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Dana L. Davis
Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now


“But I don’t have any money.”

“Child. Does it look like I need your little bit of money?”

I hesitate again and she rolls her eyes in a way so similar to my mom it makes me smile. Mom was a big eye roller.

“Way I see it, you got two choices. You can take all them braids out by yourself and try to make sense of that head of hair of yours. Or you can come and relax in my chair and let me do all the hard work. I’ll be fine either way. Plus, that means I got the morning to relax and catch up on my DVR.”

“Okay, okay. Let me...clean up my mess and leave a note.”

“Now, that’s more like it.”

* * *

“You want something to drink?”

“Sure.”

I stand behind Mrs. McKinney as she fiddles with a lock on a door inside their six-car garage. Back in Chicago I saw two-car garages, sometimes even three...but six? I check out a sick silver Mercedes S-class Coupe parked beside the black Hummer I saw last night. I know for a fact these cars are over a hundred thousand dollars. Mostly cuz of Keelah. She’s really into cars and Mercedes is her favorite. There’s also a vintage Porsche, a Tesla plugged into a weird outlet and a BMW. Keelah would go ballistic if she knew I was this close to all these amazing cars. Mrs. McKinney finally pushes the door open and we step into a separate room.

It’s a hair salon. In their garage.

“Whoa. This is amazing.” The floors are bright white tile and there’s a salon chair, a washbowl and sink, wall-to-wall mirrors, a leather couch pressed up against the wall, a stainless-steel fridge and a mounted flat-screen TV.

“Thank you, sweetie. I’m supposed to be retired but I still do so much hair, the wife and I decided to have the garage remodeled. I got drinks in that fridge right there. Help yourself.”

She flips on the lights and I move toward the fridge pushed up against the back wall. A grin spreads across my face as I pull open the door. It’s pop! Rows and rows of it. Root beer, cream soda, Coke, even orange and red. I grab a can of cream soda, flip up the tab and down the whole thing within a few seconds.

“Slow down, now. You gonna make yourself sick.”

“They only drink water over there,” I say, out of breath. “And they put leaves in it to make it taste better.”

“Leaves?” She shakes her head and I grab another cream soda. “Come on over and have a seat in my chair.”

As I move toward the chair, the door to the shop opens and suddenly Marcus McKinney is standing across from me. I freeze, gripping the cold can so tightly I fear I might crush it and splatter pop everywhere. He’s about the same height as me and his thick makeup is smeared so heavily the edges of his hoodie, pulled low over his head, are slightly stained with a light dusting of white. His emerald green eyes are piercing, two dramatic flashes of color against the white makeup on his skin. Last night, from a distance, in the dark, he seemed so scary. But up close...he’s terrifying. He stands, hands deep into the pockets of his hoodie, staring at me like I’m the one who looks like the circus freak.

“This is my son, Marcus,” Mrs. McKinney says with a smile, like she’s introducing me to someone who doesn’t look like they could haunt my dreams and rip out my beating heart. “Marcus is eighteen. He’s a senior in high school. Marcus? Can you say hello to Tiffany? She’s Dr. Stone’s daughter. Just in from Chicago.”

Marcus continues staring at me for what feels like the longest moment of my life before turning to his mom. He pulls a cell phone from his pocket with a gloved hand and holds it up for her to see. Mrs. McKinney grabs her own cell, resting on the counter beside her, and reads what’s on the screen.

“I’m fine with that, Marcus. Take the Hummer, though. You not taking none of my babies out. The Hummer is your only option.”


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