulled a small envelope from my bra. I put it on the table and slid it across to her.
When the bitch looked down at it, then back up at me, I wanted to spit in her face. She’d better be glad it was only Edwards and Bishop who walked in while she sat there and tried to act all bourgeoisie.
Edwards looked down at the envelope, then at me. I didn’t even get a chance to tell them that DaQuan had recruited her.
“Hell, I’ll take it if she don’t want it,” C.O. Edwards said.
Slowly, the tramp Jones reached for the envelope and stuffed it into her breast pocket.
“You should go put that in your locker,” Bishop said.
The chick had a serious problem and I needed to discuss her with DaQuan. Her attitude was shit and I didn’t see how we was expected to work with her ass.
I had no idea if she was going to take the advice she was given, but if her simple ass got us busted, she’d be in a world of trouble.
Jones got up and walked out of the booth. She didn’t say a word to Edwards, Bishop, or me.
“You’re welcome,” Bishop said, to her back as she left.
“When did she join the team?” Edwards asked.
I shook my head. “Girl, men are so fucking simple!”
“So that’s what they’ve been cozying up and chit-chatting with each other about?”
I nodded. “Guess so. Don’t ask me, ‘’cause he don’t tell me shit!”
“So he just up and added her to the team without even talking to you?” Bishop asked.
DaQuan had no idea what his actions and careless moves did to me and my image as the team leader. It was so hard to reason with his simple behind. But this move with Jones was the worst. He’d made me look bad in front of the people who worked for us. It also made it look like I didn’t know what was going on.
“So, you know what she bring in?” Edwards asked.
“I think pills, because she got like two hundred-fifty dollars.”
“You should’ve skimmed some off the top. I mean, if you gotta deal with that shitty attitude, you oughta get a percentage off the top,” Edwards said. She popped her collar.
We all laughed at that.
I couldn’t admit to them that DaQuan and I were on shaky ground. He still hadn’t said anything to me in person, and since the other day when he’d hung up, all calls were business- related only.
When I thought about all that I risked for him, it really made me feel like a fool. Not only did I help with the smuggling operation, but I carried his fucking child, and he had the nerve to treat me like trash.
DaQuan was already behind bars, but if I got caught, that was my future down the drain too. What about my kids? What about our kid?
“Hey, Dunbar, what’s up? Lately you’ve been zoning out, like you’re deep in thought, you’re lost. What gives?” Edwards asked.
I felt like I was seconds away from breaking down and dissolving into a puddle of tears. Everything took a serious toll on me. I knew it was the baby that made my emotions ape-shit crazy, but just because I knew it, that didn’t change how I felt.
“It’s all good; just a lot on my mind.”
Edwards gave me a long side- eye, but she didn’t press the issue. “Well, if you need to talk, just let me know.”
She looked at Bishop and said, “Can you come watch the door? I wanna go to the closet and fuck R.J.”
They got up and left and I thought about the last time I’d had sex with DaQuan. Before I told him I was pregnant, he’d been on a serious blow job kick. I wasn’t sure what was up with him, but we hadn’t actually done it, like intercourse, in nearly a month. All of our trips to the closet had involved me on my knees.
My heart suddenly dropped to the bottom of my feet. Horror crept up on me at the thought. Was he still fucking Clarkson? He had to be. Nothing else made sense. If he wasn’t fucking me, he had to be fucking her, still.
I got up to go look for him. We kept it low-keyed while I was on the job, but I needed to get to the bottom of our relationship.
The $250 I got for the pills came just in time. I needed that money, and more, so I knew I’d do it again and again.
Now that the weave had worked, I decided to focus on the shoes as an another way to carry pills. I noticed most of the female C.O.s on the team wore either work boots or those old granny shoes, with the hard toes. I bought a good pair of boots, then took my time and peeled them apart.
I was able to get two bags of pills in each boot. The key to that was, I had to be careful not to crush the pills. So I used sole inserts, and put a piece of plywood between the soles and the bags.
R.J. would literally inspect each pill to make sure they weren’t cracked or crushed. They didn’t play when it came to the money.
Dressed, satisfied with my image, and filled with courage, I left the house and headed to the Jester unit. On my way to the prison, I thought about how I looked forward to getting an envelope more than payday.
I parked, took a deep breath and pumped myself up to smuggle in another shipment of prescription pills. It was more of a challenge for me, because unlike the other female C.O.s, I wasn’t trying to put anything anywhere in my body. If I couldn’t fit the pills in my weave or in my shoes, I’d have to stop my side hustle.
As I walked up to the entrance, I paid extra attention to what was going on. It seemed like a typical day. Security officers chatted with one another, as they processed people through the metal detectors.
“Ma’am, we need you to go through again,” a security officer said to a woman three people in front of me.
Franklin walked by and looked in my direction. He whispered something to the security officer and they both looked at me.
“Jones, you don’t have to wait,” the officer said.
I hesitated. “Yo, Jones,” Franklin called out.
His loud voice made me snap into action. I wasted little time as I rushed out of line, and in front of the woman who had trouble getting through.
“Just holla when you coming in. Ain’t no point in wasting time standing in line,” Franklin told me after I coasted through security and made it safely to the other side.
“Okay, I’ll remember that.”
He walked with me almost halfway to the restroom. Then he turned off and went down the hall. I hated that he tried to act like we were good friends. I didn’t want friends at work. His constant attempts left me curious about Franklin’s intelligence level. Everything about me said I wasn’t the social type, but he still tried. The only reason I was at the job was because it was the only one I could get. I needed money, not friends.
Once I opened the bathroom door, nothing could’ve prepared me for what I heard.
It was Edwards’s voice.
“We need to get it out,.” She sobbed.
She sounded like she was under duress. I froze where I stood and strained to listen.
“So, what you want me to do?” That was Dunbar.
I quickly looked down at the bottom of the stalls. Edwards was on the ground with her legs cocked open. I saw Dunbar’s boots as she stood near Edwards. They were in the last stall. It was bigger because it was for the disabled.
What the fuck was going on? I eased closer to the stall.
“You sure it’s still in there?” Dunbar asked.
“Look. I’m gonna need you to try and fish it out.” Edwards’s voice was whining. She sounded like she was on the verge of tears.
“Oh, hell naw! You expect me to dig all up in your coochie?”
That was Dunbar. If the shit wasn’t real, I would’ve doubled over in laughter. In my dreams it was always Dunbar who got something lodged up inside her pussy. And she was surrounded by doctors and medical personnel who couldn’t understand why any sane person would willingly shove items inside their body.
“I can’t do it. Lemme go find R.J. or something, ‘ ’cause I’m not gonna be able to do that.”
“Are you serious right now? We know we not gay. It’s like going to the doctor. Why you trippin’?” Edwards asked.
“There’s just something so wrong about me sticking my hand up in another woman’s twat. I just can’t do it! I’m sorry.”
“Dunbar, why you being a bitch right now?”
“Me? Who told you to try and bring in so much stuff? How’d you even walk with all of that stuck up inside of you?”
Edwards started to sob. “It feels like a condom lodged up in there. God! I want it oooout!”
“I’ma go get R.J.”
“What? You can’t leave me like this! What if you can’t find him? Noooo, just try to get it out, please.”
“Girl. I can’t!”
“Dunbar, you have to. Here, let me try to spread my legs as wide as I can.”
“No! Don’t! I’ve already seen too much. I just need to go get R.J. I can not be a part of this. We need to stop before somebody comes up in here.”
“I don’t care! I just want it out.”
“Edwards. I know you panicking and shit right now. But hear me out. You can’t afford to have just anybody walk up in here on this. There would be way too much explaining to do. Now, I’m telling you. We need to get R.J. Just let me go!”
Edwards sniffled a few times.
“Actually. We probably need to have you go to the closet. Y’all should do it in there. That way, once he gets it out, he can help you feel better.”
Finally, Edwards faintly said, “Okay.”
There was silence for a bit. I forgot all about the shipment I needed to get out of my hair and shoes. When I heard the door swing open, it was too late for me to even pretend like I hadn’t been ear-hustling.
Dunbar looked at me.
“What the fuck you doing in here?” Her teeth gritted when she asked.
I frowned. “Bitch, I ain’t here to play with nobody’s coochie, that’s for sure!” I shot back.
The horror on her face was priceless, as I walked out of the bathroom.
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Excerpted from Guarding Secrets: A Novel by:Pat Tucker Copyright © 2016 by Pat Tucker. Excerpted by permission of Strebor Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.