A heart monitor beeps softly in steady repetitious prose, a quiet harmony in the oddly desolate hospital hallway. The darkened hallway is lit with just emergency lights as wind howls outside rattling the windows. A continuous squeak draws closer permeating the air obnoxiously.
Kayla emerges trudging slowly, long IV’s attached to her arms as she lugs the machine behind. She looks horrible, bags under her eyes, bruises on her body, hair disheveled, eyes glazed over as she looks around perplexed.
She purses her chapped lips together, barely whispers, “Hello?”
Nobody answers in the vacant ward as she continues on her quest. She peers into patient rooms where they sleep peacefully, not to be disturbed.
She meekly asks, “Hello?” Still no response.
She finds a staff lounge and meanders through, its vacant.
“Why isn’t anybody here?”
She arrives at the opposite hallway directly in front of Mama’s room. She peers in, she’s gone.
“Looking for me?”
Kayla whips around almost dropping the machine, Mama stands upright, basking in the glow of the humming fluorescent light.
“Mama, you’re okay.” Tears stream down her face.
“I’ve been better, you don’t look so hot yourself. Maybe you had the heart attack and I’m sitting up in that huge mansion.”
“That mansion and Ezekiel is why I’m here. I hate to say it…”
“Don’t make excuses for my son, but don’t make excuses for yourself either. “
“But Mama, you don’t…”
“I don’t want to hear it. What, you think I was born yesterday? I know my son can be a pain, I understand relationships have issues, I understand life is hard, welcome to the real world. So, you reckon teaching my grandbabies that coping out overdoing prescription drugs is the answer to life’s problems?”
“I don’t reckon anything…”
“You make your bed dear, you lay in it. People have been going through these same issues for years. You come to that fork in the road where you either fight to win, hold your head up keeping the faith. Or be a yellow baby and run and hide behind your manufactured pills the man served you nice and cold. Numb yourself to reality.”
“I don’t do anything illegal, I stick with my scripts…”
“And they say the Devil works in mysterious ways, sometimes he’s quite obvious.”
Mama squeezes her hand hard as she tries a faint smile.
Kayla sits up abruptly in her darkened hospital room, stares right into the eyes of her husband Ezekiel standing at the foot of her bed. He slightly leans forward, glaring back at her, the whites of his eyes illuminated in the dim night lighting. She stares back in silence, the only sound is of her heartbeat. Her lips start to quiver, she grips the sheets swallowing hard as the veins on her neck shows. Ezekiel narrows his eyes, stares at her predicament indifferent. Pee develops on her bed sheets as her eyes flutter and go back into her head as she shakes. The fluorescent lights blur as the room fades to black.
Ezekiel’s voice looms in hard and cold repeating her name, “Kayla…Kayla!”
In the early morning Kayla awakes in her bed disoriented, confused. Her mind playing tricks on her as the silhouette of Ezekiel burns on the empty wall. She pulls her arm and groans in pain with the IV tubes wedged deeply. She groans, sits up disheveled, a hot mess, shaking, she writhes and screams until hospital staff come to her aid.
In the nearby waiting room, Utopia grabs the boys hands, “Hey, want to go play some video games in the lounge? Let’s go.”
Matador and Milo take her hand eagerly, pulling on her, “Let’s go! Come on!”
Kylie stays rooted in her seat, gripping her tablet, trembling, dried tears on her face. Utopia sighs, bites her lip, “Kylie baby, you want to join us?”
Kylie sniffles, shakes her head, “I can’t.”
“I know this is hard sweetie, you want to talk…”
“Can I go ahead to school?”
“You sure you want…”
“Yes, I’m positive.”
Utopia nods yes as she makes the call to arrange it. She puts her hand on Kylie’s shoulder who turns burrowing her face in Utopia’s chest hugging her tightly. Utopia tries not to tear up as the driver answers.
“Listen Marty, once the defendant realizes we have an ace in the hole in our presentation they will have no choice but to fold and crumble like cake. They are unraveling like cheap glue. Let’s stay on course that we laid out before circumstances abruptly changed…” Ezekiel rattles on his cell phone in a busy Detroit downtown eatery. Ms. Kane sits across from him picking away at a gourmet salad as she watches intently his hurried speech, his fixation of tapping his stir stick obnoxiously on his double mocha fudge slightly whipped coffee. Her thoughts wandering to better times with her boss and moderate lover, then reality hits.
Ezekiel checks his call waiting annoyed, “Hang on Marty, somebody is blowing up my line. Guess my voicemail wasn’t good enough for them.” He hits the button, “Hello, who is this?” His face goes from irreverent to concerned.
“Excuse me, how did you get this number?”
“Isn’t any matter how I got your number. You knows I’m not going anywhere, bout time for you to fess up and handle your business you’ve neglected for so long. No better time than the present to fulfill your destiny.” The deep female voice booms over his cell irritating him to no in.
“Excuse me? Are you really threatening me? Do you not know who I am and what I’m capable of? I will crush you.” Ms. Kane arches her eyebrow surprised.
“I heard Mo is back.”
“And? Really, you bore me, good day.”
“Wait, its bout time she knows the truth. Bout time everybody knows the truth. I’ve respected your parents legacy so long. While Mr. High and Mighty played the wicked games lawyers play your real dirt has always been right below the surface. Trust and believe I have the proof to shut you down.”
“Really now? Shut me down. And what fantasy proof is this? You make me laugh.”
“And you make me laugh. Everybody knows what goes on in the dark always sees the light. Funny is you know how Detroit winters are always brutal, and coldness has a way of preserving discarded material thought gone forever.”
Ezekiel’s face goes white, his stir stick drops to the floor as Ms. Kane almost chokes on her salad never seeing him this caught off guard.
His voice booms louder, “Don’t you dare it! That evidence would be clearly inadmissible and never fly in court! Witch you hear me!?” He bangs the tiny table much to the chagrin of nearby surprised patrons.
His face softens, “Oh wait, Marty? Oh heavens, my apologies, oh goodness, I…” He rubs the sweat off his brow clearly distraught. “It went through, the judge okay’d the motion? Oh brilliant. Crap, hang on Marty!”
He flips calls again, “Now listen here, I will slap a lawsuit on you so fast…” His motions change again to bewilderment.
“Oh wait, who is this? Pooky?” he frowns. “Do what? What is this concerning? Oh, you’re at the restaurant, oh yes, the black chubby midget.” He pauses. “Right. Listen, I’m quite busy right now, what is it? A health inspector? Not up to code? Interesting.” His face changes to indifference as Ms. Kane looks on amazed.
“Okay, okay, right, I see. And where is my sister, you didn’t tell her this trivia? She’s hunting Indians? Excuse me?” He shakes his head antsy. “Listen, Pokey, do what my mother would have done or shut it down. It’s no matter to me at this instance.” He hangs up.
“Marty? Okay good, listen, that other situation? Might be resolving itself, stay tuned. Yes, I know, is ironic…”
Ms. Kane pushes her food aside and gets up abruptly, exhausted of hearing his mess. He pauses for a moment to look in her direction as she leaves before getting the bill.
A nearby patron’s cell phone ringer buzzes playing Big K.R.I.T.’s “Hydroplaning.” Ezekiel wrinkles his noise, “Excuse me sir, could you turn down your rap crap? Nobody wants to hear that mess.”
The man frowns at him and smirks, “Why, it sounding too much like your theme song bourgeois man? Get out of here!”
Ezekiel sucks his lips for once caught speechless, disarmed he goes about his business.
“Listen, this is the second major violation in six months, I’m sorry the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan won’t tolerate these instances. We’re going to have to shut you down immediately before this causes an outbreak.” A thin balding Health Inspector in a cheap suit is walking backwards out of Zeke’s Kitchen trying to avoid Pooky and Tanya glaring angrily in his face.
Tanya taps at him, “You’re full of it! You know that first ‘so called’ violation turned out to be a mistake by the ‘then’ inspector and was dismissed! Mama keeps pristine care of this kitchen sucka!”
“And she’s not present is she? And that record still stands, section 4528, code…”
Pooky hangs up the phone frustrated with Ezekiel’s response, “Listen dog, that’s here nor there, we’ll get that straightened out in court. Something with this don’t feel right, give us some time to figure this out…”
Two Detroit police officers arrive by the counter as eating patrons take notice. Suga watches while cooking, glaring at the escalating tension, her nostrils flare as he keeps jabbering. She puts down her pot to inspect the health inspectors finding in the walk-in cooler.
Big Moe munching on chili with Zack grunts loudly, Zack asks, “Hey what’s going on?”
The first officer eyes the patrons getting antsy, “Is none of your concern sir. It’s almost closing time anyways.”
Suga shakes the pan confiscated by the health inspector, removes his tagging.
Tanya is in his face, “You know you don’t have no right, you need to get out of…”
He spots Suga behind her, “Ma’am, that’s evidence, please put that down!”
The second officer calls in backup concerned about the escalating chaos as the first tries to scoot by Tanya and Pooky arguing with the inspector, “Ma’am you heard the inspector!” Moco watches concerned from the serving floor as she was waitressing.
Suga turns her large frame around thwarting him as she sniffs the raw chicken.
“Ma’am you’re interfering with an official investigation!” The inspector attempts to move past Pooky who gets in his way.
“Hey, listen to me, I’m saying something ain’t right here, Mama would never have left anything that would hurt her customers…”
“And I said she’s not…”
“We follow her lead sir, you’re not listening.”
“Sucka, you need to step!” Tanya is in his face as outside another police cruiser arrives.
“What is going on? Pooky, Tanya, calm down!” Moco moves towards the counter as the additional officers arrive.
“They trying to shut down Zeke’s!” Tanya says aloud. The patrons chattering turns into an uproar.
Suga bats the officer into shelving as she grunts and waves a thigh and leg up over her head, waving it back and forth.
“Ma’am you sealed the case! Shut this place down immediately!” The inspector yells.
“Wait, wait, she’s trying to tell you something! Damn!” Pooky cringes as the second officer pushes past him and Tanya towards Suga.
Moe is standing as the additional officers move in, “Moe love Zeke’s! Listen, they said mistake!”
The officers pull out their batons, “Sir, this is not your concern! Will ask you kindly to leave now!”
“Oh hell no, you guys aren’t shutting down Zeke’s, no way there’s a problem with they food!” Zack stands up also.
Jaquan washing dishes peeks around the corner to see what’s happening, the second officer spots him, “Hey! Been looking for you!”
Jaquan’s blinks in shock as he drops a plate and sprints towards the back door, the second officer chases after him forgetting his first mission.
Suga pushes her way towards the health inspector gripping the dripping raw chicken. Pooky shakes his head understanding her, “Hey, hey! Suga says this isn’t even our meat! That is the mistake!”
“And? It’s in your establishment! You want Zeke’s to be responsible for a salmonella outbreak? It’s covered in nasty bacteria you’re serving your so-called family!”
“Damn, she’s right, that’s not even our meat! What the hell? You plant this? You setting us up because Mama is’nt here?”
The health inspector purses his lips, scoffs as he shakes his head, “What? Excuse me? And what advantage would I have to…”
Suga grunts and waves the meat by his head as he ducks, the drippings splash at him as he wipes himself furiously. The first officer grabs at her arms to no avail. Upset patrons are keeping the joining officers at bay. More are called.
A patron yells, “They trying to close Zeke’s!”
Another shouts, “I’m calling my cousins, they can’t do this!”
Moco is caught up in the swell as people start showing up out of nowhere, “Did anyone call Silvia or the family?”
More officers arrive, cherries and berries ablaze as the restaurant melee is getting out of hand. “Stand down, stand down! This doesn’t have to get any worse! With so many violations you can’t afford the lawsuits this escalating situation is going to cause. Do the right thing and shut this down right now!” The inspector is in Pooky’s face as his toupee shakes off his head. Pooky shakes his head.
The police back off the crowd, pushing them out of the cafe as they start to chant in unison, “Eat at Zeke’s! Eat at Zeke’s! Eat at Zeke’s! Eat at Zeke’s!
“No sucka, you don’t get it, the neighborhood won’t let that happen. As I said, we don’t make mistakes, this so-called food has been planted here and we’ll prove it! You can trust Zeke’s food I guarantee it!”
“Well your guarantee is crap! I wouldn’t eat this garbage for the world!” The mans toupee flips backwards as the crowd gasps in unison at his comments.
Suga gasps and shakes the hapless officer off her again, she slams down the tainted meat and grabs a label of food she was preparing. She makes a beeline for the inspector who is turning colors arguing with Pooky and Tanya. He happens to see her at the last-minute charging at him, “Oh heavens no!” He tries to scoot past the counter to escape, “Officers! Help!”
The officers look over too late as Suga bounces people out of her way, he’s almost at the door when she grabs his jacket and spins him around to his knees.
“Officers! Halp!” He screams as patrons stand in their way.
“NO GARBAGE!” Suga bellows.
She tips back his head and opens his mouth to pour the food down his throat to his shock and dismay as he swallows helpless. She massages his neck to make sure he gulps it down. Food pours down his chin as he gargles.
“Thats Zeke’s justice!” Moe grunts as officers finally get past them to subdue Suga, she bats them off easily until one Tasers her. She grunts and let’s go of the inspector who drops to his hands and knees coughing and gagging. They have to Tase her again to finally subdue her. Everybody is shooting cell phone video.
Tyrone happens to stumble out of the restroom, “Great Googly man I feel a hundred twenty pounds lighter, I wouldn’t use that restroom for about an hour.” He pauses, notices the inspector on the floor, sauce smeared on his lips as he recovers, the officers holding back the crowd, the place in chaos.
“What’d I miss?”