The tail end of Kendrick Lamar’s Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe was tumbling out of the stereo of the lilac Jeep Wrangler as it followed the graceful arc of the Clearwater Memorial Causeway that runs from downtown Clearwater straight out to the white sand coast on the Gulf of Mexico. An immediate downshifting followed now that the driver was face to face with a mental backup on the bridge. Both lanes were beginning to stack up on the westbound side and barely any traffic was coming from the beach. The open top, no windows, and no doors lifestyle was solely enjoyable when in motion. The idea of being stuck out under the hot sun was not Kandy’s idea of fun and she could feel herself burning already.
Inching her way up, she took her spot behind a tattered burgundy and tan Expedition and next to a white mid 90s Mercedes Benz S600 sedan that looked like it had just been cut out of a Vacpack. The paint was well kept. No scratches, haziness, or swirls from where she was sitting. The headlamps were clear and bright. Even the stock non-polished wheels looked brand new. Really the only modification to it she could spot was the rather dark limo tint.
“A little crazy from the start…” The opening vocals of Slow Burn by Jaira Burns began to play, pulling her attention away from the Benz. Reaching into the ashtray, she pulled out a lighter she kept stashed for emergencies like these while lifting her denim clad hips to fish something out of a front pocket. There was a struggle to reach something in those rather tight short shorts. Her very tight and very short shorts. It might’ve been September, but it was still hot as hell in Tampa Bay and whatever was left of the strawberry milkshake from Steak n Shake was already turning into a pink pool inside the styrofoam cup in the console holder. Finally, the neatly rolled joint was retrieved and placed between her lips, which happened to be glossed in a colour that matched the body of the Jeep and the lenses of her heart-shaped sunglasses.
Miguel’s brown eyes quickly ran through the same rotation they had done for the last four minutes. First the black and steel encased SLR wristwatch by Tag Heuer on his left wrist, then to the clock dial in the gauge cluster, before lastly ending with a flash of his Samsung’s lock screen. This was quite possibly an ominous sign from the heavens above. He was sure he was gonna be late. If it wasn’t the accident on the other side, then it would be from not being able to find a parking spot down by the pier.
Cassandra remained quiet as she stared at her now folded hands. With some reluctance she pulled her arms back just enough to separate her fingers from each other and examine her slender digits. A flex of her joints and all ten curled like claws before they were relaxed back into a natural position with a slight curve in their pose.
“Just for saying that, they’re gonna kill you and then Cicero.”
“And then me and then Asher and then probably Kand–”
“I don’t intend on telling them.” A quicker tighter clenching of her grip formed fists for a few seconds before she released them and looked over at her half-sister, “Do you?”
Up went those ash brows, the blonde was quite surprised that Sandra managed to ask the question. This was the woman who didn’t dare ask for help or admissions of loyalty from anyone. The potential refusals or silence itself would have been too much for her. Yet here she was in her kitchen asking her sibling to finally pick a side. And to do so convincingly. A remarkable shift.
“Gray said they may be considering doing a deal with Sandulf.” Angie’s hands ran through her own hair to smooth down some of the sections before she retied her bob into a short ponytail. “You know what that means for me and for Asher.”
And here Cassandra was, laying on her kitchen floor staring at a clump of dog hair she had somehow missed whenever the last time was that she had swept. What have you done, Cassandra? What have you done? It wasn’t Zoraida’s voice that she heard echoing within her thoughts, but rather her own.
Giving Cassandra a moment to collect herself, Anzhelina folded in the blade of her knife and tucked it back into its hiding place. Satisfied that she had put her sister in the right frame of mind to receive the message, the blonde stepped forward and began snapping her fingers in front of Sandra’s face.
“Hey, hey! Focus.” Angie’s tone was indifferent to the writhing going on underneath her.
It hurt a lot less than Sandra expected. However, it did surprise her that the assault had such an impact on her breathing. Her chest was left feeling as if it was hydrolocked like one of the many poor souls who foolishly forged ahead on a flooded Bayshore Boulevard. The risk of danger had looked deceptively minimal. Was she bleeding into her chest cavity? Was the increase in fluid preventing air from filling and expanding her lungs? Is that what was happening? Thunk-thunk, thunkthunkthunk. The arrhythmia pounded against the inside of her ribs and triggered a half cough seizing her lungs again as she struggled still to breathe. Could blood be pouring out of her that quickly? Maybe she was already in shock. Her arms felt so heavy, like lead really. The buzzing tingle that swept over her shoulders, down those languid limbs, and ended in her fingertips almost made it feel like there had been an assault on her nervous system. She had to question whether she had any control whatsoever over them, yet somehow she managed to pull them in tighter around her midsection.
“Hey, hey, sorry I’m late.” Kandajha in her delightfully vibrant athletic wear had sprinted across the wooden boardwalk to the deck where her aunt, Cassandra was admiring the view of Old Tampa Bay.
With the rather large cup of coffee nearly to her burgundy lips, Cassandra paused just enough to lean to the side to accept the kiss to her temple from her twenty-one year old niece. She was the walking image of Spring regardless of whatever month was on the calendar. Cotton candy pink lips and nails, black and Robin’s Egg blue stretch leggings and top, a koolaid purple zip-up hoodie and a pair of Sketchers that somehow incorporated all the aforementioned colours. That beautiful mane of thick chocolate curls was tossed over to one side and looked just as beautiful and voluminous as ever. Kandy was pure sunshine and vitality.
“I’m surprised they let you through wearing that getup.” The corners of Cassandra’s darkly painted mouth perked slightly as the pair shared a knowing little smile with each other. “Looks like the kid at the front of house still fancies you. Are you finally going to let him take you out then?”
Kandy brought her chair around more to Sandra’s side to afford herself a better view of the quiet beach and serene waters just a few hops away. Plopping down in the chair, she folded her hands in her lap and propped her feet up under the table on the chair position across from them. A somewhat heavy sigh came from the young girl.
“That’s my sigh of disdain. Is he not quite your thing?” Sandra perked a brow taking a healthy drink of the dark roast seasoned only with a pinch of salt.
Grey. eyes lazily opened allowing Tuesday’s mid-morning sun to sear through the sliver of Sandra’s retinas that her eyelids had reluctantly exposed. A grumble was muffled as she turned her features into the musty, but still technically clean pillow that had been kept warm by the side of her face. Sweet relief washed over her as darkness flooded her sight. Light was the enemy at this point, but it hadn’t always been. In fact, the way the light blossomed into a healthy glow through the open white-painted Plantation shutters within the room was one of the reasons why she had purchased the Hyde Park bungalow in South Tampa. Above was the soft strumming of the large ceiling fan accompanied by the intermittent clink of its pull chain dancing against its frosted glass light fixtures shaped like lilies. Still, her body nagged at her.
Wearing a pair of lightweight cotton drawstring pyjama pants and her favourite oversized University of Miami t-shirt, she managed to find the perfect temperature for the bed sheet to be pulled up around her shoulders. With the air conditioning set to seventy-two and the fan going, anything exposed was frosty whilst everything under cover remained slightly toasty. Maybe if she just lay there quietly for a few minutes her body would relent as she drifted back off to sleep. Turning her face so that her cheek could cuddle into the pillow, a lighter shade of darkness now pressed into her covered vision. With her left arm and leg tossed across a large U-shaped pillow that was as long as she was tall, Sandra gripped the comfy cushion and waited for rest to retake her.
The pressure and pains in her lower abdomen persisted and the brunette sighed frustratedly. Sandra had to go to the bathroom. She wasn’t about to lay in her own piss as this would’ve ruined the very lovely mattress that had been serving up cloud nine relaxation for the last few weeks. It was the most plush of jail cells this side of a padded room. The house was silent and still all but for the ceiling fan and the circulating air via the handler hidden in a closet on another floor. She had missed the pleasant melodies of the morning birds hopping along their branches in the massive Oak tree planted just outside in the front yard. Even in the state she was in, the pleasantness of the birds’ songs was still able to touch her heart as her headboard shared a wall with them. Sometimes this was a welcomed moment of brightness. On other days, like this one, she was relieved to have not heard them at all. Something so sweet and free as birds proved to be too painful in certain moments.
Like many car lovers, I sometimes spend my free time perusing sale listings of cars I dream about. Now days, most dealers photograph every inch of a supercar revealing many details that the public haven’t been privileged enough to see. Naturally, when I came across Ferrari of South Bay’s listing for an Azzurro California 575 Superamerica, I fell madly in love again. When I first started out photographing cars, I often visited Ferrari of Fort Lauderdale (at the time called Shelton). One day I happened to visit when they received a beautiful 575 Superamerica and were loading it up on a truck. The driver explained that the owner preferred all his Ferrari and Maserati to be in this colour. He was also kind enough to demonstrate the roof flip for me. Good memories. Seeing the listing for such a rare Ferrari in one of my all-time favourite colours reminded me of a short story I wrote a few years back for Tumblr.
Here it is, A Hard Day’s Drive, re-imagined and expanded featuring a companion playlist from both YouTube and Spotify.