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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Penultimate Hustle: L.A. - Chapter 3



3 – Payback

Payback arrived soon after Natalia and her crew left for the day. He was a clean-cut and well-dressed black man of about twenty-six. In tow was a somewhat shiftier character who didn’t speak.
Janice buzzed Chris.
“A Mr. Payback to see you, sir.”
“Send him in.”
“Next door on the left,” Janice told him.
He knocked briefly and then walked into Janique and Chris’s office.
“Mr. Payback, I presume,” Chris said.
“Chris motherfucking Turner.”
“Eh?”
“I did some checking through the prison grapevine. You’re a legend. Escaped from federal prison and got off. Japanese porn star, hired killer.”
“That’s all behind me, now. It’s Tokio I’m focused on.”
“Of course, man. Me, too. That’s my uncle.”
“No shit?”
“I shit you not. So what’s the case?”
“You won’t believe it. Production of child pornography and murder.”
“Bullshit.”
“Serious. It was a seventeen year-old with fake credentials.”
“That makes sense. And the murder charge?”
“Beat a dude to death in lock-up.”
“Convicted?”
“Not yet. I think we can claim self-defense.”
“My thoughts exactly. People who fuck with kids are constant targets in there.”
“Rightly so.”
“So what’s the plan? I’m still in law school. I can’t legally mount a defense.”
“No, but you can work with our lawyers. They say the case is too politically sensitive for a bribe.”
“I’m good at defense, but honestly, my specialty is contract law.”
“For your uncle?”
“For my uncle I’d do anything.”
“Great. Say, I have a contract that could use some shoring up. What are your fees?”
“Like we say on the message boards, IANAL.”
“Huh?”
“I am not a lawyer. I risk my future career if I charge for legal services.”
Janique broke in. “How’d you like to be on retainer?”
“Same deal.”
“How big is your dick?” she asked.
“What?”
“Kidding. But we can pay you as a porn star.”
“That’s what y’all do?”
“Ultimate Hustle,” Janique said.
“But that’s what got Toke busted.”
“Exactly why we need a cunning legal mind on our team.”
“What sort of money are thinking about? You realize I would help Tokio for free.”
“We pay our performers a hundred and fifty thousand a year,” Janique said.
“Whoa. At that rate, I’d have little incentive to stay in school.”
“We’re very contract-centric. There will be negotiations with distributors soon. We need airtight contracts.”
“Hmm. I’m not really comfortable with that kind of money, honestly.”
“We,” Janique said, “are not comfortable paying you less.”
Payback sighed.
“I guess if you two crazy white folks want to pay me that much, I’d be a fool not to take it.”
“Who’s your silent partner?” she asked.
“Domino,” Payback said. “Domino? Ball.”
He pulled five bindles from his pocket and threw one to Chris.”
“Peruvian blue flake,” Payback said. “This one’s on me. They’re a hundred after that.”
“Cool. We don’t do it often, but we’d like to celebrate,” Chris said.
“I’d be careful. That stuff is poison to a relationship.”
“Not for us,” Janique said. “We have superlove between us.”
“If you say so.”
“I do. And what I say goes. So, you get an office, a salary, and we work around your school schedule.”
“And we get my uncle free?”
“Promise,” Janique said.
“Can you really say that?”
“A promise from Janique is just shy of a promise from God,” Chris said.
“Wow. I’m in, then.”
“Cool. What do you want in your office?”
“All I need is a phone and a desk. Maybe some shelves. I have a ton of law books that are taking up way too much space in my apartment.”
Janique hit the intercom.
“Janice, call Natalia and tell her to add a law office to her task list.”
“Done,” Janice said. “And I have the top three distributors for you.”
“Thank you, Janice.”