“You assumed I wouldn’t notice”

A year has passed as the cold winter started to diminish across Harlem finally. This passage of time halted the schemes of many, primarily evil men. The club scene was still at its height of brilliance in the form of soulful music.

Regrettably, the drug scene was just as decisive, if not more of an influence, than the incredible writers of Harlem. It was a known fact that the Forrest Beyond the Trees Bar rose in prominence, the leading recreation of jazz masters. Forrest Baylor mugged his power in half of New York City; he was the man behind the throne. He even par with the Italian mafia leaders and the Polish Crime families.

Even with all of that happening, De’nee stood behind the scenes. She gathered much influence without the glaring eyes of the public. Her natural enemies had a problem seeing who she was. She owned her new club in Brooklyn called “Melody Hour,” and it was a tremendous success. One thing that made her stand out was the booking of Negro women jazz singers.

They, the people, flocked to De’nee and most of this was thanks to Billie Holiday putting in a good word around the circuit. Den’ee and Forrest worked arrangements with each other and shared some acts on different nights. The talent appreciated getting two gigs, nearing the same pay as they did from the exposure along with the door sales.

Den’ee likewise ran underground booking and escort services. The peculiar thing was that the escorts were the bookies, and their dealings with sex included bets on local sporting games. It turned out to be a significant moneymaker, as Den’ee found out, but already knew that men were more acceptable to spending money if their simplistic needs were met first. She understood that reasoning quite well as it mirrored her relationship with Forrest. “My appetite of sexual relations cools itself on money ventures” is what she would say routinely. To Den’ee’s credit, she only had a side relationship, more would be considered too messy, and she knew her enterprise could be endangered if control was not met. This, of course, destroyed her relationship with Martin. It outlasted its purpose, which was a terrible development of ambition.

One recurring issue was her mental state regarding the people she had seen die. Den’ee never forgave herself for the death of her grandmother, as well as the young boy by the water. She did not even want to remember his name and went through hell to forget it. These nightmares happened at very emotional points in her life. The normal cycle each month where emotions were an influx of highs and lows. Furthermore, before, and sometimes after her dealings with Forrest. Den’ee somewhat believed that guilt was playing with her, and it is beginning to get unbearable because of the affinity with her former boss.

But at times, she brushed it off, moved on, but never really did in her mind as she carried on the business.

Then it all came to an end.

excerpt from the short story “You assumed I wouldn’t notice” from the book Certain Moments of Time.

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