A Lesson Learned
by Jhori Barksdale
There are many lessons to learn in life. The major problems usually occur when you continuously ignore them and repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Ever since I can remember Iíve always had the mentality that life was all about me, and doing what I needed to get what I wanted by any means necessary. I guess sometimes that could be a good thing, but mostly it depends on what exactly it is, and just how far you have to go to get it.
Hopefully my story will somehow enlighten and help someone along the way. I pray that they wonít travel the roads Iíve journeyed or repeat some of the mistakes that Iíve made. As commonly spoken, life is about choicesóyou have to always think long and hard to be sure that youíre making the right one. All it takes is one bad decision and you could find your life spiraling downward with nothing in sight that will break your fall.
I got caught up in the dope game. I was living and loving the life like hell has no fire and heaven has no reign. I learned almost too late what the word Ďrepercussion really means. It took me a while to realize that life has no meaning when youíre living your life on the inside of the game.
Shaheed Rahman was THE MAN. Just like Eddie Murphy said in his stand up, Raw; Iím not talking about the man sitting next to the man. Nor am I speaking of the man, next to the man, next to the man. He wasnít even somebodyís right hand man. When I say he was THE MAN, that is exactly what I meanóhe was THE MAN.
Everyone around town knew about Shaheed. It didnít matter if you were in the streets doing dirt or working at UPS slinging boxes on the back of a truck for a living. You either had to be under seven years old or insane and crazy not to have heard of Shaheed Rahman. Or, Sha as everyone called him? Most days youíd see him riding around town in his black Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes or Lexus truck. On rare occasion youíd catch him chilling in his S 500 with the chromed out AMGís.
Either way, one thing was for certain; never would you catch him slipping on the clothes or jewelry. He was like a walking billboard for black designers sporting everything from FUBU, Mecca, and Karl Kani, to RP55, Phat Farm and Sean John. All of his accessories from watches, earrings, necklace, bracelets and rings came from a jeweler up in New York. His shit was always custom made platinum dripping in ice. You couldnít help getting bug eyed in his presence. Every where he went he gleamed like a five year oldís patent leather Easter shoes.
Sha was one not only the biggest dealer in the ATL, but practically in the whole southeast, hands down. Niggas from Miami to New Orleans gave him respect. He was paid to the point he never counted what he had in his pockets. He just always knew he had enough to do whatever the fuck he wanted to do.
He also didnít have any problems spending it either. Thatís what first caught my eye and was my biggest attraction to him. It wasnít the person that he was that I cared about when we first met. I could have given a ratís ass about him. It was the money that flowed from his pockets like a green paper waterfall that made me want the man. And its not to say that he wasnít attractive. Unlike a lot of guys, that spent loads of money to cover up for physical insecurities, Shaheed was one beautiful sexy mother fucker.
Shaheed had coal black hair that he kept cut in a small Afro with the temple area faded like Craig Mack. On his face was a finely lined beard that flowed into a perfectly trimmed mustache and goatee. His skin was the color of Hersheyís Special Dark chocolate and his eyes slanted like a Chinese to the point of almost looking completely closed most of the time.
When Shaheed walked, his six foot three inch frame sort of glided with a nonchalant ease. He strolled around like he didnít have a care in the world. He had an air like, fugggg the bullshit. I donít owe nobody shit. They all owe me.
Confidence was his first name and major papers was his middle and last. That shit drew you to him like a magnet. He wasnít arrogant. He didnít brag or try to flex his money. He just knew his shit was tight and nobody could touch him in any kind of way.
Though it started off as being all about the dollars, soon enough I fell in love with Sha for the person that he was. Under all the flash, the money, the cribs and the cars, was simply a black man. Thatís how I got caught up in so much mess. My looks always had me dating guys with a lot of money. I seemed to attract the rich brothers with my smooth creamy Ethiopian heritage caramel skin, Sienna brown almond shaped eyes and size six, yet extremely voluptuous body. I never saw a reason not to expect anything less than the best and so I took full advantage of what I saw as a true blessing. I had what most men wanted and I used it to my advantage from the very moment I first learned the manipulation I could get from it. Still, through it all, until I met Sha, Iíd never allowed myself to get so attached I couldnít walk away.
Shaheed Rahman treated me well. Too damn well to be blunt. Better than Iíd ever been treated before. Yet, being with Sha was a whole new ballgame compared to what I was used to. Little did I know that the game I was playing could in fact possibly cost me my life.
They say money is the root of all evil, and once I tell my story, just like me, hopefully youíll soon agree.
Chapter One-The Beginning
I use to see Shaheed Rahman up in Atlanta Live every weekend dropping high-end dead presidents like pieces of shredded paper. He never traveled alone and always had six or seven people with him. My girl Peaches and I used to sit back and watch them come in the club and completely take over the place. As soon as they hit the door, the waitresses would be all smiles where as before theyíd been straight bitches. The club owner, Jeff, would make his way over to the table grinning like a crack head thatís found a brand new twenty dollar bill laying in the ground. He wanted to make sure Shaheed kept the money flowing so it was his duty to try and stroke the rich brothaís ego. His puny little bald headed ass would be all animated, smiling up in the black manís face like he was his do-boy, knowing damn well he was probably calling him all kinds of niggas in his mind. It was money making time the moment Big Sha set foot in the place, and he was out to juice him for every penny he could.
Of course with Shaheed being who he was, it really wasnít too hard to do. When youíre traveling with Sha, no one ever had to take money with them. You automatically knew he would take care of everything and everybody around him. You could order up a whole cow if you wanted and he wouldnít blink when the check came. Once, fifteen of us once went to Bones after a comedy concert and when the bill came it was over $2,000. The man barely glanced at the piece of paper before peeling off a slew of hundred dollar bills like it was nothing. At the club, people would walk up to him just to speak and end up walking away with a flute of Don in their hand or at least a glass of the best Remy the place carried. There were no limits where he was concerned.
When I finally officially met Sha, me and Peaches both were dancing at Magic City. After each of us had cleared seven hundred a piece, we had packed our shit up and left. It was around midnight with four hours to go in the shift, but we didnít care. It was prime time for hitting Club 112. We liked to go there and sit up in the club and watch niggas floss. Just like at the strip clubs, they liked to pull out their fat knots and make sure everyone in the place knew they had money to spend.
Sha and his crew didnít bother with the VIP. Thatís where the niggas who worked the corners sat just so they could feel important. So they could let every body else know they were important. Shaheed and his boys always grabbed some tables down on the bottom level near the bar.
Me and Peaches would shake our head at the outrageous amounts of money that heíd spend; counting every dollar he paid the waitress and noticing if she brought back any change. If she did, heíd always wave it away like it was an insult to him for her to even try to give him back the green.
Never being one who was ashamed of what God blessed me with, after a few times of watching from the side lines and warming the bench, I decided that it was about time I got my ass up and got into the game. Only thing was, with a nigga like Sha, your game had to be just as tight as his. He had women swinging from his nuts like hair and sweat.
"Girl, Iím on a mission tonight." I said as we were sitting in the car outside the club, waiting for the valet to come open my door.
"And? Shit, weíre on a mission every time we go out. Why would tonight be any different?" She shrugged checking her hair in the mirror over the visor.
"Cause tonight Iím going to a whole new level on your ass." I winked over at her before swinging my legs from the car and taking the extended hand of the guy who was to park my car. He was a cute little something too with his high yellow self. But the locks he was trying hard to sport just wasnít working in his favor. A little too much cream in his coffee made his hair too straight in some places and matted up in others. His head looked like a nappy ass Barbie doll.
Strutting to the door we spoke to Deuce at the front. Immediately he removed the velvet rope and allowed us to walk in. Standing in line, paying cover charges Ė it just wasnít me.
"Ooh, there goes Tim." Peaches smiled and waves over to a guy we both knew from around our way. He winked and waved back like he was Master P or somebody. I shook my head thinking about how all it took was a little money to make a palm patted hamburger look like sirloin steak.
"Yeah, I see him over there flexing as usual." I said with disdain. "He still ainít anybody to me."
Back in the day Timothy Bonner couldnít get a girl to look at him even if he jumped on the front of her chest and slapped her across the forehead with his dick. It wasnít that he was bad looking or anything; he just didnít have any game. He was lame as hell and most people would roll their eyes and go the other way if they saw him approaching.
Like I said, money sure could make a brother look good. Ever since Tim had started rolling, he had women jumping out in front of cars to get with him. In a matter of 4 years heíd gone from shit to sugar. A few weeks ago I almost threw up on myself the way Peaches was heeming and hawing all up in his face when he came in the club and started buying dances from her. Youíd have thought she was getting served up by Andreí Rison or somebody.
Tim raised a glass of Moet and then beckoned for us to come over to his table. "Aímani I want him and Iím going to have him before tonight is over with." She whispered in my ear then grabbed my arm pulling me his direction. I really didnít want to go but I wasnít going to embarrass her by pulling away. Iíd just go over and speak then find a reason to leave.
"Hello beautiful women." He stood as we approached then bent down to kiss each of our cheeks before making two of his boys get up to let us sit down. He signaled the waitress who ran over to the table. I was just waiting for the moment she would begin talking like Queenie in Gone With the Wind.
"I need two more bottles of Moet, fresh glasses all around, and a carafe of orange juice please?" Tim demanded before turning his attention back to us. "Ladies what else would you like to drink?"
"Iíll have a glass a Henny and Coke?" Peaches said trying to be grown knowing good and damn well she could barely drink a Sloe Gin and not get fucked up.
"Give me a double Grand Mariner lightly warmed please." I followed. If he was buying, then I wasnít going to short change myself. Since he wanted to flash it around as if he had it like that, who was I to begrudge him spending his loot? I was much obliged to help him out and make him look good as best I could.
We sat and talked for a while about this and that and what had been going on since high school. I learn that Tim wasnít as dumb as we thought. After we graduated he received a scholarship to Georgia Tech. Not only did he have his Masterís in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Electrical; he also had his own business with contracts all over the city. The way he spoke, you would think he could rest comfortably on the money he made from his legitimate business. Only greed would make someone that smart want to risk it all doing dirt in the streets.
"So whatís up with you two?" He sat back in his chair studying us. "You come up in here every week but you hardly give the brothas any play. Seems like not much has changed since high school." He grinned flashing two gold teeth, one with diamond inlay.
"Itís not that we be blowing brothers off. We just come out to enjoy the atmosphere and have a good time; not necessarily to meet someone. Hell half the niggas up in here be at the club anyways." Peaches stated.
In the back of my mind I was thinking, ĎGood girlí. Peaches could be a little simple at times. Iíd been trying to school her for years about having game. She was getting better but still needed a few more remedial courses.
"Is that right?" He raised his eyebrows, looking her up and down like a piece of candy.
"Yeah, thatís right."
While all of this cat and mouse bullshit was going on I didnít notice Shaheed and his friends walk up.
"Whatís up Tim?"
Turning slightly in my seat to catch a glimpse of who was talking behind me, I almost wasted champagne on my dress from learning who it was. Sha was looking fly as hell in a butterscotch colored linen pant suit and tan leather slides. He had his hand shoved down in his pockets giving off the allure of coolness that he was renown for.
The dim lights shown like a spotlight on his platinum Rolex temporarily blinding everyone within 10 feet. The ice on it was so thick I started to question if I needed to search my purse for some sunglasses. Sha was clean. He had his top three buttons undone putting the medallion hanging from a platinum chain around his neck on display like a high school trophy case. My eyes traveled up to his ear where at least two karats sat twinkling from the club lights. Still, it wasnít about flash. It was just Sha and who he was. The nigga was butta. Fuck just capitalizing the B Ė you had to put all them shits in caps. BUTTA.
"Nothing much dog, just sitting here chillin with these beautiful women." Tim threw Sha a whatís up kind of head movement and took a drag from his Stogie. In my mind I was thinking, nigga youíll never come no where near to having the kind of charisma of Shaís. No where even close.
I snicker at the way Timís chest swelled from knowing he had two of the finest women in the club sitting at his table. I know it donít faze Shaheed. He always has a stable of women around him. Thatís one of the reasons I always make it my business not to go near him when he comes in the club. A few times he had sent one of his boys over to get me having requested I dance for him. Unlike the other bitches that liked to skin and grin all up in his face when he rolled through, I just danced, collected my cheese and moved on. A nigga like Sha didnít like shit that came easy. He wanted a challenge. Pussy for him was as prevalent as the kilos he imported from Mexico on a bi-weekly basis.
"I can definitely appreciate that man." Sha nodded seeming to rest his eyes on me a couple of extra seconds. It caused the hair on my arms to stand on end.
"Yo, listen Tim man. Iíll be over at my usual spot. When you get a minute, come holler at me. I need to talk to you about some business." Sha said.
"Ahíight man. Iíll be over there." He reached his fist out to give him some dap.
After Shaheed left we sat there and chilled for a few. Peaches did nothing to hide her interest in Tim and they kinda held their own private conversation while I just sat back and enjoyed the drinks and food. Occasionally Iíd accept an invitation to dance but other than that I sat drinking up the expensive liquor Tim kept buying.
"Listen girls. I need to go holler at Big Sha for a sec." Tim finally dug himself up out Peaches mouth and stood. "When the waitress comes back, order what ever you want. This should only take a few minutes."
"I wonder whatís so important?" Peaches whispered as soon as Tim walked off. I just looked over at her and shook my head. Peaches could sometimes be as dumb as a box of rocks.
"What do you think is so important Peaches? You acting real green girl."
She shrugged her shoulders and popped a cherry in her mouth. "I donít know. Probably women."
I kinda leaned over and furrowed my brow searching for a STUPID SIGN somewhere on her forehead.
"So young-so dumb." I shook my head.
"What?" She fixed me with this wide-eyed innocent look.
Before I could answer, Tim walked back up to the table with one of the men that had come in with Sha.
"Hey ladies, I guess tonightís your lucky night. Sha wants us to join him over at his table." Tim said. The guy with him stood near by looking like he was trying to use x-ray vision through our clothes.
Peaches started grinning like someone had dropped the Lotto Georgia Jackpot winning ticket in her lap before turning to look at me for the ok. I shrugged my shoulders. I had been wanting Shaheed for a while but there was no way I was going to go out like a trick. If he stepped to me, cool. If he didnít, that was cool too.
We collected our purses and followed them over to the other side of the club, where Sha and his crew were taking up five tables. Don and Crys were flowing around the table like it cost 5.00 a bottle. It made Tim look like a true nickel and dime corner hustler with his weak ass Moet heíd been buying. Hell I bought Mo when I went to the clubs. Women were scattered through out, either sitting down or standing around. We were all seated at the same table with Sha. I tried to play it cool with I was left the seat right next to him. As soon as we sat down he asked Peaches and I what we were drinking on. Saying my usual Grand Mariner, he nods his approval. "Yeah, thatís one of my favorites. If you ever come over to the house youíll find that I have a whole shelf of the stuff."
Little butterflies began to dance in the bottom of my stomach from him saying Ďwhení I come over, and not Ďifí I come over. His confidence was put on full display. The man knew what he wanted and wasted no time deli dallying around. And I knew that if he said, when, then I was as good as there, all up in his place like brand new furniture.
Having the chance to get an up close and personal look at him for the first time also warmed my insides as well. Saying that he is one gorgeous man is a complete understatement. Iíve always been color struck with the desire for only dark skinned men, so Sha had me ready to burst in to flames. And, let me not mention that his long jet-black hair looked better than mine. He always wore it pulled back in a long French braid with the side burns tapered just so.
Tonight he had on a beige and brown Sean John warm up with matching suede shoes. While I was sitting there trying not to be obvious about his presence making me nervous, the waitress came back with our drinks. I didnít miss him giving her two twenties and telling her to keep the change.
"Is everything ok?" He looked over at me and asked as I took a sip.
"Yes, they warmed it just the way I like it." I allowed him one of my killer grins.
"Good. I have to make sure that everyone around me is satisfied." He winked then turned to say something to Tim.
"Yo Tim. Let's go to the car for a minute. I need to show you something." He pushed back from the table and stood up.
Tim gazed up from what ever he was saying to Peaches and bobbed his head in understanding. He told Peaches heíd be back in a minute so she came over and sat in Sha's chair.
"They sure do bounce around this place a lot." She commented, taking a small sip of her champagne. She tried to hold the flute with her pinkie stuck out, but it was so exaggerated that I couldnít help from laughing.
"Whatís so damn funny?" She frowns.
"Un huh." I finally gathered myself and said. "I see you and Tim are getting kinda cozy tonight."
She grins at my observation. "Yeah, I know. He asked me to leave with him." She said dropping her eyes.
"Oh really?" I raised my eyebrows. "And exactly what did you say?"
"Shit, he offered me $500, what do you think I said?"
"I don't know about that Peaches. Tim is a totally different person from high school. He's not some geek nerd anymore. Iíd be careful it I were you."
"You think I donít know that?" I could tell she was getting on the defense. "He's got his own business and things now. He can basically do anything he wants."
"Is that all you think there is too it?" I had be blunt and ask Ďcause apparently girlfriend still had not caught on.
"Yeah why?" She turned in her seat and looked at me. "That's what we were just talking about. He asked me where I worked and when I told him at the salon, he said that he was in the process of opening up one over on Wesley Chapel and needs someone to run it. He asked if I was interested."
"Shay, where do you think he gets all his money? Certainly not just from the business that he's told you about."
"Why not? Tim's a very smart guy. You know that." She looks at me all wide-eyed and innocent. I canít believe her. "He always has been intelligent, but we never game him a chance. He says that he just won a contract with the city of Decatur for the new courthouse they are going to build."
I just look at her for a minute to see if she is really that damp naïve. "And so you think that in the year that he's had this business of his that he's made enough money to buy the truck and Benz we always see him in, and be able to come up in here every week and spend a grand just like that?" I snap my finger. "And now he's talking about opening up a salon."
"I don't see why not." She looks at me like I'm stupid.
"Well if you believe that girlfriend then you are a lot more naïve that I thought you to be." I turn back around in my seat.
"So what do you think?" I can feel her staring at me. "That he sells dope?"
"Um huh?" I take a sip of my drink.
"See that's what pisses me off with you Aímani. You think that every body with a little money has to be selling dope. That's one of the reasons that we have so many problems in our male/female relationships, cause we don't support or brothers and are always thinking negative."
"Ok girlfriend. Whatever." I say to end the conversation because I see myself getting nowhere with this conversation. Peaches is my girl and all and although we really only started hanging tough this pass summer, I knew right from the start that she had lived a very sheltered life. In high school she was automatically labeled saddity the moment she arrived during our junior year. She spent most of her time hanging out with the white people and never came to any of the functions that the black kids threw. After the first quarter we just basically ignored her altogether.
How she and I hooked up this year is ironic. He family owns four salons through out the city, mostly on the North side of town and just so happen one is around the down the street from my job in Midtown. Having received a last minute invite to an album release party, my usual stylist was out of town at a hair show and I needed a touch up and trim. Since I'd past the salon on many occasions and it was always packed, I decided to try my luck and see if they could fit me in. When I called, the receptionist told me that someone had just cancelled and if I could come right then they could squeeze me in. To make a long story short, Peaches end up doing a better job than my regular hairdresser so I started going every week even though she charged almost double. At first there was a little tension but eventually I found her to be pretty cool and one day out of the blue she asked did I want to go get a drink some time. After that we started hanging and have been tight every since.
"Yeah, whatever." She flips her hand in the air.
"Is everything ok?" Shaheed sits down and slides his arm around the back of my chair like it's the natural thing to do.
"Um hum." We both say at the same time.
They begin to play Jay-Z's, Jigga, and the people at the table go wild. When they get to the part that asks who you rolling with, everyone holds there glass in the air and say the words. I'm really enjoying myself by then. From the time they came back inside, Shaheed had been giving me his undivided attention. I know I'm looking good in my red strapless fitted dress and he's not hiding the fact that he likes what he sees. I can also feel a lot of heat towards me from the other females not only around the tables; just inside the club all together.
"As good as you're looking in that dress, I'd love to take you shopping and buy one in every color." He catches me off guard doing nothing to keep anyone else from hearing. "I've never seen red look so good."
Trying to act unaffected I simply say thank you without acknowledging his first statement.
"So how bout it?" He asks.
"How bout what?" I look over the rim of my glass at him as I slowly take a sip.
"Are you going to let me buy you one in every color?"
"Oh, well that won't be necessary because it only came in two and the black one is hanging in my closet."
"Shit. Baby, Iíd go get a few more made if they gonna look that good." He sat back in his chair.
I guess he thinks he's impressing me with what he's saying but like I said, I've rolled with some of the best so men buying me shit ain't nothing new to me. But I do know that I'm going to have to go a whole new route with this one because I know he's use to women losing their mind to get next to him. He's the type of brother that likes a challenge. Thatís exactly what I plan on giving him. He can have it - that's already a given. But he's going to have to work hard to get it. We both know what the other want, it's just a matter of how far we will go to get it.
"Is that right?"
"Yeah Mo. That's right." He says. We both kinda hold one another's stare for a minute trying to see who will back down first. When he sees that I'm not one of those easy ass hoochie mama's he starts to smile and nod his head saying, "Well alright then, it's like that?"
"Yeah. It's like that." I say.
Before he can say something else, one of his boys comes over and whispers something in his ear and I use that opportunity to excuse myself to the restroom. I'm barely out of my seat before a girl with short cropped platinum blonde hair and far too much make up, slides in beside Sha and is all up in his face ignoring the fact that he's talking to his boy. I can tell it irritates him by the way he looks at her kinda funny, but he says nothing. Then he looks over at me and winks. She doesn't look too pleased by this but does not let it discourage her from trying to holler at him.
In the bathroom I run into a girl that I know from us revolving in the same circles. Her name is Tiffany and sheís with another girl that looks familiar but who I canít quite place.
"Whatís up Aímani?" She puts on a fake smile while not hiding the fact that sheís looking me up and down.
Giving her back the same fake smile, I say, "Nothing much, whatís up with you?"
"About the same." She pulls out a comb and starts to play with her weave while studying me in the mirror. "But I canít see you saying nothing much considering youíre sitting up in here with one of the highest rollers in the south. Shaheed Shaís money is long and his pockets run deep." She letís out a laugh and turns to slap hands with her girl who I notice is in bad need of braces.
"Sha and I arenít together." I say, wanting to see where sheís going to take this conversation. "Me and my girl are just sitting at their table."
"Oh, well you wonít mind if a sista steps up to the plate for a little action then? Iíve had my eyes on him for a long time now - even before he blew up. Iíd give anything to be sitting up in that truck looking pretty." She studies my reaction.
I want to say that Iím sure she will, but only shrug. Women like Tiffany are always looking for a good cat fight and I donít have time for it. There are too many brothers with money for me to be acting stupid over one. "Suit yourself. He ainít my man." I straighten my dress and walk out.
Arriving back at the table, I find the girl with the blonde hair out of my chair and now standing between Shaís legs with her arms clasped behind his neck. She looks over at me with a smirk as I take my seat, seemingly expecting to get some kind of rise out of me.
"Sweetie will you tell the waitress I need another drink?" I turn to Sha, who immediately starts looking around for her.
"Yeah, my mouth is kinda dry." Blondie says.
Acting like she isnít even there I say, "Iíve changed my mind baby, Iím ready to go." I stand up. Peaches has already made it clear that sheís going with Tim so I donít have to worry about spoiling her fun.
"Go?" Shaheed looks at his watch. "Itís just 1:30. The club doesnít close Ďtil 7 in the morning."
"I know. But Iím tired and sleepy." I say. "Excuse me." I lean in between him and the Blondie and place a light kiss on his lips. "Call me later." I say and turn to walk away.
"I donít have the number." He calls after me.
"Oh, Iím sure you can get it." I say and keep on walking out of the club.