Tonight we're showcasing The Case for Brandy by Tracey Llavay. Enjoy...
The Case for Brandy (Extract) - Tracey Llavay
At four o’clock in the afternoon Brandy Ogletree checked her watch and wondered if she’d haveenough time to stop by Old Navy and purchase an outfit to wear to rehearsal. But heat was blistering her neck and was singing her ears. A half dozen pairs of eyes gazed at her from under blaring hairdryers. Their gazes empathizing with her own. Screw this.
Brandy lifted the hood of the hairdryer and ducked out. She touched a hand to her teal-colored rollers and snatched it back. Damn, was Vickie trying to fry my hair? Vickie had been roller-setting, perming, braiding and screwing up Brandy’s hair for more than a decade. But for reasons of unexplained loyalty, Brandy kept returning for the abuse. Shaking her head, she slid across the duct-taped seat, stood and un-bunched her navy blue skirt, which was hiked nearly to her crotch. Ignoring one woman’s smile, Brandy marched from the shampoo room and into the styling room and stopped.
Vickie, the hairdresser, was huddled with a man wearing a business suit and a silky blond ponytail. His large hand was clutching the back of her neck. Brandy stiffened. Lover’s quarrel? Whatever it was, Brandy was not down on Mr. Ponytail strong-arming her hairdresser. Brandy cleared her throat, which went dry. Right about now, she could go for some Tanqueray with a twist of lime. She heard Vickie cry out. “Hey, something wrong?”
Vickie half-turned, but Mr. Ponytail tightened his grip, restricting the woman’s neck movement. He leveled Brandy with an icy glare and warned, “Everything’s copasetic.”
“What does that mean?” Brandy asked the old-school perp. He was tall, maybe six-two. A tattoo of a lightning strike ran down his cheek with the word quick underneath.
“Everything’s fine,” he said through clenched teeth.
Brandy took in the scene. All she saw was the back of the petite stylist’s afro, but he towered over Vickie. Brandy said, “Girl, you’re killin’ me. I gotta be at the office in an hour.”
Vickie giggled nervously. “Me and my man here’re just havin’ a little spat. That’s all.” Suddenly the hairdresser buckled. Ponytail caught the stylist by her scrawny neck and levitated her. She gasped and said to Vickie, “Go on back in there and set the dryer for fifteen minutes, unless you wanna pay now?”
Better to pay now than later. As she stepped back, Brandy retorted, “I don’t need this crap. I’ll pay now. I can take my own rollers out. You’re gonna make me late.” Then Brandy pivoted, strode into the other room and picked up her Wal-Mart tote. The blood-curdling scream wasn’t unexpected; it just occurred too soon. The trio under the dryers startled, terror showing in their eyes. Brandy placed an index finger to her lips and flashed her badge. They nodded.
And Brandy stormed into the styling room. Geez! What she saw turned her stomach. Mr. Ponytail slashed a straight razor across the hairdresser’s other cheek. Now both sides of her face flapped open. Vickie fell against the glass display, wailing. With trembling hands, Brandy pulled the Sig Sauer from her tote. “Drop your weapon!”
The suit held the blood-soaked razor in midair. His blue eyes darted from Brandy to Vickie then rested on Brandy and her trembling hands. He smiled coldly. “She owes me four grand.”
Brandy gripped her weapon. Her knees threatened to buckle, but she willed them to stand shoulder-width apart. “I don’t give a shit what she owes you. You’re under arrest for felonious assault, for starters.” She kept her gaze trained on him and checked on her injured stylist. “Vickie, can you hear me?” The woman’s wail had died to a whimper, and Brandy was afraid Vickie was going into shock. She reached inside her tote and fished out the cuffs. With her left hand, she tossed them to the perp. They clanged and slid across the black-tiled floor. She jerked her head to the left. “Cuff yourself to that radiator over there.”
He smirked. “Hey, cunt, why don’t you cuff me?” He thrust his hips forward. “Right here, bitch.” He grabbed his crotch.
Brandy’s eyes darted over to Vickie. She was crumpled on the tile, no longer whimpering. And this creep, in his perfectly creased trousers and Don Johnson five o’clock shadow, just propositioned her. In that instant, she made her decision. She raised her Sig Sauer so it was trained on his left shoulder.
His mouth fell open, and his blue eyes widened. “Wait!”
She squeezed the trigger. The explosion was deafening. It shook the beauty shop. Mr. Ponytail had dropped like a sack of potatoes. He rolled onto the tile and howled, “You shot me!”
Brandy retrieved the cuffs, flipped the suspect onto his stomach and ignored his screeches. “You told me to do this.” She cuffed him. “Now you’re complaining?” She banged her Sig on his shoulder. He screamed.
“You dirty bitch!”
She smiled tightly. “I get that all the time.” She stepped over his pooling blood, scrambled over to the wounded hairdresser and checked her vitals. Barely there. Shit. “Hang in there, Vickie.” She snatched the phone off the display and punched 911. “This is Patrolman Brandy Olgletree of Kingston Park PD, badge number 44761. I need a squad at Kool Kare Hair Salon. Corner of Burnet and Wooten.” She glanced over her shoulder. The trio of ladies was huddled, horror-stricken.
The one with her hair wrapped and plastered with paper as thin as toilet tissue clutched her throat. “Who’s gonna finish my do? Gotta be at work in an hour.”
Brandy shook her head. “That’s the least of your worries. Go on and call in. You’ll be tied up for at least that.” She glanced out the store front window. Curious passers-by wandered over and peered inside the slightly frosted windows of the shop. She held up her badge. The suspect screamed again. She ordered, “Shut up, Bitch!” Brandy sighed. God damn it. There’s gonna be a shitload of paperwork. And I’ll be late for the wedding rehearsal.
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