Mayor Patterson looked
away from his jury. He was convicted already and he knew it. This wasn’t even
close to a fair trial. This was Kafkaesque.
He sat in the den of his parents’ home on Detroit’s north
side. None of them trusted the Mayor's mansion or the city offices for this discussion.
It was paranoid, but the Feds had bugged past mayors.
Patterson’s mother railed about his latest scandal, pacing back and forth.
Taisha stood near her, looking regal as usual. Patterson sat on a sofa and listened because it was
all he could do.
father, Randolph, sat in a leather chair listening intently to his wife’s rant. Standing behind him,
quiet and serene was his younger brother, Ahmad.
Ahmad Patterson had received his African name without dispute
but he had gotten none of the family’s other attributes. Randolph and Theresa were fine looking specimens.
By contrast, Ahmad had bad skin, was balding even though he was still in his late 20’s and he was very rotund.
He was younger than D’Andre but looked like the elder brother.
Ahmad also had a mental deficiency that none of his doctors could
define. He was so slow-witted as a kid, that Theresa had considered institutionalizing him at one point.
But he wasn’t so dull that he couldn’t function and so it was good news and very bad news at the same time.
When he was younger,
Ahmad had been a bed-wetter. He was also prone to fits of anger, which were now managed with medication.
worked with his mother but had no real responsibility and behind their backs everyone whispered about the dim-witted
brother of the Mayor.
Ahmad looked at his brother D’Andre with something bordering on sympathy but it was hard to tell.
This was the Patterson
family brain trust. It was a tradition to gather during a crisis and beat out a solution. Even
though he was the Mayor, Patterson relented to this because this family court had a storied history.
The Patterson fortune had been made by Randolph
Earl Patterson Senior, a bootlegger and numbers runner
had ties to the Purple Gang back in the 1920’s. His nickname then was Randy Red, which he acquired
for this penchant to wear the color.
Randy Red was the go between for white gangsters and the black population. He even had a crew
of union guys he used for muscle on occasion.
Though times were bad for black folks, Randy Red guarded his family from the harsh racism of
the times. By force, guile or surrender, he always protected his own.
Randy held family meetings where issues were
discussed and court was held. He wanted his kids to understand America, and to him, America was all about
opportunity and business. So in times of crises, the Patterson court was always opened to solve problems.
Randy Red had three
children, Randolph Earl Junior, the eldest and his sisters, Ella and Harriet.
Randolph Junior inherited most of Randy Red’s fortune,
when his father died of cancer. This was a fact that still pissed off his sisters.
Randolph used the money to start a chain of
businesses. Patterson Holdings was now involved in everything from car dealerships to fast food franchises.
Randolph married a pretty,
ambitious lawyer named Theresa Hammond, a prominent minister’s daughter and saw the 1970’s bring a surge in business
that resulted in wealth, and political connections.
And through the years, Randolph maintained Randy Red’s
tradition of coming together to solve problems and D’Andre Patterson’s current situation was a big one.
“What in the hell
were you thinking?” asked his mother Theresa. She was a smallish woman with thick legs and a round
face. She had been a local beauty queen and was even featured in Ebony at age 16.
Now, she looked more like a pretty substitute teacher than model. “You embarrass your wife
and your family like this.”
“You confessed to perjury, you know,” said Taisha. “Why not just giftwrap your
ass for our enemies. The goddamned Governor already took over two cities. He would love
to put Detroit in his pocket.”
“I’m not worried about him,” said Patterson. “Detroit is a big ass pill
“The texts can’t be used,” said Randolph. “It’s his private account
and as such, is not admissible.”
“That’s not what our company lawyer says,” said Theresa. “She
says it’s a gray area and you know what a gray area means.”
“Look,” said Patterson, “I’m sorry about
all of this but Dad’s right. They can’t touch me on this. Przybylski and
my lawyers say it’s an invasion of privacy.”
“Screw Przybylski,” said Taisha. “Little creep.”
“I had some hope
that you could control yourself more than your father but I see that’s a fantasy,” said Theresa.
“No need for that,”
said Randolph. “We need to help our son. Not dredge up old shit.”
Theresa cut her husband
a hard look, the kind of look that held a lifetime of secrets and compromise, a weight carried by all long-married women.
Randolph returned her glare with one of his own. The moment ended in detente.
“The story’s out and D’Andre
is being attacked,” said Theresa. “Who’s the damned cop that found the evidence?”
“Some white cop
named Cavanaugh,” said Patterson. “I got people on it. The case is closed
and he’s off it.”
“I wouldn’t count on that,” said Randolph. “I talked to
friend on the force about this man. He’s
second generation blue and was raised in the neighborhood just outside of Hamtramck near Six Mile and Conant.”
“A white man made
it out of there alive?” said Theresa. “Jesus,
I see your point. He’s gotta be
one tough bastard.”
“I can have his boss back him off,” said Patterson.
The chorus of “No’s” was loud and clear.
“You stay away
from this mess,” said Theresa. “In fact, we need to get you some real business to do, to make
it look like it’s a minor irritation. You go messing with the cops and the prosecutor will smell
blood in the water.”
“And we definitely don’t want to wake that bitch up,” said Randolph. "Woman’s
“I’ve talked with most of our big business backers and they are all cool,” said Patterson.
“They assure me that—“
“Of course they assured you,” said Theresa with a short laugh. “You’re
the Mayor and they have to always seem supportive. When I called, I got reservations.
They are still with us but they are not happy about this shit and they shouldn’t be.”
Patterson looked to his father.
His mother was always a little dramatic. In the end, he really only trusted his father’s judgment.
Randolph looked back at his son and nodded slightly.
“I will call them back and assure them this thing will blow over,” said Patterson.
“We should get
him a lawyer,” said Ahmad. His voice cut through the thick tension of the moment.
don’t know how that can help him,” said Theresa coldly.
“Ahmad is right,” said Taisha. “Hiring
an attorney will take the attention away from D’Andre. You know how people are. It
will deflect the press, give them something to write about. The attorney can pull all the attention to
jury thought a moment and then all agreed. Randolph patted Ahmad on the arm. Ahmad’s
expression brightened a little.
Theresa showed no appreciation for Ahmad’s suggestion. Instead, she nodded to Taisha as
if she had come up with it. Theresa had
daughters and had adopted the beautiful and intelligent girl as her own.
Taisha glanced at her husband and Patterson saw
the hurt and menace inside of her. She had barely said anything about his infidelity. Taisha
would punish him somehow but it would not be in this moment. Right now, she was protecting her investment.
“It has to be
someone with stature and credibility,” said Randolph. “And someone with the gift of gab.”
“We need a fucking
eight hundred pound gorilla,” said Theresa. “I want this thing crushed into the ground.”
someone who’s powerful, smart and his situation is great,” said Taisha. “Marshall Jackson.”
“I know him,”
said Theresa. “Tall, very handsome man. Why is he so perfect?"
“Because I happen
to know that he’s best friends with the damned white cop,” said Taisha. She waited a moment
as it sunk in for all of them. Randolph starting chuckling and even Theresa smiled a little.
“If his boy is
on the case, then he’ll get cut out,” said Taisha. “Cavanaugh won’t be able to
talk to him about anything.”
“Marshall was my lawyer on the Weeks case too,” said Patterson. “Makes sense.”
He made sure not to look at Taisha as he mentioned Valerie Weeks. But he could feel her stare on
he do it if he’s friends with the cop?” asked Ahmad and it was another good point. This time,
Theresa smiled at him.
“A conflict,” said Theresa. “A good point but I don’t think that will
force him out.”
“I know Marshall,” said Patterson. “He’s ambitious. He
won’t be able to walk away from a media case.”
“Then we have our offensive deflection,” said Randolph. “It’s
perfect. Taisha, Ahmad, good job.”
“D’Andre, you should put several of the other heavy weight lawyers in town on retainers
for the city and conflict them out,” said Theresa. “And do it very quietly. We
don’t want them working for Weeks or anyone else who might want to start trouble.”
“Got it,” said Patterson.
His mother was mean but she was very clever, he thought.
“Okay, I think husband and wife need to confer,” said Randolph.
Randolph got up and
walked out without even checking with the others. Theresa said goodbye and left on her husband’s
Ahmad lingered, looking at his brother. “I’m sorry about this,” he said.
“It’s going to be okay, man.”
Patterson went over and hugged his brother. “Thanks, man,” he
said. “I’ll see you later.”
Ahmad left and Patterson turned to face his very angry wife.
Taisha stood before him arms folded, striking a rather sexy pose with her legs wide apart.
“What can I do?” asked Patterson.
“Huh? What do you want not to punish me for this? A trip, diamonds, more
money in your private account? Just let me know and I’ll do it, but please, I don’t want any
more bitching about this.”
Taisha broke her pose and moved close to him. She got close enough for him to smell her perfume
and feel the heat of her body.
“I want everything, Mr. Zulu,” she said in a measured voice.
Patterson blinked at the use of his other name.
It was meant to make a point;
; she wanted
to address his other self, the big, badass who did what he wanted to whomever he wanted.
“If you don’t get out of this,
me and the kids are not going down with you,” said Taisha. “We don’t deserve to fall
just because you did. So, you are going to transfer all of our assets over to me, or your mother or one
of our companies. You are going to do it right away and with secrecy. If anyone comes
looking for money, there won’t be any.”
Patterson was not shocked by this demand. Taisha loved their kids and she
was a pragmatist at heart. She had been humiliated by his affairs for years and now here she was playing
second fiddle to a dead whore. He also understood the request to give part of it to his mother.
That was just his mother, always the manipulator.
“Okay, I’ll get the financial people on it,” he said.
“The money on the island, too,”
said Taisha flatly.
And now Patterson was shocked. How did she know about that? He’d started
that secret fund before they were married. He thought about lying but if she knew, then she’d done
he said sounding defeated.
“I will be the good wife for you,” said Taisha, “but I will not be a goddamned fool.
You have reduced us down to numbers, D’Andre, down to matters of survival. I will be by your
side, but know this, the family is going to make it, even if you don’t.”
Patterson just nodded slightly. It
was the right thing. He loved his kids and they had to be looked out for. He got a flash
of Rashindah and the Weeks woman. He saw their beautiful faces and voluptuous bodies and suddenly, he hated
all women and their alluring poison.
“I’m only going to ask this once and we’ll be done with it,” she said. “Who
did you get to do it?”
Patterson said nothing. He just stared at her.
“Spouses can’t testify against each other,”
said Taisha. “So you don’t have to lie. I didn’t like the little skank anyway.”
Patterson turned away
from her, walking back toward the far wall. “I didn’t do it,” he said.
“Then why can’t
you look at me when you say it?” asked Taisha.
Patterson turned around and looked at her. “I’m not going to
be interrogated by you. I have enough people who probably want to do that.”
“You haven’t answered my question,”
had nothing to do with it, okay?” said Patterson.
“Fair enough,” said Taisha unconvincingly.
She went to him and they hugged.
She felt good in his arms and for a second, there was no trouble in his life, they were still twenty, still learning
about each other in and out of bed and looking to a future of greatness.
Taisha broke the connection. They stood face
to face and Patterson was about to pull her to him, kiss her and reseal their pact of support.
“One last thing,” she started,
“just so you understand what you’ve done. Because men never think beyond an erection, you need
to know the gravity, the horrible reality of this, D’Andre. It’s bad enough that everyone in
the city, my friends, my parents and my enemies read about you and some ho. But what’s worse is,
they know the exact nature of what you did with her thanks to your little text messages. Words that our
kids will see one day on the Internet.”
“Taisha,” said Patterson. “You know I feel like shit over
did filthy things with that bitch!” Taisha yelled. “Unnatural shit and then you come home to
me and your children, dripping with your sin.”
She stopped, taking a short breath, a curse forming on her lips. She forced
spread your weakness all over the people you’re supposed to love and you don’t even think about the consequences.”
I said I was sorry about it all,” said Patterson, and even he felt the feebleness of his words.
“The depth of this can’t be measured,”
she almost hissed at him. “Not in money, love or even my considerable anger, but it will be measured,
D’Andre.” Patterson saw the faintest of smiles on her lips.
“What the fuck is that supposed
to mean?” he asked, not knowing her purpose and suddenly upset with her statement.
“Your mother and father don’t
knowthe half of it about this Danny Cavanaugh.“
“What about him?” said Patterson. “He’s just some
“He’s shot at least four men,” Taisha said with menace. “He beat some
thug damned near to death after that man shot his girlfriend. He did it with his bare hands.
That’s a man, D’Andre. That’s a man who protects his people, a man of conviction.
He is the opposite of you. He won’t give up this case and he won’t compromise.
Cavanaugh is the measure of your sin. If you survive him, then you will have paid your debt.
If not, then the kids and I will visit you every other week in prison.“
Patterson was about to say something but he thought
better of it. Her words were so harsh that he could barely look at her. And worst of
all, there was truth in what she said.
“Like I said before,” said Patterson with something bordering confidence.
“For your sake, I sincerely hope so.”
Taisha moved around him and left. Patterson
watched her and fought his urge to go after her. In the end, he just stood there, thinking about all he had to do to
get through this mess. The door shut behind Taisha and it felt like someone had closed a tomb