”Not Every Man is Threatened by the Rise of Sassy Women’ : A Young Woman’s Perspective

akriti-mattuWelcome a new author here on Ronovan Writes. Hope you enjoy these looks into the world by a highly intelligent, business minded young woman from India who is striking out to make a name for herself in a new country. Her’s the first article here on Ronovan Writes by Akriti Mattu. For her personal blog, click here.

Diverse Creations

An Indian woman is one of the most diverse creations of God. Endowed richly with diversity and culture, the 29 states of India have women that vary greatly from one. However, one thing that is common to women across cultures, religions, and ethnicities is the shifting power dynamics of the man – woman relationship in contemporary India.

In the last two decades, India has witnessed a massive leap in science and technology. As with many societies with such advancements, people have become more aware of themselves as individuals and of their rights. With this new awareness has come a gradual change in Indian society itself. This gradual remodeling and restructuring is having a huge impact on the average Indian citizen, especially young women and men from my generation.

The Modern Woman

A modern Indian woman can be liberal and sassy. She’s not afraid of being herself anymore. Being aware of her identity as an individual, she does not want that identity to be masked by roles of a mother, a daughter and a wife alone. She wants to be known in the world for who she is. Her true self is what matters now. Good thing is many Indian men are not lagging behind the times.

Parents are becoming increasingly supportive of educating their daughters and making them at par with their sons. They are realizing the importance of education and financial independence of women. The literacy rate in India has shot up to 74.04 % from 64.84 %. For women it is 65.46 %, as compared to 53.67% previously.

The Fear

However, as women are becoming increasingly independent and conscious of their rights, there are some people who are not responding well to this transformation. There is a section of men who feel threatened by successful, educated and well aware women. They even go to the extreme extent of claiming they feel emasculated in the presence of powerful women. A powerful woman by their definition is any woman who is independent, educated and hence successful. They are conservative in the context of not liking women to be given any freedom or liberty. I call such men threatened.

For hundreds of years when women were subjugated and denied even basic rights, men like these were in their comfort zone. They were at the top of an imaginary pyramid with the excellent support system provided by the woman at the base.

But now? The pyramid has inverted with the base at the top and the peak, with the man, at the bottom. Therefore this reversal is seen by some as a dangerous trend. Not only do they feel vulnerable, they don’t like other men endorsing this change.

At one hand where we see a rise of a new India with women earning well and advancing in their careers, topping entrance examinations, making it to top positions of private companies, public sector units, bureaucracy, defense services, aviation, technology etc., at the other hand we see a dark reality that cannot be ignored; the reality of trepidation and fear is still being instilled across quarters.

I’d like to point out this gap in India does not really lie between the rural and urban India but with the mentality – Archaic versus Modern. While there are people in rural India who are well aware of the gradual change, there are literate people in cities which shame us. No wonder it is said that literacy and education are different concepts. They are not mutually inclusive.

Nirbhaya

A short but powerful documentary was recently made by a British film maker – Leslee Udwin, and was aired on the BBC. It is a re-enactment of the brutal gang rape of a 23 year old girl whom India calls ‘Nirbhaya’ (It is the Hindi word for fearless). This brutal gang rape happened on the 16th December, 2012 in the heart of the Indian Capital – New Delhi. This young girl, Nirbhaya is representative of the contemporary Indian woman. In fact she epitomizes the changing ‘power dynamic’, I wrote about before.

As a young girl of 23, like many other young women, Nirbhaya had high hopes and aspirations. She wanted to make an impact on the world around her. She wanted to contribute her bit to society and be a part of the ‘changing India’. She did make an impact and she did contribute to change – After her death.

The innocent young woman was so brutally gang raped she succumbed to internal injuries and died. The perpetrators were such predators they even took out her intestines. This incident shocked the nation and men and women across India came to the streets. Candle light marches were held. Protests were made. Pain was felt. Empathy was spread. People across castes, class, creed, age groups, professions and gender came as one. Nirbhaya united India.

Men across quarters fought for the spirit of the brave woman who died and for the women across the country. Nobody asked these men to fight for women’s safety. They did it on their own. This is one of the biggest signs of seeing an evolved male mentality. It was a proud moment. Not only did men become a part of the protests, they took a vow to not even eve-tease women for the sake of fun.

The brutality of the sexual assault on Nirbhaya made men cringe and bow down their heads in shame as men. They wanted to prove that, “all men are not the same” and they did. This is just one recent incident but there are many others. Every time a case of sexual violence, female foeticide, dowry death, honour killing comes to the fore, the modern Indian man extends full support to their female counterparts. It makes them feel sick that society treats women unjustly. Men like these are secure men. They don’t feel emasculated in the presence of powerful, liberated women. Instead, they take pride of having such women around as role models.

The Hurdles

However in spite of men like these, the ‘dark reality’ will do whatever it takes to hold back the women in their lives. They have an outmoded mentality, where the mere thought of a free woman is seen as a threat, a danger.

These are the kinds of men which take resorts like throwing acids on women when they turn down their proposals or indulging in sexual crimes to shame a woman, as a way of revenge for being free. They are the kinds of men who force their spouses to abort female fetuses in the womb itself. The mere existence of a girl child is undesirable to them. It is because of men like these that some places in India are now facing skewed sex ratios. Saddest part is that these men are ‘educated’ men. They consist of lawyers, bureaucrats, technocrats, even teachers and doctors. This is the section of society I personally despise.

I have always been a free spirit, therefore when I see people with such dogmatic attitudes; it comes across as an alien concept. Women must stand up against such rigid attitudes. They must start the process of empowerment within and most importantly, make ties in solidarity with other women who suffer. Only then can India rise and shine, and live up to the dream of being a progressive nation in the true sense.

Strength-in-Numbers

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Rose & Ghun Episode One: You want me to do what?

rose&ghun header

“Ow,” I mumbled.

“Does that hurt, pretty baby?” I stared up out of one eye at the woman above me. Perfect lipstick and hair, nails still shimmering in the light of night, and brandishing a tire iron she had just used on my ribs.

“Only a little, Cornelia,” I managed. “I guess you aren’t what you used to be.”

“Errrngh!”

I’m not very smart…sometimes. That’s the idea that flowed through my head as my body rolled along behind it. The pavement was cold on my face. I smiled and my lip stung from the cracks in it. “Broke a heel,” I said. “Should have stuck with the iron.”

She stalked toward me. It’s amazing how beautiful people can look so hideous when evil twisted them from the inside. As for me on the asphalt . . . if it had just been Cornelia things would have been fine, but she never traveled alone. Part of her posse, gang, whatever gorgeous women criminal types called their hired thugs was present.

“Not gonna move, purdy boy,” said Larry.

“That’s ‘pretty baby’,” I said.

“Yeah, pretty baby, Larry,” said Justin.

Good, I got the names right. Big sacks of meat all looked the same through a swollen eye…in the night…in the street…on your face, points for me. Now what? Only one thing I could do.

“unnnnhhh,” was all Larry managed as my heel connected with his inseam. I rolled like a log along the street whRose1ile Justin paused to glance at his partner. Can’t run, then roll.

“Get him!”

By the time Justin turned at Cornelia’s order I had made it to my feet and was running…hobbling or maybe it was skipping. The only concern I had was that I was fast enough. Gary’s was not far and if I could make it there, then I might have a chance.

“Ain’t happenin’,” said Justin. I could hear boots pounding the street. Why do big men move faster these days? Why am I saying ‘these days’? I’m not even middle aged. But with the life I led maybe I was middle aged.

I could see Gary’s Grill’s sign lit up not even a block away. But sucking wind and dancing ribs were not going to allow me to get there. My feet kept running into the air as my head and shoulders came to a sudden stop.

“Aw, pretty baby got caught,” said Cornelia.

Justin held me in his arms like a constrictor, not that he needed to. I was spent. Cornelia walked slowly up and smiled. She had brought the tire iron. “I warned you not to take the case, now didn’t I?”

I couldn’t answer and wouldn’t have even if I could have taken a breath.

“That building fire was an accident. That’s what the insurance company is going to find out, and you are not going to disagree, are you, pretty baby?”

“wwww”

Cornelia glanced over my shoulder and nodded. The arms loosened slightly. At least I could breathe again.

“Now what did you want to tell me?”

“Why do you call me pretty baby?”

The slap jerked my head sideways and my neck popped. Why do women take these crazy classes where they exercise by fighting? That was a pro shot. Rib pain, the constrictor had returned.

Fingers pulled my hair and my face lifted to hers. “Drop the case or else,” she said. She leaned in close to my ear. I felt her breath and could smell her perfume. “Drop the case, Trevor. I don’t want this to get worse,” she ended in a whisper.

She stepped back and nodded at Justin. I was slammed to the pavement and couldn’t move. I saw them walk away. It wasn’t a bad sight. Justin leaving was a good thing, and even in the condition I was in…well…Cornelia was Cornelia, evil or not.

“And I was coming to you for help.” I slGhunowly rolled over onto my back and looked up into the face of another woman.

“What can I do for you?” I groaned.

“Not die for starters.”

“Working on it. What else?”

“Need you to help me kill the man that killed my sister.”

How do things get this bad this fast?

 

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Rose & Ghun in Simply Murder-Episode Nine: I’ll search all night for you. Sigh.

Rose&Ghun Cover.jpg
gettyimages © Original Photo by Paul LoveKing

Rose & Ghun in Simply Murder-Episode Nine: I’ll search all night for you. Sigh.

by: Ronovan

“Jacob, tell me you can do it,” I said.

Computer GeekThe 19 year old college freaky genius was staring open mouthed at Monika…again. He slowly turned toward me and blinked. “Umm, yeah, I can do it,” he said weakly. “I just need the number.”

Monika leaned past him and using a pen on his desk wrote a number down. I could see his face flush at her closeness and her scent. I had become more and more immune as the hours and ticked by. “How long will it take?” I asked. She was Lori’s niece. Any other thoughts had pretty much left the building.

Jacob picked up the piece of paper as if it was fragile. “As fast as I can. I’ll call you when I get a location fix.” He turned and began to work.

I nodded to Monika and we slipped out the door. The dorm hallway was empty and we made it outside without meeting anyone. We were lucky no one was on duty at that time of night. We were lucky it hadn’t been a woman we were using. Linda would have been my next stop across campus if Jacob hadn’t been awake.

“You’ve been very quiet since the Romeo and Juliet reveal,” said Monika. We were both scanning the trees and bushes along the sidewalks as we neared the parking lot.

“Just thinking what to do next,” I said.Mini Cooper Inverted

“Lori told me about the two of you,” she said.

I slipped in behind the wheel of my emerald green Mini Cooper. “There really wasn’t much to tell.”

“Maybe not much but it was a lot,” said Monika. She clicked the seat belt. “If things hadn’t been the way they were, you two might have been different.”

“Maybe, but I always just look at things as happening the way they do and move ahead. No reason to look back, no reason to moan and groan.”

I knew she was looking at me. In a Mini you couldn’t help but know what the other person was doing, but when you were alone you didn’t think about needing extra room for other people. I just waited, but not for long. “Good.”

That wasn’t what I was expecting. She settled back in the seat and looked ahead and hummed a song. “Good? That’s it?”

“Yeah, what, do you want a sobbing moment of begging you to be all pain and anguished or something?”

“Well, no, but…”

“This isn’t a movie, Rose, this is real. I want you focused on getting my sister’s killer. If we can get him then we might stop this war,” said Monika. She started humming again.

I drove for several seconds before talking. “Now that I know what is really going on we can go to another place that might help us out.”

“Where?”

“Down Under Mike’s,” I said.

She turned quickly in her seat. “Are you crazy? You’ll get killed in there.”

“They won’t lay a finger on me. Not unless they are wearing gloves like you do all the time,” I said.

She looked at her leather covered hands and then my face. There was a bit of disappointment there for her to see. I didn’t blame her.

The car was quiet. Had I damaged things beyond repair? Sometimes it was better that way even if it wasn’t what I wanted. Down Under Mike’s appeared before us. We both looked around before getting out of the car. Then we slowly made our way along the cobblestone street to the ancient dive bar.

Dark BarMonika walked in first with no apparent problem. I followed and could hear the sizzle. The alarm had gone off. Every eye looked toward me. Gloves went on. The demon possessed didn’t like to get burned when they punched me.

Rose & Ghun in Simply Murder-Episode Seven: Not Like Old Times

Rose&Ghun Cover.jpg
gettyimages © Original Photo by Paul LoveKing

“What’s so important about Miles Stratford?” I asked.

Lori leaned forward on the step beside me. “We have to find him and settle things,” she said.

“You mean kill him.”

“He killed one of ours.”

“How can you be sure it really wasn’t an accident? He could have just been driving that fast,” I said.

“There was no accident,” said Lori. “There was a battle. Miles and Phyllis were in the same nightclub when things became uncomfortable. She left, he followed and then he forced her car into a spin. When she stopped he and another man jumped out and went after her.”

“Two on one, not very gentlemanly,” I said.

“It was two on two,” said Lori. “But the other was pinned for too long. Phyllis was dead and the sirens were sounding so Miles and his friend ran.”

“And the pinned friend?”

“She freed herself and made it home. But some witnesses had seen Miles speeding away and it was assumed that it was a hit and run,” said Lori.

I looked at Monika. She was staring at the ground and her fists were clenched. She was holding anger inside, she was shaking that much.

“We can handle this, Lori,” said Martin.

“No we cannot, not the way Trevor can,” said Lori. “This is what he does. We are simply fighters. He is as a detective who avoids fighting. He will think our way out of this and if not he can fight it out.”

“He needs her to protect him,” said Martin. “Look at him, he is broken already. A man that does not fight is not a man.”

Monika was in Martin’s face before any of us blinked. “He took down Marcos Li in a matter of seconds, could have killed him. He had a pistol shoved down the throat of Stratford. What have you done?”

“Not be trapped in a car,” said Martin. His eyes betrayed his regret at the words before his lips closed over the last syllable. It was as I thought. Monika was the trapped friend who had watched as her sister had been decapitated.

“Well, either Carl Stratford was lying or he really doesn’t know where his son is. Either way it’s time to get started,” I said. I stretched slightly to disguise the need to get rid of the numbness in my butt from sitting on the steps so long.

“Where to start?” Lori asked.

I smiled. “Miles is a child of this generation. Kid can’t go without a cell phone and I imagine he has a high priced one. I’m going to see if I can track it down.”

They all looked at me with blank looks. “What?” I asked.

Monika shook her head. “That is the simplest thing I have ever heard of. Why we did not think of it is beyond me.”

Lori smiled. “Because we were not thinking like a detective. Why do you think I sent you to him?”

“Because you still think he’s cute,” said Monika.

I blushed.

Martin stood taller. “She’s a married woman, little one. Be mindful.”

It was my turn for a facial reaction.

Lori frowned slightly and turned away.

The memories of the pressure from the greeting burned away.

Rose & Ghun in Simply Murder-Episode Six: Say What?

Rose&Ghun Cover.jpg
gettyimages © Original Photo by Paul LoveKing

 Rose & Ghun in Simply Murder-Episode Six: Say What?

By: Ronovan

The house was a long rambling one story structure set up on stilts. Like I said we had passed through almost swampy marsh type land before, well we were even deeper now. Moss hung from the trees surrounding the house in a veil that hid it from day and night.

It had been a long time since I had been here, been welcomed here. “You sure they know I’m coming?” I asked.

“What do you think?” Monika asked as she nodded to the railing above. We stood and stared up at the line of people. It wasn’t the happiest gathering I had ever seen. I recognized a lot of faces…with the same unhappy looks I had last seen years ago.

“I’m not dead, so I guess that’s a yes.”

Monika moved first and headed toward the wide stairs leading up to the house. I followed close behind. I didn’t want any space between us in case a family member got jumpy. They would have to hit her if they went after me.

“Walking might close to her, boy,” said a deep voice. I looked around but the voice could have come from anyone.

Most of the people seemed to be glancing toward an older man, a big man. I would say ugly man but I don’t want to be mean. Okay, he was ugly too. But I don’t mean that in a bad way. “She’s been my protector the past 12 hours or so and been doing a good job. I see no reason to interfere with her record,” I said. I voiced it to the crowd as I looked at everyone.

I had guessed right. The big man slowly nodded. “Smarter than you look then,” he rumbled. “Looks like she didn’t do too good a job with that face.” I touched my left eye and lip. “No, I mean the other side.”

My mouth dropped a little and the crowd laughed. I smiled with relief. But I wasn’t going to let my guard down yet. Monika had stayed close to me and she wasn’t relaxed at all. “No sir, she was a bit late for that one.”

“Trevor, are you going to give me a hug or stand there like an idiot?” I looked in the direction of the question. There was Lori looking as young as ever. I climbed the step two at a time and she met me near the top. The hug was sincere and long. The feel was familiar and wanting. And the fingers pressed with more than a welcome.

“Get off of her!” The voice was closer than I would have thought. I was thrown back against the rail and toppled over. I twisted in the air and landed lightly on my feet as my knees bent slightly to adjust for the impact.

“Martin, no!” The shout from Lori was a bit too late as a figure flew down toward me. He didn’t make it.

A much smaller figure blurred across and slammed into the man, knocking him clear of me. Monika landed and crouched down between the two of us. “I’m his protector. Didn’t you hear the man?”

Martin stood up. He was the biggest man I had ever seen, while I was standing up and not bleeding. “He’s not welcomed here. Then he touches my sister.”

“She sent me for him,” said Monika.

“And I told him to touch me,” said Lori. “And I touched him back.” She landed beside Monika.

Martin stared through clenched eyes toward me. “You letting women fight for you?”

“Dang right,” I said. “I would rather women fight for me than men.”

There was silence for several moments. I heard mosquitoes, frogs, and maybe an alligator. Then I heard salvation. A slightly muffled giggle came from above. Then others joined in. Martin’s face began to twitch. Then his lips spread into a toothy smile that gleamed in the shadows of the mossy trees. He nodded his head. “Okay, I agree,” he said as he moved forward.

I relaxed slightly as he passed by me. “But no touching my sister,” he said and jabbed me with a finger.

“I don’t go where not invited. I’ll just say that,” I said.

He glared at me and then slowly began walking up the stairs. I looked at Monika and Lori. Monika was watching Martin and Lori was watching me. “Same sense of humor and bravado,” she said. “But you’ve picked up some moves.”

“Move or die,” I said.

“He would have lost,” she said.

“If I lasted long enough.”

“You would have. You’ve always been a fighter, in will if not in ways,” she said.

“Big enough hit and my will would have no say.”

She looked at me and concern spread through her eyes. “You’ve survived all these years, barely. If he even grazed your skin he would have burned.”

“You don’t,” I said.

She smiled. “We shared a moment before it all changed.”

I looked at her and the feelings swirled and the turmoil began again that I had fought for so many years. “Why did you send her to me?” I asked and looked away.

She could tell the pain I was in. I could hear it in her voice as she spoke. “A war has started. Our clan against another. Not of our doing but we have to fight. We need you to help stop it.”

“You saying help you I’m your only hope?” I asked as I channeled one of my favorite movies.

She slowly nodded. “Yes, that’s what I’m saying.”

I looked away and Monika caught my eye. There was a touch of pleading there. I sat down on the steps of the house and hung my head in my hands. “What demons do I have to fight?” I asked.

“It’s not which ones you have to worry about,” said Lori.

I looked up.

“It’s how many,” said Monika.

God, what are you doing up there?

Rose & Ghun in Simply Murder-Episode Five: Close the window!

 

Rose&Ghun Cover.jpg
gettyimages © Original Photo by Paul LoveKing

“Haven’t been this way in years,” I said.

Monika simply nodded. Her focus was on the rutted dirt road with three foot ditches on either side. One wrong weave and we were stuck. If we met a wide car we were done for. My nerves were showing. “Are you sure it’s okay for me to come out here? Things are a bit different than last time.”

“I was sent to you for help, so I imagine you should be welcomed,” she said.

“Should be?”

“Should be.”

“You know how to make a man feel at ease, don’t you?” I said.

A closed lipped smile crossed her face. Even from the side I could see that mind reading expression come to her eyes. She somehow dug deeper down into my meanings than I even knew were there. Monika wasn’t a model beauty, but she was an exotic mix of whatever she was and it fit together to make for a pleasant work of art.

I keep mentioning her looks because at this point she hadn’t said much. I knew there was intelligence there, and humor, but she had kept herself close so far. Lori Jackson was an African American woman I had grown up with, but I had no idea what Ghun came from. My best guess from Monika’s features was the Far East somewhere.

“Well, I was told I wasn’t welcomed after things changed,” I said staring ahead.

I could see her glance at me out of the corner of my eye. “Things change, Rose. People change and situations change. Needs change.”

“So I’m needed so now I am accepted?” I asked.

“Don’t question it, just take advantage of it,” she said. Like I said, intelligent.

“If you….” The tree fell right in front of us. Monika didn’t have time to come to a complete stop and we tapped the tree turned log hard.

Monika was out and on the hood of the Jeep before I was even able to lift my head up. Her stance said this wasn’t an accident. I opened the door and stood beside the Jeep with both guns out. I was going to at least look helpful.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Rose, you don’t want to do this,” said a voice from nowhere.

“Well I can’t exactly go anywhere,” I said. I had an auto reply set in my mind. Sometimes I couldn’t control it.

Something big came up and over the log at Monika. She fell flat onto the hood and the body slammed into the windshield. It was a large man, way large. I spun as I heard crackling behind me. Both barrels came up and settled on another form, tall and thin this time. Why couldn’t I get the big ones to shoot? I could hit a big one.

“Now, now, Mr. Rose, let’s not do that,” said the stick. “We just don’t want you getting involved in anything that’s not your business.”

“I stubbed my toe when we hit the tree. It’s my business now.” I hated my mind setting.

“Your corpse,” he said. He was fast but Monika was faster. She landed on his head. And I literally mean his head. She drove it down into the dirt and there was a sick sound that I didn’t want an explanation of.

“More are out there, we have to go,” she said. She slid through my side of the Jeep and I followed.

It was only seconds and we were speeding back the way we came. I saw Monika searching the side of the road. “Looking for something?”

“Side road, barely, but it can get us home,” she said. The wheel jerked suddenly and I fell against her, but it didn’t bother her steering. She was hard as a rock. Soft looking but all muscle. We bounced through the woods which were really almost swamp. Monika didn’t bother looking behind, she stayed focused on ahead.

She should have been looking to the side as well. “Whoa!” I couldn’t help but yell as the arm reached through the window. There had been a thump as if something had fallen on us.

“Shoot him,” she said calmly.

“But I might kill him,” I yelled.

“You or him,” she said and kept steering.

I grasped for a solution. My fingers found the window button and the glass began to rise. The face on the other side was not ugly but it was mean and it almost laughed at the thought of a window stopping him. But that was all the distraction I needed. I slammed the gun in my hand through the glass at the face. He reacted the way I had hoped. He flinched.

Then he fell.

“Should have killed him,” she said.

“I know.”
“He’ll just keep coming.”

“I know.”

“You know a lot for someone who doesn’t do anything with it,” she said.

“I know.” I was silent as she drove. No matter what he was I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t kill. It just wasn’t in me. I couldn’t pull the trigger to wound him in case I accidently hit him wrong. I may have failed the Bible but I wasn’t going to fail God.

“We’re here,” she said.

God don’t fail me.

Rose & Ghun in Simply Murder-Episode Four: Why didn’t you say so in the first place?

Rose&Ghun Cover.jpg
gettyimages © Original Photo by Paul LoveKing

“Hello Jimmy,” I said as I slid into the booth across from him.

He started to slide out but was stopped. “Meet my…partner for the day,” I said as Monika sat down next to him.

“Trevor, I ain’t got nothin’ to do with nothin’, I swear,” said Jimmy.

“Eat your breakfast, Jimmy,” I said. “I just have a few questions then we’re out of here.”

Jimmy found it difficult returning to his pancakes. I wasn’t sure if it was me staring at him through sunglasses at 6:30 in the morning or having Monika sitting that close to him. My money would be safe on a bet.

“What do you want to know?”

“Miles Stratford, where is he?” I asked.

“No idea,” said Jimmy as he stuffed a big bite in his mouth. Monika and I exchanged a look. Somehow I felt she could see through the tint and past the swelled eye and actually make eye contact.

“Then you can help me find him,” I said.

“No way, man. I heard you are an untouchable now, man. I don’t want to end up dead.” Bits of pancake flew out as he sputtered out the words.

“I’m right here, Jimmy, touchable as ever. Look at this face. Does it look like it hasn’t been touched?”

“Money’s after you man. I don’t want to be in the way when it finds you,” said Jimmy as he looked out the window as if someone might see him with me.

“Who’s money?”

“Everyone knows you wronged the media man last night about something. You might as well run for it. No one’s going to help you now.”

“And how does everyone know about anything about last night?” I asked.

“Trevor, I’m not talking, man.”

Monika moved a little closer to Jimmy. Under normal circumstances Jimmy would have been nervous just by the fact a girl was near him at all, but there was something that Monika was giving off that just told you that if you messed with her she was going to rip your face off and stick it down your shorts. The sad part is I think Jimmy would have liked it under other circumstances.

Jimmy put his fork down and stared out the window. “I don’t know what you did but word got around that you’re not on his good list right now. No one wants to be near you. I’m serious, Trevor. You got to get out of town.”

I could tell he was serious. Jimmy cared about Jimmy first but I could see in his face that he really thought I was as good as dead. “I can’t go anywhere, Jimmy. I have a job to do and I need your help to do it.”

“No, man,” he said and tried to climb out of the booth over the back of his seat. Monika’s hand on his knee stopped him. Not that she was being seductive or anything but her nails had torn through the denim like talons and snatched him back down.

Jimmy whimpered. Jimmy never screamed, at least not anymore. He knew that usually meant more pain would follow to shut him up, not from me. He had been an information guy for so long that he knew the tricks and the rules. The fact that he wasn’t giving me information just proved how bad things really were for me.

I gave Monika a look. Hurting Jimmy hadn’t been part of the plan. It wasn’t my style, but then I didn’t know what hers was but I had a feeling it could get rougher. “Jimmy, promise on your momma’s grave that you don’t know anything and I’ll leave you alone,” I said.

Jimmy stared into my glasses and I knew he saw the warped reflection of his face looking back at him. “I swear, Trevor.”

I threw down some cash to cover his breakfast and slid out. “Thanks, Jimmy. Sorry about the knee, wasn’t part of the plan.”

“I know,” said Jimmy as he looked at Monika. I saw forgiveness come to his eyes as he took in all of her for the first time. I wasn’t sure what cultural crossroads Monika was from but it had done its job well in the looks department, but I was becoming immune to it. There was an intelligence and a fierceness there that I was coming to respect. Even with her toughness I pushed my arm ahead of her to swing the door out so she could go through first and then made for her Jeep.

I sat back into the leather seat. “What was with the claw routine?” I asked.

“You weren’t going to stop him,” she said as she turned the key.

“Anything he was going to give us would have been a lie just to get rid of us, so I knew stopping him would do no good. Besides violence isn’t my thing,” I said.

The engine went quiet. She looked at me and laughed. “After what you did last night, stomping Marcos Li and then shoving a gun down Stratford’s throat, you are actually going to say you aren’t into violence?”

“I was defending myself against Little Man, or Li or whatever, and the gun for Stratford was for show. I have to put on a show or people will walk all over me,” I finished.

“You did a pretty good acting job,” she said cranking the Jeep again.

“That’s what it is, acting. I am a pacifist at heart. Don’t get me wrong. I will defend myself or others, but I am not going to seek out conflict.”

She became quiet. “I know.”

“You know what?” I asked.

“You’re a good man. That’s why I was sent to you.”

I looked at her. “Sent to me?”

“Yes. Lori Jackson is my aunt.”

“Then that means…what exactly have you gotten me into?” I asked. “And how young are you?” I wasn’t really sure which was the more pressing question.

“Aunt Lori is the youngest of her generation and I belong to the oldest, so we are more like sisters than aunt and niece,” she said with a smile. She knew what had been going through my mind. “As for what you are in, well, it’s exactly what I told you, I want to get Miles Stratford for killing my sister.”

“And she was killed in a car accident?”

“Yes.”

“Impossible,” I said. No one in Lori’s family would die that easily.

“She was decapitated, supposedly by the windshield,” said Monika as she gripped the wheel. I looked more closely at the steering wheel and noticed slight bends here and there that were not factory. Monika had anger issues. I wasn’t frightened. For some reason passion came to mind.

“Li was sniffing around my office,” I said.

“Yes.”

“This is just great. I’m right in the middle of your war.”

“Dead center,” she said.

Dead kept ringing in my ears.

Rose & Ghun-Simply Murder-Episode Three: Pistols for Pacifiers

Image
gettyimages © Original Photo by Paul LoveKing

“Mr. Rose, I need you to find my son,” said Carl Stratford.

That had been the fourth time he had said those same words since sitting down across from me. You ever had those moments where you just don’t believe they are real? Like when that foul ball at a baseball game is coming right at you, right into your hands, and you left your glove at home? You get your hands ready, you know it’s going to hurt, and you know you are going to drop the ball, but you still try anyway, while the whole time hating yourself for not being prepared?

Yeah, that was me facing Carl Stratford, media mogul and father of the bail jumping hit and run murderer. The only difference was, I had already had one foul ball of the night hit me in the face…and ribs…repeatedly and I was too numb to even bother lifting my hands up to fend this one off.

“Face looks like an autopsy, Mr. Stratford,” said the small man standing beside the chair. “Perhaps there is some sort of synaptic shortage that has taken place.”

I smiled and slightly chuckled. “I like that, ‘synaptic shortage’, good one.”

The man nodded.

“Now that you are alert, perhaps you would like to hear my offer,” said Stratford.

“Well I just recently agreed to a job that might take a lot of my time,” I said. The little guy began slowly walking around my office, his head almost leading the way. I saw his nostrils quivering. Yes, nostrils quiver.

“I assure you that I can compensate you beyond whatever your other client is offering,” said Stratford. “I need you to find my son.”

Now for a moment I almost laughed because I thought about how I could make money two ways, then I thought about how dead I would be for flimflamming someone like Stratford. The little man was at the window, the one Monika must have gone through. Was she on the ledge outside? Why did I have the feeling those quivering nostrils had led him there?

“I really can’t help you, Mr. Stratford. Like I said, I already have a client and I wouldn’t be able to give your case the attention it requires. I know of a few others that would be happy to take you up on the offer though,” I said picking up my phone to look for a number.

“No, Mr. Rose, I need your particular services for this case.”

I put the phone down. “What particular services are those?” I asked.

“I’ve had you researched, Mr. Rose. I know all about you and I know of the mumblings in certain circles of society,” said Stratford. “The research backs up those mumblings.”

“And let’s say those mumblings were true, what use would I be in this case?”

Stratford stared at me for a moment. Little man moved back to his boss’ side and nodded. Stratford must’ve had great peripheral vision because he simply smiled. “There is a certain element that is after my son. You see there have been recent events that have placed my son in an awkward position, one that he is not responsible for, but this element is not listening to reason. I need you to find my son before they do to protect him.”

“I’m not exactly good at bodyguard cases or finder missions,” I tried.

My back was against the wall with the heel of a patent leather shoe against my throat before I even knew little man had moved. He had slid over my desk and his legs were so powerful that I and my chair were like shoving marshmallows to him.

“Mr. Rose,” said Stratford. “This doesn’t have to be this way, and you can still perform both cases. Just in the end you will let me know when you find my son and everything else will be taken care of. Your hands will be clean.”

I graduated from one of the finest universities in the nation with a very decent average, modesty prevents me from mentioning that it was a 4.0. I know a lot of things and have a good reputation for honesty and integrity. My ability to take punishment is legendary…among those who deal it out. I’ve never been called intelligent. But I have been called slippery.

The click was heard in the room as if thunder had suddenly erupted after the mother of all lightning strikes. Little man froze even more so than before. Cold metal against your inheritance will do that. The foot at my throat eased slightly.

One other thing about me, when outnumbered and outclassed in a fight…I cheat. My foot kicked the inside of his knee and he crumbled. The gun slammed against his temple and he was out.

I looked at Stratford who had stopped in the middle of reaching into his suit jacket. The reason for the stop was the second gun in my left hand aiming at his heart. “I told you I couldn’t take the case. I won’t interfere with your efforts on it either, but I won’t be threatened.”

“Mr. Rose,” said Stratford smiling as he relaxed in the chair. “This is a great error you are making. If word got out about your treatment of a potential client…or your other peculiarities things would become very difficult for you I am sure.”

I kicked little man one more time for insurance and then pressed the barrel of the gun closer toward Stratford. “Life’s difficult all over, and temporary. I’m broke, dateless, and even my cat ran away. I’m so unpopular the mail man delivers my newspaper to my neighbor instead of letting the neighbor steal it.”

“You would become a joke, and there are other things that could happen as well.”

Now I am not a rough type or a gritty detective that you read about in old books, but I have moments of insanity at times. Being beaten and left in the street qualifies as reasons for insanity. So when I climbed over the desk and put the barrel of my gun in Stratford’s mouth, the most powerful media mogul in the state and most of the region, you will have to give me a little break. “There aren’t many things I can be threatened with, and that’s on purpose,” I whispered, not for affect but because I was so angry and scared that my voice wouldn’t work right.

“Do what you want,” I said. “But remember this; I don’t have anything to lose in this life. Just remember that when picking on someone you think is weaker than you are. If they have nothing, they have nothing to lose.” I slowly pulled the gun out of his mouth.

“If you help the girl, you will be dead,” he said.

Threats and warnings weren’t working. That was the world he lived in. He shouldn’t have smiled. I barely moved to the side as little man’s foot flew through the hole in the air where my head had been.

I rolled across the floor and up to my knees with both guns aimed at Stratford and Little Man, but they were both gone. The door to my office was wide open and I could hear footsteps rapidly retreating, Stratford’s. Little Man wouldn’t have made a sound.

I sagged on the floor and let the guns rest on my thighs.

“Don’t pull those triggers or you might lose something you’ll need later,” said Monika.

I looked at the window and there she stood. “Thanks for the help,” I said. “Now if you’ll leave so I can figure out what next disaster will enter my life and how I am going to live another day with the most powerful jerk of humanity hating me, I would greatly appreciate it.”

She looked hurt at my words, but I didn’t care. I knew there was something more going on about this whole thing than either had told me but I just didn’t care at the moment.

Monika eased to the door and looked out. “Wait,” I said. I slumped back against the wall and sat.

She turned and smiled. She had won and knew it. Why did every woman in my life win and I always lose?

Rose & Ghun-Simply Murder-Episode Two: Is that Opportunity Knocking or is My Brain Rattling

gettyimages © Original Photo by Paul LoveKing
gettyimages © Original Photo by Paul LoveKing

“Whur uu srrrrs?”

“Try it again,” the woman said. “Without the towel over your face.”

“I asked, were you serious.” I put the towel and ice back on my face. The left eye and left side of my lip were like golf balls.

“Yes,” she said.

I moved the towel slightly. “I don’t do contract killings, or killings at all for that matter. Spiders rule my apartment. I think mice use a closet for a time share in the winter.”

“I really just need you to find him, and I’ll do the rest.”

I put the towel ice pack on my desk. “Accessory is the same as doing it myself. Can’t help you. But thanks for getting me back here.” I stood to escort her to the door. Or at least I tried.

“Listen to the situation first before you turn me down. Besides you can’t even stand up.” Well she was right there and I had nothing else to do but suffer at home in bed. I might as well suffer here with a beautiful and somewhat exotic looking woman who wanted me to help kill someone.

“Go for it,” I said and kicked my feet up on the desk. Mistake. Don’t try to look nonchalant and tough when the woman you are trying to impress has seen you lying in the middle of the street like a ragdoll. She’s knows there is no tough in you.

“First, are you going to do what that woman said?” She asked.

“First, what’s your name?”

“Monika.”

“Monika…,” I prompted.

“Ghun,” she said.

“Almost like gun,” I smiled, winced, and almost blessed out the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but I held back. I couldn’t afford a nickel for the swear jar.

“I know Mr. Rose. I get the joke, guns and roses.”

“Was afraid younger people might not get it,” I said. I couldn’t tell her exact age. He dark skin was toned and her slightly almond shaped eyes had no wrinkles. Chinese and African American. I wonder why we always think African American, why not just African, or Black? Focus, Trevor. She wants to kill someone and you are working what exotic blend she is. Think about that later.

“We do. Now for your answer.”

I looked at her a few seconds wondering why I was going to trust her. Then I realized I was trusting her and there was no reason to be hesitating. Maybe I was just being a guy who didn’t care as long as they face was pretty. “There is really nothing to be done. Cornelia and her men don’t exactly listen,” I said. “The fire that burned down the warehouse was arson, no doubt, but there isn’t anything linking her to it. They have the guy that did it, a homeless guy. He said a man gave him some money to do it. Since it was abandoned, he saw no harm in it.” I moved slowly to a better position.

“Then why the worry from the swinger?”

I smiled at the name. “She is just covering her bases.”

“And you are just going to let her get away with this?” She asked looking at my face.

“Private detectives have to walk a different line than other people. I know Cornelia and her motivations,” I said. “If she had wanted me dead or in the hospital, I would have been. This was more of a message sent around the city to everyone else.”

“Tell her to take out a sign next time.”

“Good idea.”

There was silence for several moments. She just watched me trying not to show pain while I watched her trying not to notice that she was not my normal client. I usually received men or women wanting proof of adultery or some other sleazy kind of case, and they usually had little money. Monika Ghun wasn’t one of them.

For one, no one would adultery on her. I thought about the Ten Commandments and what Jesus had said about one’s thoughts and realized that she probably had been the cause of plenty of it in her life. Pardon me while my mind wanders. Getting hit in the head a lot does that to me.

“So are you going to help me or not?” She asked.

“Tell me about it,” I said. I leaned back and closed my eyes. If I looked at her I might just fall into a trap.

“Ever heard of Miles Stratford?”

I was glad my face was covered or my reaction would have been a give-away of interest. “I take your sister was the one he hit that night.”

“Yes. He’s out on bail and he’s run.”

I sat back up properly. “Skipped bail?”

“And his family says they don’t know where he is.”

“Not likely. Tight family and he’s the heir to it all,” I said. Wheels were turning. I glanced at her and there was a slight smile. She knew she had me.

“So you’ll take it?”

“Not to kill him, but to bring him back.”

“I just want justice done,” she said.

I stared into her eyes and didn’t flinch. There was a lot of confusion there. Taking the case might have been the best idea I had for the night. She needed someone to watch out for her.

“Okay, I’ll do it.”

“Good.”

“Start first thing in the morning,” I said.

The knock at my office door at that time of night made both of us jump. I found relief only in the fact that at least her reaction proved she was human. Then there was the look on her face.

“Who is it?”

“Mr. Rose?”

“Yeah,” I said, not moving.

“I’m Carl Stratford. I have a job for you.”

When I looked back at Monika she was gone. The only other way out of my office was the window and we were three stories up. And I didn’t have a fire escape. Maybe I had been wrong.

Rose & Ghun Episode One: You want me to do what?

gettyimages © Original Photo by Paul LoveKing
gettyimages © Original Photo by Paul LoveKing

 

“Ow,” I mumbled.

“Does that hurt, pretty baby?” I stared up out of one eye at the woman above me. Perfect lipstick and hair, nails still shimmering in the light of night, and brandishing a tire iron she had just used on my ribs.

“Only a little, Cornelia,” I managed. “I guess you aren’t what you used to be.”

“Errrngh!”

I’m not very smart…sometimes. That’s the idea that flowed through my head as my body rolled along behind it. The pavement was cold on my face. I smiled and my lip stung from the cracks in it. “Broke a heel,” I said. “Should have stuck with the iron.”

She stalked toward me. It’s amazing how beautiful people can look so hideous when evil twisted them from the inside. If it had just been Cornelia things would have been fine, but she never traveled alone. Part of her posse, gang, whatever gorgeous women criminal types called their hired thugs was present.

“Not gonna move, purdy boy,” said Larry.

“That’s ‘pretty baby’,” I said.

“Yeah, pretty baby, Larry,” said Justin.

Good, I got the names right. Big sacks of meat all looked the same through a swollen eye…in the night…in the street…on your face, points for me. Now what? Only one thing I could do.

“unnnnhhh,” was all Larry managed as my heel connected with his inseam. I rolled like a log along the street while Justin paused to glance at his partner.

“Get him!”

By the time Justin turned at Cornelia’s order I was on my feet and running…hobbling or maybe it was skipping. The only concern I had was that I was fast enough. Gary’s was not far and if I could make it there, then I might have a chance.

“Ain’t happenin’,” said Justin. I could hear boots pounding the street. Why do big men move faster these days? Why am I saying ‘these days’? I’m not even middle aged. These are the only days I know. But with the life I led maybe I was middle aged.

I could see Gary’s Grill’s sign lit up not even a block away. But sucking wind and dancing ribs were not going to allow me to get there. My feet kept running into the air as my head and shoulders came to a sudden stop.

“Aw, pretty baby got caught,” said Cornelia.

Justin held me in his arms like a constrictor, not that he needed to. I was spent. Cornelia walked slowly up and smiled. She had brought the tire iron. “I warned you not to take the case, now didn’t I?”

I couldn’t answer and wouldn’t have even if I could have taken a breath.

“That building fire was an accident. That’s what the insurance company is going to find out, and you are not going to disagree, are you, pretty baby?”

“wwww”

Cornelia glanced over my shoulder and nodded. The arms loosened slightly. At least I could breathe again.

“Now what did you want to tell me?”

“Why do you call me pretty baby?”

The slap jerked my head sideways and my neck popped. Why do women take these crazy classes where they exercise by fighting? That was a pro shot. Rib pain, the constrictor had returned.

Fingers pulled my hair and my face lifted to hers. “Drop the case or else,” she said. She leaned in close to my ear. I felt her breath and could smell her perfume. “Drop the case, Trevor. I don’t want this to get worse,” she ended in a whisper.

She stepped back and nodded at Justin. I was slammed to the pavement and couldn’t move. I saw them walk away. It wasn’t a bad sight. Justin leaving was a good thing, and even in the condition I was in…well…Cornelia was Cornelia.

“And I was coming to you for help.” I slowly rolled over onto my back and looked up into the face of another woman.

“What can I do for you?” I groaned.

“Not die for starters.”

“Working on it. What else?”

“Need you to help me kill the man that killed my sister.”

How do things get this bad this fast?

 

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