The Mothership Connection (12)

Parts 1, 2345678910 and 11 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. Once Diana does some research, she finds out that Big Daddy Jay was married to one of the other men in the group, Thirty Ought, who has since disappeared, presumed to be hiding from the law but possibly recently disinterred from the Beltline. They confront BDJ in a club and he explains that he and Thirty Ought got married for medical insurance: Thirty Ought had multiple sclerosis. Diana gets a corrupt judge to allow them to disinter a new grave near another section of the Beltline, they find Thirty Ought’s body, and inform our aspiring rapper Christopher that he’s actually Thirty Ought’s heir, he owns half of everything, and if he helps them by snitching, he can have it all. But Big Daddy has a plausible claim that Thirty Ought died of natural causes, and that he hid the body because he feared he’d be held responsible for it way back then. Now, let’s enjoy the final plot twist:

The skinny, balding man in the orange jumpsuit arranged the file folders in front of him. “Thanks for taking the time, y’all.”

“It was a long drive, Mr. Gibson,” said Mustapha. “This better be worth it.”

“Oh, it is. I’m not yanking your chain because I’m some bored gangster, stuck in a cell.”

Diana said, “We read your file. You’re a credit to the penal system.”

“Not so sure about that, ma’am.”

“You got your GED, your BA and now you’re halfway through law school. That’s impressive.”

“Thank you. But what I’m saying is, the penal system fought me all the way. They have no interest in rehabilitation. Never mind; that’s not the point. Way I hear it, y’all hauled Big Daddy up for moving the body, but the DA can’t make a murder charge stick. What I’m saying is, I can help you, but of course you need to help me. I got thirteen more years before I go out for parole; I want to do my last year of law school in the classroom.”

Mustapha started to stand up. “Talking about yanking our chain.”

“Don’t be hasty, Inspector. You want to see that monster go down, I know what nobody else does. Besides, my nephew? Christopher needs me, for protection.” He read their faces. “Legal protection. Business sense. My gangster days are far behind me. And the hip-hop business is full of thugs and criminals. You’ve both spoken to Christopher at length: they’ll eat him alive.”

Diana said, “Where is Christopher, by the way? Our DA can’t seem to find him. I’m worried Mr. Oakes already has got to him.”

“Rest your mind, ma’am. I’ve got a friend, a parolee? Christopher is staying with his cousins out in the country, away from all the rough and tumble. Your DA needs him, call me: he’ll be there in three hours or so. But y’all want Big Daddy for murder, and so do I. Hell, I’d give you him for free if it wasn’t my only ticket out of this cage. Me and Thirty Ought? We rode bikes together when we were like five years old. He was my brother. The hardest man I know. So he was gay. Someone else? I might not have liked it. But we both knew it from the start. Ain’t nothing. So that bitch Big Daddy comes along, dumbass suburban kid wants to be a big name, and he figures it out right away. He was the love of Thirty Ought’s life. All the while, they was the New Pirate Mafia? Thirty Ought saved his best poetry for old Big Daddy. I read how Big Daddy saying they got married for health insurance. Bullshit. Thirty Ought was still around to ask, he’d tell you it was the dream wedding he always wanted. And then that snake betrayed him. Broke his heart. Probably what killed him.”

Diana said, “That’s… touching, really. But you just said probably killed him. But probably doesn’t cut it in court.”

Mustapha said, “Yeah. There’s no thirteen years off a sentence for probably.”

Gibson smiled, slowly. “You’re right. I was in here by the time Thirty Ought disappeared. His mom came here, twice, trying to find out if I knew anything. I couldn’t help her, not with anything concrete.”

Mustapha groaned, and began to stand up. “Thanks for wasting our day, skell.”

“Please, don’t be hasty, Inspector. Sit down and hear a little story I got to tell.”

So, what’s the surprise? You might be able to read it between the lines. Gibson can’t have witnessed Thirty Ought’s death. So what’s he got that will take thirteen years off his sentence? What’s he got that will nail Big Daddy for murder? It’s all there: you just have to know where to look.

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  1. The Mothership Connection (13) | Julian Cage

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