Mediterranean blue bled into light blue as the darkness skittled away, revealing a sky all primed for the sun's resplendent arrival. It was as if an invisible painter was working his magic and onlookers had no choice but to stand awestruck at what was unfolding before them. Jackie and Vincent were no different as they stood at the edge of a wooden jetty overlooking the expanse of lake before them; their hands lodged in each other's. His grip was tight. Last night was their first and last night together. Jackie and her boys had to disappear, they had to go into hiding since the shooting of Timothy Jones. Her youngest had shot him but it was cut and dry self defense. Both boys were now in a nearby hospital suffering from shock and will be out later today. Anticipating reprisals from Timothy's gang, Detective Vincent Strauss saw to it that they got into the witness protection program where she and her boys would be safe before and during the trials. The evidence against the gang members were strong concerning crimes witnessed by her boys. They would leave for an undisclosed location tonight and he will never see her again.
Yellows and oranges and a slight tinge of grey now plastered the sky, exploding into colors of life; exploding into colors of awakening. Vincent took her into his arm as the cold air tore through them and couldn't resist the urge to kiss her and he did and she held on to his broadness like she was about to fall of a cliff.
"I love you," he murmured into her afro.
"Oh god, Vince!" Was all she could say, her hold on him persisting.
Gently he rocked her, "when you ran into me in front of that pharmacy, I swear it was god answering my prayers. I was always so worried about you and the boys since Clement died. I've loved you forever."
"I don't want to leave you. Just one night together and we've been in love for so long."
"But he was my best friend and partner..............."
" .....................and to betray him in that way was unthinkable, I know."
"He had to be taken down, he was becoming too dangerous!"
"Who'd have ever thought that Clement would leave the law and hook up with drugs?"
"The lure was strong and he didn't love the law enough."
Slowly the fog dissipated and their bodies were still sealed together; his long one against her petite one. Vincent's head was now buried into the hollow of her neck, "I'm so sorry that I cut you off from my life. I had my boys to protect........and I was convinced that you were the one who shot him."
"That drug bust was a mess but I was prepared to take that bullet for him," Vincent recalled dolefully. "Detective Sloane boasted on that kill for months. I loved Clement."
"I loved the man too."
Vincent took off his denim jacket and spread it on the jetty and sat down. He held out his hand to Jackie and wordlessly she took it and succumbed to the spot beside the handsome white man. The warmth of the sun was felt for a short time. They watched as it now struggled to find it's way through the virulent mist that developed and veiled the scenery. Even the tall pine trees surrounding them became invisible as it thickened.
"When do you leave?"
"We should be in the airport for eight o'clock tonight."
Her face was turned away from his and he knew she was crying, "wow, the strong, black woman in tears. For all the years I've known you, I've never seen you cry."
They burst out in light laughter as helped her dry away her tears.
"I will always love you, Jackie Kingsley." Vincent declared breathlessly and once again drew her into his arms and kissed her fiercely on the mouth and inevitably they made love on the jetty that was only a few feet away from his cabin, on that cold, misty morning in October. Afterwards as their bodies lay entangled and engulfed in passionate warmth and with Vincent holding on to her for dear life, Jackie couldn't help but to recount the incident that led up to this moment. It began on that fateful afternoon, after her adventitious encounter with good, old Mrs. Doris Whitby at 'Tony's Grocery Store,' and her apocryphal revelation
Jackie charged her way out of the store and through the crowd on the street that made her route home look like it was set for an obstacle course. She wanted to scream, to break free from all the confining bodies and run home to her boys as fast as she could. Like a spinning carousel, her head kept recalling what Mrs. Withby said and she needed her to be wrong. Brent and Aaron were far too young to be involved in any thing so heavy......or were they? Their father was no different. All he left behind was heartache and devastation caused by the drugs he loved so much and besides that, this was New York City and she had heard of twelve and thirteen year old being arrested for the possession of guns and drugs. But Jackie knew her boys and they knew her........they knew how much she hated drugs and drug pushers!
She could see them now, Brent in his room busily attacking his homework and Aaron anticipating her arrival. He couldn't wait to tell her about the latest fight with his nemesis, Jamie Mitchell.
"Brent! Aaron!" She called out as she burst into the apartment. But no one was there to answer her call. Jackie looked down at her watch. School was out for the day, have been for the past hour. Calling out to them once more, she rushed into their bedroom but found it dark and empty. Discouraged and almost in tears, she stood in the doorway and pondered on the situation blaring her in the face. If what Doris' claims were true there would have
to be some evidence linking them to Timothy Jones....... like money. She embarked on a frantic search going through drawers, overthrowing mattresses, shaking out pillow cases and books but nothing. Her prayers had barely left her lips when she came upon Brent's bed stand that stood cluttered with picture, his portable phone and a deflated basketball.
Wondering why the ball was deflated, she took it up and realized it had been slit opened and hidden inside were wads of cash, thousands of dollars in cash. She stood and stared at her pecuniary find, but was too stunned to react. Doris Withby was right, Timothy Jones was definitely a threat to her family and she must do something about it. There was no way in hell she was going to lose her sons to drugs like she lost their father! Feeling a surge of disgust and hysteria laving her insides, she headed for her bedroom. Opening her closet, Jackie took out a small leather box that was once made for a secret compartment in Clement's desk. She opened it and smiled a little and took out the .38 special revolver from it's confining abode. It bore no resemblance to her deceased husband's ceased collection of intricate weaponry but it could take lives......a life......Timothy Jones life.
With her mind knowing no reprieve to the gruesome thought of killing Timothy, Jackie rushed out of the apartment. She needed to get it over and done with. With anger fueling her determination and steps, she began to run, not minding the inquisitive eyes or the cold wind that beat against her face. She had the gun and the will and no one to stop her. Fear had abandoned her and so had the tendency to acquiesce with the logics of her mind, for there was no logic when it came to protecting her boys. Then it happened just as she had anticipated, flashes of their moments spent together as a family played before her like an old home video. They were moments fringed with all the trimmings of youthful innocence, unmarred by the dirty hands of lawlessness. But look what Timothy had gone and done. Jackie ran past Al's pharmacy, seeing nothing but the path that led to their turf and so was unable to see the tall figure concurrently exiting the drug store. Head on, she crashed into a broad chest and together both bodies hit the wet, filthy sidewalk.
"I-I'm sorry was her fumbled apology as she struggled to extricate herself from the entanglement.
"No, no, I should've been looking," the voice belonging to a man offered.
Then she looked up and saw a familiar face, eyes, " Detective Strauss?!"
Promptly she rose to her feet.
"I should be , I landed on you," she said with quiet embarrassment. Suddenly there was a noisy, clattering sound at her feet. Some- thing had fallen out of her coat. Quickly Vincent stooped and picked what seemed to be a gun, "this yours?"
"Yes, it is." Was Jackie's cool response, "I was taking it to be serviced."
Vincent looked into her eyes and saw a gleam of guilt flash across the lovely face that held them.
"You know you could be arrested for carrying around a concealed weapon?"
"Then arrest me or give back my gun!" Jackie demanded, her eyes steady on his.
"What's going on, Jackie?" He asked. He was adamant as he stood rigid before her.
"I'm not going to pour my heart out to you!" Jackie said in disbelief.
"Something's going on, you can tell me. I just want to make sure you're not up to something illegal."
"Or else you'll shoot me like you shot Clement?"
"Here we go again!" He cried rolling his eyes heavenwards, " as a matter of fact, Jackie, I could be preventing two fatherless boys from becoming motherless."
"Damn you!" She screamed and lifted a hand to strike him but he detained it in mid-air and held on to it.
"Let me go!"
"I'm sorry but I have to take you down to the station."
Vincent spun her around and attempted to place a pair of handcuffs on her, when........"
"Okay what? That I take you downtown or that you tell me what is really going on?"
She deflated her lungs and dropped her head in capitulation, "he made my sons push drugs. I have to get him out of the way, detective!"
"Who? Who made them push drugs?" His features grew pensive, "look at me Jackie."
"Jones? How do you know?"
"I have my sources and look," she pulled out the money she found and shoved it into his hands, "I never give them this much money."
"So what are you going to do, face those thugs all by yourself?! You know how ruthless he can be, he was your husband's right hand man. They'll maul you, Jackie! I thought you loved your boys?"
With that, Jackie charged Vincent and with blinding rage, began to pound his chest with all her maternal force, "you honkie bastard! What do you know about love?!"
In a concerted effort to ease her pain, he pulled her into his arms and embraced her in the middle of the street, "it'll be okay," he promised and pushed her away a little to peer into her face. "Would it make you feel better if I told you that I would personally look into the matter?"
"No........," she answered and broke away from him, "I want you to stay right where you're standing."
He looked down to see the gun in her hand.
"You took the gun?'
"I had to. Don't follow me, because if you do, I swear I'll blow your head off."
"I guess this is one of those, 'do whatever I feel is right moments?'"
"No, detective, I know this is right."
Slowly she backed away and broke into a run
He stood powerless and watched as she disappeared around the corner. He couldn't let her do this. He cared for Jackie and her sons and he knew he had to devise an urgent plan to keep her skin intact. Getting into his car that was parked nearby, he decided to pursue her. But by the time he made it around the corner, she was gone.
Careful not to activate the warthog's poignant sense of smell, the panther, knowing the depths of her own ravenous hunger, crept stealthily through the thick savannah grass, mindful not to disturb a single blade. For the slightest suspicion of an impending attack, the warthog can retaliate and even maul its attacker with its long, curved tusk.......
"Looks like we're havin' some fine comp'ny today, fellas." Timothy sneered when he saw her coming towards them.
In deadly silence, Jackie stopped before them and threw the money at their feet.
"What you want, lady? We ain't got no drugs for you!" Stated one of the gang members.
"That ain't no lady, that's Mrs. Kingsley and she don't want no drugs, Eddie, she wants her boys. Ain't that right, Mrs. Kingsley?"
Scanning there turf she realized that her boys were nowhere to be seen. She saw Timothy's eyes widened with fear when he spotted the .38 special gleaming in her hand. She lifted her hand into the air and pointed it at him as she strode towards him with intent, but from nowhere, Aaron Kingsley appeared and grabbed the gun from his mother's hand and shot Timothy in the face. The boy had seen Timothy pointing his gun towards her that he had hidden in his jacket pocket. Aaron was about to pull the trigger once more but Vincent appeared in time to knock the gun away from his hand. He had brought with him, half of Brooklyn's police force.
"Everything is going to be fine, son. You just saved your mother's life." Vincent said calmly looking at Jackie who stood mortified with her face in her hands.
It was late evening now and she was gone. Jackie didn't want to let him go and Vincent could still feel her warmth and smell the scent of her body. With his hands dug deep into his pants pockets, he stood alone on the edge of the jetty just like he did with her this morning and took a long, deep breath. Inside the cabin bore too many memories of her, although she had only been there for one night. He would linger out here for awhile in a futile attempt to distract himself. For Jackie to live he had to let her go and it would take some time for him to come to terms with that. Vincent's feelings were now dark with loss and sadness as he somberly watched the moon reflecting off the lake.