Four Season Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA – Evening
It felt like forever since he’d been home, the city where he had been born and raised. The city he had grown to despise, the city that had crushed his father to a pathetic pulp. Herman had fled several months ago, barely escaping the trap that the feds and his nemesis, Hondo Harrelson had set for him. Herman was beginning to believe that the man was immortal after the latest incident that should have killed him for sure. Herman had been reduced to doing his own dirty work, his right-hand man and best friend had been killed. The list of offenses against Hondo and the city of Los Angeles was growing. Herman took Maurice’s death personal, how else could he take it. Everything Maurice did had been done for Herman. Now he was dead, and it felt as if a chunk of him was dead as well.
Herman wondered if his father would have been disappointed at his son, forced to flee like a dog with his tail between his legs. None of his plans had led to a satisfactory end. Everything, the shooting of Raymont Harris, the killing of Buck Spivey, the bombing, and shooting at the high school had failed to bring him the satisfaction he desperately needed. No one knew that he was behind it all, even now the recent killings of police officers were being credited to street gangs, mere thugs who didn’t have the brains to pull of a donut shop robbery without getting caught. He knew it was foolish to come back, but he needed to see Hondo dead and the city of Angels brought to its knees. Those he’d entrusted to kill Hondo had failed to get the job done. He missed Maurice, no one could replace him, no one.
As if on cue, Herman’s cell phone rang. Pulling it from his pocket he frowned at the name flashing on the screen.
“I’m here.” She began. “This place is crawling with cops.”
“Have you lost your mind? Do you want to get caught?” Herman yelled.
“I’m sorry! I have to make this right! I told you I could handle this and I’m not leaving until he’s dead!”
“Quite the contrary, my dear! You are to leave that hospital and leave now!”
“NOW! Make sure you’re not seen! I’m in town and I’ll take it from here.”
“I’m sorry Mr. Lauder, please let me make it up to you.” Loretta pleaded.
“Oh, trust me, you will make it up to me; you owe me now and I always collect. Now, get out of there!”
St. Mary’s General Hospital –
Leroy wasn’t ready to see Hondo, but he needed to speak to his son. Leroy knew his son and he knew Darryl was blaming himself for how things had been between him and Hondo the last few weeks. Leroy had to take that blame, he’d gone out of his way to make things uncomfortable between his son and his guardian. Leroy felt justified in everything he had done, until now. Now he wondered if could have handled things differently. If Hondo died…Leroy refused to let his mind go any further in that direction.
Leroy pulled into the parking lot and found a space near the entrance. The woman rushing through the doors caught his attention. He’d been looking for her and until this moment she had alluded him. Leroy had put the word out on the streets that he was looking for the woman, but she remained one step ahead of him.
Loretta didn’t see him until he was in her face. The rage in Leroy’s eyes scared the crap out of her. Leroy read her mind and he grabbed her as she tried to run from him.
“Oh no you don’t!” Leroy growled.
Loretta’s body slammed against the wall, Leroy’s body pinned her against the building, and she could feel his hot breath against her skin.
“Let me go!” She moaned.
“Did you think I was playing?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Loretta insisted.
“I told you and Bobo and y’all’s crew that Hondo was off limits!”
Loretta tried in vain to wiggle free from his grip.
“For your information, I’m not in Bobo’s crew! I work alone.”
“It still doesn’t change the fact that I told you not to touch Hondo or my son!”
“Leroy, I didn’t do anything! Let me go or I’m going to start screaming!”
Leroy shifted his body weight and wrapped his arm around her neck as if renewing his acquaintance with an old friend. Then pulling her close he whispered in her ear.
“I saw you. I heard about the hit taken out on LAPD so, I’ve been following Hondo for the last few days.”
Loretta relaxed. It was no use fighting him.
“I saw you flag him down and shoot him, Loretta!”
“So now what? Huh Leroy, what you going to do?”
“I’m going to make sure you pay…”
Darryl was happy to see his father. Maybe it meant he was going to let go of his beef with Hondo long enough to come see him.
Darryl picked up his speed. His father was talking to someone, a woman who Darryl didn’t recognize. He couldn’t see her face but if he knew his dad the woman was probably a knockout.
“Let me go Leroy!” Loretta moaned again. “What’s your boy going to think when he sees his dad roughing up a woman?”
The familiar voice calling his name for a third time was enough of a distraction for Loretta to break free. She knew that Leroy would not want to explain why he was keeping her from leaving. It was now or never.
“This ain’t over Loretta!”
The woman didn’t hear him, she was half-way out of the parking lot disappearing into the darkness. Leroy hid his anger behind a smile as Darryl reached him.
“Hey Dad! I was calling you didn’t you hear me?”
“Uh, sorry son I was taking care of some business, you know how that goes.”
Darryl wasn’t sure if he believed his father, but he didn’t press him. He was just glad to see him. The two embraced for a brief moment.
“Are you hear to see Hondo?”
“Nah, I’m here to see you? You good?” Leroy asked.
Darryl walked toward the large fountain and sat. Leroy followed him waiting for an answer to his question.
“How’s he doing?” Leroy pressed.
“He’s the same.”
“What about you? When was the last time you ate or slept?”
“I need him to be okay.”
“Hondo’s tough, he’ll pull through. Hondo and I haven’t agreed on much in a while, but I do know that he’d’ be upset if he knew that you weren’t taking care of yourself.”
“I said some foul things to him yesterday. I can’t help but think that if I hadn’t, he’d never been caught off guard…”
“Hey, this is not your fault.”
“Nah man. This ain’t on you, son! This whole thing with cops getting shot, Hondo just got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, that’s all.”
Darryl collapsed against his father. It had been the first time he’d allowed himself to be weak in the older man’s presence. All his life he wanted to show his father that he was a man, strong and fearless and worthy of his love. He knew it was the only way that his father would accept him. Tears were a sign that he wasn’t ready or able to be a man. This was the way of the streets; it was the way to survive the unknown that waited around every corner. Darryl felt his father’s strong arms engulf him and pull him tight against his body. It felt odd, strange but it felt good. Tears began to stream from his eyes; tears that had been held in place for too many years. It felt good to free himself of the weight, but most of all it felt good to be held by his father who had never held him before. Perhaps this was a new beginning…Darryl could only hope.
Leroy held his son. He felt shame not because his son was crying, but because he had not allowed him to cry before. He’d held him to an impossible standard; one that even he himself had not been able to maintain. Leroy had failed him and had refused to acknowledge that failure. It was easier to blame Hondo than to accept his own blame. Even though he was still not ready to admit it, his son was more of a man than he could ever be. Darryl had survived a life of danger, and rejection and hardship and he was still willing to allow him into his life. Somehow, his son had learned forgiveness and second chances; perhaps because he had found his own second chance and he had found the courage to grab onto that chance and believe that he was worthy and able to have more than what his father and the streets had taught him.
Leroy continued to hold his son, not yet ready to let go…not ready to admit that he needed this moment with his son, the closeness; It felt strange, but it felt good and even as he fought back his own tears he wondered if there was perhaps a second chance for him as well.
(Photo credit: TV Insider )
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