And That's the Name of That Tune
by Johnnie Mitchell
Delbert Mayes was nervous. He had butterflies darting about in his stomach. It was something that didn't usually happen to him these days. Delbert sat on the edge of the bed in his bedroom getting ready for work. He had on dark pants and socks and was tying the strings on his black dress shoes. He was on his way to a job he had held only a couple months. He was a clerk and book keeper for an exclusive, high priced jewelry store.
On this day the owner would be away and he would have to man the operation alone. Delbert moved across the room to the dresser. He was a average looking light brownskinned black man with a receding hair line and dark brown eyes. In his late twenties, he was only five-eight, but had a muscular body as a result of taking part in health club workouts.
This wasn't always the case. During his school days he was always short and puny, the kind of geek that was considered a smart square. The kind of guy that was picked on and ridiculed by boys and patronized and ignored by girls. All that was behind him now.
In his compact economy car, Delbert drove through the middle class neighborhood where he lived and then turned off onto the interstate. When he came off the highway he was in a different world. A land of affluence. There were expensive town houses and estates, spacious grounds with lush green lawns. And finally a commercial district designed to cater to the wealthy, near wealthy, and those foolish enough to try and live beyond their means.
Delbert had to stop his car at a traffic light. Crossing the street in front of him was a tall shapely young woman in a jet black mini dress. Something about the way she smoothly slinked along reminded him of the woman in his life. Her name was Abigail Welby. They had met through his job at the jewelry store.
Delbert recalled coming from the back room and laying eyes on Abigail for the first time. She was tall, had a caramel complexion, dark hair, a Beyonce body with a Halle face. He had seen several pampered, well off women come in and out of the store, but there was something special about Abigail. A haunting, raw, animalistic allure that was encased in a classy container. She was the type of female he always longed for while he was in school but never had the nerve to approach.
Delbert was finishing up with a customer when Abigail came back to the store to pick up a diamond she was having reset. The store's owner, Norman Myers, a jowly happy-faced man of seventy, waited on her. When Myers went to get the ring she had moved in Delbert's direction.
"Hello there. Remember me?" Abigail asked.
"Oh, Yes. Yes. You're hard to forget."
"I hope you don't think I'm being too forward. But you might be able to do me a great favor."
"Oh. Sure. I mean if I can."
"You see, I'm in town spending a few weeks with my sister. She's a sweet child, but she keeps pairing me up with all these Casanova types. But what I really need is someone to spend a quiet evening out with. Would you be available?"
Delbert stood there stunned. He wasn't sure he had heard right.
"Me? You want to go out with me?"
"Yes I do," she said with a bright smile. "You seem like a nice man. Are you available to go out?"
"Well. Yes. But I don't know where-"
"Dinner will be fine. Take me to your favorite place."
It had been like a dream to Delbert. A dream that came true.
Gino's was a little Italian restaurant somewhat off the beaten path. When Delbert first started eating there it was relatively obscure. But now it was on the verge of being trendy and over crowded. He took her there on their first date.
"So. Tell me about yourself," Abigail had asked him.
"Uh. It's really not much of a story. I suppose I'm a classic underachiever. I went to college, came out and got jobs that paid less than many blue collar positions. I suppose I've been a disappointment to my family."
"You shouldn't feel that way," Abigail said sympathetically. "Money isn't everything."
"It seems. It seems to mean a lot to you."
"You've got me there. I seem to specialize in marrying and divorcing rich men."
"That's uh. An interesting line of work. Was it something you always wanted to do?"
"No. Believe it or not I went to college and majored in Business. But marriage is a lot simpler."
"Isn't it emotionally taxing."
"No. Not really. You must think I'm a first class gold digging hooch."
"No. Not at all. You're fantastic. I just can't believe I'm here with a woman like you."
It wasn't long before Delbert's relationship with Abigail became like a treacherous, exhilarating roller coaster ride with no end in sight. On their third date Abigail invited him to dinner in a luxury suite at a downtown hotel. They ate out on a terrace that provided a great view of the city's skyline. Their meal consisted of lobster, wine, duck soup, and exquisite French pastry dessert cakes.
"This is such an unreal experience for me," Delbert said with a sense of awe. "This meal. The view. And of course being here with you."
Abigail fed Delbert a sexy smirk. "If you think this is unreal just wait until later."
After dinner they found themselves gravitating toward the bedroom. From out of the blue Delbert watched Abigail calmly undo her dress and let it fall to the floor. All she wore under it were a pair of sheer yellow panties. Delbert had seen bodies so perfectly contoured and flawless only in magazines and movies. He was beckoned to move closer. Somehow he did. He found himself being caressed and kissed lightly, and then much harder.
"Come on, baby boy. Do me please," she whispered.
Delbert wasn't sure how it happened, but he found himself undressed, in bed, and locked together with Abigail. In his dream-like state it spurred him to perform better carnally than he usually would. Afterwards, when they laid together side by side, Abigail sighed and said:
"Darling, you're so fantastic in bed. I can't believe some woman hasn't gleefully claimed you."
"I'm not this good all the time. You do something strange to me."
"I hope I'll continue to."
For a week Delbert walked around in a state of perpetual bliss over the new woman in his life. But it was a bliss tempered by trepidation, second thoughts, and wondering how long it would last. The string was broken on the eighth day when he received a phone call from Abigail.
"Darling. I have some bad news. But it's not really bad. I have to leave town a little while. I have a little business thing to take care of. It has to do with one of my divorce settlements."
"Oh. That's too bad. I was looking forward to seeing you."
"Don't worry. I'll be back as soon as possible. You can count on that."
Delbert sought to fill the void left by not seeing Abigail by going to Gino's and stuffing himself. He stepped inside, scanned the room, and saw something that made his heart do a dance. Abigail was seated at a table across from a good looking guy in his thirties. They seemed to be carrying on an intense conversation.
Delbert stood frozen in place, trying to figure out which move to make. Should he go for a direct confrontation? Should he take a seat where she'll see him? Or should he turn around and leave? He opted for the quick exit.
Later that night, as Delbert sat about morosely, the phone sounded off. He let it ring several times before picking up.
"Hi baby boy, it's me," Abigail said cheerfully. "I'm calling from my lonely little hotel room. I wish you were here to stroke and choke me. We could dirty these satin sheets I'm sitting on."
"Don't. Don't lie," Delbert managed to spit out.
"What are you saying, darling?"
"I saw you tonight at Gino's. With your. Your other lover."
"Delbert. My God How could you believe that? It's not that way. You have to believe me. Please. Let me explain. I can't do this on the phone. May I come over right now?"
Delbert hesitated several beats. "All right. I suppose you can."
Fifteen minutes later, which seemed like five hours to Delbert, the door bell rang. Delbert moved over and let Abigail inside. She had a tense and worried expression on her face.
"So what's the big problem?" Delbert asked.
"May I have a drink? I need one bad."
"All I have is some wine in the kitchen."
He left and came back with a bottle of wine and a glass on a tray. Abigail took one glass of wine and downed it immediately. She poured herself another and drank half. She said: "I'm in big trouble, Delbert. I have a bad habit. Gambling. The man you saw me with. He runs an after hours gambling club. I'm into him for over twenty-five thousand dollars."
"Can't you pay him off? I mean with your money."
"Well. To tell the truth. A lot of my money is tied up in trusts and businesses. I do it to keep it from being lost by my gambling. I can't put my hands on a lot of cash right now. That's why I'm staying with my sister."
"Won't this guy give you some extra time?"
"No. Absolutely not. He threatened me. He's going to hurt me bad if I don't pay him on time. I'm so afraid "
Abigail came forward and buried her head in Delbert's chest. He embraced her.
"I want to help you. But I just don't know how. Maybe we should call the police."
"I can't do that."
"This is illegal gambling we're talking about. How can I go to the police for help?"
"I don't. I don't know what to do."
Abigail backed up and slid across the room. "There is something you could maybe help me with. It's a little shady. But it's all I can come up with. You work in a jewelry shop. I know women bring in expensive pieces to be reset or spruced up. Ier. I have a friend that's an expert at making perfect paste copies of real stones. If we could get photographs of a stone my friend could make the copy."
"Are you saying you want me to make a switch? The fake for the real thing?"
"It's a perfect plan. A perfect solution."
"But what happens when the owner of the stone finds out about the switch?"
"That shouldn't happen any time soon. By then we'll have the stone cut and fenced. I'll pay the man off and we'll have plenty left to leave town on."
Delbert stood there dumbfounded, unable to force any words from his mouth. Finally, he said:
"I. I don't know if I can do this."
Abigail came forward, her eyes looking desperate and vulnerable. "I know you're a honest man. It hurts me to ask you to do this. But if you care anything about me. If you care as much as I care about you. You'll do this for me. This one time. I do hope you do."
She moved in tight, kissed Delbert's cheek lightly, and then on the mouth much harder. Delbert couldn't deny his impending physical arousal.
Delbert and Abigail bounded off the sofa and twirled to the floor. He knew they would make love for a long time that night. He also knew he would try to carry out Abigail's plan.
From that point on Delbert spent a lot of time on edge about how to put the plan in operation. The first thing needed was an acceptable target. A likely prospect came in the form of a middle-aged woman named Dilworth. She brought in a diamond necklace to be prepped for a big charity event she would be attending a week later. He got it from Myers that the necklace was worth at least one hundred thousand dollars.
What he had to do next was find the time to photograph the necklace with a miniature camera. It took three days for the replica diamond to be fashioned. The final move would be to make the switch.
Now, Delbert swung his car into a left turn into the alley behind the jewelry store where he worked. He parked near the rear entrance of the store. At the door he removed a ring of keys Myers had given him the night before. He undid the padlock to a webbed burglar bar door. Next came a solid steel door with a special key that cut the night burglar alarm.
Inside, Delbert relocked the steel door and moved up the hall that separated the work room from an office. He continued on up to the front store display section. At the counter there was a control panel that disconnected the night alarm and operated a remote control front door lock. He cut off the alarm and unlocked the door.
The pre-arranged plan called for Abigail to come to the store ten minutes before opening time to pick up the original necklace that had been replaced by the fake. In his pocket he carried a small cardboard box had the necklace and storage container inside. Abigail had initially balked at the method of exchange, but he had insisted their final illegal act be carried out in an above board manner.
For the ten minute wait Delbert became increasingly keyed up with anticipation. There was no reason why things shouldn't go smoothly, but something could always go wrong.
And then just like that Abigail showed up. Dressed in a clinging black silk above the knee dress, she strode into the store carrying a matching black leather purse. She glided over to the counter where Delbert stood waiting. With a smirk on her face, she said:
"Good morning sir. I'm here to pick up my package."
"Certainly m'am. I have it right here."
Delbert reached into his jacket pocket and came out with a small cardboard box. He placed it on the counter. Abigail scooped it up and deposited it in her purse.
"Have a nice day, ma'm."
"I will sir." Abigail leaned closer to Delbert. "If you had done it my way we could be in bed screwing our brains out. Now we have to wait until this evening. Six o'clock. Your place."
"See you later."
Abigail made a regal exit. Delbert watched her leave and start up the block, but he didn't see what he had expected. He hurried to the window and gazed out. Down the block he saw a pair of his colleagues arresting Abigail's partner in the scam. He was the man that met with Abigail at Gino's.
By the time Delbert made it outside Abigail had picked up on what was happening and was moving to dart between a pair of buildings. He raced in her direction.
"I've got her," Delbert yelled to his partners, figuring he could easily catch a woman running in high heels.
As he chased her between the buildings she kicked off her shoes and picked up speed running. They reached the alley and Abigail made a move to her left. But even in a high class area's alleys can be filled with loose pebbles and other objects.
Stepping on a couple pebbles caused Abigail to slow. Delbert took the opportunity to stop, kneel down, and remove a .22 automatic strapped to his leg. Racing forward, he closed the gap on Abigail, took aim and shouted:
"Police. Stop or I'll shoot."
Abigail halted, turned and faced Delbert. She seemed amazed.
"A cop. You can't be. You slept with me. It's against policy."
"It's going to look bad in court."
"Maybe. But you're taking the fall."
"I don't have to. There was something real between us. You could say you tripped. I could make it away if I get to the other block."
"Don't try it. I'll have to shoot you."
"You won't shoot me," Abigail said confidently.
Abigail took a tentative step. And then she started to jog across the alley.
Delbert steeled himself and took aim with his gun. It was times like these that made him glad he was an expert marksman. He squeezed the trigger.
Hit in the shoulder, Abigail spun about and landed with a thud. Delbert moved over and knelt beside her.
Abigail glared at Delbert. "You piece of scum. I thought you cared. But you were just playing games."
"Hey lady. Let's face it. We're both actors. You got the nomination. But I won the Oscar. And that's the name of that tune."