LITTLE GIRL LOST
Copyright © 20l7 Shawn James
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Published by SJS DIRECT, Bronx, NY, 10456
My, my, my, I sure look good tonight.
The tune of Johnny Gill’s smooth song plays softly from the speakers in the ceiling as I get one last look at myself the full-length mirror on my closet door. If this sexy little piece of lavender lingerie doesn’t get John in the mood for some romance, I don’t know what will.
After I dab a little Chanel No.5 behind my ears, I saunter out of my bedroom filled with anticipation. I can’t wait to see John’s reaction to me in this new nightgown. When I step into his bedroom across the hall and hear the snore of the husky toast colored man slumped over on the mahogany four-post bed my eager expression twists into a frown. There go our plans for a romantic evening.
Well, I can’t get too mad at him. With all the work he does in a day around here at Morris Phillips I’m surprised he doesn’t crash more often.
I give my boyfriend a kiss on the forehead and stroll out of his bedroom onto the balcony. As I jump up onto the parapet I look up at all the stars twinkling in the moonlit sky and smile. Since it’s a nice night I think I’ll take a little flight around Times Square. Maybe when John wakes up he’ll be in the mood to pick up where we left off.
The air gathers under my bat wings while I make the turn around the antenna at the top of 4 Times Square. As I start my descent into the cross roads of the world, I smile looking down at the throngs of tourists rushing out of the theaters and gathering in the pedestrian walkways. Since we have a couple of days off next month, maybe I’ll ask John if he wants to go to a Broadway show-
Hold on. One of these kids just doesn’t belong here. One of these kids just isn’t the same.
Among the children wearing jackets and sneakers coming out the theater showing Frozen, I spot a little black girl wearing a nightgown tucked into a pair of rumpled jeans and a pair of untied sneakers. Someone’s out way past her bedtime. I better keep an eye on her.
While she stares blankly into the screen of her Smartphone, she walks blindly into the crowd of tourists not looking where she’s going. As I land on the rooftop of one of the theaters and rush across the moldings on the edge, I notice a man in a hoodie, baggy jeans, and sneakers looking at her. He smiles and brushes the elbow of his friend and they start following behind her. When the girl turns into the alley behind the theater on 45th Street, they rush up behind her and snatch the phone right out of her hands. Before she can start screaming, they’re bolting up Broadway. Time to scare some crooks straight.
As I rush across the rooftops I change myself from my human form into my demon one. Long black horns shoot out of my forehead, my brown eyes turn into reptile ones, and my fingernails and toenails change into black cloven claws. Before the men get halfway up the block, I jump off the rooftop and land right in front of their path. “I don’t think that belongs to you.” I tell them.
“OH MY GOD!” One of the thugs screams on seeing my demonic visage.
With his fight or flight response kicking in, the terrified thug grabs his friend and starts getting ready to run. “C’mon man, let’s get outta here!” He pleads.
Unfortunately his partner isn’t feeling as repentant. He yanks out of his grip and reaches into his waistband for a nine millimeter pistol. “Man, I ain’t going nowhere!” He insists.
“But she’s a demon!”
“I don’t care if she’s Mother Theresa!” He barks. “This phone is worth over three hundred dollars! I’m not giving up that kind of payday for nobody!”
The thug fires a series of shots that echo in the alley. I see the bullets coming at me and catch them before they can even hit me. In any other situation I’d just let them bounce off me, but the last thing I want to do is ruin my new nightgown. “Ouch.” I chuckle as I present him with his bullets.
The man’s eyes grow wide watching me I drop all the spent rounds on the sidewalk. Before he can fire a second round of gunfire, I rush over to him with a burst of super speed and snatch his gun out of hand. When I hold him up in the air I notice a wet spot forming on the front of his pants. “The phone.” I say crunching his gun up in my hand. “Or I do to you what I just did to your gun.”
As he watches the pieces of his former pistol litter the sidewalk, the thug nervously hands me the child’s phone. After I take it from him, I toss him into his friend and laugh as they tumble onto the sidewalk. While the terrified criminals scramble to their feet and scurry up Broadway, I hurry back down the block to reunite the little girl with her lost iPhone.
I suck my teeth on watching my boys run up the block scared. I didn’t think E’steem would ever grace Times Square with her presence. But social media’s Devilish Diva has found her way into my territory.
Just as I’m about to let my boys know what’s up, my burner phone rings. I know who’s calling me before I even see the number on the screen. “Boss, we got trouble.” One of my boys tells me.
“Yeah, I know. E’steem’s in the square.”
“If she stays here we’re gonna lose a lot of money.”
We’ll lose a lot more if they get into it with her. “I got this. Head back up to the club.”
“But she cost us three hundred large-”
If my best pickpockets and phone swipers are locked up they can’t make me no money. I’d rather lose a few dollars than lose the whole operation. “Don’t worry about the money. I got this. Head back to the club.”
After I get off the phone with my boys, I cut to another one of the NYPD security cameras on the block I hacked into and watch her rush down the street in the direction of the kid my boys stole the iPhone from. Guess she’s doing another one of her good deeds. Well, that may be the game she runs on the East Side, but I ain’t havin none of that superhero mess here on Brimstone Jack’s territory.
The screen of the little girls’ Smartphone lights my way as I make my wings magically shrink into my back and hurry down the dark alley searching for its young owner. When I hear her whimpering and see her wandering back towards Broadway I smile. I think she’ll be happy to have her most prized possession back.
A flash of light takes me from where I’m standing in between Broadway and Sixth to the spot on the sidewalk in front of the little girl. Her eyes grow wide when she sees me standing in front of her. “Ahem…I believe this is yours.” I say presenting her with her Smartphone.
The startled girl shakes on looking into my yellow reptilian eyes. “AIIIEEGGGGHHHH!!!! A MONSTER!” She screams.
I guess she’s too scared to see the horns. The little girl starts running back up the block. I kick myself as I take off after her. I should have changed back to my human form before I went to approach her. If my demonic visage strikes terror in adults it’d definitely traumatize a small child. She’s halfway up the block before I manage to catch up with her. Tears are in her eyes when I grab her arm. She’s about to scream when I squat down and meet her eyes again with a smile. “Hey-Hey-Hey- I’m not gonna hurt you.” I plead. “I just wanted to give you your phone back.”
The girl looks me up and down. “But you’re a monster!”
I’d like to think I’d be kinder to her than most of the people around here. “You don’t have to worry about me, I’m a friendly monster.” I say handing her the phone.
“Like the monsters on Monster High?” She says taking her phone back from me.
“Yeah. Except I’m all grown up.”
The girl’s eyes light up as she looks me over again. “I know you, you’re the Devil Lady from YouTube!”
It seems someone has been very naughty. Not only has she been going out without her parents’ permission, she’s been watching content that’s not appropriate for viewers her age. “It seems my reputation precedes me. Now what are you doing out at this hour?
“What happened to your red dress?”
It’s impolite to answer a question with a question. But if me explaining my change of clothes will help me find out why she’s walking the streets of Times Square in her pajamas without her parents, I’ll tell her the abridged version of the sordid details regarding my romantic evening. “Er…I was getting ready for bed. Now where were you going?”
I give her a quizzed look. “Home?”
The girl quickly taps the screen and turns on the Google Maps app. “Yeah, I wanted to see Frozen. So I bought the tickets on my phone.”
“Yeah. And I just followed the directions on Google Maps to get to the theater.”
Ah, the wonders of technology. I don’t know what’s more dangerous, the fact that she knows so much about using a Smartphone or the fact that she’s completely oblivious to all the danger around her. Thank God I was in the right place at the right time. “…And you were relying on those maps to get you back home?”
“Google Maps are never wrong.”
Google Maps may show her a direction to go in, but they can’t show her the dangers around her. “What’s your name?”
“Well, Melissa do you know what you’re doing is dangerous-”
“I just wanted to see the movie…”
“Well, why didn’t you wait for your parents to take you?”
The little girl’s face twists into a frown. “Mommy promised to take me to see Frozen last month. Then Daddy promised to take me to see Frozen this month. And they both promised to take me today afterschool. But they didn’t do it.”
“So you decided to go by yourself.”
“Yeah, everybody at school has seen the movie but me.” Melissa says. “And everybody knows about everything in the movie but me.”
She kind of reminds me at that age. I wanted to be like the other kids, but because I was deemed to be a “Child of the Gods” I couldn’t go out and play with them. So I missed out on everything important to the kids my age back then. “You’re not really dressed for a trip for the movies.”
“You’re out in your nightgown.” She jabs.
Touché. “I was out for flight before bed.” I say smiling at her. “Do your parents know where you are?”
Melissa shakes her head no.
“Well, they’re gonna have to know-”
Before I can scroll through her phone to find their number, Melissa takes my hand. “No you can’t call them!”
With her shaken up by my appearance, the last thing I want to do is make her more anxious than she already is. “All right. I won’t call them yet. But I’m going to have to talk to them about this little trip you took when we get you home.”
“You’re gonna take me home?”
I can’t leave her by herself. Chances are she’d run into more predators on her way home. “Yes, I am taking you home. Now where do you live?”
“The Carlton Towers on 73rd Street and Broadway.”
Oh my God, she rode the train by herself. “Did you take the train here?”
Melissa shakes her head. “It wasn’t that many stops.”
It’s stopping my heart to hear about all the risks she took to see this movie. “You must really like Frozen.”
“It’s the best movie ever made.”
Maybe I’d feel that way about it too if I were her age. While I’d love to get back home to hear John’s snore, I think he’d understand me taking the time to take Melissa home. I take her hand and lead her down the alley behind the theater. As we approach the corner, I’m taken aback by all the bright lights illuminating Times Square. They’re almost like the stars. I’d love to take in all this spectacle, but I can’t get distracted. I made a promise to get Melissa home and I’ve got to see it through.
I feel eyes on me as we turn the corner and start heading down the block towards the Times Square train station. With all the groups of topless women wearing body paint and performers dressed in costumes as superheroes and children’s storybook characters I didn’t think a barefoot she-demon in a purple nightgown would get anyone’s attention. But it seems I’m drawing my own crowd. I do my best to ignore the throngs of tourists and theatergoers circling around me as I scroll through Melissa’s phone to find her contact information. In the moment I find it in the Address Book app, the red lights of Smartphone cameras gets in my eyes. “HEY! IT’S THE DEVIL LADY FROM YOUTUBE!” A boy calls out.
Great, just what I need, my adoring public. On the announcement, more people start crowding around me trying to get a picture. I can’t worry about them, just making sure that Melissa gets home safely. Before I can disappear into a flash of light, a heavyset middle-aged woman rushes up to me. “Ooooh! I watch your videos all the time! Can I get a picture?”
I flash the Midwestern woman dressed in khakis, a sweatshirt, and sneakers s a smile. “Er…I’m kind of in the middle of doing a good deed here-”
“Oh, it’ll only take a minute.” The giddy woman says wrapping her arm around my shoulder. “I can’t wait to tell all the folks in Bismarck I met the Devil Lady!”
Well, I can’t upset all the folks in Bismarck North Dakota. I paste on a smile as the woman’s husband rushes in front of us with his digital camera in hand. After the flash explodes in our eyes, her husband telegraphs an approving smile to her that tells me he’s got the picture that’s going to be one of the highlights of their vacation.
On seeing me take the photo with the tourist, one of the topless women across the pedestrian walkway scowls at me. Hey, she’s taking pictures!” She barks.
While the lady from Bismarck rushes over to her husband to see the picture they took, the topless women storm over to me ready to give me the business. “Who do you think you are coming onto our territory taking pictures!” Another demands.
I see the red lights of more Smartphone cameras coming on. “I wasn’t taking pictures-”
“Yeah, you were. Trying to cash in on our action!”
“She’s walking around with her boobies out!” Melissa says peering up at the woman’s breasts covered in body paint.
I’d love to explain how that’s perfectly legal here. But I’ll let her parents explain the technicalities of the laws of New York City to her. “I’m not trying to cash in on anything-”
“Yeah, you are.” Another topless performer growls. “Coming out here pretending to be the YouTube Devil Lady! “Your dress isn’t even the right color!”
Er…I am the YouTube Devil Lady. “Er…it’s not a dress-”
The first woman to confront me rolls her eyes. “That’s because your outfit is bootleg!” She says rolling her neck. “With your fake horns. And your dollar store wig-”
Wig? I spent a half-hour getting my hair this fabulous. “Wig? I say grabbing a section of my silken raven locks. “This is real-”
“We’ll see how real it is when I snatch that weave out your head-”
The tourists become filled with anticipation about the upcoming catfight between the topless women and myself. I’m doing my best to keep an eye on Melissa when I’m given a shove from behind that pushes me into one of the topless women who shoves me back. As I fall onto the asphalt in the pedestrian walkway on my backside the crowd erupts in a roar.
The whoops and hollers of the crowd quickly reach a crescendo when a light explodes in our eyes. Before I can get to my feet, I’m met with the cold look of a toasted almond colored demon dressed in tailored silver sharkskin suit, blue silk shirt, burgundy alligator shoes, and a burgundy pimp hat. He scowls as he points his gold tipped mahogany cane at me. “You should have stayed yo ass on the East Side E’steem.” He snarls.
I probably would be there right now if my boyfriend had just a little more stamina. “Language! We have children here!”
“They ain’t got no business here! This is Brimstone Jack’s territory!”
I’m guessing he’s a relic from the old days of Times Square when it wasn’t as family friendly. “So you’re the one behind the cell phone snatchers-”
“You’re not gonna mess up my business with your little do gooder act.”
The handle of Brimstone Jack’s cane starts to ignite with blue flames. Before he can hit me with a blast of hellfire from it I roll out of the way and spring to my feet as the asphalt it burns melts back into tar. He’s looking for a fight. Unfortunately, I’m not dressed for one.
The crowds in the Square starts raising up their Smartphones to record the upcoming carnage. I’d love to take down Brimstone Jack, but with the square so packed with people I have to look out for everyone’s safety. Brimstone Jack fires another blast of hellfire from his cane; I conjure a ball of mystic energy to absorb the flames before they can hit me. As I send it into the night sky and it explodes like fireworks, Brimstone Jack peers down at his side and scowls. “Leave E’steem alone! Melissa says punching him in the leg.
Brimstone Jack looks at Melissa and pulls her off him. “Get off me you little rugrat!”
“Don’t hurt her!” I plead.
Brimstone Jack holds Melissa in the air by her pants and smiles at me. “I bet she’s worth far more than a cell phone to you.”
I’ll buy her another one out of my own pocket. “You want the phone, I’ll give it to you. Just don’t hurt her.”
Brimstone Jack looks at Melissa and smiles. “Nah, you keep it. This little girl is gonna be far more valuable to me than any smartphone.”
Brimstone Jack tucks Melissa under his arm and points his pimp cane at the crowd. When he fires a blast of hellfire at them, I jump in front of the flames. As the hellfire envelops me, my silk nightgown disintegrates into vapors. Once the smoke clears, Brimstone Jack is gone and I’m standing in the middle of Times Square in my birthday suit.
A flash of light takes me from the streets of Times Square back to the office of the 666 Club. Now that I’ve left E’steem ass out in the middle of the cross roads of the world, she should get the message that it’s not smart to mess with Brimstone Jack. And with me holding this kid as an insurance policy, she’ll think twice before coming into my territory again.
The little girl I grabbed squirms and struggles and pounds into my side trying to make me let her go. “Let me go!” She demands.
I drop the little rugrat in the leather chair in front of my desk. I might have lost a little bit of money on her phone, but that’ll be nothing compared to the payday I get out of her parents. “Have a seat Melissa. And don’t move.”
“How do you know my name?”
“I know everything around here.”
“Bet you don’t know E’steem’s gonna stop you!”
“Yeah right. She can try to stop me. If she can find herself some clothes. In the meantime me and your parents need to talk. What’s your phone number?”
I cover myself with my hands as the bright lights of Times Square cascade down on me and the red lights of thousands of smartphone cameras record my latest indecent exposure. I need to get out of here before everyone gets enough naked pictures of me to make another viral event on social media.
A flash of light takes me from the streets of Times Square to the balcony of the penthouse on the top floor of the Morris Phillips Tower. I slink into the open sliding glass door of John’s room and make a plan to streak back into my bedroom for some clothes. I’m stopped dead in my tracks when I see my pajama clad boyfriend standing in front of me with the TV remote in his hands. “Getting started without me?” John inquires.
Very funny. “We’d be in the middle of something if you hadn’t had your little power nap.” I retort changing back to my human form.
“Well, I can’t help it if I’m only human.”
“That’s what I love about you.” I say giving him a kiss.
John smiles as he gets an eyeful of E’steem Au Natural before I grab his favorite forest green button-down shirt off the back of his chair and slip it on. As his eyes glance down at my backside he gives me a curious look. “New phone case?”
Even if I were a normal woman I’d think I’d be way too old for a Frozen phone case with rhinestones on it. “It belongs to a lost little girl I ran into tonight.” I say as I hand him the phone.
“You guys got that close in a couple of minutes?” John says scrolling through the phone. “Kids’ll give up their teddy bears before they let go of their Smartphones.”
I think we were bonding in that short time. “She kind of got separated from her phone trying to help me.”
“Let me guess. You ran into a demon.”
“A relic from the bad old days of Times Square named Brimstone Jack.”
“I’m taking it he’s the one responsible for your latest wardrobe malfunction.” John says looking me up and down.
I had a nice little three-month streak going of keeping my clothes on until tonight. “That’s how he got away with Melissa.” I continue. “I was going to get a change of clothes and go back after her-”
My train of thought is broken when Melissa’s phone rings. “I think it’s for you.” John says handing me Melissa’s phone back.
I cock it to my ear hoping it’s Melissa and she’s gotten away from Brimstone Jack. “Hello?”
“Melissa, where are you?” A worried female voice barks.
“Er…I’m not Melissa-”
The woman gasps into the phone. “Who is this?”
“I’m E’steem Katious, assistant to the CEO of Morris Phillips. I found your daughter in Times Square. And I need to talk to you about what happened to her-”
“What happened to Melissa?”
“I’ll be glad to explain everything when I come to your penthouse.”
“Did you call the police?”
“I think it’d be better if I explained things to you before you went to them.”
“Well, when can you be here?”
“In a couple of minutes.”
I push end, and hand John the phone. Then I dart out of John’s bedroom, across the hall into my bedroom. After I grab a black lace bra and some matching bikini panties out of my lingerie drawer, I rush into my walk-in closet. As I grab my red wrap dress off the hanger, John steps into the walk-in closet scrolling down the information in Melissa’s Phone. “Don’t you think you should call the police?” He asks.
Even though he seems like a low-level demon, it’d be safer if I took him on alone. “Brimstone Jack is way out of the cops’ league.” I say stepping into my panties. He’d leave them in a pile of ashes.”
“He that dangerous?”
“He’s no D’lilah, but this is kind of personal for me.” I continue peeling out of his shirt and tossing it to him.
“How personal?” John asks catching it.
“I made a promise to Melissa to bring her home. I want to keep that promise.”
John gives me a look. “She kind of reminds you of you when you were younger.”
My boyfriend knows me all too well. “From what she tells me, her parents haven’t really been there for her.” I say putting on my bra. “I just want her to know that there’s someone out there who cares about her.”
“You don’t want her to feel as alone as you were in Ancient Egypt.”
I bite my lip thinking about those lonely days wandering the desert when I was fourteen years old. “That kind of trauma can stay with a child for the rest of their lives.”
“If we can do anything to stop her from headed down that road all this’ll be worth it.”
I give my boyfriend a look. “We?”
“Just trying to give my helpmeet a little help.” John says. “Besides, I had my fair share of hard times growing up. If I could do anything to help-”
That’s why I love him so much. I slip my dress on and grab my high-heeled tall black boots off the boot shelf and step into them. Once I finish getting dressed, I steal a kiss from his lips. “Don’t change.” I say catching the startled reaction on his face.
John flashes me a smile. “I can’t make you any promises.”
We rush out of the walk-in closet back into my bedroom and out to the balcony. I steal another kiss from his lips before I prepare to teleport. “Wait up for me.” I request. “I want to pick up where we left off.”
“Take the scenic route.”
“Why would you want me to take a flight?”
“I want to do a little research on Brimstone Jack and Melissa before you get there.”
On the request for her phone number, Melissa folds her arms and pouts at me. “My mommy told me not to talk to strangers.” She snarls.
I don’t believe this, as little as she is she gonna get an attitude with me. “You gonna wind up on the side of a milk carton if you don’t start talking-”
“You still won’t have my number-”
And I ain’t gonna have the payday. I definitely need a woman to deal with this kid. A flash of light takes me from my office into the dressing room of my dancers. When they see me and start covering up I roll my eyes. “Man, everybody done seen ya’ll shake yo naked behinds on stage, what ya’ll covering up for!” I bark.
On seeing me in the dressing room One of my seasoned dancers, Candy slips on a pink satin robe and approaches me. “What you need Jack?”
“I got a situation in the office.”
“Something that needs a woman’s touch?”
“You could say that.”
A flash of light takes up back into my office where Melissa sits pouting. On seeing the child sitting in the chair Candy gives me a curious look. “I didn’t think you’d bring em’ in the club this young Jack.” Candy says. “You looking to catch a Federal rap?”
I pull Candy over to the corner and let her know what’s up. “I’m trying to cash in on a payday.” I whisper. “But little miss attitude here ain’t giving up the digits to her phone number.”
“…And what kind of payday do you plan on getting from this kid?”
“This ain’t no ordinary kid.” I continue. “This is Melissa Banks, daughter of Hall of Fame NFL linebacker Robbie Banks. The same Robbie Banks who just signed a multimillion dollar contract to be on ABC’s Live With Robbie and Kelly.”
“And you out to get some of that ransom money?”
“I’d like to think of it as a reward.”
Candy smiles when she hears about the money. “Can you break a sista off a piece of that reward?”
“Of course. I always take care of my ladies.”
“Then I’m definitely down with helping you out.”
Candy pastes on her friendliest smile as she leans down to meet Melissa’s eyes. “Melissa, why you being so mean to Jack?”
“My mommy told me not to talk to strangers.”
“All he wants to do is help you.”
“Girl, we ain’t strangers. We’re your friends.”
“E’steem is my friend.”
“E’steem is a demon-”
“E’steem was going to help me get home. She got my phone back-”
I decide to play along. “I only attacked her because she was going to hurt you like the people on YouTube-”
“E’steem only hurts bad monsters-”
“Look sweetie, we’re not monsters.” Candy pleads. “We’re people just like you. So you can trust us. We’re gonna get you back home to your parents. But in order for us to do that we need your phone number.”
Looks like all I needed was some Candy to get my way with a kid. Melissa looks up at her and starts talking. “My number is…”
I’m flying above Central Park when the Smartphone in my boot sleeve vibrates. That must be John. I tap my Bluetooth earpiece to take his call. “What’d you find out John?” I ask.
A lot. “Brimstone Jack runs has been running around Times Square since the bad old days of the 1970s. Back then he had a stable of demon prostitutes and peddled heroin out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal-”
“These days he’s stealing cell phones.”
“Along with gold chains and wallets. After he got arrested for drug dealing back in the 1982, he did a stint in prison, then got out and returned to Times Square around 1999-”
“Only to find everything changed.”
“Not all of it. These days he runs his operations out of the 666 Club over on Tenth Avenue.”
Not a place Melissa needs to be in. “One of those gentleman’s clubs?”
“You’re being too tactful.” John replies. “No respectable gentleman would engage in what goes on in the VIP rooms of those strip clubs.”
“Along with a lot of other dirty business.”
“He probably makes a lot of deals for his stolen goods in between the lap dances-”
And he’s probably looking to make a deal for Melissa. “What’d you find out about her?”
“From her phone, I found out she’s Melissa Banks. And after I did a Google search I found out she’s the seven-year-old daughter of Robbie Banks.”
“The football player who hosts Robbie and Kelly?”
“Yeah. He just signed a multimillion dollar deal with ABC last month.”
No wonder she could afford to live on 72nd Street. The Google Maps app on Melissa’s Smartphone tells me I’m approaching her building. “I’m almost at the Carlton Towers. I’ll call you back in a minute John.”
I push my earpiece to end the call and start my descent. As I swoop down into the sky I see a light on in the penthouse where Melissa is supposed to live. When I look into the picture window of the living room, Robbie Banks is sitting on the sofa with his hands buried in his head and his wife Kimberly sits across from him with her head down. I wish there was a way I could comfort them.
I land on the balcony and chant the spell that makes my wings shrink back into my body and mends my dress. Then I have a flash of light take me from the balcony into the living room. Melissa’s parents’ become terrified when they seeing me standing in front of them. “Oh my God-” Melissa’s mother gasps.
“How’d you get in here!” Robbie barks jumping off the sofa.
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” I say. “I’m E’steem, we talked over the phone-”
“You’re the woman who found Melissa?” Kimberly says.
“Yeah.” I say handing her Melissa’s phone. “I ran into her in Times Square this evening-”
“Times Square?” Robbie asks. “Why was she there?”
“She went to see Frozen.”
“Frozen? She doesn’t have any money-”
I don’t think they’re as tech savvy as their daughter. “You can do a lot of things with a Smartphone Mr. Banks.” I say taking the phone from his wife and bringing up the Apple Pay app. “Even buy yourself movie tickets and the popcorn.”
Melissa’s parents wince as they look at the screen. “I had no idea she had access to our bank accounts-”
“You’d be surprised what a kid could get into when they’re left unsupervised.”
“So how’d you get past the doorman?”
“The old fashioned way. I teleported.”
A flash of light takes me from one side of the living room to the next. I catch the gasped looks on their faces as I walk back over to them “You’re not exactly human are you.” Robbie says.
“What are you? Kimberly asks.
I hate to show them this side of myself, but it’s the only way they’ll understand the danger Melissa is in. I bite my lip as change myself into my demon form. As I the long black horns shoot out of my forehead and my brown eyes change into reptile ones and fingernails turn into black cloven claws I catch the terrified looks on their faces. “Oh my God you’re a demon!” Kimberly cries.
“I am. But I don’t hurt people-”
“No you don’t.” Robbie says.”
“Robbie, The Bible says demons are evil-”
“She’s not. I’ve seen her on YouTube. She helps a lot of people-”
“And I want to help you. The man who kidnapped your daughter is a demon like me. ”
“Is that why don’t you want us to go to the police?” Robbie asks.
“Yeah. Chances are he could hurt them or he could hurt her.”
“Melissa would probably be sleeping in her bed right now if we just took her to the movies tonight-”
More like she’d probably be texting back and forth with her friends under the covers about the movie. “Why couldn’t you take her?”
“Kim had a client call her at the last minute and I had to attend an abrupt meeting with the producers of the show.”
Sounds like their lives are as crazy as John and mine. If I didn’t get him to take a break once and a while he’d miss out on the best things about life. Robbie and Kim need to understand why it’s important take a day off to play in the park with Melissa. “John and I have days like that. But we understand that we have to make time for what’s really important.”
“It’s just a movie.” Kim says. “We were just going to make it up to her-”
“It’s not just a movie.” I plead changing back to my human form. “It’s the fact that you took time to spend with Melissa that means something to her.”
“I thought getting her the new iPhone would show her how much we cared about her.” Robbie says. “The way she talked about it I thought it meant something to her-”
“Melissa feels left out of your lives. And she’s feeling left out at school.”
“Left out? She has friends-”
“All the kids have seen Frozen but her.”
“She must really be close to you to tell you all this-”
I’m probably the only adult she felt she could trust. “I’m just someone she sees in YouTube videos. But I’m more a person to her than you are.”
“That’s gotta change.” Robbie insists.
Melissa’s phone rings. Before Kim can pick it up I gesture to her and take the phone and cock it to my ear. “Hello? I say imitating Robbie’s voice.”
“Hey Robbie, what’s up?” Brimstone Jack asks.
“What’s up? I don’t know you like that. Who is this?”
“Yo, this is your boy Brimstone Jack. I just want you to know I found your lost little girl. And if you want her back you can come pick her up at the 666 Club. Providing you can pay my one million dollar cover charge.”
“I’d like to think my good deed deserves some kind of reward.”
I can think of the reward I’d love to give him. “I can have someone bring you the money tonight.”
“Alright, cool. Just drop it by the club on 45th and Tenth.”
“I’ll be there in an hour.”
I smile as I hang up the phone. Now that’s how you get paid. Easier than taking candy from a baby. Maybe I should have asked Robbie to autograph a football for me too.
I look over at Melissa who folds her arms and pouts about me getting her dad to cave in. Once I get my paper I’ll be happy to return his kid to him. This little brat is getting on my nerves.
I push end and catch the worried looks on Robbie and Kim’s faces. “He wants us to pay a ransom?” Robbie asks.
“Yeah. One million dollars.”
“That ain’t no problem.” Robbie says. “I got that much in my safe-”
“You don’t have to take any money out.” I say. “I’m going to get your daughter back for you.”
“You’re going to pay the ransom?”
“If I have to.”
There’s a confused look on Kimberly’s face. “Why are you doing this? You trying to get your angel wings or something?”
Just doing unto others as I would have wanted done unto me. “I made a promise to get Melissa I’d get her home. And I’m going to do everything in my power to bring her back to you.”
“You must really care about Melissa.”
I’ve walked a mile in her sneakers four thousand years ago in Ancient Egypt. “I just want her to know that one person cares enough about her to keep a promise they make to her.”
“I’m just sayin, you’re doing a lot to keep a promise.”
I just know how much value someone’s word has. “The things we adults say to children can shape who they become in the future.” I say. “And I’d like to think me keeping my promise to her could restore her faith in people.”
“You don’t want her to become like you.” Kim says.
“I’d like to think Melissa has the potential to be a better person than I ever was.” And I’m gonna bring her back to you so she can be that person.”
I rush out of the Banks’ living room onto their balcony. As I climb out onto the parapet, I feel Robbie and Kimberly’s eyes on me. I’m going to do everything in my power to bring their daughter back to them.
After I jump off the parapet I make my bat wings sprout from my back and begin my flight downtown. I tap the button on my Bluetooth earpiece and hear the tone of John’s number being dialed. I’ll let him know what’s going on before I head over there. “What happened with the Banks?” John asks as he picks up the phone.
“You were right. Jack was planning on asking for a ransom for Melissa.” I tell him.
“You going to pay it?”
“I’m going to pay him a visit.”
“Don’t hurt him too bad.”
“Don’t worry, I’m going to leave enough of him to stand trial for kidnapping Melissa.”
I push end and fly through the maze of skyscrapers towards Times Square. As I make the turn around 4 Times Square on my way cross-town, I notice the topography changing. The bright lights of the city become dimmer as I pass Eighth Avenue. I start seeing the tourist attractions change into sleazy dives and adult video stores I descend down towards Ninth Avenue. By the time I land on the sidewalk of Tenth Avenue the mood of the neighborhood changes from the bright and festive to dark and somber.
As I chant the spell that makes my wings shrink into my back and mends my dress, I quickly spot the neon sign hanging above the 666 Club in the middle of the block between Tenth and Eleventh Avenue. As I grab the handle of the grimy metal door and step into the lobby I’m cut a cold look by one of the burly Black men in cheap suits standing at the front. “You here for an audition sexy?” He asks.
Like I’d work here. “I’m here to pay Brimstone Jack’s cover charge.” I tell him.
“That’s what he told me over the phone.”
The bald headed burly Black man at the door smiles at me. “Well, to get through the front door is $25. And a there’s a two-drink minimum when you get inside.”
“…But seeing how you ain’t got no purse maybe we could work something out in the VIP Room.” His friend says as he leers at me.
I flash him a smile. “Maybe we can.”
The first man leans in for a kiss. He’s surprised when I grab him by the front of his shirt. His muscular co-workers’ eyes grow wide when I lift his body in the air above my head. After I hurl him through the red leather double doors his body crashes into the table of group of Japanese tourists enjoying a lap dance from one of Brimstone Jack’s demon dancers. Before he passes out I catch his eyes and smile at him. “Looks like we worked something out.” I jab.
I flash the tourists a smile as I step over the unconscious bouncer and stroll onto the floor of the club. Hip-hop music thunders from the speakers in the ceiling as I scan the floor for Melissa. One of the strippers gyrating around the pole on stage gives me a nervous look as I hear the second bouncer’s footsteps rushing behind me. The baseball bat he swings at my head at full strength shatters into splinters when it connects with my skull. I smile at him as I grab him by the front of his shirt. “You said it was a two drink minimum?” I ask flashing him a smile.
I conjure up a twenty-dollar bill and stuff it in his jacket pocket. “Order whatever you want on me when you wake up.”
A roar of gasps fills the room as I toss the burly man across the room. The bartender ducks as the man’s body crashes into the glasses and bottles of whiskey behind the bar. After his unconscious body slumps behind it, the bartender gives me an anxious look when I approach the counter. “Wh-What can I get you ma’am?” He asks nervously.
“Information. Where can I find Brimstone Jack?”
“H-He’s in the back. You want me to get him for you?”
“No, I’ll find him myself.”
I suck my teeth watching the commotion on the floor of the club from the monitor on my desk. I thought Robbie would come to bring me my money. Instead he sent E’steem. I need to buy some time.
I start to get nervous when I see the doorknob jostling. I grab my pimp cane and make hellfire erupt from its handle. I let out a sight of relief when I see Candy rushing into my office with a worried look. “E’steem is here!” She tells me.
“I know. And she’s putting on a show.”
Melissa’s eyes light up on hearing the news that her hero is here. “She’s gonna get you!”
“She ain’t got me yet.”
“What we gonna do Jack?”
She’s gonna buy me some time. “You wanted yo cut, go out there and earn it!”
I feel eyes on me as I leave the bar and head up to the stage. Usually in these establishments there’s dressing rooms and an office in the back. That’s probably where Jack is holding Melissa.
The music changes from a hip-hop to a techno beat when one of the strippers storms out from behind the velvet curtain onto the stage. The mocha skinned woman wearing a black lace front wig, black thigh high boots, a silver sequined bra and matching panties cuts a cold look at me as her brown eyes meet mine. “No customers beyond this point.” She snarls.
I have too much class to ever do business here. “I’m not leaving without Melissa.”
“Then you’ll be leaving in a body bag.”
The woman’s face changes into a demonic visage as she clenches her fists. Her brown eyes change into reptile ones as short black horns shoot out of her head and her fingernails turn into black cloven claws. She snaps her fingers and at least a half dozen she-demons dressed in skimpy costumes file out from behind the curtain. “Get her!” she barks.
Time to show them what I’m working with. The lead dancer swings at me and misses, I judo flip her off the stage and she crashes into the lap of a fat man. I catch the red lights of Smartphone cameras coming on as I throw a right cross in the face of a second woman that knocks her over into a table of smiling businessmen who whoop and holler as they toss dollar bills on stage. They want more of a show. I need to find Melissa and get out of here.
I’m about to rush through the curtain when I’m kicked in the back by one of the dancers. I stumble about and look behind me to see her jumping back on the stripper pole to attack me again. As she twirls around I grab her by the ankles and yank her off the pole. Her eyes grow wide as I smile at her and start twirling her around at a higher rate of speed. I use her body to bat three more dancers off the stage, and then I let go of the demon dancer I’m twirling around and send her slender body flying across the room. She lets out a scream before she crashes into the DJ booth.
Seeing how intense things are getting between the strippers and me, men start rushing out of the club. As the last four dancers start charging at me, I look over at the stripper pole and get an idea. I’m nowhere as nimble as Isis is but I think I can beat these dancers at their own game. The ladies rush behind me as I jump onto the stripper pole. As I build my momentum, I use my super strength to twirl around it at a high rate of speed. As the women try to grab me, the impact from my superstrong tornado kicks send bodies crashing into booths across the room.
While I’m jumping off the pole, I notice the lead dancer scrambling up the stairs and through the curtain. She’s probably going to tell Brimstone Jack about me making light work of his dancers. I’ll tell him myself.
I rush through the curtain behind her. When she hears my footsteps, she turns around and makes yellow hellfire erupt from her fists. “Damn, you just don’t quit.” She spits.
She should have seen me in my herald days. “When I make a promise I keep a promise.” I say.
“You not gonna stop me from getting paid.” She says swinging for my head.
So that’s what he promised her. I duck the flaming punch and throw a right cross that connects with her cheek. “Well, let me give you a tip.” I say. “Don’t try to fight demons who are out of your league.”
I throw a flurry of super strong punches at the woman’s face that knock the wig off her head and send her staggering down the hall. When I hit her with a right cross at full strength she goes crashing through the door of Brimstone Jack’s office. On seeing his dancer’s body laid out on the carpet, a nervous Brimstone Jack tries to play it cool. “Man, I thought Candy would have earned her money.” He says.
“Don’t worry,” I say stepping over the fallen stripper. “I gave her a tip.”
Melissa smiles and jumps out of her chair. “E’steem! I knew you were gonna come for me!” She says rushing up to hug me.
Seeing her smile makes all this worth it. “I said I was gonna get you home.” I say smiling at her.
“You’re gonna keep your promise?”
“Yeah. Just wait out in the hall for me. I just have to take care of some unfinished business with Mr. Jack here.”
Melissa steps over the fallen body of Candy and darts out into the hall. I cut a cold look at Brimstone Jack as I crack my knuckles. “You said something about a cover charge?”
Brimstone Jack cuts a cold look at me as he jumps out of his seat. “You got my money?”
“No, but I’m gonna make you pay for what you did to my new nightgown.”
“Guess I’m gonna owe you for a new dress too.” Brimstone Jack says pointing his pimp cane at me.
Oh no, I’m not having another wardrobe disintegration. When I see the tip of it starting to ignite with blue flames I clap my hands together and make a thunderclap that shakes the office and makes the wall behind him explode. As he takes the brunt of the impact Brimstone Jack tumbles about into the alley and crashes into a dumpster across the street.
I step through the rubble and storm towards Brimstone Jack’s fallen body. Just as I’m about to approach him, he turns and hurls his cane at me. I’m surprised when his wooden cane changes into a giant snake and starts to slither around me. As it tightens its grip and I fall to the ground gasping for air, Brimstone Jack smiles proudly. “Thought you were gonna get one over on ol’ Jack didn’t you.” He gloats as he gets to his feet.
The snake’s head snaps at me as it constricts tighter around me. “I guess you’re full of surprises.”
“That’ll hold you long enough for me to get out of here.” Brimstone Jack says as he starts walking up Tenth Avenue.
That’s what he thinks. I was charming big snakes like this when I was eight years old. And this little magick trick was one of the first ones Aunt Sekhmet ever taught me. I find the pressure points on the snake’s spine and once I press them, the serpent stops constricting around me. As I pull it off me I chant the spell to turn it back into his cane. “SERPENTUS STAFFUS!”
I spring to my feet and put on some super speed to catch up with Brimstone Jack. Before he can disappear into a flash of light, the door of his club swings open and hits him in the face. When he looks down and sees Melissa coming out from behind it, I chant the spell and hurl his cane at him. “STAFFUS SERPENTUS!”
Brimstone Jack’s eyes grow wide when he turns around and sees his big snake coming at him. As he falls to the sidewalk with his serpent constricting around him I greet him with a smile. “That’ll hold you long enough for the police to take you to jail.” I tell him.
“Man, I can’t believe I got beat by a witch!” Jack snarls.
“Sorceress. There’s a big difference.”
“I told you E’steem was gonna beat you!”
I give Melissa a disapproving look as I meet her eyes. “Er…Didn’t I tell you to stay in the hall?” I admonish. “You could have gotten yourself hurt.”
The precocious Melissa looks up at me before letting her eyes fall back to the sidewalk. “I got scared when I saw the Candy lady moving.”
I’m more scared about all the things she saw on the way out here. But I’m glad she was in the right place at the right time. “Alright.” I say taking my Smartphone out of my boot sleeve. “Let me call the police to pick up Jack and his dancers and then I’ll get you home.”
Police officers are leading Brimstone Jack and his demon strippers into the back of a police wagon as a police detective approaches us. I greet the red haired officer in charge of rounding up the criminals with a smile as she approaches me. “I figured I’d run into you sooner rather than later.” She tells me.
I have a feeling someone is familiar with my work. “So you’ve seen my YouTube escapades?”
“I have.” She says extending her hand. “Detective Pauline O’Brien.”
“E’steem Katious.” I reply shaking it. “Guess you’re gonna have a hard time explaining this one to the Lieutenant.”
The detective smiles at me. “I’ve been dealing with these kinds of cases for a while now. I just try to leave all the crazier stuff regarding all the gods and monsters out of my reports.”
I cock an eyebrow on her awareness of our presence. “So you know about us?”
“I ran into Isis a while back.”
I give her a curious look. “So you’ve worked with my sister-”
The detective smiles back at me. “I helped her out on a case a month ago.”
“You have a way of holding Jack?”
“We’ve got a cell block designed to hold these demon types at Central Booking and Rikers.”
“So you’re aware of us?”
“For some time now. Horus consulted us on tactical matters regarding demons years ago. And Hephaestus provided us with handcuffs to keep them contained.”
Seems like they’ve got international support from the deity community. “What about the more powerful demons?”
“We call you gods in. Off the record of course. You want me to give Melissa here a ride home in the squad car?”
I’d love to take her up on her offer. But there’s something I want to show Melissa. “I promised I’d take her home myself.”
I conjure up a business card and hand it to Pauline. “If you ever need any help on one of your cases, just give me a call.”
“I’ll do that.”
I take Melissa’s hand and lead her down Tenth Avenue. “Why couldn’t we ride in the police car?” Melissa asks.
“Because there’s something special I want to show you.”
We disappear in a flash of light that takes us from the streets of Tenth Avenue up to the roof of the rebuilt 4 Times Square. There’s an awe-struck look on Melissa’s face as I pick her up and hold her in my arms. “Everybody looks so little down there!” She gasps.
“That’s how the world looks from up here.” I tell her.
“Are you gonna fly me home?”
I can hear Melissa’s heart pounding in anticipation as we jump off the rooftop. As we begin our freefall, I make my wings sprout from my back with a thought. As we soar above the skies Melissa’s eyes light up taking in all the bright lights and the sights of the city. “Wow, how do you hide the wings?” Melissa exclaims.
“Magick.” I tell her. They used to help me get around where I used to live.”
“So you used to live in the bad place?”
“You don’t belong there. You’re too nice.”
Awwww. That’s sweet. “That’s why I left there.”
“So you’re going to the good place now?”
“I won’t know until Judgment Day.”
“If you’re going to the good place, then you should be an Angel instead of a demon.”
“But If I were an angel I wouldn’t be able to scare the bad guys.”
“But you saved me without your demon face-”
I did. “I think you could still be able to do good things for people without your demon face.” Melissa continues. “Maybe you’d be able to help a lot more kids like me.”
“I thought you liked my demon face-”
“I think your regular face is a lot prettier.”
I’m just starting to see the beauty behind it. As we pass over Central Park I spot Melissa’s building. As I swoop down for a landing, Robbie and Kimberly peer up at us with an awe-struck look. “One little girl brought home as promised.” I say landing on the balcony of the penthouse.
“Thank you so much for bringing Melissa home.” Kim says.
“You’re very welcome I reply. “Now don’t you go trying to fly like me.”
Melissa smiles at me. “I know. Only angels and demons can fly.”
“Only God can make someone an Angel.” Robbie says.
“E’steem’s gonna be an Angel. I know it.” Melissa proclaims.
All things are possible with God. If a wretched creature like me can find Salvation, then maybe I can join the Angels in Heaven one day. “Maybe I can be Melissa. But for now I’ll just try to help people being who I am right now.”
“Bye E’steem.” Melissa says giving me a hug.
“Bye Melissa.” I say breaking the embrace.
There’s a big smile on my face as approach the parapet of the Banks’ penthouse. As Melissa rushes over to her parents to tell them all about her adventure in Times Square, I ponder what she said to me. Maybe I really don’t need this face to do my good deeds. Maybe I need to take this mask off once and for all.
I see the light on in John’s bedroom as I begin my descent. Looks like we’re going to be able to pick up where we left off.
I land on the concrete walkway and head through the open glass sliding door to find my boyfriend sitting in his favorite leather chair front of the late movie. “Did Melissa get home?” John inquires.
“She did.” I say unzipping my boots. “And she gave me something to think about.”
“And what was that?”
“My work here on earth.”
“Rethinking your scared straight campaign?”
“I am. After seeing how I scared Melissa, I’m starting to see the limitations of remaining a demon.”
“You finally want to take off your mask?”
“I’m starting to see the impact this face of mine could have on people.”
“But you’re scared.”
I’d love to do like Elsa and let it go. But being human still bothers me. “For eons I wanted to believe that this was the mask. “And that the demon was the real me.”
“It never was the real you.”
“No,” I say falling onto John’s bed and slipping off my boots. “But it’s been my security blanket for the last couple of thousand years.”
“And you’re afraid to go out in the world without it.”
It scares the crap out of me thinking about being that vulnerable. “I think I could help a lot more people if I broke Lucifer’s hold on me.” I say untying the belt of my dress. “But I’d have to wonder if the sacrifice I’d make would be worth it.”
“I’d like to think being free of him would be worth it-”
“I’d be free. But I’d be powerless.”
“You’d have more power than you could ever imagine.”
I’d be just like him. “But I wouldn’t have the power to protect you-”
John flashes me a smile. “I can take care of myself.”
I’m starting to believe that after seeing him in action over the last year and a half. “Er…You do know we work in a office tower full of demons. Many of whom want to kill you-”
“Your soul should be more important to you than my life.” John says taking my hand.
“I don’t think I could live with myself if something happened to you-”
“I want to see you break Lucifer’s hold over you.”
“Breaking that hold over my body could cost you your life-”
“Don’t worry about me. You’re this close to a breakthrough.” John says meeting my eyes. “I’d like to see you get your blessing.”
And the only person to keep me receiving that blessing is me. “Ever since I was a girl I’ve always wanted to help people. “But I guess I can’t really start helping people like Melissa unless I help myself.”
“I’d like to think more people will see how great you truly are when you start showing them your real face.”
“Melissa thinks I’m going to be an angel.”
“I think you could be on your way to turning those horns into a halo Helpmeet.”
Maybe I could. “I don’t know if I’d be worthy of a halo with all the naughty thoughts I was thinking on the way here…”
“If only I knew what I you were imagining about me…”
I give John a playful smile as I peel out of my clothes. While he gets an eyeful of the curves on my hourglass figure, I slip into his comfortable green shirt. As I ease into his lap and he wraps his arms around me I give him a playful smile. “You don’t have to imagine.” I say. “I’ll show you what I’m thinking. Now where were we…”
About The Author
Shawn James is the author of a dozen paperbacks, three screenplays, and over thirty eBooks. A graduate of Monroe College he’s been writing for over twenty years.
Other eBooks by Shawn James
Isis: Trial of the Goddess
Isis: Amari’s Revenge
Isis: The Ultimate Fight
Isis: The Beauty Myth
Isis: Death of a Theta
Isis: My Sister, My Frenemy
Isis: All About the Goddess
Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess
Isis: Power of the Princess
Isis: Night of the Vampires
The Saga of MastiKatious
Baptism of Blood- The Origin of E’steem
The Politics of Hell
E’steem: Deadly D’lilah
E’steem: No Good Deed
E’steem: Demons Anonymous
E’steem The Beast from the Bowels
Fantasy fiction by Shawn James
The Temptation of John Haynes
Young Adult fiction by Shawn James
Romance by Shawn James
A Recipe For $ucce$$
Screenplays by Shawn James
All About Marilyn
All About Nikki- The Fabulous First Season
All About Nikki- The Sensational Second Season
All About Nikki- The Lost Episodes
Spray em’ Up
Non-Fiction by Shawn James:
Stop Simpin- Why Men Don’t Need Finance to Get Romance
Stop Simpin in the Workplace
Manginas-They Look Like Men But Act Like Ladies
The Myth of the Strong Black Woman
Why 70 percent of Black Women are Single
An Analysis of the Comic Book Industry’s business issues
Also published by SJS DIRECT
School of Hard Knocks: The Re-education of Jim Reid
Connect With Shawn Online:
E-mail: [email protected]
And check out Shawn’s blog: www.shawnsjames.blogspot.com New blogs every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday!