Samentha allowed Anitra to drop heavily to the kitchen floor and pulled Anitra’s cellphone from her limp grasp. She skimmed over the text message reply that her friend was in the process of typing to someone named Lamont. She had already sent a message saying that she had one on the hook for him to reel in. What did that mean? As if in response came sudden recollection of the hungry look on the face of the man on the street, looking up at Anitra’s window.
Samentha shuddered, not wanting to find out what that expression meant. He had replied to the text message, asking how long Anitra wanted him to wait. She was about to send him a message back saying come up in ten minutes. Samentha erased that time and typed in twenty minutes. She fought the urge to flee, forced herself to stand still until her heart rate slowed, so she could think through with a clear head. Anitra meant to sick the man on her. Leaving would only cause Lamont to pursue her. Even if Samentha could evade him, Anitra knew enough about Samentha to set him on her track. There had to be some way to get them off of her back.
Samentha suddenly felt lightheaded. She hadn’t eaten anything and the energy she exerted rendering Anitra unconscious had burned up a lot of calories. Samentha’s stomach was empty. She realized that her blood sugar was bottoming out. If Samentha didn’t refuel quickly, she would be too weak to maintain her hold on Harriet’s consciousness. Her eyes fell upon the teacups on the counter. Anitra always drank out of the same chipped mug. Samentha reached for the other one, raised it to her lips and instantly recognized the strong odor of patchouli oil.
“That sneaky bitch was going to dose me with confusion potion,” exclaimed Samentha.
She emptied Anitra’s mug and poured in the tainted contents of her own. Samentha washed out her own mug, refilled it with heavily sugared fresh tea and returned the mugs to the table. She tried shaking Anitra awake. Time was running short, so Samentha the filled a glass with cold water from the tap and poured the water over Anitra’s face, until she came to coughing and sputtering.
“What the hell…” started Anitra.
“Now, now calm yourself,” Samentha ordered brandishing a knife from the butcher’s block on the counter. She gestured towards the table and Anitra reluctantly complied, eyeing the blade in Samentha’s hand.
“That’s a good girl. I thought we could have a quick drink, before your friend comes.”
“You had no right to go through my phone.”
“And you had no right to sick your man on me for no reason. So, I guess we’re even.”
Samentha could practically see the wheels turning in Anitra’s brain, as she looked down at the mugs and remembered spiking Samentha’s drink. Antira suddenly put on a false jovial air and complied, picking up her mug and gulping at the tea.
“Well, come on Samentha drink up.”
Samentha took an equally large gulp and watched a sly smile spread across Anitra’s face. Her friend visibly relaxed and became downright talkative. A few minutes later, she stopped in mid sentence, looking bewildered.
“What was I saying…I..”
Samentha heard footsteps pounding up the stairwell. Anitra’s friend had obviously decided he couldn’t wait. Samentha quickly calculated the probability of getting away. No time. She stood looking around the kitchen wildly. Samentha knew where Anitra kept her stash of potions. She rummaged through it, ignoring the glass bottles which toppled and rolled out of the cabinet, dropping to the floor around her.
By scent, she identified the bottle of confusion potion. Samentha removed the electric teakettle lid and was relieved to see it was still more than half full of boiling water. She quickly poured another spiked mug of tea. A split second later, Samentha heard a key turn in the lock and Lamont called out. Anitra directed him to kitchen.
“Why didn’t you answer my last text,” he said accusingly.
“What’s wrong with you? Is that the girl? Hey baby, turn around so I can see your face. If Nicole doesn’t mess up your face, then I might tell her to let me keep you…after she’s done with you.”
Samentha didn’t turn around. She could see him reflected in the silver plated teakettle, quickly advancing towards her. Samentha took a deep breath and let it out slowly, to steady herself. Lamont was reaching for a handful of her hair, when she abruptly turned and dashed the kettle’s boiling contents into his face. His hands reflexively went to his face. Samentha quickly pivoted and spun around behind him, before his vision cleared. She lifted the back of Lamont’s oversized t-shirt, pulled out the gun concealed in the small of his back, and gave him a rough shove. He went stumbling forward, but recovered quickly, preparing to launch himself up at her.
“You bitch! I’m gonna..”
“You’re gonna what,” asked Samentha cocking the pistol and aiming it at Lamont. He went silent, glaring at her sullenly. Samentha stepped back out of his reach, motioning for him to take a seat at the table across from Anitra. He grudgingly complied, eyeing Samentha speculatively.
“Don’t try whatever desperate idea just popped into your head. Sit your ass down! Put your cellphone on the table. Good boy, now drink your tea.”
Samentha put the second mug of spiked tea in front of him, snatched up his phone, and moved to lean against the kitchen counter, keeping the gun trained on him. He folded his arms across his chest and sneered at her.
“You’re crazy, if you think I’m gonna drink that.”
“Either you drink it, or I shoot you in the throat and pour it down the hole.”
“That’s if you can hit me, before I knock you out.”
Sametha went into a shooter’s stance, aiming for the middle of Lamont’s forehead. One look at her steady hands decided him. He reluctantly took a sip. Samentha sighed annoyedly.
“I don’t have all day. Drink it all now.”
Cursing under his breath, he gulped down the hot liquid. Anitra looked on in confused silence. Lamont wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and sneered.
“You still ain’t gonna get away. My boys are waiting for you downstairs in the front and back. They saw you walk in here, so they know what you look like.”
Samentha waited patiently, watching his expression gradually relax into a look of befuddlement. Samentha slid his weapon in her waistband and pulled the bottom of her shirt out to conceal it. He looked from Anitra’s confused face to Samentha.
“Who are you?”
“I’m Anitra’s next door neighbor. I came over to borrow some sugar. She just invited me to join you for tea, but I’ve got to get going.”
“Oh, ok then. Nice meeting you.”
“Nice to meet you.”
She retrieved her purse from the living room. One look at the street below and Samentha realized that he was right. One of his people was at the curb, leaning against a van, waiting for him to drag her outside. The thought of another stranger bounding up the steps to Anitra’s apartment, sent her rushing into the hallway. Samentha briefly considered going up to the roof, thought better of it, and took the steps down to the basement instead.
Samentha stood in the dank hallway looking wildly around, knowing time was short before one of the men outside grew impatient and went up to Anitra’s apartment. She still had their cellphones. No one outside had sent Lamont any messages. Samentha started opening doors. Behind one door, she found the boiler room. Another opened onto the tenant storage cages which were padlocked. Samentha found the laundry room and discovered a dryer full of clean clothes.
By the time Lamont’s men were searching the building, Samentha walked right past them dressed in different clothes, with her hair concealed under a scarf. A laundry basket of clothes completed her disguise. They rushed past her. As soon as the last man exited the stairwell, Samentha headed outside. She had to remind herself not to run, in case one of the men was lurking outside. Samentha made it to her car and pulled off unchallenged. She heaved a sigh of relief and thanked the person who had left their laundry unattended. They would return to find a generous cash exchange where their clothes were in the machine, in exchange for their faded bundle of clothing.
That had been a very close call, but it was worth it. Now, Samentha knew exactly what to do next. It would be risky, but she saw a way to kill two birds with one stone; help Reverend Mother and get Harriet out from under Stryker’s thumb. All she had to do was start a street fight.