Cream City Hustle. A Personal Finance Thriller. Available at Amazon
A listing of released installments can be found at the end of each installment
Arriving at Corrine’s, a podiatrist over at the Aurora Sinai Medical Center, he tapped on the door. She answered the door almost immediately. He dropped the two baggies on the table in the front entryway, she paid and they made some small talk.
“What do you think?” Corrine asked as she nodded slightly at the TV in the living room.
“They’re debating how many states will legalize marijuana in the near future now that Washington State and Colorado have led the way. What do you think?”
“I think it’s inevitable. When exactly? I have no idea. My guess is it’ll be like a snowball that slowly gathers mass and momentum. Once it does get legalized in a few more states it’ll happen pretty quickly. We’ll see. In any event, I’ll be done with this game within a year and I don’t see it happening in Wisconsin before then.”
“Well then, Marcus, I guess I will see you in a week or so.”
“Sounds about right. Take care, Corrine.”
Within four minutes he was headed out the door. He was always prompt in his arrivals, conducted business quickly, kept small talk to a minimum and made his exit.
As Redd had told him long ago, “You aren’t there to hang out. It’s not a social call and they ain’t your friends. They’re customers and you are there to provide a product. You want to walk in and be friendly and make conversation but also get to the business at hand and get out of there quickly.” Of course, Estelle was the exception. His next three deliveries pretty much went the same way. Prompt arrival – based on the agreed time in the text messages – the transaction, some small talk and the exit. Just like Redd had preached.
Hopping on the bus, he was glad to get out of the cold. He thought he’d head home and grab a power nap. He was a little tired and Train was working. They would probably hook up later that night, see what they could get into. Stepping off the bus, he braced for the wave of cold air he knew would wash over him. And that it did. Making his way to the Square, he bounded up the steps and made his way into his apartment. Kicking off his shoes and throwing his backpack on the couch, he headed straight for the bedroom. Within three minutes he was out.
He was awakened an hour later by the sound of gunshots. It sounded like three. Two rapid pops, a short pause, and then one more. Four minutes later, the sound of sirens. Gunshots in this area were not unheard of; however, they weren’t that common. As he lay there collecting his thoughts, wondering what prompted the gunshots, his phone vibrated incessantly on the nightstand. It was Train.
He was getting off work early and he would swing by in about an hour. Although he briefly considered laying back down for a minute, he sat up, stretched and headed for the kitchen. He was a little hungry so he figured he would cook up some ramen. Throwing in some leftover grilled chicken, an egg he scrambled quickly and cayenne pepper, to give it a little kick, he waited for it to finish cooking.
Just over an hour later, Train tapped on his door.
“What’s goin’ on, kid?” Train said, greeting him as he took off his coat. “Can I get a glass of water?”
“Not too much,” said Marcus. “Just woke up a little bit ago. It was a crazy day at work today. Right before lunch, two homeless dudes squared off in the damn lobby. Both of them drunk as hell. Smelled like a damn brewery.”
“Well, I guess that’s one way to deal with this weather,” Train offered. “Stay drunk and be completely oblivious to the cold.” They both laughed as Marcus grabbed the water Train had asked for.
“Anything on the dude I described the other day?” Marcus inquired.
“In fact, yeah,” Train said, “I reached out to a few people in the hood. Turns out his name is Drake, been in the area for a few months. Different people thought he came from either Chicago or Detroit. However, nobody seemed to really know what brought him here or what exactly his hustle is. So then I reached out to my cousin, Alesia. You remember her? I think you met her once over at Pere Marquette Park last year. She was a few years ahead of us in school.”
“Yeah, I remember her,” Marcus nodded affirmatively.
“Anyway, she ain’t no detective or nothing, but she works for MPD as a records clerk. Been doin’ that since last summer.”
“She couldn’t tell me a lot about him, but she did confirm he’s from Chicago, not Detroit, he used to dabble in dealing weed and he stays over on North 19th Street. Something else, and this is where it gets interesting, he didn’t come alone.”
“What do you mean? Does he have a wife and kids or something?”
“Nah. Turns out he traveled North with his cousin. A dude named Michael Simms. But apparently, he goes by the name Caine.”
“What? as in Cain and Abel?” Marcus asked.
“Nope. Caine with an e, short for Cocaine,” Train laughed. “I didn’t know you was up on your Old Testament. Word is he moved a lot of coke in Chicago. Maybe they moved up here to just lay low for awhile. Who knows? As far as Alesia knows, from what she can tell, although suspected, he was never convicted of anything in Chicago and his only infraction here is a speeding ticket.”
“Interesting,” Marcus said, half under his breath as he laid back on the couch and closed his eyes for a minute. “The way his cousin, Drake, stared me down, I doubt if they are here on some sort of vacation or that they have decided to retire in Milwaukee. I don’t know where drug dealers retire, but my guess is it ain’t Wisconsin. It’s gotta be something more. What? I don’t know. I just don’t know.”
Glancing at the clock on the microwave, Marcus saw that it was almost 5:30 p.m., a good time to hit a couple of his spots and move some product. As Train excused himself to use the bathroom, Marcus grabbed his coat and 10 bags, slipping the weed into his inner pocket. When Train returned, he put on his coat and out the door they went. After about an hour, half that time spent at each spot, Marcus had moved all of his product.
“Nice,” he said to Train as the last bag disappeared with Jorge, a fairly new customer, around the corner. Glancing at his watch, he noted that the timing was perfect. “My moms called earlier and wanted me to stop by for some dinner since I haven’t been out that way in a while.”
“Sounds good,” Train said, “Renee gets off in about a half hour. If I hustle, I can be there when she gets off, take her out for a little dinner. Maybe hit KFC. That girl loves some extra crispy chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy. If I play my cards right, she might let me hit it tonight.”
“Well good luck, my brotha. I hope you draw that inside straight.” They both laughed as Train did an about face and took off for the shoe store where Renee worked.
Marcus broke out his phone and sent a quick text message: to ma – be there in about 40 minutes. Walking straight ahead, he headed for the bus stop. He should be able to catch the bus within the next 15 minutes. Making the short walk to the corner he made the turn, side stepped a couple of kids and glanced down to zip up the jacket underneath his coat. He looked up just as he stepped right into Drake. The two were damn near eyeball to eyeball. Close enough to smell his cologne. Cool Water if he wasn’t mistaken.
“What’s goin’ on, Man?” Drake said as he smiled. “Where you off to in such a hurry, Marcus?”
I will be sharing a half chapter or so of my first personal finance thriller each Sunday. Check back on Sunday, July 10th for the next installment.