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The Time Is Wright

SYNOPSIS: Headed home for the holidays, Antonius Wright finds himself in the wrong place at the right time and witnesses Cory Monday committing a murder. When Cory finds Antonius’ luggage and address book, he threatens to kill him and his family if he talks. Not knowing who to turn to, Antonius calls in his brother Bertram Howard from New York City. Together the brothers decide how to stop Cory.

Raheem Dennis, the head of a boutique drug organization that specializes in high grade cocaine for business and entertainment industry professionals, has decided that he wants out of the drug business. He knows there is only one way for him to get out. With the help of his close friend and number three man Dextor Hudson, he has decided to go out on his own terms.

Cory Monday wants to take over Raheem’s drug organization and forms several alliances, including one with Bertram and Dextor. The deception begins as the murder of Raheem is put into motion.

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The Time is Wright by Orean D. ChatmanGlancing at the caller ID, Antonius Wright smiles, picks up and says, “Hi Mom.”

“Hi baby,” Laurie Steel’s voice beams. “Just checking to make sure everything is going as planned.”

“I’m packing as we speak and then I’m heading to the airport.”

“We’re all so excited to see you. Your sister and the twins will be here. I’m not supposed to tell you—so be surprised when you see him—but your brother Bertram will be here and his friend Ordale may be here.”

“Why is it that Ordale may be there?”

“It has something to do with work, so if he makes it, act surprised.”

“I promise I’ll be surprised.”

“Oh, baby, will Regina be coming this year?”

Antonius laughs. “Yes Mom, this is the year of the Reggie.”

“Well, I never know. One year it’s all you talk about, another year her name isn’t allowed to be mentioned, another year you two can’t keep your hands off each other, and then the next year it’s some airhead model from London by way of some itty-bitty city in Arkansas. I bet she didn’t talk like that when she was walking barefoot on those dirt roads.”

Antonius laughs aloud. “OK, I get your point. Yes, Reggie and I are back together. Yes, she will be there. No, we are not getting married this year. No, she’s not moving to San Francisco. No, I’m not moving back to Houston, and yes, she still has her own company.” Antonius answers the questions he knows are about to come, the same questions always asked when Reggie’s name surfaces.

His mother laughs. “OK baby, I won’t say anything else.”

“Love you, Mom.”

“Love you more, baby.”

Hanging up the phone, Antonius recalls it has been twelve years since all the family was together. It had started out peacefully on Easter Sunday. But the evil twins, Paris and Fitzgerald, forced Bertram out of the closet. That day Antonius could tell the twins were up to something; he noticed Paris give Fitz a wink as the family was sitting down for dinner.

When their mom was putting the ham on the table, instead of making his usual wisecrack about the food, Fitz casually asked, “Bertram, are you still dating Joseph Murphy?”

Bertram’s eyes grew large, his mouth opened to take a breath, but before he could gather himself, Paris chimed in, “Wow, you two guys have been dating for a while now—that’s great! I can’t keep a girlfriend for more than a month and you guys have been together since what, high school?”

FAIT ACCOMPLI! As Bertram was recovering from Fitz’s question, Paris had delivered the knockout punch. Bertram never saw it coming. Dazed, he never saw the look on his mother’s face. And didn’t see her leave the room because it happened so fast, too fast for the usually quick-thinking Bertram. He sat back in his chair like an over-the-hill boxer slumped in his corner after going ten rounds with the new young champ.

The right and left hands of Satan, as the twins are known, sat there with angelic looks on their faces.

Antonius demanded, “What the hell was that!”

Bertram raised his head. “They’re talking about Lil’ Joe. He and I have been lovers for four years, since tenth grade.”

“What? How did you keep this a secret? We shared a room throughout high school and I know everything about you. I walked in on you and Kathy Harris—that was eleventh grade—and a week later it was Kim Taylor. When did all this happen?”

Bertram didn’t answer that day. Before he could say anything, their mom walked back in the room with her Bible and started reading aloud from it. Bertram jumped up and headed for the door. Antonius motioned to go after him only to hear his mother yell, “Let him go, I will not have that abomination in my house. If that is what he chooses to do, then he’s not part of this family.”

Antonius could hear the hurt in his mother’s voice.

No one ever talks about that day anymore, Antonius thinks. It took the family three years to heal from what was supposed to be fun at Bertram’s expense. Antonius was glad to be flying home for the holidays. It would be like old times with everyone together again. He’d spent a long time pushing to make partner at the consulting firm of Hauffmann Kelley & Cohen, where he had worked since receiving his MBA from Wharton.

* * *

Following the signs for the San Francisco International Airport, Antonius searches for the building labeled DPE Overnight Shipping. Spotting the building, he looks to the corner of the parking lot for the long-term parking area. The guy on the phone said it would be to the left. Ah, there it is. He pulls into the lot and heads to that section. Why did I buy all these gifts? What was I thinking? Why do they put small toys in such large boxes? I should have shipped them ahead of time. How much is this going to save me again? Now I have a flight to catch, gifts to ship and two and a half hours to do it all. He sees the sign for Overnight Freight and thinks, I hope this is where I go to ship these gifts. How do I get everything there? Yeah boy, lady luck is with me—with those two carts over there, I can stack the gifts on one and my luggage on another. Park here, drop off the gifts, and get a cab to the terminal. Piece of cake.

He carefully stacks the gifts first and then his luggage. Following the sign, he approaches the building struggling with both carts, pushing one cart and pulling the other, and realizes this could be been done differently. The cart being pulled seems to have a different idea about who’s in charge. Unwilling to be slowed by an uncooperative cart, Antonius swings it around to the front without breaking stride and pushes both carts. He spots a man standing outside smoking a cigarette and heads in that direction. As Antonius gets closer, the man drops the butt on the sidewalk and hurries inside the building, never looking Antonius’ way.

Antonius crosses the parking lot and notices how the lights of the parking lot reflect off the rims of a Lincoln Navigator parked near the door. Wow, he thinks, that bad boy looks like it’s sitting there waiting for a commercial to be shot around it. Struggling to maneuver the carts up the ramp, Antonius takes another glance at the SUV.

Once inside, Antonius finds the front desk deserted. He parks his carts next to the counter and checks the time. After ten minutes of waiting for someone to show up, he leaves his carts where they are and walks down the corridor. He hears voices but can’t pinpoint where they’re coming from. He surmises they’re on the other side of the wall, but can’t see a way to the back. Noticing a doorknob in the wall in the distance, he heads in that direction.

Beyond the unlocked décor-camouflaged door he finds shelves full of packages, and listens for the voices. He winds through endless rows of tall shelves and suddenly realizes that he’s made a wrong turn somewhere and he’s now in a restricted area. He walks through what appears to be an old airport hanger, looking for someone … anyone who can help. … Voices. … He strains to hear. The voices reel him in.

Antonius can’t make out what’s being said but he can tell that more than two people are talking. He quietly approaches the source and guesses that the men are in the middle of an argument. He turns the corner and, through the racks, clearly sees three men.

Two of them are dressed in suits. They are talking to an older man in a blue airline jumpsuit. To Antonius, it looks as if the guy in the jumpsuit is doing the talking.

He says, “Cory, please.”

Sounds like someone is begging for their job, Antonius figures. From the look on his face, that short young brother is about to fire someone. I hate to break this up but I’ve got a flight to catch.

Moving a little closer, Antonius can’t help but notice the clothes of the youngest man. Nice suit. Navy, three buttoned, Brooks Brothers, I’d guess. Must be the guy in charge. My brothers know they can spend some money on a suit when they get in a management position. I’ll just let him know there’s no one out front.

Antonius is about to walk from behind the shelves when the well-dressed young guy pulls out a gun. Antonius stops but his heart races. Oh damn, what have I walked in on! I can’t let them see me. Damn, what the hell is going on? Antonius is frozen, pinned against the dusty shelves. He leans his head back and closes his eyes. He says to himself, I don’t need this. Lord, don’t let them see me. I need to get out of here. Where the hell am I? I need to leave. Damn, what if they see me! How did I get here? Oh my God! Just be still and they won’t see you. He feels his heartbeat trying to pound its way out of his chest. He realizes he can’t control his breathing and places his hand over his mouth.

He peers around the corner and sees the guy in the jumpsuit gesture and say, “But I don’t even know your last name.”

The young man holding the gun says, “You should call me Mr. Cory Monday and call him Mr. Chris.”

OK, Mr. Cory Monday, Antonius thinks, put the gun away. Whatever this guy did can’t be worth killing him.

Cory says, “The story is going to be, you and your partner stole the money and drugs, then your partner got greedy and shot you.”

A shot rings out, then another, Antonius feeling his body jerk with the sound of each shot. The guy in the jumpsuit collapses, clutching his chest. Antonius stands there frozen in disbelief, his mouth open and heart racing. Willing himself to overcome the sudden paralysis, he eases back around the corner. Covering his mouth, he’s not sure if he’s holding his breath or holding back the screams in his head. Closing his eyes, he leans his head back and tells himself, It’s all just a dream. It has to be a dream.

* * *

Cory picks up the leather duffle bag and walks out the back door. In the corridor he pulls out his cell phone and turns to Robert Chris. “I’ll call Raheem and tell him that we found Charles’s body minus the drugs and money.”

“Did you have to kill him?”

Cory stops. “We already talked about this. If we’re going to do this, we have to make sure it looks like someone else is trying to take over. If you have a problem, we need to talk now.”

“No, we don’t need to talk.”

“Good. Now, is Semaj still in the security booth?”

“Yeah, he’s on duty for another two hours.”

“Good, you get the videotape.”

“Raheem is going to be pissed about this.”

“Yeah, for now. But if we stick to our story, it’ll keep him off track until we take his punk ass out.”

“He’s going to ask about the videotape.”

“Well, that’s why we’re taking it. We’ll say that Charles had a partner and they must have it.”

“What about the body?”

“Raheem will want to cover this up until he can find out who did it. He doesn’t like to leave bodies around so he’ll send in the cleanup crew.”

“You sure ’bout this?”

“You want to be rich or what? Get the damn tape before the shift changes.”

Cory shakes his head as he makes his call and watches Robert leave.

* * *

Standing there not knowing what to do, Antonius runs his hands through his hair that’s overdue for a cut. Damn, why am I here? I have to get out and forget about the whole thing. Just a drug deal gone bad. Damn, why am I here? Now, how do I find my way out without being seen? The shooters went that way, so I’ll go the other way. Antonius heads back through the racks in the direction he came from. What if this guy is still alive? Damn, I have to check. Maybe I can help him. He was shot twice, what can I do? I’ve got to check. No, I’m getting out of here. Why am I turning around? The man is dead, there’s nothing I can do. God, why am I going to check? Looking around to see if anyone is near, Antonius approaches the body. Leaning over it, he checks for a pulse. … The man is dead for sure. Why did I come back here? I could’ve been back to my luggage and on my plane. I have to get out of here and forget that any of this ever happened. Antonius glances about and then winds his way back around the racks.

* * *

As Cory is pocketing his phone Robert runs up behind him and says, “We’ve got a problem. Someone saw us. He’s on the videotape. He was with the body. I tried to call you.”

Turning to respond, Cory notices the carts near the counter by the door. “Where did those come from? The doors are supposed to be locked for another two hours. Give me the tape. You go find him. He has to still be in here.”

Robert does as he’s told.

Cory walks over to the carts and sees a day planner on top of the luggage. He snaps open the locks on the luggage and soon finds a laptop. He checks the gifts and rifles through the planner, thinking, Who the hell would leave all of this out here? Here we go. Mother, Laurie Steel, Houston, Texas. Hmm, who else do we have … Paris and Fitzgerald. Let’s see if I can find you two in this little planner. Reading the planner, he matches each name on the packages with a name in the planner, unaware of the amount of time passing.

When he hears the automatic doors open, Cory looks up from the planner and checks his watch. I’ve wasted too much time going through this and the damn door is still not locked!

Four men in black jumpsuits walk up to him. The older man, white, middle-aged, says, “You Cory? We’re here to clean up the mess.”

Cory asks, “Who are you, and you’re here for what?”

He says, “Raheem sent us. We’re cleanup. Where’s the body?”

Annoyed, Cory leads them to the body while wondering who this person was and where did Raheem find him.

The man snaps his fingers at the others, turns to Cory and says, “Easy cleanup. What time is the next international flight?”

“I’m not sure, why?”

“We have to get rid of this body and we probably don’t have much time. You know a better way? Who is he?”

Cory says, “He handles some of the airport operations. So you’re going to put the body on the plane?”

“I was told I’d see you and Robert Chris here,” the man says. “Where is he?”

Cory sees Robert walking up and points to him.

The older guy turns and says, “Robert, I need flight information on the next international flight out of here.”

“Flight 1651 to Hong Kong. Leaves in forty minutes. Why? Who are you?”

“That’s good enough,” the cleanup leader says. “I think you boys have an appointment with Raheem. We’ve got it from here.” Turning to his men, the older guy barks out, “IDs, put on your IDs.”

Simultaneously the men each pull a bag from one of the many pockets of their jumpsuits and begin sifting through various patches and badges.

Cory raises his eyebrows, and signals with a look at Robert for them to leave.

Looking over his shoulder as they walk away, Robert mumbles, “Who are they?”

“Let’s get out of here. Later.” Cory says.

“Well?” Robert says.

Cory asks, “What took you so long. Did you find him?”

“No sign of him, but Semaj says he’s clearly on the tape.”

“Hmm. … We may have something here. We have to make a stop before we get to Raheem’s,” Cory says.

Robert asks again, “Who were those guys?”

Cory walks and says nothing. Just before the exit, Cory stops at the carts and opens the planner. “I think this belongs to our mystery man.” He reads: “Antonius Wright, VP Merger & Acquisitions, Hauffmann Kelley & Cohen.” Snapping the book shut, Cory narrows his eyes and peers to the far ends of the building. “He has to be in here. No one would leave all of this unless they were expecting to come back.”

Robert takes out his cell phone. “I’ll call Semaj and have him find him on one of the monitors.”

Cory thinks, Great, you wasted almost an hour looking for this clown. Why didn’t you think of that first?

Robert nods his head to Cory. “We got him in area 34. We’ve got people starting work there.”

Grabbing the phone from Robert, Cory asks, “Is there a phone in the area you can transfer me to?”

Searching, Semaj says, “Yes, let me find the number.”

* * *

Antonius makes his confused way around the racks. When he sees a group of people standing near a clock, he thinks, Great—tell them. Now if only I remembered where that body was.

He notices one of the men pick up a phone near the clock, look around and see him standing there. Antonius thinks, Yes, I shouldn’t be in this area and neither should that body. I hope he’s talking to security about having me removed.

“Hey you, your name Antonius Wright?” the man shouts, gesturing for him to come to the phone.

“Ye-yes.” He makes his way to the phone while thinking, Great—security found my luggage.

“Phone for ya.” The man shoves the receiver in his hand and walks away.

Antonius notices that the other men have disappeared. “Hello?”

A friendly voice says, “Mr. Wright, I think we found your luggage and gifts near the front counter.”

“Yes, those are mine. On the other side of the wall from my luggage,” he blurts out, “there’s a body. I saw two men—”

“Mr. Wright,” the voice cuts in, now not so friendly, “you didn’t see anything and there’s no body. If you repeat that to anyone, they’ll find you and Laurie Steel of Houston, Texas, in the same shape as my former employee. Do you understand?”

“Who is this?”

“That’s not important right now. What’s important is you’ll leave the building, remembering you saw nothing.”

“So what are you going to do to me?”

“Right now, nothing. But remember I have a laptop, some gifts, and a planner full of addresses and phone numbers. If you say anything, someone may be finding your body. You see, I can find you if I need to. If you decide to hide, then I’m sure I’ll find one of the many loved ones that are expecting their gifts.”

Dial tone. A blast of heat rushes over Antonius and his heart pounds, wanting out of his chest. Not knowing what else to do, he slams down the phone.

* * *

With a satisfied smile, Cory looks at Robert. Turning to walk out of the building, Cory says, “I think that should keep him quiet for now.”

“Why don’t we just kill him?”

“Why would we kill Charles’s partner? With him alive, it gives us more time.”

“Charles’s partner? … Oh, great idea.”

“You know what? This is our time, this is fate. Having this guy show up like this, we were meant to do this. I’d say we’ve found Mr. Right. This is going better than even I could’ve planned. Let’s get out of here. Raheem is expecting us and we have to make a stop before we get there.”

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