The Mothership Connection (7)

Parts 1, 2345 and 6 of this story about an empty grave found in an under-construction Beltline where we try to ascertain whether I can write a compelling story with hip-hop as the background. We just found out the kid with a “gang tag” doing his homework in the car the night of the pot festival is an aspiring rapper with a hip-hop pedigree that connects him to Big Daddy Jay, who a decade ago was a big star, but is now a producer, and recently out of jail in New York where he took the fall for a protégé. Then we heard from people who walked down what would become the Beltline late at night after the pot festival, where they say a guy digging a grave. Now Diana gets to do some research:

Mustapha stopped at the entrance to their cubicle. Diana had headphones on, not her usual thing at all—and they were the big fat headphones all the douchebags were wearing these days. He craned his neck to see the tablet screen, which was playing a hip-hop video, a rapid cut sequence of clichés: brand names, guns, wheels, liquor, women. The desktop monitor had a dozen windows open: the one in front was the Vital Records page for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Mustapha made sure to rock back and forth so his shadow would alert her to his presence; sometimes, she got kinda jumpy.

But she calmly pulled the headphones from her ears. “I think we might be onto something.”

“Yeah? You going to change jobs, become a fly girl?”

“Too old. My butt’s not big enough. Sit down: this one will take a moment to explain.”

“I’ll make tea.”

“Okay. So Big Daddy Jay, who does kind of look like Rick Ross? He’s the one from the suburbs, came down to Pittsburgh to hang with the real gangsters, takes up with now-dead partner Sweet T, the guy with the boombox in the tub, and Thirty Ought, the hard guy with the pedigree. Sweet T’s dead, but Thirty Ought is missing. As in, actually reported missing, by his mom. Filed a report in 2007: Missing Persons did a truly cursory investigation, probably figuring the guy’s got money and is a well-known felon,”

“So he’s either buried somewhere, like the train tracks over in Midtown,”

“Or, what they figure, living somewhere under an assumed name, somewhere where all the other bangers can’t come back up on him.”

“Man, you have been watching a lot of videos.”

“I have to keep watching them over again, just to figure out what the heck they’re saying. But I haven’t got the good part yet. Missing Persons does just enough to satisfy Thirty Ought’s moms—er, mom—and filed it away. And if they’d done just a few more hours’ work, they’d have found something real interesting. See here?” She tapped the main monitor screen. “A marriage license. From Massachusetts, 2004, between Arthur Oakes a.k.a. Big Daddy Jay, and Tyrell Beatty,”

“Hang on: a gay marriage license? Tell me Tyrell ain’t Thirty Ought’s real name.”

“It is. They were, and still are, legally married. But that’s not even sort of all of it. The New Pirate Mafia was a corporation: everything split three ways, and Sweet T died intestate and without heirs. So in the absence of anyone clever enough in Sweet T’s extended family to gum up the works, Thirty Ought and Big Daddy get his share.”

Mustapha looked up from the teapot he was packing full of mint leaves. “And with Thirty Ought gone, Big Daddy gets it all. How he financed his move to the big time.”

“But that’s the thing. Thirty Ought does have a will, on file with the courts. When he dies, his share goes to,”

“His big gay husband?”

“Nope. Frank Gibson, now deceased in a drive-by, father of,”

“Um… oh. Our boy Christopher.”

“Thirty Ought and Frank were first cousins. With Thirty Ought declared dead, half of the New Pirate Mafia belongs to Christopher. But with Thirty Ought missing, there’s no probate, and nobody’s the wiser. Frank might have known he was Thirty Ought’s heir, but Christopher probably doesn’t.”

“Let’s go talk to Thirty Ought’s mom, then; see if she we can pry it open that way.”

“Can’t. Died about six months ago.”

“Well.” He poured, then sipped his tea, saw Diana wince because she thought he had burned his tongue. “You have to wonder if that was one of the reasons old Big Daddy set out for a colder climate. Out of sight, out of mind. Waits till the old lady’s died to come back and spend time with his homies, figures he’s home free. Oh, right; and then someone explains the Beltline to him, and he panics. He had to panic, if he used Christopher as his ride.”

“I’m thinking Christopher has no idea he’s Thirty Ought’s heir.”

“Grandma seemed pretty sharp.”

“She’s probably doesn’t know, either.”

Again, I can do it at three removes: Mustapha watching Diana, Diana doing research, the documents from a decade before. So it’s easier to throw a crazy wrench into the story by making Big Daddy Jay and Thirty Ought two married men. And now the story is about money, not about rhymes. Thank goodness, because I have no flow.

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  1. The Mothership Connection (8) | Julian Cage
  2. The Mothership Connection (9) | Julian Cage
  3. The Mothership Connection (10) | Julian Cage
  4. The Mothership Connection (11) | Julian Cage
  5. The Mothership Connection (12) | Julian Cage
  6. The Mothership Connection (13) | Julian Cage

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